Home / Our structure

Our structure

The Uniting Church is governed by four non-hierarchical, inter-related councils, each with different responsibilities:

  • Congregational (local)
  • Presbytery (regional)
  • Synod (state)
  • Assembly (national).


A congregation is a community which comes together for regular weekly worship. While each congregation is different they are united in their aim to, with God, embrace all people. This is demonstrated by having an “open table” for Holy Communion where all people who have been baptised are invited. Our congregations also welcome children for baptism and divorcees who wish to re-marry.


Each Synod contains a number of presbyteries, or regional bodies, responsible for a group of congregations based on their geography. Presbyteries are responsible for selecting and placing ministry candidates.

The Synod Victoria and Tasmania is divided into eight presbyteries:

Click here for presbytery contacts.


There are six Synods in Australia:

Our Synod meets every 18 months and comprises about 400 ministers and lay people drawn from across Victoria and Tasmania.


The national Assembly meets every three years and is chaired by President Sharon Hollis. The President has a fixed three-year term.

The Assembly Standing Committee meets three times a year. Its 18 members include ordained and lay members, and representatives from all states and territories.


Our governance


This role is far-reaching and includes representing the Synod on public issues, providing pastoral leadership, and visiting congregations, agencies and schools.

A new moderator is elected every three years. The current moderator is Rev David Fotheringham.

General Secretary

The General Secretary acts as the Synod’s executive officer and provides general leadership, including:

  • acting as the liaison officer between the presbyteries and other bodies
  • implementing the Synod’s strategic directions
  • providing pastoral oversight and coordination in all processes related to the placement of deacons, lay pastors, ministers of the word and youth workers
  • facilitating the handling of complaints.

The General Secretary’s five-year term can be renewed. The current general secretary is Rev Dr Mark Lawrence.


Synod Ministries & Operations

Synod Ministries & Operations consists of three main units:

  • Secretariat, which includes the offices of the General Secretary and Moderator, along with Legal, Property Trust and Safe Church teams. The Secretariat provides support to our Synod’s governance committees.
  • equipping Leadership for Mission, which provides resources, education and engagement across the Synod. eLM consists of four streams: Education and Formation for Leadership; Priorities, Focus and Advocacy; Relationships and Connections; and Marketing, Functions and Administration.
  • Mission Resourcing Unit, which encompasses Finance, Property Services, OH&S, Insurance, Risk, Payroll, People and Culture, and IT.

To learn more, watch this video.


Our committees

Synod Standing

This committee is something like a Board and ensures the Synod’s work continues between ordinary meetings of the Synod itself.

Twelve members are elected at the Synod meeting. Ex-officio members of the committee are the Moderator, Ex-Moderator, Moderator-Elect, General Secretary, and two representatives of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. There are also non-voting attendees.

The committee meets between six and 12 times a year. It has two major sub-committees – the Ministry & Mission Committee and Property & Operations Committee – enabling it to focus less on operational matters and more on visioning, strategy and governance.

Its members are:

  • Rev David Fotheringham (Chairperson, Ex-officio as Moderator)
  • Rev Dr Mark Lawrence (Ex-officio as General Secretary)
  • Lisa Carey
  • John Diprose OAM
  • Fiona Ensor
  • Rev Salesi Faupula
  • Helen Geard
  • Cathie Halliwell
  • Matthew Julius
  • Rev Denise Liersch (Ex-officio as ex-Moderator)
  • Rev Anneke Oppewal
  • Alison Overeem (Ex-officio as Congress Tasmania representative)
  • Cam Shields
  • Rev Lucas Taylor
  • Rev Ikani Vaitohi
  • Jacob Westley


Ministry & Mission

Its purpose is to ensure that activities of Synod-based ministries and Synod operations focus on the Synod’s missional and strategic directions.

The equipping Leadership for Mission Unit implements most of this work. The M&MC meets monthly and it consists of:

  • four members of Standing Committee
  • six members appointed by the Standing Committee
  • the General Secretary as an ex-officio member

Its members are:

  • Dr Paul Chandler (Chairperson)
  • Belinda Clear (Deputy Chairperson)
  • Rev Deac Gavin Blakemore
  • Rev Moira Dodsworth
  • Fiona Ensor (Standing Committee representative)
  • Cathie Halliwell (Standing Committee representative)
  • Rev Dr Mark Lawrence (Ex-officio as General Secretary)
  • Lindsay Oates
  • Rev Alexandra Sangster
  • Isabel Thomas Dobson (Associate General Secretary as Executive Secretary)

Meeting participants

  • Rev David Fotheringham (Moderator)
  • Rev Duncan Macleod (Executive Officer, eLM)


Property & Operations

This committee develops the creativity and expertise to identify and obtain resources that can achieve the Synod’s strategic and missional objectives.

The Mission Resourcing Unit implements most of this work. The P&OC meets monthly and its members consist of:

  • four members of Standing Committee
  • five members appointed by Standing Committee
  • the General Secretary and Synod Property Officer as ex-officio members

Its members are:

  • Rev Stan Clarke (Chairperson)
  • Helen Geard (Deputy Chairperson and Standing Committee representative)
  • Laurence Alvis
  • Lisa Carey (Standing Committee representative)
  • Yocke Lauw
  • Rev Dr Mark Lawrence (Ex-officio as General Secretary)
  • Ken Tabart (Property Trusts member)
  • Peter Folliot
  • David Rowe (Property Trusts member)
  • Cameron Shields (Standing Committee representative)
  • Rod Skilbeck (Ex-officio as Synod Property Officer)

Meeting participants

  • Rev David Fotheringham (Moderator)
  • Sam Nicolas (Executive Officer, MRU)


If you are interested in joining any committee of the Synod or of our Agencies, please submit an Expression of Interest using our online form.