Ministry Expo set to inspire new ministry leaders

Are you feeling a call to ministry but haven’t quite made the leap?

The Ministry Expo will be a great place to get that conversation going.

Held on Friday 30 August, the Ministry Expo is a chance for people to explore the different types of ministry in the Uniting Church WA, how they can prepare themselves for ministry, and where it could lead them.

Rev Dr Anne Wright, Director of Education and Formation at the Uniting Church WA, said the Ministry Expo is an opportunity for our next generation of ministry agents to learn more about the process and begin the journey.

She also said that the church needs to act now to encourage more people into ministry.

“In the next ten years at least 29 people will retire who are in active ministry in [the Uniting Church] WA,” Anne said. “We have 50 ministry agents in WA, so that’s a good two thirds of our ministry. And that’s assuming they’ll work until they’re 70.

“If we go to 15 years, it’s 40 out of 50. So basically we need a whole renewal of our ministry team.”

In the past, the Uniting Church has been able to bring in new ministers from overseas. However, changes to migration laws mean that is no longer an option. So we needed to shake things up.

A lot has changed in the Education and Formation areas of the church in recent years. New pathways to ministry, including Certificate Courses and part time options, make studying more accessible for people who may have struggled with academic requirements in the past, such as people with English as a second language, or people who are more skills based.

There are also a range of different callings into ministry, such as Pastor, Lay Preacher, Minister of the Word and Deacon. All the information about this and more will be available at the Ministry Expo.

On the night, there’ll be a range of people available to engage with in discussion about the process of getting into, and the experience of being in, ministry – including Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, representatives from the Candidates for Ministries Commission, and staff of the Perth Theological Hall.

Anne said that ministry is such a rewarding job for those who feel the call.

“Ministry is difficult, there’s no question about that, and it is a really challenging life,” she said.

“And ministry can be the most wonderful experience, and the most fabulous thing to be part of. But there’s no good being part of it if you don’t feel a really strong call from God.

“It becomes a pull that’s within you that you can no longer resist.”

Sometimes people are not ready to act on their call, and that’s ok too. They are still welcome to come along to the Ministry Expo and see what it’s all about.

“There are times in your life when it’s ‘not yet’; maybe because you’re family isn’t ready and you’ve still got responsibilities with young children,” Anne said.

“Feeling a call can come later in life. People also can experience a strong call when they’re younger – and we really should be responding more positively to younger people.

“We need more youthful leaders, people for whom this is what they want to do with their lives.”

While many congregations are aware that the Uniting Church WA is short on people in ministry at the moment, if they make their needs known, the Commission for Education for Discipleship and Leadership (CEDAL) are able to work with them to try and come to an arrangement. Congregations and faith communities could perhaps partner together in funding a minister, or partner with local chaplains in their area.

“I recommend that people pray solidly about it,” Anne said. “Pray for new people in our church to become ministers, because we have no church if we don’t have ministers for the next generation.”

The Ministry Expo is open to anyone who may be feeling a call to ministry, or who is just interested in finding out more.

It will be held on Friday 30 August, 6.00 to 8.00pm, at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 182 Bennett St East Perth.

For more info visit unitingchurchwa.org.au/ministry-expo or contact the CEDAL on 9260 9800 or email cedal@wa.uca.org.au.

For information on the types of ministries in the Uniting Church, visit assembly.uca.org.au/education-for-ministry

Heather Dowling

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