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Uniting Church coaches world Churches on unity

The Uniting Church presented a paper on ‘Unity and Mission’ at the World Council of Churches Uniting and United Churches Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, October 29-Nov 4.

Twenty churches from 25 countries met at the 8th consultation of United and Uniting Churches held every seven years. Conversation centred on the South African struggle to merge former Apartheid separated churches. South African Presbyterians have united and two of the Dutch Reform Churches — Indians and Coloureds — have united but have not been able to unite with the white Dutch Reform Church. 

Assembly General Secretary Rev Terence Corkin, who attended the conference said that many of the issues addressed are lively in our church and that the conference focussed on what constitutes the basis for unity in the church.

“In our church we clearly understand that our unity is founded in our common faith in Jesus Christ and that within that broad framework the ability to differ has a wide range of opportunities,” said Mr Corkin.

The Uniting Church paper on ‘Unity and Mission’ was presented by Rev Charity Majiza. A refugee from South Africa, Ms Majiza is now a Melbourne minister and a member of the Christian Unity Working Group.

Her paper looked at what unity contributes to the mission of the church. “The basic thesis of the paper was that our union sees the purpose of the church as bearing witness to the reconciliation and renewal God has in store for creation,” said Mr Corkin. Therefore our very unity is a witness, evidence and support for God’s mission of reconciliation.

“Our consensus decision making process means we have a high level of agreement before we say anything and then we can say it with a confident voice. If people don’t like a decision they have to live with their own choices but we never see it as appropriate to say “like it or leave” and that’s because we understand our mission is actually unity.

Mr Corkin said that the conference highlighted the importance of context, talking about conflicts, and reflecting theologically upon issues. “At the end of the day I remain convinced that church union is critical to the witness of the churches in Australian society and elsewhere.”