12th Assembly 2009

UnitingJustice Australia Q&A

1. Some concern was expressed about the Uniting Church's presentation of a toolkit that did not provide a balanced view/views on the proposed Bill of Rights.

In March 2008 the ASC, further to the Eleventh Assembly statement on human rights, Dignity in Humanity, resolved to support the development of a Human Rights Act in Australia as one necessary tool for ensuring that the rights of all Australians are upheld. The toolkit was developed as an expression of this position and to encourage church members to participate in the National Human Rights Consultation. While the toolkit did address other policy initiatives, it clearly expressed the Church's stated position.
UnitingJustice also produced a number of resources which set out and described the rationale for this positon. These resources are available on the UnitingJustice website.

2. How can UnitingJustice make its work more relevant to congregations?

Over the last 12 months, UnitingJustice has made a significant effort to develop and produce resources in ways that are more accessible and more "user-friendly". We have completely redeveloped our website, produce a regular email newsletter update and have published a series of pamphlets and booklets intended to educate, inform and engage congregations and members with the justice resolutions of the Assembly and encourage active participation in working for justice. Some of our resources have proved very popular with congregations, especially the 2007 Federal Election resource and the Dignity in Humanity booklet. Given the diversity of experience of members of congregations we hope that congregations use these resources in ways that are relevant to their own life and the local context in which they express the Church's mission.  

UnitingJustice has a particular responsibility within the Assembly to communicate the Church's hopes and vision into the public forum. This means that much of our work is focused externally and often responsive to events and issues related to public policy. However, we are committed to continually improving our communication with UCA members, groups and congregations and will continue to seek ways to engage the Church in the work of justice.

3. What can the church learn from our history of acquiring wealth and looking after ourselves so we don’t make the same mistakes?

Answering this question is an activity of the Church over its history.  UnitingJustice has given this question a lot of thought this year, and we have considered the issue in the Economy of Life Statement, which is being presented to this Assembly.  The Economy of Life Statement invites us to recognise that we operate within an economic and political system, and to become conscious of the effects of that system on the choices that we make.   

The Church is called to live a life that is focused not on the accumulation of wealth, but on the worship and service of God.  However, in order to fulfil the Church’s mission we do need material and financial resources.  The issues for us are about how we acquire this wealth, how we prioritise the acquisition of resources within our mission to serve the least and most vulnerable, and to ensure that we are not hording wealth that should be used in service.

At an economic turning point, such as the one that we are currently experiencing, this question comes more sharply into focus.  As individuals, and as the Church, we must be constantly open to examining our lives to remain focussed on our mission rather than the accumulation of material resources and wealth.

Answers provided by Rev. Elenie Poulos, National Director UnitingJustice Australia.