A Church for all God's People

The 11th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia adopted the document A Church for all God's People as a vision statement and renewed the Church's commitment to be a multicultural and cross cultural community. 

The statement outlines the biblical underpinnings for a multicultural church and identifies key principles for building a cross-cultural community.

A Church for all God's People

This  document  was  passed  at  the  11th  Assembly  in  Brisbane  in  2006.

As  those  called  to  be  witnesses  to  the  hope  of  reconciliation,  we  renew  our   commitment  to  being  a  multicultural  and  cross-­‐cultural  community.

As  God’s  diverse  people,  united  in  Christ,  we  embrace  the  vision  of  being  a  Church  for  all   God’s  People.    

  (1)   Introduction  

Since  time  immemorial  God  has  been  present  in  this  land.  We  acknowledge  the  Creator  of  the   universe  and  the  unique  place  of  Indigenous  people  in  God’s  creative  plan  for  the  land  we  call   Australia.  We  look  towards  the  time  when  the  faith  and  spirituality  of  Indigenous  people  can  truly   shape  who  we  are  as  a  Church.  We  acknowledge  Christ  as  the  source  of  unity  and  the  transforming   power  of  the  Holy  Spirit  who  is  ever  renewing  God’s  people.  The  diversity  we  have  in  the  body  of   Christ  is  God’s  gift  to  us.  Learning  to  understand  one  another  and  celebrate  our  differences  is  both   a  joyful  and  painful  journey.  We  seek  to  be  a  community  that  is  open  to  welcome  one  another  as   Christ  has  welcomed  us.    

(2)   Biblical  Underpinnings

All  human  beings  are  created  by  God  in  the  image  and  likeness  of  God!  (Genesis  1:  26-­‐27,  10:32,   Psalm  24:1)

“The  earth  is  the  Lord’s  and  everything  in  it”.  God  has  created  the  world  with  great  diversity  (‘of   every  kind’  –  Gen  1).  All  human  beings  share  a  fundamental  unity.  We  are  connected  to  one   another,  part  of  the  wholeness  and  goodness  of  God’s  creation.  We  are  all  made  in  the  image  of   God.  Despite  our  sinfulness,  God’s  covenantal  promise  is  with  all  of  creation,  all  people  and  all   generations  (Gen  9:9-­‐12).    The  story  of  the  Tower  of  Babel  (Gen  11)  reminds  us  of  the  danger  of   monocultural  arrogance  and  affirms  cultural  and  linguistic  differences  as  part  of  God’s  plan  for   humanity.  From  one  ancestor  God  made  all  the  nations  (Acts  17:  26).    

Welcome  the  stranger  (Genesis  18:  1-­‐8,  Exodus  22:  21,  23:9;  Leviticus  19:  33;  Deuteronomy  10:  19   and  24:  17-­‐18)

Israel  was  required  to  exercise  justice  and  compassion  to  strangers.  In  the  Biblical  stories  there   are  many  examples  of  God  coming  in  the  form  of  a  stranger.  In  Genesis  18:  1-­‐8  Abraham  offered   hospitality  to  the  three  strangers  who  turned  out  to  be  God’s  messengers.  Strangers  enhance   rather  than  diminish  the  life  of  communities  (Luke  24:  13-­‐35,  Acts  10:  34,  Romans  12:  13,   Hebrews  13:  2).

Go…  to  the  Land  that  I  show  you    (Gen  12:  12)

Abraham  and  Sarah  heard  God’s  call  to  leave  their  country  and  venture  in  faith  into  the   unknown.  Our  cross-­‐cultural  ministry  is  heir  to  this  tradition.  We  are  called  to  go  where  God   sends  us  and  be  a  blessing  to  the  nations.  The  biblical  tradition  is  full  of  people  who  go  on   crossing  journeys-­‐  for  example  Jacob,  Joseph,  Moses,  Exodus,  Naomi  and  Ruth,  Daniel,  Jonah,   Esther,  Jeremiah.  Those  exiled  in  Babylon  were  told  to  plant  gardens,  build  houses  and  seek   the  welfare  of  the  city  they  were  in  (Jeremiah  29:  4-­‐8).  At  times  with  faith  and  at  times  with   despair,  God’s  people  are  called  to  move  into  new  situations.  They  discover  God’s  will  for   them  in  a  new  land.  As  they   struggle  with  issues  of  identity  they  come  to  a  deeper   understanding  of  who  they  are  as  God’s  people  and  who  is  the  God  who  sustains  them.

Jesus  crossed  cultural  boundaries

Jesus  conversed  with  a  Samaritan  woman,  acknowledged  the  faith  of  a  Syrian-­‐Phoenician   woman,  praised  a  Roman  centurion  and  a  Samaritan  leper,  ate  with  outcastes,  crossed  over  ‘to   the  other  side’  and  reached  out  with  compassion  to  those  who  were  marginalised  by  his  religious community.  He  shows  us  that  love  rather  than  fear  needs  to  determine  relationships  (John  4:7-­‐ 10;  Mark  7:  26,  29;  Mat  8:  10;  Luke  17:  16,  Luke  10:  37,  Mark  3:  5-­‐6;  Luke  13:  13-­‐14;  Matt  9:  29,   32,  Matt  15:  28,  Mark  4:  35,  Luke  10:  25-­‐37).  

Hospitality  is  the  hallmark  of  the  kingdom  community

Jesus  challenged  religious  leaders  to  invite  to  their  table  the  poor,  the  crippled,  the  lame  and   the  blind  (Luke  14:  1,  7-­‐14,  Matt  25).  His  parable  of  the  great  banquet  offered  a  picture  of  the   generous  hospitality  of  God  reaching  out  to  invite  those  who  had  been  excluded.  In  the   Kingdom,  “People  will  come  from  north,  south,  east  and  west  and  feast  together”  (Luke  13:  9).   Paul  told  the  church  in  Rome  to  “welcome  one  another  as  Christ  has  welcomed  you”  (Rom   15:7).

The  Church  born  at  Pentecost  is  multicultural  from  the  beginning

The  church  born  at  Pentecost  was  a  multicultural  church.    When  the  Spirit  came,  each  was  able   to  hear  the  good  news  in  their  own  native  language  (Acts  2:  8).  The  unity  they  discovered  was   not  uniformity.  The  first  council  in  Jerusalem,  after  hearing  of  the  story  of  Cornelius  and  Peter,   came  to  recognise  that  God  calls  people  of  all  races,  languages  and  cultures.  By  the  power  of   the  Spirit,  Jews  and  Gentiles  now  belong  to  the  body  of  Christ.  Baptised  believers  share  an   equality  in  Christ  (Ephesians  2:  19,  Galatians  3:  28).  Christ  transcends  all  differences  and  the   Christian  community  is  a  new  creation  in  Jesus  Christ.  Old  divisions  are  broken  down  and  a   new  unity  is  created  (1  Corinthians  15,  Ephesians  2:  11-­‐19).  Gentile  Christians  are  told  they  are   equal  members  in  God’s  family  “You  are  no  longer  strangers  and  sojourners  but  fellow  citizens   and  saints  with  members  of  the  household  of  God”  (Ephesians  2:  19)     “...a  great  multitude  that  no  one  could  count,  from  every  nation,  from  all  tribes  and  peoples   and  language…”     The  vision  of  the  heavenly  banquet  includes  people  from  “every  nation,  tribe,  people  and   language”  (Rev  7:  9).       The  ‘Promised  End’  is  indeed  multicultural.  Rev  7:  12  offers  a  vision  of  an  innumerable   multitude  of  every  nation,  tribe,  race  and  language  each  praising  God  in  their  own  language.   The  rainbow  mix  of  people  we  have  within  the  Church  today  can  be  seen  as  a  foretaste  of  life   in  the  heavenly  kingdom  and  a  reminder  that  …  ‘my  house  shall  be  called  a  house  of  prayer  for   all  peoples’  (Isaiah  56:  6-­‐8,  Jeremiah  29).

(3)   Key  Principles  for  Building  a  Cross-­‐cultural  Community

(i)   Affirming  our  unity  and  diversity  in  Christ   A  Church  for  all  God’s  People  is  founded  on  the  understanding  that  each  person  is  made  in  the   image  of  God  and  we  share  a  fundamental  unity.    Through  Christ  we  are  members  of  the  one   household  of  God  (Ephesians  2:  19)  and  we  discover  a  family  resemblance  not  based  on  colour,   language,  ethnicity  or  race.  We  have  a  ‘foretaste  of  that  coming  reconciliation  and  renewal   which  is  the  end  in  view  for  the  whole  creation’  (Basis  of  Union  Par  3).  The  unity  the  Spirit   gives  does  not  create  uniformity  but  calls  people  of  all  races,  languages  and  cultures  to  share   together  in  one  family.  People  of  different  cultural  groups  worship  in  different  languages  and   operate  in  some  distinctive  ways  while  at  the  same  time  striving  to  work  together  and  enrich   one  another.  They  belong  together  in  the  body  in  Christ,  are  united  by  a  common  faith  in  the   triune  God  and  they  value  the  diverse  gifts  God  has  given.

(ii)   Mutual  Sharing  and  Learning   People  are  created  to  live  in  community.  Sharing  life  together  as  people  from  different   backgrounds  and  cultural  traditions  is  central  part  of  the  Biblical  witness.  As  a  cross-­‐cultural   community  we  will  seek  to  provide  space  for  people  of  different  cultural  groups  to  maintain   language,  cultural  patterns  and  traditions  that  are  life  giving.  A  Church  for  all  God’s  People   urges  members  to  share  their  experience  and  learn  from  others  as  we  embark  on  a  journey  of   cross-­‐cultural  learning,  open  to  the  transformation  which  the  Spirit  brings.   (iii)     Hospitality  and  Inclusiveness   Hospitality  is  the  hallmark  of  the  kingdom  community  Jesus  proclaimed.  People  from  different   ethnic  backgrounds  take  up  their  place,  contribute  their  gifts  and  participate  as  equals.  A   Church  for  all  God’s  People  is  inclusive  of  all  peoples  and  cultures,  women  and  men,  young  and   old.    

(iv)  Living  out  the  Gospel  of  Hope  and  Reconciliation  in  God’s  World   A  Church  for  all  God’s  People  is  a  sign  of  hope  pointing  to  the  reconciling  power  of  the  living   Christ.  Such  a  Church  recognises  the  place  of  Australia’s  first  peoples,  advocates  for  justice   and  peace,  supports  migrants  and  refugees,  builds  inclusive  communities  and  reaches  out  to   witness  and  serve.  Such  a  Church  is  part  of  God’s  transforming  work  in  the  world  and  in  the   lives  of  people.  Christ  invites  us  to  live  in  ways  that  herald  in  a  new  creation.  As  the  wider   Australian  community  changes  and  new  challenges  emerge  in  the  world,  a  Church  of  all  God’s   People  seeks  flexible  and  life-­‐giving  models  of  church  life  that  foster  new  models  of  ministry.     A  Church  of  all  God’s  people  promotes  cross-­‐cultural  learning,  challenges  prejudice,  develops   and  trains  people  for  mission  in  cross-­‐cultural  settings,  fosters  new  leadership  and  reflects   respect,  justice,  love,  equality  and  partnership  in  all  relationships.      

(4)     AFFIRMATION  –  A  CHURCH  FOR  ALL  GOD’S  PEOPLE  

Called  to  be  witnesses  to  the  hope  of  reconciliation,  we  renew  our  commitment  to  being  a  Church  for  all  God’s   People   Within  the  life  of  our  nation  we  will:

(i) Recognise  the  place  of  Australia’s  first  peoples  and  work  for  reconciliation

(ii) Reflect  the  love  of  Christ  for  all  people    

(iii) Contribute  to  building  an  inclusive  Australian  society    

(iv) Seek  to  minister  effectively  within  a  culturally  diverse  society  and  build  bridges  with  people  of   different  cultures  and  faiths.

As  a  welcoming  community  we  will:  

(v) Be  open  to  receive  from  one  another,  sharing  the  hospitality  of  Christ  

(vi) Affirm  and  celebrate  cultural  diversity,  and  let  that  diversity  be  a  resource  for  ministry  

(vii) Overcome  prejudice  and  racism  and  develop  a  spirituality  of  trust,  respect  and  mutuality  

(viii) Encourage  all  members  to  embark  on  a  journey  of  cross-­‐cultural  learning.

As  a  community  made  up  of  people  from  many  different  backgrounds  and  cultures  we  will:

(ix) Provide  space  for  people  from  different  cultural  groups  to  maintain  language  and  cultural  patterns   and  traditions  that  are  life  giving    

(x) Reflect  ethnic  diversity  in  a  visible  way  in  our  worship,  life  and  leadership    

(xi) Encourage  people  from  different  backgrounds  to  take  up  their  place  in  the  life  of  the  church  and   contribute  to  its  life   (xii)   Seek  to  meet  the  needs  of  our  diverse  membership  and  develop  policies  and  processes  to  assist  the   full  participation  of  all  members

 As  a  community  at  mission  we  will:  

(xiii) Encourage  the  development  of  culturally  diverse  congregations      

(xiv) Form,  develop  and  train  people  for  ministry  in  cross-­‐cultural  settings  

(xv) Ensure  equality  and  partnership  in  the  sharing  of  resources  so  that  property  is  a  resource  for  the   ministry  and  mission  of  the  whole  people  of  God    

(xvi)   Utilise  the  gifts  of  all  of  God’s  people    

(xvii)   Be  open  to  the  transformation  which  the  Spirit  brings!    

 PRAYER

God  our  Creator,
You  brought  this  Uniting  Church  into  being. You  have  called  us  to  be  your  diverse  and  multi-­coloured  people. Show  us  how  to  value  one  another  as  those  made  in  your  image.

Christ  Jesus,
You  reached  out  across  the  barriers  that  divided  Jews,  Samaritans  and  Romans, Enable  us  to  cross  the  barriers  that  separate  us  from  one  another. 

Holy  Spirit,
You  are  the  Giver  of  Unity,
Unite  your  people  in  love  that  we  may  be  a  community  of  justice,  love  and  reconciliation  -­
A  Church  for  all  God’s  People!

Amen  

Dowload statement.

For Multicultural and Cross Cultural inquiries

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