A strategic review of UCA VicTas

The May 2013 Synod resolved that the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) undertake a Major Strategic Review (MSR or Review) to advise the Church on its vision, plans and sustainability into the future.

The Review seeks to understand the purpose of the church in the 21st Century and the changed and changing nature, shape and theologies of the church 37 years on from the adoption of the Basis of Union.

This Review process is prayerful, iterative, reflective, and participative. It will involve considerable engagement and consultation with the whole of the Church.

The May 2013 Synod resolved that the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) undertake a Major Strategic Review (MSR or Review) to advise the Church on its vision, plans and sustainability into the future.

The Review seeks to understand the purpose of the church in the 21st Century and the changed and changing nature, shape and theologies of the church 37 years on from the adoption of the Basis of Union.

This Review process is prayerful, iterative, reflective, and participative. It will involve considerable engagement and consultation with the whole of the Church.

News

  • Vision for our synod

    3 days ago
    Vision_orange

    The Vision, Mission Principles and Statements of Intent have been approved as a strategic framework for the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

    In April the Synod Standing Committee said the Vision, Mission Principles and Statements of Intent should act as a guide for “the purpose of prayerfully engaging in spiritual and theological discernment regarding the future direction of the Synod".

    Other councils, institutions and groups in the synod will be invited to dream, wonder and explore with prayerful open discernment how their current and future activities live out God’s purposes as reflected broadly in the Vision and Mission... Continue reading

    The Vision, Mission Principles and Statements of Intent have been approved as a strategic framework for the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

    In April the Synod Standing Committee said the Vision, Mission Principles and Statements of Intent should act as a guide for “the purpose of prayerfully engaging in spiritual and theological discernment regarding the future direction of the Synod".

    Other councils, institutions and groups in the synod will be invited to dream, wonder and explore with prayerful open discernment how their current and future activities live out God’s purposes as reflected broadly in the Vision and Mission Principles.

    In terms of the MSR’s wider work the Vision, Mission Principles and Statements of Intent have been the reference point for recommendations already approved and for other proposals that will be considered at Synod 2016.

    Download a copy or read more about the Vision, Mission Principles and Statement of Intent from our resources and documents section.

  • Shaping a 21st century church. Overview and report from information sessions

    2 months ago
    Shaping21c

    The Major Strategic Review has been travelling across Victoria and Tasmania during February and March 2016, to provide an update on the task provided to it by the 2013 Synod (13.6.5.6 a ii-iii) to ‘form a vision and plan for the future of the Church and undertake a holistic financial sustainability review to support that vision and plan’.

    Read an overview of the information shared at the events.

    Most people were supportive of the direction proposed and have encouraged the MSR team to complete the task. Read a summary report on how the updates were received.

    ... Continue reading

    The Major Strategic Review has been travelling across Victoria and Tasmania during February and March 2016, to provide an update on the task provided to it by the 2013 Synod (13.6.5.6 a ii-iii) to ‘form a vision and plan for the future of the Church and undertake a holistic financial sustainability review to support that vision and plan’.

    Read an overview of the information shared at the events.

    Most people were supportive of the direction proposed and have encouraged the MSR team to complete the task. Read a summary report on how the updates were received.

  • Shaping a 21st century Church. MSR information sessions 2016

    4 months ago
    Listening-post-700x___

    The Major Strategic Review has listened, reflected, discerned and discussed. We’ve moved through understanding to preparing and planning for change. Before the first steps are taken in shaping our Synod for the 21century, we are out on the road again with information sessions across Victoria and Tasmania.

    These information sessions have now concluded.

    Here is your opportunity to hear and provide feedback on the vision and plans of the Major Strategic Review. Everyone is invited to join us to discuss the findings of the Review and explore the possible changes for the Church.

    The details to date are:

    Concluded -... Continue reading

    The Major Strategic Review has listened, reflected, discerned and discussed. We’ve moved through understanding to preparing and planning for change. Before the first steps are taken in shaping our Synod for the 21century, we are out on the road again with information sessions across Victoria and Tasmania.

    These information sessions have now concluded.

    Here is your opportunity to hear and provide feedback on the vision and plans of the Major Strategic Review. Everyone is invited to join us to discuss the findings of the Review and explore the possible changes for the Church.

    The details to date are:

    Concluded - Monday 15 February 2016

    Hoppers Crossing UC


    Concluded - Saturday 20 February 2016

    Longford UC, TAS


    Concluded - Tuesday 23 February 2016

    Noble Park


    Concluded - Saturday 27 February 2016

    Benalla UC


    Concluded - Saturday 5 March 2016

    Traralgon UC


    Concluded - Tuesday 8 March 2016

    Heathmont UC


    Cancelled - Thursday 10 March 2016

    Wycheproof UC

    **Cancelled due to forecast dangerous weather conditions for the Mallee**


    Concluded - Thursday 17 March 2016

    Ararat West UC


    Concluded - Saturday 19 March 2016

    130 Little Collins St, Melb


    Please rsvp to help us plan and cater for the events - call 9251 5479 or email msr@victas.uca.org.au

  • Insights

    7 months ago
    Msr_leafs

    Two reports – from our engagement with presbyteries and congregations, and research with ordained ministers – are now available. Also a reminder that the summary report from the culture survey conducted earlier this year is also available.

    The MSR has engaged with the Church in different ways and in different contexts. We have explored the various elements of the Church’s life and mission through conversations, prayer and retreat, workshops, meetings and formal research. These reports are two such examples.

    Discerning and developing future opportunities for Presbyteries and Congregations is a summary of the combined wrap-up information session which was held... Continue reading

    Two reports – from our engagement with presbyteries and congregations, and research with ordained ministers – are now available. Also a reminder that the summary report from the culture survey conducted earlier this year is also available.

    The MSR has engaged with the Church in different ways and in different contexts. We have explored the various elements of the Church’s life and mission through conversations, prayer and retreat, workshops, meetings and formal research. These reports are two such examples.

    Discerning and developing future opportunities for Presbyteries and Congregations is a summary of the combined wrap-up information session which was held on 15th August 2015 at the Centre of Theology and Ministry. The document outlines what the MSR team heard from its focused engagement with a sample of congregations and all eight presbyteries, and the resulting discussion amongst participants during the session. The paper updates the MSR’s next steps and includes suggestions for further reading.

    The McCrindle Executive Summary Report Minister Inquiry summarises the results of an inquiry into the perspectives of ordained ministers and chaplains within the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The MSR commissioned McCrindle Research to conduct focus groups and in-depth interviews with 60 ministers across the Synod during June and July 2015. The report provides key insights and recommendations covering ministers’ hopes for the future, thoughts on change or stability, views on workload and resources, and suggestions about vocational support and development.

    All of these reports and other MSR documents are available in the Resources and Documents section.


  • Exploring a future Church

    8 months ago
    Signposts

    Two papers commissioned by the MSR about our environmental context and future signposts are available for people to read.

    Last year, Rev Dr Philip Hughes from the Christian Research Association wrote a review of the environmental context for the Uniting Church and implications for ministry. Earlier this year the MSR also asked Scott Guyatt, who has served the Uniting Church in a variety of roles across Australia, to explore the current reality and potential future for congregations and presbyteries.

    Both papers form part of the broader understanding and discernment being undertaken by the MSR - along with engagements with... Continue reading

    Two papers commissioned by the MSR about our environmental context and future signposts are available for people to read.

    Last year, Rev Dr Philip Hughes from the Christian Research Association wrote a review of the environmental context for the Uniting Church and implications for ministry. Earlier this year the MSR also asked Scott Guyatt, who has served the Uniting Church in a variety of roles across Australia, to explore the current reality and potential future for congregations and presbyteries.

    Both papers form part of the broader understanding and discernment being undertaken by the MSR - along with engagements with presbyteries, congregations, ordained and lay ministers, and other synods. Read these papers and other MSR reports available in the Resources and Documents section.

  • Vision statement and mission principles affirmed

    10 months ago
    Vision_red

    The Synod Standing Committee (SSC) affirmed on 24 June 2015 a vision statement and mission principles for the Major Strategic Review.

    The MSR will use the vision and mission principles to inspire and direct our proposals.

    They can also be used as a framework for discussions by councils and groups within the Church and beyond. They offer us a space to discuss our diversity, unity, faith and mission. They also offer us a clear, accessible resource to engage and interact beyond our already formed community.

    You are invited to engage with, reflect on and apply the vision and mission principles... Continue reading

    The Synod Standing Committee (SSC) affirmed on 24 June 2015 a vision statement and mission principles for the Major Strategic Review.

    The MSR will use the vision and mission principles to inspire and direct our proposals.

    They can also be used as a framework for discussions by councils and groups within the Church and beyond. They offer us a space to discuss our diversity, unity, faith and mission. They also offer us a clear, accessible resource to engage and interact beyond our already formed community.

    You are invited to engage with, reflect on and apply the vision and mission principles in your local context.

    We would welcome your feedback regarding your approach and experience of using the vision and mission principles before we include them in our final report.

    Following Christ, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation

    God in Christ reaches out to the world and calls the Church in the Spirit to:
    1. share the Good News of Jesus Christ
    2. nurture disciples in life-giving communities of reconciliation
    3. respond in compassion to human need
    4. live justly and seek justice for all
    5. care for creation
    6. express the Gospel in fresh ways for each generation and culture
    7. pursue God’s mission in partnership


    More on the vision and mission
    The vision statement is intended to lay the foundation and influence the activities of the Synod with its responsibilities for the general oversight, direction and administration of the Church’s worship, witness and service.

    The mission principles seek to capture God’s big purposes for the loved creation and God’s call to the Church. They are not a creed but a tool to provoke questions and examination of the mission of the Church as relevant within your own context.

    The inspiration and challenge of the vision statement and mission principles will not come from the words on the paper but from the reflection and discussions initiated.

    Approaching that sort of statement with some rigour and determination would lead to some wonderful things – and some fantastic conversations on the journey.

    (Vision and mission testing group, June 2015)

    Inviting your response

    We would welcome your constructive feedback on the vision statement and mission principles as we look to refine before forming our final report.

    We'd like to know:

    • how you have engaged and used them,
    • if you think something is missing,
    • if something does not resonate in your context,
    • if they have stimulated evaluation and action in your mission planning?

    Leave a comment, share a story or ask a question on this website.

    Join in the conversation in our facebook group – www.facebook.com/groups/msr.ucavictas

    Email us directly – msr@victas.uca.org.au

    Resources available
    Browse the 'Resources and Documents' section (right-hand column of the home page) to access the vision and mission principles in various formats, including translations in Traditional Chinese, Indonesian, Korean and Vietnamese.

    We have also produced a PowerPoint presentation and a ‘how to guide’ offering suggestions on how you could approach the vision and mission principles.

    A summary sheet shows what resources are available.
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  • New strategic direction for UnitingCare Victoria & Tasmania network

    11 months ago

    One area of focus for the Major Strategic Review over the past nine months has been the mission and operation of agencies across the UnitingCare network.

    From October 2014 the MSR team has met and talked with people across the network. Much valuable information was collated and made available to the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) during this process before they considered the final MSR report and recommendation at their 24 June 2015 meeting.

    At this June meeting the Standing Committee approved a new strategic direction for the UnitingCare agency network, affirming the Church’s ongoing role in the delivery of community... Continue reading

    One area of focus for the Major Strategic Review over the past nine months has been the mission and operation of agencies across the UnitingCare network.

    From October 2014 the MSR team has met and talked with people across the network. Much valuable information was collated and made available to the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) during this process before they considered the final MSR report and recommendation at their 24 June 2015 meeting.

    At this June meeting the Standing Committee approved a new strategic direction for the UnitingCare agency network, affirming the Church’s ongoing role in the delivery of community services as an expression of God’s mission in the world.

    The new strategic direction moves overall governance of community services provided within the UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania network from the Commission for Mission Board to a single governance body (‘agency board’). This new board will be responsible for overseeing delivery and support functions for Uniting Church community services in Victoria and Tasmania.

    This change provides significant opportunities for the network. It allows for a single governance board to better champion the capacity and skills of the network as a whole. It will allow the network to work and speak as one unified voice for social advocacy and to share best practice and specialist skills across a range of agencies.

    The SSC resolution acknowledges the importance of developing a clear ethos and culture of practice for Uniting Church community services within Victoria and Tasmania. The proposed changes provide opportunities to enhance connections to the whole of church. The new ‘agency board’ will be required to develop a model of support for congregations and presbyteries currently providing, or seeking to provide, community services in their local community or region.

    A Project Control Group will be established to oversee the changes needed to achieve the envisaged changes. More information is available at: www.victas.uca.org.au/unitingcareupdate


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  • Key findings from culture survey 2015

    12 months ago
    Msr_leafs

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the online survey in February and March. More than 1000 responses were received from people across the Church. The survey results have given us some deep insights into our life together as a Church across the Synod.

    Read a report on some of the key findings from the culture survey available from the resources and documents section.

    Thank you to everyone who participated in the online survey in February and March. More than 1000 responses were received from people across the Church. The survey results have given us some deep insights into our life together as a Church across the Synod.

    Read a report on some of the key findings from the culture survey available from the resources and documents section.
  • Discussing chaplaincy with the MSR

    12 months ago

    Chaplains from across the Synod gathered for the first Chaplains Connection Day hosted by the Commission for Mission in April. The Major Strategic Review (MSR) joined the group for a discussion about chaplaincy and asked for their input into the MSR from their unique perspectives.

    They were invited to consider:

    • the strengths and contributions that chaplains offer to the community and to the church,
    • the support they receive from the church and what additional support they need, and
    • future directions for the synod and for chaplaincy.

    Feedback from the round-table session and written submissions indicates that chaplains have a privileged... Continue reading

    Chaplains from across the Synod gathered for the first Chaplains Connection Day hosted by the Commission for Mission in April. The Major Strategic Review (MSR) joined the group for a discussion about chaplaincy and asked for their input into the MSR from their unique perspectives.

    They were invited to consider:

    • the strengths and contributions that chaplains offer to the community and to the church,
    • the support they receive from the church and what additional support they need, and
    • future directions for the synod and for chaplaincy.

    Feedback from the round-table session and written submissions indicates that chaplains have a privileged opportunity to ‘hear the questions that people outside the church are asking about faith issues and about God’. Within their role – in which they are often engaging with communities and people in secular or non-church settings and challenging situations – they ‘form a bridge between the church and the community because, for most community members, the church is an alien culture in an alien territory.’

    Chaplains particularly value the opportunity to be sought out by and discuss ethics and values with a diverse range of people. They are active in places ‘where the church no longer has a voice’. They may be called upon to respond theologically with ‘the big issues of the country’, and yet also listen to ‘the raw sharing’ of the human condition. Because of this diversity and challenge, the chaplains affirmed that the ‘very nature of chaplaincy is life-giving: you never know what conversations you’ll have’.

    There were calls for improved engagement, understanding and support between chaplains and synod, presbyteries, and congregations. Many chaplains would value the opportunity to explain their work to other sections of the church community. They saw value for congregations in hearing a different perspective on mission, as an expression of the church in ‘places where the church is not dominant’. They believe they can help the church ‘to understand and appreciate the gift of being a guest’ in cultures outside the church. In return, the church community provides a spiritual ‘home base’ for chaplains; as one respondent said, ‘[The] Uniting church holds me so I can go and do my ministry, engaging with people, going out there into their space, which people value, and doing it’.


  • Listening and talking with Lay Preachers

    about 1 year ago

    In late March the Major Strategic Review (MSR) team joined the Lay Preachers Association at their annual conference and AGM and listened to the big issues facing lay leadership.

    Key themes heard by the MSR team covered:

    • the changing nature of the church,
    • the opportunity to build on the strength of relationships lay preachers have with local communities,
    • the call for more accessible training, and
    • the increasing importance of lay ministry within local congregations.

    Lay Preachers are often well connected within local communities, frequently holding leadership roles beyond their church involvement. Some also move between... Continue reading

    In late March the Major Strategic Review (MSR) team joined the Lay Preachers Association at their annual conference and AGM and listened to the big issues facing lay leadership.

    Key themes heard by the MSR team covered:

    • the changing nature of the church,
    • the opportunity to build on the strength of relationships lay preachers have with local communities,
    • the call for more accessible training, and
    • the increasing importance of lay ministry within local congregations.

    Lay Preachers are often well connected within local communities, frequently holding leadership roles beyond their church involvement. Some also move between congregations and so have the opportunity to share knowledge, new ideas and good news. They are increasingly called upon to stand in for ministers, yet are limited by sacramental restrictions, easy access to ongoing theological or pastoral training, or skills in new technology to take on expanded roles.

    The value of caring for dedicated but declining congregations, particularly in small rural communities, was reiterated to the MSR, while the group also acknowledged the need for new approaches.

    Openness to change, and the desire to express flexibility in ways of doing things were evident amongst the Lay Preachers, while they also affirmed the unchanging task of sharing the gospel. As one participant said, “We must hold on to the basic tenets of the gospel as espoused in the Basis of Union in any new direction that we take.” Another respondent wrote of the gospel and Basis of Union, “They are not glued in a time-warp, but living words and documents.”

    Perhaps the task facing Lay Preachers, as expressed to MSR, is best summed up in one comment: “We have a job to do! Preach the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it relates to us today…”.

    The conference was attended by over 40 people on 21st March 2015, and thirteen written responses were received by the MSR prior to the event.

    The MSR team thanks all who participated and generously gave their time and attention to providing feedback to the MSR.

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