Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope – next UCA Assembly

The 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church will take place 8-14th July 2018.

The theme of the Assembly is Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope.

If you are interested there is a lot of information about the Assembly, including reports and proposals that can be accessed here: https://uniting.church

On the website there are also ways you can keep up with what is happening at Assembly and ways you can be involved even though you will not be attending. Please pray for the Assembly and those attending as they discern God’s leading on many proposals and action of the Uniting Church nationally.

Proposal on marriage
You may be aware by now that a proposal will be presented to the Assembly on marriage and below is a summary of that proposal written by Rev Karyl Davison one of the Canberra Region Presbytery members to Assembly. There are also two short video links you may like to view giving an over view of this particular proposal.

Rev Dr Ji Zhang     https://vimeo.com/264924501

Rev Alistair McRae   https://vimeo.com/264923268

Proposal on Same Gender Marriage –  Summary by Rev Karyl Davison

Some of you may have seen reports and Facebook posts over the last few days about the Proposal on Same Gender Marriage that will be put to the national Assembly meeting in July.  The Facebook post doing the rounds states that “A Uniting Church committee has recommended that the church adopt same-sex marriage.”  The article was published by Eternity News, (the Bible Society Australia).  As you might imagine the post has received mixed responses.

The article comes in response to the long, detailed and careful Report from the Assembly Working Group on Doctrine (WGD) which was sent out to Assembly delegates this week.

It is an internal document – that is, it is meant for Assembly members not the general public.

The Report comes out of three years of discernment, including conversations held in each Synod (apart from the Northern Synod due to timing issues); two national consultations representing the cultural, theological and personal diversity of the UCA; conversations with various networks and groups within the life of the UCA representing the broad diversity of views including congregations, presbyteries, national presbytery ministers, national educators network, Uniting Network, Assembly of Confession Congregations, UAICC, Multicultural Cross Cultural Ministry National Reference Committee, and ecumenical partners as well as theological reflection.

In other words, the Report comes after a great deal of consultation, reflection, and study of biblical texts.

The Working Group on Doctrine looked at four possible options.  They considered a range of things including the Basis of Union, the Biblical witnesses, Church History, Science, and Justice.

“Noting the diverse range of views on this matter through the Church, and as a result of the study, prayer and consultation behind this Report, the WGD recommends Option 4: Offer the rites of marriage to opposite-gender and same-gender couples, while allowing Ministers and Uniting Church authorized celebrants freedom of conscience to perform marriages or not.”

If this option is endorsed by the Assembly (a body made up of delegates from UCA congregations across Australia) ministers are free to refuse to marry same-gender couples.  Further, Church Councils may also make policy regarding the marriage of same-gender couples but may not prevent the minister in placement from following his or her conscience in this matter.