The Uniting Church is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia.
The Uniting Church was formed in 1977 by the union of three churches that had been transferred from Britain to Australia in the early nineteenth century:
- Congregational Union of Australia
- Methodist Church of Australia
- Presbyterian Church of Australia
It took twenty years to negotiate their union. This process was preceded by a series of failed negotiations dating way back to 1901. Clearly, church union was risky and immensely difficult.
For the three churches that were the founding generation of the Uniting Church, the debates that had given rise to their separate denominations were no longer relevant. In fact, these debates, which focussed on difference, had become real hindrances to their participation in God’s mission. The three churches became convinced that discipleship of Christ now required that they end their separation.
As the three churches set out on their journey towards fulfilling God’s mission, they affirmed the following at the Inaugural Service of the Uniting Church in Australia on June 22nd, 1977:
- To preach Christ the risen crucified one and confess Him as Lord;
- To bear witness to the unity of faith and life in Christ, rising above cultural, economic, national and racial boundaries;
- To engage in fearless prophetic ministry in relation to social ills which deny God’s active will for justice and peace;
- To act with God alongside the oppressed, the hurt and the poor;
- To accept responsibility for the wise use and conservation of the finite resources of this earth for the benefit of all;
- To recognise, treasure and use gifts of the Spirit given to all God’s people for ministering;
- To live a creative, adventurous life of faith, characterised by openness and flexibility, hope and joy.
Today, the Uniting Church continues to take its bearings from the vision of its founding generation. It is still accountable for these core commitments implied by the vision of the Basis of Union.
This extract has been adapted from ‘Introducing The Uniting Church in Australia’ by Andrew Dutney.
To read more about the Basis of Union and the mission of the Uniting Church go to: www.uca.org.au