Tell me about Jesus
WE ARE THE UNITING CHURCH
The Uniting Church is a community of people who seek to follow Jesus’ way. In our founding document, the Basis of Union, the Uniting Church describes Jesus as “Lord of the Church’s life, and as the beginning of a new creation, a new humanity”.
Our key values come directly from our understanding of Jesus, how Jesus expressed God’s priorities and how Jesus taught us to live. Here are some of the characteristics we see in Jesus.
Jesus is a Builder of Community
Jesus consistently asks his followers to love one another. He challenges us to reach out to others as well – the poor and needy, our neighbours, even to our enemies! The Uniting Church believes that Christ gives Christians unity, and calls them to live out that unity. That’s why ecumenism is part of our DNA.
“Ecumenism” is the commitment to promoting and working toward worldwide Christian unity or cooperation. The Uniting Church heritage is of an ecumenical Church which arose from the coming together of three different denominations.
We use the name “Uniting” rather than “United” because we believe we are still on a journey of coming together.
That journey might look like grassroots cooperation, denominational unions, joint mission between denominations, or anything inbetween. We continually seek to work together with, grow in understanding of, and move closer to our Christian sisters and brothers.
The Uniting Church is also strongly committed to reaching out to those of other faiths in interfaith friendship and support. We seek common ground with all those of goodwill whether they have a faith commitment or not. As human beings we share so many hopes, dreams and sometimes difficulties, and so we seek to join with others around issues of common concern — Uniting for the Common Good!
Find out more about Seeking Common Ground
Jesus is a Champion for Justice
Jesus lived out the prophets’ calls to care for those on the margins. He regularly stood up for those who were oppressed or treated unjustly – whether at the hands of the Roman empire or of the religious elite. Jesus always seemed to focus on the welfare of the individual rather than the maintenance of the system.
The Uniting Church describes itself as a “justice-oriented Church.” We seek to follow Jesus’ teachings in our work and our advocacy for a just world.
Find out more about Working for Justice
As Christians who live in Australia, a core justice issue for us is our relationship with the First Peoples of this land. The Uniting Church has a long history of advocating with First Peoples. We see that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, nurtured and sustained by God before colonisation, should be celebrated at the very heart of what it means to be Australian.
In 2009, the Uniting Church amended its Constitution to add a preamble specifically addressing the relationship between First Peoples and those who colonised and oppressed them. We have affirmed the sovereignty of First People and seek to understand how that is to be lived out within the Church.
Our desire is that, as First and Second Peoples, we walk together, creating socially just and culturally safe relationships, listening and learning from one another.
Find out more about Walking Together as First and Second People
Jesus is the Reconciler of the World
The Uniting Church’s foundational document, the Basis of Union describes God’s great mission in the world as “that coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation.” As God’s ‘Messiah’ or Chosen Person, Jesus’ pre-eminent role in that mission is to bring peace between human beings and to reconcile human beings with God.
Our three founding denominations came together to better serve in God’s mission, and the Uniting Church today continues to see being missional as integral to our existence.
Find out more about Seeking Common Ground
In the reconciled and renewed world Jesus is bringing about, we look forward to a future where a vast crowd from every nation and tribe and people and tongue will be gathered together in worshipping Jesus (Revelation 7:9–10).
In 1985 the Uniting Church declared itself to be a “Multicultural Church” celebrating our rich cultural diversity. Every Sunday people worship in Uniting Churches using 30 different languages.
Around 200 congregations across the country represent particular cultural backgrounds, and increasingly Uniting Church members, leaders and Ministers come from a wide diversity of backgrounds.
We also see cultural and linguistic diversity as a goal – worship, witness and service ought to happen across cultural boundaries as we become a genuinely intercultural Church.
The Uniting Church lives and acts with a deep and wide appreciation of diversity because we see the enormous diversity of humanity which God has created and whom God will gather together in the reconciled and renewed community.
Jesus is a Friend to the Marginalised
Jesus spent his ministry reaching out to the humble and marginalised — touching those with leprosy, speaking to Samaritans (traditional enemies of the Jewish people) and gentiles (those who aren’t Jewish), including women in his inner circle, eating and drinking with “sinners and tax collectors”. In every way, he included those often not included and made space for all. The Uniting Church seeks to follow in Jesus’ footsteps by being inclusive — open to all people regardless of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, religion, economic status, differing abilities or political persuasion, and, importantly, to those who are on the margins.
Our focus on justice issues is often a way for the Uniting Church to live out God’s concern for the “littlest” and the “least” (an expression from the Bible verse 1 Samuel 9:21). So we advocate for those who often struggle to have a voice.
Find out more about Working for Justice
Jesus is a Voice for Equality
Throughout Jesus’ ministry he regularly reached out to women, called women to be his disciples and challenged the barriers that excluded women. The early church continued this tradition of egalitarian openness for many years and the Uniting Church celebrates and affirms the equal gifts of women and men in any position within the Church. We are also committed to enabling those of all ages and of all cultural backgrounds to have an equal voice within the Church.
Central to the life of the Uniting Church is the idea that all of God’s people are gifted and are called to ministry — to serving alongside God in the world — not just a particular group or class of people. The Uniting Church does ordain people as Ministers of the Word and Deacons, as a recognition of a particular calling of God. However our primary commitment to the ministry of all God’s people means that every Council of the Church, and each of our leadership offices within the Church are open to both ordained people and those who are not ordained.
Our desire to hear and honour the voices of all people as we seek to understand God’s calling to us is the basis of our consensus decision–making system with its focus on mutuality and prayerful discernment together seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus is the Welcomer of Doubters
Whether coaching his disciples for their lack of faith; healing the child of the man who cried out “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14); or showing the crucifixion marks on his hands to “Doubting Thomas”, Jesus was never afraid of those who needed to ask questions or to live with doubts. The Uniting Church aims to be a place which follows Jesus’ lead, to be a safe and welcome place for those who are exploring faith and for those with questions.
Our foundational document, the Basis of Union celebrates our gratefulness for and openness to scholarship and inquiry. It challenges us to believe that “contemporary thought” may enable us to “sharpen [our] understanding of the will and purpose of God” and that “contemporary societies” may help the Church “to understand its own nature and mission”.
A primary understanding of the Uniting Church is that we are “a pilgrim people”. We are “always on the way towards a promised goal” and we seek out those who would journey along with us in discovery and joy.
Find out more about Growing in Faith