An urgent call to the Uniting Church

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Seventy three members and ministers met in the Newton Mission, Sydney, from 22-24 September, 2003 to share deep concerns at the fracturing unity of the Uniting Church. After intensive discussion, we are convinced that our church must reconsider what it means to be part of the universal Church, built on the testimony of the prophets and apostles. That calls people in every generation to live in sole dependence upon the grace revealed in Jesus Christ. In him, God's mercy and judgement enable us to share His transforming power, given to all believers by the Holy Spirit.

We confess our own failures in discipleship, but underline our adherence to the Basis of Union and obedience to Jesus as the Word of God, attested in Scripture, which controls and regulates faith. We do not claim perfect insight into God's purposes, but we are convinced that it is of vital importance to speak on behalf of over 20,000 people who unsuccessfully petitioned the Assembly Standing Committee.

We consider it is vital to ask how we can live in unity without being captured by the spirit of an age which rejects the belief and consequent ethics of historic Christianity. We reject this spirit and confess that we must hear the voice of the true shepherd of the sheep, the one Lord Jesus Christ, whom we are to trust and obey in life and death.

It is time for our best theological thinking, listening and mutual scrutiny with Christ-like integrity. We are dismayed by the failure of the Standing Committee to initiate serious discussion of the underlying theological issues, or to address the concerns of ethnic congregations and sister Churches. We reject the claim that the Assembly merely 'clarified' existing policy. We call upon them to test their claim by referring the matter to other councils under Clause 39 of the Constitution. The divisive effect of the Assembly's action shows the matter is vital to the life of the Church. Many feel disempowered, with no chance to critique a change in policy.

We invite similarly concerned members to join the Reforming Alliance and share with us in the prayerful search for discernment about the issues dividing the Uniting Church. The task is urgent.

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