The Uniting Church in Australia has always thought of itself as part of God’s pilgrim people. It expects its social and cultural surroundings to be continually changing as it moves forward. It understands that the church will be constantly adapting to the new challenges and opportunities for mission at each stage of the journey. In this book, Andrew Dutney invites us to take our bearings.
Where is the Uniting Church in the Australian society now?
What have we been learning on the journey so far?
What will build in us the resilience we need to continue as people of God on the way to the promised end?
Do not read this alone. If you can, read it with your village – the people who are raising you and the people you are raising. Read it with your homegroup. Take it to your book club. Toss it around on social media. But do not read this alone if you can help it.
I didn’t write it that way. I didn’t write it alone. This is an echo of many conversations. Of disagreements, admissions, concessions, and dissensions. It expresses my point of view. I like to think it is an “informed” point of view. But its pointiness has been blunted a lot over recent years – for the sake of friendship and out of simple honesty in the presence of so many others whose points of view are equally informed, but informed differently to mine.
So do not read this alone. Read it with people you don’t understand, but like. Read it with people you don’t like, but want or need to understand. Read it with people who do you the great service of troubling you. That shouldn’t be too hard in the diverse fellowship of Christian people we call the Uniting Church in Australia.
In this little book, I am reflecting on the journey of the Uniting Church in Australia – in the wilderness. There are many dimensions to our wilderness. Some concern the loss of a safe, secure home in the bosom of the Australian society. I name these in Part One of this book. Some concern the recognition of the lie that the Australian nation has been built on – the legal fiction of terra nullius – and the unfinished, barely imagined work of justice and reconciliation that lies ahead. These are the focus of Part Two of this book. Some concern the way our diversity turns to dividedness over such things as the reading of scripture and the nature of doctrine – especially in relation to sexuality and marriage. I turn to these in Part Three of this book. These are the features of our wilderness that I observe and reflect on in this little book. There are many other dimensions too that I do not consider here. But this is not a survey of our wilderness. This is not a straight path across and out of it. I am not trying to map it, to master it, to colonise it, or to develop it. I am wandering our wilderness here. Wandering with you. Wandering while we wait for the angels we know to be here.
So, if it’s up to you, do not read this alone. You need companions in the wilderness to back you up, to share your load, to encourage you. To be witnesses: You Were Here.