Rev Dr Mark Lawrence

Gen Sec continues in role

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has overwhelming endorsed the re-appointment of its General Secretary, Rev Dr Mark Lawrence, for a further five years.

Dr Lawrence’s second term will take effect from November this year and runs until November 2022.

In presenting the report of the End of Term Review Group, Convenor Shawn Whelan said the task group sent questionnaires to a wide range of reviewers reflecting, at least to a degree, the diversity of the church in location, roles, ages, gender and ethnic background. Twenty-nine responses were received which were consistent with the pattern of recent annual appraisals regarding specific areas of the General Secretary’s ministry.

Mr Whelan said discussions with Dr Lawrence indicated he had no hesitation in affirming his ongoing sense of call.

The report said given the pressure of the workload and other sources of stress over the past five years, it would not have been surprising if Dr Lawrence had indicated signs of weariness or expressed mixed feelings about continuing. . But Dr Lawrence was humble and receptive to the views, or ‘mood’ of the Church and had both energy and enthusiasm for the ministry.

“Mark has a very clear and strong sense he is in the right place and doing the right work,” Mr Whelan said.

“He finds it enriching and challenging.”

Mr Whelan said the Standing Committee had no hesitation in affirming Dr Lawrence’s sense of ongoing call to the placement and recommended that it should be extended because:

  • During this time of change, Dr Lawrence is uniquely able to offer stability and continuity (including understanding intended changes, other organisational knowledge, and effective working relationships), together with a willingness to embrace change;
  • His performance in the role to date has been commendable and, where areas for improvement have been noted, he has demonstrated the willingness and ability to respond;
  • Given the ministry context (particularly the current strategic priorities, governance changes, and operational changes), as well as the learning curve for any General Secretary (which is now well past the steepest point), it is anticipate that he will continue to grow in his ability to offer both facilitative and guiding leadership, as appropriate to each situation.

Mr Whelan said the group considered the appropriate period for re-appointment and saw no reason for it to be less than the maximum of five years.

Following the announcement the Moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis, paid tribute to Dr Lawrence’s family for their support.

“The workload of the General Secretary is enormous and it is complex, diverse with long erratic hours and his family shares a significant burden,” she said.

The decision was warmly endorsed by members.