The Uniting Church is not a political democracy

The Uniting Church is not a political democracy. We do not have election campaigns. We do not make pitches for votes. We do not promise money, or capital works, or particular favours, in response for votes. We do not set up political parties and vote en bloc for people that we may, or may not, not know personally, on the basis of an ideological commitment. We do not look to “win” or “lose” on specific issues.

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What is missing from the Basis of Union?

I’ve offered some reflections in an earlier post concerning the things about the Basis of Union that I really appreciate:

https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/08/15/what-i-really-like-about-the-basis-of-union/

But I ended those reflections with the note that the First Peoples of this continent (and related islands) are not mentioned anywhere in the Basis of Union. This needs to be noted, first of all, as a striking (and unfortunate) deficit in the Basis. I want to think further about this, and some other matters, that are absent from the Basis of Union.

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Alongside the Basis of Union, there was the Statement to the Nation

I recently reflected on “what I like about the Basis of Union”. It was a visionary document for its time, and in many ways it stands us in good stead as we seek to be a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal (para 3). That affirmation has shaped our understanding that, as a church, we are undertaking a journey, during which we continue to look to the final reconciliation of humanity under God’s sovereign grace (para 17).

At the same time (1977) as this document provided a foundation for three denominations to come together as a new Church, the inaugural national meeting of that body issued a Statement to the Nation. This document has lived under the shadow of the Basis. We could do well to read and reflect on it regularly. You can read this Statement at https://assembly.uca.org.au/resources/introduction/item/134-statement-to-the-nation-inaugural-assembly-june-1977

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What I really like about the Basis of Union

I am preparing to teach a couple of days on the Basis of Union, the foundational document on which the Uniting Church was created (back in 1977). That led me to thinking about the key things that I really love about the Basis. Here are some of them: Continue reading “What I really like about the Basis of Union”

Marriage and the matter of being “vital to the life of the church”

Marriage of same gender people is NOT a matter that is “vital to the life of the church”.

Since the 15th Assembly concluded almost a month ago, there here has discussion in various places claiming that marriage is a matter “vital to the life of the Church”. The consequence of such a view is that the Assembly should be sending its decision to other councils of the church, seeking their “concurrence” on the decision made.

This is all in accord with what Clause 39 of the Constitution of the Uniting Church specifies. That clause itself depends on a sentence in paragraph 15(e) of the Basis of Union, which refers to “matters of vital importance to the church”. Continue reading “Marriage and the matter of being “vital to the life of the church””

The Word of God, Scripture, and Jesus Christ

The Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia calls us to hold to our core convictions with passion and determination. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the Basis articulate something of those passionate convictions about God, Jesus, the Spirit, and the Church. Paragraphs 5 and 11 set out the way that we approach and appropriate the Bible.

Each of these paragraphs supports the way that the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church has made a decision about marrying same gender people.

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Fresh words and deeds

The Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia commits us to being a people oriented to the shaping of “fresh words and deeds”. In that document, we learn of the ways that we can go about doing this.

The offering of our fresh words and deeds requires of us, both deep reflection, and trusting obedience, to God’s living Word, who is Jesus, present in our midst as the sign and promise of that “new order of righteousness and love” which is the mark of the kingdom of God.

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