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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Unity and mission

World Council of Churches LogoThe Uniting Church has presented a paper on ‘Unity and Mission’ at the World Council of Churches Uniting and United Churches Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Conversation at the conference, held 29 October-4 November, centred on the South African struggle to merge former Apartheid-separated churches. 

The UCA paper on unity and mission was presented by Rev Charity Majiza.

A former refugee from South Africa, Rev Majiza is now a Melbourne-based minister and a member of the Christian Unity Working Group. Her paper discussed what unity may contribute to the mission of the church.

Also attending the event was Rev Terence Corkin, Assembly General Secretary, who says that many of the issues addressed are lively in the UCA and that the conference focused on what constitutes the basis for unity in the church. 

"In our church we clearly understand that our unity is founded in our common faith in Jesus Christ and that within that broad framework the ability to differ has a wide range of opportunities,” says Rev Corkin.

“The basic thesis of the paper was that our union sees the purpose of the church as bearing witness to the reconciliation and renewal God has in store for creation. Therefore our very unity is witness, evidence and support for God’s mission of reconciliation.

"Our consensus decision-making process means we have a high level of agreement before we say anything and then we can say it with a confident voice. If people don’t like a decision they have to live with their own choices but we never see it as appropriate to say 'like it or leave' and that’s because we understand our mission is actually unity."

The conference also highlighted the importance of context, talking about conflicts, and reflecting theologically on issues. “I remain convinced that church union is critical to the witness of the churches in Australian society and elsewhere," says Rev Corkin.

Twenty churches from 25 countries met at the 8th conference of United and Uniting Churches, which is held every seven years.

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