Representatives from across Australia gather in Sydney to set the agenda for another year of activity in supporting cross-cultural Gospel work by the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
Moderator-General David Cook began the day with a devotion from Luke 24:46-47 making the point that healthy churches need to affirm the truth of verse 46 that ‘the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead’, and also be engaged in the work ‘that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem’. He also suggested that healthy churches who want to follow this pattern might sack their elders and put the local mission committee in charge. (Or, less radically, to turn the eldership into the mission committee).
Stuart Bonnington and Rob Duncanson of the Presbyterian Inland Mission spoke to the committee about advances in the work of Patrol ministry in regional Australia, and the possibilities for that work to engage indigenous peoples in some situations, particularly in central Western Australia.
During the report of Convener Alex Shaw the work of Tracey Evans as the APWM office administrator during her recently concluded term of employment was recognised with thanksgiving.
The report of Director Kevin Murray provided a comprehensive overview of personnel and international church partnerships. We discussed arising future needs relating to the workers for Vanuatu and challenges surrounding appropriate insurance for workers located in places which are socially unstable. The relocation of the APWM offices to Christ College, the rebuilt NSW Presbyterian Theological College, will soon take place. This will be an exciting development in engaging those who are training for pastoral work to help them grow a cross-cultural mindset. (See comments from David Cook, above.)
A special time was set aside to consider developments in our code of conduct for people in positions of authority and protocols relating to protecting children and others from abuse, and dealing with situations of abuse. Given the national and international scope of our work this is a complex area, and the expert input of Elizabeth McLean has been greatly appreciated as we move toward a workable yet comprehensive coverage.
The Timor-Leste semi-autonomous collective presented their report.
Among other matters, the Aboriginal Sub-Committee report dealt with the possibility of cooperating with the Bimbadeen Aboriginal Training College, and leadership training.
Financially, the financial blessings and provision that the committee has experienced have seen us able to forgo our modest administration fee for projects. The concept of part-time APWM workers based in Victoria and Queensland is an exciting idea that is being explored in partnership with the relevant state committees.
Reports on Partner Churches in Bangladesh; Japan; Malawi; Myanmar; Sudan; Vanuatu; and Zambia were received.
I had to go to another meeting during the reports from the various states.
A rearrangement of membership and meeting arrangements is being trialled with a view to being formally adopted in the committees’ regulations in the future.
The meeting concluded with prayer at 4.17pm.