Uniting Church Studies
Rev Dr Geoff Thompson shares about the academic journal that is for and about the Uniting Church
December 4, 2023
by Rev Dr Geoff Thompson, Editor, Uniting Church Studies
Uniting Church Studies is an academic, peer-reviewed journal founded by Rev Dr William Emilsen and the late Dr Susan Emilsen in 1995. Published twice yearly for nearly three decades, it has been an avenue for academics, church leaders and others to publish research, book reviews and other academic-style articles and on a wide range of matters related to the Uniting Church, and sometimes other churches.
Among the many authors who have contributed are theologians, historians, sociologists, biblical scholars, missiologists, Assembly Presidents, Synod Moderators, clergy, lay members, and authors from beyond Australia.
"Scan the 28 years’ worth of issues and you will find discussions and commentary on all the major issues which have shaped the Uniting Church’s life"
Scan the 28 years’ worth of issues and you will find discussions and commentary on all the major issues which have shaped the Uniting Church’s life: baptism, context, ecumenism, ministry, ordination, eco-theology, sexuality, and marriage. As an academic journal committed to critical enquiry, the articles which explore these themes address the successes and failures and the strengths and weaknesses of the Uniting Church.
From its origins it has been supported and resourced by the United Theological College in the NSW/ACT Synod, but the various authors who have contributed articles or book reviews have been drawn from every corner of the Uniting Church.
An Editorial Advisory Committee oversees the work of the journal, develops editorial policy and determines themes and directions for particular issues. This committee is chaired by Mr John Oldmeadow, previously the Executive Director of the Board of Education for the NSW/ACT synod. He has two decades of experience in educational book and magazine publishing.
The other members of the committee are Professor Sue Beeton, Rev Hee Won Chang, Rev Dr Sally Douglas, Rev Dr Ockert Myer, Rev Liam Miller, Dr Damian Palmer, Rev Dr Peter Walker, Rev Dr Ji Zhang and the current editor, Rev Dr Geoff Thompson. Details about all members of the committee are available on the journal website.
Going to the website will also enable you to access the UCS Archive where you can sample some recent issues. (The archive is still being built, but in the meantime all issues (bar the current one) of the journal are accessible on the Illuminate website of Camden Theological Library.) Included in recent issues are such articles as:
- “Out of Silence: an exploration of the language of faith” by Sean Gilbert;
- “America’s Wild West in Kangaroo Flat: Methodist masculinity, heroism and violence” by Kerrie Handasyde;
- “A Distinctly Christian Activism: Lessons from Love Makes a Way” by Matthew Anslow;
- “A Trauma-Sensitive Reimagining of a “Theological Statement” for the National Person of Concern Policy” by Elizabeth Lee;
- “The Ecclesiology of a Covenanting and Multicultural Church” by Michelle Cook.
Also available in recent issues are the first of a series of articles on other united/uniting Churches. This series is intended not only to introduce UCA readers to other united/uniting Churches but also to be a forum where such Churches can explore and critically study the theology of being united or uniting. The series has begun with articles on the Chinese Uniting Church and the Church of Pakistan. The next three issues will, respectively, include articles on the Church of South India, the United Reformed Church (UK) and the United Church of Canada.
Another recent innovation in the journal are Book Forums. These goes beyond the traditional Book Review. In a Book Forum a group of scholars is invited to respond to one book and the author of the book is, in turn, invited to respond to those scholars’ reviews. The first such Book Forum was published in the June 2023 issue. The focus book was Rev Dr Aunty Denise Champion’s Anaditj. Respondents to the book were Anne Pattel-Gray, Garry Worete Deverell, Seferosa Carroll, Michelle Cook and Amos Leana. Aunty Denise Champion wrote a response to their reviews.
The June 2024 issue will include a forum on Willie James Jennings’ After Whiteness with responses from Monica Jyotsna Melancthon, Sean Winter, Toar Hutagalung and Naomi Wolfe. The December 2024 issue will include a forum on Robyn Whitaker’s Even the Devil Quotes Scripture.
Over the years the more conventional Book Review section has, of course, provided an opportunity for the writings of Uniting Church scholars to be studied and introduced to readers of the journal. Of course, it is not confined to books by UCA scholars and the reviewers are drawn from both the UCA and beyond. Recent books to have been reviewed include Anne Elvey’s Reading the Magnificat in Australia: Unsettling Engagements, Vicky Balabanski’s Colossians An Earth Bible Commentary, Jione Havea’s Losing Ground: Reading Ruth in the Pacific, Kylie Crabbe’s Luke/Acts and the End of History and John Bottomley’s Money Talks: Capitalist Ethics, Colonialism and Divine Governance.
Uniting Church Studies is an excellent resource for those which to be informed about the Uniting Church and those who wish to study it more formally. It is also a gateway into some important contemporary theological conversations, both local and global.
Whether you are an experienced or junior scholar, the journal welcomes your submissions. You can read relevant details about submission on the Submission Guidelines page on the website. Whether you are a scholar or not, your $45 pa subscription will be richly rewarded. (The subscription form is available on the website homepage.)
For further information, contact the Editor, Geoff Thompson: email@example.com