Where to from here? Assembly of Confessing Congregations national conference meets in Sydney

This week (Monday 17th – Wednesday 19th September 2018) the National Conference of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church of Australia meets in Sydney.

The most important business will be a response to the Uniting Church’s decision in July [earlier related posts] to have two different and contradictory doctrines of marriage, thus allowing for same-sex marriage while pretending to have not changed anything important.

Doubtless, all attending the conference would value your prayers for godly wisdom.

In the September 2018 issue of their ACCatalyst magazine, The Rev Dr Tim Patrick, Principal of the Bible College of South Australia, writes (“Uniting Sin & Farce”),

“So where to from here? I am incredibly encouraged by the evangelical Uniting Church ministers who have called their congregations to forty days of prayer as they discuss next steps. I have no privileged inside knowledge, but I know they are talking together about the best group action that can be taken. There could perhaps be a fellowship established within the Uniting Church that parallels the GAFCON movement in the Anglican Communion. Or maybe a mass exodus to another denomination or accrediting body. Or something else. This is not my decision to make, but I do think that a coordinated approach will best serve the evangelical churches and congregation members far better than if each just independently started heading off in different directions.

There are, however, two possibilities that I would particularly love to see explored. The Uniting Church as a whole could turn back to its historic doctrine and thus abandon the sinful and absurd outcome of the recent Assembly. This would bring real joy to so many as the great desire of our hearts is to experience that unity for which the church is named with those whom we dearly love as our sisters and brothers. However, if this cannot happen, perhaps those who are so keen for the change should consider leaving the denomination. …” (pages 32 and 33).

The same edition of ACCatalyst notes (page 4) that the Assembly of Confessing Congregations was granted observer status at GAFCON 2018 in Jerusalem.

Of possible interest for ACC members is “The Crisis of ’77” by The Rev. Bob Thomas, on the 1977 decision by some in the Presbyterian Church to ‘continue’.

Uniting Church: Post 15th Assembly Pastoral Letter from the Assembly of Confessing Congregations

“In our view, the UCA Assembly has removed itself from the faith and unity of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

On behalf of the National Council of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, we therefore say in the strongest terms possible, that we reject not only this decision, but the authority of the National Assembly and therefore stand aside from this Council of the Church. …”

The Rev. Dr. Hedley Fihaki writes on behalf of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations National Council.

Doubtless, many in the Uniting Church would value your prayers for wisdom.

Update:

The 15th Assembly’s Resolution on Marriage and same-gender relationships has been published:  Read more

Uniting Church threatens to split over liberal same-sex marriage stance

“The Uniting Church is facing growing unrest as conservative factions push for it to reverse its decision to allow ministers to perform same-sex marriages.

Multiple conservative movements have been gaining force since the church last year gave ministers the right to perform the ceremonies.

conservative worshippers claim they are being disciplined and isolated for participating in networks like the Assembly of Confessing Congregations.

Members of the Campsie Uniting Church in New South Wales said they were barred from the church and left to worship on the footpath. …”

– Story from ABC News.

Earlier, related, stories.

(Photo: Dr. Deidre Palmer, Uniting Church President.)

‘Uniting Church Ministers might be forced to stop marrying same-sex couples’

“Same-sex couples planning to wed in the Uniting Church in coming months might be forced to make alternative plans, after the general secretary warned that all same-sex weddings could be paused from November. …

Under the church’s constitution, within six months of a decision being made at the assembly, if 50% of the presbyteries (local bodies) in 50% of the synods (state bodies) lodge an objection and say there was not enough consultation for a decision, it has to be paused until there can be another vote. …”

– Story from BuzzFeed. (Photo: Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer.)

Related:

Resources from last month’s Assembly of Confessing Congregations National Conference in Sydney have now been posted on their website. (Bishop of South Sydney, Dr. Michael Stead, gave the keynote address, explaining the Anglican situation, and the reasons for the formation of GAFCON.)

A message to Uniting Church members about the decision on marriage

Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer explains how the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church of Australia came to adopt an internally inconsistent and unbiblical view of marriage while, at the same time, calling it a great triumph of unity.

Watch and weep.

See also these Responses to the 15th Assembly, published by the Assembly of Confessing Congregations, including this one (PDF):

“The summary statement concerning the marriage debate to come out of the Uniting Church’s recent Assembly that reads, ‘We will hold two equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage’ is a fallacy. Why?

Imagine that the Uniting Church released this statement: ‘We will hold two equal and distinct statements of belief on adultery. The first: Members have a choice to be faithful in marriage. The second…”

And do pray for Uniting Church members, that they would have great and godly wisdom and courage to act.

Crunch time for the Uniting Church of Australia

The Uniting Church of Australia’s 15th Assembly meets in Melbourne this week, 8th – 14th July 2018.

The theme of the 15th Assembly is “Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope”,

However, the big question to be decided is whether the UCA will submit to God’s word in Scripture, or adopt a new doctrine of marriage – marriage being between any two people, regardless of gender.

A growing number of UCA ministers and Church Councils have have attached their names to this statement:

If the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church adopts these proposals in or close to their current form, we humbly state that in accordance with our prayerful convictions, we will not accept these decisions, and we will stand apart from them in ways that we will determine after the Assembly meets.

More from the Assembly of Confessing Congregations. Much to pray about.

Update: 15th Assembly blog:

“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. …”

Response by former UCA President to Uniting Church Same-Sex Marriage Proposal

In July, the Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia will vote on a proposal, brought by the Assembly Standing Committee, to change the doctrine of marriage and understanding of marriage within the UCA to be for any ‘two people’. Many see this as a ‘make or break’ moment for the UCA.

Dr. James Haire, ninth President of the Uniting Church in Australia, has published his response to the proposals. Quite apart from Biblical reasons to oppose them, he believes they would make it impossible for the Uniting Church in Australia to continue to exist according to its founding documents:

“The final sentence of Paragraph 2 of the Basis of Union (Of the Whole Church) states: ‘The Uniting Church declares its desire to enter more deeply into the faith and mission of the Church in Australia, by working together and seeking union with other Churches’ …

proposals (b), (c)(ii) and (d).1 are likely to cause further fracturing of relations between the UCA and other Churches in Australia, and certainly are likely to go against any moves to seek ‘union with other Churches’.”

Read it all here. (PDF file.)

And, from Peter Bentley, National Director of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations within the Uniting Church in Australia:

“In a nutshell, my view is that the adoption of the proposals would make the Uniting Church cease to be the Uniting Church as we know it, even it still has the legal name. … The grand experiment of ‘Uniting’ that was begun in 1977 as a church movement that was not ‘its own denomination’, but part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church would simply be no more.”

– Read this, and related articles, in the June 2018 edition (PDF file) of Confessing Congregations’ magazine “ACCatalyst”. (Photo: ACC.)