“At the bottom of great doubt lies great awakening.” Dr Val Webb spoke about the importance of encouraging active questioning in the journey of faith at the recent Colloquium on Forming Disciples in Mission. “I’ve always felt sorry for Thomas,” said Dr Webb. “Next to Judas, he drew the worst press by keeping his options open until he saw the nail-holes. His stance was totally reasonable, yet Peter, who denied and deserted Jesus, became head of the church while Thomas became the face of a negative syndrome, a Doubting Thomas.” The noted author and theologian was one of 20 presenters at the national event held at the Korean Church of Melbourne. She went on to speak of doubt, not as the opposite of faith, but as the discrepancy between faith and belief (experience and doctrine).
Twenty presenters at the Colloquium addressed a range of topics including neuroscience and faith formation, multi-sensory learning, faith in Asian contexts, preaching and mission, forming young disciples, and evangelism as spiritual guidance. President-elect Dr Deidre Palmer offered a keynote address on “Forming Disciples of Jesus Christ for the sake of God’s Mission.”
Deidre offered six themes:
- It’s about Jesus.
- It’s about the biblical story of hope.
- It’s about theology as a conversation, an an accountable theology that is holistic.
- It’s about the community that nurtures us in faith.
- It’s about worship and prayer and public ritual.
- It’s about acting justly and compassionately in the world.
Presenters at the Colloquium included Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes, Rev Dr Ian Robinson, Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Rev Michelle Cook, and Rev Dr Paul Goh, Senior Minister of the Korean Church of Melbourne (KCM), pictured here.
The following day, Rev Dr Goh and some of the ministry team spoke to the Formation, Education and Discipleship (FED) Working Group about his church’s vision and program of lifelong discipleship, with 380 people engaged in regular classes and groups. The church offers educational activities for all ages, including learning the Bible and theology, developing gifts and leadership, and a focus on Korean culture and mission. As part of the Korean diaspora in Australia, KCM sees its members as part of Christ’s mission within Australia reaching across cultures. They have a vibrant ministry with children and young people and are seeking to understand and enrich the discipleship of second and third generation Korean Australians.
Participants and presenters came from across Australia to the event, co-sponored by FED and the Assembly Mission and Evangelism Network (AMEN). A number of the presentations are available on the Assembly website here.
The FED unit invites the Uniting Church to embrace a vision of
- Congregations as lifelong learning communities of Christian discipleship
- Effective leadership of lifelong learning communities
- Discipleship as learning from and for mission
For more information about the work of Formation, Education and Discipleship, visit fednews.org.