The contributors to Growing Up Uniting were encouraged to be as honest and creative as possible. Most importantly we asked them to write from the heart, to be themselves. With an eye on what helpful knowledge might be gleaned from these reflections, we then offered some non-obligatory suggestions relating to their experience of church as stimuli. Most contributors took up these suggestions but not in a wooden or mechanical manner. Rather, many incorporated them into their reflections with literary flair and lightness of touch that are a joy to read.
We believe that Growing Up Uniting shines a light on important aspects of the Uniting Church’s life that have rarely been examined before. The book captures thoughtful voices from the first generation to grow up in the Uniting Church. It contains insights that are fresh and authentic. Growing Up Uniting, we believe, is a testimony to the Church’s ability to encourage its people to be courageous and honest and unafraid to be themselves.
This collection of lively and thoughtful essays is instructive reading for anyone who cares about the present and future of the Uniting Church in Australia. The contributors write with candour about their experiences of “growing up Uniting.” The UCA’s contribution to their lives—its open and welcoming style, its encouragement of their questions and its capacity to respond with conversations that open up rather than close down further enquiry, its provision of loving and practical mentoring, its embrace of diversity and inclusiveness, its witness to radical gospel values of justice, compassion, servant leadership and rejection of oppression—is enthusiastically acknowledged. But they are not blind to their church’s shortcomings—its failure to always live up to the best impulses of the Basis of Union, its growing tendency to replace conciliar and consensus models of decision-making with corporate and managerialist ones, its loss of its early enthusiasm and imagination in the provision of youth ministries, its preference (sometimes and in some places), for hankering after old and past-it certainties rather than grasping the uncertainties of new challenges. These are the young people of our church, speaking to us all. We would do well to heed what they say, allow ourselves to be reproved by it, and let their insights and hopes temper our sometimes fearful predictions about the UCA’s future.
Dr Judith Raftery, President of UCSA Historical Society
This collection of narratives is a wonderful gift to the Uniting Church. In sharing their personal experience of being formed in the Uniting Church, the contributors highlight key elements that have shaped us and are the foundations of our identity today. The narratives offer theological reflection on who we are called to be as a community in Christ and our current context. Within the vulnerability of what is shared, and the love for the Uniting Church that is expressed, are signs of hope, for a future that is open to the creative reformation and transformation of the Holy Spirit.
Dr Deidre Palmer, President, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly
This book presents the invaluable testimony of those too young to have experienced 1977s burst of ecumenical joy yet old enough to have engaged the challenges of being the Uniting Church in Australia. A church seeking to grow young is wise to begin with listening. This book is a rare opportunity to do that—to listen to the remarkable wisdom of those who have grown up Uniting.
Rev. Dr Peter Walker, Principal of United Theological College, Sydney
One of the pleasures of Growing Up Uniting is the inherent sense of future which permeates so many stories. All too easily the Church looks over its shoulder at what was—real and imagined—and not what might me, what we hope for. This “Uniting generation” wants to participate where God is calling us, they are interested in how we are being shaped to live out our faith right now in the world around us. I am thankful for the whisper and song of the Holy Spirit which infuses their words and their lives.
Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of the New South Wales and the ACT Synod of the UCA
A Place to Belong | Tim Bickerstaff
43 Years Young | Craig Corby
A Young Fish Discovers Water | Andrew (Andy) Corkill
Evangelism or Moralism in the UCA? | Ben Cross
Notes on Liberation | Katrina Davis
The Village That Raised Me | Glenda Downie
Love Child of the UCA | Elizabeth (Ellie) Elia
Living a Fruitful Life | Justine Ganwanygawany
Faith, Hope and Love | Andrew Goodwin
Church Is Where the Heart Is | Madeline Gordon
Carried by a Loving God | Emma Halgren
Sticking with the Uniting Church | Michelle Harris
Finding Spiritual Freedom | Elvina Kioa Kramer
Moved But Never Left | Trevor Prowse
My Growing Up Uniting Experience | Roslyn Richardson
Uniting Identity: Beyond Labels | Peter Son
Being Open to the Weaver | Richard Telfer
A Place to Explore | Gavin Whitten
The Lessons of a Uniting Church Baby | Liana Whitten
Belonging to a Questioning Church | Sarah Williamson