Rev Dr John Squires and Rev Elizabeth Raine will be the keynote speakers at next year’s Summer Spirit. John is also the new director of education and formation for the Uniting Church WA, and will take up his role in February 2017.
John and Elizabeth have a passion for doing church in new ways, and have spent much of their recent ministry helping churches creatively connect with their communities. John is currently in a placement with Wauchope and District Uniting Church, NSW, and Elizabeth is serving an Intentional Ministry Placement in Canberra. They have also worked in shared placements, including as Presbytery ministers with the Mid North Coast Presbytery of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT, encouraging others in engaging and new ministry.
With the Summer Spirit theme of ‘Being church in new ways,’ John and Elizabeth will share their knowledge and experience of these ministries, much of which has been spent encouraging congregations to experiment with different ways of connecting with their communities. John said this has happened in various ways, such as community gardens, projects with local schools, Messy Church, community markets and a nonreligious youth group.
“It’s really been limited only by the imagination of the people in the church,” John said.
While connecting with communities, action speaks louder than words.
“I think it’s important for people in the community to know that church people are just ordinary people. We’re not always out to get people to sign up to come on Sunday morning or to live life in a certain way, but we’re just there and involved with people, interested in people and happy to work with them on various projects,” he said.
In his new role with the Uniting Church WA, John is excited to integrate education for a wide audience.
“For me, the most important part about itis approaching the educational offerings across the church in an integrated way. So, education of lay leaders, education of congregation members, continuing education for ministers in placement and the formation of new candidates for ministry – I’ll have responsibility over all that area, so I’m looking forward to doing it in a way that offers things for multiple audiences,” he said.
Summer Spirit is the Uniting Church WA’s annual education and spiritual discernment event. Summer Spirit 2017 will be held on Saturday 25 February at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. As well as the keynote speakers, there’ll be workshops on Visioning for Fresh Expressions, Deep Water Dwelling, and Empowering Lay Leaders. Cost is $90, register before 17 February 2017.