FAQ

Please contact us if you have any specific questions you would like answered.
(here’s an initial LIST OF FAQ to RTG.March2019 – some are answered in this list of 23 FAQ’s prepared by the Restructure Task Group: FAQ-Presbytery-Restructure)

Question: Several enquiries relating to Presbytery membership have been received. These include:
* How will the membership of the Transitional Presbytery be decided for its future meetings?
* Will it simply be the members from the relevant congregations associated with the former Presbytery of SA or will it be as the Regulations prescribe?

Response: There are several parts to the answer.
1. Elected congregational lay members of the former Presbytery of South Australia, whose congregation is now associated with Transitional Presbytery will continue as members of Transitional Presbytery.
2. In addition, any congregation associated with Transitional Presbytery (which does not currently have an elected presbytery representative) can elect a lay representative in accordance with Reg.3.3.4 (d) (i)
3. Ministers and Pastors who are in active service, in approved locations, and in a placement within a single congregation associated with Transitional Presbytery will be members of Transitional Presbytery. Reg. 3.3.4 (b) (i) and 3.3.4 (c) (i)
4 In addition, Ministers and Lay Pastors who are in a placement within multiple congregations which are associated with either Generate Presbytery or Transitional Presbytery, will have chosen in which presbytery their membership will reside.
5. Ministers who are on leave of absence, retired or awaiting placement can apply to be Associate members of the Presbytery which has oversight of them. Associate members may participate in discussion but are unable to vote. Reg. 3.3.5.
Presbytery meetings are open meetings. Accordingly, all congregational members can attend Presbytery meetings as a non-voting participant.

Further FAQ’s are also posted below (more to come!)

What funding model is being proposed?
Presbytery-Funding-Model-Proposal

Standing Committee decisions about the logistics for the Presbytery restructure
Decisions-made-by-Standing-Committee-on-3-May-2019-about-the-Presbytery-Restructure

What is the status of the Transitional Presbytery?
Some people have referred to the Transitional Presbytery as the ‘leftovers’ (ie those ‘left over’ who are not opting to join Generate Presbytery). In reality the Transitional Presbytery represents the continuation of the ‘usual’ polity arrangements in the UCA and will fulfil the requirements of a Presbytery for all congregations and Ministers within the Presbytery.

Will the Transitional Presbytery basically be the same as the current Presbytery of SA?
Whilst much about the Transitional Presbytery of South Australia and the current Presbytery of South Australia will look the same, technically, it will not be the same.  In 2005, when the church went to the one Presbytery model, coterminous with the Synod of South Australia, many delegations were made to the Presbytery from the Synod of South Australia.  At the meeting in June 2019, as we structurally separate the Synod from the Presbytery and form two presbyteries, these delegations will be revoked, and the Presbytery of South Australia as we know it will be dissolved. (Advice from Rev Sue Page, Associate General Secretary, and Restructuring Task Group)

Will the Transitional Presbytery have a statement about same gender marriage
(Generate have a clear position on marriage: to hold the position that marriage is the covenantal relationship of one man and one woman.)
The issue of marriage is not a deciding matter for the Transitional Presbytery as there is generous space for those who hold that marriage is between a man and a woman, and those who welcome that marriage is between two people. There is no need for a separate statement on marriage, apart from what is outlined in the UCA President’s pastoral statement issued in July 2018 following the 15th UCA National Assembly (highly recommended reading). An excerpt from Dr Deidre Palmer’s letter:
“To honour the diversity of Christian belief among our members, we will hold two equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage. This decision will allow ministers and celebrants in the Uniting Church the freedom to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-gender marriages.
The existing statement of belief that “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life” has been retained.
A new additional statement of belief has also been adopted. That statement reads “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.”
What this means is that ministers who, in good conscience, are willing to conduct same-gender marriages are able to do so. This does not compromise the rights of those ministers who, in good conscience, cannot conduct same-gender marriages. They will continue to be able to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman, and can continue to use a marriage liturgy that reflects that conviction.
I want to reassure all members of the Uniting Church – your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will be respected and protected”.
=> What this means is that congregations and Ministers in the Transitional Presbytery, and later the 2 or more Presbyteries that will be formed, will work within this framework respectfully, where the rights of those ministers who, in good conscience, cannot conduct same-gender marriages will be respected, and those ministers who, in good conscience, are willing to conduct same-gender marriages are able to do so.
Church councils will have the right to determine whether marriage services take place on their premises.

How is the decision made regarding which Presbytery to join?
The information provided by the Restructuring Task Group is that a meeting of the congregation should be held, where a decision will be made about which Presbytery to join (Generate or Transitional Presbytery).  Alternately, a congregation may decide not to make a decision (perhaps because of pastoral concerns about the impact on the congregation of different views). In this case, a congregation may decide not to decide and will therefore be assigned to the Transitional Presbytery. A number of congregations have already decided to take this action. It is recommended that a written ballot be used by congregations (although consensus procedures following the process in Manual for Meetings may also be used if it is clear the congregation is of one mind, but not always easy to work through that in a way that respects minority voices. Please note: simply counting those holding orange and blue cards to determine numbers is not the consensus process). A 2/3 majority needs to be reached for a congregation to join the Generate Presbytery.
At the information evening run by the Restructuring Task Group (RTG), the comment was made that Church Councils and Ministers might bring a recommendation to the Congregation. It was later clarified that Church Councils and Ministers could provide leadership by resourcing the congregation for an informed decision making process (as distinct from a recommendation). Care should be taken not to overstep this responsibility and interfere with proper process. The congregation needs to be equipped and empowered to make its own decision, irrespective of views held by the Minister/s and Church Council.

Will a congregation’s decision about which  Presbytery to join be final?
Generate Presbytery is a non geographical Presbytery, and by definition the Transitional Presbytery will also be non-geographical from July to November. When the Transitional Presbytery is dissolved later in 2019, 2 or more geographical Presbyteries will be formed. Congregations can decide to relate to a geographical Presbytery (boundaries to be defined in second half of 2019) or the non geographical Generate Presbytery and may have an option to change their initial decision at a later stage.

We’ve read the Generate statements. Why is there nothing similar for the Transitional Presbytery?
Geographical Presbyteries are the norm in the Uniting Church. Some non-geographical Presbyteries exist specifically for Indigenous and CALD communities (UAICC – Northern Regional Christian Congress in Northern Synod and Calvary Presbytery in Queensland, and a Korean Presbytery in NSW formed by a decision of the NSW Synod at that time).
It is not ‘usual’ (good UCA word) for a Presbytery to be formed around a particular theological framework but the SA Presbytery and Synod meeting in November 2018 agreed to do so with the decision to approve the non-geographical Presbytery now known as the Generate Presbytery.
Geographical Presbyteries will have particular missional and ministry foci, as well as fulfilling the responsibilities of a Presbytery as defined in the UCA Constitution Clause 26, and detailed in Regulation 3.1.3
The Presbytery shall have oversight as is necessary to the life and mission of the Church in the area committed to it; shall stimulate and encourage the Congregations within its bounds, providing them with opportunities for counsel in the strengthening and assistance of one another and in their participation in wider aspects of the work of the Church. (This is accessible on the UCA website)
There is therefore no particular need for a defining theological framework for the Transitional Presbytery, nor for the geographical Presbyteries to be formed after November 2019, as their work is encompassed in the definition of purpose above and in statements such as the Statement to the Nation, 1977 and 1988, to set priorities, and in an understanding of the particular geo-social and cultural contexts for mission and ministry . Obviously, the geographical Presbyteries will be responsive to their missional and ministry context, and will also enable a diversity of theological frameworks to be held within the unity of the church, within Presbyteries. Diversity is a positive value to be embraced.
(You may be interested to view Jonathan Barker’s presentation on an Inclusive Vision, which is posted on Youtube with links from the front page of this website, and also on the Strategic Thinking page)

When will office bearers in the new Presbyteries be appointed? 
The Generate Presbytery will elect office bearers to commence July 1st. The Transitional Presbytery will elect a Chair for the period July to November, when the Transitional Presbytery will be dissolved, and 2 or more Presbyteries will begin. At that point, office bearers will be elected for the new Presbyteries.

What will happen to the Mission Networks?
It has been determined by the Synod Standing Committee that Mission Networks will not continue in their current form or funding arrangements beyond June, 2019. Congregations will be encouraged to develop informal networks within and across presbyteries but the current formal structure of Mission Networks will no longer exist.
At the meeting of the Standing Committee on April 5, 2019, it was resolved to:
1. DETERMINE that whilst congregations may continue to form informal networks for a variety of purposes Mission Networks will no longer continue in their current form or funding model after 29 June, 2019.
2. DETERMINE that paid positions in Mission Networks will cease by the end of November 2019 on the basis that these positions related to a committee of the former Presbytery which will be dissolved in June 2019.
3. DETERMINE that the Synod will take responsibility for the administration (HR processes, etc) of these positions until the conclusion of these positions by the end of November 2019

What will happen to the financial allocation congregations have given to the Mission Networks?
The requirement for Congregations to be affiliated with, and make contributions to, a Mission Network will cease. Full funding for all new Presbyteries will begin in January 2020.
Rev Rob Brown (Interim Gen Sec) has outlined the proposed Presbytery funding model (see link)
Presbytery-Funding-Model-Proposal

Is it ‘fair’ that Generate Presbytery have 6 months ‘head start’ on the new Presbyteries that will be established after the November Synod meeting?
This question has been raised a number of times. When the former 7 SA Presbyteries were dissolved into 1 SA Presbytery, the process took 2 years and had a lawyer to provide appropriate advice on polity and the transition process. There has been a much shorter lead time for the transition from 1 Presbytery into (initially) two Presbyteries from July 1st. Generate Presbytery have been working for some time on the shape and focus of the Presbytery. The Transitional Presbytery has been described as a ‘gift’ that will give time and energy needed for the planning required for 2 or more Presbyteries later in 2019, and to ‘realign with the original polity of the UCA’.
Generate Presbytery will be in its infancy for the second half of 2019, and at the same time the Transitional Presbytery will have time to work on the specific detail for the new Presbyteries so that they can begin work in an ordered way.

How often will the Presbytery and Synod meet from 2020?
Each Presbytery will have a Standing Committee and Pastoral Relations Committee, which in usual circumstances would meet monthly. The frequency of Presbytery meetings will be determined by the Presbytery itself. There will then be one meeting of the Synod in November, with appointments to the Synod made by each Presbytery.

What makes a Presbytery “healthy and effective”?
The Restructuring Task Group and the Standing Committee hold the aspirational view that Presbyteries are absolutely vital in our Church life to ensure that:
* congregations, faith communities and ministers are well resourced and supported
* mission and ministry continues to flourish through cross congregational networking, (a feature of Mission Networks), resourcing events and fellowship opportunities through Presbytery activities being heavily relationship based.
The attributes of an ideal Presbytery were described on pages 1 and 2 of Circular No. 2.

Will there be equal representation of all Presbyteries on Synod, and on Committees and Boards of the Synod?
All appointment processes and representation requirements will need to comply with the requirements specified in the UCA Regulations.
As an example, one person from each Presbytery will be appointed to the Property Board.

What functions will the Synod retain and why?
There are a number of reasons why it would make sense to have these functions made the responsibility of the Synod in the new structure including consistency of practice across the Synod, external regulatory requirements, having functions sitting where the expertise lies, the minimisation of risk and duplication and the maximisation of efficiency. Examples of these functions would be Human Resources, Safe Church Committee, WHS, Police screening, insurance, information technology, Privacy payroll, congregational bookkeeping.

How will the initial Presbytery leadership teams be appointed and do we know who they will be?
These appointments will be made by the Presbytery members themselves once the Presbyteries have been constituted.

What factors will be taken into account in determining the number of Presbyteries?
The Presbyteries that are formed will most likely be formed on a geographical basis. The factors that will be used as a guideline in this discussion will include:
* Number of congregations
* Number of ministers
* The long term sustainability of the Presbytery
structure.

Who will make the decision about the number of geographic presbyteries?
The Restructuring Task Group will make recommendations to the Standing Committee but ultimately the Synod meeting will make that decision.

Where will Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) SA sit in the new structure?
Congress congregations will make their individual choices about which Presbytery they want to be part of and the Regional Committee will continue its current role of coordinating the work of the UAICC across the State for all Congress congregations

How are CALD ministries being considered in the new structure?
All CALD congregations and faith communities will make their own choice.

Who will be responsible for ordination and induction of Ministers?
The relevant Presbytery

Where will lay preachers relate?
Lay preachers will relate to the Synod as per the current arrangements.

What is the impact of the Presbytery restructure on Chaplains, ministers in non-congregational placements and ministers not in placement?
This issue is going to be the subject of a consultation currently being planned for this group of ministers. But it is anticipated that ministry agents in non- congregational placements may choose Generate Presbytery but will also need to relate to the geographic presbytery where their employing body is located.

Will issues related to property remain as a Synod responsibility?
All property matters will continue to be a shared responsibility of the Presbyteries and the Synod as is currently the case.

What staffing resources will be provided to Presbyteries?
Each Presbytery will determine the staffing resources in terms of numbers, and skills mix that they think are required. These decisions will always be made in the context of the individual Presbytery budget. The underlying model when agreed will in some part determine resources to be utilised for staffing.

How will Foundation Grants be decided and distributed?
The current arrangements for seeking Foundation grants still apply

Who makes the decision about which Presbytery a congregation nominates to join in this initial choice process?
It is always a congregational meeting that makes the decision about which Presbytery it wants to join.

Where do congregations go if more information is needed before making a congregational decision on Presbytery membership?
Congregations wanting more information about the proposed restructure process or timetable before they vote should contact Rev Sue Page, spage@sa.uca.org.au, 8236 4217

What if a minister prefers to connect with a different Presbytery to the one chosen by the congregation?
A minister will need to be part of the Presbytery life of the congregation in which they are placed but will also be able to access resourcing opportunities from other Presbyteries as well.

What are the rules for congregations voting on their Presbytery choice?
Proposal 28 2.9 states that a decision of the congregation, which if not by consensus or agreement, would require a two-thirds majority in formal procedures in order for the congregation to decide to join the NGP. If congregations have any concerns about how to conduct their voting process they should contact the Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning Team, pastoralrelations@sa.uca.org.au, 8236 4204.

Who decides on the boundaries of the geographical Presbyteries?
Ultimately this decision rests with the Synod meeting but will be based on a proposal put forward to the Synod meeting through the Synod Standing Committee.

Can churches change Presbyteries with a change of minister or lay pastors?
Congregations will be able to leave or join Generate Presbytery for a range of reasons by presenting a rationale and seeking approval from the Standing Committee.

Do all linked congregations need to be part of the same Presbytery?
Congregations who are in this situation are encouraged to talk through their choices with a member of the Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning team.

What do we do if we believe we have a unique structure of inter-congregational cooperation?
If you feel you are in a unique situation, you are encouraged to talk through their choices with a member of the Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning team.

****

What decisions do ministry agents need to make?
(information provided by Rev Rob Brown in an email)
a) A Ministry agent in a single Congregation placement will come under the oversight of the Presbytery chosen by the Congregation. No further action is needed.
b) A Ministry agent in a multi-Congregation placement (if the congregations choose different presbyteries) will be able to choose the Presbytery under whose oversight they wish to come. This will be one of the Presbyteries with which their congregations relate. They will also need to maintain a relationship with any other Presbyteries chosen by the congregations in which they minister.
Response form due June 7th: Presbytery-Decision-Form-non-cong Return to secretariat@sa.uca.org.au
c) Ministry agents who are in non-congregational placements, in active service, or awaiting placement need to decide which Presbytery under whose oversight they will come.
Response form due June 7th: Presbytery-Decision-Form-non-cong Return to secretariat@sa.uca.org.au
It is anticipated that once further presbyteries are formed in November 2019, a ministry agent may choose to come under the oversight of the Generate Presbytery. However due to the nature and/or location of their placement, these Ministry agents may need to represent the ‘employing body’ at the relevant geographic Presbytery.

Even if a Ministry agent is unsure at this time which Presbytery to join, they are asked to indicate that on the form. Those who are unsure will be placed in the Transitional Presbytery of South Australia for now. Ministry agents may make the decision to join Generate Presbytery at a later time or decide to wait until November, when the shape of the Presbyteries that will be formed out of the Transitional Presbytery of South Australia is known.

Funding assumptions (18th April)
Synod-and-Presbytery-Funding-Assumptions-1

What will happen to Mission Networks
All Mission Networks have received a letter with the information in the one attached.
Letter to Networks – Decisions of Standing Committee 5 April 2019 – Susan Burt
“It has been determined by the Synod Standing Committee that Mission Networks will not continue in their current form or funding arrangements beyond June, 2019. Congregations will be encouraged to develop informal networks within and across presbyteries but the current formal structure of Mission Networks will no longer exist”.
At the meeting of the Standing Committee on April 5, 2019, it was resolved to:
1. DETERMINE that whilst congregations may continue to form informal networks for a variety of purposes Mission Networks will no longer continue in their current form or funding model after 29 June, 2019.
2. DETERMINE that paid positions in Mission Networks will cease by the end of November 2019 on the basis that these positions related to a committee of the former Presbytery which will be dissolved in June 2019.
3. DETERMINE that the Synod will take responsibility for the administration (HR processes, etc) of these positions until the conclusion of these positions by the end of November 2019
4. DIRECT the Mission Networks with paid positions continuing beyond 30 June, 2019, to fund those positions from accumulated Network reserves during the transitional period for the new Presbytery structures (1 July 2019 to 30 November 2019).
5. REQUEST Mission Networks to determine how they will expend any accumulated funds remaining after paid positions have ceased and provisions for leave payments owing to staff have been accounted for using one or more of the following options:
* Funds to be returned to congregations;
* Seed funding for the new Presbyteries;
* Church Planting within the Presbytery and Synod;
* Other Uniting Church mission projects.