Sunday, November 04, 2012

indigenous story for a commissioning in mission

This was the symbol presented to Rosemary Dewerse, who was commissioned as the Director of Missiology and Postgraduate Coordinator for Uniting College on Friday night at Presbytery Synod.

The book, by Patricia Grace a fine New Zealand’s Maori writer, is an illustrated picture book, which tells the story of Maraea, an elderly Maori woman living in a coastal community. Sadly, people are drifting to the cities, and the community is falling apart, leaving an aging Maraea on the clifftop, looking out to sea to welcome the birds …

Why such a gift for a commissioning in mission?

Albatross is a bird of ocean flight and acknowledges the pilgrim journey made by the Dewerse family to be among us. It also acknowledges the journeys that have shaped them to this point.

The author, Patricia Grace, is an indigenous Maori and thus has links with what has shaped, and continues to shape Rosemary.

The albatross feather, for the Maori community of Parihaka, was a sign of peace, harmony and reconciliation. Which has obvious echoes the gospel of Christ found in the mission of God’s people.

And the elderly women, in a community falling apart in the face of social change, well that surely is metaphor for the mainline church in the West, including the Uniting Church in which Rosemary is called for this season.

The inside cover was signed by staff and some students.

And for those interested, this is how I introduced Rosemary and the position. At the meeting of Presbytery Synod in June 2012, I was commissioned as Principal, Uniting College. While this seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us – the church – it left a hole at Uniting College, a need for a Director of Missiology and a Post-graduate Co-ordinator.

Both of these roles are essential to the call of the College – to develop effective leadership for healthy, missional communities.

A Director of Missiology is required to ensure teaching in mission, mission history and global theology.

A Postgraduate coordinator allows continuing education for ministers – through the Master and Doctor of Ministry, which in my opinion is one of the most creative, accessible and grounded ministry programs in Australia today.

With regard to missiology, Rosemary Dewerse has experience teaching in three countries, Kazakstan in Central Asia, indigenous people in Aotearoa New Zealand and in distance education. With regard to postgraduate training, she has a PhD, gifts in mentoring and skills in research. And to the ears of some, she has a wonderful accent. (Not that this was essential on the PD.)

Rosemary began in mid-July 2012, but since Uniting College serves the whole church, we wanted her to be commissioned here, at Presbytery Synod, among the whole church.

Posted by steve at 08:38 PM

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