President-elect Dr Deidre Palmer, who is presently the SA Moderator, the NSW-ACT Moderator Rev. Dr Myung-Hwa Park and Moderator of the Northern Synod Rev. Thresi Mauboy also hold some of the most senior leadership roles in our Church. As well, these women represent the cultural diversity of our Church and our understandings of what it means to be ‘the whole people of God’.
This week I have also had the opportunity to spend some time reflecting with four wonderful women who work for the Victoria and Tasmania Synod about our Church’s broad leadership base. The way our Church is structured with responsibility not residing in any one person, rather we have a shared responsibility model. Our shape flows from our understanding that we are the whole people of God, each with gifts to be shared in community for the common good. The reason some describe all God’s people as being “ministers of the Gospel” together.
Maybe Jesus had this in mind when he was addressing the request of James and John to have an honoured place next to him in glory. Mark’s gospel records Jesus as calling all the disciples to him and saying: “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…..The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:42,-45).
Alongside these reflections I’ve been very conscious over these past two weeks of the many women in leadership in our Church. In Brisbane for the National Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry Reference Committee for the first time a Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress representative came, a gifted young woman, an emerging leader. Later in the week the National Young Adult Leaders Conference organisers joined us, with them two more young women, one Indigenous and the of other Tongan background, both gifted emerging leaders.
There are some very special qualities that we have been guided to build into our structures. There is an amazing giftedness within the community of the Uniting Church. Give thanks to God, treasure what is precious and especially one another.