Dwelling in Love at the 16th Assembly
May 11, 2022
The 16th Assembly meeting wrapped up on the Sunshine Coast on Monday afternoon after four days of joyful Christian community, worship, prayer and discerning the will of God for the Uniting Church in Australia.
Over four days from 6-9 May, 200 members from around the country came together on the lands of the Gubbi Gubbi people to continue the business of the triennial meeting which first met online in July last year.
One of the most significant moments of the meeting was a historic renewal of the Covenant between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress which took place in worship on Friday night. Second Peoples taking part in worship were invited to kneel for an act of confession in a gesture of deep humility, and together we recommitted ourselves to the practices of reconciliation and to journey in solidarity seeking God's kingdom of justice and peace in this land.
Members were led each day in worship by Assembly Worship Coordinator Megan Laurie-Thomson, while Dominic Chan, Steve Drinkall, Michael Mann and Rev Radhika Sukumar-White formed a fantastic Assembly band that led song and dance with energy and joy.
Across the meeting the many diverse languages of God’s people were heard. At the beginning of each day members acknowledged the lands they were on in the language of the Gubbi Gubbi people. The Northern Synod led singing in Kriol and Yolŋu Matha. As part of the Bible Studies led by students at Nungalinya College, the Bible was read in 11 First Nations languages. Prayers were offered at other times in Fijian, Dinka, Korean and Tongan.
A number of important decisions arose from the careful listening and discernment of the meeting.
The Assembly acknowledged all that had been done for the Act2 Project, affirmed its importance and urgency and resolved to continue this work. Looking to the future, it was resolved that the Assembly invite the whole Church including the Synods and UAICC to work together in progressing. Further work on Act2 will return to the 17th Assembly.
It warmly adopted a proposal that invites the Church to “listen anew for words of continuing witnesses from recent and contemporary contexts” through engagement with three documents from other churches, to challenge, renew and strengthen the faith of the Uniting Church.
A resolution on climate justice commits the Church to take seriously the voices and wisdom of First Peoples on climate change and care of creation and calls on the Councils and agencies of the Church to join with the Assembly in committing to net zero emissions by 2040.
Another prioritises ageing and aged care advocacy to ensure the dignity and care of older Australians, and establishes a new annual day on the Church’s calendar to recognise the contribution of older people.
Assembly members acknowledged with joy and expressed deep gratitude for the ministry of the diaconate within the Uniting Church in Australia, noting the 30th anniversary of the renewal of this ministry. The President invited Deacons who were present to stand and the whole Assembly prayed over them. There was an encouragement to take the time to listen to a Deacon and share their good news stories. Watch a video celebrating UCA Deacons.
The Assembly Standing Committee was tasked in another resolution with preparing resources to support and educate the Church in preventing harm from Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Change Efforts (often referred to as ‘conversion therapy’).
In its final business session, the Assembly passed a proposal seeking to deepen the Uniting Church’s commitment to living faith and life interculturally in a range of ways including a new annual Sunday of celebration, ‘Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday’.
Two resolutions dealt with the Uniting Church Regulations: one delegating authority to the Assembly Standing Committee to immediately review the regulations relating to complaints and discipline; another that allows the ASC to amend regulations to reduce the administrative and financial burden of auditing processes in small congregations.
Chaplains to the President, Reuben Edmonds and Rev Radhika Sukumar-White, presented a vote of thanks to all who helped the Assembly meeting come to life, offered leadership and pastoral care, led worship, worked behind the scenes, and planned and managed the event.
Among those mentioned were the Business Committee chaired by Andrew Johnson, the Facilitation team chaired by James Aaron, Community working group leaders, Assembly Chaplains, the Worship Coordinator and Assembly band, those from Nungalinya College who offered Bible studies, those who led pre-Assembly gatherings, minute secretaries, and those who offered technological and communications support.
The Synod of Queensland was thanked for hosting and for its logistical support of the meeting.
The meeting closed at lunchtime on Monday with worship and Communion led by President Rev Sharon Hollis.
“Take a moment to recall what we’ve done together. The community we have formed. The confession we have made. The recommitment we have given. The pledges we have signalled. Think of a moment when you knew you dwelt in love, and give thanks.”
“We have dwelt together in love because the Holy Spirit has dwelt with us, and guided us, and remained with us.”
The 17th Assembly will take place in 2024 and will be hosted by the Synod of NSW/ACT.
Get all the stories from Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.
Watch the Vox Pops where we asked members about their highlights and their hopes for the Uniting Church.
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