Affirmations we can make together

Last year, I posted a series of Affirmations relating to sexuality and same-gender attracted people, and their place in the church. These Affirmations were inspired by a summary that one of my colleagues made of various resolutions adopted by the National Assembly of the Uniting Church or its Standing Committee (thanks Avril). [You can read that post at https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/seven-affirmations/]

Recently, one of my colleagues commented that these Affirmations would make for a good creed (thanks Neil). I played with them for a bit, and came up with the series of Affirmations below. I think this sequence flows well and the key issues are identified.

I have kept pretty much the wording of the formal resolutions, although they are “tweaked” at some places, to make for a more amenable pattern for saying together in a liturgy. We have moved and developed in our understandings as a church, so the evolving language and ideas reflect that.

I baulk at calling this a creed—rather, it is a series of Affirmations (with thematic unity, listed in chronological order). You can see how I have played with the classic creeds at https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/affirming-the-teachings-of-jesus/ and https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/interpreting-the-creeds-in-a-later-age/.

This post isn’t like those posts. I’m not suggesting an expansion, modification, or reinterpretation of the classic creeds. I’m simply offering a series of Affirmations which the Uniting Church, over the years, has made; and providing them in a useable public form.

Today (13 January) seems to be an appropriate day to offer these Affirmations: it is six months since the 15th Assembly made a decision which allowed UCA ministers to marry couples of the same gender in UCA churches, using an alternative approved liturgy. And six months marks the time after which there can be no suspension of the decision pending further consultation. So it is a good day to mark with these Affirmations. Here they are:

We affirm that all baptised Christians

belong in Christ’s church

and are to be welcomed at his table,

regardless of their sexual orientation.

 

We affirm that membership of the Uniting Church

is open to all persons.

 

We reject judgemental attitudes in sexual ethics

[and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.*]

 

We bear witness to the renewing grace of God

in all attitudes of human behaviour.

 

We recognise the pain of those in the church

whose sense of identity

and experiences of healing

through a faithful commitment

to a person of the same gender

was, for many years, not recognised

and not blessed by the church.

 

We regret that faithful Christian gay and lesbian people

have continued to experience pain in our church.

 

We commit to become safe communities

where people may hold diverse beliefs

and to work together as the Body of Christ.

 

We recognise that the possibility of living with difference

is a gift which Christ offers to the world.

 

We recognise that within the Uniting Church

there is a diversity of religious beliefs

and ethical understandings,

developed through continuing faithful discernment

and held with integrity

on matters relating to sexuality and marriage.

 

We rejoice that the Church is able

to accept this diversity within its life

and support its ministers and members

as we each act with integrity

in accordance with our beliefs.

 

[* I have added this phrase to clarify what I think was the specific intention of this 1997 resolution, which out of context has quite a broad scope.]

 

See also https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/07/31/a-diversity-of-religious-beliefs-and-ethical-understandings/

https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/a-prayer-for-the-uniting-church-in-australia/

https://www.eternitynews.com.au/australia/uniting-church-conservatives-fail-to-pause-gay-weddings/

https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/so-what-just-happened-an-explainer-updated/

.

Author: John T Squires

My name is John Squires. I live in the Australian Capital Territory. I have been an active participant in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) since it was formed in 1977, and was ordained as a Minister of the Word in this church in 1980. I have served in rural, regional, and urban congregations and as a Presbytery Resource Minister and Intentional Interim Minister. For two decades I taught Biblical Studies at a theological college and most recently I was Director of Education and Formation and Principal of the Perth Theological Hall. I've studied the scriptures in depth; I hold a number of degrees, including a PhD in early Christian literature. I am committed to providing the best opportunities for education within the church, so that people can hold to an informed faith, which is how the UCA Basis of Union describes it. This blog is one contribution to that ongoing task.

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