Social Justice Sunday: 30 September 2018

Evan Mann, Presbytery Social Justice Group, writes:

The 5th Sunday in September is recognised in many churches as Social Justice Sunday.  It reminds us that there are social and community dimensions to our Christian faith. Each year there is a recommended theme – for example last year it was “developing an inclusive and sustainable economy” and themes in earlier years have included “justice for asylum seekers and refugees” and “building bridges, not walls, in our prison system”.

In 2018 the recommended theme is “A Place to Call Home: making a home for everyone in our land”  which  challenges us to confront Australia’s growing problems of homelessness and unaffordable housing. You will find material to help prepare a service for this theme at the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council website (some is still in preparation):

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Canberra Region Presbytery meeting August 2018

First thank you Tuggeranong Uniting Church for your hospitality, providing us with the alternative venue we needed at the last minute. We are very grateful.

Chaplains’ Presentations: Thank you  Rev Robyn Kidd,  (Squadron Leader) Defence;  Rev Andrew Mead, Hospital Chaplain – Uniting; Heather Potter Aged Care – Uniting, and Rev Jean ShannonUniting’s Head of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Practice, for your presentations and insights into the work of Chaplaincy.  Jean gave an overview of Chaplaincy and Andrew, Heather and Robyn introduced us to their areas of ministry. The feedback from the meeting was resoundingly appreciative – I found the Chaplaincy segments thought provoking and valuable – puts a personal face to make Chaplaincy real! said one participant.

Assembly Reflections: Karyl Davidson and Andrew Johnson brought their reflections on participation in the recent Assembly. Geoff Wellington presented a report on the major decisions of Assembly.

UCA Marriage decision resources In response to questions asked at the presbytery meeting about resources for congregations to use in conversation with other ecumenical partners, Geoff Wellington, Presbytery Minister – Congregation Futures, says:

While the resources I have access to at present are framed in the context of the Uniting Church they also reflect the diversity of the UCA and other churches’ views. The underlying issues about how together we talk about the same gender marriage decision of the Assembly are very similar and I’m sure most ministers and key lay leaders could easily adapt what is currently available to a conversation with other denominations and community groups. Here are a few links that could be helpful to people:

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Pastoral Letter from UCA President, Dr Deidre Palmer

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Last weekend the newly elected Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) met in Sydney. During our meeting together, we shared information and stories from across the life of the church since the Fifteenth Assembly. We spoke of the signs of hope and the movement of the Holy Spirit we continue to see in and through our Church and the wider Australian society. We spoke of pastoral concerns and prayed for the life and mission of our Church.

It was the task of the ASC to make decisions in relation to a number of matters referred to us by the Assembly meeting, including authorising an additional marriage liturgy.

The ASC has faithfully considered the matters referred to it as requested by the Assembly, and the Uniting Church in Australia Additional Marriage Liturgy 2018 has been released. The liturgy is posted on the Assembly website. The ASC has determined that authorised marriage celebrants within the Uniting Church in Australia may choose to use this liturgy in weddings from the 21st of September 2018. By using this liturgy, or the previously authorised marriage liturgies, Uniting Church authorised marriage celebrants will be acting properly within the rites of the Uniting Church in Australia.

I reaffirm that the Assembly’s resolution on marriage allows you to hold one of two positions on marriage, as a member, Minister or Church Council. The Assembly made this decision acknowledging the faithfully held positions across the life of the Church.
If you are still concerned about the position of the Uniting Church in relation to same-gender marriage, I would encourage you to talk to your Presbytery or Synod leaders to ensure you are acting on accurate information about the nature and impact of the Assembly’s decision. Resources including frequently asked questions are also available on the Assembly website.

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Marriage decision – a helpful reflection from Andrew Dutney

At Assembly – Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney, Professor of Theology, Flinders University and Past President, Uniting Church in Australia

Reflection: Uniting Church Allows Same-Sex Marriage

The headline, [Uniting Church allows Same-Sex Marriage] conceals what actually happened in Melbourne this week. Without setting out to do so, the Uniting Church recovered its stated vocation of making visible unity in diversity.

Of course, the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia did indeed make decisions that will allow ministers to conduct same-sex marriages. But it also reinforced the rights of ministers and congregations who remain committed to the traditional understanding of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

No minister will have to conduct same-sex marriages if it conflicts with their beliefs. No congregation will have to make its property available for same-sex weddings if they don’t believe gay marriage is valid for Christians. In fact it is very unlikely that many ministers and congregations will see any difference in the teaching and practices that they are used to.

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