The UCA National Assembly Working Group on Relations with Other Faiths
The Relations with Other Faiths Working Group seeks to promote knowledge and understanding of other living world faiths and their communities. The Working Group will develop wherever possible a commitment to promote respect and tolerance for the integrity of the beliefs of other faiths, cultures and traditions. This desire not only arises from our common humanity but also from a desire to live in peace and goodwill as neighbours in our communities and the world.
The role of the working group is to:
- Provide information, policy and resources on appropriate positive relationships with other faiths to the Assembly.
- Raise awareness within the church of the presence of other faiths in the community, and of their particular needs and place in Australian society.
- Develop resources that may be appropriate for congregations and other bodies to use in multi-faith discussions and occasions of worship.
- Maintain contact with people of other living world faiths.
- Provide advice and assistance to all councils of the church as requested.
- Collaborate where possible with other agencies and groups interested in multi-faith relationships.
- Reflect on the theological basis on which interfaith dialogue should occur and develop statements and resources for use by the church when working with people of other faiths.
See the full Operational Guidelines of the Relations with Other Faiths Working Group.
The Uniting Church is part of a multicultural and multireligious society. In 1985 the Uniting Church declared itself a multicultural church ‘acknowledging the changed and changing multicultural and multi-faith context of life and ministry in Australia and the presence of people from culturally diverse backgrounds in its membership'. In recognising the importance of interfaith relationships and the role of faith in creating and sustaining communities of peace, the Uniting Church Assembly established the Working Group on Relations with Other Faiths in 1989.
The Uniting Church recognises that as interfaith encounters continue, so too, does the challenge and call for fresh, new, intelligent articulation and expression of faith. Following in the tradition of renewal and reform the Uniting Church is called to be faithful to God by listening afresh to the Word of God both in Scripture and in the preaching of the gospel, so that the church may discern and do God's will in each situation. The Uniting Church acknowledges the need to draw on faithful and scholarly interpreters of Scripture as well as literary, historical, and scientific enquiry to sharpen her understanding of the will and purpose of God by contact with contemporary thought as well as understand her own nature and mission in relation to contemporary society.
In 1997 the Eighth Assembly requested the then Doctrine Commission to prepare a theological statement to guide the Uniting Church as it entered an increasingly diverse society where many faiths are practiced. The statement Living with the Neighbour who is Different: Christian Faith in a Multi Religious World was presented to the Ninth Assembly which adopted the following theological affirmations as primary values and guiding principles for the Uniting Church's relationship with people of other faiths:
- God is calling us to engage in conversation with people of other faiths.
- Christians are called to love the neighbour who is different.
- God has placed the contemporary Church in an ideal situation to engage in genuine dialogue with those of other faiths.
- God delights in diversity and seeks unity.
- The Spirit is present in all of life.
- The centrality of Jesus Christ in Christian believing is not to be compromised.
More information on Living with the Neighbour who is Different, including a downloadable summary, study guides, and information about purchasing the full text are available on our Theology page.