12th Assembly 2009

Conversations: 20th July 2009

We continue to chat with delegates attending the 12th Assembly. Here are some thoughts from today...

Adrian White

Tertiary mission worker for University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney

What are your thoughts on the passage of the preamble to the constitution?

I’m glad it got passed in the end. There’s some disappointment in the way it passed but I’m happy that the church is moving on. I think people were pleased that it was passed.

There’s real joy in the way Assembly has adopted a different way of doing things in that the amendment embraces the indigenous tradition of storytelling. It tells a different story from the one we are used to telling. Some people might have thought that the amendment was too wordy but that’s because it’s not our way of telling stories.

Chris Budden

Parish minister at North Lake Macquarie Uniting Church

How do you feel after the preamble was passed?

I’m clearly pleased. While there is some disappointment that it did not pass by consensus, it’s good that it’s done.

I think it’s a good basis for people to develop relationships from.

(The amendment) raises major theological questions for the church, granted that indigenous people have always known God.

What will you take back to your congregation from this assembly? 

I will be taking this issue (about the preamble) back to the congregation.

I was also pleased with the UnitingJustice statement.

I got a great deal out of the Cato lecture by Daniel Smith Christopher. There were a lot of insights into the Old Testament.

july20voxpoppaddymacraeAnother Macrae in the house

Following in footsteps of a long of ministers missionaries and moderators, Paddy Macrae, son of current Uniting Church President Rev. Alistair Macrae, is excited to be experiencing his first Assembly meeting. However, the younger Mr Macrae, aged 21, feels called to express his leadership skills in a very different way.

What are your interests?

I am halfway through a film degree at Swinburne University, Melbourne. I have got a background in acting. I have completed half a performance degree. Film is a hobby as well as a career path, hopefully. I do a lot of film stuff at uni and outside uni.

How do you combine your interests with your role in the Church?

I think to be honest my film career and my faith journey are pretty separate. I was pretty heavily involved with the NCYC 2009 campaign, mostly with acting. I made an epic film with the youth group a few years ago. I shot a uni film with my church a couple of weeks ago. But that had nothing to do with my life as a part of the church. So they do not combine a lot. But I am young and in the early stages of my career and sorting stuff out.

Would you rather pursue a career in film, the church or both?

(Laughs) Career in church — I don’t think so.

So you are not planning to follow in your dad’s footsteps?

No I am not. Well, who knows? For all I know I might be a circus artist in a few years. I have no idea. I definitely see myself having a life in the church. I don’t think I will be a minister. I think film, performance and dramatic storytelling are my gifts. I am good at them. And I think that is what I can bring to my church and to things I value in life.

Is there anything you and your dad disagree on?

Well I think dad would argue that football is a spiritual matter. He is a Melbourne supporter and I am not. I am an Essendon supporter and that is probably dad’s greatest disappointment in life!

In regards to theology and the Assembly, we don’t disagree on much. I think for most people, political and spiritual views are largely formed by the views of our parents. And that is certainly the case with me. Obviously we don’t agree on everything. But I am definitely of the same leaning and I definitely see matters in the church not with as much clarity but certainly in the same general way.

Would you rather be at Assembly or NCYC?

I don’t think I could choose to be honest. There are reasons I would prefer to be at either. NCYC is a lot buzzier and a lot more youthful. It can be really life changing for people in a certain age group. To be completely honest, I think I am past that age group now.
This is all personal but for me the two NCYCs that had the most profound effect on me were the first two. That was when I was 15 and when I was 17. I think NCYC is aimed at those ages and that is how it is supposed to be, because that is the group that needs the most revving up in our church. I was able to bring something to the last NCYC and I loved that. I really believe in NCYC. I think I would rather help out with making it happen rather than being the target now.

Describe the community and atmosphere at Assembly so far.

Wow. How long have you got? I think I have felt just about everything at this Assembly. I am a youthful member so we had an orientation which was fascinating. We got to meet the ‘players’ of the Assembly. That was really interesting. Then we moved into the business of the first couple of days which was interesting and sometimes really boring too. I hate finance stuff.

But the past 24 hours has been extremely intense. That is probably one of the things that separate the Assembly from NCYC; it is intense in a different way. You really feel like you are in the engine room. People wear their heart on their sleeve and speak their mind and that is a beautiful gift that we have.

So I feel privileged to be a part of it. But it is an emotional drain. The youthful members had a big debrief prayer last night and it was just extremely intense. And I have been shaken up and upset by some of the things that have happened and glad about other things. But I feel really privileged to be a part of it.

What do you think will be the most important outcome of the Assembly?

I think the inclusion of the preamble at the beginning of the constitution. It just shows a fantastic shift in the relationship with Congress and with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. It is a step in the right direction. I am personally upset that it didn’t get consensus. Very upset. But we got there in the end I guess. And I think we can only move forward from here.

Hearing from members of Congress has been enlightening. And I just feel so privileged to be part of a church that is so progressive and so open to move forward with such clear momentum.

Festival of fellowship

The Rev. Ian Pearson, Sydney

Among the characteristics of the Assembly is a festival of fellowship. We make many decisions on the floor of the Assembly but as important as those decisions are the fellowship that we engage in is more important. We live together intimately at Assembly, as a national church in which there are people from many different cultures and we welcome people who are representing partner churches in other parts of the world.

Like, Wow!

Merril Clayton, Tasmania

The Assembly has been inspirational. The opening service was, Wow! I’m loving the multilingual aspects. I love listening to the Aboriginal languages that are like water on round rocks. I haven’t been to Assembly before so can’t compare it with other Assemblies but I’m really enjoying the multicultural theme.

Working together

Bronte Wilson, Mount Gambia in South Australia

There is a lot going through my brain at the moment. But I particularly enjoyed participating in the Community Working Group. It was a great place for me to learn a lot about the proposals by those who are wiser and have more experience. It gave a sense of working through something together rather than just carrying the debate across the floor of a big group of people.