D2 – President-elect Profile Deidre Palmer

 

Regulation 3.7.5.1 requires that the Assembly Standing Committee provide advice to the Church on the challenges and issues which may be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years. This is to assist the discernment process as the Church nominates and elects the President – elect.

In July 2014 the ASC addressed itself to this responsibility and offers this guidance to the Church.

“As the Uniting Church continues to move through a season of significant change, the ASC believes that the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years will include:

  • Embracing a fuller participation in Christ’s mission in the world; and finding fresh words and deeds to bear witness to the gospel
  • Achieving or recovering a common vision of the nature, function and ordering of the Church
  • Deepening the Covenant between the Assembly and the UAICC
  • Living faith and life cross-culturally in an increasingly multicultural church and society
  • Developing new habits and new models of national cooperation
  • Rethinking the place of the church in a secular, multi-faith Australian society
  • Developing structures and patterns of church life that are financially sustainable
  • Seeking structures and patterns of church leadership in all areas (in local churches, the church’s councils, the church’s agencies) that are coherent and sustainable
  • Attending to the issues of morale and care for one another that arise in a period of significant change”

 

 

Dr_Deidre_PalmerName:                              Deidre Palmer (Dr)

Nominated by:              Synod of Victoria and Tasmania and
the Presbytery of North East Victoria (Standing Committee)

Synod of Residence:   South Australia

Age range:                       50-59

Personal Interests:     Reading, holidays with family, taking photos of sunsets at the beach, coffee with friends, going to the movies, Scrabble/board games, exploring the intersection of theology and social work.

Placement / employment:  Moderator, Synod of South Australia (2013-2016)

Concurrently Chairperson of Presbytery (2013-2016) (South Australia is one Presbytery and Synod)

 

Relevant church experience
Family and Youth ministry:
Served in children, youth and young adults ministry for the Synod of South Australia for 5 years (1976-1981)

Educator: Lecturer in Christian Education and Family and Children’s ministry in Australia and the U.S.A.:

  • Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, 1994-1998
  • Faculty member (full time placement) at Parkin-Wesley College and Adelaide College of Divinity – 1998- 2004
  • Currently – adjunct lecturer in Christian Education and Ministry with Families and Children at Uniting College, Adelaide College of Divinity and Flinders University

Social worker

  • Counsellor for Uniting Communities (previously UnitingCare Wesley Adelaide) working with people who were sexually abused as children (2008-2013)
  • Casual lecturer in Social work at Flinders University in “Interpersonal Practice” – 2012

Served on Assembly Committees:

  • Uniting Education Reference Group
  • Board of Coolamon College
  • Assembly Commission for Mission and National Mission and Evangelism
  • Assembly Commission for Liturgy
  • Church Polity Reference Committee
  • Chair of Ministerial Education Commission

Currently on the following Assembly committees:

  • Assembly Standing Committee
  • Member of the Formation, Education and Discipleship Working Group
  • Member of the National Task Group responding to the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse (Assembly Standing Committee representative)
  • Member of the Church Polity Reference Committee
  • Member of the Assembly Business Committee

As Moderator:

  • Providing general and pastoral leadership in the Synod of South Australia.
  • Chairing the meetings of the Synod and meetings of the Standing Committee.
  • Member on school boards.
  • Encouraging and supporting congregations and people in placement and leadership, as they engage in Christian ministry and God’s mission in the world.

Passion
I’m passionate about the Uniting Church’s emphasis on ‘every member ministry’ – that each of us is called to engage in Christian discipleship in the world around us.

I’m passionate about social justice and embodying the compassion of God in the world.

I’m passionate about the intergenerational nature of Christian community and encouraging, supporting and learning from children and young people in their faith journeys. It’s important that their gifts and perspectives are shaping the church we are and they’re encouraged in following Jesus in their daily living.

 

Vision for the Uniting Church in Australia (400 words)
The Uniting Church in Australia is a movement of the Holy Spirit, weaving us together as community, from diverse perspectives, across cultural contexts, age groups and theological understandings. We are called to be a community witnessing to the reconciling and transformative love of God for the world.

I see this movement of the Spirit in the Covenant relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. As the people of God who are the Uniting Church in Australia, we have a “destiny together” as First and Second peoples.

I also see the movement of the Spirit in the way we are open to fresh expressions of worship and being church, in our readiness to work interculturally and intergenerationally, in our acts of compassion, advocacy and justice, and in our partnerships with churches internationally.

We are called to be a church creatively engaged with the world.  Our primary vocation as God’s covenant community is to embody the good news of Christ in the world, participating in God’s mission. This participation includes the church responding to socio-economic, environmental and political issues, both globally and locally.

We are called to be a Christian community offering hope, purpose and meaning for people’s lives. Recent involvement in mentoring people, has underlined for me the deep spiritual longings that are inherent to us as human beings, the idea that Augustine captures, when he writes in his Confessions: “you made us for yourself and our hearts find no peace until they rest in you”.

If we are to be this Christian community of hope and meaning, we will need to love each other, with the kind of love that is expressed by God and forged through struggle and suffering, disagreement and heartache, but which endures, because God has woven us together and because we are intentional in our commitment to each other.

I see in us, as a Uniting Church, the seeds and signs of this vision. We can move courageously into the future, because we see the hope among us now.

We are called to be a church which is not so focused on its own survival, but rather is open and vulnerable to what the Holy Spirit is shaping and calling us to be.

We are and are becoming God’s covenant community, empowered by the Spirit, to speak to people’s deepest longings and to participate in God’s mission of healing and reconciliation in our world.

In the light of the advice provided by the Assembly Standing Committee at the July 2014 meeting of the ASC, on the challenges and issues likely to be faced by the President and the Assembly in the next seven years, I  can/will:  (400 words)

bring pastoral gifts of listening to people in their contexts, their concerns, identifying their strengths and encouraging them as they seek to be a faithful expression of the Gospel of Christ.

I recognize that there are narratives about the decline of the church, limited resources and disappointed hopes. It is important to pay attention to the changing circumstances in which we live. At the same time, I would want to raise up the narrative that I have described in the Vision Statement above:

The Holy Spirit is at work among us. Whatever form our worship, ministries and meeting spaces take, we will continue to be the Body of Christ, bearers of God’s hope, love and compassion in our world.

I will encourage us to be a Church which embraces reform and transformation because we are responsive to the movement of the Spirit leading us into God’s future.

I will contribute my perspective as a Christian educator as we seek to equip people for ministry and explore various ways of forming and sustaining people in ministry placements and in equipping the whole people of God for their ministry.

I will seek to model and encourage collaborative models of ministry and leadership, which are consistent with our theology and polity as the Uniting Church.

If I were serving as President, I would encourage the church to be engaged in faith formation, encourage growth in Christian discipleship, and continue to strengthen our advocacy for social justice, wherever we see people’s lives diminished.

“Finding fresh words and deeds” to bear witness to the Gospel” is an ongoing call and challenge for us.  What are authentic ways that we can share the narratives of hope of the Gospel of Christ with the society in which we are immersed?

I would hope that we can continue to be a church that nurtures a spirituality,  which creates spaces for the kind of conversations and actions where people can encounter God in ways that are hopeful, healing and transforming – in the depths of despair and pain and in the heights of joy and celebration of life.

I bring my deep love for the Uniting Church, which I have experienced as a Christian community, witnessing through its presence in the wider world and through its faithful community life to the God who comes to us as Liberator, Redeemer, Life-giver, Source of hope and love.

 

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