A small, precious, and fragile object of God’s grace: The Uniting Church after 40 years

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


    What is there to celebrate after 40 years of the Uniting Church in Australia? Reflection on the Uniting Church is often celebratory, antiquarian, or in narrative form. If the fortieth anniversary of the Uniting Church is to be di­rectly relevant to the church, it deserves analytical treatment in the light of Biblical theology, history, tradi­tion and pastoral experience. This paper argues that the Uniting Church has survived in spite of considerable ex­ternal and internal threats to its life. It explores the miracle of the existence of the Uniting Church despite secularisation, apathy and atheism on the one hand, and self-destructive, delusory and marginalising tendencies on the other. The decline of the Uniting Church will not be slowed either by acquiescence to the outside world or by self-deception about the internal state of the church. If the Uniting Church is to survive into the future, it will need to continue to recover its deep theological and philosophical basis as well as heed the warnings of other, similar churches and para-church organisations that have also declined. While the Uniting Church is de­clining more slowly than is often predicted, if it is able to see itself as a small, precious and fragile object of God's love it may have a much longer life-expectancy than cur­rent projections.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationA Pilgrim People: 40 years on
    Subtitle of host publicationThe proceedings of the inaugural Uniting Church National History Society Conference, June 9-12, 2017
    EditorsRobert W. Renton
    Place of PublicationMelbourne, Australia
    PublisherUniting Church National History Society
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)9780980716856
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventInaugural Uniting Church National History Society Conference 2017 - Pilgrim Uniting Church, Adelaide, Australia
    Duration: 09 Jun 201712 Jun 2017


    ConferenceInaugural Uniting Church National History Society Conference 2017
    Abbreviated titleA Pilgrim People: 40 Years On
    OtherThe Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has decided to establish a National Historical Society. This is good news for the UCA and for the cause of history! Those of us already engaged, through state UCA Historical Societies, through the teaching of religious/church history or through regional or local church history groups and programs, welcome this move and look forward to what it will contribute to the important processes of understanding, recording, debating and celebrating our history and allowing that history to inform our future journey as a pilgrim people on the way.

    To formally launch the new national society, and also to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the UCA (not to mention the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation!) a conference is being planned for 9-12 June 2017 (the Queen’s birthday long weekend). The conference will be held at Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide, starting at 5.00pm on Friday 9 June and finishing by 12noon, Monday 12 June. It will feature a mix of

    major contributions from specially invited keynote speakers and panel discussants
    short papers presented by conference participants (who will be academics, non–academics, local historians, archivists, former missionaries, members of UAICC, clergy, laity – in fact anyone interested in and engaged with UCA history)
    workshops and field visits
    plenty of opportunities for networking and conviviality.
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