Space for Grace and Deep Listening

During the last week hundreds of people in the Uniting Church gathered for a 5 day meeting.  Some of these people were from Tasmania, some were from Victoria. Some of these people were lay people, some were ordained.  Some of these people were in the 70s, some were in the 20s, with many in between.  And some of these meeting days lasted over 12 hours!

In the Uniting Church we share the conviction that decision making is the responsibility of the whole church – not just a responsibility, or the right, of a select few.  So accordingly,  each 18 months we gather as the  Synod of Victoria and Tasmania to discern and to decide together.   On Sunday morning the General Secretary of the Uniting Church Assembly, Colleen Geyer reminded the Synod meeting to create space for grace as we discussed many difficult things.

It was an honour to be part of this recent Synod meeting as people again and again did  make space for grace, as they discussed and disagreed and discerned about a range of issues including marriage equality, Treaty with First Peoples,  Medically Supervised Injecting Centres and about the best patterns of good oversight in our own church structures at presbytery (regional) level.   Here is a summary of the some of some of these discussions and decisions.    Here is a link if you are interested in hearing about life across our Presbyteries.

Again and again I was moved by the levels of respect and deep listening embodied in this Synod.  As people shared their thoughts I witnessed an openness to ideas rather than defensiveness, a willingness to hear and attend to the ‘other’ view, not just the desire to convince or ‘to win’ the day.  This way of being emerges from the conviction that Great Spirit is with us all and, as we listen together, we come closer to discerning the Divine’s dreaming.

While I know our church, like all churches, has many flaws, I give thanks to God for being part of this church, this Synod meeting and for all those who were there and who worked so hard to embody Christ’s compassion and authenticity.


Rev Dr Sally Douglas