Thursday, 31 August 2017

Working and Weaving Together

VicTas Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis joined with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne on Tuesday night to launch a historic ecumenical agreement between the Uniting and Anglican churches.

Weaving a New Cloth is the first agreement signed between the two churches in nearly 30 years.

The document outlines opportunities for shared hospitality, mission and witness between the two churches.

At an Evensong service at St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Ms Hollis and The Most Rev Dr Philip Freier, formally endorsed Weaving a New Cloth.

“We had been disheartened by our failures, but God strengthened our resolve and commitment in our unity of purpose and gave us the vision so that something new could be created in his glory,” Ms Hollis said.

Maureen Postma is the Uniting Church co-chair of the Trinity Declaration’s Joint Standing Commission (JSC). The JSC was established in 1999 to explore pathways for conversation and cooperation between Uniting and Anglican churches at the local level.

“The Weaving a New Cloth initiative is the result of over 30 years of national dialogue towards a unified and supportive way forward,” Ms Postma said.

“Its origins were in the 1985 Agreed Statement on Baptism, adopted by both churches.

“Further progress was made in Victoria in 1999 when both churches adopted The Trinity Declaration and Code of Practice for local cooperation between our two churches.”

A document called For the Sake of the Gospel was endorsed by the 11th Assembly in 2006, but the Anglican Church’s General Synod did not approve it.

In 2011, then-Uniting Church president Rev Alistair McRae and Anglican Primate Archbishop Phillip Aspinall established a new joint Working Group to produce a national framework for cooperation.

This led to the creation of Weaving a New Cloth, which was approved by the Anglican General Synod in 2014 and the Uniting Church Assembly in 2015.

The document specifies areas where Anglican dioceses and Uniting Church presbyteries and congregations can work together ecumenically.

It particularly emphasises ecumenism on a grassroots level through the sharing of resources for mutual benefit and the establishment of joint Uniting-Anglican congregations.

This story was originally published in Crosslight, the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania publication.