People, Places and Planes: Presidential Field Notes and Reflections, by Rev Dr Andrew Dutney

people-places-and-planesRev Dr Andrew Dutney was the president of the Uniting Church in Australia from 2012– 2015. This book is a chronological account of his very readable reflections and statements during those three years.

One theme is the Uniting Church’s inclusiveness and therefore diversity. Indeed Dutney regards inclusiveness as one of the Uniting Church’s best characteristics.

Second, the congregations continue to decline. The broader context in which those congregations developed has itself changed: Australia is now a “multicultural, multi-faith, hyper-capitalist, globalized, digital  civilization”. Therefore the Uniting Church is having to find a new way of living in a new world.

An interesting statistic is that the Uniting Church has more than 2 000 congregations – more than twice the number of McDonald’s outlets. So it still has a large base from which to begin its reinvention for the new  era.

Finally, the saga of the iconic Frontier Services dominated much of Dutney’s time as President. He was there for the centennial events in 2012 and two years later for the transfer of much of its work to other Uniting Church agencies. Frontier Services had become over-extended (especially in aged care). Dutney handled the process well.

Overall, the book is a snapshot of the Uniting Church written by an expert on Uniting Church’s theology and polity.

Dr Keith Suter

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