The Diocese of Adelaide successfully hosted the Australian and New Zealand Anglican Registrar’s Conference last month.
The annual conference for Diocesan Registrars, Secretaries of Synod, Finance and Fund Managers, and other senior staff is an important occasion for people from a range of dioceses to come together to explore, share and deliberate on the issues that impact and form the ministry of all our dioceses.
With more than sixty delegates from around Australia and New Zealand attending, the conference programme was able to move away from parochial content and focus more on inquiry, professional development and sharing narratives and experiences.
Anglican Diocese of Adelaide Registrar & Secretary of Synod, Keith Stephens, said this year’s conference had the theme of Achievement through Networks and all sessions were enthusiastically attended.
“When crafting the programme for 2014, particularly after General Synod convening in Adelaide in July, it was impossible not to think of the glycan Church as a complex series of networks and that at every strand, node and hub of the church, our work can be enhanced or hindered by how we engage with that network,” Keith said.
“When we look at the Church as a network, it helps us reframe our approach to our many ministry challenges, enabling us to break through the barriers and obstacles to let our gospel work prosper.”
“It is through events like these that we are seeing a growth in shared commonality that is influencing how we collaborate and work together in the future.”
“I really feel that after these four productive days together we all have a renewed sense of optimism and enthusiasm.”
The Anglican Church has a rich history of lay leadership going back to Thomas Cromwell who is often referred to as the “First Registrar”.
While Cromwell was not a ‘registrar’ in any modern sense of the term, he was a key, convicted lay leader who worked closely with the episcopate to not only enable political and structural reform, but also to proactively drive change that would bring Englandand its church more in line with its newly embraced beliefs and generational needs.
Cromwell’s great gift to the church was the fact that he was not a churchman – trained in theology, liturgy and pastoral ministry – but was a shrewd, proactive, creative and able strategist with the skill to convert macro- scale vision into on-the-ground action.
This year’s theme of ‘Achievement through Networks’, while not a new idea, provided delegates the opportunity to apply the ‘network paradigm’ to better understand how the Anglican Church can thrive in the 21st century and achieve more with less.
Adjunct University of Adelaide Business School academic, Mr David Pender, hosted a day of sessions focussing on how Anglican Dioceses can incorporate network thinking to better deal with the complexities of a 24/7 connected world.
“Taking all the delegates on a journey of looking at the world through a network lens as opposed to everything being in silos was designed to show how the intellectual capital of the group can be made available to everyone without diminishing its potential,” David said.
“If someone puts forward an idea and it is then taken back to individual dioceses and implemented it hasn’t reduced the capacity of the group to do it again. The network paradigm isn’t finite – and the overall capital of the group has actually grown.”
Having not worked with a Church before, David was thrilled and challenged by the sessions at the Conference.
“Someone asked the question ‘Why should we do X?’ And the answer provided was quite simple – ‘Because of the grace of God’.”
“That answer has challenged me and I have been trying to work out how that approach could be implemented into the commercial world where things are very different.”
“If the commercial world adopted that kind of thinking I know a great deal more would be achieved – it is a powerful concept for me to continue developing.”
David is not alone with having plenty to ponder over the next year, all the delegates from this year’s conference will certainly be reflecting on the knowledge and friendship shared in Adelaide and will be looking forward to doing it all again in the Yarra Valley next year.