About South Sydney Uniting Church
One senior leader with ministry team
The character of South Sydney Uniting Church from its exterior façade, appears strongly rooted in its heritage and history, being located in a sandstone building within inner Sydney streets. Yet its progressive and creative nature, is also very much part of the culture of this church, once you speak with its participants. As we interviewed Rev Andrew Collis, who has been leading this church since 2007, we learnt about the intention and inclusion that lies at the heart of the changing shape of church life at South Sydney Uniting Church over the years.
Andrew describes the people that are part of this church community, both attenders at traditional worship activities, as well as participants in other innovative programs including a community garden, an artists’ space and collective, and a local newspaper, the South Sydney Herald.
The committed participants in all the church’s activities, who share and adhere to the common values, form a diverse network beyond those attending Sunday morning worship. Andrew describes a broader, perhaps more inclusive model of ‘membership’ and ‘adherents’ including all their participants. Such a model offers a fresh approach to being an integrated community, uniquely experienced by each participant. For some it is experienced as a worship congregation, by others a faith community, or a creative artists’ network, or a socially inclusive advocacy group. The many facets of church life here reflect the many faces of those involved in its various activities.
As a eucharistic, liturgically based worship service gathering on Sundays, for those who attend church services, this church intentionally creates spaces for various learning preferences and needs, as churchgoers engage with faith. While the Holy Communion table remains central and physically open to all, the space itself might include a quiet reflective corner, or a hands-on creative table. Harvested produce might be brought in from the community garden to share. For people for whom church has historically been an unsafe place, the leadership expresses an awareness and intention to facilitate safety and choice in participation.
South Sydney Uniting Church attenders are also described as active in advocacy, community support, and service activities that help those more vulnerable in their local area.
Innovative community connections and strategic, collaborative partnerships are evident as this church seeks to facilitate a space where people can hold inter-faith dialogue, explore their faith and love their neighbour. Art exhibitions and the South Sydney Herald are examples of collaborative programs with the arts.
Leadership development that is both nurturing and empowering is also described as a key approach for helping people realise their potential. As well, having a strong spiritual base of discerning, prayerful elders appears to guide the direction and shape of ministry here. Regular review of effectiveness, with inclusive conversations is also spoken of amongst the leadership practices, with forward thinking strategies to shape ministry into the future.
Stories from South Sydney Uniting Church
Browse through some of the stories and wisdom that leader of South Sydney Uniting Church shared with us, on how they enliven their ministry and church life.