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ACC 15th Assembly Blog

Dear ACC Members,

Yes, the decision about marriage and same-gender relationships can be reported. After another closed session tonight (Friday13th July), an official tweet emerged at approximately 8.44 pm, announcing:

"The 15th Assembly meeting of the Uniting Church in Australia has resolved to allow its ministers the freedom to conduct or refuse to conduct same-gender marriages."

The full official news report from the Uniting Church Assembly can be found here

Various verses came to my mind when hearing the result, though John 11: 35 was the most prominent. No doubt many members will have a verse, or several, and I encourage you to share these with one another over the coming days.

The ACC will provide a statement for members and congregations for Sunday 15th July. 

I draw your attention to extracts from the ACC Pastoral Letter (3 April 2018) about what to do Post Assembly July 2018:

Stand Firm: please stand firm; do not make any hasty decisions; do not act alone. We call on all our members and congregations to make a stand and say, “We are not permitted to do this. Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise. So help me God”.   

Wait: Please wait for an ACC pastoral letter and encourage others to wait and to stand firm. Noting that the ACC is committed to maintaining our current course: remaining faithful and committed to our confession that Jesus Christ alone is the living head of the Church, and adherence to the Basis of Union that commits us to the authority of Scripture.

Commit:  We encourage you to commit to attending the 2018 ACC National Conference to be held at Wesley Mission in Sydney 17-19 September 2018. At this conference we will make clear from the Basis of Union and our ecumenical partners what it means to live and work within the faith and unity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. 

Peter Bentley

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Important Update about the proposed ACC Blog: 8 July 2018

Dear ACC Members

I am sorry to inform you that I will not be able to provide a daily blog and update with a focus on the Marriage Proposals during the 15th Assembly meeting. I have been informed by the Manager for the Assembly Media and Communications Matt Pulford, of a decision regarding communication arrangements. For myself, this means that I am welcome to be present as a member of the church (as a visitor), but not in any ‘reporting’ capacity as this will be deemed ‘media’. The reason given is to protect the discernment process of the Assembly by ensuring that there is no ‘parallel reporting’. I understand this arrangement will apply to anyone seeking to ‘report’. A link to the official Assembly news is provided here, so you can check for information and news as it is provided.

Assembly members themselves have some social media capability. Further information about this is provided on the Assembly Website Social Media Guidelines.

As a past Assembly staff-person (observing the 1994 and 1997 Assembly meetings), Presbytery observer (2000 Assembly), a member of the 2003 Assembly and observer at the last four Assembly meetings for the RA/ACC, I am of course keen to observe the proceedings of the 2018 Assembly meeting and will thus be present as a visitor. I will be able to prepare a report and analysis following the Assembly meeting.

With appreciation for your understanding, grace and peace

Peter Bentley

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Dear ACC Members

The first day of the Assembly July 8 (from Sunday afternoon) will be given over to procedural and business matters, members will spend time in their Community Working Groups and then on Sunday night, the installation of the new President, Dr Deidre Palmer.

Monday July 9 will see the start of the marriage debate. From 2 pm the eight proposals that have now been confirmed will be presented in order of their receipt. This session will continue until 3.30 pm. It is purely a presentation and information session and given the number of proposals will certainly take up this time.

The Assembly Standing Committee proposals to revise the ecumenical and biblical understanding of marriage (Proposal 8) will be first and then:

Proposal 20 – Presbytery of Yarra Yarra (Victoria) – seeks to affirm the change to the Marriage Act and allow UCA ministers to celebrate marriages of same-sex couples.

Proposal 25 - Inclusive changes to the definition of Marriage. Two members seek to amend the definition in line with the ASC proposals.

Proposal 27 – Doctrine and Practice of Marriage - from two SA members. This proposes that any changes to marriage be considered of vital importance to the life of the church and thus referred for concurrence of the other councils (Synods, Presbyteries and Congregations)

Proposal 31 is the proposal from Rev Dr Hedley Fihaki and Rev Lu Senituli and seeks to affirm the UCA understanding of marriage as being between one man and one woman and with reference to the response provided by Rev Professor James Haire highlights the problems with the ASC proposals (8).

Proposal 46 – Presbytery of Port Phillip East (Victoria) – a clear message of support for the ASC proposals that propose to revise marriage

Proposal 53 – Korean Presbytery. Proposing adherence to the current definition of marriage, or maintaining the UCA position.

Proposal 57 - from Rev David de Kock (WA Synod General Secretary) and Peter Armstrong, seeks a deferral of any proposals until the 16th Assembly and a review with a Task Group to report with detailed consideration to:

  • Potential ecumenical and legal impact
  • Diverse biblical and theological perspectives
  • Concerns and hopes of, and impact on congregations and presbyteries.

It will be a full start to this UCA Assembly meeting, and I hope we will all join in prayer for the Community Working Groups as they begin to work through these proposals on Monday from 4pm – 5.30 pm, and for the reporting back process (Facilitation Group Feedback) – this will be Tuesday morning July 10).

Peter Bentley

Sunday 8 July