12th Assembly 2009

About the Triennial Assembly

The Triennial Assembly is a meeting of some 265 members of the Uniting Church in Australia, elected from across the length and breadth of the country by Synods and Presbyteries. This group forms the decision-making body of the Assembly, meeting for six days every three years, in a different state each time. 

The discussion at the Assembly revolves around social and policy issues relating to the Church. The outcome is a series of decisions that affect the corporate life of the church, and its advocacy over the following three years.

The Uniting Church in Australia Constitution Clause 38 states that ‘the Assembly has determining responsibility in matters of doctrine, worship, government and discipline, including the promotion of the Church's mission, the establishment of standards for theological education and the reception of Ministers from other denominations’.

How the meeting works

The business of the six-day Assembly meeting consists of reports from the Assembly agencies and working groups; business referred by the Standing Committee and proposals brought by Synods, Presbyteries or any two members of the Assembly.

A timetable for the meeting is published ahead of the meeting, available on this website. However, due to the nature of the meeting, it is often necessary for the Business Committee to adjust the timetable from day to day.

The daily agenda offers more details on particular business to be discussed on each day of the Assembly and is distributed to members at the beginning of each day. It is made available on this website during the Assembly.

The President chairs the Assembly meeting which is operated on a consensus model of decision-making.

The work of the Assembly may be divided into three broad areas, which require different ways of working:

  1. holding the agencies and working groups of the Assembly accountable to the church;
  2. making decisions on those matters for which the Assembly has determining responsibility according to the Constitution; and
  3. making decisions that offer leadership and guidance to the church.

The Assembly is guided by Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and so a great deal of time is set aside for prayer, worship and Bible study.

Written reports are presented by Assembly agencies, together with presentations made by working groups and task groups. Time is devoted to discussing these reports and presentations in small groups, and questions are answered in plenary sessions.

Members of the Assembly also discuss proposals in table groups as a way of helping every voice to be heard. Added to that, individuals are given the opportunity to speak to the plenary and share their insights. 

Assembly members

The Assembly is a body made up of people who reflect the wide range and experience of our church across Australia.

The Assembly is made up of 265 voting members drawn from across all parts of the Uniting Church in Australia. All members of the church are welcome to attend any event or business session (unless the session is held in private - a very rare event).

Due to changes in the number of Presbyteries over recent years, different presbyteries appoint different numbers of members. For example in South Australia where there is one presbytery for the whole synod, that presbytery appoints 10 members. Most presbyteries appoint two members each but in Victoria presbyteries appoint three members and in Tasmania, six. There are presently 34 presbyteries.

The number of Synod appointments is based on a formula broadly representing their total membership – NSW/ACT (25), Northern (6), QLD (20), SA (20), Vic/Tas (26), and WA (10).

The remaining members include: six ex-officio members including the General Secretary, the President, President-elect and past-President and two representatives of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress; eight members representing Assembly bodies and agencies; six youthful members; six additional members from Congress; and eight members drawn from our migrant Congregations.

There is also scope to co-opt additional members to ensure the number of ordained members does not exceed the number of lay members.

In addition to voting members the life of the Assembly will be enriched by the attendance of many visitors from our partner churches overseas, and other international and Australian ecumenical visitors.

Included in the 12th Assembly are:

  • Worship Convenor: Rev Dr Chris Budden
  • Bible Studies: Rev Dr John Squires & Rev Elizabeth Raine
  • Cato Lecturer: Dr Daniel Smith Christopher, Professor of Theological Studies and Director of Peace Studies, Loyola Marymount University, LA.