Assembly Circles of Interest WELCOME PACK
Welcome to the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle.
I’m delighted you have taken this step to join us in the national work of the Uniting Church.
Our seven Circles of Interest are an opportunity to be informed, contribute and connect with others who are as passionate as you in this area of mission and ministry.
As a member of this Circle, you will be connected to the Circle via our emailed newsletter and you will have the opportunity to connect with other Circle members on social media.
The Circles thrive on the input, experiences and openness of their members, so I encourage you to jump in and get involved. Share your stories. Share what you have been reading or watching. Share your own experiences and ideas. Tell us what’s important in this space. Make connections with others.
Our experience is that the Circles have a life beyond themselves.
The learning and wisdom gained in the circles help to guide the Assembly, particularly for the work of the Assembly Resourcing Unit. Further, the energy and insights emerging from the circle flow into the wider life of the Church. There are also many opportunities for sharing between our Circles and for collaboration to take place.
Please read through the information in this Welcome Pack as a guide of what to expect.
We look forward to your participation in the Circle. Together, as we listen to where God is calling us, may we be a sign of the abundant grace and liberating hope we find in Christ.
Associate General Secretary
Assembly Resourcing Unit
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 – One Body, Many Members
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. … Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
Matthew 5:14-15 — Lamp on a Stand
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.
Matthew 14: 16-20 – Loaves and Fishes
Jesus said to them, "They need not go away; you give them something to eat." They replied, "We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish." And he said, "Bring them here to me." Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was leftover of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full.
Among many Bible passages the three above remind us:
- Of the diversity and importance of all members of the body of Christ working and sharing together.
- When we share what might seem to be small, a lamp or a few loaves and fish, the light is spread and many can be fed.
These are just some of the images that inspire us to work together across the Church in Circles of Interest.
Connect with others in the Circle by joining the Facebook Group Walking Together as First and Second Peoples - Uniting Church in Australia. Go to the page https://www.facebook.com/groups/walkingtogetheruca/ and click Join Group.
You must agree to the group rules before the administrator will add you to the circle. Through this group you’ll be able to connect with other members of the church who are passionate about Walking Together as First and Second Peoples.
Walking Together as First and Second Peoples
In 1985, the Assembly of the Uniting Church unanimously welcomed and agreed to officially support the formation of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). In 1994 the Uniting Church in Australia accepted the invitation of its brothers and sisters in the UAICC to enter into a Covenant.
The Uniting Church in Australia encourages the intentional development of shared relationships between the First Peoples of this Nation and those who came after as a result of more than 230 years of migration. We seek to journey together as First and Second Peoples in the true spirit of Christ as we discover what it means to be bound to one another in a covenant.
The Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle will be concerned with the following areas:
- Listening to the stories and reflections of our Congress brothers and sisters
- Learning about significant conversations in the life of the UCA relating to our Covenant with Congress
- Learning about important issues that impact on our ability to live out our Covenant commitments
- Opportunities for sharing together
In collaboration with other groups within the Church, events may include “Walking on Country” and gatherings which bring people together.
Members of the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle will:
Participate in Sharing – we want you to share with us
- Stories, photos and videos of local activities
- Experiences or knowledge of situations that are important for us to share
- Feedback from events you have been a part of
- By the wider distribution of information about UCA activities and statements to your networks
Provide Input – we want to hear from you
- Please let us know about activities and work that the church could be involved with
- Help us think about and develop resources for the church
Be Informed and Resourced – we want you to be well informed and a thought leader in our Church
- About our church’s thinking and decisions flowing from the affirmation of First Peoples as sovereign
- To have a voice alongside our church in wider community conversations of treaty
- About our church’s work in developing Covenanting Action Plans
- About theological reflection from and with our First People
- To participate in our church’s advocacy actions to government and within the wider community
- About ecumenical connections and activities that relate to our relationship as First and Second Peoples
- To join in upcoming opportunities for gathering with other people
Be Collaborative – we want you to connect to other people
- By connecting to other Circles, Councils, Agencies, Congregations and Faith Communities, or groups within the Church, on issues of shared concern
- By encouraging and enabling groups of interested people within the Circle to meet together and share in activities together
Hopefully, like us, this gets you excited!
But first – a few words about values, respect and ethics.
Who we are as the Uniting Church in Australia
The Assembly Circles of Interest are an open place for people to enter into the national work of the Uniting Church. The Circles are not be heavily moderated or controlled for content – we want people to feel welcome and able to contribute from across the diversity of our Church.
However, we ask that in participating in these Circles you keep in mind who we are as the Uniting Church, our core values and how we live and work together.
For our Assembly Circles of Interest, the values that will impact on our sharing must include:
- Our ministry is built on the Lord Jesus Christ and Jesus is head over all things
- Our church is in Covenant with the First Peoples of Australia
- We have high regard for scholarship of the Bible and we continue to be open to learning from contemporary thought (Basis of Union, par 11),
- We are committed to the equality and mutuality of women and men
- We value the ministry of all the people of God
- We are an inclusive church where those of differing ability, age, gender, race and sexuality are welcomed
- We are a multicultural church, which rejoices in the diversity of cultures and languages
- We seek to be a safe Church where all people are cared for, nurtured and sustained
- We are committed to working ecumenically with other Christian denominations
- We work in partnership with churches across the world
- We seek strong positive relationships with people of other faiths
- We are committed to advocating for justice for all
- Our church honours the environment and supports a sustainable lifestyle
Values shared in the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle
In the Preamble to the Constitution of the Uniting Church in Australia it is noted:
- When the churches that formed the Uniting Church arrived in Australia as part of the process of colonisation they entered a land that had been created and sustained by the Triune God they knew in Jesus Christ.
- Through this land God had nurtured and sustained the First Peoples of this country, the Aboriginal and Islander peoples, who continue to understand themselves to be the traditional owners and custodians (meaning ‘sovereign’ in the languages of the First Peoples) of these lands and waters since time immemorial.
- The First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God before the arrival of the colonisers; the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the First Peoples and gave them particular insights into God’s ways.
In Genesis we read that God created all things and it was very good. We affirm therefore that God created all people, languages and cultures and they are good. The Bible also notes that God’s good creation is often corrupted by humanity, something that again applies to all people and cultures.
So as members of this Circle we come with an openness and sensitivity to cultural understanding and a willingness to allow the voices of others to speak into our own lives and understandings.
Our Social Media Policy:
In order to uphold these values, the way we interact within our Circles must adhere to the Assembly Social Media Policy.
The Assembly Social Media Policy is available here.
Code of Conduct:
Additionally, we ask that all participants in our Circles of Interest agree to abide by our Code of Conduct.
Assembly Circles of Interest Code of Conduct
- UNDERSTAND WHY I AM HERE As a Member of the Assembly Circles of Interest, I understand I am participating in a national conversation of the Uniting Church in Australia in a specific area of mission and ministry. The intention is to share and learn together.
- STAY FOCUSED As a group member I will share and contribute to the conversation in ways that are relevant and meaningful to this area of work.
- APPLY ETHICS AND CONFIDENTIALITY I will apply the same values, ethics and confidentiality to Circle discussions as I would in other parts of my life and ministry. I will respect confidentiality of information shared when asked to do so.
- HONOUR DIVERSITY My contributions will be respectful of the diversity of cultures, languages, theological understandings and opinions across the UCA.
- BE POSITIVE I will contribute in a positive, constructive and open way and be respectful in the language and opinions I share. I will not vilify, threaten, intimidate, abuse, slander, defame or personally attack another person or their opinions.
- BE HONEST I will be honest about whether I am sharing my own work or quoting someone else. I will not share anything false or misleading. I will be careful about personal information that I share and not use information shared against someone else.
- NO SPAM OR INNAPPROPRIATE MATERIAL I will not post content that is inappropriate, explicit or spam. I will only promote products or services which are relevant to the Circle, for example events, books, resources, and will acknowledge any personal financial interest.
- SPEAK ON MY OWN BEHALF I will speak only on my own behalf, not for the Uniting Church in Australia or others, or assume other contributions are on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia unless identified this way.
- BE ENCOURAGED AND INSPIRED IN MY MINISTRY Be encouraged to take ideas, resources and inspiration from your conversations in this Circle into other parts of your life and ministry.
- SHARE IN THE MODERATION OF THE GROUP I will take responsibility to help enable conversations I am part of to honour these rules and their spirit. I will report any posts which are clearly against these rules to a Group Admin.
Advocates and Panel Members
Each of the Circles is supported by an Advocate and a Panel. The Advocate for the Seeking Common Ground Circle is Stuart McMillan. Get to know the Advocate and Panel members here
The Assembly Resourcing Unit
At an Assembly Level, the staff of the Assembly Resourcing Unit will be a primary point of contact for your participation in the circles.
The team is made up of:
Rob Floyd | Associate General Secretary
Rev Lindsay Cullen | National Consultant
Rev Charissa Suli | National Consultant
Rev Dr Apwee Ting | National Consultant
Rev Dr Ji Zhang | Assembly Theologian in Residence
Stuart McMillan | Assembly Consultant Covenanting
Rebecca Beisler | Communications and Resources Officer
Anna Catliffe | Executive Administrative Assistant
Our main points of contact will be:
Phone: (02) 8026 9724
Additional Resources for Your Participation
As you enter into the national work of the Church, we encourage you to read and become familiar with some of the foundational documents of the Uniting Church.
Basis of Union
The Basis of Union set the platform for how the Uniting Church came together in 1977. It states the central affirmations of the Christian faith and is a guide to what is central in the life of the Uniting Church.
In 1994 the Uniting Church in Australia entered into a Covenant with its brothers and sisters in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). The Uniting Church’s 7th President Dr Jill Tabart formalised the relationship by reading the statement to UAICC Chairperson Pastor Bill Hollingsworth who responded on behalf of the Congress.
Revisions to the Preamble of the Uniting Church Constitution were developed and adopted after extensive consultation throughout the Church and UAICC at the Church’s 12th Assembly in 2009 and subsequently endorsed by the Synods and Presbyteries. For members of the Congress, this acknowledgement places the foundation of our relationship in truth.
A statement adopted by the 4th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia July 1985 acknowledging the many races, cultures and languages that make up the Uniting Church.
The Uniting Church Vision for a Just Australia expresses our hope for Australia as a just, compassionate and inclusive nation. The first of seven foundations in this document is "A Heart for First Peoples".
The Statement From the Heart was made on the 26 May 2017 by 250 delegates at the Referendum Convention at Uluru. The landmark statement calls for a First Nations Voice to parliament, Truth-telling and Treaty.