Saturday, 07 July 2018

Grace & Hope as Uniting Church Gathers in Melbourne

More than 300 members of the Uniting Church in Australia from across the country will gather at Box Hill Town Hall in Melbourne over the next week for the Church’s 15th triennial Assembly meeting.

The week-long meeting celebrates the work of Australia’s third largest Christian denomination and sets the Uniting Church’s national priorities for the next three years.

“The Assembly is a festival of all things Uniting Church,” says Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer.

“Throughout the week we build community by worshipping and praying together and listening to each other deeply.

“We make decisions about how we should move ahead as an expression of the transforming ministry of Jesus Christ.”  

Among the proposals Assembly members will consider are:

- Acknowledging sovereignty of Australia’s First Peoples as part of our Covenant relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
- Reviewing the Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
- A response to family and domestic violence that commits the Uniting Church to creating safe communities where all can flourish
- A landmark statement encouraging action and advocacy on Climate Change
- A consultation process across the Uniting Church and its agencies regarding voluntary assisted dying
- A pastoral response to vulnerable seasonal workers in Australia

The Assembly will also consider and respond to proposals on marriage and same-gender relationships. If members decide on a change of Church policy, the Uniting Church will become Australia’s first mainstream Christian church to allow its authorised marriage celebrants to perform same-gender marriages according to their conscience.

The meeting begins on Sunday 8 July with the opening night dedicated to the installation of incoming President, Dr Deidre Palmer.

Deidre is a Christian educator and academic, theologian and social worker. From 2013 to 2016 she was the Moderator of the Uniting Church Synod of South Australia.

Deidre has chosen the theme “Abundant Grace Liberating Hope” as the theme of her term as President. 

“We will be reflecting on significant issues of our day in the light of the Gospel of Christ. We will not simply be facing each other, but facing and engaging with the world, which God loves deeply,” says Deidre in looking forward to the week ahead.

“We will be having conversations about issues and concerns we share in as the Church with the wider society and global community – the life of our planet – the nature of our relationships, the way we shape communities and families that are free from violence.”

When Deidre Palmer receives the symbols of ministry from outgoing President Stuart McMillan at St Michaels Collins St in Melbourne on 8 July, she will become the Uniting Church’s 15th President and the second woman to serve in the role.

All proposals and reports for the 15th Assembly are available for viewing on the 15th Assembly website http://uniting.church

News items, photo, and video galleries will be updated on the website and through the Uniting Church in Australia Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Several sessions of the meeting will be live-streamed, including the Installation Service at St Michaels Collins St. Details of live streaming will be shared on social media platforms.

A daily newsletter will be distributed at the end of each day, subscribe at http://uniting.church  

The Assembly meeting concludes at midday on Saturday 14 July.