Get involved

Presbytery is made up of all kinds of people, including people just like you. We hope you’ll find a way to get involved in Presbytery too! It’s a great way to:

  •  gain ideas and support for the mission of your own congregation or faith community
  •  learn and grow in your faith and Christian discipleship
  •  share in the mission of the wider church, and
  • connect with and support other congregations.

Whether you’re just starting out, or have been involved for a long time, we hope the information and resources in this section, will answer your questions. If you think we should be adding more to these pages, please contact our Secretary and let us know!

What is “the Presbytery”?

People use the word “Presbytery” to mean a few things:

  • A regional grouping of the Uniting Church.
    There are 7 Presbyteries in Victoria. Ours reaches from Lorne in the south-west, through Geelong and the western suburbs of Melbourne, to Northcote in the east and Kyneton in the north.
  • A council of the Uniting Church.
    As a council, Presbytery includes representatives from each Congregation, plus Agencies, Faith Communities, and all ministers working within its area. The whole council meets four times per year, to support each other and to make important decisions.
  • The Committees of the Presbytery, and Presbytery Team.
    The Standing Committee meets each month. Other committees work on particular topics. They work in partnership with our Presbytery Ministers and our Mission Development Strategist, who each have their own focus of ministry.
  • Other people doing tasks on behalf of Presbytery.
    For example, the Presbytery appoints representatives to join with Congregation representatives in a temporary committee (“Joint Nominating Committee”) to call a new minister to that Congregation.

Here’s how the UCA describes the role of a Presbytery on our Assembly (national) website:

​ A presbytery is a council of the Uniting Church which has oversight of congregations, ministry and programs within a region. The Uniting Church in Australia’s presbyteries have responsibility for oversight of the church’s life and work in their region, especially for the settlement of ministers; establishment, amalgamation and disbanding of congregations; mission strategy; and support of congregational life.

A presbytery is the council to which ministers of the word and deacons are responsible. It has the duty of caring for them and ensuring their work is carried out faithfully. Presbytery meetings include ordained ministers, lay pastors and elected lay persons from every congregation.

How does our Presbytery work?

The Presbytery-in-Council (or Presbytery Meeting) meets five times each year, usually on a Saturday morning. It plays an important role in supporting, resourcing and encouraging congregations in their life and witness. This is an important gathering of the Uniting Church in our region to make decisions, to share about the life and witness of congregations, agencies and schools within the Presbytery, for collegial support and for reporting on the work of the various committees and staff of the Presbytery. See the link on the right for more info about P meetings and how to get involved.

There are some decisions that can only be made by the Presbytery in Council. These include things like:

  • Approving candidates for Ministry, Pastor and Lay Preacher
  • Ordaining new Ministers
  • Placement of Ministers with particular Congregations
  • Opening and closing Congregations

The Standing Committee of Presbytery co-ordinates the work of the Presbytery in between meetings of the full Presbytery-in-Council. It meets once each month to make decisions for the Presbytery and guide the work of the Presbytery Ministers, committees and members.

The Committees do a lot of the work of Presbytery. They include people who are Members of Presbytery (that is, Ministers or appointed representatives from the Congregations), but also can include people who aren’t Presbytery Members but who are interested in helping the church in this way. Are you interested in joining one? See the links at right for more information about what each of the committees does.

Decisions of the Presbytery and its committees are carried out by

  • Presbytery Ministers (see below)
  • Our Mission Development Strategist
  • A part time administration officer
  • Members of committees
  • Volunteers appointed to particular tasks and temporary committees

It’s worth remembering that, just like in a Congregation, most Presbytery people are volunteers, and the few who are in paid roles often have a very full workload.

What are the roles and responsibilities of Presbytery Ministers?

PMME: The PM Mission and Education is responsible for the areas of mission development, education resourcing, lay preachers and strategy for the Presbytery. The PMME works closely with the MSE committee and the Mission Development Strategist.
PMPC: The PM Pastoral Care is responsible for the pastoral oversight of ministers and congregations within the Presbytery. The PMPC works closely with the PRC committee.
PMA: The PM Administration is responsible for property, finance and administration, and works closely with the APF Committee.

MDS: The Mission Development Strategist supports congregations in their missional work, and especially with initiatives connected with the Regenerating the Church Strategy.

All three PMs and the MDS work together as a team.

What values guide the way Presbytery works together and works with churches?

The Uniting Church has “inter-conciliar” structure, which strongly shapes the way we work. Here how the Assembly (national) website describes it:

The Uniting Church is not a hierarchy, but by groups of women and men, lay and ordained, consulting together, usually making decisions by consensus, in each area of the church’s life.
The church is committed to being a series of inter-related councils — local churches, regional presbyteries, state synods, and the national Assembly. Each council has its distinct tasks, and each council recognises the limits of its responsibilities in relation to other councils. Hierarchy occurs when a group decides it knows what is best and has the power to impress that decision on others. The Uniting Church is committed to a more shared process … and realises the need to keep working at it.

Our Presbytery has adopted a strategic plan called 2021: Regenerating the Church.
The values stated in this plan include:

  • being an intercultural Presbytery,
  • innovative resourcing of congregations for mission and new forms of church;
  • collaboration between congregations, within the Presbytery and with the Synod.

Other key values of our Presbytery include:

  • Discerning the spirit in community
  • Sharing information, with attention to confidentiality (not secrecy) where appropriate
  • Respectful and open listening to the different perspectives of others

This is not a complete list! For further insight into the values we work by, as part of the Uniting Church, see the Assembly (national) website “About Us”  and the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Vision and Mission Principles site.

Intercultural work – a brief note

Port Phillip West is already a very diverse Presbytery. Being truly “intercultural” is not the work of a separate committee, but woven into the mission of each committee and Presbytery as a whole. As mentioned above, it’s a core value in the Presbytery’s 2021: Regenerating the Church Strategy.

If you have any questions in this area, or want to get involved in the intercultural work of the Presbytery, contact our Reference Person, Intercultural Issues, Rev Lavingi Tupou.