A Commencement Service to mark the beginning of the year for Education and Formation within the Perth Theological Hall was held on Friday night, 23 February. The Induction of Rev Dr Anne Wright and Rev Emma Matthews as Presbytery of WA Ministers, Formation and Discipleship, was also held during the service. Anne and Emma will provide education, training and leadership for the formation of candidates and for the equipping of disciples for ministry and mission in the contemporary context of the church in WA.
Rev Dr John Squires, Director of Education and Formation for the Uniting Church WA, led a reflection on changes taking place in theological education.
“The church is in a different place in the community. And we know that we need to do things differently. We have heard the challenge to be church in a different way, to look for fresh words and deeds, to be missionally engaged with our communities, to reinvent who we are as the church. That is the challenge for us, as people of faith, in the present age,” he said.
“We are called to be lifelong learners. There is always more we can learn, some that we need to unlearn, some that we need to learn for the first time, some that we need to learn in different configurations and for different contexts.”
John said that having an informed faith is part of this journey, and that we do well by learning from one another and those who are different from us. This is a call to the Uniting Church from its foundational document, The Basis of Union.
“Whilst we are grounded in scripture, and we value experience, and appreciate tradition, it is important that we engage with our faith using the human faculties of reason and empathy, drawing upon critical investigation and creative imagining, as we seek to follow the way of Jesus,” he said.
“All of scripture invites us to reconsider, re-evaluate, and then, in a process of metanoia, to reshape and rework who we are, what we understand, and how we live.
“That is the process into which I am looking forward to be working with others, Anne and Emma, and others, in the time ahead. And that is the challenge which sits before each one of us: faithful disciples, called to follow, invited to change, beckoned into transformation.”
During the service, prayers were also held for people in a Period of Discernment and Candidates for Ministry with the Uniting Church WA.