The Uniting Church’s 14th triennial Assembly wrapped up in Perth over the weekend.
The Assembly meeting took in debate and discussion on a range of pressing issues affecting the Church and broader community – now and into the future.
From same-gender marriage to the plight of Palestinian Christians, delegates from across the country came to discuss, debate and reflect upon issues affecting the community and how we might respond.
Issues concerning same-gender marriage have been debated amongst the Uniting Church community for many years.
Acknowledging the diversity of views within the Church, the Assembly resolved to continue the work of the Doctrine Working Group and to engage the LGBTIQ community in discussions about marriage and same-gender relationships.
The Assembly also resolved to issue a Church-wide pastoral letter affirming the Uniting Church as an inclusive Church that embraces members who identify as LGBTIQ.
Former Assembly president Rev Prof Andrew Dutney introduced a proposal calling for an awareness-raising campaign on the plight of Palestinian Christians.
The campaign proposes a boycott of goods from illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Highlighting the theological basis for the proposal, Rev Prof Dutney said the impetus was borne out of close relations with partner Churches.
“In no way does it represent a compromise in our ‘commitment to the existence, in peace and security, of the state of Israel’ or our ‘conviction that anti-Semitism in all its expressions is an affront to the gospel of Jesus Christ’ (Assembly Statement, Jews and Judaism, 2009),” he said.
“It is a response to the direct request from our Palestinian sisters and brothers for this expression of solidarity.”
The Assembly considered a wide range of other issues such as the injustices against Australia’s First Peoples and a new refugee and asylum seeker policy calling for greater support for individuals seeking asylum.
UnitingJustice Reference committee chair Rosemary Dawson said the community is increasingly aware of the plight of asylum seekers and refugees and that action must be taken address the issue.
The 14th Assembly came to a close with a Holy Communion service led by president Stuart McMillan and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa.
Mr McMillan sent members of Assembly into the next triennium with a charge to continue the process of reconciliation between all people.
“People of God, go forth from here to live out the covenant that we the First and Second peoples of this land have entered into with one another,” he said.
“Rejoice in the richness of our diverse cultures and learn from them.
“Celebrate the unity we have in Jesus.”
The 15th triennial Assembly will be held in Melbourne in 2018.
The August edition of Crosslight (published 02 August) will feature more in-depth coverage of the Assembly meeting including reflections, attendee observations and analysis.
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