33. RECONCILIATION PEOPLE: A STATEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL YOUNG ADULTS LEADERS’ CONFERENCE OF THE UCA FEBRUARY 2012 (Standing Committee)

Friday, 15 June 2012

That the Assembly

 

1.         receive the statement “Reconciliation People”

We, young leaders in the Uniting Church in Australia, believe in a God of love, whose will for the world is justice, reconciliation and peace. As “pilgrim people”, we are called to continually discern where God calls us to act. We feel passionately about these issues and we commit ourselves to action.

We are concerned by domestic policies that punish already vulnerable people, such as compulsory income management in Northern Territory Indigenous communities, and the indefinite, mandatory detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat. With God’s help, we choose to be foolish enough to attempt what many see as impossible: we stand in solidarity with the victims of injustice and discrimination, in particular the First Peoples of this land, refugees and asylum seekers. We do this following the example of Jesus, who teaches that non-violent action is the path to peace.

As future caretakers of the land that we live in, we are upset at the misuse of the natural environment for greed and consumerism and the lack of compassion towards those affected. Our country is not responding enough. Knowing that our country is positioned to make a significant international commitment to climate change, we will act responsibly by advocating for investment in renewable energy and endeavouring to make responsible, ethical decisions in our day to day living.

We believe in a God who seeks for the reconciliation of all people; we are also members of a church that is still “Uniting”. We challenge our church, our government and our nation to listen deeply to the knowledge and cultures of our First Peoples. The continued displacement and oppression of the Indigenous people of Australia must stop. We believe that recognition of the Indigenous peoples as the First Peoples in the Australian Constitution is essential for the continued reconciliation journey for all Australians. We must be open to continued conversation and dialogue, if we are serious about pursuing genuine relationships with the First Peoples. In Christ, we are sisters and brothers, and we commit ourselves to stand alongside each other in love and friendship.

We believe that we were all created equal and are one people in the eyes of God. We encourage our country to embrace and celebrate our diversity. We challenge our government to welcome, with empathy, those who seek refuge in our land. There is no supremacy of any culture or gender; rather, when we work together as a united people, in recognition of, but regardless of difference, we will bring about change.

As young leaders of the Uniting Church in Australia, we will continue to be daring in decisions, to push boundaries, and to take pride in achievements of those past and present, while continually discerning how to be God’s Church in a 21st century multicultural and multi-faith Australia. We, too, are part of the problems of the world, but we commit ourselves to work towards God’s promised goal of the reconciliation of all things by working for justice and for peace in our nation and beyond.

2.         express support for young leaders to find their voice and welcome their leadership in the life of the Church.

 

Rationale:

The National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC) was held on February 2-7, 2012 at Naamaroo Conference Centre in Sydney. In attendance were around 75 Uniting Church young leaders from across the country, representing indigenous communities and the cultural diversity of the UCA. The NYALC conference was hosted by Rev. Alistair Macrae, President of the UCA, and Rev. Ken Sumner, chairperson of the UAICC, with a team of facilitators.

One session within the conference was facilitated by Rev. Elenie Poulos from UnitingJustice. Rev. Poulos encouraged the delegates to think about and discuss what justice means for the church. The 1977 Statement to the Nation was presented, considered and discussed, which led to a challenge from Rev. Poulos: what would the NYALC delegates want to say to the nation at this time in 2012?

In table groups, 200 word statements were developed and produced for the conference to consider, highlighting social justice issues considered most important to the NYALC delegates. From there, a small drafting group of around 8 people was gathered to put work on combining the statements together to form one statement that could be brought to the Assembly via the Assembly Standing Committee. It is this statement that is presented here.

The statement is not perfect, nor does it encapsulate every justice-based concern held by the delegates and facilitators of NYALC. What it does do is represent some of the key justice issues as understood by young people within the Uniting Church, and how they intend to commit to changing them in practical ways, following the example of Jesus.