From Rev Andrew Smith
Presbytery Minister - Congregation Futures
Last Sunday night members of the GRACE Faith Community, Goulburn and District Multi-Centre Congregation and Presbytery gathered and donned face masks in Goulburn for the commissioning of Amy Junor as a Pastor in the Uniting Church in Australia while serving as the GRACE Faith Community Pastor. The commissioning took place as part of the regular “Your Worship” community, that is one of the communities within the GRACE Faith Community.
Some of the key roles that Amy takes on as pastor include providing pastoral care and leadership within the GRACE communities; empowering the emerging leadership and maintaining connections amongst the GRACE communities; and continuing the connection of the GRACE community with the wider church as she advocates for the GRACE Community. One of her significant collegial relationship is with the Goulburn and District Multi-Centre Transitional Minister – Rev Daniel Mossfield. Together they are offering leadership in a 12-month transitional ministry team to help shape sustainable ministry across the region into the future.
The role that Amy is undertaking as Pastor is one of the four specified ministries that we have in the Uniting Church. Borrowing from a previous article by John Squires … For the past two decades, we have recognised four specified ministries. Pastor, Minster of Word, Deacon and Lay Preacher.
“Both MOW and Deacon are ordained ministries—that is to say, a person entering one of these ministries becomes a part of the “ordering” of the whole church. These ministries have specific functions and responsibilities within the whole people of God. (These are set out in Regulation 2.2.)
People in these ministries are “set apart” by ordination for what is expected to be a lifetime of service in the church. They are authorised to exercise ministry across the church and are expected to be available to a call to placement in any place across the church throughout their active ministries.
By contrast, both Lay Preacher and Pastor are commissioned lay ministries—ministries exercised by people who continue as members of the people of God, exercising their ministry in the focussed way that is set out in their commissioning for these specific tasks.
Pastor is a ministry which is accredited for the place in which the ministry is exercised—it is not “transferable” across location. The other three specified ministries are considered to be “for life”, and they can be exercised anywhere across the Uniting Church.”
In preparation for Amy to come into this Pastor role, the Pastoral Relations Committee of our Presbytery undertook to interview Amy in order to assess the competencies which are required in this position. Needless to say, given her educational qualifications and experience, and her practical and pastoral experience, the interview team were readily able to affirm that Amy possesses the essential Core Competencies as well as the range of General Competencies relating to the exercise of this ministry role.
The worship service to celebrate Amy’s commissioning to the ministry of Pastor in her role as the GRACE Faith Community Pastor was led by Berry Dower (member of GRACE), Presbytery Co-Chair Judith McKinlay and Presbytery Minister – Congregation Futures, Andrew Smith.
Through Berry’s welcome we knew we were part of a community worship time that is focused on ministering with people who might find it hard to connect with conventional church worship services. Here is the open welcome we received:
“If you’ve read the gospels, you’ll know that this faith community aligns with the teaching and parables of Jesus, who was consistently rebuking the Pharisees for their attitude of elitism, exclusion and self-righteousness. We extend a special welcome to those who are identify as LGBTIQ+ and remind you that you are safe and you are loved. We welcome you if you can sing like Adele or like me, love singing but throw everyone else out of key. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of gaol. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since … well you can’t remember the last time you were in a Church. We extend a special welcome to those who are over 50 but have not yet grown up, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome tree-huggers, gamers, cyclists, vegetarians, and junk-food eaters. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,”… we’ve been there too. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or are just cold and want somewhere warm to sit a while. Amen” (Adapted from a service program of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community Church in Daytona Beach, Florida).
As part of the service Amy spoke of her sense of call to ministry with the GRACE Faith Community. A key part of her call is realising that the people of GRACE are “her people” and it makes this ministry feel so right for this time and place. A fitting “liturgical” piece followed the act of commissioning in which one of the members of the GRACE Faith Community started a chant “One of us …. One of us …. One of us”. Our Presbytery affirms the calling of Amy to serve as the GRACE Faith Community Pastor.