Are You Considering a Change to Uniting Church?
You may have come to feel out of place in your current church, but you’re never out of place with God.
Whilst every church aspires to be universal, the reality is that each has its own characteristics. Change can be challenging for churches that are naturally conservative. For some Christians such conservatism fits with their general worldview, whilst others are prepared to overlook what they hear from the pulpit in order to remain in familiar surroundings. For some, though, the gap between what they are taught to believe in church and their social conscience becomes unbridgeable.
The Uniting Church of Australia – our country’s third largest church – offers a home for all Christians, including those with a progressive view. The UCA theology gives primacy to the Great Commandments – to love God and to love your neighbour – and emphasises the many, many things that unite Christians, leaving the relatively few points of division to the individual conscience.
Aside from teen years, I had been a member of another Christian church since birth, as had my husband. Leaving that church was a difficult and complex decision, made gradually over many years. Our increasing sadness and disconnection was more to do with church hierarchy and the implications of some teachings than with spiritual issues or the local church community.
There were times of ‘soul searching’, prayer, considering alternatives and discussions with family and friends, including some who had already left the church. It became increasingly obvious that attempting to live and grow as Christians in our current world is a challenge and both of us were starting to appreciate the importance of a ‘faith community’ for sharing ideas, insights, guidance and encouragement.
During this time we were becoming aware of the environmental and social justice actions of the Uniting Church, including its inclusive views on gender and sexuality. When we made the final decision to leave our former church, the Uniting Church seemed the ‘best fit’ with our personal values.
We had recently moved to the Northern Beaches. For some time I had been noticing community activities at Balgowlah UC –playgroup, School for Seniors, Lifeline.
One Sunday morning I finally took the plunge and went to a church service. I planned to just quietly slip in and watch, not expecting the welcome I received or the invitation to morning tea afterwards. My memories of early weeks of attending services at Balgowlah UC included surprisingly familiar hymns and prayers, mixed with unfamiliar ones. In my previous church, women cannot be ordained so seeing Rev Mata conducting a service was a little surprising at first. I cannot recall exactly what she was preaching during that first service, but it struck me as warm and wise.
Over the past few years we have become more involved with Northern Beaches Uniting Church – attending services and the Christian Meditation group. I have also joined the music group, Lenten Discussion groups and being involved in some special projects such as the garden.
This is a kind, tolerant and diverse faith community where I have met some wonderful people who inspire me, make me think, encourage me to look at God and life in new ways.