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Church Council Report 2010
Congregational Meeting (AGM)
South Sydney Uniting Church

May 22, 2010

Parish Mission statement

The following Mission Statement (Draft #3) awaits formal adoption:

“Open to God at work in the world, we seek to be a community of peace and justice, faithfulness and respect for difference. With Christ we dare to be real and honest about our lives, sharing gifts of friendship and hope with each other and with our neighbours.”

(This was formally adopted at the Congregational meeting)


The Church Council acknowledges, with grateful thanks, the devoted and competent ministry of the Rev. Andrew Collis with us for another year. Andrew has not only lifted our hearts in our services each Sunday, but has guided and initiated many creative programs, exhibitions and events in art and study for a wide variety of people. Andrew has also, of course, been a pastor to many of our members and adherents, alongside people like the South Sydney Herald volunteers and journalists, and has made important links into the wider church and community. We give thanks to God for all he offers to us and to others.

The Council is well aware that any Minister serving in our area will need to be encouraged to make careful and freeing choices in the way time is used, knowing that there is never an end to the work. The Council itself assumes some responsibility for guidance in relation to this. For this reason, we are grateful to have had a number of guest preachers over the year, including Rev. Ian Pearson, Rev. Peter Walker, and Rev. Daniel Paulraj and Rev. Peter Godwin.

Andrew’s extra activities

Andrew is now a member of the Presbytery Candidates Committee and he is still working on the Cross-Culture Journal, Uniting Church Studies and Out&About Magazine (United Theological College). He is enjoying abstract painting, song-writing and various road-running events.

In the coming year, Andrew will be participating in the New York Marathon and making contact with a church there with which we hope to build a relationship. This is wwith a view to exchange programs of some kind (for artists, journalists, ministry agents) between our community and others of similar convictions. He has begun a conversation with Pastor James Campbell of the United Church of Christ in Broadway, New York City.

During his study leave Andrew worked on a record of songs (under the project name, The Refrains) and also with Dorothy on the preparation of the first of three liturgical books which are about Bringing Together the Word of Life – ideas for completing the homily based on the liturgical calendar in the manner that we worship each Sunday with symbols, questions and sharing. These will be published by the UCA’s pubshisher MediaCom.

Wider ministry relationships

Since the arrival of Rev. Peter Walker at our Paddington Church, we hope to build deeper relationships with both Peter and his congregation.

Special services


In the period since the last Congregational meeting, we have had two lots of Easter and Holy Week Services. In 2009, the Maundy Thursday service focused on readings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer which were selected and read by Blair and this year we had readings from Dorothy Day read by Heather. Both Good Friday services, planned and shred with the Cana community as usual, had a focus on art. In 2009, the artist Miriam Cabello lent us several of her paintings related to the Stations of the Cross and this year we explored both a painting by Gabriel Azzi and numbers of photos by Elaine Syron.

A number of people attended an Easter Eve Vigil and the Easter Day services were great celebrations.

Re-imagining God, Ourselves and Our Relationship with the Earth

On Pentecost Sunday, May 31, we focussed on “Re-imagining God, ourselves and our relationship with the earth.” This was done via a cross-cultural worship with the Tongans, a panel discussion and workshops.

National Assembly delegates

On Sunday 19th July, 20 guests from the National Assembly attended our worship service. We enjoyed their visit and received good feedback on their experience with us. The new President Alistair Macrae prepared the Faith article for the SSH, “God in the Dreaming”. The Assembly had acknowledged the presence of God with the Aboriginal people before Europeans came to this land.

National Council of Churches Social Justice Sunday November 15

Following discussions with Dr Cathy Kezelman and Susan Leith-Miller of ASCA, we held a service to support Adults Surviving Child Abuse, in conjunction with the inaugural Forget-me-knot Day (Fri 13th Nov) and awareness week held by ASCA. A liturgy was prepared by Andrew Collis and Heather Robinson and used by a number of churches/synagogues across Australia. The liturgy provided a space for grieving, confession and hope. The front of the church building was tied in blue ribbon for a week. SSUC was the only church to send a donation.

St Francis and St Clare Day

On October 4 we held our annual service to celebrate all the creatures with which we share God’s earth: Thanksgiving for Creation. People brought their pets to the service, or photos of them, if that was more appropriate. A collection was taken towards Monika’s Doggie Rescue.

Celebrating Community

On the Sunday which is focused on the Reign of Christ, November 22, we invited those in the community with whom we work and the people who use our property to celebrate community with us.

Later this year

November 14 has been set for another ASCA service. Regular contact has been kept with Dr Cathy Kezelman and Susan Leith-Miller of ASCA, to support them in preparations for Forget-me-knot Day 2010 and the promotion of healing services in churches and faith communities. Kristina Kenneally and Tanya Plibersek have been invited to the ASCA service this year.

The idea of a Harvest Festival service, in co-operation with St Mary’s Catholic Church in Erskineville, to contribute and gather resources for needy people, will be put to this Congregational Meeting. Michael McIntyre of St Mary’s is also involved in the local St Vincent de Paul Society, and has offered access to resources and referrals for people in need.


On Saturday November 7, Nicole Fleming was ordained in our church surrounded by our congregation and many friends and family in loving support.


Margaret Vazey’s grand-daughter, Jasmin Rose Petersen, was baptised on April 26. Her parents are Megan and Terje Petersen.
Noah Patterson, son of Julie and Damien Patterson, was baptised on April 11.
Bethany Grace Hughes, daughter of Mark and Gorgina Hughes, will be baptized on May 2.

Re-affirmation of Baptism

We celebrate today the re-affirmation of Baptism and thus joining the membership of our church of: Melissa Gibson, Julie McCrossin and Dr. Miriam Pepper


Jacob and Losana.
Virginia and James.


John Raymond Collis.

Afternoon Prayers

Over the last year, Heather Robinson has established an afternoon prayer service – Tuesdays, once a month. We have purchased cushions for this, as well as a quality coffee percolator! The prayers take place in front of the side altar in the church which is being developed as a small “side chapel” area.

Elders Workshops and Bible Studies

These were held at intervals through the year and focused on the Gospel for the year, plus the Book of Revelation.

Wider Church

Jesus: All about Life

The Council agreed with Andrew that this interchurch evangelical program was not consistent with the theology and polity of the Uniting Church and therefore we should not become a participating congregation.

Special events

Ciaron O’Reilly’s visit on May 15

Ciaron is a Catholic Worker representative from Brisbane – a follower of Dorothy Day’s work. He led a discussion after the viewing of a video entitled Fool for Christ: The story of Dorothy Day.

Law and Order Forum

A well-attended Law and Order Forum was held at the church on May 27.

The discussion focused on: Law and order campaigns, prison privatisation, the question of whether prisons are for reform or punishment and alternatives ways of dealing with crime.

The speakers were: Greg Smith, Lee Rhiannon, Penny Sharpe and Ass. Prof. Eileen Baldry.

Sydney Half Marathon, Melbourne Marathon

Andrew, Adrian Spry, Leigh Stern and Bron Lee ran the Half Marathon in the CBD on May 17 and were sponsored to raise money ($1,000) for the Breast Cancer Network Australia. Later in the year, Trevor took part in the Sydney Running Festival in September and Andrew completed the Melbourne Marathon in October, raising $5,000 for the Pemulwuy Housing Project on the Block.

On May 16 Adrian, Andrew, Arathi, Angelique and Don (of the Ravens running group) will take part in the Sydney Half Marathon for the Breast Cancer Network.

Parish Website

Scotty McDonald has now established a parish website which carries Andrew’s homilies, our Newsletter and other information about the life of the parish. It is: . We are most grateful for all Scotty’s time-consuming and competent work.

Community Arts Worker

Eve Gibson’s contributions to our work and life together have been many and are deeply valued – from researching and writing articles for the Review section of the South Sydney Herald, to helping with events, to establishing links with local galleries, music venues, artists and musicians, to maintaining a creative and harmonious work environment at the church office.

Student Placement

Don Crowley did a student community welfare placement for several months, two days a week with the parish, and assumed responsibility for a number of tasks, including work for one of those days alongside Eve – focussing on the Elderflowers project. Don has continued his involvement as a volunteer with the Garden Shelter and as a distributor of the SSH.

Art Classes

The Art Class meets on the 2nd and 4rd Saturdays of the month. Adrian Spry ably led these classes for a period during the year, then had a break and recently returned to continue his good work. Hayley French, a recent graduate of the Sydney College of the Arts and local artist Charlotte Dibben have also assisted with teaching. The students recently held a very successful exhibition of their art in the church. The show was opened by Miriam Cabello.

Andrew has also been considering an artist-in-residence who would occupy part of the Manse. This will be explored further.

Art Exhibitions

A number of successful art exhibitions were held during the year, including that of Gordon and Elaine Syron’s collections and the work of Hayley French and that of our own art class. The latter show was curated by Charlotte Dibben. This also meant that the church is now set up with lighting and hanging facilities for such exhibitions. Many of the lights were donated by Gordon Syron.


September 19 saw the premiere reading of Alana Valentine’s Elderflowers: Stories of Older People in Redfern. The play was met with enthusiastic applause, and we now have a good number of written responses and reviews. 

The weeklong festival, 'Older and Wiser', was held on August 31st-Sept 6th. The Factory Community Centre asked if we would hold a worship service on this theme on Sun Sept 6. We were happy to do so.

The South Sydney Herald

On some levels, the paper has gone from strength to strength. It is, if anything increasing its readership and many people have complimented the paper on its new look since the change of printer. Esther Turnbull is now assisting with pagination and editing.

The area of concern is funding. Apparently for business reasons, the Lord Mayoral Letter page was withdrawn at the beginning of the year, taking around $10,000 of advertising revenue. In the latter part of 2009 and during this year things have picked up significantly and we thank John Lanzky and Don Crowley for their contribution in helping with this. We need four pages of advertisements per issue to break even. Ali Blogg is also thanked for all the work she has done in retrieving money for advertising from last year and arranging for ads and invoicing this year.

The Deerubbun was booked again for Survival Day on January 26 and its Harbour Cruise was a successful fundraiser for the SSH.

The Church Council agreed that, on June 18, a fundraising dinner be held in Darlington at the Buon Gusto Restaurant with Fr Bob McGuire from Melbourne as the speaker. His subject will be “Poverty – What can be done?”

Property and Maintenance

Property Committee

We are grateful to Mark Bridgett of his efforts in relation to care of property but, for a number of reasons, it would be good to have volunteers to form an ongoing Property Committee. Booking forms for the church and hall hire are now completed.

The arrangements for regular rubbish collection are working well.

We will explore a number of options in relation to a water tank – we need quotes but are hopeful of getting assistance from the Council.

Sacrificial plaster

The plasterer has been back to examine progress in the church repairs. The sacrificial plaster needs more time to absorb moisture in the wall and we have some concern about continuing moisture coming through from the point where the vestry roof meets the church wall. We have just been advised that this is to do with repairs needed to the flashing. Andrew has arranged for the City of Sydney Council to hold their heritage grant until that time. Plumbers will be called to inspect the roof and wall.


The Cana Community has agreed to contribute towards the installation of a shower.
The window in the women’s toilet is also in need of replacement.
The hall has been significantly tidied and cleaned over the year (three skip bins of rubbish were removed from the hall).


We are undoubtedly in need of a rebuilding of the kitchen cupboards and benches and a new stove – possibly just stove top. Numbers of groups and the congregation regularly use the kitchen and it is approaching being a health and safety issue.

Eden Garden

The year has seen huge improvements in our church garden, due to the hard work of Keith, Reece, Dove and friends of the Luncheon Club. The vegetable beds have been raised and replanted and we now have a number of very happy hens in the chicken coop.

Belmont Street Hall

The Exodus Foundation School has now left the hall and unit to go to the Centre for Indigenous Excellence and we have new tenants in both places – the unit being restored to its residential use and the hall hired by a psychotherapist and yoga teacher.

Finance report

We celebrate the fact that Frank Robinson has agreed to prepare and present a financial report and budget for us today.


Obviously this as been a busy and productive year for our parish. We celebrate our creative life together and believe that the future, which we place in the hands of our God, holds even more hopes and dreams as we plan and work together.

Dorothy McRae-McMahon
Church Council Secretary