UCA Anniversary - Say YES to diversity

Posted in Faith

As we approach the 43rd anniversary of the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia, my thoughts go back to that time in 1977 when the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian denominations came together to form the Uniting Church in Australia. We had a long legacy and many traditions behind us, and we were also prepared to be our own church, with our own mission and priorities. Many individuals worked tirelessly to prepare the Basis of Union, our founding document that sets out the important ways we are to be the Uniting Church.

As Rev Prof Andrew Dutney says in his latest book, Angels in this Wilderness, “The union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in 1977 wasn’t an amalgamation or a take-over. It wasn’t for the sake of efficiency. It was three historic, proud denominations choosing to set aside the things that divided them for the sake of something bigger: the visible unity of divided people as a foretaste, sign and instrument of the reconciliation of the world to God in Christ. “God is calling us to be a church which receives its diversity as the precious gift of the Holy Spirit that it is; … and “The Church’s call is to serve that end: to be a fellowship of reconciliation, a body within which the diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole, an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself”. It is our diversity in our Unity that makes us who we are.

At the Inauguration service, which was held in the Sydney Town Hall and televised across the nation, a Statement to the Nation was read (you may find the whole statement here. As I reflect on what is happening in our world at this moment I am drawn to two paragraphs of this Statement and I quote them here.

“We pledge ourselves to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur. We will work for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond. We affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, freedom of speech, employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available. We will oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.”

“We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere — the family of the One God — the God made known in Jesus of Nazareth the One who gave His life for others.”

Today, during a pandemic, we care for the vulnerable and needy, we support the Black Lives Matter campaign, we reach out with compassion and comfort to all humanity. The Uniting Church is not closed; we are fulfilling our calling in these different circumstances we are still that pilgrim people on a journey toward the promised goal as described in the Basis of Union. As we remember our history may we look to the future, carrying out God’s calling to each of us.

Bronte Wilson

Moderator


Prayer at the Anniversary of the Uniting Church

Gracious and loving God,

we remember our calling, a calling to bring our diverse heritage into union, a calling to work together for you.

We heard, and continue to hear your voice, reminding us to care for the marginalised, to proclaim your message, and to share your love for all.

We saw, and continue to see, suffering in the world, racism in many forms, greed and corruption and we remember your teaching.

We seek to act, guided by those who went before us and by those showing the way at this moment.

May you continue to speak to us through your scriptures and those who lead and guide us.

May we remember the principles set out in the Basis of Union and the Statement to the Nation as we seek to do your will in our lives.

In Jesus name we pray.

Amen


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