“It was a wonderful learning process that turned into a discernment process,” said Rev. Dr Zhang.
The translation process involved conversations with Basis of Union scholars Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney and Rev. Dr Geoff Thompson, and professional translators from the China Christian Council.
Rev. Zhao Chengyi of the China Christian Council, who is currently working towards a PhD in New Testament theology at Pilgrim Theological College in Melbourne also assisted. A draft version was also sent to ministers within the UCA’s Chinese National Conference.
“The Basis of Union is at the heart of our dialogue with the Chinese Church, particularly our consideration of a Theology of Unity,” said Rev. Dr Zhang.
“There are some areas of the translation that are profoundly meaningful reading them in my heart language. For example, the concept of ‘mutual submission’ (Para 15, Government in the Church) evoked a long discussion. This ecclesial concept is absent in Confucian culture.
So I sought Rev. Jason Kioa’s advice about how the concept is conveyed in his Tongan translation. Then a biblical study was conducted with Rev Zhao Chengyi. In the end, we settled on the term ‘mutual obedience’ (to God) and echoed the idea of obedience to God’s calling when three churches came to the union.”
The new translations in simplified and traditional Chinese characters have been posted on the Translated Materials/Resources page of the Multicultural and Cross Cultural Msection of the Assembly website.
Assembly Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd welcomed the new translation and thanked Rev. Dr Zhang for his work.
“Being able to explain our journey as a Church in the language of current and future members is vital work in the life of our Church,” he said.
“Translation is a challenging journey that compels us to explain our thinking and concepts to the world, and often reveals new insights.
“If there is a church resource that isn’t available in your community language, please let the Assembly Resourcing Unit know. Translations often takes a long time to complete, but this is work we support and appreciate.”
“As we seek to celebrate and share in the truly multicultural nature of our church, if you have resources in your community language that you think might benefit others in the church, please let us know too, so we can share them as well,” said Mr Floyd.
The Chinese translations of the Basis of Union will be launched at this year’s Uniting Church Chinese National Conference, which will be held from 22-24 March 2019 in Melbourne.