OUR COMMUNITY NEWS FOR TODAY AND THE COMING WEEK
What does it mean to be Uniting Church?
In the spirit of Uniting we
- are committed to dialogue and cooperation with other churches and to participation in state and national ecumenical bodies and international bodies such as the World Council of Churches;
- are willing to explore the implications of being in a community with people of many faiths and what this means for the way we express and share our faith;
- accept women and men as equals in ministry, including ordained ministries, and encourage women in leadership;
- embrace diversity and are open to discuss controversial issues and what it means to be inclusive of all people and to respect differences;
- involve all people in oversight and governance, seeking to make decisions together rather than being hierarchical. We rely on consensus decision making.
The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) was formally established on June 22, 1977, when most congregations of the Methodist Church of Australasia, the Presbyterian Church of Australia and the Congregational Union of Australia came together under the Basis of Union, a document which sets out the church’s way of living and being.
Some key points in our history:
A Covenanting Relationship: The UCA has had a long and often painful history with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people. In 1985 the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress was formed as a national body for the First Australians within the UCA. At the 7th Assembly, the UCA Assembly entered into a formal covenant with the UAICC, recognising and repenting for the church’s complicity in the injustices perpetrated on the First Peoples, and pledging to move forward with a shared future.
Multicultural Church: The origins of our church were in Europe but our present and future lies with Asian and Pacific nations. In 1985 the Assembly declared itself to be a multicultural church, and now includes over 150 congregations of Asian and Pacific migrants. We worship in 35 different languages. We have formal links with 32 churches in Asia and the Pacific.
Sexual orientation no bar to ordination: Many Assemblies have discussed the issue of the ordination of gay/lesbian people, from an early decision that decided that sexual orientation was not a bar to ordination to the current situation where the UCA accepts and supports the ministry of people in same-sex relationships. However, note overleaf that at this time ministers of the UCA are not permitted to legally marry people in same sex relationship.
Interfaith Relationships: The UCA has been instrumental in pioneering interfaith relations in Australia.
Consensus Decision-making: In the early 1990s the church moved to a consensus form of decision-making in the councils of the church, a system that has been adapted by several other denominations and ecumenical bodies.
Community Service: The UCA is now the 3rd largest Christian denomination in Australia, with around 243,000 members in around 2,500 congregations. It manages a huge national network of community services, collectively called UnitingCare—the largest non-government provider in Australia and employs 70,000+ people.
Changes to the Australian law regarding marriage
Since the 13th Assembly our Church has been involved in respectful conversations about marriage, holding a space for grace for each other. During this time and particularly in the past year our nation has also had a conversation and a poll. Sadly the broader conversation has often been disrespectful and has caused great hurt to many people.
This week the Parliament has passed legislation to amend the Marriage Act to make same gender marriages legal in Australia. The Assembly General Secretary has written to all ministers and authorised marriage celebrants of the Uniting Church in Australia to explain what this means for each of them legally. Some members of our Church will greet this legislative change with great joy whilst others will be deeply concerned about what they see as the consequences of the change. We recognise there will be frustration and disappointment for some same gender couples who will still be unable to be married in our Church because our policy on marriage remains unchanged.
At the 15th Assembly in July 2018 we will consider marriage, including a report being prepared by the Assembly Working Group on Doctrine and recommendations from the Assembly Standing Committee. During the triennium we have had formal and informal conversations, and we will have further opportunity at the Assembly to discuss marriage in a respectful way. At that time I pray that God will enable us to truly hear one another and most importantly the leading of the Holy Spirit.
I appeal to you in the time between now and the rising of the 15th Assembly to please pray for wisdom and discernment for the members of Assembly who will gather as the body of Christ.
During my term as President I have often spoken from Romans 12 verse 5: “We belong to one another”. The writer of Romans continues speaking about sincere love as:
“Honouring one another above yourselves” (v10). In all we say and do, I appeal to you all, let us follow these encouragements to be Christ-like. Whatever your personal response is to these changes of Australian civil law, the Church’s call remains unchanged to be a “fellowship of reconciliation”.
We are the body of Christ. Let us be witnesses to the transforming power of God’s love in Jesus Christ at work in and amongst us.
Marrkapmirri, Stuart McMillan (President UCA)
EVENTS AND NOTICES
Relay for Life
Thank you to everyone for supporting the morning tea & bake sale last Sunday. We raised an amazing $621. BBQ at Bunnings next Sat!
Fair Trade Tea and Coffee
A reminder to get your Fairtrade tea/coffee today. Sales resume today.
Annual Congregational Meeting
The Annual Congregational Meeting will be held on Sunday 25 February, after the worship service. Copies of the annual reports will be available from 11 February.
Saturday Take-Away Night (STAN)
First gathering will be on February 24, 6.30 pm, at Werribee Town Centre ‘Pop-Up’ Park (TBC). Contact Lynette Boyd
Worship Plan for this week
9.30 am Family Worship, led by Rev. Mike Lewis.
Following worship today
Please join us for morning tea in the foyer.
Activities this week
Wednesday: Know Your Bible, 9.30 am bible study at Joy Clancy’s.
Saturday: Relay for Life Fundraising BBQ at Bunnings.
Next Sunday — 4 February 2018
9.30 am Family Worship, led by Rev. Mike Lewis.
Rosters for Next Week
Duty Elder: Phil Barnes
Morning Tea: Nancy McEwen & Judy O’Keefe
Flowers: Lorna Hodge
Reader: Margaret Forrester
Greeting: Mary Dixon
AV Desk: Noel Savory
Prayers: Vivien Bleakley
Piano: Wendy Barnes
Bible Readings next week: Isaiah 40:21–31; Psalm 147:1–11, 20c; I Corinthians 9:16–23; Mark 1:29–39.
Housekeeping & Help
If you or someone you know is in need of pastoral care, please don’t hesitate to contact either our minister, Mike Lewis or Robyn Tomkins.