Moderator of the Uniting Church, Synod of NSW and the ACT
As Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia for the Synod of NSW and the ACT, Simon Hansford’s pastoral and prophetic leadership seeks to engage people with the gospel, through advocacy, service, and the ministry of individuals and congregations.”
I am confident that wherever an annual report is being written this year, the common theme will be that this was not the year anyone expected, whether expectations were good, bad, or the same as the year before.
Expectations, however, are not a real measure of our lives. Experience is.
Whether I catch a taxi in Sydney, or buy lunch at the Sydney Synod office, I hear about the twin crises of finance and the future in which individuals and entire community have been immersed, and their implications, arising from the pandemic.
In conversations with my daughter, who works at Tamworth Base Hospital, I hear about the tension, stretched over 6 months, for all the staff; this is replicated across every hospital in our country. Most significantly, the concern for our most vulnerable citizens – our aged, our ailing, our isolated – is tangible in every family.
Yet, this is where Jesus calls us to be – in the midst of people’s lives, offering hope and care, and seeking justice.”
An echo of the gospel is heard every time an advocate speaks up for our Fair Treatment campaign to decriminalise drugs, or when an older person is given care and comfort. The pulse of the gospel is felt when diversity and inclusion are expected in all parts of our community and Church, and not seen as a novelty.
The profound nature of our worship, witness and service is realised when congregations and individuals, Uniting staff and Uniting Church schools, Synod leaders and people across our community, march to the beat of a prophetic drum. This year, we rallied to confront inaction on climate change, and to declare this issue as critical for the life of our entire creation – now.
The ministry and work of Uniting are a gift to our Church but, more important, they are a gift to our community.
Advocacy and concerted action arise from an understanding that faith compels us to speak up, and to act up. So we call for affordable housing, and look to take part in its establishment; we speak about the importance of families, in all their shapes and sizes, and provide counsel and care for as many as we can. We challenge our politicians on behalf of those who continue to seek asylum, and we provide shelter and company in our communities.
There is no doubt that many challenges continue to confront us. The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety needs to have far-reaching and positive effects. The resolution of COVID-19 is currently unclear, and the political climate is even less certain.
What is certain, is that our core business remains, as the Uniting Church and in Uniting NSW.ACT; we are committed ‘to serve the world for which Christ died’ (Basis of Union, Para. 1).
I am proud of the ministry Uniting offers in our community. I am thankful for the people across the organisation, for Tracey Burton and Doug Taylor, and all the other leaders with whom I regularly engage.
Despite this being a year none of us would have chosen, I am thankful for what has been achieved, the ministry and service of so many people, and the possibilities which await our Church in the year ahead.
Moderator of the Uniting Church,
Synod of NSW and the ACT