The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, and a delegation of Uniting Church leaders attended a historic series of meetings with leaders from the China Christian Council (CCC) in four Chinese cities from 16–24 September.
“This was a unique opportunity to share with the CCC our experiences since the formation of the Uniting Church, and to reflect on our practices with a partner Church on a comparable journey,” said Andrew.
Delegates from the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) shared their vision and experience of a post-denominational church in meetings with the CCC in Shanghai, Nanjing, Hefei and Beijing.
The CCC has made a deliberate choice to reject denominationalism, pointing to its incompatibility with traditional Chinese culture and its contradiction within Christ’s own teachings.
“This trip has embodied Jesus’ prayers for his disciples in John 17, that all who believe in him may be one,” said Andrew.
“This is the story of two churches, on two continents, in very different circumstances discovering that we’ve been on the same journey – it’s an exciting partnership.”
Leaders from the CCC told Uniting Church delegates that three new churches are being built every day and that the church is seeing unprecedented growth.
With this growth has come responsibility and the CCC, with youthful new leadership coming up through their ranks, is beginning to implement social services as well as delivering theological training.
“There is such a strong calibre of leadership coming through the CCC,” said Rev Dr Kerry Enright, national director of UnitingWorld.
“The CCC is not only focussed on theological issues but on greater societal issues, like the increasing need for aged care.”
Other members of the UCA delegation included Lin Hatfield Dodds, national director of UnitingCare Australia, Stuart MacMillan, president-elect of the Assembly, Rev Dr Ji Zhang, manager of church partnerships in Asia with UnitingWorld and Rev Dr Tony Floyd, national director of Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry.