12th Assembly 2009

Terence Corkin reappointed

The national Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia reappointed the Rev. Terence Corkin as General Secretary during its morning session on July 17.


Ex-President, the Rev. Gregor Henderson, spoke about the process undertaken by the Assembly Standing Committee review group, established in March 2008, in considering the future of the Assembly secretariat.

Mr Corkin had his term extended by three years at the 11th Assembly, bringing his term to a total of nine years by the time of the 12th Assembly.

Mr Henderson said that both the review group and Mr Corkin gave serious consideration to the wisdom of a further extension.

Mr Corkin’s reflection resulted in an expression of openness to another three-year term. The review group consulted widely, including with synod moderators and secretaries and leaders in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress — seeking responses and ratings on various aspects of Mr Corkin’s performance.

Mr Henderson said that while the responses reflected the reality that no-one was ever seen by all as performing their duties perfectly, the overall response was extremely positive.

“Therefore the group had no hesitation in recommending reinstating Terence,” said Mr Henderson, adding that they then had a two-hour conversation with Mr Corkin detailing the feedback.

Mr Henderson commented on Mr Corkin’s strength in administrative efficiency and leadership, his role in building cohesion among staff and his passion for the church.

He said the review group considered what the next three years might bring and concluded that polity and governance, along with relations with Congress and further development of the inclusive life of the church as multicultural, would likely be the focus.

That further cemented their view of Mr Corkin’s continuing suitability for the position.

Two indigenous members spoke to the proposal, giving an indication of the high esteem in which Mr Corkin was held by indigenous members of the church. The Rev. Rronang Garrawurra, from the Northern Territory, said he would be happy to see Mr Corkin continue “this important role he’s been performing”. He also urged the Assembly to “spend time listening to God” in casting their vote.

The Rev. Walirr Garrawurra, also from the Northern Territory, described Mr Corkin as a good listener. “In his visits to the north as we have encountered him he is someone who has come to listen and engage with us and he has a good heart,” he said.

He added that the visits north by Mr Corkin, presidents and the previous General Secretary had been characterised by a “spirit of openness and listening and we deeply appreciate that.”

The ballot count revealed overwhelming support for Mr Corkin to lead the national Assembly for another term.

Taking the stage to hearty applause Mr Corkin joked that “I’ve always found in my sporting career that the races I do best in are ones where there’s only one runner and that’s been shown again.”

He acknowledged the support of family and the Assembly staff. “At the risk of making it sound like an Academy Award I want to thank the Assembly staff that make me look good.”

He said, “In my experience when the Lord calls, the Lord provides.”

Following the session Mr Corkin expressed gratitude for the confirmation of his contribution.

“It’s always wonderful to have a call confirmed. We can have our own opinions on what we think is a good thing but when the church says to you ‘keep going, you’re on the right track’ it’s very affirming, encouraging, and energising. I’m really looking forward to the next period.”