This year, for the first time in a long time, the Uniting Church WA has seen a jump in the number of people undertaking a Period of Discernment (POD). From just six people at the beginning of 2019, there are now 14 people who have entered the POD program.
A Period of Discernment with the Uniting Church WA is an opportunity for members to explore where their call from God might be leading them. While it is necessary to undertake a POD to begin candidacy for ministry in the Uniting Church, people may enter the program for a range of other reasons. It is a year-long journey of reflection on God’s call.
Rev Dr Anne Wright, Director of Education and Formation for the Uniting Church WA, said people undertake a POD for many reasons.
“A Period of Discernment is at least a year’s commitment to engaging in intentional conversation and some study to explore your ministry future – but also to explore your own future,” Anne said. “You can do it at any point in life. It’s suitable for anybody in the Uniting Church.
“The idea is that it’s an open-ended thing, it’s not just funnelling people to becoming candidates [for ministry], although of course we need candidates.”
With church membership in decline, and recognising the need to shake things up, Anne said people who move from a POD into ministry training will be learning new ways of doing church – or Fresh Expressions.
“We need people who will be interested in starting something new and doing a regeneration or fresh expressions of the church. So we need to find the people who are a little bit different, a little bit quirky perhaps who may also be able to do something really different to help us move forward.
“Most of the work will be helping small congregations grow Fresh Expressions of ministry – and we have got to be there and got to be doing this. This is not an optional extra, this is something every ministry agent needs to be able to do in some measure.”
After a successful campaign to promote ministry in the Uniting Church WA, the Uniting Church WA, now also have five candidates for ordained ministry, four people in training as pastors, and two people training as lay preachers – as well as the 14 people undertaking a Period of Discernment.
To find out more about entering a Period of Discernment with the Uniting Church WA, or to learn more about ministry courses, come along to the next Ministry Expo, to be held on Friday 15 May, 7.00pm, at St Andrew’s Uniting Church. For more info contact the Candidates for Ministry Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.