Two young consultants who are attending Convention of General Synod at the invitation of Grow Ministries have reflected on their experience as first-time attendees.
The journey to Synod began at a young adult forum in Adelaide for the Eloise Quinn-Valentine, 25, a member at St John’s Lutheran Church in Unley, South Australia, and Christian Hansen, 23, who attends Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Rochedale, Queensland. The invitation to Synod was extended to the pair after they attended the forum, which for Christian was the catalyst to get more involved in the church.
‘It was really encouraging to see the passion young people still have for the church, when a lot of people think young people are moving away from it’, Christian says. ‘It sparked a bit of hope and passion in me, that made me want to get involved a bit more in young adult ministry.’
While Eloise and Christian say that getting their heads around some of the Convention procedures and formalities has been ‘challenging’, they agree that they have gained a lot by attending.
‘It’s been good to sit and listen and take it all in, and speak to people and meet people, and to see how it all works and get involved,’ says Eloise. ‘Seeing out the process and getting to the heart of matters has been an exercise in patience, but also in listening and trying to think about where people are coming from.’
With the subject of women’s ordination a focus on the agenda, both Christian and Eloise say they respect and appreciate the debate that has been ongoing since before they were born, but look forward to moving forward.
‘What I long to see at Synod is the day when we can actually really share God’s word and discuss it as a group – to talk about new and renewing churches, education, uni groups, young people and aged care’, says Christian.
‘We’d love to see those sorts of discussions be what is at the heart of Synod,’ agrees Eloise. ‘So that we’re coming together to be building each other up, and going back to our congregations and out into the world to do this work, and energised to do it.’
‘A big thing for me that’s become clear is that whatever going forward looks like, it needs to involve all parts and aspects of the church’, she says. ‘Particularly, I think we need to do research with people who have expertise, but we must also really invest in education and training in God’s word, so that people can be scripturally informed and oriented towards service and building up the church at all levels.
‘Ministry is not just what pastors do; we’re all part of ministry in the world, and I think we can’t just address the office of the ordained ministry, we must also address the ministry of the saints – they’re absolutely connected.’
Both Christian and Eloise say they have been excited to see many other young people, both at Synod and within the broader church, who are committed to its future.
‘There is a lot of passion and drive and care there’, says Eloise.
Christian echoes the sentiment.
‘It’s exciting to see that there are people like that who are not only the future, but the present members of the church.’