Historians and archivists from various synods came together in June to launch the Uniting Church National History Society.
The landmark occasion was a highlight of the National Uniting Church History Conference, hosted by the South Australian UC Historical Society.
It was held at Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide over three days as attendees reflected on the rich history of the UCA and its predecessor denominations.
NSW synod moderator Rev Myung Hwa Park led worship during the conference. She was joined by SA moderator Rev Sue Ellis, assembly president Stuart McMillan and president-elect Dr Deidre Palmer.
Mr McMillan spoke about the importance of remembering the past as the Church looks towards the future. He referenced the Maori proverb “Ka Mua Ka Muri” which translates to “walking backwards into the future”.
“We can’t see where we are going, but we can see where we have been,” Mr McMillan said.
“We learn so much from the past which equips us, a pilgrim people, for the journey into an unknown future, but a promised end.”
The conference’s keynote speaker, associate professor Renate Howe AO, called for a reinvigoration of the current theological debate on ecumenism. She also expressed concern for what she perceived as the increasing corporatisation of the Uniting Church and the decline of the Church’s inter-conciliar nature.
Attendees presented papers on a diverse range of topics, including Methodism’s influence on public policy, the role of former missionaries in shaping the Church and what John Wesley might say to the Uniting Church.
A small committee comprising of representatives from various synods was elected to guide the fledgling society through its first steps. One of the society’s first projects is to publish a journal of all the papers and speeches presented at the conference.
For more information, contact Dr Judith Raftery, President of the Uniting Church SA Historical Society (firstname.lastname@example.org), or Rev Robert Renton, the editor of the forthcoming journal (email@example.com).