Scripture Union (SU) – a Bible-based movement active in all Australian states involving chaplains, school groups, holiday camps and missions – is forming into a national organisation.
“Our company members met across Australia on Saturday May 8, and all merging state and territory SU movements voted to form a united movement, by majorities of 95 per cent or higher,” Peter James, Group CEO of the new Scripture Union Australia tells Eternity. “We will be a single national team from June 1.”
That’s everyone, except SU NSW, which has decided to stay out for now.
“Everyone else was ready to go, so all other states and territories agreed to move forward with the blessing of SU NSW,” says James.
Combining back-office functions will release resources for ministry.
The NSW branch may yet join – its vote in late 2020 is regarded as a “not yet” not a “never”.
James’ expectation is that combining back-office functions will release resources for ministry.
“The merger is all about more mission in more places. It started in February 2016 when the state SU directors started asking, ‘How can we better serve God together in his mission to children, young people and families across Australia?’.
“That’s a fundamentally different question from ‘How can I strengthen ministry in my state?’.
“That collective question has encouraged us over the past five years to dream and pray together about what could be different; how could we see more?
“We want to free up ministry people to focus on ministry rather than back office, admin and compliance, which can be better performed by a skilled back-office team.
“We are finalising the plans for the first new ministries, ready to get going from July.”
“Precisely what new ministry is birthed will depend on the vision and need in each particular community, as we work with local churches.” – Peter James, Group CEO, Scripture Union Australia
The SU vision remains one of local initiative, so there will be a variety in what the freed-up resources will produce across the country.
“Our mission model is built around collaboration with local churches and communities – serving and enabling local vision and need, rather than a push model. So, precisely what new ministry is birthed will depend on the vision and need in each particular community, as we work with local churches,” says James.
“That will vary from place to place. It might be a residential SU camp, a day sports program with spiritual input time, expanded ISCF or SUPA club programs [in schools], training and discipleship for young Christian leaders, a community outreach, or chaplaincy in a local school.”
If the experience of Bible Society Australia, which merged its state branches a decade ago, is repeated, the more support will go to mission. In Bible Society’s case, to Bible mission overseas and in Australia – and with SU, more school groups, summer missions or a chaplaincy.