Newly installed President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Dr Deidre Palmer, outlines why she chose ‘Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope’ to be the 15th Triennial Assembly theme.
As the Uniting Church we have been greatly blessed by the abundant grace of God, calling us into being and shaping our life and mission.
For the 15th Triennial Assembly and the following three years, this theme, ‘Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope’ invites us to live by God’s abundant grace – reflecting God’s generous and overflowing love, in our relationships with one another, in our local community contexts and in our relationships in the wider world.
In a time where we could focus on scarcity – fewer people and less financial resources, God’s gift of abundant grace calls us to be a people who share our gifts, resources, time and energy generously. In a time where our world is overshadowed by violence, hatred and suspicion of the other, the church is called to live an alternative narrative of hope, reconciliation and love.
As the church, God’s grace at work in us, liberates hope – communally, personally, in our society and world. We see God’s grace most fully expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ life and ministry we see God’s hope for us and all creation expressed in the proclamation of the reign of God. As the body of Christ, the spirit opens our eyes to God’s deep desire for our world, and we are led toward horizons of hope that expand our imagination, into Spirit led ways of being and living that we had not thought possible.
‘Liberating hope’ is an action of God in us, and it is a call for us to participate in God’s mission in the world. Liberation movements around the world have been inspired by the Gospel of Christ, to be communities of resistance and protest in the face of injustice and inequality. The Uniting Church has been shaped by Christ’s call to be bearers of God’s justice, compassion, healing and hope in our world. God has nurtured in us a ‘dis-ease with business as usual’ (Letty Russell) when that ‘business as usual’ is unjust, diminishing of people’s lives, or exploiting the life of our planet.
In the next triennium, this theme highlights for us Christ’s call to be a church that embodies God’s abundant grace, compassion, and love. A church that is a bearer of Christ’s hope and light in the midst of despair and darkness. The overflowing of God’s abundant grace through us will be seen as we create communities and contribute to a world, where people experience God’s good news of reconciling love, healing, and hope.
This is a generative theme – one that arises from our present context and captures our passionate commitment as a church to being a unified, diverse, intergenerational, multicultural, compassionate and reconciling Christian community.
Dr Deidre Palmer
President of the Uniting Church in Australia