36. A SEASON OF TEACHING AND LEARNING (Working Group on Doctrine)

Friday, 15 June 2012

That the Assembly resolve to

1.     invite all congregations and faith communities to participate in a shared season of teaching and learning of Christian doctrine in 2014;

2.     request the Assembly Working Group on Doctrine to coordinate the provision of resources suitable for a season of teaching and learning in consultation with other appropriate people and agencies; 

3.     recommend that the season of teaching culminate with a congregational reaffirmation of baptism;

4.     encourage every member of the church to live out their calling ‘to confess the faith of Christ crucified’ (Basis of Union paragraph 13).


CHRISTIAN BELIEF MATTERS. It is imperative for Christians to be able to articulate their own experience of the God revealed in Jesus Christ drawing on the rich resources of the church’s historic faith. There have been times in history when the clarification of the church’s faith has been particularly vital. In those times one of the roles of doctrine is to help the church identify who it is by clarifying what it believes. The Doctrine Working Group believes this is such a time. In the light of Jesus’ call to discipleship and the contemporary challenges to the Christian faith, this proposal is an invitation for congregations to participate in a planned season of teaching and learning what we believe as Christians and as the Uniting Church.

CHRISTIAN BELIEF GUIDES OUR LIVING. The Basis of Union affirms that “The Church’s call is to serve [the coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view of all creation], to be a fellowship of reconciliation, a body within which the diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole, an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself” (paragraph 3). In order to fulfill this calling today, the church needs to understand its faith through an honest engagement with the doubts, questions and insights of people exploring what it means to be shaped by Christian faith today

CHRISTIAN BELIEF RENEWS OUR FAITH. The Basis of Union gives the church a clear imperative to confess the gospel in fresh words and deeds. In paragraph 5, we are encouraged to seek the wisdom of Biblical Witness; in paragraph 9, we are directed to the Creeds & Confessions and in paragraph 10 we are reminded of the importance of Reformation Witnesses. In paragraph 11 we are encouraged to sharpen our understanding of the will and purpose of God by contact with contemporary thought. Thus we are called to engage the wisdom of the past, in particular our Reformed and Evangelical tradition, so that we may act faithfully in the present. This will mean not only instruction but hearing and sharing the witness to faith by people living it in everyday life.


CHRISTIAN BELIEF DRAWS US INTO COMMUNITY. This proposal recognizes the variety of ways in which the faith of the church is challenged today: by unbelief; the multi-faith nature of Australian society and the church’s own ambiguous history. Christians bear witness in a diverse world, and are called in new ways to respond to the challenge of atheism, and to find ways of confessing the faith in the light of movements such as ‘progressive’ Christianity, consumerism and religious fundamentalisms. The current cultural climate within Australia sees the church facing increasing marginalisation and disunity. The season of teaching and learning will also give opportunity to the church to undertake activities that draw people into learning from communities with different cultural backgrounds.

CHRISTIAN BELIEF ENRICHES OUR LIFE IN THE SPIRIT. The proposal encourages the church to set aside a specific “season”, a period of time when congregations and faith communities will give concentrated time to a study of the church’s faith and how it may enrich life in the Spirit for all its members. Rather than adding to current commitments it is hoped that church calendars might be amended to give this priority. While this proposal is directed primarily to congregations and faith communities, it is hoped that UCA agencies and schools will also take the opportunity offered by this season of teaching.

CHRISTIAN BELIEF CALLS US TO MISSIONIt is proposed that in 2014 a series of four weeks be set aside in the Easter season and/or after Pentecost. That is, either one series or two series of four weeks.  Resources will be provided by the Working Group on Doctrine in co-operation with other appropriate people and Agencies. They will be flexible enough to allow their use in a variety of contexts, including multicultural ones, using a range of teaching and learning models. The resources will also encourage communities to explore how God may be calling them to articulate and live out that faith in mission, evangelism and service.