Synod 2015 - Commitment to truly Being, Doing the work of, and Making, Disciples
The 39th Synod of the United Church convened with an inspired and enriching worship service at Ridgemount United Church in Mandeville Jamaica on Monday 20th April, under the theme, “Renewal and Transformation: Discipleship for LIFE!” Outgoing Moderator the Rt. Rev. Dr. Yvette Noble Bloomfield powerfully launched the focus on, and challenge to, true Discipleship
at an intensified level
for each and every Member and Minister of our Church professing the Call of Christ on our lives, within the context of the need for God within our
local communities, our
two Nations and our
world. (This imperative was highlighted in various forms throughout the 4 days of the Synod.) Dr. Noble Bloomfield stressed that disciples of Christ are Easter people
(living in a community of love, unity and peace, within the liberty of the Resurrected Christ), empowered people
(placing others before self, confident their security comes from Christ and their power from God’s Holy Spirit) and expectant people
(“abounding in hope”, called by God to focus on things that are lasting, recognising that it is harvest time, a time to act, to serve, to help, to heal the broken-hearted).
The service then proceeded to the key order of “business”, when the Rev. Christopher Mason, of the Portmore United Church, was inducted as Moderator for the new Synodical period. In his initial response as Moderator, the Rt. Rev. L. Christopher Mason expressed humility and trepidation, along with appreciation, in his being called to so serve. He emphasised his dependence and reliance on God, making reference to a song he has been mindful of since childhood, “I Have A Pilot Who Guides Me Day and Night”, and asking the Church to continue to pray for him as he seeks to faithfully serve in this new role.
A recurring feature, as an analogy to discipleship, throughout the Synod, including in the sermons, was beautifully rendered in the opening service by way of an audio visual presentation summarising the journey from a tiny seed to a tall and fruitful tree, seeds of the fruit of which created a mighty forest to the glory of God. This image was also invoked with the presentation of the ‘discipleship leaves’ on which in our congregations at home we each had been asked to write the name of a person we personally committed ‘to disciple’ during the (then upcoming) Synodical period. Each Region’s leaves (John Gray and William Pouchie Memorial having taken theirs from Cayman) were hung on a ‘tree’, and the four trees were arrayed in front of the platform at Kendall Camp & Conference Centre, where the Synod continued from Tuesday through Thursday.
Those remaining three days of Synod were well packed! The day started with opportunity to gather for prayer meeting before the 7am breakfast, followed by the Service of Celebration of Life and Witness and of Holy Communion on the Tuesday morning and by Bible Study, ably led by our own Rev. Donovan Myers, on Wednesday and Thursday, continuing with a range of business activities each day, and culminating on the Thursday afternoon in the final worship service. At the end of a strong and challenging sermon during this last service, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Mason called forward all Ministers and Lay Pastors of the United Church for special prayers and recommitment to their call to be Christ’s disciples and shepherds. Indeed, in his sermon he had called on all of us to truly recognise what the call to discipleship meant for us – “serious business demands serious work” – no less than total commitment to God. He exhorted us to be a learning church, a caring church, a generous church
, to prioritise our children, and to ensure our Church is viable and attractive in all our communities. He also reminded us that on a personal
level, as disciples we are each called to a new lifestyle
, from the selfishness of the world to a world of self-giving
Mr. Trevor Watler of Gun Bay United Church and Mr. Leonard Ebanks of John Gray Memorial Church were the two nominees from Cayman who were honoured with the Lay Person’s Award for exemplary service to the Church at all three levels, Congregation, Council and Synod. The Rev. Tara Tyme Campbell of John Gray Memorial received (in respect of the Cayman Region) the Clergy Award for Embodiment of the Spirit of Renewal and Transformation. Mrs. Vernicia Watler Cert. Hon., JP, late of Gun Bay United, was amongst the former Members of Synod who were remembered for their life and service. The Cayman Council also made a presentation, of a pair of ‘praying hands’ beautifully carved from Caymanite, in appreciation of the service as Moderator of the Rt. Rev. Dr. Yvette Noble Bloomfield, it being noted that we usually do this when first welcoming newly appointed Moderators on their first trip to Cayman or saying goodbye to them! A Caymanite Bible was also presented to Mr. Leonard Ebanks OBE, JP, in deep appreciation for his long and faithful service as Honorary Synod Treasurer for Cayman from January 1994 and as Chair of Finance & Property of the Cayman Council from 2003. He had indicated his desire to step down from these posts at the Conclusion of this Synod. The Synod and Council also expressed appreciation to Mr. Bryan Bothwell for his service as Regional Deputy General Secretary for 13 years and wished him God’s blessings in his retirement. Amongst the new appointments to Boards and Committees were the Rev. Tara Tyme Campbell as Chair of the Synod’s Church & Ministry Committee and Mr. Phillip Vassell of Elmslie Memorial to the Board of Mount Olivet Boys Home, for which the Elmslie Congregation in particular, as well as other Cayman Congregations and individual members, have been faithful supporters.
Ms. Debra McLaughlin, Director of Cayman Prep and High School, attended on the Tuesday, with other Principals of United Church Schools in Jamaica and the Rev. Dr. Maitland Evans, President of International University of the Caribbean, and the Rev. Dr. Gordon Cowans, Principal of Knox Community College. In his remarks on the great work, and legacy, of United Church schools in Jamaica and Cayman, Mr. Paul Miller, Chair of the Church’s Education Commission, praised the high levels attained by the Cayman Prep and High School in external examinations, by both Caribbean and world standards.
In the wide range of ‘business’ matters dealt with by the Synod, there are a number of items to be taken forward in each Council and in our Congregations, including certain priorities that the individual Regions recognised for themselves. The launch of the Church’s Policy on Disability and its Liturgical Project (“Towards a Liturgy of Celebration and Renewal”), to breathe renewed life into our worship services for all persons, of all ages, were warmly received. Agreement was also given to the principle of creating a new business entity aimed at optimising the synergy of linking the current business enterprises of the Church, as well as future opportunities, and by realising value from currently unutilised land not strategic to Church placement. A Board was named for this undertaking, which is now charged with finalising the legal and business aspects in order to ensure the right way forward, including in respect of new tax considerations in Jamaica, which have added other dimensions and urgency to this initiative. (Further details on these matters can be obtained in your congregations and Council.)
This Synod’s Public Lecture, was in honour of Deaconess Dr. Norma Smellie, who has been blessed with, and been a blessing to the Church through, a long life of faithful and exemplary service in teaching, youth work, Theological education and Ministerial formation. The speaker was the Rev. Dr. Stephen Jennings of the Jamaica Baptist Union, who delivered a truly informative and stimulating presentation entitled “Reforming the United Church in the Early Twenty-first Century”. In this he congratulated the UCJCI on its recognition of the need for Renewal and Transformation – which he noted meant that these had already begun. This lecture also provided excellent material on which we will have to continue the work in our Congregations and Council, as well as in Synod.
(Certain details above also extracted from the Minutes of the Synod.)
Induction of new Moderator
Cayman presentation to outgoing Moderator
Presentation to Mr. Leonard Ebanks - Hon. Synod Treasurer Cayman/Finance Chair 21 yrs
Cayman Delegation with Moderator, General Secretary and RDGS of Host (Southern) Region
Posted by: Administrator Tuesday Apr 28, 2015 14:44
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