Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Members of the 15th Assembly (Assembly) have just received the first papers for the triennial Assembly meeting in July. I understand that the papers are also available on the Assembly website. There are a number of topical issues that will no doubt be the subject of a passionate discussion, including, how the church will respond to marriage and same-gender relationships. I encourage you to lift up the members of the Assembly in prayer as they seek to discern the Word of God on the matters before the Assembly.
The Assembly will be exercising discernment on the direction and priorities of the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia for the next triennium, with the outcome being a series of decisions that guide the life of the church and its ministry over the following three years.
I anticipate over the coming months, members of the Assembly will be contacted by people who will ask them to identify their position on the issue of same gender marriage. It is important to remember that while we may have differing positions on some issues, it is our baptism that incorporates us together into the church, the body of Christ.
I have written to the members of the 15th Assembly, encouraging them to:
- Listen respectfully to people as they share their perspectives
- Recognise that there are a variety of Christian views on same gender marriage
- Advise others that their responsibility as a member of the Assembly is to seek to hear the Word of God as they participate in this Council of the Church;
I have also encouraged them to seek support from their Minister or Presbytery Minister if they need it.
I also expect that ministers in congregations will also have to prayerfully reflect on the matter, as I am sure they have, and as people in specified ministry, listen to the Assembly’s discernment, and lead the people under their spiritual oversight.
I am fully aware that this is a matter that engages our own personal life stories deeply. I encourage us all to prayerfully support the members of the Assembly, and as we engage in further reflection, to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the Glory of God” Romans 15:7.
With you in the ministry of Christ,
(Rev) David Baker