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.

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69. RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA CHRISTIAN COUNCIL (UnitingWorld)

That the Assembly

 

1. welcome the emerging relationship between the Uniting Church in Australia and the China Christian Council and affirms the importance of this relationship;

2. encourage UnitingCare and UnitingWorld to collaborate in growing this relationship, particularly in mutual learning and support for social services provision and theological education; and

3. encourage UnitingCare and UnitingWorld to use their learning and experience from this relationship to strengthen their own agencies and share them for the benefit of the wider Uniting Church.

 

Rationale

a) The opening paragraphs of the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia calls us to “seek a wider unity in the power of the Holy Spirit” within the ecumenical context, and with particular geographic focus “to seek special relationship with Churches in Asia and the Pacific”. The budding relationship with the China Christian Council (CCC) is an outworking of this call.

b) The CCC is a rapidly growing church who have recognized their need for leadership development both in theological ministry as well as in the provision of social services, as the church steps into the gap to provide care for the an ageing society (Currently China has 200 million people over 60 years old, a figure that will double in the next 20 years). This has influenced the nature of the relationship with the UCA to date, highlighting an area of shared interest and capacity.

c) The relationship between the UCA and the CCC has grown over the last five years through several interactions:

2010:    Initial contact between UCA and CCC

2011:    UCA President Rev Alistair Macrae led the first official visit to China

2012:    CCC President Rev Gao Feng and General Secretary Rev Kan Baoping led the first official visit to the UCA; attending the 13th UCA Assembly and visiting theological colleges and UnitingCare facilities.

2013:    President Rev Prof Andrew Dutney and President Elect Mr Stuart McMillan led a delegation to attend the first joint theological conference between the UCA and the CCC titled ‘One Shepherd, One Flock’.

2014:    UnitingCare hosted a visit from the CCC Social Service Dept who were researching quality aged care services for China. Two CCC theologians participated in the Basis of Union Conference in Sydney on the topic of “Unity of Partnership in Social Service”.

2015:    Following the invitation of the CCC, UnitingCare/UnitingWorld teams made two visits to CCC services, one to research current state of aged care services in China, and another to deliver professional and management skills training to 90 aged care services managers from across China. The training was hugely successful.

d) The interactions between UnitingWorld, UnitingCare and CCC have resulted in a depth and breadth of relationship with stakeholders in China including the CCC national leadership, the Provincial Synod leaders, theological seminaries, aged-care providers and a local Christian-business association.

e) Both UnitingWorld and UnitingCare have recognised the mutual benefit of their Agencies and the wider UCA engaging with the CCC, as UCA’s theology and practice of ministry, mission and social service are re-examined and renewed in the context of sharing and learning with a vibrant and growing church with a richly different history and culture.

 


“Live Peace” Book Launch

A steadfast belief that light will always drive out the darkness was at the heart of Joy Balazo’s peace-building in the Asia-Pacific region, said Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan when launching a book about her life.

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A new road for Frontier Services

Three years ago at the last triennial meeting of the Assembly in Adelaide, I came along as the Public Relations Officer for Frontier Services.

Frontier Services was riding high. This was our big year celebrating 100 years of continuing ministry in remote Australia. Continue Reading


67. ALTERNATIVE TO PROPOSAL 42: GOVERNANCE NEEDS OF THE UCA (Synod of Victoria and Tasmania)

The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania submits the following as an amended version of Proposal 42. Changes are indicated with underlining.
That the Assembly
1. direct the Standing Committee to establish a process which will enable a wide-ranging analysis of the fundamental governance needs of the Uniting Church in the 21st century;
2. (a) authorise the Standing Committee to establish the terms of reference for the review which shall include specific reference to the place of synods and presbyteries in the life of the Church; and
(b) request that recommendations, including but not limited to, the potential divestment, merger or dissolution of synods or presbyteries be brought to the 15th Assembly in 2018.
Rationale:
The Basis of Union (Paragraph 15) iterates that “responsibility of government of the Church belongs to the people of God by virtue of the gifts and tasks which God has laid upon them” and “The Uniting Church therefore so organises its life locally, regionally and nationally…”.
As outlined by the Presbytery of Illawarra, the existing system of Presbyteries, Synod and Assembly is becoming problematic. Synods and Presbyteries both carry approval responsibilities and oversight for mission and governance as well as finance and property matters within their bounds. The role of Presbyteries in relation to providing pastoral oversight, encouragement and stimulation of Congregations is important; however, Synods provide a conduit for distribution of commonwealth, education, training and knowledge-sharing.
Synods through the Property Trusts (established by state legislation) provide a legal identity for the Church and a framework to operate and interact with the secular world (state compliance requirements, taxation obligations etc). Due to this, the burden of risk for all councils and institutions within the state is carried by the Synods. This also results in the Synods being acknowledged by other councils as the funder of last resort and point of escalation for dispute management and exercise of discipline.
In light of the Major Strategic Review being undertaken by the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania (which incorporates a comprehensive review of its structures), and similar discussions occurring at a national level; the Synod recommends that any review on the councils of the Church needs to encompass the sustainability (in terms of identity, purpose and priorities) and feasibility of maintaining both local and regional councils in the changed context of the 21st Century that the Uniting Church finds itself in, and therefore the review should include both the councils of Synods and Presbyteries.


66. PALESTINE (Andrew Dutney, Felicity Amery)

This proposal replaces Proposal 57. Changes are underlined. The movers also wish to add additional paragraphs to the Rationale; to save paper the full rationale has not been reprinted.
That the Assembly
1. receive the requests from the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, the Kairos Palestine movement and the World Council of Churches to act in response to the plight of the people of Palestine;
2. note the resolutions of the Assembly Standing Committee regarding Israel-Palestine in Standing Committee minute 11.33;
3. establish an awareness-raising campaign throughout the Church on the plight of Palestinian Christians and the Palestinian people, including promotion of the boycott of goods from the illegal settlements in the West Bank as part of the campaign;
4. request the Assembly Standing Committee:
(a) in partnership with other parts of the Church, including the Relations with other Faiths Working Group (RoFWG), and with other groups mentioned in Standing Committee minute 11.33.10 and with the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, to arrange for the development of educational materials to resource the awareness-raising campaign and to enable members and congregations to determine their response;
(b) to receive any other requests for action from the World Council of Churches or Palestinian Christians over the next three years and determine the response of the Church;
(c) to support another Australian church leaders visit to Palestine and Israel in the next three years, arranged either ecumenically and / or for Uniting Church leaders;
(d) to report to the 15th Assembly on actions taken and outcomes achieved; and
5. convey these resolutions to the National Council of Churches in Australia with an invitation to respond.
Rationale (additional paragraphs – see Proposal 57 for remaining text)
At this time the issues of genuine religious encounter and creating a peaceful Australian society have never been so strongly posed for our nation and our churches. Christians who live in these challenging times are called to bear witness to their faith in various multifaith and multicultural contexts.
The Uniting Church has made various commitments to maintain relationships with other faith communities, including “To Live with a Neighbour Who is Different”, Assembly Theological Resource 2000, “Jews and Judaism: A Statement” 12th Assembly 2009 and “Friendship in the Presence of Difference: Christian Witness in Multifaith Australia”, 13th Assembly 2012.
Consultation with those from other faiths will be important in the development and distribution of educational resources for the campaign, as per Assembly Standing Committee minute (ASC 11.33.10)


Stuart McMillan installed as President

Singing with their ‘Hearts on Fire’, children of the Uniting Church in WA began the installation of the incoming President of the Uniting Church in Australia to members and guests of the 14th triennial Assembly, held in Perth this week.

After a welcome to country by Rev. Sealin Garlett, Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress WA, youthful representatives shared prayers with the congregation for the vastness of our land, the redness of the Earth, the green plant life, the colours of the earth and the clear white of the creator. Colourful balloons and fabric created a warm backdrop for the moving service.

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