The Synod meeting is the major gathering of Uniting Church members in Victoria and Tasmania to worshipfully and prayerfully celebrate, reflect on and steer the life of the church. It is held every 18 months.

This year’s 2017 Synod theme is “Following Christ”, the first words in the Vision and Mission Principles which were adopted at the previous Synod meeting held in June last year.

2017 Synod begins on Friday 8 September with opening worship at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Collins Street, Melbourne.

All are invited to attend with the service beginning at 7.30pm.

Synod resumes for general business the following day at the Box Hill Town Hall, Box Hill in Melbourne’s east.

There will be 295 ordained and lay members representing the eight presbyteries attending for the five days and three nights.

They will discern, worship, break bread and resolve together as they prayerfully focus on the present and future of the Church.

A particularly eye-catching aspect of general Synod sessions is the use of coloured indicator cards to determine how members are responding to the discussion being held.

Orange cards can be held up to indicate warmth towards a point of view or approval of a proposal, while blue cards symbolise coolness about what has been heard or disapproval of a proposal and those holding up a yellow card wish to speak.

During 2017 Synod members will appoint a new moderator- elect, who will take up the role of moderator at the 2019 Synod meeting.

Elections will also be held for Standing Committee, Assembly Standing Committee and Business Committee members.

The ‘big ticket’ items are likely to be proposals relating to possible changes to the presbyteries; changes to the by-laws as part of the implementation of the Major Strategic Review and the four working group sessions.

In the wake of the Victorian government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence and the recent media coverage about domestic violence within church families, the Commission for Mission is bringing a proposal calling for more action from the federal government.

The Assembly Standing Committee has asked the Synod to provide feedback on two topics: marriage, and sovereignty and treaty. Members have been provided with material to help them prepare for working group discussions on these issues.

Nine ‘Minutes of Appreciation’ will be given as a result of imminent governance changes, which will result in a number of boards being replaced, along with a few key retirements.

Each day of Synod begins with a devotion. Bible studies are also a key part of the daily program, along with a theological reflection at the conclusion of the day’s business. Fellowship events and shows will be held in the evenings.