Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Keith Fagg writes about the Uniting Church

from w
I was glad to see that someone from Geelong has said it like it is about the Uniting Church 'fire sale'.  I've been quieter this week about protesting about the auction of our tennis club site in East Geelong, but today when I was at a Fellowship lunch with about eighty women at Ocean Grove, many did ask me how are you going about your Denman Street site?  So I gave them the facts.  Now - on the Uniting our Future Share our stories website, there's a piece of writing by a Geelong resident, Mr Keith Fagg (former mayor) a man of integrity. He refers partly to Geelong South Property.
Here's what he wrote - and it's just too true.
  • What does "Grace and Peace" actually mean?

  • Correspondence from the Synod about Uniting our Future often ends with “Grace and Peace”. Given the way in which this whole sorry process is playing out, these seem hollow words.
    The decisions of Standing Committee and some of the decisions and approach of the Project Control Group totally lack grace and certainly create no peace for the thousands of people in affected congregations. The driving forces are urgency and dollar return. Panic is are creating hasty property sale decisions,the impact of which will reverberate for decades.
    Congregations, Uniting Care welfare organisations and the like have been suddenly forced to justify their existence and made to feel guilty for something over which they had absolutely no control. The apologies offered by Synod Leaders are lacking and demonstrate little understanding of the real impact of the sudden closure of congregations.
    To think that a small, elderly congregation will happily move is to deny the depth of their association and care for their church building over generations. They may well be lost to the UCA forever.
    The sales methodology adopted by the PCG is one of vacant possession. For congregations and other non-secure property users, this ‘scorched earth’ approach forcefully removes these groups from their loved church buildings before the sale without considering the opportunity that a potential purchaser may be prepared to allow congregations and other user groups to remain for a period of time. This creates more damage than may need to be.
    In these Special Circumstances, congregations are rendered powerless and are unable to negotiate alternatives that would provide equal financial results but better outcomes for the people. The Standing Committee is the final decision making body but during this current critical stage in the process, has apparently gone missing inaction.
    In such dire times, sound governance practice would have the key decision making body meet on at least a weekly basis – if only by phone –so that its members could keep abreast of and responsive to key issues that arose.
    Standing Committee has imposed a high degree of urgency on affected congregations to respond, provide information, move out, etc. but have not had the grace or empathy to require it of themselves.
    Disillusionment and mis-trust now prevail with the administration of Synod. Thank heavens Jesus talked about hope as there has been no element of hope in this process, only panic and hasty, imposed decisions. People are dis-enfranchised, made to feel powerless. Their faithful work over years in caring for and managing their churches and properties dismissed in a flash by the signing of a contract.
    The collateral damage is immense. Any credibility the UCA has had to speak on justice issues is now sadly in tatters.
    I am not sure what the authors of our "Basis of Union" would think of the denomination they visioned - my guess is they would be dismayed at they are now seeing. So disappointing.
    by Keith Fagg 23 Nov 2013, 03:50 pm


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