It may not be the most important thing that will happen in the Uniting Church in Queensland in 2006, but the 11th Assembly to be held in Brisbane 5th-11th July will certainly dominate the attention of the popular media and probably the energy of many of our leaders and members.
There have been many anxiously waiting since the 10th Assembly met in Melbourne almost three years ago to see what might happen with regard to the decisions now known as Resolution 84.
So much energy has been taken up by the debate around this issue that for a while it seemed the ministry and mission of the church might almost grind to a halt.
As our moderator has correctly pointed out, Queensland has suffered more than most from the fall-out of the last Assembly and it is ironic that the Queensland Synod should be responsible for hosting the next meeting.
How we do that will be a real test of our Christian witness? What kind of welcome and hospitality will we offer the Assembly and its delegates?
When Jesus asks us to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us and pray for those who abuse us, it would seem reasonable that we should roll out the red carpet for those who don’t agree with us.
How we live in disagreement will be the litmus test for the “Uniting” bit of our church name. Our church came into being on 22 June 1977 as a result of the coming together of the Congregational Union in Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia, and the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
This has not been a simple or painless process and those who led us through that time will testify to the agony and distress of losing those who strongly dissented and being vilified by those who were determined to subvert the process.
A church born of over 50 years of painstaking negotiation and work will inevitably have deep in the core of its DNA a commitment to that unity which is both Christ’s gift and will for the Church.
Many Uniting Church members remember the hard work in the days pre-1977. They understand and have experienced the energy required to hold in tension this diverse and disparate collection of God’s people called the Uniting Church in Australia.
From this very basis of who we are comes a deep desire and firm commitment to continue seeking that unity in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Basis of Union calls us to “acknowledge one another in love and joy as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ”.
If ever there was a year to live that out, 2006 is a pretty good time to start.