The Uniting Church of Victoria/Tasmania votes to use Euthanasia

The Uniting Church has been chasing after the culture ever since its creation in 1977. While there are evangelical churches and ministers within Australia’s 3rd largest Protestant denomination, they are relatively few, and these have been engaging in formal discussions to review their association within the denomination. If the final nail in the coffin hadn’t already been laid, surely it has after today’s proceedings.

Today, the Uniting Church (Synod of Victoria and Tasmania), voted in support of motions to allow euthanasia in their agencies. …

The Uniting Church has already littered the landscape with graves where there were once churches, and now they are giving consent for their health agencies to sanction euthanasia. It is one thing for a Government to legalise euthanasia, but for an association of Christian churches to stand together and vote in favour of their own agencies to allow this practice? And then have the audacity to attach the name of Jesus to this?”

Murray Campbell shares the distressing news, and has some strong words.

(Image: UCA Vic/Tas.)

Some Research on Preaching in the Presbyterian Church of Victoria

“In March each year the Presbyterian Theological Centre in Victoria runs a Pastors’ conference to encourage faithful and engaging expository preaching in our churches. … I presented an audit report on preaching in Presbyterian churches in Victoria.

In conducting the audit I listened online to 40 preachers, with at least one from each of the 13 Presbyteries in the state. …”

David Cook shares some encouragement – at AP, the National Journal of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

(You might remember that Peter Jensen conducted a similar exercise in 2016.)

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.)

Good Friday – not just good, but glorious

“Childhood impressions linger, don’t they? I’m so grateful for (most of) them. My earliest memory of 1950s church life is full of happy thoughts, good people and full Sundays. Sunday mornings, afternoons and evenings – there was always something engaging and purposeful to do (yes, Sunday afternoons: Christian Endeavour).

As helpful as all that was, there are someone boyhood memories that need tweaking or straightening out later.

Each year, our evangelical Baptist church gave huge attention to Palm Sunday, followed five days later by a much more sombre Friday morning service. Even without specific instruction, this pattern taught me to celebrate the joy of Palm Sunday but to tone it down on Good Friday. This was the order of things, from glory to gloom: after the glory of the triumphal march into Jerusalem we must move to the gloom of the Cross. Which prompted, of course, that perennial childhood question: “Dad, why is Good Friday good? Isn’t it bad, what they did to Jesus?”

Reflecting on this glory to gloom transition, I now wonder if it needs correction. …”

– Presbyterian Moderator-General, John P Wilson, reflects on why Good Friday is glorious.

Uniting Church President: challenge to same-sex marriage vote unsuccessful

In a Pastoral Letter to members of the Uniting Church of Australia, the Assembly President, Dr. Deidre Palmer explains that the numbers needed to challenge the Assembly’s same-sex marriage decision last year were insufficient:

“Seven Presbyteries chose to exercise their right to notify me as President, that, in their opinion, the matter was ‘vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’ There were five Presbyteries in Queensland, one Presbytery in the Northern Synod and one Presbytery in the Synod of NSW and the ACT. On Saturday the 5th of January 2019, the Presbytery of South Australia met, and decided that the majority of members did not support the proposal that the Fifteenth Assembly marriage decision was a ‘matter vital to the life of the Church and there was inadequate consultation prior to the decision.’

This means that the threshold for the suspension of the Assembly decision has not been reached.

As a result, the Assembly decision on marriage stands …”

Read the full letter here.

Doubtless, members of the Uniting Church of Australia who hold to a high view of Scripture, would value your prayers for wisdom.

‘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.)

The enduring vision of Albert Mohler at Southern Seminary

Here’s an encouraging 15 minute video about the rejuvenation of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, celebrating 25 years since Albert Mohler was appointed as its President.

It’s also a good reminder to pray for Moore College and other theological colleges, they they will remain faithful and committed to the truth of God’s Word.

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’.

When the church lets you down

“In the C S Lewis classic (Screwtape Letters), senior devil whispers to his apprentice: ‘one of our greatest allies at present is the church itself’.

Screwtape is aghast that Wormwood’s patient has become a Christian, but he encourages his junior devil by saying that the church is in such a mess that ‘it matters very little … your patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous’.

I feel sad today, and ask: Is one of the devil’s greatest allies at present the church itself?

It’s one thing to have Australian society approve of same-sex marriage, but when a church approves – it’s disturbing … and confusing.

To be sure, not our church, but nevertheless a branch of the Christian church in Australia. …”

Presbyterian Moderator-General John P Wilson responds to the Uniting Church of Australia’s decision about marriage last week.

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.

The Dividing Church: When a Denomination Chooses Syncretism

“Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.” (1 Kings 18:21)

“Last week the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church of Australia adopted a motion to permit same-sex marriage for their churches. …

The deal is being packaged as a triumph for diversity, and a celebration of recognising the rights of people to marry whomever they wish. However, once we’ve stripped the rhetoric of its layer of spray paint, what’s left behind is good old-fashioned syncretism…”

– Murray Campbell doesn’t beat around the bush.

And he also encourages us all to pray for “the many Christians within the Uniting Church who have difficult conversations and decisions ahead of them”.

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

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