Image: Norrie, Miriam and Lyn presenting at the Sydney Presbytery AGM, Glebe, November 26.
Sharing our stories of hope
Norrie, Miriam and Lyn gave a presentation at the Sydney Presbytery AGM in Glebe on Saturday November 26. The presentation included testimonies from members and supporters, as well as photos and a sung Lord’s Prayer:
Congregation, community, garden
South Sydney Uniting Church is a congregation, community and garden.
The threefold theme affirms liturgy and living traditions, social justice and ethics, climate action and ecology.
[It’s all theology … theo-poetics, liberation, eco-feminist, queer and new materialist … we pray, we serve, we grow.]
On and with acknowledgement of the sovereign, unceded land and waters of the Gadigal people and beyond, we pray, we serve, we grow.
Today we share testimony from our members and supporters about where they see God at work (Lyn and Norrie will embody their voices), as gathered last year through a Synod Mission Planning process.
We pray, we serve, we grow.
We pray …
We are an affirming congregation that is open to many Christian traditions. The Eucharist is at the heart of our life.
“I see God at work when our Liturgy Resource group gathers to write collects, intercessions, blessings – every contribution is valued and interwoven … our traditional worship is grounded in the richness and diversity of lived experience … and informed by religious scholarship.”
“I saw God at work when J came into church, headphones on and seemingly so removed from us, Andrew welcomed him warmly and respectfully allowed him to be just as he needed to be … Over time, the headphones disappeared. J has given us all so much through his presence, his artworks, the prayers he has written, his companionship.”
We serve …
We serve via the South Sydney Herald, the Orchard Gallery, and partnership with local organisations including Cana Communities, Catholic Care, the Big Issue magazine, Grow peer support, and half a dozen performing arts groups.
“I see God’s presence in art workshops, art teachers, in the caring preparation of materials, creative work spaces and in curating exhibitions … it affirms the identity of diverse and sometimes marginalised people in our community … [and] it reflects Christ’s love for all people.”
“I saw God at work when, week after week, Cana Communities, in collaboration with members of our church, prepared and celebrated a meal with men in our community who are homeless and hungry. Our members speak of the gift our visitors are to them … Volunteers give time and presence and in doing so are the hands of Christ …”
“Congratulations to the SSH on their 200th edition! The SSH consistently provides independent, high-quality journalism with a focus on local issues, politics and social justice. It amplifies the voices of our community, telling stories, celebrating success and sharing concerns of people who mainstream publications often overlook … It is an essential service for our community. I’d like to thank all the writers, photographers, editors, illustrators, distributors and everyone who makes this paper happen” (Tanya Plibersek MP, Sydney).
We grow …
We grow flowers and food in our Eden Community Garden, a safe place for sustainable practice, education and contemplation. A new, collaborative garden design is underway.
“I see God at work when our Eden Garden coordinator welcomes diverse people and supports them with care and wisdom … She offers a Christ-like commitment, patience and understanding.”
“I see God at work when Chris shares his gardening expertise and online tips … his deep love for creation.”
The three themes (congregation, community, garden) are dynamic, trinitarian. We pray in the garden, and we serve morning tea on Sunday (hospitality, the interplay of host and guest, is evangelical, of the gospel); and by grace we grow in wisdom and love.
A common loaf
The pandemic has opened to us the power of prayer vigils, the beauty of word and image, even/especially as we longed for physical touch and the sharing of a common loaf, a meal (and much more) in common.
The Lord’s Prayer
A musical paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer composed by former member Alison Jones is a mainstay of our spirited worship, with Norrie leading in the church and in hybrid mode.
Church member Ruth Evans recently taught us an Auslan accompaniment (also a paraphrase).
We conclude now with the prayer … with thanks to the presbytery for support, for careful listening to our council, congregation and Futures Task Group. For prayer especially as we discern … “With Christ, we dare to be honest in our lives and to explore difficult questions together …”
Benediction (James 1)
Go out, to be poets of the Word.
Cleanse your hearts of conceit.
Be quick to listen and to learn.
And the blessing of God –
to whom we pray,
with whom we serve,
in whom we grow –
be with you now and always.