AGM report

VCCE CHAIRPERSON’S REPORT 2017

2017 has been another significant year in the redevelopment of the VCCE. The staff team has continued to work extremely hard and the Board, in consultation with the Council, has continued to progress the move toward a new Constitution. Many leaders, local churches and denominations continue to be blessed through the work of the VCCE.

A particular highlight of the year was the Board-Staff Day held in April. Across the day we engaged with the Bible together, identified the things we have to celebrate (including the gifted and committed staff, a supportive and generous Board, a growing influence, the reach of our resources and the many opportunities for the VCCE to contribute richly to the Kingdom), shared what we had learnt over the previous 12 months (including intergenerational ministry as an expanding market place, organic partnerships are happier and more effective than rigid ones, working collaboratively can be hard work and support – and challenges – can come from unexpected places), affirmed our strategic foundation, noted some barriers we face (including the enormity of the challenge of bringing about culture change, difficulty in finding the value point in organisations/congregations/denominations/movements/tribes, the high turn-over at denominational and local levels making it hard to build and sustain relationships and the disconnect between what churches sayand what they actually value/do– and are prepared to pay for) and named our current resources (including quality staff, Board member expertise and focus, an untapped reservoir of goodwill, our relationship-building capacity and initiative and our history of justice, education, spirituality and training).

At an operational level the staff have continued to expand the influence of the VCCE in a myriad of ways. Multiple Join the Dots cohorts have been formed (a number in partnership with specific denominations), support for Messy Church has been strong (including the production of Aussie Add-ons to supplement the material provided from the UK, attendance at the annual Australian Messy Church Roundtable and participation in the planning for the first Australasian Messy Church Conference), numerous intergenerational resources have been generated – and distributed – weekly and contributions have been made to many conferences/events (such as Surrender, the Seventh Day Adventist National conference, the Churches of Christ Vic-Tas summit  and the Stories of Childhood conference). In addition, the VCCE has maintained its contribution to theological education through, amongst other things, the Graduate Certificate in Children and Families Ministry and to Playgroup/Pre-school ministry through partnership with the Christian Playgroup network.

As the Board reflected on the current context, it came to the view that an updating of the VCCE Constitution – with particular attention to be given to the membership structure and purposes – was required in order to enhance the capacity of the VCCE to fulfil the ministry to which it is called. In contemplating possible change, the Board identified four aspects that need to be taken into account – respecting history, building ownership, enhancing ministry and ensuring accountability. Following extensive consultation and collaboration with the VCCE Council members, an Explanatory Memorandum setting out the rationale for changes and a proposed new Constitution (with a Preamble outlining the history of the organisation, which began as the Victorian Sunday School Union in 1871) were prepared. In essence, the proposed new Constitution is seeking to provide a framework for governance, accountability, leadership and fulfilment of the organisation’s purpose that aligns with 21st Century governance expectations, the reality of the current context and the historical reason for the organisation’s existence.

The on-going work of the VCCE is made possible by the committed staff of Beth Barnett (Theological & Learning engagement/Staff Synergy), Kate Kumnick (Playgroup/Pre-school engagement) and Stacey Wilson (Intergenerational engagement), the enthusiastic contribution of the Board Members (John Altmann, Sandy Brodine and Ian Smith) and the support of many faithful Council Members. As we head into an exciting future may we continue to be persistent in prayer, purposeful in action and proactive in discernment together.

Chris Barnett (VCCE Chairperson)