The Uniting Church in Australia turns 40 this year. So it is perhaps not surprising that throughout the synod, many budding historians are unearthing the story of their own congregations and church communities.
Rev Robert Renton is the treasurer of the synod’s UCA Historical Society. The society works with the synod’s archive centre to preserve and document historic records and photographs from the Uniting Church and its three antecedents – the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches.
Mr Renton said the interest in church history extends beyond the congregations, as often the church was the centre of community life.
“We were conscious that this being the 40th year of the UCA there will be interest in historical matters,” Mr Renton said.
“At the same time, there seems to be a number of churches celebrating their 100th or 120th or 150th anniversary, as well as articles about churches or congregations that have closed.”
Mr Renton said while there is interest in the history of church communities, some people may not feel confident in their ability to write this down. He hopes that an upcoming seminar will encourage those people to put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
“It’s an opportunity for congregational members interested in writing a history of their congregation, or of notable people from their congregation, and who are a tad reluctant to do it because they have no experience in writing history,” Mr Renton said.
“The seminar will include insights from some of our members with experience in research and writing.
“The world seems to be changing at a rapid pace, and the Church is not immune to that change. In this 40th year of the UCA it is important that to understand where we have come from if we are to understand better where we are now and where we might head in the future.”
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