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Migrant leaders want to stay in the UCA

Meeting participants with UCA President Dean Drayton ane General Secretary Terence Corkin
Leaders of seven migrant communities from across the Uniting Church have met with Assembly leaders to discuss the impact of the decision on Membership, Ministry and Sexuality made at the 10th Assembly.

The 17 leaders representing six National Conferences and the Korean Commission, joined with the President and General Secretary on October 12 to explore ways the voices of migrant communities can be heard in discussions on membership and ministry at the 11th Assembly.

Assembly General Secretary Rev Terence Corkin said that the meeting was marked by honest sharing and open conversation and, while a variety of views were expressed, there was an overwhelming sense of goodwill and a general confidence that migrant communities value and want to remain within the Uniting Church.

“While those present acknowledged that the migrant communities of the Uniting Church do not speak with one voice, the meeting discussed ways to ensure that the variety of perspectives and views can be heard at next year’s Assembly,” Mr Corkin said.

“We know the decision made by the members of the last Assembly has impacted on the mission of many migrant congregations but what this meeting reminded us is that, despite the difficulties faced by some of our migrant communities, they have a genuine spirit of community and belonging to the Uniting Church as we journey together.”

Mr Corkin said three clear points of view were expressed about how best to deal with the issue of ministry, membership and sexuality at the 11th Assembly.

They were:

1) The continued debate is unhelpful at this time because a number of communities are not able to even hold such discussions and/or find it distracting from their mission;

2) Support for Resolution 84 because it affirms the polity and processes that have always existed within the Uniting Church and that the Presbytery is best placed to discern whether someone is called by God to be a minister and does this on a case by case basis through a fair, thorough and careful process;

3) Conviction that the Christian ethic upholds celibacy in singleness and faithfulness in marriage

Mr Corkin said those who attended were re-assured to hear that processes would be put in place at the 11th Assembly to ensure the views of Pacific and Asian congregations were heard.

“Those who attended told us they wanted to be able to maintain and hold on to the cultural heritage and the biblical and theological perspectives that have formed them.

"They wanted an assurance the Uniting Church would respect these perspectives and listen to them when making decisions that shape the future of this church at the 11th Assembly.

"They were pleased to hear the current position of the UCA gives this assurance.”

Those who attended the meetings were keen to name the things we agreed on in the UCA. Some of the affirmations shared included:

"We appreciate the Uniting Church and are glad to share our journey of faith within it.

"We appreciate the Uniting Church’s openness to receive and welcome people from different cultural backgrounds.

"For many there is the conviction that their biblical, theological and cultural backgrounds have taught that homosexuality is a sin. A key issue is whether we can live with those who have different views.

"A question for us is whether we can go along together with these differences? For this to happen we need respect and understanding for one another.

"We affirm that our Church seeks to be a community of faith that embraces a great diversity of people and perspectives.

"We affirm this diversity but we also acknowledge that it also presents us with a great challenge.

"We confess that we do not find it easy to listen to and respect those who have a different biblical and theological perspective from ourselves.

"We are thankful for our common faith in Jesus Christ.

"It is sometimes difficult to be Uniting. This journey brings joy as well as struggle. We know that walking together in this Church family means doing so even if we do not find agreement all of the time.

"It is important that all persons, regardless of their views, receive appropriate pastoral care."

Those who attended the meeting were: Rev. Jason Kio (Chairperson Tongan National Conference); Rev. Jovili Meo (Chairperson Fijian National Conference); Rev. Apwee Ting, (Chairperson Indonesian National Conference); Rev. Samata Elia (Chairperson Samoan National Conference); Rev. Subramanian Manopavan (Chairperson Tamil National Conference); Isaac Cheung (Community Minister Chinese National Conference); Rev. Sang Jin Lee (Chairperson Korean Commission); Rev. Kisoo Jang, (Executive Secretary Korean Commission); Rev. Sani Vaeluaga ( Secretary Samoan National Conference); Mrs Eseta Maneilly; Rev. Liva Tukutama (Chair Multicultural and Cross-cultural reference Committee); Rev. Lu Senituli; Rev. Hedley Fihaki; Rev. Myung Duk Yang (Assembly Working Group on Cross-cultural Education); Mr. Johnny Obed (NSW Board of Mission); Rev. Swee-Ann Koh (Chair Multicultural Ministry Committee Vic/Tas Synod); Rev. James Latu (Multicultural and Cross-cultural reference Committee).

Photo : Meeting participants with UCA President Dean Drayton ane General Secretary Terence Corkin