eNews-March 2017

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Traversing Pathways of Curiosity During Lent

By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes

I’ve written about the shame gap in a previous eNews however I want to remind us of that concept as we enter Lent.

In adult education it is suggested that many adults feel the gap between what they know and what they think they should know as a ‘shame gap’ – something of which they are ashamed. Whereas children are more inclined to see such a gap as an opportunity or a curiosity gap – something to be delightfully explored.

Lent, I read recently, is a season set aside to contemplate and even mourn the distance between God (the sacred) and humanity.

Much of our traditional religious thinking would have us experience such a gap as a ‘shame gap’; a distance for which we need to be ashamed and the substance for our confessional approach to Lent.

In the adult education literature it is suggested that when confronted by such a ‘shame gap’ many adults work to ‘hide’ the gap, to pretend it is not there, to avoid any experience or situation which will expose their ‘ignorance’.

If the church’s message in Lent is to expose the gap, we need to be cautious that we don’t simply feed people’s experience of shame. [Perhaps that’s one reason why many people feel uncomfortable in religious settings – it enhances their sense of unworthiness.]

I’ve been pondering what Lent might feel like if having discovered and mourned the gap we might be invited into a posture of curiosity and an invitation to explore ways and understandings of the sacred and the ‘gap’ we experience.

I know the automatic answer is that Jesus comes to bridge the gap. Yet the danger of us remaining passive in that experience can lead to a deficit model of humanity – something of which to be ashamed.

There is evidence that Jesus did shame some people but they seem to be those who were confident that for them, there was no gap. For those who were aware of, and mourned the distance between themselves and the sacred, Jesus’ demeanor was invitational, giving them space to explore and delight in discovering how the gap might be lessened.

I would hope that our experience of Lent and of our faith does not contribute to a ‘shame culture’, rather we might develop pathways of curiosity, particularly during this Lenten season.

Similarly for our learning and ongoing engagement with growing our discipleship, a posture of invitation and curiosity will always deliver the best environment for personal and professional growth – a shame gap only contributes to avoidance and paralysis.



Pilgrim Semester 1

It’s not too late to enrol! Why not enjoy an intensive course or two?!

Expand your Horizons, Enrich your Spirit at Pilgrim Theological College.
Have a look at our timetable with links to course summaries.

Watch the “Pilgrim Student Experience” to find out why you should study with us.

Artfull Faith

Poetry as Contemplative Practice

Saturday 18 March 1.30 – 5.00 pm at the Community Church of St. Mark, 100 Hodgkinson Street, Clifton Hill

Take time out for yourself at a retreat style workshop for storytellers, poets, lovers of poetry and those who would like to speak poetry by heart.  Katherine Jones and Christina Rowntree will lead you through some engaging and creative processes to work with a poem.  Then take your poem for a walk in the adjacent Darling Gardens before speaking your poem aloud in the Chapel of Hope.  $15.00 includes afternoon tea.  Bring a poem you love, or let a poem find you from our resources.  Register here

Art for Wellbeing 2017

Visual artists are invited to submit an Expression of Interest for this year’s Art for Wellbeing exhibition, to be launched at SacredEdge Festival, 5.00 pm Friday 5 May and continue until 1 June, 2017 at Queenscliff Uniting Church.

Deadline for submissions is Friday 31 March.  Download the writeable pdf  where all details can be found.

Image: Larissa MacFarlane, When all else fails, go ask a Dragon (Detail) Medium: linocut

Doncaster Secondary Peer Leadership Camp

At 9am on Sunday 29 January, 23 year nine students from Doncaster Secondary College, along with 2 College staff and 7 coaches (3 from Manningham UCA and 3 from Doncaster Church of Christ and 1 from the Centre for Theology and Ministry) set off for the Peer Leadership Camp at UCA campsite Merricks Lodge.

The mini bus was buzzing with energy as a children’s book was passed around for reading at the start of exploring what it means to be a leader. On arrival, the bus was promptly unpacked and the first of five workshops to be explored over two days began!

Over the course of the two days, the coaches and the college chaplain lead and facilitated sessions on:

Engagement, participation and attention was high.  On the first day, from 9am to 9pm, not once did the young peer leaders disengage or lack attentiveness. The same energy, motivation and commitment extended into day two. This group of young people are phenomenal. The peer leaders showed wisdom beyond their years, they are insightful, courageous and hungry to learn and implement their learnings and gifts.

The Peer Leaders left camp with a tool kit equipping them for their leadership role, in supporting the transition of year sevens into secondary school.  They were equipped to work effectively in a team, facilitate class activities, recognise and attend to emotional needs, including knowing when to refer and culture setting in their school.

Towards the end of camp, we provided an opportunity for each peer leader to stand up and share with the group, why they were involved in peer leadership and what they wanted to achieve and/or grow in 2017. Every single young attendee stood up and shared their aspirations. Some of these statements included:

“I’m here because I had a really tough time transitioning from primary school to year 7 and I don’t want anyone else to go through that and I want to encourage and inspire the next year level of peer leaders.”
“I learnt through this camp that leaders aren’t born they become through experience so I want to gain experience and grow and learn in my leadership.”
“I want to show people that even though I have dyslexia, I can still be a leader and build a strong community.”
“I believe everyone is equal and I don’t want one year 7 to be left behind.”
“I want the year 7s to feel like they fit in because I didn’t feel like that but now I do.”

More than half of the students approached the coaches and thanked us sincerely for our investment and all we offered at camp, a couple of parents also thanked us for running it. Since attending the camp, peer leaders have started leading sessions with Year 7 students and the coaches are debriefing and continuing to journey with them throughout the year.

The Centre for Theology & Ministry is able to support and resource projects with young people in local spaces, head to https://ctm.uca.edu.au/youth and join the community on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ucayouth

   Generate 2017

Exploring Intergenerational Ministry
March 17-18    9.45am-3pm   CTM Parkville
Churches across the state continue to be excited about the benefits, for all ages, of intergenerational ministry. At the same time, there are many challenges involved in implementing an intergenerational approach. Generate 2017 – Exploring Intergenerational Ministry provides TWO great opportunities to share stories, learn from others and engage deeply with intergenerational opportunities…

Choose to participate in ONE or BOTH of the following Generate 2017 – Exploring Intergenerational Ministry events

This will be an excellent day for individuals – including ministers, pastors, ministry leaders and key volunteers – and leadership teams with a commitment to ministry with people of any age.

For anyone engaged in ministry with people of any age, Generate 2017 – Intergenerational Ministry Practicalities will provide opportunities for exploring what intergenerational ministry looks like in practice, intentionally growing generational connections and the development of multi-age experiences. Generate 2017: Intergenerational Ministry Practicalities will focus on the stories, learnings and practical experiences of those currently engaged in implementation of intergenerational ministry.

More information: Generate 2017

Upcoming Events

March 2017

3 Psalms: Exegetical and Theological Study (1/3)
3 Conversations: Interdisciplinary Theological Perspectives on Contemporary Issues (1/3)
4 Educating and Ministering through Life’s Passages (2/5)
8 Strategic Leadership – tools and strategies for sustaining change
10 Synod Social Justice Family Camp
14 Mark Scandrette 2017: Practicing the Way of Jesus: transform your self, congregation & community
14 Mark Scandrette 2017: Creating a thriving family culture: evening workshop for parents and families
15 Mark Scandrette: Mission Pioneer School Day 1
16 Mark Scandrette: Mission Pioneer School Day 2
17 Transform Conference
17 Generate
18 Educating and Ministering through Life’s Passages (3/5)
18 Poetry as Contemplative Practice
19 New Texts in Context (1/3)
24 SURRENDER Conference – ‘Embodying the Way’
24 Lay Preachers & Pastors training (1/4)
24 Synod Lay Preacher’s Association AGM
25 Educating and Ministering through Life’s Passages (4/5)
31 Conversations: Interdisciplinary Theological Perspectives on Contemporary Issues (2/3)

April 2017

1 Educating and Ministering through Life’s Passages (5/5)
1 VicTas Art and Spirituality Network Gatherings
6 Beyond Colonialism: John Flett and Mark Brett in Conversation
7 Psalms: Exegetical and Theological Study (2/3)
21 Conversations: Interdisciplinary Theological Perspectives on Contemporary Issues (3/3)
26 Living Leadership – Core Intensive (1/2)
29 Psalms: Exegetical and Theological Study (3/3)

May 2017

7 New Texts in Context (2/3)
11 Inter-cultural Leadership – Through the lens of generations
19 Lay Preachers & Pastors Training (2/4)
31 Living Leadership – Core Intensive (2/2)

2017 calendar available here for download!

Mark Scandrette, Melbourne, March

Mark Scandrette is an author, teacher, activist and coach for leaders and teams who want to create a better world from the inside out. He is the founding director of ReImagine: A Center for Integral Christian Practice, where he leads an annual series of retreats, workshops and projects designed to help participants apply spiritual wisdom to everyday life. His multidisciplinary studies in applied psychology, family health and theology have shaped his approach to learning and transformation.

Mark has written extensively on positively transforming individuals and communities. We are fortunate to have him conduct a series of workshops for us in mid-March. Join Mark to explore the practices that form disciples of Jesus, that create thriving families and that nurture and sustain pioneering leaders.

Go to CTM Events or GoRegister for more details.

Lay Preacher & Ministry of Pastor Training

Four training weekends are coming up to explore the new standards required of candidates for the ministry of Lay Preacher and the ministry of Pastor, in the Uniting Church. Join a supportive (and fun!) community of learning to develop and demonstrate your competencies in worship and preaching: 24-26 March, 19-21 May, 21-23 July (likely dates) and 22-24 Sep (tentative dates). The first weekend aligns with the Lay Preachers’ Association Annual Conference (see below), and will include Rev Dr D’Arcy Wood on the continuing significance of the Uniting Church’s Basis of Union as a faithful compass amidst the high waves of contemporary life.
Email info@ctm.uca.edu.au for more information or registration details.

Lay Preachers’ Association Annual Conference

‘Moving along with change in the UCA’ is the theme of the annual conference of the Synod Lay Preachers’ Association. Join us for opening worship from 7pm on Friday 24 March, as well as fellowship, workshops and the Association’s AGM on Saturday 25 March. Speakers include Chris Barnett on intergenerational worship, Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes on the changing role of Lay Preachers in the strategic direction of the Synod and Paul Forgasz on Jesus the first century Jew. Conference cost is $30 per person, including refreshments and Saturday lunch.  Email lpasecretary@victas.uca.org.au or  got to CTM Events  for registration form.

Living Leadership Core Training

The Living Leadership Core program is open to any individual or team from across the Synod, and enhances the capacity of individual leaders and leadership teams across the Uniting Church to exercise effective leadership. Every congregation and community relies on a range of leadership roles, and networks of people operating as teams, whatever the name or structure. Living Leadership recognises the organic and evolving nature of leadership in contexts of challenge, and times of change. We invite you to the CORE Living Leadership Intensive in Hoppers Crossing that will build capacity, insight and resilience in your leadership.

This special program has been designed to foster collaborative learning and is suited to both teams and individuals from congregations, presbyteries and agencies. Join us on 26-27 April and 31 May-1 June at Hoppers Crossing UC.  See here for more details.

Transforming Worship – UCA National Conference

Transforming Worship is a national gathering for preachers, worship leaders, musicians, artists, poets and others interested in exploring the deep place of worship in shaping and changing our lives and our world. Adelaide will host the first national worship conference for the Uniting Church in 30 years as part of the 40th anniversary of the UCA from 27-30 July 2017.

Transforming Worship will explore the ways in which God forms us in faith and transforms us for discipleship and mission. Craig Mitchell, National Director for Formation, Education & Discipleship said, “We want this event to reflect the breadth and richness of worship in the Uniting Church – from small rural churches to large regional churches, worship across our cultural diversity, worship across generations. We want to plumb the depth of our worship traditions and also attend to the contemporary world in which we live as disciples.”

Overseas speakers include renowned hymnist and worships scholar Rev Dr Ruth Duck from Garett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in the US, Rev Dr Stephen Burns from the UK, Lecturer in Liturgical and Pastoral Theology at Melbourne’s Trinity Theological College. Rev Mark Pierson, from Rhythms of Grace Auckland, NZ will be Curator-in-residence at the conference. Australian speakers include President-Elect Dr Deidre Palmer, Rev Stu Cameron and Rev Myung Hwa Park, with more speakers and ele3ctive leaders to be announced.

The afternoon program features a Crafting stream – opportunity to be creative; a Storytelling stream – hearing from a range of worship leaders; and an Experiential stream – spaces for worship and prayer. The Venue is Burnside City Uniting Church in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs.

Online registrations are now open through the website. For more information contact Neryl McCallum –   Tel: 0409 096 809. The event is co-sponsored by the Assembly Worship Working Group and Formation, Education & Discipleship.

CPN Playgroup Resourcing Nights

Suitable for anyone involved in leading a Playgroup, this Christian Playgroup Network (CPN) facilitated Resourcing Night is a great opportunity for networking together, exploring new resources and being encouraged in your Playgroup ministry. There will be practical ideas to use in your group as well as the opportunity to reflect on ways in which your playgroup can be a place where families can connect, belong and grow. Come along with your team to connect with others in your area, gear up for the year ahead and be inspired, energised and refreshed!

Geelong March 2      Balwyn March 7      Warragul March 9

These Resourcing Nights will include…

  • Ideas for Easter and Mother’s Day
  • Child Safe Standards & Playgroup
  • Open Forum for Questions
  • Exploring Playgroup Vision
  • Praying for one another
CPN Playgroup

Lent Resources

At this time of year Ministers and worship leaders are looking for quality Lent – Easter worship resources and suggestions for their own personal reading.

Many of you remember in Advent last year we compiled a “host” of things – videos, music suggestions, books, reflections, theological material etc. which many folks reported finding useful for worship preparation and personal reflection.

So here is a collection for Lent – Easter.  Just click here and you will find your way to CTM Resourcing and particularly the Lent – Easter Resources-websites, books, photographs, podcasts and downloads. If you think this will be of interest to others in your community, please feel free to share it.Banner