Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Uniting Church

My faith is very important to me. I was bought up in a Christian family who worshipped in the Baptist church. My mother had been bought up Methodist but after her marriage to Dad she joined the Baptist church. We were a very eccumenical family. Dad and Mum actually met when he as a 15 year old attended the monthly Methodist service held in my grandparents home, when he went sharefarming with his dad in the Harperarry district between Boggabri and Narrabri.  That monthly service is still held in my cousins  home. Its been going for over 80 years.

There were other services on the other weeks in other homes in the area ... Presbyterian and Anglican at least and my grandparents and family and later my dad and his father  attended those as well.

When my family moved to the Gurley district in the 1950s there were services held in the hall there most Sundays... again it was Methodist, Presbyterian and Anglican. There was no service on the other Sunday so my parents said they would run a Baptist service then. They went to the various services every week. My mum who had learned to play the organ as a child probably played for all the services as required too. Some people only came to "their" service but my parents went to all of them. The point was to worship God and to gather with other Christians.

At one point we stopped going there and started going into Bellata which was a bit further away from us but they had an Anglican Sunday School and that was important with a growing family. It wasn't long before Dad and Mum were central to the running of that and Dad was asked to be the Superintendent. Dad pointed out to the Anglican priest who had asked him that he wasn't a confirmed Anglican and therefore it was against the ordinance of the Anglican church. The priest promptly made the Sunday School an interdenominational Sunday School and Dad became the Superintendent.

Eventually my parents made the switch to the newly opened Baptist Church in Moree shortly before we moved into town and so we became entrenched in the Baptist circle. My parents remained very eccumenical and were very supportive of interdenominational activities in town including the monthly rallies, the Women's World Day of Prayer etc. My parents were very often close personal friends of various clergymen from other denominations in town.

So when I went teaching on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria in 1981 I wasn't at all fazed to find that there was only one church in the mining town I was living in. I happily turned up to the weekly church services and to the bible study that was held during the week. The congregation of that little church had an Anglican minister but was made up of people from a wide range of Christian backgrounds. It was only a tiny congregation - 10-12 most weeks - but there were Baptists, Catholics, Uniting Church, Southern Baptist, High Anglicans and low Anglicans and some who had become Christians on the island so were whatever was going.

Uniting Church in AustraliaI met my future husband in that congregation. His background was Methodist but in 1977 the Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational Churches in Australia had merged to form the Uniting Church of Australia. You can read all about the Uniting Church here. He had attended a few different denominations since he became a Christian at University 

We started attending the Uniting Church closest to us when we moved to Sydney and were married. At first we went there because it was easier - FG belonged to that church (although he had never been confirmed) and I could have full membership rights as a member in association. Whereas the Baptist church wouldn't recognise FGs infant baptism. 

In time though I became committed to the UCA because I liked their stand on many things. So many churches only seemed to concern themselves with the bible and the church and few sanctioned community issues (sex drugs and gambling) The UCA spoke out on other things - the environment, refugees, pollution, aboriginal land rights. You might not always agree with what various spokespersons had to say but at least they were out there talking about it. They have tackled issues of divorce with in the church, violence against women, homosexuality. Sometimes these discussions have been divisive but at least they weren't running away from them. They were trying to be relevant - asking difficult questions and admitting that there aren't always clear answers.

Even though I could have full rights within the structure of the Uniting Church through my baptism in the Baptist Church and having gone through church membership with them, I chose to undertake confirmation with in the Uniting Church because I wanted to fully identify with it.

On a Quilting Note I have used my quilting talents to make banners to use within the church sanctuary. The first ones I made were often temporary ones - using  cardboard and paint. These were usually done as Sunday School based activities. Then I moved on to using paint and fabric. The last few years though the banners I have made have been fabric based and incorporated patchwork in a variety of ways.

these two quilts weren't made for church. I made them at workshops I attended at various times but when our then minister Suzy saw them hanging in an exhibition put on by our quilting group they spoke to her on a theological basis. She said the one on the left reminded her of creation... and then I told her it is called "Hands that Flung Stars into Space". Both of these have hung on several occasions at church

This was cross stitched by the mother of some dear friends of ours. She died after she had completed the cross stitch but before she had made it into a banner. Several years after her death I was asked by the family if I would complete it for her and I was honoured to do so and it now hangs in our church. It is the mission statement for our congregation

My two most recent finishes

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