Rev Sharon Hollis has been installed as the 16th President of the Uniting Church in Australia in an online service of worship, with hundreds across the country tuning in to witness and celebrate. She will lead the Uniting Church over the next three years. Sharon is the first ordained Uniting Church woman to be elected President. Her Assembly theme is #dwellinginlove.
Dr Deidre Palmer has served as President for the past three years – a pastoral, passionate and prophetic leader, with a kind, compassionate, generous heart. She has been attentive to young people, listening to them and encouraging them. Her public and media statements are strong and courageous, and represent so well the tradition of prophetic public ministry in the Uniting Church. Thank you Deidre!
An excerpt from Deidre’s address as retiring President:
The last 16 months have been difficult for our Church, nation and global community. I’m conscious of the challenge those of you in lockdown areas are currently facing, and the grief and loss experienced, as we have been isolated, disconnected, and had our lives disrupted. We thought we were in a better situation, but we still face uncertainty.
Globally, progress made in alleviating extreme poverty has been lost, as the most disadvantaged again suffer the greatest impacts of COVID. We also face the climate crisis witnessed in unprecedented bushfires, drought and intense weather patterns. Many of us are exhausted.
Often, I’ve turned to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4, that speak of the extraordinary power that comes from God. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed” – and call us to “not lose heart”. God has enabled us to endure through conflict, failure, drought, bushfire, injustice, discrimination and this pandemic, and with Christ-like eyes, inspires us to focus on what really matters in people’s lives and in the life and mission of our Church.
These last three years have taught me (us), that we can plan, imagine a way forward and be totally disrupted. But we are a people of Resurrection – we follow a risen, crucified Lord, who is with us always and empowers us to be a people of love, reconciliation, and hope. You are witnesses to this hope as you gather here.
I’ve shaped much of my preaching, presentation of the Assembly’s work and conversations through the lens of my theme for this triennium – Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope. As the Church faces challenging times, I’ve been deeply aware that it’s God’s abundant, extravagant love and grace that holds us together. It transforms our view and enables us to be the people and communities of faith we are called to be. Read the full Retiring President’s address.
On Saturday 17th July, members of the Assembly voted online for the President-elect who will serve as President after Sharon. Impressive candidates. The results of the ballot will be known on Sunday morning.