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From the editor: July 2006

In Christ there is no east or west,
In Him no south or north;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

I haven’t sung this hymn for years but I remember the words from my childhood and it has haunted me as we put this edition of Journey together.

For over fifty years those who had a vision for bringing three churches together (the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia) struggled with what it would mean to live out Christian unity as a single church.

Somehow the angst of recent years over the issue of sexuality and leadership doesn’t sit comfortably with the vision and commitment that brought the Uniting Church in Australia into being on 22 June 1977.

In uniting members of the three previous denominations The Basis of Union tells us that it would “bear witness to that unity which is both Christ’s gift and will for the Church”.

I can’t help thinking that it is this core value of unity, the very essence of this vision that became the Uniting Church in Australia, that has kept the church together and will continue to do so.

The Basis of Union says, “In this union these Churches commit their members to acknowledge one another in love and joy as believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Deep, deep down it is this commitment to one another that is the very essence of our Uniting Church DNA, and when people talk about splits or schism it eats at the quintessence of who we are in Christ.

This core commitment to unity is also the reason our hearts breaks when people leave the Uniting Church over differences of opinion on theological issues and doctrinal matters.

As we came into union as a church I was constantly reminded that the Uniting Church is called “uniting” not “united” because the unity in Jesus Christ which we sought was not yet complete.

I always assumed they were talking about unity with other churches. I wonder now whether maintaining healthy relationships within our church is the greatest challenge to the unity to which we are called.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:4-7)