2016 Census: Church in transformation

The 2016 Census figures released yesterday show that a majority of Australians (57.7%) still identify as Christian amid a long term trend of falling religious affiliation.

When asked to list their religious affiliation, more than 13.5 million Australians chose Christianity, almost twice as many as chose the No Religion response.

More than 870,000 people – 3.7% of all respondents listed their religious affiliation as Uniting Church. This 2016 figure is down by a total of 195,611 from the 2011 Census – and down from 5% as a total of all respondents in the 2011 survey.

It is the first time in the Uniting Church’s history that the Census figure has slipped below one million, although other major Christian denominations have also experienced drops in membership in line with the generally ageing demographic profile of Australian Christians.

Despite the drop, the result will most likely see the Uniting Church in Australia maintain its position as the third largest Christian grouping in Australia and the third largest religious grouping overall.Continue Reading

Uniting Church WA says uranium is best left in the ground

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, says that he is very disappointed that the Western Australian Labor government will allow the four inherited uranium proposals to proceed. While Rev Francis welcomed the reintroduction of a ban on all future uranium mines, allowing the existing proposals to proceed was still a matter of great concern.

“For a Labor government to allow uranium mining to proceed while it maintains a moral and ethical opposition to the approval of new uranium proposals is, in our view, a hollow moral position.”

The Uniting Church in Australia is committed to the development of environmentally benign, renewable energy sources and the cessation of uranium mining. Recognising the complexity of the issues the Uniting Church has called on individuals, churches, industry and governments to work together to end involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.Continue Reading

President’s 40th anniversary message: established in love

The Uniting Church in Australia will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Thursday 22 June. Stuart McMillan, President of the Uniting Church in Australia, shares his 40th anniversary message.

People of the Uniting Church in Australia, you have been planted with roots deep into the good soil of the gospel: you’ve been established in love. May the love of Christ dwell in your hearts and may this love that surpasses knowledge enable you to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I’m Stuart McMillan the National President and this is my prayer for you, the people of God of the Uniting Church in Australia. On this our 40th Anniversary, God’s word of grace to us from the Basis of Union is: Christ constitutes, rules and renews his church.

The reconciliation and renewal of the whole creation – this is the mission of God and in Christ we are collaborators.

I’m here in Kurrajong on the lower slopes of the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s north-west. I want to pay my respects to the Kurrajong Clan Nation, their elders past and present and all descendants of these sovereign First peoples.Continue Reading

To be a witness: Indonesian National Conference

The Indonesian congregations of the Uniting Church, with different ethnicities and backgrounds, gathered here in Perth for the 14th Indonesian National Conference.

GKI Perth Uniting Church (Indonesian) in Mosman Park, the only Indonesian speaking congregation within the Uniting Church WA, was given the privilege to host this important biennual  conference. It ran from 5 to 7 May, attended by eight Indonesian speaking congregations from multiple Australian states. We all came to share stories and brought messages from our home congregations.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘To be a witness.’

“Have we become a witness of Christ in our family, in our church, and in our community?”

That is the message that was given by Rev Thresi Mauboy, the Moderator of the Uniting Church NT, in the evening devotion on the first day of the conference. Continue Reading

Uniting leaders growing the church

Uniting Leaders 2017 (UL17) is a conference providing opportunities for Uniting Church members to grow in their leadership skills and connect with other church leaders who are passionate about evangelism, mission and growing the church.

Geared towards all lay and ordained leaders in the life of the Uniting Church in Australia, it is also the second President’s National Minsters Conference for 2017. It will be held at Hope Valley  Uniting Church in Adelaide from Tuesday 22 to Thursday 24 August. UL17 will feature worship, keynote addresses and workshops with guest speakers, and opportunities for peer learning, networking and connecting with others in church leadership. Continue Reading

Hope for a promised land

Rev John Barendrecht, Manager of Pastoral and Placements for the Uniting Church WA, is retiring from his placement on Sunday 30 July, after taking long service leave from Friday 9 June. As the Uniting Church in Australia approaches its 40th anniversary, John reflects on his 39 years of ministry.

I began my training for ministry as a student from the Congregational Church, and finished with the Uniting Church. My first placement was at Dalwallinu in 1978.

After 39 years of active ministry I will retire in July 2017, meaning I have been in placements for nearly all of the forty years that the Uniting Church anniversary celebrates this year.

I began my journey of ministry with all the hope and enthusiasm that the church I was part of was indeed a hopeful sign of how to live the message of Jesus in a contemporary way. Those who have been in the Uniting Church as long as I have will remember early days where the mainstream and church-based press referred to the Uniting Church as the ‘Australian’ church.

My ministry has always been both as an outsider who is looking in, and at the same time, an insider looking out.

Called into ministry with a congregational setting, I felt like an outsider within my own faith tradition. I saw worship styles and ecclesiastical habits which made no sense to me, yet mattered more than life itself to my congregations. Tradition mattered more than mission, and to this day I still don’t understand why. Continue Reading

Calls for leadership on climate agreement

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) have called on Prime Minister Turnbull to show leadership in commitment to the global climate agreement, which is our best chance for the stewardship of the world around us.

NCCA President, Bishop Philip Huggins said “this momentous climate deal is bigger than just one country, one person or a handful of climate sceptics. It is about the urgent survival of humanity, the ability for all children to be able to born into and live in a world with clean air and clean water.

Sr Elizabeth Delaney, General Secretary of the NCCA, said “Prime Minister Turnbull, a man of faith, will understand that Australians are looking to him for leadership on one of the biggest threats facing us and future generations.Continue Reading