Standing Committee

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Standing Committee held nine face to face meetings during the last triennium. Meetings commence with dinner on Friday evening and conclude at 4.00pm on Sunday. The Friday evening agenda begins with a service of worship including Holy Communion. Prayer and worship shape the work of the Standing Committee. Over the last triennium the Standing Committee has been very conscious, and grateful, that it has been supported by the prayers of many members of the church and is convinced that this support has been reflected in the spirit with which its work has been undertaken and the outcomes of its deliberations.

1.2 The venue for meetings has been the Chevalier Resource Centre at Kensington in suburban Sydney.

1.3 Membership of the Standing Committee has continued as elected by the Twelfth Assembly. As provided for in the Regulations the Synod General Secretaries participate in the meeting, although they are not voting members of the Assembly Standing Committee. The participation of individual members of the ASC is presented in the table below.

1.4

Member Attendance
Alistair Macrae 9
Gregor Henderson 7
Andrew Dutney   9
Terence Corkin 9
Ken Sumner   6
Shayne Blackman 2
Kim Anderson 6
Jenny Brecknell 9
Michelle Cook 9
Lesley de Grussa-Macaulay 7
Andrew Glenn 8
Geoffrey Grinton 9
Kisoo Jang 6
Andrew Johnson 9
Jason Kioa 7
Peter McDonald   9
Stuart McMillan 9
Isabel Thomas Dobson 9
Fatai Tapuelulu 5
Kendall Trudgen 5
Jenny Tymms 9
Robert Watson   9
Adrian White
Wendie Wilkie

 

1.5 The Associate General Secretary and National Consultant for Theology and Discipleship attend as per the Regulations. Along with the Synod General Secretaries, they make a significant contribution to the life and decision making processes of the Standing Committee.  During the last triennium the ASC continued the practice of inviting a theological listener to assist its work. There have been a wide variety of contributors who each brought their own style and focus to their reflections. The role of the theological listener has been to assist the Standing Committee to be conscious of the theological issues that are present, or not present, in its conversations and to assist it to be consciously theological. After several meetings the Standing Committee affirmed the goals present in the decision to invite a theological listener but decided to try and achieve them through other means.

1.6 Business for the Standing Committee is generated by referrals from the Assembly, Assembly agencies, synods, presbyteries, and from Standing Committee members; including the President and General Secretary.

1.7 Not surprisingly a significant amount of the work of the Standing Committee has been addressing the major matters referred to it by the 12th Assembly. In addition it has spent a considerable amount of time reflecting on its own processes and procedures so that it might more effectively exercise the oversight of Assembly work that is committed to it between meetings of the triennial Assembly.

1.8  Standing Committee minutes are circulated to all presbyteries, synods, Assembly agencies and Standing Committee members, and are available on the Assembly’s website. A summary of the main business items and decisions is always printed in National Update, and frequently through Newsletters distributed by the Synod General Secretaries.

2. UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF THE TWELFTH ASSEMBLY

2.1 There were ten pieces of unfinished business from the 12th Assembly that were referred to the ASC for determination (Assembly minute 09.41). In addition there were a significant number of decisions that required action by the ASC.

2.2 Theology of Stipends. Proposals 37 and 62 from the Synod of Queensland and others. In August 2009 Standing Committee requested the National Consultant for Theology and Discipleship to collate the previously written theological papers on stipend and prepare a report to for November 2009. In November the Standing Committee requested that further work be undertaken in the light of the observation that the theology and practice of the church are not always congruent in this area (ASC minute 09.59.03). In March 2010 the ASC received a supplementary paper. Recognizing that decisions regarding stipends are a matter for Synods the paper was received and its contents made known to synods (ASC minute 10.10).

2.3 Ministerial Placement Process. Proposal 50 was brought to the Assembly by Port Phillip East Presbytery and sought the establishment of a Task Group to review a wide range of matters in relation to the placement processes for Ministers. The Standing Committee considered this proposal at length and did not consider that it was a matter that the church as a whole considered warranted a significant review, of the kind that was anticipated by this proposal. The Standing Committee resolved to take no further action on this proposal (ASC minute 09.43).

2.4 Amendment to Regulation 3.1.16 – Term of Office for Church Councillors. The Standing Committee resolved to take no further action on this proposal (ASC minute 09.43).

2.5 ChurchSchools and Chaplaincy.  

Proposal 53 from Ku-ring-gai Presbytery was considered at the August 2009 meeting of the Standing Committee and it was noted that it was over 20 years since the last major paper had been prepared on this subject and that much had changed in the time. Standing Committee requested the Doctrine Working Group to undertake some work and consultation and to bring a report to a later meeting. (ASC minute 09.44). In November 2010 and again in March 2011 the Standing Committee received papers on this issue; and in March resolved to commend and send out the paper to Presbyteries and bodies that appoint chaplains for their consideration and feedback (ASC minutes 10.10 and 11.07). In November 2011 the Standing Committee received a report on the responses received from across the church and this concluded the matter (ASC minute 11.52).

2.6 Children’s Youth and Family Ministry. Proposal 54 was considered in August 2009 and in light of Assembly Key Direction (c) and the significance to the Church of younger generations in the life of the Church resolved to establish a Task Group that would undertake a wide ranging consultation process with a view to taking up the issues raised in the proposal (ASC minute 09.45). In March 2011 a number of decisions were taken including the encouragement of a President’s Young Leaders Conference, asking various Assembly Agencies to be aware of their contribution in this area and requesting theological colleges to report on how they support the preparation of people for ministry with children, youth and their families (ASC minute 10.26).

2.7 Reviewing the Ministry of Lay Preacher. This proposal was received from two members of the Assembly. It was noted that the MEC intended to undertake some significant work in relation to the ministry of Lay Preacher. Proposal 57 and its rationale were referred to the MEC (ASC minute 09.46). The MEC will report on this work in its report.

2.8 Afghanistan. Proposal 63 was considered in August 2009 and supported by the Standing Committee. Representations were made to the Australian Government seeking actions consistent with the proposal. In July 2011 the Standing Committee reiterated the position of the UCA to the Government and Opposition given the lack of movement in this area. (ASC minutes 09.47 and 11.29)

2.9 Funding for Aged Care Providers. The Standing Committee approved the direction of the proposal and made the representations to the Commonwealth Government sought in Proposal 65 (ASC minute 09.48).

2.10 Amendments to the complaints procedures of the church. The Standing Committee approved changes to the Regulations sought by the Synod of NSW / the A.C.T.; so that a Presbytery Pastoral Relations Committee and the Synod Committee for Counselling was given the explicit power to determine at any stage after a complaint is made that a complaint warrants no further action (ASC minute 09.49 and 09.63.02). 

2.11 Ministry of Pastor. This proposal was brought by two members of the Assembly. It was resolved to take no further action on this proposal (ASC minute 09.51)

3. ARISING FROM THE 12th ASSEMBLY

3.1 All resolutions of the 12th Assembly where the Assembly resolved to undertake certain action were put into effect. Those matters that were referred to the ASC for implementation are reported in the following section of the report.

3.2 Assembly Key Directions. (Assembly minute 09.06) Over the last triennium Assembly Agencies and the Standing Committee have sought to give expression to the key directions that were supported by the 12th Assembly. Reporting to the ASC and reflection on the work of Agencies have attempted, so far as possible, to be attentive to the directions named in Minute 09.06. As a tool for shaping the life and work of Agencies and bodies within the Assembly the Key Directions sit alongside Mandates, specific Assembly decisions and individual position descriptions. They are part of a complex mix of inputs into shaping the work of the Assembly. Given the weight that needs to be given to other directions for Agencies and other bodies the Key Directions can only be considered a way of sharpening responsibilities and not primary drivers.

3.3 Membership of future Assemblies. (Assembly minute 09.30.02) At the 12th Assembly the Assembly authorized the Standing Committee, on the advice of the Legal Reference Committee, to make changes to regulations 3.6.2 and 3.6.3 in relation to Assembly membership. In addition to these specific changes the Assembly requested the Standing Committee to give further consideration to the makeup of the future membership of the Assembly and to bring any recommendations for changes to the 13th Assembly. In August 2009 a Task Group was established to undertake this work (ASC minute 09.27).

The group reported in November 2010 with proposals to amend the regulations to achieve the following results: to include the Moderator and Secretary of each Synod in the Synod membership, and any required consequential changes to reduce the number of elected membership from each Synod by two; to allow the Assembly to determine who could reasonably be regarded as of youthful age; in 3.6.2(c)(iii) remove the reference to lay members; to allow the ASC to determine the total number of members to be appointed, up to 5% of the number of members appointed under Regulations 3.6.2(a)–(c)), as well as the bodies to make appointments; and to specify that the ASC may appoint additional members up to 8% of the number of members appointed under Regulations 3.6.2(a)–(c)) (ASC minute 10.65.02). Subsequently the Legal Reference Committee brought draft Regulations for approval.

Although the Standing Committee was requested to bring proposals for change to the 13th Assembly the changes were not considered to be material and so in order that they could be applied to the membership of the 13th Assembly the Standing Committee approved the changes to the regulations (ASC minutes 11.16.03).

3.4 A conversation for the church on what kind of church God is calling us to be. (Assembly minute 09.12 (b) & (c)). The 121h Assembly requested the Standing Committee to initiate a process that would enable to church as a whole to reflect on the Basis of Union, the current context and to consider what kind of church God is calling us to be today. Further the Standing Committee was requested to bring a report to the 13th Assembly on the result of these conversations and any proposals that might be relevant in the area of the Constitution and Regulations, as well as other areas. In August 2009 the Standing Committee established a Task Group to commence reflection on this process and its content (ASC minute 09.28). The Task Group reported in November and the Standing Committee agreed to set aside time at its next meeting for a facilitated conversation on this issue (ASC minute 09.71.02). 

Standing Committee spent considerable time at several meetings with the question “What kind of Church is God calling us to be?” before it. It found the process a useful focus and discipline. However the Standing Committee gained the view that there were many such discussions going on across the life of the church and that to bring a nationally driven conversation into that mix at this time would not be particularly helpful. Therefore no further action was taken on Assembly minute 09.12. Standing Committee notes that these sorts of questions continue to arise and may yet lead to whole of church discussions but it will be important to be open to the Kairos moment before taking any initiative.

3.5 Revision of the Regulations (Assembly minute 09.13). The 12th Assembly authorized the Standing Committee to amend the Regulations to achieve the following outcomes:

a) removal of redundant provisions;
b) standardising of language and style;
c) addressing the numbering of sections;
d) simplifying the Regulations so that they are prescriptive only where it is deemed to be essential, and simplified to enhance the capacity of Councils to be adaptive and missional in their particular contexts; and
e) consistently reflects the theology and polity of the UnitingChurch

In addition the Standing Committee was requested to consider whether provision should be made for the establishment of binding policies and / or by laws that can be established and amended by the Assembly Standing Committee.

This work involved the establishment of a Task Group; opportunity for Presbyteries, Synods, the Beneficiary Fund and others to offer direction for change; significant input from the Standing Committee on the policy and particular directions that were proposed by the Task Group; and detailed drafting work over an extended period of time.

In undertaking its work the Standing Committee focused very closely on the brief it received from the 12th Assembly. Some of the principles on which it based its decisions included: if the regulations say to do things that will be done anyway, for example because they are legal requirements or the practice is so embedded in the church, then a regulation is not required; provide regulations where there are either very common issues across the church or where something may be rare but it is of such importance that it is critical to have best practice available, for example the discipline regulations; restructure the key sections on ministry, and government and administration around the particular stages / issues in the ministry process and around the functions / authorities of councils rather than the current practice of trying to gather everything about a specified ministry or council into one place. The aim here was to make the Regulations more useful for the occasional user by bringing everything relevant to a particular need into one place. This goal of enhancing usability is also supported by the development for the first time of a very substantial table of contents.

As a result of the revision the number of words in the Regulations has been reduced by approximately 20% and two sections plus the separate document on alternative regulations for small congregations have been completely removed.

In considering the question of whether there should be policies, etc that the Standing Committee might be able to change on its own authority the Standing Committee reflected on the contents of the current suite of documents that are published with the Regulations. In addition to the Constitution there is the Code of Ethics, the Manual for Meetings and the Alternative Regulations for Korean congregations. These have traditionally only been amended on the decision of the full Assembly, or through a specific referral to the Standing Committee. There will be proposals from the Standing Committee to this Assembly that propose that the Standing Committee be authorized to amend these specialist documents when it determines it to be necessary, as well as Part 5 of the new Regulations – the Discipline Regulations. A more complete rationale will be provided with the proposal but this is the response of the Standing Committee to the second part of the 12th Assembly’s referral.

The final draft of the revised Regulations was approved by the Standing Committee in November 2011 with an effective date of June 1 2012 (ASC minute 11.54).

3.6 Amendments to Regulations. There were many decisions by the 12th Assembly approving amendments to the Constitution and regulations. The proposed changes to the Preamble and various parts of the Constitution were approved by the requisite number of Synods and Presbyteries and the church advised accordingly. In relation to the changes to regulations, the Legal Reference Committee worked long and hard finalizing the words and returning them to the ASC for final adoption. The Legal Reference Committee is one of the hardest working committees at the Assembly and its members make a very significant contribution with the generous provision of their professional skills and time.

3.7 Designation of property as being available for “Alternative Missional Use”. The 12th Assembly passed an enabling resolution with this aim (Assembly minute 09.07). The directions given to the Standing Committee sought to be comprehensive but in the drafting process it became clear that there were a number of gaps that required decisions on policy and practical arrangements to be made by the Standing Committee. The Standing Committee sought to reflect the mind of the triennial Assembly and the needs of the church as it fulfilled this referral. After a long and complex drafting process the new regulation was approved to come into effect on 1 May 2011 (ASC minute 11.16.02).

3.8 Property Policy for the Uniting Church in Australia. Standing Committee was authorized to approve regulations that gave effect to the decision to develop policies and procedures that facilitated property sharing in a multicultural church (Assembly minute 09.09). The drafting of this regulation and the development of the supportive policy documents with Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry was an extensive project. The final version of the Regulation was approved to become effective on October 1st 2010 (ASC minute 10.35.02).

4. RELATIONSHIP WITH CONGRESS

4.1 One of the most memorable and significant decisions of the 12th Assembly was the adoption of a revised Preamble to the Constitution of the Church, and a number of Constitutional amendments in support of the Covenant relationship with Congress. Since that time the Standing Committee has sought to maintain a sustained conversation with the National Congress in order that joys and concerns can be shared and issues discussed in an effective way.

4.2 As has been the practice for many years the Standing Committee again appointed three of its members to be available to meet with representatives of the National UAICC with an agenda of supporting the Covenant relationship with Congress. In this triennium the group has comprised Terence Corkin, Michelle Cook and Stuart McMillan. Congress has been represented by the National Chairperson, Ken Sumner; and the National Administrator, Shayne Blackman; and other Congress members as selected from time to time.

4.3 Its terms of reference are to

(i) provide a context in which the partners to the Covenant can raise and discuss experiences and issues that give encouragement or concern over the operation of the covenant relationship across the church; and

(ii) consider ways in which Congress and the wider the church can further develop their understanding of, and commitment to, the Covenant; (ASC minute 09.39.04(b) (i) & (ii))

4.4 The Task Group has met up to twice a year and from time to time has been joined by the President. It has proved to be a very constructive context in which to explore complex issues and to maintain significant relationships between key national leaders of the Covenantal relationship in the life of the UCA.

5. EXERCISING OVERSIGHT OF ASSEMBLY AGENCIES AND COMMITTEES

5.1 All Agencies report regularly to the Standing Committee and consult prior to the establishment of new policies and directions. Agencies very much appreciate and benefit from this exchange.

5.2 Over the course of the last triennium the Standing Committee has become very focused on its responsibilities to exercise good governance over the areas which the church has entrusted to its care and oversight. The Standing Committee understands that it is fundamentally a Council of the Church (having the authority of the Assembly between triennial meetings of the Assembly) and therefore its persona and ways of working can never be fully captured by the language and practices of corporate governance. Nevertheless there are functions and responsibilities that ultimately sit in the court of the Standing Committee which are of a Board like quality. The most obvious examples are in relation to compliance with legislative requirements, ensuring fulfillment of contractual undertakings, protecting the legal and reputational risk of the organization and its parts, ensuring that good financial management and risk mitigation are in place, thinking about strategic issues that affect the Assembly, as well as others.

5.3 Since the 1998 restructure of the Assembly governance and management arrangements there has been a steady and progressive development of structures, patterns of working and delegation of authority put in place in order that the complex, widespread and substantial work of the Assembly can be overseen appropriately by a group of people which only meets three times a year, and has many other responsibilities. The main mechanism used has been the delegation of powers to other groups to act in the place of the Standing Committee in relation to certain aspects of the life of an Agency or area of work. The main examples include the establishment of the Audit, Finance and Risk Committee in the Regulations; and a Board for Frontier Services and National Committees for the two areas of UnitingWorld and UnitingCare Australia.

5.4 These delegations alongside the role of the General Secretary in relation to the staff, and the Mandates of Agencies themselves have created a very complex web of relationships and accountabilities. Experience during the last triennium has illustrated how a lack of clarity can create uncertainty and make movement on issues that much more difficult to achieve.  In response to a growing awareness of the complexity of the governance arrangements that are in place and what that might mean for the proper fulfillment of its responsibilities, the Standing Committee appointed a Governance Task Group. This group did some important work in assisting the Standing Committee to focus on a number of key issues. Unfortunately most of this work was done in the latter half of the triennium which meant that it was not possible to see through all the ideas that were developing or to trial some new ideas.

5.5 Nevertheless the Standing Committee did determine to make a start and has put in place a group to assist in ensuring that there is an agenda that includes its governance responsibilities; and that it takes some time to think constructively about how frequently it needs to have meetings with Agency representatives and what the focus of the interaction should be (ASC minute 11.56.02).

5.6 Of importance to the incoming Standing Committee will be the list of unfinished matters from the work of the Governance Task Group that the outgoing Standing Committee considers are important for it to address early in its term (ASC minute 11.56.05). The Standing Committee recognizes that with the high turnover of membership that it is often towards the end of a triennium that insight has grown to the point where action can be taken in the area of governance. The outgoing members affirm the importance of continuing to focus on this area of the life of the Assembly and hope that it will be possible to build on the foundation that they have sought to lay.

6. PRESIDENTIAL RULINGS

6.1 Presidential Ruling #27 addressed the question of whether the Presbytery of Illawarra acted in compliance with all relevant Regulations and by-laws in relation to its consideration of a request for an extension of placement by a Minister who had served more than 10 years with a Parish Mission. The President determined that the Presbytery acted appropriately. The Presidential Ruling was confirmed in November 2010 (ASC minute 10.75).

7. ASSEMBLY FINANCE

7.1 Standing Committee is grateful to Synods for their financial contributions to the Assembly for each of the three years of 2010 - 2012. This support has been given at times when the resources of some synods have been under particular stress.

7.2 Notwithstanding the good will and support of Synods for funding the Assembly the Assembly has experienced a significant reduction in its grants over the last triennium. Given the state of financial markets, if not the economy, over the last triennium this reduction in funding is not surprising. This vulnerability to the changing financial circumstances experienced by the synods prevents any meaningful long term planning as the Assembly can experience a reduction in income of over $250,000 in a year with very little warning. The financial report of the Assembly is provided as document B4A.

7.3 The Assembly budget has been managed very tightly over the last three years and has not operated at a deficit in any of these years. Among the strategies employed to manage the Assembly’s tight financial circumstances are strong cost controls and budget processes; careful management of the Assembly’s modest asset base and the expectation that where recipients of Assembly funds are able to be more self reliant then they be expected to do so. This has been the case for UnitingWorld Relief and Development and the Northern Synod. The timing and quantum reductions in funding from the Assembly Fund to these bodies are subject to annual review and negotiation. Over the last three the Assembly has managed to maintain existing work that is supported through the Assembly Fund, and made some modest increases in support for Uniting Justice. This has been possible due to reduced staffing in the Secretariat and reduced grants to the Synod of Western Australia and the Northern Synod.

8. EXEMPTIONS FROM THE OPERATION OF REGULATIONS

8.1 From time to time Standing Committee is asked to exercise its authority under Regulation 3.6.34 to approve alternate Regulations and / or exemptions from Regulations for particular bodies.

8.2 During the last triennium these requests were somewhat less than usual. The Synod of South Australia sought exemption from Regulation 3.4.15(d)(i) re membership of Presbytery.

The Standing Committee agreed to the request and resolved to  grant an exemption from Regulation 3.4.15(d)(i) and make an alternative Regulation 3.4.15(d)(i) for the Presbytery of South Australia (ASC minute 10.17.02).

3.4.15 (d) (i) One confirmed lay member elected by each Congregation, except where a congregation has less than 30 confirmed members and members-in-association and where that congregation chooses not to elect a lay member. Where a Congregation includes more than 150 confirmed members and members-in-association in total, one additional confirmed lay member may be elected by the Congregation or where a Congregation includes more than 250 confirmed members and members-in association in total, two additional confirmed lay members may be elected by the Congregation;

8.3 The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania sought an exemption from the operation of Regulation 3.5.20 in order to facilitate the process for the appointment of a new General Secretary. An alternative regulation was provided for this occasion (ASC minute 11.72.12).

3.5.20 Should a vacancy occur in the office of Secretary between ordinary meetings of the Synod, the Standing Committee of the Synod shall bring a nomination to a special meeting of the Synod convened for the purpose.;

9. AGENCY ARRANGEMENTS

9.1 During the last triennium the most significant development in the areas of the Assembly’s work has been the discontinuing of a position of National Director for Christian Education. The Standing Committee came to the view that it was timely for the church to reflect in a disciplined way on the nature and practice of what has been known as “Christian Education”. This led to the end of the term of Mark Hillis as National Director and the creation of a Christian Education Research Fellowship to be funded for two years. Mr Craig Mitchell was appointed to the role and he in undertaking this research within the context of a PhD. More will be said on this project in another report. From the perspective of the Standing Committee it is just noted that this project was supported in order that there would be a considered basis upon which the church might develop its understanding of Christian Education and a firm ground on which the Assembly could make a longer term decision about its role in Christian Education. 

9.2 Some modest changes have been made in other areas of work including renaming of the work of “Uniting Faith and Justice” as “Uniting Faith and Discipleship”; and the establishment of stronger governance arrangements in Uniting World – Relief and Development and UnitingWorld – Church Connections.

10. PALESTINE / ISRAEL

10.1 In July 2010 the National Council of Churches (NCCA) passed a series of resolutions in relation to Palestine / Israel with the strong support of the UnitingChurch. Subsequent to this decision the NCCA requested member churches to consider adopting a similar position. The Standing Committee spent a significant amount of time in its meetings and between meetings in discussion, including with leaders of the Jewish community and UCA members of various Jewish Christian dialogue groups. In July 2011 the Standing Committee passed a number of resolutions in support of the Palestinian Christian community and agreed to produce resources that would assist members of the church to consider how they might respond to the issues that are of concern (ASC minute 11.33). The kit was made available in December and distributed widely throughout the church. It remains available and current.

10.2 In March 2012 the President and General Secretary visited Israel and the Palestine territories with AustralianChurch leaders under the auspices of the NCCA. This was a follow up visit to that taken by AustralianChurch leaders in 2007, in response to ongoing requests for support from the Palestinian Christian communities.

11. CHURCH MEMBERSHIP

11.1 In the previous triennium there were a number of discussion papers on the theme of church membership and how it is most appropriately recognized today. This discussion remained unfinished business at the time of the 12th Assembly.

11.2 The Doctrine Working Group brought the matter to the agenda of the Standing Committee again in November 2009 when the National Consultant for Theology and Discipleship presented a paper taking up issues raised in the paper: ‘A Church of Passionate Disciples …. Rethinking Church Membership’.

11.3 Standing Committee supported the general direction of the paper but did not consider that it was helpful to propose Constitutional change around this matter. A further paper was requested including a consideration of how the conversation could be further progressed in the life of the church (ASC minute 09.57.02 and 09.57.03).

11.4 After further work and discussion at the Standing Committee a paper was distributed to the church at the end of 2010 and inviting comments from Presbyteries and other Councils of the church (ASC minute 10.54.02).

11.5 In November 2011 the Standing Committee received a report from the National Consultant for Theology and Discipleship on the responses from the church to the discussion paper. Standing Committee proposes no action due to the diversity of positions expressed from across the Church. Presbyteries were advised of this action.

12. GUIDELINES FOR THE THIRD PHASE OF MINISTERIAL EDUCATION

12.1 In July 2010 the Standing Committee received advice from the Ministerial Education Commission that new Guidelines were available for the third phase of ministerial education. Standing Committee endorsed the Guidelines (ASC minute 10.28.02).

13. REVIEW OF THE ASSEMBLY RECEPTION OF MINISTERS PROCEDURES

13.1 In response to a request from the Assembly Reception of Ministers Committee the Standing Committee established a Task Group to review the operations and assumptions in the current regulation for the reception of Ministers from another denomination. After extensive work, including drafting by the Legal Reference Committee, the Standing Committee resolved to propose major changes to the way in which this process functions. This will be subject to a proposal from the Standing Committee.

14. REVIEW OF THE MINISTERIAL EDUCATION COMMISSION (MEC)

14.1 The Standing Committee decided that there was merit in giving consideration to the way that the MEC functions and whether there would be benefits in bringing its operations more into alignment with the advisory role which is the pattern for other areas of work instead of maintaining a commission model.

14.2 There was an extensive process of consultation at the Standing Committee and with the MEC. The outcome of this process is that the Standing Committee will submit a proposal to make changes to the way in which the Assembly exercises its role in the oversight of Ministerial Education and the providers of Ministerial education.

15. REVIEW OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT COMPLAINTS POLICIES

15.1 Since before the 12th Assembly the Standing Committee has had a task to review and revise the policies for addressing complaints of sexual misconduct made against a member, adherent or voluntary worker of the UnitingChurch in Australia. This is a task that has proved to be far more complicated than would have been expected. There have been a number of significant policy issues to address, including but not limited to what the relationship should be between such a policy and workplace or Agency policies.

15.2 The ability to progress this issue has also been seriously affected by the major and complex work that has been before the Legal Reference Committee in the last triennium and the fact that key persons on the Task Group are members of that Committee. The work will continue in the next triennium.

16. EMMAUS AUSTRALIA – UCA MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

16.1 Emmaus Australia is the local expression of the Walk to Emmaus program developed by the United Methodist Church USA. When it commenced in Australia in the 1980’s the UnitingChurch was asked to be its sponsoring body.

16.2 Many Ministers and members of the UnitingChurch are actively involved in the Emmaus movement and value its role in discipleship formation. As with many things in the UCA there are differences of opinion about Emmaus but it is generally affirmed in the church.

16.3 The opportunity arose in the last triennium for the UnitingChurch to establish closer links to Emmaus Australia. This has been done through the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding which provides for the UnitingChurch to have participation in the National Secretariat of Emmaus Australia and to share information with each other. Given the significant number of Uniting Church people involved in Emmaus the Standing Committee considered that there was merit in entering into this Memorandum of Understanding so that any issues of interest to the Uniting Church can be raised and Emmaus can become more widely known in the church (ASC minute 11.32.02).

17. SEEKING A HEART OF WISDOM

17.1 The MEC undertook a review of the Guidelines for Continuing Education for Ministers and resolved to endorse the document “Seeking a Heart of Wisdom” (ASC minute 11.67.02).

18. LUTHERAN – UCA DECLARATION OF MUTUAL RECOGNITION

18.1 The Standing Committee received with gratitude the fruits of the work undertaken by the members of the Lutheran – UCA dialogue, which is the mutual recognition of each other as churches. After years of patient and careful work, it was possible for the Standing Committee to adopt the revised Declaration of Mutual Recognition with the Lutheran Church of Australia (ASC minute 10.16.03). This step was taken following the acceptance of this revised Declaration by the LutheranChurch of Australia at their General Synod meeting in 2009 ‘without dissenting voice’. The minor revision, referred to in the ASC minute, was of the text of the Declaration passed by the UCA Assembly in 2000.

18.2 Subsequent discussion with the Lutheran Church of Australia has established protocols which will serve to guide both churches when they are responsible for the appointment of Ministers to serve in joint Lutheran – UCA Parishes (ASC minute 10.62.03).

18.3 The Christian Unity Working Group has been asked to develop guidelines for the shared oversight of such ministries in the light of the established protocols (ASC minute 10.62.04)

19. STAFF MATTERS

19.1 The Standing Committee reviewed the ministry of Rev Dr Tony Floyd as National Director, Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry. Standing Committee resolved to extend the placement of Tony Floyd to March 2015 (ASC minute 09.69.02).         

19.2 Rev Dr Kerry Enright concluded his initial term of five years as National Director for UnitingWorld in January 2012. The Standing Committee resolved to extend Kerry Enright’s placement until January 31 2017 (ASC minute 11.45.02).

19.3 The Associate General Secretary, RevGlenda Blakefield, was reviewed and her term was renewed until June 30 2014 (ASC Minute No. 12.15.02).

19.4 In the first half of 2010 the Standing Committee undertook a review of the General Secretary, RevTerence Corkin. His term is set to conclude on December 31 2012. The review was undertaken by the President, RevAlistair Macrae and members of the Standing Committee, RevJason Kioa, Mr Geoffrey Grinton and Mrs Jenny Brecknell. A proposal will be brought proposing an extension of the term of the General Secretary (ASC minute 11.44.03).

19.5 Rev (Deacon) Sandy Boyce concluded her term as National Consultant for Faith Development and Discipleship and was replaced, part time, by RevTom Kerr.

19.6 There have been a number of changes in key leadership roles in the Assembly Secretariat. Ms Penny Monger concluded as the Senior Communications Manager and after reflection the decision was taken after the most recent incumbent to establish a new role of Senior Media Officer. This role was filled in March by Mr Mat Pulford. Mr Jim Fraser has concluded after eighth years as the CFO / Administration Manager and has been replaced by Mr Mark Neasey as the Finance and Administration Manager.

20. BUSINESS PASSED TO THE NEXT STANDING COMMITTEE

20.1 The incoming Standing Committee will need to continue work on finalizing the review and revision of the policies for addressing complaints of sexual misconduct made against a member, adherent or voluntary worker of the UCA.

21.2 The outgoing Standing Committee has provided a number of suggestions for attention and action by the incoming Standing Committee arising from its work on governance and other matters.

21. FUTURE MEETING DATES

21.1 The incoming Standing Committee elected by the Thirteenth Assembly will hold its first meeting in Sydney on 24 - 26 August 2012. The second meeting is 16 - 18 November 2012.

Rev Terence Corkin
General Secretary