In the light of:
(a) the Preamble to the Constitution of Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) which defines sovereignty to be the way in which First Peoples understand themselves to be the traditional owners and custodians, and
(b) the Statement from the Heart’s acknowledgement that sovereignty is a spiritual notion, reflecting the ancestral tie between the land and First Peoples, affirms that the First Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Islander Peoples, are sovereign peoples in this land.
The Sovereignty Affirmation Task Group will report to the Standing Committee periodically through the triennium of the 15th Assembly.
The tasks it has been set are, as follows:
1. Look at the arrangements in place between the Assembly and National UAICC, Synods and Regional Councils with respect to:
i. Concepts of “restitution” and “reparation”, particularly in respect to property usage, sales and beneficial ownership.
ii. Current structures under which UAICC operates, both nationally and at Synod levels.
iii. Resources being applied at all levels of the Church structure to develop leadership within the UAICC.
And as a result make recommendations for any changes to regulations, policies or guidelines which may be required.
2. Investigate how this affirmation might shape training for ministry and lay education within the UCA, identifying what is already in place.
3. Consider what might be required for Congregations, Presbyteries, Agencies and Schools to respond to this affirmation in their contexts.
4. Consider what foci, in response to the affirmation, the UCA should have in respect to advocacy with Federal and State Governments.
The Expected Outcomes for the Task Group are that it will:
1. Present regular updates with recommendations to the ASC and the UAICC National Executive (at least twice per annum) during this triennium.
2. It is anticipated that some recommendations from the Task Group’s work will be implemented by Synods and the Assembly during the triennium.
3. A final report with any further recommendations will be developed in conjunction with the UAICC’s National Conference in January 2021 and provided to the March 2021 ASC meeting in preparation for the 16th Assembly 2021
How the task group will work:
1. Be grounded in the gospel and build upon the tradition of the Uniting Church in Australia.
2. Live out our covenant as First and Second Peoples.
3. Live out our commitment to being a multicultural church, oriented towards justice.
4. Embody an inclusive church where those of differing ability, age, gender, race and sexuality are welcomed.
5. Ensure that the activities of the Task Group are consistent with the Basis of Union of the UCA, the Constitution and Regulations, and align with the current strategic priorities of the Assembly.
6. Consider how the work of the Task Group relates to other councils, agencies and groups within the UCA, and work collaboratively wherever possible.
7. Consider how the work of the Task Group relates to other bodies ecumenically and with other civil society organisation and work collaboratively wherever possible.
8. Where appropriate, conduct its work on the basis of rigorous, contemporary research and analysis.
The Membership of the Group appointed by the ASC, on the recommendation of the Assembly Consultant Covenanting after consultation with UAICC is as follows:
Rev Michelle Cook (Task Group Convenor)
Mrs Cheryl Lawson
Ps Mark Kickett
Rev Fie Marino
Rev Seungjae Yeon
Rev Garry Dronfield
The Task Group held its first meeting at Golden Grove in Sydney from 27-29 March 2019.
(Back row: Ji Zhang, Juliette Tautala’aso, Mark Kickett, Seungjae Yeon. Front Row: Stuart McMillan, Garry Dronfield, Michelle Cook)