Fire is a rich symbol for the First Peoples of Australia. If you are to enter another Clan/Nation’s country you light a fire at the Nation’s boundary to make your request to enter or pass through. Fire sticks are used to care for country and pass onto others. Indeed fire is a symbol for most indigenous cultures – the many different cultural and linguistically diverse peoples who are the Uniting Church in Australia. Fire, burning, shining and hearts are all rich symbols used in Scripture. For me this also speaks of our hearts and passion – the kind of “fanning into flame” which Paul spoke of; the kind of fire that a church which is no longer at the ‘centre’ of Australian society, needs to have on the margins, at the edges, to be relevant, to act and to speak in this space. To be a Christian is to care for the marginalised and oppressed in our communities and in the world.
The Triennial Assembly is a meeting of approximately 265 members of the Uniting Church in Australia. Members are elected by Synods and Presbyteries across the country. These elected members join with office holders, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress members, youthful members and others to form a national decision-making body. Members of the Assembly meet for six days every three years in a different state or territory each time. The discussion centres on the direction and priorities of the Uniting Church in Australia for the next triennium. The outcome is a series of decisions that guide the life of the Church and its advocacy over the following three years.
- Hearts on fire as Assembly closes
The 14th Assembly has come to a close with a Holy Communion service led by President Stuart McMillan and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Chairperson Rev. Dennis Corowa. Assembly members joined together to sing Hearts on Fire, the theme for the week.
- Culturally-appropriate marriage discussion to continue
The Assembly has committed to continue to engage in a culturally-appropriate conversation about marriage and same-gender relationships. In addition to this conversation, the Assembly resolved to issue a pastoral letter to the Church affirming the Uniting Church as an inclusive church embracing those members who identify as LGBTIQ.
- Solidarity with Palestinian people
The Uniting Church will raise awareness of the plight of Palestinian Christians and the Palestinian people in response to a direct request to Uniting Church members who visited Jerusalem last September. After the 14th Assembly accepted the Palestine Proposal on its final day of meeting, ex-President Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney said he would personally convey the news to the Palestinian friends he had made during the National Ministers’ Conference.
Opinion & Interviews
- Travelling North – Profiling the New President
Six weeks after being interviewed in Sydney for an accountant position at the UCA’s Northern Synod, Stuart McMillan found himself standing alone with his swag on the edge of a dirt airstrip at Ramingining, 560 km east of Darwin. No one got the message that he was coming. No one knew who he was, and more practically, no one was there to pick him up. So he hitched a ride into the community with some locals.
- Stuart McMillan talks to ABC Sunday Nights
This is a transcript of Stuart McMillan’s interview with the ABC Sunday Nights program that aired nationally on ABC Local Radio on Sunday 21 June 2015. The transcript is of the Podcast that’s available for listening and download on the ABC Sunday Nights website.
Speeches & Sermons
- Cato Lecture – To be a Marginal People of God: A Chinese Christian Understanding
Rev. Dr. Manhong Lin It is my great honor to stand before you this evening. Before the joint consultation “One Flock, One Shepherd” in 2013, run by the China Christian Council and National Committee of the TSPM and the Uniting Church in Australia, I could never imagine that I would come to Australia, a land where I had never been, twice within a year, let alone to deliver a Cato lecture, when I had no knowledge about who Cato was. … read more
- President’s final blessing
14th Assembly Closing Worship, 18th July Rev. Dennis Corowa: Lord Jesus Christ. You have put your life in our hands. Now we have put our lives in yours. Take us, shake us, remake us in the image of Christ. Enable us to live as a reconciling community, a people who love and follow Jesus. Amen.
- Church partners have their say – Rev. James Bhagwan
Ni sa bula vinaka, no’ia’ea, malo’ileilei, talofa lava, mauri and g’day in all the other languages of the Pacific that make up one quarter of the world’s languages. I pay my respects to the taukei ni vanua, the tangata whenua – the people of the land, to the first peoples, traditional people of this land.