I received a message from Rev Dr Jovili Meo in Sydney to say that the Australian Uniting Church is now a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches. Perhaps reps from Australia were observers before. This to me seems a good move as long as the reps don't try to be 'big brother' and overpower the small Pacific churches with their viewpoints, as it seems to be the way in the South Pacific Forum type of bodies.
Uniting Church in Australia joins Pacific Conference of Churches
The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed gratitude to Pacific Churches for the decision of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) to admit the Uniting Church as a member.
The Church’s application for full membership was considered by the 10th PCC General Assembly, which took place in Honiara in the Solomon Islands from 3-10 March 2013.
“This is an important and welcome affirmation of the Uniting Church’s desire to contribute to regional unity in the Pacific,” said senior UCA Pacific church leader Mrs Lisa Meo after the General Assembly announced its decision.
In its application for membership, the Uniting Church frankly acknowledged its part in and the part its predecessors played in the history of colonialism.
"Membership of the Conference helps us see where we belong and with whom we belong. It affirms that we are a Church of the South, joining with others to resist powers that demean people and damage the environment across our region. We have much to learn about how to follow Christ in our context and membership offers us more ways we can learn from others," said Rev. Dr Kerry Enright of UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church's agency for international church partnerships.
The Uniting Church’s application also committed to building on existing strong ties between Pacific and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander congregations.
One of the leaders of the Uniting Church delegation in Honiara Rev. Rronang Garrawurra said he looked forward to building on a deep shared history.
"We feel that as first peoples we can achieve more by working together than by getting help from second peoples. Membership is a form of indigenous solidarity," said Rev. Garrawurra, who is the Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
“Self-determination must be rooted in the empowerment of the people. To be self-determining in regard to their identity, they must, as a consequence, be grounded in God and the land as those created in the image of God.”
"Many Pacific people who came to Australia over the years were incorporated into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities, while Pacific church people have often served and continue to serve in Aboriginal communities."
The Uniting Church's application undertook to ensure that Pacific and indigenous communities in Australia within the Uniting Church will take a leadership role in the Church's future interactions with the PCC.
The President of the Uniting Church Assembly Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney thanked PCC members for their favourable consideration.
"Our PCC membership is a re-commitment to the founding belief of our Church that we 'are called on to bear witness to a unity of faith and a life in Christ which transcends cultural and, national and racial boundaries'.”
"It will also help us become better and more responsive church partners," said Rev. Prof Dutney.
25 March 2013