This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia. Here, Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia, shares a message to the church, inviting church members to celebrate this milestone.
2017 is a special year for the Uniting Church in Australia. Together we mark 40 years since church union.
At the inauguration service on Wednesday 22 June 1977 the first President Rev Dr Davis McCaughey, the primary author of our Basis of Union, remarked that church union ‘meant absolutely nothing, unless it drives us back to the fundamental questions – where do you come from, where are you going, and who are you?’
“Are you and I prepared to find our bearings afresh?” asked Davis, as he urged the 1977 faithful on a new pilgrimage, to engage the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of his spirit.
Here we stand almost 40 years later. We are still adjusting our bearings – a pilgrim people together on the way to the promised end.
There’s a lot to celebrate. We have developed a ministry that values the gifts of women and men, lay and ordained. We sought reconciliation between First and Second Peoples by apologising for the sins of the past and walking alongside our Indigenous sisters and brothers. We have maintained strong, principled positions on issues of justice and peace notably the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia. We have declared that we are a multicultural Church and are working to give fuller expression to the richness of our culturally and linguistically diverse community. We have declared that a person’s sexual orientation should not be a bar to full participation or leadership in the life of our Church. The way we make decisions in councils of our Church remains open and inclusive. These are just some of the ways the Spirit has led us. I’m sure you have your own highlights or things you’re proud of.
Over the course of the year Uniting Church members are planning a number of activities and events.
40 Days of Prayer/Week of Prayer and Fasting
From 14 May until our church anniversary on 22 June I will lead 40 days of prayer. That period of prayer will start with Moderators, General Secretaries and myself coming together for 40 hours of continuous prayer. Prayer resources will be shared across the church.
That 40 days will include A Destiny Together – a week of prayer and fasting for justice for First Peoples.
The Uniting Church History Association will be formally launched at a national conference at Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide from 9-12 June.
Later in June and in August there will be President’s National Ministers’ Conferences, open to all people in specified placement. The first conference will take place in Darwin from 29 June-2 July under the banner Honouring First Peoples as Sovereign. The second conference will run alongside the Uniting Leaders 2017 conference in Adelaide, South Australia from 22-24 August.
The Assembly Working Group on Worship and Formation, Education and Discipleship will also host the Transforming Worship conference at Burnside Uniting Church in Adelaide from 27-30 July.
Information on these and other 40th anniversary year events will be published on our http://uca.org.au website, so please notify us of your event by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org We will aim to share details of as many anniversary events as possible on the website.
40th anniversary logo/All of This is Us
Throughout this year we encourage you to make use of the commemorative 40th anniversary logo and All of This is Us tagline you can see in the top left hand corner of this release.
A logo kit is available for download on the Assembly website for those who’d like to use it in their events.
As we continue to adjust our bearings and discern the direction of the Spirit, I look forward to you joining me in celebration, reflection and prayer, as we give thanks to God for our past and present blessings that pray for God’s love which has sustained us in our first 40 years to continue to nourish us for the next 40 and beyond.
Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia
Mägayamirri Rom means “the way of peace and tranquility, harmony with the whole of creation, be with and within you.” in the Yolŋu languages of North East Arnhem Land.