'The power of memory'
The fourth national conference of the Uniting Church National History Society is coming up from 24-27 August 2023
May 16, 2023
By Rev Professor Glen O'Brien, Chair of the Uniting Church National History Society
Some people think of historical study as focused on musty newspapers clippings and boring old men with beards in fading, sepia-toned photographs. The Uniting Church National History Society (UCNHS) thinks differently.
"It seeks to empower and equip the people of today’s Uniting Church to engage meaningfully with history and recognise the power of memory"
Formed in 2017 on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia, the UCNHS has focused its work on the relevance of historical study to the present witness and mission of the Church, as well as matters of wide public interest, such as the Uluru Statement from the Heart and the Church’s response, through Uniting Redress, to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to the Abuse of Children.
In July 2022, the UCNHS drew 163 registrations for a webinar on History, Truth Telling and the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the recording of which has so far attracted over 1,700 views on YouTube. In association with the University of Divinity and its School of Indigenous Studies, the Society brought together an expert panel to engage in a respectful and robust discussion around the Statement and explored the place of history and truth telling in working toward a more just and self-determined future for First Nations people.
The theme of the webinar was an appropriate extension of the Uniting Church 16th Assembly’s renewing, in May 2022, of the Covenant between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. You can download a free copy of a booklet containing each of the talks here.
It is already being used by individuals and church groups as a resource for the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament.
Our Fourth Biennial UCNHS Conference will be on the theme of Truth Telling: From Colonising to Covenanting and will be held on Larrakia country, in Darwin, from 24-27 August 2023. It will include 150th anniversary celebrations at Darwin Memorial Church as well as commemorating the Centenary of Milingimbi Methodist Mission. The Conference is hosted by the Northern Synod and is generously supported by the financial support of The Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation. See the conference flyer and register here.
The UCNHS remains committed to historical work, not merely out of antiquarian interest, but because it understands that the Church’s present mission both flows out of history and makes history. It seeks to empower and equip the people of today’s Uniting Church to engage meaningfully in historical study and with history, and to recognise the power of memory, as well as both the pitfalls and value of commemoration.
You are invited to become a member of the Society for only $25 per year by visiting the Assembly website.
Come and yarn with us in Darwin to help shape the present and future Church.