49. MINUTE OF APPRECIATION FOR REV DR MARK HILLIS (Christian Education Reference Committee)

Monday, 09 July 2012

The Assembly resolve to


place on record appreciation for the service of Rev. Dr. Mark Hillis as National Director of Christian Education for the Uniting Church Assembly. Mark served the church in this role from 2005 to 2010.  Mark brought the rich experience of his work as a Regional Education Officer for the Hunter Presbytery in the NSW Synod prior to his commencement at the Assembly in 2005.  Mark has also served on a number of Synod committees including the previous NSW Synod Board of Education.  He was also a member of the Assembly’s Joint Board of Christian Education (JBCE) before it became Uniting Education.


Mark’s breadth and depth of experience, commitment and expertise were in evidence across a wide range of projects and forums. He acted as the liaison between the Uniting Church and the publishers and distributors of the Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, providing advice both to the curriculum providers and to its users. Godly Play was one of his keen interests, and Mark was instrumental in raising its profile nationally as a Christian education approach. In collaboration with the Assembly Christian Education Reference Committee (CERC), Mark explored a range of possible futures for Christian Education curriculum in the life of the Uniting Church. The “Next Generations” Project, aimed at fostering initiatives in educational ministry with children and young people, emerged from this. Mark had a particular gift for uncovering and encouraging people with fresh insights and promising projects.


Mark initiated and coordinated an annual gathering of Synod and Assembly Lay and Leadership Educators, which continues as a vital forum for sharing strategies, resources and ideas. He also participated in the work of the National Youth Affairs Reference Committee (NYARC) and the Synod Children’s and Youth ministry Network (CHYNC) often giving encouragement and advice that enabled people to move forward in exciting and creative ways.


Mark was key in establishing the UCA National Schools’ Consultative Group in late 2008, and was the Uniting Church representative on the Consultative Group of the Independent Schools Council of Australia.  He undertook the initial development work on school-based interfaith education guidelines for the Uniting Church.


Mark was a valued member of the Assembly staff team, regularly providing advice and assistance on educational matters across a number of projects relating to social justice, covenanting, spirituality, multicultural education, theology and discipleship.  Mark’s warmth, care for persons, and easy-going humour enabled him to move with ease in many different settings.


Mark continues as a member of the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values (ISREV) and the Board of Network of Biblical Storytellers. (Australia & New Zealand)  Mark continues to be committed to Christian education as a Minister of the Word in the Epping Congregation in the NSW ACT Synod, especially in enabling Biblical studies and Theology to come alive for people in formative and insightful ways. The Assembly is grateful for the significant contribution of Rev. Dr Mark Hillis to its life.