Urban Mission Network 2011 Report   Nov 20, 2011

2011 has been a year of welcome and affirmation in the Urban Mission Network.


The Network has welcomed congregations at Bridgewater, Cambrai, Elizabeth Grove, Mannum, Mitcham Village, Mylor and Elizabeth North in the period since the last report. Through educational opportunities and spiritual formation events, all congregations have been encouraged and affirmed as they continue to seek out new ways to make significant witness and mission in their communities and spheres of influence.

We have assisted the Presbytery in inducting ministers into nine of our congregations, and are diligent supporters of inductions across the Presbytery.

A well-developed program supports and encourages Ministers and congregations in their ministry and mission.


Quarterly gatherings have continued to be the centrepiece of our networking and provide opportunities for congregations to encourage each other in ministry and mission, share resources and provide mutual support. Each gathering of 50 – 60 people includes a meal, stories of mission experiences, music and celebrative worship, and are a time for people to meet, relax together and share ministry achievements.

The fourth gathering for 2010 at Newland Victor Harbor focussed on Spirituality and Justice through Advent in songs and music that lifted our spirits and art that inspired us, and the Newland congregation shared their story and their vision. At this, the annual meeting of the Network, the Network’s year was reviewed, the 2011 Reference Group appointed, 2010 financial reports and 2011 budget endorsed, and the theme Sharing Resources adopted for 2011.

The first gathering for 2011 was held at Christ Church at the end of February. Putting legs on the Local was the catchy phrase on which the challenge to congregations to ask themselves ‘what is God doing at our place?’ was pinned. Local stories about the Candlelight Reflection at Modbury and the cafe at Greenock provided practical examples of fresh expressions of ministry in those congregations.

Clayton Wesley congregation’s hospitality and generosity was highly appreciated at the Network gathering in May. The newly renovated heritage listed Clayton Chapel was the venue for the meal, food was served in the style of Iona, and the Clayton Wesley congregation responded to the Moderator’s call to support the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress by gifting to the Salisbury North Congregation the $360.00 given by participants towards the meal cost. The choir and the wonderful pipe organ provided an added richness to our worship, artefacts demonstrating their life and witness supported the Glengowrie story, and Sandy Creek’s photographic journey of the development of their Bush Chapel highlighted their inspiration for this facility, as well as the hard work that went into making it happen.

A warm welcome by the congregation at Scots Church Adelaide set the scene for a happy and informative third Network gathering in August when Melissa Cellier encouraged us to explore current resources, led us through a ‘Messy Church’ worship experience and demonstrated ‘Godly Play’.

We look forward to our fourth gathering for 2011 at Pilgrim in November.
The web site www.urbannetwork.org.au, a monthly bulletin and regular personal contact at important events and special occasions are our main forms of communication. An initiative in the Bulletin has been to include a profile piece introducing one of the Ministers of the Network or a Presbytery Officer. The publications promote a wide range of events being organised by congregations and other interest groups whose objectives are generally consistent with and supplement the vision of the Network.

We have continued to both encourage and facilitate continuing education opportunities and spiritual formation of leaders within the Network. In early February a retreat was held at Spicer Memorial for Ministers, Ministers in Association, retired Ministers, Candidates for Minister of the Word and chaplains aligned with the Network. The Rev. Philip Carter (Anglican) led us into a greater focus on faith, hope and love within daily ministry practice.

Hot on the heels of the Retreat Day was the first workshop in 2011 for Chairs and Secretaries of Church Councils and Congregations. In this forum, the biblical underpinning for governance and the relevant sections of the Uniting Church Regulations provided the theoretical framework for effective leadership through responsible governance, and the opening Chapters of the ‘Manual for Meetings’ gave leaders the tools for putting this into practice. The second workshop in August continued the conversation by recapped the previous session, overviewing the process for making the most in a local setting of the National Church Life Survey (NCLS), and discussing the links between the NCLS and a Congregational Profile.

The Workshop in April for Congregations with Heritage Listed Buildings attracted state-wide interest from twenty seven congregations with churches listed in State and Local Heritage lists. These Property Committees face financial and regulatory challenges as they maintain, restore and use these marvellous old buildings for modern ministry. The workshop addressed some of these core issues, provided input from some experts and gave opportunity to share learnings and experiences.

The June workshop to provide congregations with the skills and support to identify appropriate funding sources, write winning applications and manage grant funds and co-hosted with the Community Outreach Mission Network, has been deferred until 2012.

Ministers, Ministers in Association, retired Ministers, Candidates for Minister of the Word and Chaplains who are members of the Urban Mission Network have enjoyed two informal bar-b-ques since the last report. Hosted in their home by a member of the Reference Group, these well-attended social occasions are times for relaxing together, sharing stories, renewing acquaintances and making new friends. The next bar-b-que will be 21st October 2011. We are grateful to
Rev Christine Garner for planning and coordinating these valuable times together.

The Network relishes the opportunity to encourage and strengthen links with those entrusted with the leadership of our congregations. The major teaching event hosted in 2011 was again Windows into the Text and Rev Dr Alan Cadwallader provided insights into the Gospel of Mark that will inform preaching and teaching ministries in 2012.

The Network co-hosted with the churches in the City of Adelaide a national conference in September 2011 on the theme The Church in the City. Held at Scots Church Adelaide, guests included Tim Costello, Steve Taylor and three laypeople who have been involved in civic leadership and town planning. Following the success of this conference a planning committee has been formed to plan and organise a second conference to be hosted by Pilgrim Church Adelaide in September 2012. As a result of the Conference the links and ties between the city churches have strengthened as has the support they offer each other.

With Scots Church Adelaide, the Network sponsored a workshop The Role of Forgiveness in Leadership with Azim Khamisa, an international peace activist.
The Paid Administrators who staff the offices in some of our congregations have continued to meet regularly and support each other in a growing friendship through which they offer care and support to each other, and share their resources and expertise. The group is open to welcoming those in similar positions in the wider Presbytery.

Members of the Network joined the wider Presbytery in celebrating the ordinations of Sarah Agnew, Matthew Stuart, and Andrew Robertson in December 2010 and in August 2011 of Christa Megaw and Vicky Balabanski both of whose ‘home’ congregations are members of this Network. Rev Anne Butler, Minister at Clayton Wesley, Sharonne Price, Executive Officer Pastoral Relations and Christine Secombe represented the Presbytery and the Network at meetings of the Northern Synod in June and celebrated with them the ordination of Rev Paul Turley.

It’s been a delight to induct Rev Sarah Agnew at Belair, Rev Matthew Stuart at Newland, Rev Andrew Robertson at Clearview and Para Hills, Rev Chris Harkness at Bridgewater, Rev Coral (Cogs) Smith at Blackwood, Rev Paul Turley at Clayton-Wesley, Rev Jana Norman at Pilgrim and Rev Beatrice Panne to an Intentional Interim Ministry at Wesley Kent Town. There is a sense of rejoicing that this influx will bring further excitement and enthusiasm to our vision and ministry.

The Joint Nominating Committee at Christ Church continues its work.
In October 2010, Wesley Kent Town congregation hosted those Ministers celebrating their 50th anniversary of ordination and the 2011 service celebrating with those ordained during 1961 into any of our antecedent denomination will be held on 23rd October.

Consultations have been conducted in the last twelve months at Christ Church, Clayton-Wesley, Wesley Kent Town, St Andrews by the Sea, Prospect Road (St John’s) and the HEALS Centre.

We have farewelled Rev Richard Miller when his term of Intentional Interim Ministry at Clayton-Wesley concluded in May and Rev Alex Rodgers at the conclusion of his ministry at Prospect Rd (St John’s) at the end of July.

The appointment in 2011 of the Presbytery’s Solidarity & Justice Officer, Rev Sarah Williamson, brought to an end the Network’s partnership with Mission Resourcing SA when Andrew Clarke who was employed in a part-time role of Project Officer for Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministries to engage with congregations that have an investment in these ministries handed over to Sarah and passed on recommendations for sustaining current work and establishing new initiatives.

Mission Resourcing SA, the Community Outreach Mission and the Urban Mission Network supported Rev Dr Dean Eland in conducting an Action Research Study with fifteen congregations in the western region of Adelaide. The report, based on conversation with leaders in each of those congregations, is summarised under five major headings: background, community context, strengths, challenges and opportunities, and may be accessed from the Network’s web site http://www.urbannetwork.org.au/

The Centres located in Network congregations continue to thrive – the Effective Living Centre at Christ Church and the Centre for Music, Liturgy and the Arts at Brougham Place. Christ Church also hosts the Progressive Christianity Network and the Solidarity and Justice Network continues to meet at Pilgrim and has a web presence as part of the Network site.

The Reference Group is the Network’s Standing Committee and its current members are Anne Butler, Bruce Ind, Chris Harkness, Christine Secombe, Dean Eland, Helen Munro, Sandy Boyce and Peter Trudinger. The Reference Group meets monthly to progress the vision and mission of the Network, facilitate the gatherings of the Network and take carriage of the business of the Network between gatherings. Presbytery staff join us from time to time to strengthen ties, build relationship and consider further how we may best work together in mission. The Network continues to employ Christine Secombe in the role of Coordinator and in March increased the paid time from 16 hours per week to 20 hours per week.

Developing the most effective ways of working with the Presbytery to provide appropriate pastoral care to all the Ministers in the Network has been a ‘work in progress’ since the establishment of Mission Networks. In 2011, in addition to the regular established support programs offered by the Presbytery and the Network, Dean and Christine began engaging in individual pastoral conversations with our Ministers, starting with those who commenced their Placements in 2009 and 2010. In addition, the Reference Group is supporting Christine in setting aside one Sunday a month to worship with and share the fellowship of Network congregations.

The Coordinator is the Network’s representative on the Presbytery’s Pastoral Relations and Placements Committees and this year, Christine is an elected member of the PRC Executive.

Congregations aligned with the Urban Mission Network share a conviction that they must engage with the public sector and local communities in order that the Gospel may bring about both personal and social transformation. As in other years, the Reference Group’s priorities will be around the best ways to support congregations in their ministry and the most effective ways to encourage networking, sharing resources, and mutual learning.

Congregations seem to fall into two major groupings: some are in civic and regional centres and others are in local neighbourhoods or village squares. Structuring Network gatherings that are appealing and relevant across the gamut of sizes and structures is a wonderful challenge.

One of the common threads amongst a significant number of UMN congregations is their engagement with multicultural ministry and ministry to refugees and asylum seekers. The Reference Group will be looking to strengthen the Network’s relationship with the Presbytery’s Multicultural Ministries Officer in order to support current programs and enable new initiatives.

“The imagined city….a space of openness, tolerance, and justice in which the nations of the world can gather and live in peace, and suffering and even death will be no more. (Revelation 22:1-2. Micah 4: 1-4. Isaiah 56:1-6).

This vision of the city provides a powerful source of energy for the engagement of faith groups within urban contexts.
By working with this vision spiritual capital is generated and creates the impulse for faith groups to contribute to the well being of the wider communities in which they live”.

Adapted from Postsecular Cities: Space, Theory and Practice. Eds. Justin Beaumont Christopher Baker 2011. page 262.

Author of Report Christine Secombe
Key Liaison Person Christine Secombe
Date 30th September 2011

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