12th Assembly 2009

Uniting Faith and Discipleship Q&A

1. What is the projected completion timeline for the Gender Relationships project?

The findings of this research project on the status and extent of women and leadership and their contribution to the Uniting Church’s ministry and mission will be a valuable resource for the Uniting Church. It is expected that the project will be completed by July 2010. 

2. It was unclear whether Uniting Faith and Discipleship was an agency or a team view: How does the team work together? 

The Uniting Faith and Discipleship team is a different model of working together in the Assembly. It is not an agency but it has its own mandated responsibilities. A number of smaller areas of work in the assembly are given a greater opportunity to gain perspectives from other areas of work. There is less need to work in silos. This model of a collaborative team can be seen in smaller not-for-profit organisations and in educational consultancies. The different units of the team have their own operational guidelines. These units still have the opportunity to brand the work of the unit, for instance Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry still maintains its name to the church and into the public space. It also has its own reference committee for advisory purposes. This national staff team meets throughout the year in a number of ways, meeting face to face at various times over a number of days, over the telephone and online. The team may from time to time cooperate on certain projects such as the interfaith education project.  The team approach also allows the work of the units to be more enhanced with christian education, cross-cultural and youth perspectives being more integrated into the work of the units.

Questions for Relations with Other Faiths

3. We are keen to see the UCA participation in multi-faith events reported more fully, eg. are we participating in the Parliament of the World's Religions.

With the launch of the Relations with Other Faiths website at this Assembly, it is expected that these sorts of events are regularly reported on the website. This will give the church the opportunity to see this important area of work in the life of the Assembly. Relations with Other Faiths is making a presentation on the work of interfaith relations at this event. 

4. Is there a presentation on interfaith education at this Assembly?

No, not at this Assembly, but the 13th Assembly.

5. Are there Australian resources for interfaith marriage?

There are resources for interfaith marriages soon to be on the Relations with Other Faiths website. But there are not Uniting Church Assembly approved resources available.

6. How are we dealing with the issue of people persecuted in their homelands by faiths which we as the  UCA relate to ?

Relations with Other Faiths does not directly deal with these issues given the small amount of staff we have.

However  in partnership and working together with other assembly agencies and units these issues are dealt with.

Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry gives pastoral support through the national conferences to church members who may be experiencing these  issues with relatives still in their homeland.

And with Uniting World these issues  are dealt with through their partner church arrangements. More specifically, the following :

UnitingWorld is currently engaged in an advocacy program with Justice and International Mission, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, regarding the persecution of Christians in Orissa State, North India. This involves pressure on the Indian Government to protect the rights of those who are victims and to take action to prevent violence. 

West Papua is another area where indigenous Papuans (Christians) are being marginalized by newcomers (Muslims) from other parts of Indonesia. This is not seen strictly in terms of religious persecution – rather it’s seen as a political issue that has religious ramifications. UnitingWorld is advocating for autonomy for Papuans.

Questions relating to National Youth and Young Adults Ministry and the National Youth Activities Reference Committee 

7. Gathering of NCYC tools for future planning very important – should have happened earlier.

NYARC (National Youth Activities Reference Committee) has been working on providing tools and approaches for planning to make the administrative and organizational aspects of NCYC more sustainable. This includes identifying partners in planning, including working in cooperation with Agencies (eg Uniting World in regard to overseas delegates; MCCM in relation to 2nd Gen and migrant-ethnic delegates etc), Synods and networks. There is now one national website for NCYC that will continue beyond each individual NCYC event, and one national gateway for payments for all NCYCs. All of this save unnecessary reinvention and allows the host Synod to focus on local arrangements and some aspects of the program. With declining numbers of volunteers able to assist with task groups and other logistics, such planning makes sense. But it also makes sense in saving the endless ‘reinvention’ of NCYC from event to event. It is a work in progress, but good progress is being made, and positive collaboration with NYARC and the NCYC 2011 Management Committee.

8. In all national events, 2nd generation and other cross sections of people should be included in all planning, not just consulted on occasion.

We absolutely agree. And even more so when we recognise that in NCYC ’09, 30% of the delegates identified as migrant-ethnic delegates (or 2nd Gen) and Indigenous delegates. This ratio is likely to grow in the future, which is fantastic!

The question is, in what ways - so it draws on particular skills and gifts for ALL people involved in planning the event. We recognize that simply placing someone on Management Committee as such may be the least effective way to include the diversity of people involved in NCYC.  Tony Floyd has been resourcing NYARC, Synod youth personnel and the Children’s and Youth National Coalition with approaches to collaborative planning that demonstrates an appropriate identification of gifts and skills required for tasks and then seeking to identify people with those gifts including 2nd Gen, Indigenous and migrant-ethnic delegates.

Multicultural and cross-cultural ministry works closely with NYARC across the range of their responsibilities on the understanding that we are a multicultural church and that ‘2nd Generation’ identifies one part of that diversity. When working groups or task groups are being formed the fundamental question is one of gifts required for the ministry involved. We are committed to and learning how to look across the whole diversity of the church for gifts suited to those ministries of the team that is assembled reflects both the UCA’s understanding of gifts AND corresponding ministries and the gifts that come through and from our cultural diversity. 2nd Gen leaders increasingly remind us that the UCA is not the white, western, European church with their cultural diversity added to it. The UCA is emerging as a truly diverse group of which the gifts of all its members are integral to our ministries.

9. Unclear this was not an agency but a team view; how does this team work together?

NYARC (National Youth Activities Reference Committee) is part of the Uniting Faith and Discipleship team and the NCYC report presented to Assembly Standing Committee in 2008 was included in the UF&D report to provide an overview of the work of NYARC at that time.

This answer will be completed more fully as soon as possible.

10. How do NCYC, OSS, About FACE, Spirit of Gen Y and 2nd Generation multicultural connect for young people?

A bit unclear about whether this is to or for young people or whether it represents a connection between all these elements. NCYC, OSS, About FACE, as well as National In-service (for workers with children, families, young people and young adults), are part of the work of NYARC, as ‘national activities’. The Spirit of Gen Y is also part of NYARC’s discussions in working collaboratively with Mark Hillis (Christian Education) and several people are engaged in this project to resource the national church including Duncan MacLeod and Craig Mitchell. Robin Yang (2nd Gen Working Group) is part of NYARC and been incredibly helpful to bring 2nd Gens work into NYARC and visa versa as appropriate. NYARC also works closely with Christian Unity Working Group on ecumenical opportunities for young adults. In terms of how these activities might connect to young people, the primary avenue is through Synod youth personnel, youth workers and other such networks, and through the website and mailings. In terms of ways that these connect for young people, it raises a much larger question about age appropriate national activities for senior youth and young adults. NYARC has a clear understanding that events and activities are designed with the clear intent of fostering faith and discipleship for youth and young adults, and continually monitors the events and activities currently being offered as well as new initiatives that might emerge in terms of resourcing and equipping young people, and fostering faith formation. Through the range of activities and events offered we hope that there is an integrated pathway of national events for youth and young adults.

Answers provided by Rev. Glenda Blakefield, Assembly Associate Generaly Secretary; and Rev. Sandy Boyce, National Youth and Young Adults Ministry.