5 minutes with… Robert Watson

Robert Watson, Past Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, recently stepped down from his longterm role as Chair of the UnitingCare WA Forum. He spends 5 minutes with us to share some reflections.

How long did you serve with the UnitingCare WA Forum?

I was fortunate to be involved with the UnitingCare WA Forum, and its predecessor the UnitingCare Commission, since the late 1990’s. This also meant that I was the WA Synod’s representative as a member of the UnitingCare Australia’s National Reference Committee.

What are some of your most memorable moments with the commission and the forum?

During those three decades, how could I not have numerous memorable moments when working with such groups of wonderful, committed people? Perhaps the pivotal moments  included:

  • Along with Doug Lambert and Rev Michaela Tiller, being part of a Synod appointed Task Group, considering a review of our church’s community services and developing an  action plan for their future direction.
  • Helping, over a period of time, our agencies and the Synod to form a deeper understanding and honouring of the gifts and graces that both parties bring to the relationship.
  • When the agencies agreed that I should remain the Chair, even though I was the Mission Development Leader at UnitingCare West following on from my Moderatorialship.

Who are your role models?

As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth there were quite a number of Christian women and men who inspired me and helped in my formation. These people included four men who had  a profound effect on me over the years.

One was a Saint I never met personally; one was my boss; one was a minister who really opened my eyes and helped me fall in love with living out the hope embodied in the Kingdom of God and its Shalom in its fullest intent; and one who was a German-American academic who influenced disability policy and practice through his development of social role valorisation.

Respectively, they were Saint Francis of Assissi; Les Smith, the Director of Methodist Homes for Children; Rev Harry Lucas; and Dr Wolf Wolfensberger whom I was given the  opportunity to study under for a brief period of time when he came to Australia.

What are your hopes for the Uniting Church WA as you pass the baton?

I am old enough to be one of those who voted for Union. I have no doubt that we are pilgrims on a journey towards that time when we can know that the Kingdom of God, for  which we so earnestly pray and work, has come. Let us remain faithful to our calling and our Statement to the Nation, as the shapes and forms change around us, never forgetting that we will not be forsaken, and that God has not finished with us yet.

Read the Uniting Church in Australia’s 1977 Statement to the Nation on the Assembly website at ucaassembly.recollect.net.au

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