This week we move from South Australia to Victoria where I’m taking up a five-year appointment as Presbytery Minister - Church Development in Port Phillip East Presbytery. We moved here from Victoria to SA at the start of 2003 and have been in same house in Mount Barker for 16 years, quite an achievement in ministry. Since I started working and studying within the Uniting Church in 1980, we have lived and served in SA more than any other state (including early 1980s). Our daughters have gone from primary and high school through to university and beyond. Yvonne has worked for the same early learning centre for 16 years.
During this time I’ve been in two synod and two Assembly roles, done supply ministry for a year, some contract work, and against all odds completed a PhD in theology with a focus on Christian education, discipleship, leadership and mission. I was involved in organising an NCYC for the third time in 2004 for 2005. As one of the faculty of Parkin-Wesley College and then Uniting College, I worked on the redesign and delivery of lay education and contributed to the redevelopment of ministry education in SA . Conducted a national study of Christian education for 2 years full-time (2010-2011) and also co-ordinated a national review of Lay Preachers. Worked on developing national lay Pastor competencies and rules/guidelines. Participated in some Assembly committees (education for ministry; worship; formation, education & discipleship; Assembly standing committee; Assembly), and helped run some national events in relation to worship and education. Served as National Director for Formation, Education and Discipleship and travelled all over the country collaborating with brilliant ministry colleagues in synods and presbyteries. Helped with two national and one local UCA songwriting events. Co-ordinated the Synod's Discipleship team for a couple of years. Co-ordinated a few large synod training events. Built up several social media resourcing channels while playing with how to use the media well.
Made a bunch of new friends and connected with some old ones at Rosefield UC. Ran a Sunday morning youth group, then got involved in running Church Family Camps. Played in one of the worship bands at church once a month. Led worship and preached from time to time. Started a monthly young families gathering called Alive@5 which ran for 5 years along with annual Interactive Easter and Interactive Christmas events. Chaired Church Council through a transition period while working on a stewardship program. Organised a few Cabaret evenings.
Organised some Adelaide Fringe events with city churches. Wrote some songs. Continued to write for the Upper Room and had a couple of other things published, including some academic work and some of my worship resources. Made a bunch of multimedia.
We lost one dog and welcomed two others into our family. Struggled to learn gardening but leaving behind a legacy of small fruit trees. Cooked a lot and bought quite a few cookbooks. Learned to make cheese and sausages and smoke things.
Yvonne and I attempted to learn ballroom dancing twice. I had study leave that took me to the US, Brazil and the UK. Visited the lands of my forebears in Ayrshire. We travelled to New Zealand, Malaysia, Paris, the UK, Tasmania, Kangaroo Island and WA. Played on and off in a band that was variously called “The Wanted Men” and “Summer Rain”. Caught two fish.
When we moved here I was 45. Now I'm 61, though most days I don't feel it. It's been quite a time, as they say. Grateful to God for a wealth of ministry opportunities, wonderful colleagues, and an enriching faith community.
In my new role, I will be one of three Presbytery Ministers in a region of about 60 churches south-east of Melbourne. We'll be living in Frankston, a regional city outside Melbourne. Feeling excited and energised about the new move, and that I have plenty to bring to the role. Bring it on.