Twenty-three people came together from all societies or places around Australia on Thursday, May 3rd. After dinner, David Millar held the Logopraxis group session – due anyway that evening – and others present were invited (as they had been at camp) to observe and then comment.
On Friday, David Moffat opened with a devotion around the theme of the mountain of the Lord. After this, we talked extensively about where we see the church and its place in the future. We were invited to look at the 2002 Council of Minister’s paper “The Church and the Future” which seems extremely relevant to us and our needs, sixteen years on.
After morning tea, we had a session on the Strategic Plan which has been simplified down to essentials from what it originally was. We broke up into groups, each discussing one area and then reporting usefully back to everybody. Points were noted and will be further worked on.
The afternoon began with discussion around the church camps and the idea mooted in the January camp that the name be changed to ‘retreat’. Various opinions came out, one main one being that number at recent camps are less than they were, possibly due to people’s current lifestyles. A presentation was made about the 2019 Family Camp/Retreat to be held in Jindabyne, in the mountainous area of southern NSW.
Later we turned our attention to the New Church in Australia website which was thrown up on the screen for comments. Websites are perennially in need of updating – often for accuracy – and also to look more modern and appealing. Overall we felt that it was good material but in need of more attractiveness to those within and outside the New Church through images. Thanks were given to those who undertake its maintenance and changes.
Under general business, several items came up for consideration: the possibility of combining future assemblies with camps/retreats; the situation regarding the Building Fund which originally looked towards obtaining physical premises for the College; financial support for the Australian New Church College, and the policy of the New Church in Australia towards homosexuality. This last one brought out quite strongly the feeling that while our teaching on marriage being between a man and a woman because of such a marriage’s spiritual correspondence, we are accepting of people who have same-sex orientation and the church should be welcoming to these and all people.
After a break, Sarah Walker (Perth) gave a session on “Looking to grow within in order to grow without”, making use of two short passages from Swedenborg for us to relate to. A good discussion about this followed.
On Friday evening David Millar gave us a guided tour of Logopraxis, its history, development and growth, providing examples of its approach to personal work with the text of the Writings. This was certainly helpful to many of the people there.
Saturday began with the NCIA AGM, a short and necessary statutory meeting. David Millar then shared the current activities of the College, here and overseas, in particular, that he was assisting several African ministry students, sponsored and financed by The Lord’s New Church. It was clear to everyone that David is certainly stretched, at least at times. Discussion was on assisting if possible the work of the College as well as its financing.
After morning tea David Moffat presented a session on Outreach and advocated doing several easy to do and inexpensive promotional things. See the President’s page in this issue on his presentation. After several more short items, the Assembly ended with a circle of hands and a prayer.