12th Assembly 2009

Uniting Church votes for historic acknowledgement of Indigenous Australians

The Uniting Church in Australia today voted for a new preamble to its constitution, acknowledging the First Peoples of Australia and the troubled history of their relationship with the Christian Church.

The change was described as creating a platform on which to build a better relationship between Aboriginal and other members of the Uniting Church.

The new preamble was approved by the Uniting Church’s 12th Triennial Assembly, meeting at the University of New South Wales from July 15 to 21.

The language of the preamble was drafted by a special task group in consultation with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and the general secretaries of each state-based synod and the Assembly.

The Rev. Dr Chris Budden, chair of the task group, recalled the comment of a Congress chairperson who said, “Growing up in a nation that doesn’t recognise you makes it impossible to dream.”

Dr Budden said the new preamble sought to move the Uniting Church in Australia beyond the story of the three denominations (Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist) that came into union in 1977.

“The present preamble tells how we became ‘Uniting’,” he said. “The new preamble tells what it means to be ‘in Australia’.”

The new document was the result of a two years consultation across synods and presbyteries, and extensive theological input, he said.

“We have started to talk about ourselves and our history in a more honest way. In owning your history you own your relationships more hopefully and helpfully.”

Rev. Alistair Macrae is available for comment.

Media contact: Amy Goodhew, National Communications Unit: 0421 785 488.