Uniting Church members from around Australia will come together in prayerful community at Box Hill Town Hall in July for the 15th Assembly meeting.
On Sunday 8 July, members of the 15th Assembly will install Dr Deidre Palmer as President, the second woman to hold that leadership position.
Dr Palmer has chosen Abundant Grace Liberating Hope as the theme for the Assembly and the triennium.
“As the Uniting Church we have been greatly blessed by the abundant grace of God, calling us into being and shaping our life and mission,” Dr Palmer said.
“This theme Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope invites us to reflect God’s generous and overflowing love, in our relationships with one another, in our local community and in the wider world.”
Dr Palmer will be installed as President in a service at St Michael’s Collins Street UC on the first night of the Assembly meeting.
From Monday 9 July the Assembly’s 265 members, drawn from across the councils of the Church, will decide the Church’s national priorities for the next three years. Together they will consider reports and proposals on a dauntingly diverse set of issues.
These range from the Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, to the challenge of domestic and family violence and the continuing conversation on Indigenous sovereignty in light of the Covenant relationship between the UCA and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
There will be a landmark statement encouraging action and advocacy on climate change and a consultation process proposed regarding voluntary assisted dying. Assembly members will also consider a report and proposals on marriage and same-gender relationships.
These big conversations aside, the week-long meeting is also a festival of all things Uniting Church.
Assembly agencies such as UnitingCare Australia, UnitingWorld, Frontier Services and other Assembly groups will have a marketplace of information stalls.
There will be two public lectures. The first is hosted by the Uniting Church National History Society on Saturday 7 July from Prof Stewart Gill, Master of Queen’s College, Melbourne on “No Gods and Precious Few Heroes: Why We Need to Remember Our History.”
The Cato Lecture, a regular feature of every Assembly meeting, will be delivered on Wednesday 11 July by Bishop Ken Carter of the United Methodist Church in the US state of Florida.
Daily Bible studies will have a Pacific flavour led by Rev Dr Sef Carroll of UnitingWorld and Rev James Bhagwan of the Methodist Church in Fiji and will be in line with the focus on climate justice.
The worship program is being coordinated by Rev Ian Ferguson of Brunswick Uniting Church.
You can follow what’s happening in the lead-up to the Assembly on the website http://uniting.church and register for regular updates.
The 15th Assembly will attempt to go paperless. All proposals, reports and timetables will be provided to members’ mobile devices on the Crowd Compass app previously used for VicTas Synod meetings.
Uniting Church members will also be invited to join in 40 days of prayer before the Assembly meeting from Tuesday 29 May.
Who are members of the Assembly?
Representation at Assembly meeting is set out in the UCA Constitution and Regulations.
One minister and one lay member appointed by each Presbytery
Ministers and confirmed lay members appointed by Synods
Ex-officio and other members
Sixteen members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
In Synod and Presbytery representation and overall, the number of lay members shall not be less than the number of ministerial members.
One in 10 members must also be of a “youthful age” (under 25 at the beginning of the Assembly).
For more information see Section 40 of the UCA Constitution and UCA Regulation 3.3.8