Thursday, 19 March 2020

Our Vision Revisited

Around 30 people who are engaged in justice work across the Uniting Church met via videoconference this week to bring together the work we do and focus on our national priorities.

Participants included people engaged in justice work from every Synod, our church agencies across the UnitingCare network, Frontier Services and UnitingWorld, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and Covenanting Officers.

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer opened the gathering with an Acknowledgement of Country and a reflection on the Bible passages from Micah 6: 6-8 and John 4 – the story of Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan Woman.

"This encounter with the woman is no accident on Jesus’ part," Dr Palmer reflected. "Jesus intentionally enters Samaritan territory and engages in a theological conversation with this Samaritan and this woman. Not exactly a safe, status quo kind of space."

 "We might also ask, where do we locate ourselves? Are we intentional about placing ourselves in situations which are places of solidarity with those who are exploited, diminished, or silenced? Places where Jesus leads us."

“We pray today that the mission and ministry of Christ in which we participate through the life of the Uniting Church, contribute to the shaping of a society in which all people and creation can flourish in the abundant life that God intends for us all."

During the meeting, there was a time of sharing of people’s work across the Church. Many different issues arose, including climate change, justice for First Peoples, Domestic and Family Violence, refugee advocacy, rights of migrant workers, drug reform, tax justice, religious discrimination and more.

It highlighted the breadth of engagement across the UCA in advocacy, community engagement, resourcing local congregations and directly providing services.

National Director UCA Redress Ltd Sarah Lim gave a presentation on the role of the Uniting Church in seeking justice for survivors of child abuse.

She encouraged the group to consider how the Uniting Church can make time to hear and listen to the stories of those who have been abused in our institutions and respond to those who approach us seeking justice.

The discussion then delved into the Uniting Church Vision for a Just Australia and particularly at how Australia has progressed on the key actions recommended in the document.

This work will form an update of the Vision Statement in the coming months and a report on how Australia is moving forward and the work still to be done towards a more just, compassionate and inclusive nation.

Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd noted, “In a time such as this when people are fearful of Covid-19 and the world seems to be closing down, it was inspiring to be part of a gathering of people, passionate and committed to working towards a world where all people and all of creation can flourish.”