Home / People / Meet the Moderator-elect candidates

Meet the Moderator-elect candidates

David Fotheringham, High St UC, Frankston

How long have you been in the UCA?

I grew up in Adelaide, on Kaurna country. As a teenager, I joined a Uniting Church which had a tennis club that I was playing with, and I became very involved in the youth group there. When I moved away from Adelaide to study, I spent a little time in other denominations, but the call I heard into ministry was clearly a call into the Uniting Church.

How did you become a Christian?

During high school I became curious about God, prayer and the meaning of life. For a little while my whole family started going to church. I grew in faith in the context of a small youth group, making a commitment to Christ at a camp during my year 12. From there, even while I was studying physics, my heart was always drawn to ministry and mission.

What do you think differentiates the UCA from other denominations?

The Uniting Church has a strong history of being prepared to ask difficult questions and face issues of justice. We wrestle genuinely with where God is calling us to be, in this place and time. I value our commitment to working with, and alongside, other denominations and people of faith. The breadth of our presentation, including in congregational life, in strong agencies, and in chaplaincy across schools, aged care, universities, hospitals and prisons, enables us to respond to God’s call in all sorts of locally important ways to live and proclaim the gospel. We are “big” enough to push into areas of justice and social policy, “young” enough to seek new ways of expressing faith, “broad” enough to reach all corners of Victoria and Tasmania, “grounded” enough in the gospel to be realistic about ourselves and our history as we proclaim the call and grace of God.

What most inspires you?

I have just witnessed my congregation adapting magnificently to the restrictions of lockdown, gathering for worship in new ways and maintaining pastoral care and connection. The congregation is now emerging with some new ways of being and a keen desire to engage further with our local community. I give thanks to God for the life and witness we share.

What is it about the role of Moderator that most appeals?

I see in this role the opportunity to set the tone of our conversations, and to ensure we attend well to the issues before us. As a chaplain to a former Moderator, I had a glimpse into the breadth of the role. I’m conscious that in the post-pandemic period there are some difficult issues to work through, particularly with respect to the changing capacities of parts of the church, wise resourcing, and engaging effectively with society across all generations. I enjoy working with leaders from across the Synod on various committees, navigating ways forward with the collective wisdom they bring. I find a role which combines clear servant leadership with significant pastoral connections across the Synod appealing.

How would you describe your leadership style/what would you bring to the role?

In leadership roles, I seek to encourage the confidence that, by the grace of God, we can achieve those things we are called to, well. I seek to listen well, to be clear about directions, and to be pastoral in communication and care. I’m glad to have experience in rural, regional and suburban settings, giving me a level of insight into the pressures and opportunities of those settings, and about which I’ve continued to learn while chairing the Placements Committee. Chairing the Facilitation Group as we’ve worked through significant issues over the last three Synod meetings has given me an appreciation of the care required when dealing with issues for the whole church. I’ve always felt a calling to a mix of local church ministry and wider church responsibilities, which has been healthy for my leadership in both settings.

Where do you see the UCA in the immediate future?

Across this Synod, the pandemic has had varying impacts, with some parts enduring stringent lockdowns and other parts knowing a lot more freedom. In the immediate future, some will be finding their feet again, hopefully building on learnings and focus from this time. As universities, aged care settings and hospitals emerge from the pandemic, chaplaincies will adapt, too. Around the Synod, the Uniting Church will continue to engage with local communities through congregations, lay leadership, and ministry teams. Rural ministry will continue to be significant, including special ministry focus in bushfire recovery areas. Through it all, in our ministry in many different ways, we will be a voice for justice, inclusivity, and hope in the God we know through Jesus.

What issues does the Church need to address?

The Synod’s vision (and accompanying mission principles) set out our key motivations well: “Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation.” Over the next few years we will have to continue to address our financial situation carefully in order that congregations and agencies are best enabled to respond to that vision and share the Good News of Christ and the ministry of reconciliation. Leadership in the multicultural space needs to be celebrated and encouraged, so that our multicultural reality is well reflected and enhanced. Working with younger generations, especially in places where lockdowns interrupted ministry, will require ongoing local investment and prayer. In both rural and metropolitan ministry, the work of ministry teams and lay leaders will need to be well supported.

Tell us a little bit about your family/significant other

As I write this, a new adventure in blended family living is beginning! A couple of years ago a friend gave me the phone number of someone else that she knew well – a dietitian and academic with a deep interest in the Indigenous community and in diversity and inclusivity in her profession, and an involved member of her church. With the encouragement of my two teenage kids, we met and found ourselves sharing lots of attitudes and interests as we dated, danced and enjoyed concerts and dinners together. We were engaged just before lockdown and, as I write in early December, Robyn and I will be married this weekend!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

During the Melbourne lockdown I was able to settle into a rhythm of daily walking, during which I have enjoyed watching the seasons change among the plant and bird life in my own neighbourhood. Having learnt to play the piano when I was young, I now play for my own pleasure and for the sense of accomplishment in trying out new pieces and styles. My fiancée (wife, when you read this) is a foodie and, before the lockdown, we used to love going for nice meals together; since our engagement a lot of spare time has been spent on how to plan a wedding during a pandemic!

Do you have a favourite TV show?  

I don’t watch much TV, but the kids and I have a routine of watching half an hour of a show together before bed each night. At the moment we are enjoying the Mandalorian – Star Wars with a “Western” flavour.

What’s the last book you read?

The last book that I read was the fourth of the Tomorrow, When the War Began series by John Marsden, which one of my kids started really enjoying and got me into. I’ve now started on Chris Budden’s Following Jesus in Invaded Space: Doing Theology on Aboriginal Land, which had been pointed out to me at a recent seminar.

Tell us something about you that might surprise people.

Despite playing hundreds of games of Nintendo Super Smash Brothers, I still can’t beat my kids!

Rachel Kronberger, Pilgrim UC, Yarraville

How long have you been in the UCA?

Since the beginning! I was three years old when the Uniting Church was formed. I was baptised into the Methodist Church in a country congregation in Western Australia, so I have been in the Uniting Church for most of my life. I discerned a call to ordained ministry in 1998, moving to Victoria while I was a ministry candidate. I was ordained in Melbourne in 2002 and have served in ministry placements in Melbourne and Canberra. My current placement at Pilgrim, Yarraville, began in 2015.

How did you become a Christian?

I didn’t have a pre-faith experience, really. For as long as I can remember, I have related to God and considered myself a follower of Christ. For me, the concept of “becoming” describes an ongoing experience of faith, rather than a single event. The times in which I have seriously wrestled with faith have mainly been while I was closely connected to the church. There have been a number of times when my faith took particular developmental leaps, especially in response to opportunities for participation, service and leadership. Whenever I have taken risks in response to a sense of call, I have found God to be faithful.

What do you think differentiates the UCA from other denominations?

I think the Uniting Church has a distinctive character because of its history. Our formative experiences as a church revealed the joy of being a “fellowship of reconciliation”, welcoming the gifts of Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational traditions. Through learning this pattern of openness, we have also learned to receive the gifts of women and men; the gifts of people from manifold cultural backgrounds; the gifts of people with various abilities and various family structures; the gifts of people of all ages. I’ve especially witnessed this when we have cherished the gifts of the First Nations People of Australia. Our shared life in Christ is so much richer when we walk together. And in our hardest moments we find that our faith and unity really are built upon Jesus Christ.

What most inspires you?

Grace: people’s capacity to reflect the grace of God – to listen, forgive, reconcile and heal.

What is it about the role of Moderator that most appeals?

In discerning God’s call to the role of Moderator I often reflect on the opportunity to listen to people. Through this listening I would hope to learn about the breadth and depth of the life of the Church in Victoria and Tasmania. I am inspired by the work of Professor Megan Davis, whose deep listening in communities around Australia enabled the Constitutional Convention at Uluru to imagine a new future for our whole country. While this kind of listening needs to happen throughout the church, moderators have a special opportunity to listen to the Holy Spirit through the voice of the Church and to offer back to the Church what they have heard.

How would you describe your leadership style/what would you bring to the role? 

I have been called to leadership in a number of different contexts – primarily in congregational ministry, but also in Synod and Assembly groups. I am committed to creating spaces in which everyone’s gifts are welcome because I believe this is how we experience the Holy Spirit among us. My experience is that more can be achieved when a group provides leadership, rather than an individual: as each person involved experiences growth and transformation, a wider circle of people grows with them. For followers of Christ, I believe humility in leadership is crucial. I really like the way this is described in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache novels. The inspector tells the detectives whom he is forming for leadership that they need to be able to “say and mean four sentences: I don’t know. I need help. I’m sorry. I was wrong”.

Where do you see the UCA in the immediate future?

The immediate future will be focused on renewing the life of the church following a really tough year. 2020 saw huge disruption in the core anchors of our identity: we know who we are when we are gathered; we know whose we are at the Communion Table; through acts of service and mission in our communities we respond to God’s love and faithfulness. We have found new ways to be the Body of Christ and we have learned so much about ourselves in the process. I hope in the immediate future we can work with what we have learned and be brave as we weave together old and new ways of being.

What issues does the Church need to address?

The Uniting Church was established towards the end of the post-World War II church boom. We were rich in resources – property, money and a public voice. Inevitably some of those resources influenced the way we understood ourselves. As some properties become harder to manage, as available funds become scarce, and as society loses interest in our voice, we can no longer define ourselves with those things. This gives us immense freedom to hear afresh how God is calling us into being as the Body of Christ. I strongly believe that together, we have enough to be who God is calling us to be, and to do what God is calling us to do. So, the biggest issue we face is continuing to discern our call.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

My husband, Dave, works in youth mental health policy and we have two children in secondary school.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to walk and find places in my local neighbourhood that give me glimpses of wildness. I often combine walking with reading, through listening to audiobooks. I love gathering with people around a table for a meal and I enjoy making lovely food to share.

Do you have a favourite TV show?  

I enjoyed The Crown, but I always watch the new series too quickly. I found Planet America indispensable during the US election. During lockdown, I often chose comedies – Schitt’s Creek was a special favourite – and Dave and I have almost finished watching The Queen’s Gambit.

What’s the last book you read?

I’ve just finished the latest Jane Harper mystery, The Survivors, set in northern Tasmania.

Tell us something about you that might surprise people.

I often surprise myself with my enthusiasm for wilderness adventures. While in secondary school I had two 10-day adventures – one sailing a tall ship and the other a wilderness hike. The ship was great, but I planned to never hike again. Four years later, I was leading a Scripture Union camp that was a 10-day wilderness hike and I went on to become Camp Director and running two camps a year on the south coast of WA. We enjoy hiking as a family these days. We find that as we take on shared challenges and live simply on the trail, we learn about each other and create a new story from our experience.

Cameron McAdam, Village Church, Mt Eliza

How long have you been in the UCA?

I have often been asked what tradition I was prior to union. I was six at union and so I have only ever known the Uniting Church, of which I’ve been a member my whole life.

 How did you become a Christian?

After difficult teenage and high school years, a new minister arrived at our local church and invited me to participate in a new youth group. This minister and church rebuilt me as a person. The church literally became my salvation and faith in Jesus began to fire. I was confirmed, became a youth leader and elder. I think, however, that becoming a Christian is ever evolving, and I continue to try and grow in faith and understanding. Questioning and exploring are exciting aspects of my faith journey. My college years were transforming for me, opening my faith, but also personally. I have found inspiration in the people I have ministered alongside, and they have influenced my unfolding faith.

What do you think differentiates the UCA from other denominations?

The unique way the Uniting Church was formed, establishing a movement rather than a denomination, has encouraged a broad spectrum and inclusive theology and expression of faith and culture. We are a church that has not been afraid of hard discussions and decisions across our short life. In my own churches we have held together diverse understandings and focussed on our common faith in Christ. The Uniting Church has justice in its blood, and at its heart our covenant between First and Second peoples of this land – a covenant to which I am deeply committed. I believe that many in the broader community would recognise the Uniting Church for sharing these characteristics.

What most inspires you?

I was once told that we should each have a mentor that is older and mentor that is younger than us. I have tried to live this and have been inspired and encouraged by those from whom I have sought counsel and wisdom. I have been particularly inspired by many young adults who live Christian faith with such integrity and character. And whilst we can all name the famous people who inspire us, it has often been the person doing the unseen ministry, like washing the dishes every week at the community meal, whose commitment to the way of Jesus has so moved me.

What is it about the role of Moderator that most appeals?

I have found life in my ministry at the place where the church intersects with the wider community, where I have tried to represent the church with integrity and in a way that shows the church has purpose and life and is key to a healthy and vibrant community. I hope that as Moderator I might represent the church in such ways, showing that we are active, life giving, meaningful, just, which I hope would encourage the church and give the wider community something to think about. I hope that the role of Moderator, and my willingness to listen, might afford an overview that allows me to see the places of hope and life, stories that might be shared more widely, or where advocacy in the institution might bring encouragement and empowerment.

How would you describe your leadership style/what would you bring to the role?

I heard a wise person once say, “Leadership is a function of the community. Leadership has no more status than anyone else.” Whilst I might have gifts that I have tried to share with the church and community, we are all on a journey, trying to find our way in faith and life. I love to listen to people, especially those on the edge of the community, to encourage, support and advocate. I work collaboratively and try to hear and work toward a best outcome for everyone involved. I am told I am good at telling the story of the church back to itself, and I think it is important to speak the truth with integrity, so that the depth of the issues can be named and worked through. Leadership in the church is so much about relationship, and I would hope my personable approach, would help build relationship and trust across the church and between the church and community.

Where do you see the UCA in the immediate future?

We have 600 congregations across Victoria and Tasmania, agencies, schools, and other expressions of ministry. We live in a complex community that is becoming more complex and diverse every day. Our immediate future will see us continue our transition to this more complex and diverse way of being church. This will happen, and we need to live the grace and generosity in this time, listen for and encourage the church on the margins, bring our heart and resources to ensure this transition happens well. We are already seeing the pain of this change, but we are a people of the resurrection, and believe that new life will emerge.

What issues does the Church need to address?

We are overwhelmed by our own institutional issues and in many places, we are only looking inwards – largely we have become reactive rather than proactive. Our financial challenges, numerical decline, ageing demographics, shortage of ministry agents and volume of underutilised property resources are concerning and creating a stress and pressure on our people, our councils, and committees. At the same time, there is life in many of our communities and expressions of the church and the gospel calls us to live and be the life of Jesus in fresh and creative ways. We must find ways of moving lightly so that we are not focussed on our institutional survival, but freer to live into the gospel and our faith in Jesus, planting and plucking up and being the church where the good news is most needed.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

We currently live in Mt Eliza where I’m in placement at the Village Church. I’m married to Georgie, who is a kindergarten teacher at Mordialloc. We have three children, Ruth (15), Esther (13) and Will (10). We share in ministry as a family, church and faith are part of our rhythm together.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a keen veggie gardener and cook. My ideal birthday meal is having a full day to prepare it myself! I love cooking for people, for my family, the hospitality of the gospel fills me with joy. I walk regularly, enjoy the beach, family holidays and time together, and I like watching sport, especially football and cricket.

Do you have a favourite TV show?  

Like most I have enjoyed popular Netflix series like The Crown, but a favourite on Netflix would be Kim’s Convenience. A church related comedy/series I loved from the BBC was Rev.

What’s the last book you read?

Two books I’ve recently read are American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and The End of Time by Gavin Extence, both stories about people seeking asylum in other countries and the perilous and tragic journeys they take to find a safer and better life. I’m currently reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in the US.

Tell us something about you that might surprise people.

Prior to ministry I sold kitchen appliances and whitegoods.

 

 

Posted in

Related news

Sorry, we couldn't find any posts. Please try a different search.

Leave a Comment