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Wednesday, 05 July 2006

Canberra minister installed as Uniting Church President

The new President of the Uniting Church has challenged local congregations across the country to find new ways to connect with the 80 per cent of Australians who no longer have regular connections with the church.

The Rev. Gregor Henderson will be installed as the 11th President of the Uniting Church, Australia’s third largest Christian denomination, at a ceremony in Brisbane today.

Currently Minister of the thriving Wesley Church in Forrest and the smaller St Aidan’s Church in Narrabundah, ACT, Gregor was ordained as a Minister of the Word in 1971.

He has been a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee since 1998, served on committees and assemblies of the Christian Conference of Asia and has been heavily involved in the National Council of Churches in Australia since its establishment in 1994.

As President, Gregor will be responsible for providing pastoral and spiritual leadership to the Uniting Church over the coming triennium.

“It’s a great honour and will be a great challenge,” he said. “The next three years are a crucial time for the Uniting Church as we not only deal with a number of difficult internal issues but as we struggle to find news ways to connect with Australians as fewer people are connecting with the churches.

“Today, 80 per cent of Australians have no regular contact with organised religion, yet we know from recent research that the journey for meaning, purpose and community is just as important today as it was 2,000 years ago. Many people are interested in pursuing a spiritual quest, they are also interested in the person of Jesus, but they are not always so interested in the institutional trappings. The critical question in our local setting is how to assist people on that journey in ways that are helpful. ”

Gregor said he hoped to draw on his experience in parish ministry and chairing the board of Frontier Services, the church’s rural and remote ministry and community service provider. “My own recent experience is that conversations about faith and life are just as important as ever. Our challenge is to take a risk by re-examining some of the old notions of church and being willing to look at new ways of making connections and new ways of being the church.”

MEDIA ADVISORY: A media accreditation and briefing session will take place 11 am today, July 5, at the University of QLD, St Lucia Campus, Building 39A, Room 209 (corner Blair Drive and Campbell Road). Gregor Henderson will be available for interview at a press conference at 12pm. A copy of his installation sermon is available under embargo ahead of this press conference through the Communications Manager.

Media Contact: Gavin Melvin, Manager, National Media and Communication – 0417 416 674