Church sacks minister Gordon Bradbery

The Reverend Gordon Bradbery - one of Wollongong's most popular and, at times, controversial clergymen - has been sacked by the church he has served for 23 years.He has been told his services as minister at the Wesley Uniting Church on the Mall, where he has worked for the past 15 years, will no longer be required at the end of next year.Rev Bradbery is also likely to have to relinquish his job as chaplain for the NSW Police Service and Rural Fire Service and his roles with Lifeline and the meals for the needy program.

  • Join our campaign to save Rev Gordon Bradbery He will remain an ordained minister of the church but his future role is uncertain.His sacking, which came a fortnight ago in a secret ballot of the church's presbytery (a committee made of ordained and lay representatives from the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands), has shocked and saddened his loyal congregation.Several members of the congregation who did not want to be identified, yesterday told the Mercury they believed Rev Bradbery had been targeted by conservative forces inside the church unhappy at his unconventional style, outspoken views and high public profile.The Uniting Church requires that each minister who has served in a church for 10 years must reapply for what is known as an extension of call every three years.Just weeks ago, the Wesley Church on the Mall church council had voted unanimously to recommend Rev Bradbery be granted the extension.Yesterday, Rev Bradbery confirmed that the council's recommendation had been refused firstly by a state committee of the church's synod before being passed to the presbytery, which formally rejected the recommendation on August 26.When asked why he thought he had been sacked, he replied: "I prefer the church gives you the answers you seek. The church has already given the congregation those answers."Yesterday afternoon, presbytery chairman David Jones denied that Rev Bradbery's political and theological views had influenced the decision to terminate his services from the end of 2010 when his extension of call expires."The answer is simply that all ministry leadership within the church is reviewed at 10 years and to extend beyond that is unusual."The decision of the presbytery was taken over a whole range of issues and in context of how that extension might impact on Gordon, the congregation and the Uniting Church."We had a strong sense of the standing the community has of Gordon. He has a fairly unique place there and we affirm that."All organisations have renewal," he said.Port Kembla psychologist and member of the Wesley Church on the Mall congregation Donna Waters, contacted the Mercury yesterday to say she was shocked and aggrieved."Gordon Bradbery's impact on people's lives in the Illawarra is profound," she said. "He truly lives with his theology on his sleeve, not hidden behind doctrine that can't be challenged or questioned."As a spiritual seeker and fellow human deeply interested in authentic relationships based on love, equality and social justice, I would be appalled to think that this decent man is being shafted due to his contemporary theology."

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