December 20, 2022
As the year draws to a close, we thought it was worth taking at look at just some of the ways the Assembly Circles of Interest have contributed to, supported or inspired the work of the Assembly across 2022. In these highlights, we see a picture of the national identity of the Uniting Church reflected in the contributions of the Circles. The Circles continue to find ways to resource us in worship, to build and nurture ecumenical, interfaith and other relationships, grow faith, live interculturally and intergenerationally, honour our covenant and live out our call to be disciples of Christ in today’s world. We thank all our Advocates and Panel members for their commitment and passion to be engaged in and resource these areas of our life and faith. I encourage you to look through the links below to get a snapshot of what Circles do, and if you aren’t already a member, consider joining one of the Circles.
- Rev Lindsay Cullen, Assembly Associate General Secretary
A Year of Circles
Discipling the Next Generations: Going Deeper into New Hope
In the final week of a Lenten Bible Study featuring contributions from across the Circles of Interest, the Discipling the Next Generations Circle writes about Going Deeper into New Hope. It includes a reflection by Panel Member Rev Amanda Nicholas, questions to reflect on, song suggestions and a Holy Week Doodle.
Panel Member Rev Amanda Nicholas says, “The Resurrection story is one of the greatest symphonies ever written, and today as we sit in this moment, we sit in the place of the perfect resolution. The cadence which offers joyful completion as the symphony peaks and resolves.”
Walking Together as First and Second Peoples: Living the Covenant Locally Launch
During National Reconciliation Week, the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle and the Assembly launches Living the Covenant Locally – an invitation to Second Peoples of the Church to engage in learning, theological study and action to deepen our relationship with First Peoples. The initiative aims to build a grassroots movement committed to placing First Peoples at the heart of our church and nation.
Advocate Alison Overeem says: “We must be warriors for change. We are called to see and feel ‘walking together’. To know the covenant, is to feel it, and to BE it.”
Working for Justice: Refugee Week – reflections and a prayer
As part of Refugee Week, we celebrate Uniting Church people and communities who are working for a more compassionate response and practical support for refugees, including Working for Justice Panel Members Abi Benham-Bannon and Rev John Jegasothy. Abi also shares a Refugee Week prayer.
Panel Member Abi Benham-Bannon prays,
“God of justice,
Open our eyes and give us the courage to call for change,
For a country that rejects cruelty and violence,
That puts down its fear, and chooses welcome.”
Transforming Worship: Resources for an Inclusive Church
The Transforming Worship Circle shares three simple resources to support local congregations and faith communities in exploring how to create welcoming and safe places for the diversity of all people. The resources offer a starting point for conversation and evaluation. They are titled: Including First Nations people, Including people with a disability and Including people of diverse genders.
Associate General Secretary Rev Lindsay Cullen says: “Inclusiveness isn’t just a state of mind — it takes work! Local congregations and faith communities need to wrestle with the ways in which they are genuinely welcoming to all the diversity of people in their local communities.”
Being a Multicultural Church: Living as an Intercultural Church website
Being a Multicultural Church Advocate Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama provides a welcome to a new website which supports deeper exploration of how can we can truly become an intercultural church. Go to the website to learn about the Foundations of our commitment to being Intercultural, to Explore in more detail some of the implications of being Intercultural and to take Action to practise Intercultural principles in local settings.
Advocate Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama says: “We are an intercultural, cross cultural church. We commit to expressing and celebrating our diversity, that is part of the DNA of the Uniting Church.”
Seeking Common Ground: World Council of Churches Webinar
The 11th Assembly of the World Council of Churches takes place from 31 August to 8 September, gathering more than 3000 people from across the global church in Karlsruhe, Germany. In this webinar, Uniting Church people who were present reflect on highlights of the gathering and the justice and Christian unity statements that were made. Seeking Common Ground Panel Member Rev Tara Curlewis hosts the conversation.
Panel Member Marie Wilson says, “It brings to me the breadth of the Christian family, when you are singing deep and beautiful chants from the Orthodox one moment and then you finish with South American or African music, clapping and dancing, which keeps going until everybody has left the tent.”
Growing in Faith: The Basis at 50 - The Document and Ministry Practices: reflections and responses
The Growing in Faith Circle launches a series of reflections inspired by the Pilgrim Theological College conference late last year marking 50 years since the Basis of Union was published. The first of these respond to the question of how the Basis enables or limits the UCA's capacity to develop new forms of church, ministry and mission.
Advocate Rev Liam Miller says: “These responses are looking for threads, themes, questions, and possibilities weaving between, hiding amidst, and hoping across several of the initial reflections.”