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Youthful delegates express hopes for meeting and church future


A pre Assembly orientation for 17 youthful members (aged under 30) of the Assembly was held at Grace College July 3-5.

They discussed the finer details of how Assembly meetings work and how decisions were made. They also met with key speakers at this year’s meeting.

Elise Honey from Bendigo in the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania said the pre-Assembly meeting was a helpful introduction of youthful members to other Assembly members and to how decisions were made.

“I think, as younger people, we are not hugely overrepresented in the Assembly. We can get some practice in the Assembly, especially if we haven’t been involved in many other levels of the church. It is good to have a friendly face and to have someone we can talk to about a particular issue.

“I hope that there is lots of listening so that we can really discern God’s way for the whole of the Assembly, not just for certain sections, so that everyone is heard.”

There was an overall feeling that youthful members were hoping Assembly members would discern God’s will for the church.

Michael Dobson from Bendigo said his hope was “that it is peaceful and decisions are made and everyone is respectful of each other and that people don’t go away saying that they haven’t been heard.”

Stephen Rothery from Moggill in Queensland said youthful members needed to be encouraged because they were the future of the church.

“I think it is a good opportunity for all of the young people here to actually put input into the decision making process. Some of us are going to be here for a while and some of these things are going to have fairly long-term, far reaching implications.”

Ms Honey said, “We represent a specific part of the community and the Australian population. We have different experiences of the world and society and our own lives so we have different experiences.”

Youthful members were particularly interested in the discussions on sexuality and the proposal from Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

Fiona Hughes from Darwin said the Northern Synod, where indigenous people make up almost half of the synod membership, was excited that a more open ear for indigenous persons might begin in the south-eastern synods.

“I think it is pretty groundbreaking at a national level. I guess the challenge will be people’s interpretation and their willingness to embrace new ways of doing things. I’m really excited to be a part of that process.”

Melanie Dorrington from Sydney, a second year medical student, said that, being from the university age group, sexuality was quite a big issue.

Lauren Fee from Sydney is the Associate chaplain with Sydney University and the University of Technology Sydney. She also said sexuality was one of the key issues for her.

“For me it is interesting coming into that debate because I grew up in the United Church of Canada and we did the sexuality debate in 1988. So I came in here and thought, ‘Twenty years later are they really talking about this? Oh, isn’t that interesting.’

“I just hope that the outcome would be a godly, loving outcome. I would hate to see the Uniting Church split and no longer be uniting. I think that would be a great tragedy so I hope we can find some godly way through that.”

Social justice was another issue Ms Fee was particularly interested in.

“It is time for the church to be the church and say, ‘No, this is God’s world and this is what the church believes about human rights and we don’t care about your fear,'” she said.

Kendall Trudgen from the Northern Territory said his hope was that the meeting would help shape the future of the Uniting Church.

“I would like us to move forward in our vision for Australia and that somehow, in all the talk that we do and all the words that are spoken, we will begin to find our identity as Australian Christians in the Uniting Church,” he said.

For more news go to the 11th Assembly website HERE.