Rev Dr Gordon Moyes
AM, BA, DD, LL D, Litt D, FRGS, FAIM, FAICD, MACE
Professor A H Pollard
AO, M Sc (Syd), M Sc (Econ), Ph D,
D Sc, D Litt (Hon), FIA, FIAA, FASSA
Treasurer: Dr J N Pendlebury
OAM, JP, B Sc (Hons), M Sc (Hons), Ph D, Dip Ed, MACE
of Wesley Mission:
Care Services: Graham Towle JP, B Bus, CPA, Dip LG Admin, CPA, FAIM, FIMM, CPD
JP, MBA, FCA, Dip CM, FCIS, FCIM, FAIM, FAICD
Rev Dr Tony Chi
B Th, MA, Ph D
Who'll Come A-Waltzing With Me?
WESLEY MISSION PLANNING 2000.
OCTOBER 20, 2000
Prepared by Rev Dr. G. K. Moyes AM
In 1895, at Dagworth station, near Winton, Queensland, a Sydney journalist heard a story of a swagman who had stolen a sheep to cook for a meal. The squatter caught him, and with the aid of some police tried to arrest him. The sun-downer, fearing arrest jumped into a waterhole left where the river occasional ran during a downpour. He drowned with his swag and the remains of the sheep. They say out Winton way, that if you camp nearby, his ghost will disturb you.
Andrew Barton Paterson put the legend into a ballad form to an old marching tune. For the past 105 years we have sung it in war and in peace, at the Olympics and around campfires and wherever Australians gathered. It has become our unofficial national anthem and when far from home, brings a tear to many an Aussie eye. The image of a thief getting drowned trying to escape apprehension is not one we would want to use to describe ourselves, but the line, "Who'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me?" is irresistible for those forging into new territory taking their precious possessions with them. Today, in a new millennium, Wesley Mission Sydney, is forging into new territory taking with us what we consider most valuable. The journey is risky. We may be misjudged. We may sink. We may become legendary! But what a venture into where all that is new begins.
The Methodist Church throughout the British Empire developed a new concept of ministry to the cities and the urban poor during the last twenty years of the nineteenth century.
Inner area Methodist Churches, became Methodist Missions, and at the heart of each city was a larger Central Methodist Mission. For fifty years they were wonderful examples of positive ministry to the poor and homeless. In Colombo, Johannesburg, London, Manchester and Liverpool, Melbourne, Auckland and Sydney, and in a hundred other cities the Methodist Missions met the needs of their day. After about eighty years most disappeared or declined.
In Sydney, the Missions at Glebe, Newtown, Leichhardt, Balmain, Rozelle, Darlinghurst, Redfern, and other places hit their heights during the period around World War 1. Most of them have since disappeared, although some small congregational activity continues with some Aged Care work. Wesley Mission Sydney alone continues stronger than at any time in its 188 years of history. The reasons why we continue to grow are complex but two stand clear: we have adapted imaginatively to changing times and opportunities, and we have had a succession of extremely competent Superintendents who built around them a remarkable staff and a loyal membership.
Today we stand at the beginning of a new century and a new millennium. What will be the shape of the twenty first century Mission? Will strong leadership still be required to administer this Church with thousands of members, 2,500 paid staff and $120 million a year expenditure? What adaptations to changing conditions will we need to continue to grow? I answered those questions at some length in my paper "Battering the Brass Door" which in 1997 looked to the future and the year 2020. This is available on our Web-site. I will not try to go over those complex and far-sighted plans.
But I do want to consider some underlying themes that will guide us in the near future in this twenty first century Mission. To do this I propose a simple SWOT anaylsis of ourselves: a study of what I think are our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our future.
Heritage. Any work that is going to prosper in the future needs a keen sense of from whence it has come. We know our history. We recite our traditions. We acknowledge those who have gone before. Never does a week pass, but some visitor or supporter not tell us something about our Wesley Heritage showcase in Wesley Centre, or speak about the photographs of our work on the walls, or the listing of benefactors who have left us estates. We march on giants' shoulders!
Property, assets. We name as a strength our property and other assets. Last year they increased by $9 million to $262 million. Our land bank, which we have established to give future generations a good asset which they can develop or sell for needed cash, stands at 980 hectares. We have a solid backing for our future.
Key staff. Future developments look assured when we consider the competence of our key staff. No other church or Christian ministry has such a collection of outstanding leaders. We are increasing the competency level by adding through our elections of lay people, some amazing talent, emphasing younger people and more women. We are growing a new generation of able leaders in our midst.
Intellectual Property. Nothing beats brains. I am committed to adding to our number, only people in key positions who can demonstrate that in their area of competence they are more able than I am. Unless you are smarter than I am, you will not add anything to our work. Many leaders want to feel comfortable by surrounding themselves by agreeable people. They want to be bright, shining stars in an otherwise dull galaxy. But my policy for all key positions is to surround myself with brains. I want you to shine. If I have to tell you how to do your work better, then I have made a terrible selection mistake. Growth comes through committed and competent senior staff.
Core values. Wesley Mission has never let its values slide. There are some that in their desire to be thought modern and relevant have cast aside the Bible with its abiding values and have taken up the latest trendy pop-psychology or paper-back theology. But we hold to the faith of our fathers as found in the Word of God. Some scoff at our values and disparage the Christian standards we expect from our employees.
Journalists and radio talk-back people have taken cheap shots at us. They say Christians are prejudiced against people of other faiths. They ignore the fact that at our Fairfield Wesley Employment over 65% of the people we have placed into jobs speak Arabic or Vietnamese. Letter writers say Christians would do an inferior job than people who no have no religious standards. They ignore are the facts: we have won contracts because we have the track record of doing better than others. Say what they like, the fact is that with our values we have better results than others.
We are attacked by atheists and humanists who want our work curtailed. Our success in winning Government contracts to establish new employment services has created envy and hatred. The public controversy was generated during the first weeks of this year, when our track record in outcomes in employment services was revealed to be so much better than the Government's own Employment National. When the public servants were terminated as a result of new contracts being awarded to Wesley Mission the squeals were heard around Australia. That in turn brought out all those whose political and philosophical views opposed Christianity. One Catholic Bishop thought it wrong for churches to help the unemployed find jobs!
Some find the teachings of Jesus unacceptable. For example, His teaching in Matthew 20. He spoke of an employer who went to the labour exchange in the town square at 6am and hired some labourers for the going rate: one denarius a day. At 9am, he needed some more and hired them. At noon he realised, he would need more and hired more. Then, later at 3pm. By 6pm the job was completed. Now came a surprise. v8"When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' 9"The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.'
13"But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'"
That is precisely the point. Our staff spend extra time with clients. They work longer hours willingly. They help clients get outfitted with donated clothing. They have paid for an unemployed truck driver to get his licence so he could get the job. They even paid for a man to get a set of dentures so he would present better, and he got the job. Others don't do that. Others could not match our results. They cannot understand the church, which like its Master, is motivated by grace, not just wages. No wonder our staff need Christian commitment. Jesus was compelled to say to his critics: 15 "Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'" The hostility to large and successful churches like ours is real. Secular philosophies want every viewpoint, except the Christian one, heard. Government agencies argue for equal rights for all except Christians. Meanwhile liberal denominations like the Uniting Church search for some new practise or some pattern of behaviour that will save their impending demise.
Of course, people who are atheists or agnostics or secular humanists could do a better job in helping people than Christians. But the fact is, they don't! We don't find many atheists on the streets helping the homeless at night. There are not many nursing homes built and run by the humanist society.
They who do not have our kind of values are rarely to be seen caring for others. Wesley Mission was running a labour exchange a century ago. Before any Government was moved to help the unemployed, we were doing it. We were doing it because of our values, and without any support from Governments or anyone else. We will continue to build on our values whether we are funded by Governments or not. Of course, anyone else can do the same. They rarely do, because they do not act from a basis of our core values. These strengths auger well for our future.
Our strengths may be our weaknesses. The very things that make us strong can also lock us into doing things the way we have always done them. Our heritage can build a pride that traps. Our property and assets can make us so cautious that we never venture by faith in case we lose something. I do not mind the fact that we have about half a dozen failures over the past twenty years. The fact is that we try some risky ventures that are good ideas and for various reasons they have not worked out. But that is living by faith. It is only by faith if there is a genuine possibility of failure. For every failure, we have started and developed over 60 successes. We do not let our property and assets freeze our faith and immobilize our venturing. Likewise key staff can trap us into just growing older. And brains can become boring when creativity and imagination are required. Core values can become mixed with methods of expressing them so organizations are caught in a time warp. So our very strengths can become a weakness. People looking at their strengths say: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." We say, "If it ain't broke, make it work better!"
Headhunted staff may be a weakness from which we suffer. I have lost count of the number of good people we have trained, spent an enormous amount of money developing, and invested in their personal future with us, who have been head-hunted by another organization looking for good talent, and who do not spend money on staff training and quality development. Sometimes that can cripple an organization.
There is the example of the ill-fated "Star-Trek" mission of Apple Computers and Novell programmers in 1992. Working in premises opposite Intel's headquarters in California, the project was about grafting or "porting" the Macintosh operating system on to an Intel chip. The result: a prototype MacIntel machine, which was to have been the user-friendly alternative to clunky MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 This would have hit the stores a year before Windows 95. But, then, something happened. The project's chief backer was poached by the enemy and the Trekkies' mission was aborted. The Apple board got restless and rolled their Chief Executive. End of story. Bill Gates triumphed and became the world's richest man and we all use Windows on our computers. The loss of one key person with the intellectual property in his head crippled a great company.
So how does Wesley Mission handle staff who leave with our intellectual property? We rejoice and are glad! Their going enables us to gain another person who may have better ideas, and the one who has left us, will help some other organisation also share in dealing with the problems lessening the demand on our services. Not that the grass in the other paddock is actually greener. I have kept track of some people who have left us, and most never find what was promised.
If you tell me you are leaving, I will never try to persuade you to stay. That is God's way of sometimes removing a problem and sometimes His way of telling us He has a better, younger person who is ready for us. Headhunted staff may make us weak, but my experience is that it makes us stronger.
One other weakness lies in the Uniting Church In Australia's ignorance of our mission and ministry. Every General Manager can give you first hand accounts of Church obstruction, hindrances and impediments to our ministry of helping people. The cost of this runs into tens of thousands of dollars. That is a weakness from which we suffer constantly.
Another weakness is the possible congregational non-involvement in our work. Some congregations deeply care for all our work. They speak about it, pray about it, give to support it, and want more information. Some congregations are happy to stay comforting themselves instead of helping serve others. Congregational non-involvement is a direct reflection of the minister of that congregation's personal attitude. If the minister is concerned, then the congregation will be concerned. Some pastoral staff whinged about coming here today to help plan our total work. One complained we start too early. Those attitudes are a definite threat to our future. Those attitudes must change or we must change the people.
One final threat is the increasing secularization among potential staff. We want only committed Christians. Christians, because that is our core value, and committed because every senior job requires more effort than that for which you are paid.
Minimalist managers - who do a minimum of work, only in their own area with no concern for any other Mission activity, who are never seen at wider Mission celebrations, thanksgivings, openings of other centres, who offer minimalist attendance at senior staff meetings and little involvement in Spring Fair and other joint activities, weaken our whole work. Minimalist managers are rarely missed when they leave us.
These weaknesses among us can be overcome. I want us to see people change their weaknesses into strengths rather than leave us, for to leave with these weaknesses intact mean they are only taken somewhere else. But if change is not forthcoming then it is better the person goes.
Increasing partnerships are an exciting new development. We are willing to explore possible partnerships, not only with Federal and State Governments, but with private enterprise. The usefulness of 2GB cannot be overestimated. Our Wesley Palmdale Funeral Service has great potential. Our Mayo Wesley Unit in Taree is writing new records. Our Wesley Institute For Ministry and the Arts is talking with Macquarie University about exciting partnerships. Our work is expanding because of exciting partnerships with like values organizations. Twentyfive years ago, we were funded from one denomination, worked in one city, and centred on one church. Today we are multi-culturally diverse, are funded by Christians of all denominations, work in 120 suburbs and 70 regional centres in three states, with our teaching videos and Internet programs used internationally. Congregations working on their own are going out of business in many areas. We grow by partnerships.
A dozen congregations want to join Wesley Mission's activities. Every major Uniting Church mission in Australia is happy to work on a joint national projects with us. We employ people locally to keep the money in the town. We are not afraid of the opponents of the Gospel, for we have God's support when we work. When Paul was under attack in Corinth, one night in a dream, he heard God say: "Keep it up and don't let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I am with you and no-one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city." Acts 18:10 How true that is!
Corporate involvement is a growing phenomenon. I have worked with corporate organizations for decades, developing partnerships for both our ministry and the corporation win. It is not a matter of sponsorship, which is an outdated idea, but a matter of corporate/community partnerships. I am pleased to be on the Prime Minister's Board for Community and Business Partnerships. That I opening many doors for us. Yesterday the Prime Minister invited me to lunch at Kirrabilli House. We discussed Wesley Mission's progress and his desire to see more corporations become actively involved in community services and socially responsible action. Both within the company and within the community. Earlier this month in Korea, I met with the senior executives of L.G., about a major new partnership whereby they will totally underwrite the costs of our LifeForce suicide Prevention Service.
New volunteers are a new source of strength for us. Alan Bates has documented brilliantly the changes in volunteerism in a special presentation in this year' Annual Report. There has been a radical and benefical change in the face and depth of volunteers coming into our workforce. Last year they contributed 162,000 hours of service, valued at $2.25 million. The Olympics brought 243 Americans who lived in our buildings for two weeks and aided our outreach into the community.
Devolvement of Government programs will continue. Almost every kind of social program currently run by the Government including hospitals, universities, schools, welfare, childcare, ambulance services and the like, were first of all developed and run by the church. Then people began to expect Governments to run them. Now Governments are devolving running these sources and outsourcing them to others who are not only competent but who care. We are perfectly placed to tender and win tenders to do these services.
We undertake many of our programs simply because they are needed, whether funded not. Our huge investment into employment programs, has seen us spend $5 million in one month this year on new buildings, office fittings, cars, computers, mobile phones. We believe helping people into real jobs is a critical issue for Australia just now. In disability services Wesley Mission today is the largest provider of services for the disabled in New South Wales. We care for the disabled precisely because we see this as an area of need. In all of our work we help people have a fuller life, a more meaningful existence, with greater control over their destiny.
Beachhead partnerships, as explained fully last year, are already working in a number of rural centres, and where managers are alert, we have wonderful opportunities for growth.
There are some threats on the horizon as there have always have been.
Our own bureaucracy is one if we let it. The larger we grow, the more institutionalized and fossilized we may become. We have to guard against our own growth in the employment of staff who have no contact with clients, who do not generate funds but simply use them, who are in business to serve the system. Such bureaucracy says, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." They do not want to see change, and concentrate on the comfort and significance of self. These people and these staff pose a real threat to our work. If we must say something, say: "If it ain't broke, we'll make it better." For the answer to bureaucracy is to be constantly reinventing ourselves. In business terminology that means "re-engineering". Our kind of ministry is a constant journey that can make a person breathless, if you have not learned to breathe spiritually. All re-engineering means upgrading our processes, constant quality improvement, and clearer focus on our outcomes. We have to reinvent our methodology, our way of doing things. Such activity brings freshness and stops fossilization.
Unfortunately the bureaucracy within the Uniting Church shows little sign of slowing down. Fortunately, parishes are desiring to see outcomes for the huge consumption of their dollars. This money is given with the hope of helping the hurting in the community, but ends up paying salaries and on-costs of people who see their role as handling paper, regulations and approvals by them of everything else. The lesson of mainline denominations like ours in other parts of the world is that down-sizing, reinvention of their methodology and recommitment to Biblical emphases is their only hope.
It is a parody of the Gospel that sees our denomination opening a place where drug addicts can inject heroin. There is a belief that death is best. So the same people advocate abortion, mercy killing, euthanasia, and drug injecting rooms. Each of these practises leads to more death. A Melbourne City Council Drug Action Plan proposes that vending machines providing needles and other necessary equipment for shooting up heroin should be placed in City streets and toilets. The introduction of legally prescribed heroin is also proposed by the Council. These proposals will increase the number of drug users overall by promoting drug use just as condom machines were designed to do. They will also increase the number of addicts using the city area. Drug users will visit the city more frequently to collect supplies. Of course, the dealers who are selling heroin will hang around the places where the vending machines are located. This does nothing to help users beat their heroin addiction. There is no reason why the Uniting Church's Uniting Care will not add needle vending machines to their drug injection rooms. Meanwhile last year two and a half million needles were provided at tax-payers expense and the number of discarded syringes increases. Used syringes also become a weapons - syringes are the fastest growing type of weapon used in assaults.
We think life! We provide support for parents to want to take their babies to birth. We provide palliative care for the terminally ill. We provide a suicide prevention service. We offer hospital based care. We run rehabilitation and education programs. We help addicts overcome drug dependence, not help them continue dependency. But the attitudes of the denomination bureaucracy is a continuous threat to our alternatives to death.
Some think that we are threatened by Government restrictions. Some worry about this. But in my experience, every threat of some Government change in legislation or restriction of practise can be used to our advantage. The problems of our future lie not in the hands of secularists, government legislation or global threats, but from those who are close to us.
Loss of donor motivation is a possible threat. But once more, Ifind that when donor's lose motivation, it is because we have first of all shown little personal care for them. Donors always support those who care for them as well as those in need.
One real threat lies in our own loss of vision. "Where there is no vision the people perish" declares the Bible. Proverbs 29:18 Helping us are our members who give, pray and administer all of the services and centres run by our staff. Our staff are multi-cultural, multi-skilled, talented, focused and accountable. We are held together by our common commitment to Jesus Christ. When members and staff together have that commitment they also have fresh vision of their calling. Paul wote Coloss 1:17-18 "Everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, He organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body." That is why Christian commitment is so important: it the glue that holds us together, and focuses our efforts. Our strength lies in our diversity, and our impact is in our single-minded commitment. That commitment keeps our vision fresh.
Earlier this month, Beverley and I were taken into the top security heart of LG in Seoul, Korea. This company is on the cutting edge of digital technology. We were taken into their Research and Development building. At the heart of it is their "Dream Gallery." In this area are hundreds of the latest books, magazines, art works, sculptures, the outstanding electronic items from their competitors, the best designed clothing from Ital, the outstand pieces of furniture from Sweden, the loveliest fabrics from Paris, the best cell phones from Japan and so on. Every item there was chose because of its excellence. Twenty staff, mostly young, spend time daily feeling the items, handling the fabrics, reading the fashion magazines, and then they dream, dreams. These staff are paid to produce dreams in three dimensions on their computers, then make finely crafted models. Others then tear them apart and improve them, but ultimately millions of dollars will be invested into the dreams which will soon make their ways into our lives.
Today has been part of the dream process for Wesley Mission. In the early church it was said that "your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams." Acts 2:17 Sometimes we wonder if all our planning is worth while. My experience is that if we dream and plan for things to happen, by the grace of God, they happen. If we do not plan for them, they do not happen. God moves only with those who are moving. I have kept all my plans for every year in every area of the Mission for every year for the past 22 years. I list the goals on page one of my diary for each year. After December 31st of that same year, I list what has been achieved during the year. The lists are almostly identical, although some big, hairy audacious goals take more than one year to be accomplished.
Take for example what happened ten years ago at the beginning of the year. These were my goals
When we plan, things get done. Maybe not immediately. But they do get done. I intend to go a-waltzing into the new Millennium. Who'll come a-waltzing with me?