Uniting

Theological underpinning

Service Detail

Theological underpinning

Introduction

At Uniting, we believe in taking real steps to make the world a better place. We work to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice. As the services and advocacy arm of the Uniting Church NSW & ACT, we are proud of our connection with the church.

The following is a brief theological rationale for the key elements which make up who we are as Uniting. It begins from the bottom (foundation) and works upwards.

Our foundation

“Christ invites us to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world.”

It is important that the starting point and foundation to the Uniting Brand be Christological in nature. This is in keeping with who we are as part of the Uniting Church in Australia. The Christological nature of our Church is clearly articulated in the Basis of Union.

“The Uniting Church acknowledges that the faith and unity of the Holy Catholic and
Apostolic Church are based upon the one Lord Jesus Christ.”

(Basis of Union para. 3)

A thoughtful and prayerful reading of the Gospels reveals to us a Christ who invites people into a Spirit inspired movement to transform the world into a place of justice and harmony for all. Jesus takes up Isaiah 61:1-2 as his mission statement –

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
Because he has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
And recovery of sight for the blind,
To release the oppressed,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

(Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2)

Our foundational statement seeks to express this mission in language that is easy to understand.

Note: For extra reading on Christology see the attached appendix

Our values

“Imaginative, compassionate, respectful, bold”

The values spring from a belief that human beings are able to make manifest this mission of Christ in the world. This stems from a Biblical understanding of the place of humanity within creation. Christian thought views humanity as being made in the ‘image of God’ (imago dei). Part of being made in the image of God is that we have the capacity to be co-creators with God (Gen.2:4-25). We are creative beings granted the gift of caring for all creation. We have the capacity to imagine a future and then work to bring that future into being.

Humans have the capacity to love. Throughout Scripture this is commanded of humans. But it is also true that our capacity to love can be enhanced and inspired directly by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Love is the first of the fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23. Compassion and respect, which are central to our approach, are two important components of authentic love.

When people are fired and inspired by the Spirit they become bold and courageous (Acts 2:1-41). And so Christ invites people to be part of a mission and then people are equipped for the task. St Theresa of Avila expresses this nicely.

"Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world
Christ has no body now on earth but yours."

Our Pillars

‘Community and Innovation, Social Justice and Advocacy, Empowering people’ otherwise expressed as ‘Better together, be the change, be yourself.’

The three pillars cascade naturally out of the foundation and values. They speak strongly of hope and a belief that given the right opportunities people and communities can develop a shared vision for a better society. There is a faith dimension to these pillars that has the capacity to silence the rampant cynicism that is so much a part of our society today.

Our hope is built on a belief that God does not leave us alone in the task of servanthood that is placed before us. This is an expressed belief of the Uniting Church in Australia articulated in the Basis of Union.

"The Uniting Church, affirms that every member of the Church is engaged to
Confess the faith of Christ crucified and to be his faithful servant. It acknowledges
with thanksgiving that the one Spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church
with a diversity of gifts, and that there is no gift without its corresponding
service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ."

(Basis of Union para. 13)

Brand promise

'Courageous Action’

Under ‘our values’ we have already suggested that inspired people are courageous. There is tenacity in those who become part of God’s mission in the world. Again the apostle Paul speaks of this capacity to persevere as a hallmark of love (1 Cor.13:7).

Our purpose

‘To inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice.’

This purpose statement reflects well the understanding of Mission as reflected by UnitingCare Australia. In UnitingCare Australia’s faith Foundations document we read, ‘the Uniting Church in Australia shares in the Judaic-Christian vision of a restored creation and a united humanity, a vision of a just and participatory society under God, in which all people, no matter their age, gender, sexuality, ability, class, colour, creed or cultural origins, are treated justly as one people.’ The purpose statement articulates this vision clearly and succinctly in a single statement.

When connected back to the foundation ‘Christ invites us to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world’ it is easy to see that the purpose is a clear reflection of this foundation. This means that although the brand ambition on a page is presented as a set of building blocks on top of each other it is also circular in nature. This fits in well with the concept of reflective practice. We are led to think about our purpose in light of our Christological foundation and then as we live out our purpose we are reminded of our foundation.

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