President elect profile – Vicky Balabanski

Regulation 3.7.5.1 requires that the Assembly Standing Committee provide advice to the Church on the challenges and issues which may be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years. This is to assist the discernment process as the Church nominates and elects the President-elect.

In July 2017 the ASC addressed itself to this responsibility and offers this guidance to the Church.

“As the Uniting Church continues to move through a season of significant change, the ASC believes that the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years will include:

The Covenant

  • The Covenant relationship with UAICC
  • Sovereignty and how we understand this in the practices of the Uniting Church

Belonging

  • Ways in which we can be a people of hope where God’s grace upholds us
  • Call to the renewal of God’s church by listening to what the Spirit is saying to the Uniting Church
  • Being, and identifying as, members of the Uniting Church and what this means
  • Holding our identity as the Uniting Church in amongst diversity

Discipleship

  • Call to disciple-making
  • Importance of investing in leadership for now and the future
  • The changing form of faith communities, and the importance of resourcing them

Being the Church in the public space

  • Being the Church as a prophetic voice in the public space
  • Re-establishing our place of trust in civil society
  • Managing and critiquing how we understand the relationship between Church and State

Responding to changing contexts

  • How we are the Church in a changing world, including the importance of having a national perspective
  • Responding to demographic forces in the Church eg changing membership profile
  • Understanding and educating ourselves about the world of social media

 

Name: Vicky (Victoria) Balabanski (Rev. Dr)

Nominated by: Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney and Rev. Dr Ian Price

Synod of residence: South Australia

Age range: 50-59

Personal Interests: Vicky is married to Peter. She enjoys spending time with their daughters and with extended family and friends. She loves walking in nature and has been revegetating a coastal property on the Yorke Peninsula for twenty years. 

Placement / employment:   
Lecturer in New Testament since 1993 at the UC theological College in SA (Parkin-Wesley, then Uniting College for Leadership and Theology);
serving on various committees of the church at Synod and Assembly level, most recently Doctrine Working Group. Presented the Assembly Bible studies in 1997.

Passion:                                              
The flourishing of creation
Reconciliation between first and second peoples
Seeing the Gospel proclaimed in ways that connect with the contemporary world

Vision for the UCA                               

The church is called to embody the hope of the Gospel. Just as Jesus was the embodied revelation of the unseen God, so the church is called to embody Christ in the world. The UCA lives, worships and serves in such a way that the love of God can be seen through and among us. We are the Body of Christ – God’s Spirit is with us!

We are also a church ready to speak the Good News as well as live it. In our particular time and place in history, the idea of converting someone can seem like an imperialistic act expressing intolerance towards other people’s beliefs. But our call is to know and tell the story and invite people to ‘come and see’. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit; the people of the UCA are a means by which the Spirit works. We are a church in active and respectful dialogue with the culture and sub-cultures of Australia – willing to listen and to speak of the hope within us.

Because together we are the Body of Christ, we value the shared leadership and discernment that we practise in the UCA, trusting the councils of the church to guide us by the way they exercise the tasks allocated to them. We model this way of being the Body of Christ together with confidence among other traditions. We use power in collaborative ways that are respectful of others – young and old, people of many cultures and of various theological positions and emphases. We welcome dialogue with all faiths, affirming where we see the Wisdom of God – known to us in Christ – modelled and valued.

The Uniting Church is reformata et semper reformanda – reformed and always in the process of reforming. We value our structures and traditions, yet are open to the prompting of the Spirit to change and renewal. We are a church that attends to God’s call through the voice of the marginal as well as through the leaders.

We prioritise and learn from our close partnership with the UAICC. We value our partnerships with other churches.

Hope is in short supply in our world, particularly the sort of hope that leads to life-giving action. To embody the hope of the Gospel is to bless all families of the earth – human and non-human -- and to invite all people to be reconciled with God.

In light of the advice provided by the ASC (this will be developed at the July 2017 meeting of the ASC) on the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years I can/will 

In the light of the Issues, challenges and opportunities for the Uniting Church in the next seven years, if elected, I will:

  • prioritize spending time with the UAICC leaders and members, listening to and supporting their deliberations about sovereignty and how we move together with them in these and other emerging issues. I am convinced that this happens best through trust built on long-term friendship, respect and time together.
  • encourage many people to move towards a greater sense of belonging – young people, people from various cultural groups, people who are associated with Uniting Church organizations and schools, country people as well as city people, people with various theological emphases, by telling the story of the UCA and why the Uniting Church ethos matters. When people understand and identify with the values and practices of an organization, belonging follows.
  • offer leadership in the area of discipleship, by calling on congregations and their leaders to identify their strengths and also an area of potential growth and by helping them to access resources and mentoring to work on this potential growth area. I will remind them of the Spirit’s call and guidance in this process. I will help the church to network well, encouraging congregations with certain strengths to team with others that would like to gain support in a particular area. I will also emphasize processes and events that help high school students’ transition from childhood discipleship into adult discipleship.
  • seek opportunities to articulate the Gospel in the public sphere and encourage others to do so. I will take advice about when and how to speak with a prophetic voice on issues of the day. I will emphasize the need to publicize the positive work of the church in order to rebuild trust. I will take the opportunities that arise to work ecumenically, as the reputation of the church is enhanced (or tarnished) across denominational boundaries.
  • learn from our partner churches about their changing contexts, particularly those churches in the Asia pacific region. I will encourage the local and regional parts of the UCA to be aware of and value our national and international life. I will consult on the best ways of using social media to keep in touch with the ‘extended family’ of the UCA, while avoiding making my role too focussed on the person rather than our shared call to participate in the “reconciliation and renewal…for the whole creation”.