B16 – Uniting Faith and Discipleship

Introduction to the work of the various units, working groups and committees

Changes in organizational and team relationships

The Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) approved the establishment of a collaborative staff team under the ‘Uniting Faith and Justice’ mandate in September 2004. After a period of working together the mandate was reviewed by the Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) and a strengthened team mandate was approved in March 2009 called ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship.’ Overall the ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ (UF&D) mandate strengthens the collaborative endeavors of the team whilst giving the opportunity to retain specific work as related to the Terms of Reference or Operational Guidelines of each unit and work area. The operating principle of remaining an internally organized and collaborative team with opportunities for diversity in branding allows each unit to maintain its image in the church and into the public space. For instance, Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry (MCCM) is still known to the church by that name. As does Uniting Justice Australia (UJA), which works regularly with areas of the federal government, non- government organizations and other advocacy agencies as well as other councils of the church including congregations. This model is taken from some secular educational consultancies and smaller not for profit organizations, which seek to brand diversely in order to support vision, whilst retaining an internal coherency for the purposes of management and the operations of the team. The key motifs are the supporting and sharing of vision, collaboration, accountability and flexibility.

Also a new area of work, the Formation Education and Discipleship Working Group (FEDWG) and the Formation Education and Discipleship (FED) unit was established in July 2013 within the broader Uniting Faith and Discipleship (UF&D) mandate. Included in this area of work for FED under its Terms of Reference was the previous work of Christian Education at the Assembly and the work associated with the National Youth Activities Reference Committee (NYARC). It is the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working Group’s (FEDWG) responsibility to auspice and monitor national events in the life of the Uniting Church such as the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC), About Face (AF), National Youth Ministry Training (NYMT) and the National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC).

From the July 2013 Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) meeting ecumenical relationships were included within the ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ (UF&D) mandate. This area of work is now in the role of the National Director, Doctrine Worship and Christian Unity. This role previously was called the National Consultant, Theology and Discipleship.

In 2015, the areas of work covered within the mandate of Uniting Faith and Discipleship (UF& D) have broadened and strengthened. The team now includes Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry (MCCM), Uniting Justice Australia (UJA), Worship, Doctrine and Christian Unity and Formation Education and Discipleship (FED). There are associated lay staff that provide policy, communications and administrative support. ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ continues to maintain various reference committees, working groups, task groups and networks for specialist advisory purposes, within this broad mandate. The Reference Committee and Working Group Chairpersons are appointed by the Assembly meeting. All units of ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ (UF&D) have Operational Guidelines or Terms of Reference for specific guidance and operations of the units, reference committees and working groups. These groups and units report to the Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) from time to time.

The ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ staff team is led by the Associate General Secretary and meets throughout the year for purposes of mutual accountability, building team relationships, collaborating on joint projects and the strengthening of individual work that can be resourced by other members of the team. At the July 2013 Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) a ‘Ways of Working’ team document was approved, that provided stronger direction from the Assembly Standing Committee. The ASC remit to Uniting Faith and Discipleship (UF&D) was to make provision in its operations for how a Christian education approach focusing on congregations as life long learning communities of discipleship, might shape and be integrated into the development of each unit’s work as well as any joint work or projects that might be undertaken. Progress has been made in the integration of this approach into resources that are being produced and the way each unit is resourced by other members of the team. There is a ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ Chairpersons’ group that meets twice a year to share information, discuss any relevant proposals and possibilities for collaboration.

An account of the work of the Reference Committees, Working Groups and National Directors and staff within the ‘Uniting Faith and Discipleship’ (UF&D) mandate is provided for in the following reports. At a time of great challenge for the church in serving God’s mission to the world, coupled with reduced income streams that all councils of the church are experiencing, the National Directors and other staff have worked consistently well and performed with strong commitment at a high capacity both individually and as a team over the last triennium. Personal relationships have been a key element in making the team work. This is taken seriously by all members of the team. The Communications Unit of the Assembly is a regular addition to meetings and has been an important part of the team’s output, providing communications, media support and expertise to the team in fulfilling the vision of the Uniting Faith and Discipleship (UF&D) mandate.

Glenda Blakefield
Associate General Secretary
Team leader Uniting Faith and Discipleship.

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