The need to decriminalise personal drug use, take action on climate change, and serve the marginalised, including those in drought devastated communities, were some of the issues of focus at Synod 2019 on 5-7 July at Knox Grammar School in Wahroonga.
The Living Church – Synod 2019 saw more than 350 delegates from across the State and the ACT meet for three days.
“What may surprise many people is that while Synod does deal with some church business, it is not an island in which the church cuts itself off from the world but an opportunity for us to agree how we can engage and serve our communities better,” Moderator Simon Hansford said.
One practical demonstration of this was the Moderator’s appeal fund which has raised more than $232,000 for drought ravaged communities across the state. Of these funds more than $100,000 has already been made available to churches to hand out in the form of gift cards for food, petrol or other essential local services.
Rev. Hansford said there was a ‘cognitive dissonance’ in society today in which the church was often dismissed as being judgemental, out of touch and irrelevant.
“But when people dig deeper and see the work we are doing to improve access to drug treatment or our advocacy on asylum seekers or our efforts to promote action on climate change, people are surprised,” he said
“Even atheists have come up to me and spoken about the good work the church has done in its advocacy through the Fair Treatment campaign to improve access to treatment and reform the law on drug use.”
Synod 2019 will feature a special screening of the documentary, Half a Million Steps, that highlights the plight of people in regional Australia in not having access to drug treatment services.
Among speakers at The Living Church – Synod 2019 will be author, Karina Kreminski, who argues that panic over the ‘death of the church’ in Australia is subsiding and in its place is a humble, sober realisation that it must re-engage with the local community to regain its relevancy.
Another speaker, Jon Owen, Pastor and CEO at Wayside Chapel will tell delegates the church becomes incarnate (God in human form) when it is in the community, reaching out to respond to the issues and hurts in the local community.
Climate Change Advocate, Joshua Gilbert, in his address, will argue the church must take a leading advocacy role on climate change policy to give hope to future generations. But it must not limit itself to advocacy and work in rural communities to rediscover its role at the centre of community action, generosity and connectedness.
The three-day Synod meeting happens every eighteen months.