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Presbyterian Church of Queensland General Assembly 2019

The opening session of the 2019 Presbyterian Church of Queensland General Assembly was conducted tonight.
Rev Phil Strong was recognised as the moderator of this year’s assembly, and it was a privilege for Rev Davo Gunning and myself to be introduced as Phil’s chaplains for this year.
I’ll a few updates, starting tomorrow.

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Phil Strong – Moderator Elect Of The Presbyterian Church Of Queensland

The General Assembly have unanimously elected the Reverend Phil Strong as Moderator-Elect (moderator of the 2019 General Assembly).

Phil is on staff at Creek Road Presbyterian and is Moderator of the South Australian Assembly and Presbytery, being an Assessor (appointed member) of those bodies. He is functioning as project manager of the Adelaide Churches revitalization work. He has previously served as convener of the Qld Ministry Training Committee.

(an earlier version of this post mentioned Phil’s involvement in the acquisition of the new premises of the Queensland Theological College. Phil has informed me that his departure from the Ministry Training Committee predated those plans, and he had no personal involvement that project. So I’ve updated this post. He’s a details guy.)

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A New Season In Adelaide

Davo Gunning was ordained and commissioned as Lead Pastor of the Adelaide Presbyterian Churches today.

Part of the service of ordination involves members of the Presbytery, all themselves ordained as elders and pastors, laying hands on Davo as he is prayed for at the culmination of the act of ordination. This mirrors biblical practice and emphasises the spiritual continuity of the leadership of the church from generation to generation, and from place to place.

I’ve appropriated this shot from Facebook, because it looks so good you think we’d staged it. But everyone just wandered forward and took a place.

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Davo Gunning Arrives In Adelaide

A long-term project has been the revitalisation of the Presbyterian Churches in Adelaide.
Davo Gunning has been identified as the lead pastor of the work.
This article gives a bit of insight into his initial experiences as he and his family take up residence, having moved over from Sydney.
Here’s a taste:

Finding our place in a new community…
Adelaide is a place where the town shuts down for a bike race, in a strange yet enticing expression of community. People say hello as you walk past them in the street, a pleasant change from the earphone brigade we have been used to.
The old favourites at the shops aren’t there, but new and exciting delights meet us. From Fruchocs to Farmer’s union iced coffee, we have a lot to learn. You can’t drive in any direction for five minutes without hitting a major shopping centre.
Our yellow number plates stick out like a sore thumb, you can feel the eyes screaming, “you’re not from around here, are you?” But the people of Adelaide are friendly and welcoming and we are feeling more comfortable every day.

We’ve just had our first Sunday with church, and instantly felt connected.
This community of believers, who are committed to growth, will be a pleasure to serve with and along side. So far I have been to 5 of the 6 congregations within the Adelaide charge, and although small in number, the members of this church have a clear love for Jesus, a desire to make his name known, and a willingness to make significant changes for the sake of kingdom growth. It is so exciting to be a part of this church family, with our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus.

Read the rest at the church2church blog.

On the ground in South Australia

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Revitalising The Adelaide Presbyterian Churches Promotional Video

This promotional video sums up a whole lot of steps that have taken place over the last seven years (or longer) to arrive a point where a new season of hope begins.
The Adelaide Churches Restoration Project.


Can A Family Of Churches Find A Season Of Partnership To Bring Renewal?

The image is one most of us know.
Someone living in a huge home, alone.
They weren’t always alone. In seasons past the house was a home for a family that grew. Its size and contents give testimony to the life and growth that took place within. Time and the passage of seasons have seen the huge house now home to someone who spends a disproportionate amount of time cleaning, repairing and maintaining.
The home that once served their aspirations for growth and nurture has now itself become the focus of their lives.
It’s hard to see that’s the case. They want to stay in the home because of everything that it represents about the past.
Sometimes it takes a season out of the home for them to realise just how much of their lives are consumed in maintaining something that has no real place in the present season of their lives.
Another more appropriate dwelling allows their life to flourish because its scale supports their living, it doesn’t demand their life’s energies.

It can be the same for a family of churches.
We could have inherited a structure and a way of operating that helpfully enabled a group of churches to flourish when there were a certain number of congregations, leaders and members.
But, in inheriting that structure, to keep it out of a sense of solidarity with the past when it is meant to enable a large group to work together, instead of facilitating ministry and mission among a smaller, more fragile group; what is meant to serve us only serves to burden us.
Instead of being strengthened for ministry and mission, time is spent on maintaining a structure. And maintenance is death.

What is the circuit breaker for a family of churches in that sort of situation?
The analogy above breaks down, but in a positive way.
An individual going through a downsizing process knows that their life will eventually end.
A family of churches can hope that a period of weakness in ministry and mission can be followed by a season of renewal and flourishing. We have hope.
A family of churches might suspend some of their functions for a time, and join with a larger, healthier, functioning family of churches, sharing their structure.
It might benefit from administrative and ministerial skills and be encouraged from involvement in a healthy and ministry (not maintenance) focussed atmosphere.
It might learn what it essentially needs to be doing as a family of churches and plan that a more modest and appropriate structure could be planned for a season when it might stand on its own again.

It’s possible a family of churches could do that.
They wouldn’t be risking loss. They’d only be risking gain.
Watch this space.

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Revitalising Preaching Conference In Sydney This Week

The Presbyterian Church of South Australia are sending me to the Revitalising Preaching Conference which is being held this week in Sydney.
They are doing so at the suggestion of Conference organiser (and moderator general of the PCA) David Cook, who made the request to the South Australian State Assembly last month.
David’s idea is that there will be a time for me to present the opportunities for Gospel ministry in South Australia and the city of Adelaide.
Hopefully there will be some response to this ongoing need.
I, and others, know there is Gospel work in Adelaide.
But there’s always room for more.
And, as a denomination with a national scope and a kingdom mindset Adelaide is our biggest opportunity and a significant challenge.
As a bonus I expect to be challenged and helped in growing my skills as a preacher.
Hopefully Mount Gambier Presbyterian will get that as an outcome of my time away.