AS A MINISTER in the Uniting Church, who promised to adhere to the Basis of Union at ordination, I believe that one aspect of my role that is non-negotiable is my involvement in ecumenism.
The Basis of Union describes how the three Churches that came into union recognised their separation as denominations as unfaithful to the gift and will of God described in the scriptures.
The witness of our union was a witness given to the church catholic (the universal church) and to the world at large that the church is called to be one. To be faithful to who we are as the Uniting Church means that it is necessarily a part of our ongoing witness.
As Christians we are given the gift of the same relationship that exists between the Father and the Son and are bound in that very relationship by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are the church, and only the church, because the Spirit makes us one with God and each other. The divisions in the church are contradictory to our existence in the one body of Christ. They have compromised our ability to faithfully represent God’s love to the world.
Seeking union and co-operation with other Christians, ecumenism, is not an optional extra to doing mission but is a constitutive aspect of what mission is all about.
If we were the one church that Christ calls us to be then maybe the world would believe.
On a practical local level this means that as a minister I see it as my responsibility to initiate open relationships with other clergy and congregations in order that together we might show forth God’s love.
For me personally it has also meant serving on Synod and Assembly groups working towards closer relationships. Acknowledging that we are a pilgrim people, and that certain barriers still impede our relationships, the quest locally for the Uniting Church must include to explore “what is possible if we go to the limits of what is permissible” (National Council of Churches in Australia).