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Thursday, 06 July 2006

Faith and life to be integrated in schools and community service agencies

The Uniting Church today used its triennial national Assembly meeting to adopt a new approach to faith and spirituality including guidelines to assist and encourage faith communities and spiritual formation in its schools and community service agencies.

The 250-member National Assembly endorsed the document Being Church Differently, which is designed to help the church find new ways to connect with the increasing number of people who have no regular contact with organised religion.

Uniting Church President, the Rev. Gregor Henderson, said Being Church Differently canvassed a number of important ways Uniting Church schools and community service organisations could be places where people might make more meaningful connections with the church.

“Today, 80 per cent of Australians have no regular contact with organised religion, yet we know from various sources that the journey for meaning, purpose and community is just as important today as it was 2,000 years ago. While many people are interested in pursuing a spiritual quest and in Jesus, they are not always so interested in the institutional trappings. The critical question in this context is how to help people on that journey.”

“Being Church Differently acknowledges this and suggests ways our schools and community service organisations can be places where people might start to take that journey if they want to,” Mr Henderson said.

Mr Henderson said if the church failed to provide opportunities for faith development outside the inherited formal church structures, people would go elsewhere or miss the opportunity to come to faith altogether.

“Through our congregational outreach and our schools and community service agencies, the Uniting Church connects with people from a range of backgrounds at different times of their life journey — and the spiritual dimension is recognised as being part of that life journey. Life has more than one dimension and our Christian faith calls us to offer more than one response.

“We are not being authentic to our faith if we fail to offer a whole of life response in our congregations, our community service agencies and schools and that includes opportunities for people to explore issues of faith if they want to.”

As well as offering encouragement to congregations, community service agencies and schools, Being Church Differently also canvasses a number of important issues, including the essentials of forming a new congregation or faith community, some cautionary tales and important considerations, examples of places a new congregation or faith community might be formed and a series of questions and answers.

Media Contact: Gavin Melvin, Manager, National Media and Communication – 0417 416 674