- All Morialta Members and Friends who receive news of Morialta by the Friday delivery, and
- Other members and Friends who were not able to be present and share in the Consultation
We wish to include you in the discernment process which is underway in Morialta UC. This is of significant importance to our church family. We are at a point where we must consider our future.
For this purpose we gathered last Sunday, over lunch, for CONSULTATION 1, the first program in a series of actions to examine the challenges and possible solutions. You will have seen this mentioned in the Newsletters and Vision magazine over the last month.
We know that Morialta UC holds a place in your heart and that you are part of our church family. Therefore we are providing you with information and materials to keep you in touch with what is happening.
The whole of CONSULTATION 1 was live streamed and is available on Youtube. If you have access to a computer and wish to view it, here is the link:
That may not be easy, so we are providing this set of detailed notes and references:
CONSULTATION 1 – PROGRAM
Participants were seated around tables in the church which had writing materials, question papers and other information.
Each group of eight people included two “facilitators” whose role was to assist the group to focus on the task, access the papers, and report on the group’s ideas. They also assisted in serving- lunch and drinks.
1. WELCOME & INTRODUCTION
Mary welcomed everyone, mentioned the unavoidable absence of Bruce, and introduced the day’s agenda.
Ahead of commencing the agenda, Table Groups were introduced to a step which had been suggested by a table facilitator prior to the Consultation. Groups were asked to adopt a Colour from the range of six available, and to decide upon a name for their Group. These were publicised to the whole gathering as the next item on the program commenced. They included:
Pink Think Tank, Piller Box, Wattle-it-be?, The not Blues, Get Growing, The Futurists.
The program was then outlined and commenced.
2. What Morialta Means to Me?
Lachlan Mackenzie led this session, speaking firstly about what Morialta meant to him.
He shared his personal responses to the questions, firstly referring to his strong sense of Morialta as a community in which people loved and cared for each other, in their lives and experiences, at home and in the community. He saw Morialta showing the love of God internally and extending into the community. His hopes for the future centered on Morialta’s live streaming of Worship which provides a resource for many who are struggling to make connections for reasons of ill health, dwindling numbers in local churches, and inability to finance a minister. His hope was for Morialta to be able to continue the development and use of its live streaming capability, and to be able to provide and expand this Worship resource.
People were then asked to respond by writing their answers to two questions:
What does Morialta mean to me?
What do I hope for Morialta In the future?
The group shared their responses and selected two for reporting to the whole gathering. The responses will be collated along with all other gathered ideas.
You are invited to write your own responses to these questions, using the pink and green ss to email you could send them by email.
3. Spring into Action – an Information session
Mary Thornley led this session.
Mary introduced the dashboard (above)– a simple use of a planning format which can be likened to the dashboard on your car. It has dials lights, words,and buttons. These, in a car, would have wiring, cables, further dials and caps on the inside of the car.
Our use of the format is simplistic, but it could be used on the website to give access points, or links,for getting to fuller information, working details, etc. For example, on the left hand side, the listing of activities could be the piont at which an activity, e.g. Art and Craft Circle, or Tai Chi style exercise, is shown and could be clicked on and the link made to information about time, location in the building, name of the Responsible Person, etc.
On the right hand side the Pathway for Mission is detailed, the overall focus being on two major facets: Building and Nurturing the MUC Family & Community Ministry.
PRIORITIES ON THE JOURNEY are the key stepping stones which go down the pathway like big stepping stones. Each of those stones, eg. Pastoral Care, Church Life, Community Program, etc. represents a cluster of ACTIONS ALONG THE WAY (or objectives) that are projected. There are other labelled boxes, which refer to other highy important contextual matters in which the Action custers are to be pursued: CHALLENGES, SCHEDULE FOR ACTIONS, PACK FOR THE JOURNEY and lastly STEWARDSHIP AND SERVICE
Click link below for:
The paper, MISSION OVERVIEW, is labelled as a Working Document. It is a blue-print for action. It can be expanded and developed as steps and strategies are agreed later in the year. It is open to development according to the progress and insight achieved in moving through the Pathway.
It was emphasized that members were encouraged to read and to propose amendments.
The MISSION OVERVIEW is included for your attention.
Participants were asked to note the format and what was intended.
The ACTIONS ALONG THE WAY very clearly spell out what we hope to do.
The RESPONSIBLE TEAMS/GROUP/PERSONS and MINISTER EX OFFICIO gives a working indication of the groups and people who would lead the group or activity and provide the link for reporting to Council, and for budget matters.
The ACT columns are a projection of when the Action is expected to be happen.
The COST column has nothing in it because when it was examined it was clear that the actal costs of those ACTIONS was really in human resources – the commitments that people at Morialta make to give of their talents, skills and time. The major cost spreading right across the MISISION is in Staffing, ministerial and administrative, and it is that which enlivens our hearts and minds, nurtures our search for meaning and for serving God in the ways shown in our Mission.
This MISSION OVERVIEW had been considered by Council and “endorsed as the working document for Morialta’s Mission, and that amendments and additions may be considered by Council as planning proceeds.”
Participants in the Consultation were asked to indicate whether or not they warmed to the Mission Overview in these terms. They indicated their warmth.
Encouragement was given to gain familiarity with the document and to engage in contributing to amendments and clarifications as we move forward in Mission.
Chris Ayles led this session.
Opening quotation –
Our future is not something that will happen to us, it is something we will create, either through action or inaction.
Mission discernment has been to the fore in the life of Morialta UC. We have always worked with an ongoing process of reviewing, affirming and establishing goals and the processes for achieving them. In recent years we have engaged in the following –
2015 Dreaming Process
2017 Decision by Church Council and the Congregation which saw a full-time minister as essential, but recognised funding uncertainties. (The view that reducing ministry from full time would indicate MUC was winding down or at best just hanging on. Such a reduction is usually unfair on the minister, too.)
Ensuring full and informed congregational participation in decision making –as we are doing today.
Considering alternative funding strategies for financing mission.
2019 Scenario 2 decision and beyond
The changes over recent years
Gone – there are many reasons for retraction, including:
Paid part-time placement along with the full time placement
Part-time Community Development position
Three Sunday services down to one
Weekly meditation group
Library high teas
Lunch on Chapel
Annual bus tour
Weekly worship with two or three musicians and two singers
Livestreaming worship to around 80 people every week, funerals, weddings now meetings
Supporting rural families and others through student accommodation
Supporting wider mission activities – armchair travels
Hosting activities involving local communities – shed, netball, exercise, art/craft, dance, social, concerts
Supporting refugee integration
Supporting interfaith activities
Supporting disaster relief
Offering Christian, spiritual, education – library, Vision, Gateways, worship, reflection groups
Aging congregation – less able to participate fully
Deaths of members
Enjoying the coming of some new members, but not replacing losses
How do we promote ourselves better?
Vacant leadership positions
Having a well maintained and user-friendly website
Complying with government and UCA requirements – record keeping, OH&S, safe church, probity checks, building checks etc
Challenge of funding current paid staff
Ability to continue supporting established fund-raising activities
Maintaining our old building
Making Christianity relevant and desirable to today’s population
Covid – impact across all programs and issues
Redeveloped student housing
Live streaming services, funerals, weddings and now meetings (more on this shortly)
New people have joined
Worship space is safer and usable for a wider range of activities
Two or three musicians and two singers each service
Netball club flourishing
2021 Planning Day
Turned out to be more of an ideas, dreams, questions and stock-taking day, including
We are not at the giving up stage yet –
But we can’t keep doing everything the way we have
Nostalgia Vs change
Not: what activities would be good to support, bu…. what am I prepared to put time and energy into?
Who do we wish to serve?
Is our team structure the best for our current situation?
Meeting mixed expectations about the nature of MUC and what it should become
Member’s information requests
In conversations leading up to Consultation 1 there were requests for information
about age profile, resources and physical assets, and property users.
Age group Percentage
0 – 19 5
20 – 39 5
40 – 59 15
60 – 79 40
80 – 100 35
Resources & physical assets (We are custodians rather than owners of the property.)
150 year old bluestone worship centre
Hall, kitchen, offices, toilets, storage and ante-rooms
Kooka – meeting rooms, storage, kitchen, toilets
Main shed, small shed, netball clubrooms, workshop and storage
Total space = approximately 7 blocks
Congregation (and small groups thereof)
Wider church groups occasionally
Coffee & chat
Children’s art group
2021 – last full year – actual
Income – $212,400
Expenditure – $227,300
Deficit – $14,900
Financial assets – $252,600
Projected 2022 operating deficit – $45,300
We can see from these figures, that if we don’t do something significant, a recurring deficit of that size will give us a future of about five years.
Major cost centres
Staff – $143,000 64%
Property/equipment $73,000 32%
Other combined $8,000 4%
Funding sources – 2022 projections
Giving (stewardship/loose plate) $107,000 57%
Student accommodation $40,000 22%
Facilities hire $18,000 10%
Fundraising, catering, activities $11,000 6%
Donations $5,000 3%
Interest $3,000 2%
So – the big question is: How do we address, not only our immediate budget concerns, but how do we build and sustain an adequate income to fund our mission activities into the longer future?
This consultation and the planning going into it are, in part, a result of the discussion and decision at the April 2022 Meeting of the Congregation with regard to the proposed budget deficit. It was agreed to accept the budget with its projected deficit to enable mission to proceed but with the undertaking that Council would examine solutions to reduce the deficit and achieve financial viability. That is a matter of concern for all of us.
Some further information in response to a range of questions about live streaming:
How many use live streaming?
Chris referred to the graph which had been provided by John Secombe. This showed a range of viewing across a long period of time, with relative consistency over time. It recorded only log-on views without indicating how many people were watching in each viewing – but clearly some are greater than one and others may be as high as 20. The record began at a high level and then there was some tailing off. During January of this year there was an increase and then it settled out, but there are signs that it may be on the rise again. We have a rather constant viewing audience, with something like 60 – 70 connections each week, and therefore, somewhere between 80 and 100 people are looking at Morialta’s Worship and participating with us. Interesting points were noted in relation to funerals with 400 being at the top end and others in the substantial 100 plus range. Weddings also showed interesting streaming numbers. It is clear that these streaming capabilities are well used and are appreciated across the world. People are able to come in via streaming for these important events. So, we see a range of positive outcomes in what we do on line.
This is the “crunch” time
We need imagination, creativity, dedication in considering solutions.
Concentrate on the possibilities opportunities. Please set out to think beyond the usual:
e.g: Is there an organisation out there with values similar to our own with whom we may be able to enter an accommodation/financial arrangement?
Would we be prepared to make the necessary changes to our own activities and exercise the necessary tolerance to accommodate them?
This is really crunch time!
Preparing for Lunch
Signalling that after lunch we would be seeking wide ranging, creative, out of the box, surprising ideas, and that these may be part of the lunch-time conversation around the tables.
Before beginning the afternoon program Margaret Cargill reported on the SMS messages that had been received as a result of the live-streaming. These were in addition to emailed responses received prior to 14 August from Helen Drew, Christine Garner and Jing Luo. Click the link for the SMS responses Email & sms responses 14 Aug The emailed material prior to the Consultation is extensive and will be included in the collation of all the material from the day’s CONSULTATION.
4. Strategies, Projects & Partnerships
Mary led this session
She reminded everyone that the intention in this session was to brainstorm ideas and thoughts on possible directions, developments, projects and partnerships which may bring income to Morialta and so address the significant financial dilemma in which there is a projected deficit which will not allow Morialta’s Mission to go forward.
She urged everyone to think boldly, creatively, outside the box, to share whims or germs of ideas, and to go beyond the familiar and into the risk taking area.
She read an extract from one of the submissions prior to this day, stating that she did not wish to restrict other thinking by sharing this extract, but that sharing it may prompt a significant expansion of thinking. The extract follows:
“The big question that I have been asking myself is, ‘What opportunities are there to redevelop the land that we have into some sort of low-cost rental housing?’ Within the Uniting Church there is a considerable amount of expertise. I was very interested in the article in a recent New Times New Housing provides safety and stability. pp 22-23. I believe there is an opportunity for Morialta UC to explore something, not necessarily the same, but at the very least explore possibilities. As a vision for a way forward becomes clearer, we could see what we can do to maintain a worshipping community for our members and their needs. Something of this magnitude is a huge challenge, but I believe that the dedicated members of the congregation can work through it and be able to see the potential. As we explore possibilities which may take some time, we can continue to use our facilities and carry on with what we do. It could be that as the outer church building is heritage listed, we may be able to continue using the worship space within a complex that is developed.
Of course, this is only one idea and hopefully other possibilities may emerge during this consultation for us to consider.”
The task was then outlined. The method to be used was to brainstorm, to not reject, discount, critique, or discuss, but rather to strive for many wide-ranging, new ideas.
Groups worked with energy and enthusiasm and recorded ideas on large white paper. They selected two outstanding ideas and these were reported to the whole gathering. Questions for clarity were sought, but few were raised.
Involving groups in brainstorming, recording, and reporting.
5. Observations & Reflections
Rev Bob Hutchinson reflected on the work of the Consultation thus far. He observed the high level of energy and engagement in the work of groups, and the rise in energy as the groups assumed a name and shared its rationale with the whole gathering. He shared his responses to each of the program components, commenting very positively on Chris’s detailed informatio, and noting his own surprise on hearing that the church property is equivalent to seven building blocks. The details of finances brought a reality check and indicated that “the crunch has come”. He noted questions and comments about Morialta’s streaming and online Worship, and the clear evidence that we are in a digital and online age. He saw that Morialta is way ahead of many other churches but still in a stage of infancy. Covid could be seen as both a curse and a blessing, taking into account the changes in the Worshipping community and the hastened development of the online resource for worship at home, in care, and in other churches.
He expressed good wishes in the challenging task of sifting through the copious, wide-ranging recording of the brainstorming session. He saw three key areas emerging: Property and resources, including ideas for demolishing, building up, repurposing, refurbishing, etc; Dollars/finance, including fundraising and income streams, events and hiring fees, etc.; thirdly, and most importantly, Morialta’s core business, Jesus Christ, not “in the sense of conservative flowery daydreaming” but in the life, purpose, the ministry and the way of Jesus. He urged consideration of what makes us the Morialta Church (referring to Jan Sillett’s sermon preceding the Consultation) , and what makes us the “Uniting” church, and a Jesus church. He questioned for initiatives we might take in promoting who we are as Morialta UC and what are our key strengths. How do we promote or advertise that we are a Christian church which is progressive, spacious, liberal (whatever that means), welcoming, embracing, holistic, liberal and allowing questions rather than giving the theological answers? Do we put signs and advertisements in New Times, church newspapers? How do we show that we offer a haven for those who have been burnt out by other churches?
He referred to his current reading of “The Church as Salt” also being read by the Gateways group, in which Sally Douglas talks about the church “that was”, with Sunday School, many sports clubs, and being the centre of social activities, saying that those days have gone. Bob agreed that those days have gone, and urged that we do not lament the past and try to go back there, but rather that we celebrate those days and recognise that they had shaped us and that we are the recipients of the input and labour of those times.
He concluded, anticipating that there would be many more musings over the input, and that he had enjoyed the energy, positivity, and the “buzz” of the Consultation, energised by the attendance of 50 people, with the addition of others participating on line.
“the future is as important as the history”.
6. What happens next?
Chris outlined the intended ongoing process
which had been forecast and was open to fine-tuning as this day’s work is reviewed.
The Working Group would collate, sift, organise responses, attempt some analysis, and draft some directions, or even recommendations for Church Council. These would be examined, discussed, considered and, as far as possible, Council would develop some positions for further consideration by the Congregation, and project some initiatives which Morialta may take as it moves into the future.
The timeline, as it was scheduled to proceed through the meetings of Council and of the Congregation, was shown. In parallel with this was the unfolding of the Stewardship and Service process and then the Budget process.
7. Stewardship & Service
Mary directed attention to the calendar information
The process outlined above was reiterated with a calendar being shown to demonstrate the process and its scheduling.
Chris expressed warm thanks to everyone for their attendance, acceptance of the invitation to meet on a Sunday, and for energetic, thoughtful participation, wide-ranging and creative ideas. He acknowedged the strong support that had been provided by the Technical Team, Colin, Ray, and especially Matthew who had come from his sick bed and managed the connection for streaming when there were difficulties at the beginning. Together they had enabled the live streaming of the event so that our extended church family and contacts could participate. He also expressed thanks for the luncheon. Then Bob was invited to close with prayer.
Rev. Bob Hutchinson closed with Prayer and a Blessing.
At a later date it should be possible to provide a copy of the recorded interaction and the final collated report. In the meantime if you wish to contribute responses to any of the sessions shown above with or without the papers provided, please feel free to do so.
Contact about any of the matters in this record may be to:
Bruce Ind (email@example.com)
Mary Thornley (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Morialta Uniting Church, Box 619, Magill 5072