Over a hundred people gathered at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church on Saturday 27 February for the Uniting Church’s annual Summer Spirit event. Guests spent much of the day considering God’s call on their lives.
Rev Michelle Cook, presbytery minister – mission development from the Uniting Church Presbytery of Tasmania, was the key note speaker. She challenged those present to think beyond doing things simply because it is what has always been done, and discovering new ways to live out their faith in the church.
“When I was younger there seemed to be a certain path in using gifts,” she said. “First of all you went to youth group, then you we asked to be a youth group leader, then you may have been trusted to lead worship, then perhaps you became an elder was able to be part of the decision making of the Church Council. Although these things are worthy in themselves, my mother had the same experience 30 years before.
“I see that same thing happening now. We’re looking to fill already established holes in leadership.
“Where is the room for the new things that God is doing? Where’s the room for the fresh words and deeds that the Basis of Union calls us to?”
To begin the process, Summer Spirit guests were invited to ‘stop, look, and listen’ to the world around them. People were asked to make a list of all the things they were doing in their present lives; and to evaluate what they enjoy, and what they are doing because it’s expected. They then asked themselves what they feel God is asking them to spend more time on, and what they feel they may need to stop.
“One of the things that happens when we stop, look and listen is that we see that there is a lot happening,” said Michelle.
“Who does God want us to be in our lives? Every part of our lives; not the church part and the family part and the work part, but every part.”
Using words from John 7: 37–39, Michelle highlighted that God’s love is for sharing.
“My faith is here to serve others,” she said. “My baptism is not just about my personal relationship with Jesus and the church.
“This love is for the entire world. Is it not a pool of water to be contained in my heart; it is a stream from God to be flowing out into the world.”
Michelle shared stories of individuals and congregations who had made significant and positive changes in the way they are church in their communities, by taking the time out to stop, look and listen. She then encouraged those present to spend some time thinking about their own situations and discussing some of their ideas with those around them.
Moving into the afternoon, Summer Spirit workshops included a presentation from young people at Beth Shalom Tongan Uniting Church on how they are valued in their congregation, including an upbeat performance from their praise music group. A number of their younger members then delivered testimonies as to what Beth Shalom means to them.
The Pinjarra Uniting Church Lay Ministry Team also presented on forming an effective lay ministry team; and Paul Montague, First Third co-ordinator with the Uniting Church WA, spoke about the new-monastic inspired community which meets at Fremantle Wesley Uniting Church, Odd Fish.
After a time of networking, Pirate Church took to the stage with their religious, satirical antics. Rev Chris Bedding, rector at Darlington-Bellevue Anglican Church and Paul Montague make up Pirate Church, a comedy production on some of the aspects of church life.
Michelle encouraged Summer Spirit guests to get to know their local community. The Uniting Church QLD has produced a resource to help congregations discern mission opportunities which will be valuable to their local context. To find out more visit http://ucaqld.com.au/stats-have-faces/.