Webinar: Leadership in the time of COVID-19
Written by Rev. Dr Apwee Ting
The fourth webinar in the Assembly Resourcing Unit’s Church and COVID-19 Series was on the topic of Contextual Leadership.
The premise of the conversation was that leadership doesn’t occur in a vacuum but rather exists in a context of leaders’ responses to the circumstances around them.
Many great leaders possess contextual intelligence - the ability to understand the context of their time and place. They are able to seize the opportunity of their times.
In the context of COVID-19, we discussed what type of leadership we need right now?
Our three speakers came from multiple leadership contexts in the Uniting Church.
Liusem (Loui) Mauboy is a second-generation leader who was born in Darwin and is the Media and Communications Officer for the Northern Synod.
Loui said his ideal leader was:
“A type of leader who is not afraid to become a servant outside of the church, to be there. A leader who has compassion, sensitivity and flexibility someone able to pray and also to put their faith into practice to serve people and to be a light.”
Rev. Amel Manyon is the first South Sudanese female trained, ordained and minister in the Uniting Church and the Chairperson of UCA South Sudanese National Conference.
Amel said she looked for a leader who was both brave and humble, who can encourage people to get through to the other side.
“The eyes of leaders are always there to see the other,” said Amel.
The third panellist Rev. Beatriz (Bea) Skippen is the Minister at Bulimba Uniting Church in central Brisbane. Bea was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and has been a Senior Chaplain/State Coordinator of UnitingCare Prison Ministry in Brisbane for 10 years.
“In my opinion, at this time, we need leadership that gives direction and at the same time creates a safe space to hear the voices,” said Bea.
“It is a time of taking a lot of risk because not everyone may agree with the leader. And it is a time that we can enable others to share their gifts and their creativity.”
The panellists and the moderator Rev Dr Apwee Ting discussed how cultural norms and social contexts of leaders influenced the style of leadership, how leaders sustain their calling and the importance of self-care.
Theological observer Rev Dr Paul Goh, a Korean-Australian Uniting Church minister and Justice and Multicultural and Cross-cultural Officer with the Synod of South Australia summed up the conversation:
“Biography is theology and theology is biography. We are experiencing God in our own history, culture, experiences, time and place. Christianity is an incarnational faith and all Christian leaders are called to response to God’s call faithfully in a particular place and time.”
Listen to the whole webinar on the Uniting Church in Australia Vimeo page.