Woven together in Christ
Uniting Church members from every state and territory came together to reflect on what it means to live out their Christian vocation as part of the President’s Conference webinar “Called by God.”
The webinar, now available to watch below, included 13 panellists who shared personal stories of the ways God has called them and reflected on the processes of personal and communal discernment that have guided them in living their Christian discipleship in daily life.
President Dr Deidre Palmer said it was inspiring to hear so many personal stories of call and an encouraging time of supporting one another in online community.
“It was a gift to be able to gather in this way in this time of crisis and uncertainty, where being connected and supporting one another is so important. The themes of the Conference are more important than ever for us personally and as a community woven together in Christ.”
In the first session, Called by God, theologian and Biblical scholar Rev. Dr Ockert Meyer and National Disaster Recovery Officer Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson shared moving accounts of God’s call in their own lives.
Ockert reflected on the Biblical and historical foundations of ‘call’ and Stephen shared ways we as the Church can respond and support others in times of crisis.
“I believe God will always lead us to where ministry will happen,” said Stephen. “We just need to be willing to open our eyes and go there.”
“There’s no gifting without a corresponding service, and there are plenty of points of service. During this pandemic, we don’t have to look very far for crisis. It’s a question of, are we willing to look there?”
In the next session, Living our Christian Vocation, five speakers shared how they were living out their vocation in different contexts.
- National Interim Chair of UAICC Mark Kickett shared his personal story of being called by God set within the context of racism in Australia and the Government policies which did not recognise him as a citizen.
- Former Assembly President Rev. Al Macrae spoke about the processes of personal and communal discernment, as we seek to follow Christ in shaping and guiding our life and decision-making.
- Uniting Church and Congress leader Rhanee Tsetsakos shared on following God’s call through her gifts of story-telling and writing.
- UCA Minister Rev. Radhika Sukumar-White spoke about God’s call to ordained ministry and the personal and communal discernment processes that contributed to her decision-making.
- Assembly National Consultant Rev. Charissa Suli, shared about her experience of God’s call, and the importance of people expressing their Christian vocation through the Arts.
- Catherine Pepper shared the way she has discerned God’s call on her life, and her vocation as an environmental engineer.
In his sharing, Mark reflected on how the passage Micah 6:8 spoke to his call from God.
“I understand the sense of a God who calls us to justice, and a God who calls us to the challenges that impact all peoples of all colours. I love the passage from the book of Micah and the three-fold answers there, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.”
Catherine spoke about the need for our understanding of vocation to go beyond the call to ordained ministry.
“I’m very, very passionate about justice as being fundamental to who we are as Christians, not just some sub-discipline of Christianity that you can follow if you want. But I think that there’s this really fundamental question in every member ministry, which is about how do we claim for a new generation the idea of call as going much beyond ordination.”
In the final session Faith in Public Life, a further five speakers reflected on how we are called to engage in public life as Christians.
Dr Lorna Hallahan, Mr Mark Henley, Dr Ian Olver, Dr Sureka Goringe and Rev. Sandy Boyce encouraged us to be prophetic witnesses, advocates and bearers of God’s light and hope, in partnership with our congregations, agencies, government and non-government bodies, and our global church partners.
In quoting poet David White, Lorna said “a true vocation calls us out beyond ourselves and breaks our heart in the process.”
“Our obligation to care is clear from the Gospel of reconciliation. It’s about the ways in which we care with and for those within our immediate world. I do not bring Christ to them. They reveal the living Christ to me, they do not need me, we need each other.”
The webinar was an entrée to the rescheduled face-to-face conference which will take place in 2021 from 29 April – 2 May.
On Sunday, many participated in a recorded online worship which continued to draw on the theme of living our Christian vocation.