"PEOPLE of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches have united. A new church has been born."
It was with these words 35 years ago that the Uniting Church in Australia was created.
To celebrate, the church issued a Statement to the Nation that spoke of the importance of every human being, the proclamation of truth and justice, and our responsibility as Christians to involve ourselves in social and national a. airs.
As we celebrate our 35th birthday as a church, it is a timely opportunity to look back at that statement.
I think it's as relevant today as it was on 22 June 1977.
Our Statement to the Nation spelt out our Christian responsibility to society and called us to respond by involving ourselves in social and national affairs.
Today UnitingCare puts that commitment into action in its work as one of the largest providers of community services in Australia.
We serve over two million Australians each year.
And the Church's services extend well beyond Australian shores.
Across Africa, Asia and the Pacific, UnitingWorld works with our partner churches to build capacity in disadvantaged communities and represent their needs to the church in Australia.
We still affirm our eagerness to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being, the need for integrity in public life, the proclamation of truth and justice, and a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.
Since 2003 UnitingJustice Australia has been doing just that, serving as a strong voice for the Church in opposing all forms of discrimination, as well as urging the wise use of energy, and the protection of the environment.
As the Uniting Church has grown, we've also become a more multicultural church.
Every week worship is offered to God in more than 30 languages.
Right across the Uniting Church our commitment to multicultural and cross-cultural ministry informs and reinforces our Christian witness.
As President, I am proud of our Church's early naming of the importance of ecological sustainability.
Something conspicuously missing in the 1977 Statement is any reference to the First Peoples of Australia.
The formation and development of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in 1985 has probably been the most significant development since Union.
100 years ago the eradication of poverty in remote areas of Australia was the focus of work of Dr John Flynn's Australian Inland Mission.
Frontier Services continues that work today.
Assembly groups such as Christian Unity, Adult Fellow-ship, Doctrine and Worship all work to celebrate our identity, build fellowship within our church and resource our witness in word and action to Christ.
The theme of our next triennium is Life Overflowing.
I hope to continue to see expressions of that life, and the hope and joy that can't be contained, springing up across the church.
In 2012 we again pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.
We are still in the process of uniting; seeking, with God's help, to embody the reconciliation and renewal of all things.
Thanks be to God!
Read the full version of this article at http://assembly.uca.org.au
To celebrate the Uniting Church's 35th anniversary, the Assembly has prepared free multimedia and worship resources for congregational use.
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