As delegates meet together as Synod they are not alone. At Rosehill there is a dedicated band of registered Convention visitors gathered in the room next door, watching and listening on livestream, just as visitors did at Rochedale in 2015.
Many of these visitors are spouses of delegates. Others are volunteers, who have travelled from interstate to be here or who have offered particular skills at the Convention. Some are simply people who love their church and want to bear witness to what is happening here.
First time visitor Annie Duarte, a musician and recent arrival from the United States, has been most impressed with the scope of ministries described at the convention, both through the reporting and through the exhibition space.
‘It’s great to be talking with people about their ministries and find out about what is going on outside of the “Sydney bubble” that we have been living in since we arrived’, she said.
Pastor Ryan Norris, from Tarrington, Vic, another first-time visitor, felt encouraged by the way in which the synod came together. ‘It serves to dispel the feelings of isolation that small country congregations in particular might have. They may be separated by distance from other congregations and from district or national bodies, but know that these people are aware of them,’ he said.
‘This synod has discussed some emotionally charged issues, but they have been taken care of sensitively and pastorally’.
Alex Duarte agreed: ‘It demonstrates the difference between the church and the world. We have a strong sense of the Holy Spirit over it all’.
Shiran Dixon, from Brisbane, Qld, was most impressed with the way delegates followed the rules of business in their deliberations. ‘I didn’t know all these rules existed! How many congregations and people in congregations could be aware of all that?’ she said, referring to both the rules governing debate and the constitution of the LCA itself.
Returning visitor Roz Twartz, Strathalbyn SA, loved the opportunity to catch up with friends that the Convention provides, though she expressed sadness at not being able to sit with delegates. ‘I know there are reasons for that, but it does feel like visitors are separate. It was good on Wednesday afternoon to be able to join with delegates for the departmental presentations though’, she said.