New South Wales Lutherans met for their District Convention of Synod from 20 to 22 March. The venue, Warrambui Retreat & Conference Centre at Murrumbateman, was also the major topic on the convention agenda.
In October last year, the District met for a special Convention of Synod in order to discuss the future of Warrambui, a place close to the heart of many. After a significant building expansion program in recent years, the conference centre has received lower-than-anticipated revenue and is unable to meet its loan repayments to the LLL.
The special convention declined an offer by Lutheran Youth of Queensland to purchase Warrambui. Instead, delegates resolved to support Warrambui until the District Convention of 2017 and in the meantime seek to renegotiate the terms of the loan.
But at the regular District Convention in March, delegates were told that General Church Council (GCC) is requesting a repayment of $2.2m off the loan by August. The request was received by District Synod in the same spirit of synodical ‘walking together’ as it had been written.
Undeterred by the request, District Synod promptly looked for a way to meet GCC’s terms. Delegates resolved to sell the Trinity church property, close to Sydney’s CBD, valued at around $2.5m, to reduce the LLL loan to $2m or less.
In another discussion about property, District Synod learnt that the home of the district office, Concord House, Rhodes, is rapidly escalating in value. District Administrator Russell Veerhuis reported that, with high-rise apartments popping up all around it, Concord House could potentially be sold for a significantly larger amount than had been anticipated. Synod authorised District officers to enter into discussions with prospective buyers, bearing in mind that an actual sale could take some time to be realised.
Later, in a resolution demonstrating synodical goodwill and grace, Synod pledged a tithe (10%) of the proceeds from the sale of Concord House (whenever that might occur) to the national church in gratitude for its support of the New South Wales District through some difficult years.
Some of the brightest news from the New South Wales convention came from the report of the LCA Board for Local Mission. Board member Pastor Mark Schultz told delegates that two new church plants are being planned in New South Wales: one from Lifeway (Epping/Newcastle congregation) and one from Woden (Canberra). These new ventures are part of the LCA Board for Local Mission’s vision to plant 30 new churches in ten years, under the direction of experienced evangelist and church planter Dean Eaton.
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