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On behalf of the Australia Mission Centre Conference Team
For some time now we’ve been wanting to find a way to tell the story of how Community of Christ in Australia is working towards its mission. Most not-for-profit’s in Australia produce an annual report to provide their members and the wider community a snapshot as to how it is performing, and to share the hopes and dreams of the future. Now it’s our turn!
At the 2019 Mission Centre Conference in June we launched the 2018 Annual Report.
It captures the 2018 financial year and shows just some of the programs, highlights and achievements of that year. We are proud to release it to the wider community today.
You can download your copy here: cofchrist.com.au/reports, or read it online at bit.ly/cofchrist2018ar. If you would like to be sent a hard copy, please contact Emma Espinosa at Mission Centre Office firstname.lastname@example.org / 02 9871 7400.
In the coming months, we will release the report for the financial year just completed, likely to be around October, we look forward to sharing more of our mission in action.
We hope you find the report to be valuable and expect you’ll be able to share it with your community. Let us know your feedback and tell us how you’re using it!
Mission Centre Leadership Team
At Mission Centre Conference we announced several role focus changes among the paid field staff team. These changes have been made, effective July 1, to align with the priorities of the strategic plan:
Kassandra Unger: Children’s Minister. Australia Wide. Kass will focus on program creation and delivery for early childhood and primary aged children. This will include nationwide programs, however will have a specific focus on Sydney. She will be responsible for resource production for this age group, to assist congregations and camp directors with materials for camps, worship and classes. This role now includes the responsibility of the CYP Officer for the church in Australia. The idea here is to appropriately resource children’s ministries to ensure the future of our church is strong!
Alicia Turner: Youth and Young Adult Minister. Australia Wide. Alicia will focus the majority of her time on Community Plus, continuing to enhance what has already been established. The intention here is to expand its ministry, re‐building the Leaders‐in‐Training (LIT) program and lead the team into the future. Her responsibilities will also include identifying ways to encourage our people to do World Service Corps, and to foster sites locally for volunteers to be based in Australia. She will develop pathways for those who are on the upper edge of CPlus to experience ministry in the community through cell groups and other initiatives. She will create resources for families, congregations and individuals to strengthen their discipleship, specifically in this age group.
Robert Thompson: Minister. Australia Wide. Rob’s focus will be on a new style of ministry we are calling ‘congregational companioning’. He will walk with 3‐4 congregations per year to assist them in finding new ways of being, to help them question and vision for their future. Among the first group of congregations will be Brisbane. While doing that, he will teach, preach and provide pastoral care in those places. He will develop training for others to become volunteer congregational companions, and build a network of companions. The other part of Rob’s role will be to develop and deliver innovative events that provide people with an opportunity to experience community, including WoW. The idea here is to develop discipleship and enhance spiritual formation through new expressions of ministry.
Wendy Ballard: Tiona Chaplain. Mid North Coast, NSW. Wendy will be focused on continuing her work in the community, but with a shift towards the Tiona Chapel and Green Cathedral. She will coordinate ministry in those locations and build a team for delivery of events and programs at the new Tiona Chapel. While it’s being built, she will develop material and training resources for volunteers in that space. Then, once it’s built, she will coordinate the delivery of those programs. She will continue in her role as a hospital chaplain in Forster, and the Cluster Coordinator for the Mid North Coast.
This is an exciting time for the church, and for us as a team! For some time now we have been following the patterns of the past decade or so, however it is now time to set our focus towards the priorities in the strategic plan. It is a time of change, and that’s always difficult. We are generating a new way of being for our community, and the wider community, and I believe what we do over the next few years will lay a foundation for a fertile field in years to come. We have discerned. We have listened. Now it is time to be bold and courageously live out our actions.
As President Veazey says in the last line of his recent words of counsel “Trust what is being born. Have faith in divine purposes. Persist in Hope.”
The Spirit is birthing a new creation, and we are required to listen and act. I trust each of you. Your gifts and callings are a blessing to me and the church, and I’m filled with great hope for what we can all achieve.
Australia Mission Centre President
Australia Mission Centre Field Staff Team (L-R):
Kass Unger, Alicia Turner, Robert Thompson, Wendy Ballard
It’s been a big 12 months!
We’re in December and I still can’t quite believe that. As I look back though, I am very aware of how much we’ve accomplished as Community of Christ in Australia this year.
Some highlights have been:
- Launching a new five-year Strategic Plan, and beginning to live into it
- Women’s retreats
- A WoW weekend in Victoria
- Several family, children’s and congregational retreats
- Several camps to support other community organisations
- A visit from our Apostle and our Presiding Bishop
- Sending a delegation of youth to IYF and Spectacular
- Introducing a new Lessee at Tiona
- A large and rewarding National Gathering
- Sending a delegation of leaders to the Pacific Field Gathering (Tu’ama) in Tahiti
- Launching the new designs for the Tiona Chapel
- Our second cruise reunion
- Hundreds of meaningful worship and fellowship experiences around the nation,
including many ordinations, baptisms and confirmations
- The largest response to Tiona Reunion in years, with over 200 registered!
The Spirit is moving!
Unfortunately, we’ve also experienced the tragedy of loss, sickness, and saying goodbye to many of our loved ones. All of these moments cause us to pause and reflect on the blessings we’ve received from those people and those gatherings over the years, which we will never forget.
A few weeks ago, we advertised two positions which were created after Helen’s decision to leave church employment. After careful analysis of the role she’s diligently fulfilled for 18 years, it was determined that there were two clear functions that could be filled independently. This, along with two specific directives from the Strategic Plan (Aspect 3, Objective 2 and Aspect 4, Objective 1) led us to believe that if we applied a more focused approach in both administration and communications (rather than having them in one role) it could yield a greater result for the church. We’ve also adjusted the time allocated to these positions, with the administrative assistant being 27.5 hours a week and communications coordinator being 10 hours per week. This may mean a shift in ‘office hours’ for the MC Office, with more information being communicated in the New Year.
With this in mind, I’d like to announce the following:
1. Emma Espinosa has been appointed as Administrative Assistant for the church, beginning January 14, 2019. She brings with her a wealth of experience in different fields of both administration and marketing. Having been a member of the church most of her life, she will also bring a sense of heritage, knowledge and heart to the role.
2. Anne Bonnefin has been appointed as Communications Coordinator, beginning January 14, 2019. Anne has been involved in many areas of the church’s life, currently serving on the Pastorate at Drummoyne, the WoW committee and the World Church Health and Wellness Team. She has extensive design and communications experience which will bring a new life to the way the church communicates with its members and the wider community.
We’re excited to welcome these two people onto the team and to see where this takes the church in the coming months. Please bear with us as we work through this transition.
I hope you have felt the Spirit in your life this year. I’m often reminded of how grateful I am to be leading this church in this nation, and how proud I am of the many disciples who offer themselves for ministry on a daily basis. I thank each of you for your continued passion for building the peaceable kingdom in your communities. The church survives on volunteers, and we could not do what we do without you. I’d also like to acknowledge each of the staff for your continued dedication. It’s not an easy job, but you continue to find ways to astound me with your zest and joy for the work that you do.
On a personal note, I will be taking leave from January 21, 2019 for 4 weeks to welcome the birth of Lana and my first child (assuming she arrives on time!). We will keep you in the loop as to those details. The MC Presidency is working on a solution for you to contact us should anything urgent come up while I am on leave, and to ensure the church is appropriately supported during that time. I’m very much looking forward to becoming a father, knowing it will test every part of me!
Have a safe and joyous Christmas!
President, Australia Mission Centre
Over the last 6 months, the Sydney network has been having a conversation about how it can best live out the mission of the church. During the discussion, many concepts and forms have been discussed, with some exciting ideas coming forward! From new congregational models to adaptations on existing ones, there has been significant synergy around the idea that there is need for change.
To ensure that change happens effectively, a temporary part-time paid position will be created to research and develop a pilot concept, which will be funded primarily by congregations. The role will be to work with the network to develop a new way of being that reaches the community in a way that is fresh yet stands on the foundations already created by the many who have gone before us.
As we venture down this path, we invite prayers from the community to centre and connect us all, helping us discern the best direction for our future together.
Tiona Reunion is shaping to be our biggest in a long time and we’re excited for the fun, spiritual nourishment, and blessings of community that we will experience over the Christmas holidays.
Here’s an update on the registration process for the reunion:
We have already allocated accommodation. We may still have a few Lodge rooms and campsites left so if you have not yet confirmed your accommodation, you need to contact Jan Thompson immediately at Tiona.Reunion@gmail.com.
Registrations are closing at the end of November and we would be very grateful if you would finalise your registration as soon as possible. Processing registrations and payments involves some work and it would greatly assist the team of volunteers working behind the scenes if you could register immediately if you haven’t already.
If you are attending reunion (or parts of reunion) and are not staying on the grounds, it is still very important that you register for the days you are attending (use the code ‘DAY’ in the accommodation reference question). This is especially true if you would like lunch or dinner provided. If you don’t book and pay for your meals in advance, we won’t be able to cater for you.
All fees are set out in the Fee Schedule
To register, click this link: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/CommunityofChrist0#/selectSessions/2497403
If you have any questions, please contact Jan Thompson the volunteer reunion director at TionaReunion@gmail.com.
As a spiritual venture, boldly follow the initiatives into the heart of God’s vision for the church and creation. Then, in response to growing insight about God’s nature and will, continue to shape communities that live Christ’s love and mission.
Doctrine and Covenants 165: 1b
Like a labyrinth, we are called to venture into the heart of God’s vision to discover and discern where the church is called to be. It is there we will find insights about who we are as a people, and how we must respond to the world around us to create communities of joy, hope, love and peace. But there we must not remain. Receiving, discerning and learning is only half the task; action, application and mission are essential if we are to follow the path of the disciple. If we walked into the centre of the labyrinth and discovered love but did not come out, how could we experience love fully?
The spiral of the temple, the patterns of the seasons, the cycle of the sun and moon – all remind us that as a people we are best when we are moving and changing. If the sun were to stop, there would be no life; if there was only winter, there would be no life. Movement is critical, and if we stand still for even a moment, we risk falling out of step with the rhythms of creation.
This National Gathering we will explore this idea, moving into the heart of God’s vision for the church on a deeper level. Then, using newly found will and testimony, we will shape new expressions of community, binding us closely with our mission as a people of peace and justice. Through debate, moments of reflection, laughter and love, we will write, share and create exciting possibilities for the church to live its purpose. The return to Tiona has provided us with a new set of challenges, yet I believe it draws us back to what matters most for us as we take a break from the ordinary to explore our core mission.
Will you join me in creating the future for our movement?
President, Australia Mission Centre
We're excited to release the Australia Mission Centre Strategic Plan! It has been developed over the last 12 months through many hours of discernment and contribution. It is now time to progress with its message, living it out across the nation. The leadership team will be facilitating sessions in many different areas around Australia over the coming months to help further its understanding, so look back here soon for more details on that.
In the meantime, share the word that the Spirit is on the move! Let us embrace that as we employ our understanding that all are called, it's up to each and every one of us as disciples to live our calling and respond to God's beckoning.
Grace and peace!
It's available here for an online magazine version (click the middle for a full screen version), or downloadable by the arrow on the top left below:
On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. In undertaking its Review, the Prime Minister has instructed the Panel to:
- consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights
- have regard to any previous or ongoing reviews or inquiries that it considers relevant
- consult as widely as it considers necessary
The Mission Centre Leadership Team felt it was prudent that we voice our perspective as a faith movement, through the lens of our enduring principles. The team underwent a process which included voice and approval from the Mission Centre Council, and the resulting submission is found through the link below.
Statement of opposition to the Australian government’s decision to increase the export of weapons
For decades Community of Christ has voiced its opposition to the use and proliferation of weapons that are designed to kill. It is our belief that there is sacredness in all of creation, and tools that are designed to remove life are not in concert with that principle. In 1991 the Australian church called upon political leaders to refrain from the sale of armaments and weapons, a call renewed in 1999 by a motion encouraging members to renounce their own use of firearms (which was then adopted by the 2000 World Conference), and again in 2015 when the church affirmed the notion that sacred space is unarmed space. Our understanding of peace is that it can only be experienced fully when violence is absent.
Community of Christ in Australia calls on the Australian government to immediately reconsider its decision to increase its budget to fund weapons exports.
- Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team
Official Policy Change
This week, after a meeting of the Australia Mission Centre Council and subsequent approval from the First Presidency, Community of Christ in Australia has changed its policy on the sacrament of marriage. Effective 18 December 2017, the sacrament of marriage will be available to all people eligible under Australian law, regardless of gender or sexuality, and celebrants of Community of Christ will be authorised to perform these marriages as they so desire.
We are called to be a people who uphold the worth of all persons. To truly live out their roles in the Australian community, all faith communities must work together to forge a path towards justice and inclusivity. Members of Community of Christ believe that God loves all people. Through the example of Jesus, Community of Christ ministers will continue to stand with those who are persecuted, oppressed and who are voiceless. The change to the Marriage Act, and the change in the policy of the Community of Christ, reflect that stance. We celebrate the change.
While unique in our movement to have a policy change of this regard that has not involved a National Conference, it is believed that the parts of our community most affected by this change have endured enough. Church leadership both locally and globally are of the opinion that previous discussions surrounding ordination of individuals in same-sex relationships reflected an overwhelmingly positive consensus, and with the addition of the postal survey and considerable public debate, it was considered unwarranted to hold another vote on this matter, choosing instead to live boldly into our enduring principles.
This step upholds the value the church places on the sacrament of marriage. We believe the relationship of marriage is founded in principles of Christ-like love, mutual respect, covenant, faithfulness and justice. For generations, this sacrament has not been open to all people. Now, gladly, it is.
In the next few weeks, more detailed resources and policy documents will become available.
Re: Assignment of Tiona Lease
After months of negotiations, I am pleased to announce that the Tiona Management Lease
has a new owner. Southern Cross Parks have purchased the existing lease from Sundowner
Tourist Parks and will take over operations immediately. Southern Cross Parks have a
portfolio of five caravan parks throughout NSW, QLD and Victoria, and have extensive
experience in the caravan and camping industry.
I’d like to acknowledge Sundowner for their contribution at Tiona, and wish them well in
their future endeavours.
Further thanks must be expressed to the Tiona Management Committee for their tireless
work in assisting Mission Centre Officers, the Mission Centre Council and the Presiding
Bishopric in ensuring this process was smooth and comprehensive, while maintaining
professionalism and upholding the church’s values and policies.
I look forward to many more years of fellowship and activity at Tiona, a place where so
many of us experience a deep sense of connection with the Spirit. May we continue to be
good custodians of this sacred ground.
President, Australia Mission Centre
Tiona Management Committee:
Fran Breen, David Henricks, Ken Archer, Julie Crittenden with the assistance of Allan Walshe
Today’s announcement that Australia has voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage is the perfect example as to how a community embodies the worth of all persons. It symbolises that as a nation we support those who love each other, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. As a denomination, we have some work to do to encapsulate this right in our policies. Steps are being taken to provide voice to the people for how we move forward in creating communities of joy, hope, love and peace in our community of faith.
May we continue to look for opportunities to stand together, showing the world what a blessing it is to be a community that stands for justice and peace. May this outcome be a reminder to us all that when love is at the centre, we experience true joy.
- Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team
It is the role of the disciple to rise up when oppression and suffering is occurring, using our voice to assist those without. In our nation today, neighbours who knocked on our door asking for help are living in conditions we would not wish upon our enemy, and we as followers of Christ cannot sit by without action.
Attached is a statement from the Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team about the current humanitarian crisis on Manus Island.
I encourage you to share it with neighbours, friends, politicians and business leaders to join together with thousands of others in protest.
Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a reminds us that “God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.”
Let us join together in this mission as one people in love and compassion.
Ben Smith, President, Australia Mission Centre
Tiona Reunion planning is well underway and it’s full steam ahead. It promises to be a joyful and uplifting experience…
Full registrations are now open and here is the link: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/CommunityofChrist0#/selectSessions/2186304
I am grateful that we continue to be able to provide the opportunity to come together and know community in a way that touches human hearts so profoundly. At Tiona Reunion we can refresh our spirit and listen to the voice of God speaking directly into our own hearts. We are inspired and touched by hearing each other’s stories… each other’s challenges… each other’s passion. We are strengthened by being in relationship with one another… finding our connection, our sisterhood and brotherhood, in amongst our diversity.
Tiona Reunion is unique in that you can tailor a Registration package to best suit your budget and your needs. (See the full fee schedule below). Everyone pays the standard Event fee cost, then you add the accommodation of your choice and optional dining packages. Below we have listed the breakdown of costs for this year – heavily subsidised by the Tiona Lease Management income.
As many of you will be aware, each August we must pre-select our accommodation for the upcoming Reunion and many took the opportunity to reserve their preference. If you have not already reserved accommodation and wish to book cabin style accommodation for 2017 Reunion please contact me IMMEDIATELY to discuss the options.
Also make sure you tell us if you need to match your Reunion booking with a private booking at Tiona before or after Reunion. You can call Karen at Tiona office on 02 6554 0291 if you would like to make or confirm a private pre- or post-Reunion booking. You can also tell us if there are special circumstances impacting your choice of Tiona accommodation. If you have any questions please drop me an email at email@example.com OR text or phone 0411 473835. Remember, there are limited supplies of some cabin types so the sooner you tell us what you want the better we can negotiate to find a win-win solution.
- Jan Thompson, Tiona Reunion Director
2017 Full Fee Schedule
The registration fee goes towards morning teas and suppers, and special events, Community meals like Carnival lunch on 27th and New Year’s Day brunch, all scheduled activities, program materials and resources, and guest ministry.
Adult (19 +)
Youth (16 to 18)
Child (5 to15)
Powered Camp Site
$90 per room
Lakeside Ensuite Cabin
Beachside Ensuite Cabin
Beachside Convent’l Cabin
Beachside Spa Cabin
Eco Spa Cabin
Sand Dunes Family Cottage
Sand Dunes Cottage
*The prices listed for cabin accommodation are show the 10% discount provided for booking made PRIOR to 26 August (under the terms of the lease). This discount may not be available for late cabin bookings..
Catered Meals (optional)
You can book meals for the week, or if not attending the whole week you can pay the daily rate for the number of days needed.
(Please note: Lunch on 27th Dec and 12noon Brunch on1st Jan are included in Event fees).
Following are the OPTIONAL dining packages you can choose to add:
Lunch and Dinner = 4 Lunches + 6 Dinners
16 & over 10-15yo 5-9yo
$135 (all week) $98 (all week) $68 (all week)
Dinner only (6 Dinners)
$85 (all week) $66 (all week) $48 (all week)
$15 (per day) $11 (per day) $8 (per day)
Lunch only (4 Lunches)
$50 (all week) $32 (all week) $20 (all week)
OR OR OR
$12.50 (per day) $8 (per day) $5 (per day)
To the Church,
Official Policy - Consumption of Intoxicants by Priesthood:
For the well-being of individuals and the church community, especially the most vulnerable, disciples and priesthood members are urged to refrain from drinking intoxicants.
Here are two documents relating to the review the First Presidency has conducted, as requested by the 2013 World Conference, with regard to the policy of drinking intoxicants. The Pastoral Letter from the First Presidency, contains their interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 152:4b, a new official policy on the consumption of alcohol by priesthood, and a new official policy on the consumption of alcohol at Community of Christ events and on Community of Christ property.
Here is an outline of the application of the Official Policy in Australia. It’s important to note that the new policy is a worldwide policy, and that the application of the policy is adapted to suit each nation.
I encourage you to prayerfully study the material personally and in your congregations.
President, Australia Mission Centre
On Saturday 9 September, the Bulahdelah congregation met to have their annual general meeting, where it was regretfully decided to close the congregation. With only a few members in regular attendance, their decision was based on stewardship and reality. As we met for communion and reflection, a deep spirit of gratitude was present.
Generous disciples of this congregation have given their lives in service for the church over many decades, leading to countless moments of witness in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that the church has had a major impact on Bulahdelah as a community, and I give thanks for the commitment and service of members and friends, both past and present.
A celebration service will be held on Sunday 19 November commencing at 2pm. All are welcome to attend the celebration.
May we be transformed by the courage the Bulahdelah congregation has shown through its decision, which will bless the church into the future.
President, Australia Mission Centre