A Covenantal Vision
Written by Stuart McMillan, Assembly Consultant Covenanting
The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC or Congress) – First Peoples, nurtured and sustained by God before colonisation, are celebrated at the very heart of what it means to be the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).
This is the core commitment and vision encompassed by first Assembly Covenanting Action Plan (ACAP) which will be launched around the 16th Assembly in July.
This inaugural ACAP seeks to give ‘shape’ to the UCA’s binding covenant relationship for the national body of the Church, the Assembly.
In living out the ACAP, the Assembly seeks to embody its commitment to be in a covenantal relationship where "First Peoples’ sovereignty is affirmed, First Peoples have a voice in the decision-making of our Church and are empowered to live out their right to self-determination."
The ACAP articulates a vision where, “As First and Second Peoples of the Uniting Church, we are bound together in covenantal relationship, walking together, creating socially just and culturally safe relationships, listening and learning from one another.”
It affirms that at the heart of the Uniting Church identity we celebrate First Nations Peoples and their care for this ancient land.
As a Church we are shaped by the commitments of faithful women, men and people since our beginnings in 1977.
Our Walking Together as First and Second Peoples began way back in 1982 at Crystal Creek, North Queensland where First Nations peoples first determined to start a ‘Black Congress’ - a First Peoples Church within the Uniting Church in Australia.
The introduction to the ACAP tells the story of this journey from the birth of Congress right through to the decision of the 15th Assembly in 2018 to affirm the Sovereignty of First Nations peoples.
One of the key moments in this journey was in 2009, the 12th Assembly resolved to endorse a new Preamble to the UCA Constitution, a groundbreaking decision for truth telling of our Nation’s, and our Church’s history together. The same year, the Australian Government, finally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
The ACAP commits the UCA to be guided by the Articles of the UNDRIP in its life, decisions, policies, and advocacy, stating:
“We seek in our Covenant relationship to reflect the universal human rights which flow from the source of all creation and which point to the new creation, the new humanity, the end in view for the whole creation.”
The Assembly ACAP is being developed at the same time as many of our Synods and Agencies are developing their own Covenant Action Plan.
The ACAP will give direction to all business units of the Assembly in the formation of strategic and action plans for their boards and respective staff teams. It is a dynamic document, which will be regularly reviewed to ensure it is relevant, contemporary, and challenging.