While members of the 15th Triennial Assembly Meeting made important business decisions for the life of the church over the next three years and beyond, they also shared plenty of moments learning, being inspired and journeying together as the people of God. Here are just five of those ways.
1. Installation of the new President
Dr Deidre Palmer was installed as the new President of the Uniting Church in Australia on Sunday 8 July at St Michael’s Uniting Church, Melbourne. In her sermon, Deidre talked about her theme, ‘Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope,’ and the biblical story of the Samaritan woman at the well.
“In this week and in the coming years, I pray that we will be shaped and embraced by God’s abundant grace. I pray that we, like the woman of Samaria, will run to share God’s liberating hope with the whole world.”
2. Worship and Bible studies
Each day, Assembly members were invited into worship and Bible studies. These sessions provided a space for members to remember to come back to being with God, especially during difficult conversations. Bible studies were led by Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll, Manager Church Partnerships Pacific with UnitingWorld, and Rev James Bhagwan, international guest from the Methodist Church of Fiji.
Members of the Uniting Church WA led worship on the Thursday morning of the meeting. It was a sombre morning worship as black-clad Assembly members were invited to symbolically reflect on the brokenness of the world and ask for communal forgiveness. Assembly members wore dark clothing to support Thursdays in Black, an international campaign backed by the World Council of Churches to support the right of women to live in a world without rape or violence.
Read about worship led by the Uniting Church WA at uniting.church/seeing-people-as-jesus-sees-them.
3. President dines with youthful members
The cohort of young adults at Assembly this year made up 10 percent of the members. During the meeting, Dr Deidre Palmer, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, took the opportunity to have dinner with the young adult group and discuss the things that matter to them. Of course they had questions for Deidre as well, particularly how she saw her term as President being defined, in the same way that Ex President Stuart McMillan had a passion and heart for First Peoples.
As a former youth worker and Christian educator, Deidre said she is passionate about empowering every member of the Uniting Church, whether ordained or lay, in “every-member ministry.”
Read more about the dinner at uniting.church/president-hosts-young-adult-dinner.
4. Book launch
President Dr Deidre Palmer launched the book Holiness and Social Justice, a teaching document which has emerged from six years of dialogue between the Salvation Army and the Uniting Church in Australia.
“Holiness and social justice are very much about loving God and loving neighbour – it is very much the core of our faith,” she said. Thanks to all of you involved in the book for all your work.”
Present at the launch was the national Commissioner for the Salvation Army, Floyd Tidd. He said the Salvation Army would launch the book later in the year and copies would be shared in the 130 countries around the world where the Salvation Army is present.
To read more visit uniting.church/the-call-to-holiness-and-justice. To download the book for free visit assembly.uca.org.au/hsj.
5. The Cato Lecture
At each Assembly Meeting, The Cato Lecture, sponsored by the Cato Trust, allows members to have access to gifted scholars and leaders from across the world. This Assembly, Rev Dr Ken Carter called members into fresh expressions of faith through prayerful listening and service in his lecture.
His address focused on the Assembly theme, ‘Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope’ – reminding members how important it is that the church takes time with its prayerful discernment.
Ken is the President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church.
Read his full lecture at uniting.church/rev-dr-ken-carters-cato-lecture.