Uniting Church Studies – An introduction

Uniting Church Studies – An introduction

Scott Leslie – Transition Ministry Coordinator

In July I spent a week taking a course called Uniting Church studies. The course is designed for people who are coming into ministry in the Uniting Church from other denominations, and for those coming from overseas. I met a great bunch of fellow students and it was encouraging to hear about their varied backgrounds, and their ministry in the UCA.

On the first day we visited three church buildings in the CBD representing each of the denominations which joined to form the Uniting Church. We were fascinated to hear from ministers who were ordained to the Congregationalist, Presbyterian and Methodist churches and then joined the Uniting Church in 1977.

For the remaining four days of that week we were at CTM in Parkville. We heard an extensive examination of the history and theology of the UCA
with particular reference to the Basis of Union. We also looked at the structure of the UCA and had a moving presentation from the Uniting Aboriginal
and Islander Christian Congress. We learned of the multi-cultural nature of the Uniting Church along with ecumenism and the importance of women’s roles in the UCA. Additionally, we discovered the many ways in which the UCA serves the nation and the world and talked about worship in the Uniting Church. This five day section of the course was full of information, and I had a chance to further work through some of it by doing assignments, and attending Church services.

On the Sunday after that first week the students attended an ethnic congregation for a service. I went to the Tongan church in Canterbury and was warmly received there. The service was joyous and the singing spectacular. After the service we spoke to the Minister about his congregation, and issues which are particular to them. It was very helpful to see a different setting. A few weeks later, I attended a service at North Melbourne Uniting Church. This was very liturgical in style and they have communion every week. It was interesting to look at this style of service which is rare
in the Uniting Church and contrast it with the welfare work in which the church is involved in the local area. Again, the discussion with the Minister was helpful. Overall, the program was a positive one.

There was a lot of information to digest, and things continue to pop up into my mind. I think this is a good general introduction, and my studies at Pilgrim College will allow me to dig deeper into some areas. Last Semester I completed a Pastoral Care subject called ‘Self and Other’ and this Semester I am taking a subject called ‘Developing a Mission Theology for Today’. Both subjects are very relevant for my role here.