This has been a significant conference for the life of the Uniting Church. It has the potential in the future to reframe many of the conversations we are having. A group of 90 participants were drawn into challenging conversations around agencies (diokonia) and our relationships with church members and practical theology. Each of the academics from Germany had good insights into the way the relationship between agencies and congregations / synods has become dysfunctional and offered practical insights regarding how we might move this forward. I was really impressed. This could really improve and reframe our future relationship – but we need good people with insightful and deep questions.
- Johannes Eurich as an academic brought the challenge of theological thinking and talking to the table. Hans is a board member for his local agency which has over 1200 staff.
- As CEO of a diokonia / agency Stephan Hass brought us the picture of a large highly decentralised agency and the steps it uses to engage its customers.
- And Annette Noller as a pastor and person who works in an agency brought us a view of plural social constructions of church. Church as congregation, church as kindergarten, church as music experience…. and many more.
I will write a blog about each of these characters and their insights but I wish to record I enjoyed Dr John Flett’s contribution to hosting this conference – and I look forward to how he might expand this in the future.