Gordon Bradbery fallout: Presbytery of Illawarra letter

Presbytery of Illawarra chairman David Jones sent this letter to members of the Presbytery and their congregations: "Media campaigns over the past few days have carried headlines like Chaplain Chopped /sacked despite the Congregation Unanimously Voting to Keep Him until 2014 in response to the Presbytery in Session on August 26th resolving not to grant another extension to Wollongong Mission Ministry Leader Rev Gordon Bradley (sic) from his current 15 year term (ending December 2010) for up to another 3 years. The implication is that the Presbytery has rejected the Congregation's unanimous vote to retain Gordon, taking his job away and disenfranchising the Police and the Community by taking away their Chaplain and advocate.In 2008, a review at Wollongong Mission identified the need to undertake succession planning for Ministry Leadership given the length of time Gordon has been in this placement.In response to a request of the Wollongong Mission Church Council and based on a Congregation straw poll the Presbytery PRC put in place a process to enable the Presbytery to determine if an extension should be granted.Given that this is a Mission Placement, there is a requirement that Synod Board of Mission and the Advisory Committee on Ministry Placements be consulted. This was initiated by the Presbytery PRC.Meantime, Presbytery Minister / Mission Consultant Mark Greenlees and I spent time formally and informally in consultation with the Church Council in the period leading up to the Presbytery meeting.The Presbytery Meeting in closed session heard from Rev Gordon Bradbery and representatives of Wollongong Mission about why they considered the extension necessary.PRC representatives conveyed the responses from Synod and PRCs own deliberations including its response to the Wollongong Mission consultation 2008.The Presbytery made its decision based on this input and responses to questions posed by members of Presbytery. This matter took up around half of the Presbytery meeting and the decision taken by secret ballot. Overwhelmingly, the Presbytery decided not to grant the extension.It is helpful to remember that the Council of the Presbytery that took this decision comprises ministry leaders and lay representatives from the Congregations in our region.Gordon uses his considerable gifts within the Congregation and the community including his roles in Lifeline, Police Chaplaincy and community advocacy. This is in line with our way of being as a Church as we have other Ministers in current placement and some who have moved from Congregation ministry undertaking Senior Chaplaincy in the Army, Ambulance Service, Rural Fire Service, and State Emergency Services.In addition to Gordon we have other police Chaplains and Rev Peter Robinson moved from Congregation Ministry in Albion Park to take up full time Chaplaincy with the Police Academy at Goulburn. A number of other Uniting Church Ministers currently in placement in the Illawarra region provide Chaplaincy to the Police and RFS as a part of their ministry with the community.The fact that Gordon's term concludes in December 2010 does not mean that “his employment has been chopped or terminated”. As with all Ministers in placement the Church understands that Gordon is available to be called to another placement from the conclusion of his current placement or earlier should he wish to seek early release.As part of the process, the Presbytery will now work specifically with the Wollongong Mission Congregation on its future ministry Leadership needs and with Gordon and the Synod on opportunities for him to continue to exercise his gifts in the service of the kingdom."David E JonesChair / Spokesperson – Presbytery of Illawarra.

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