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An Informed Faith

Posted on 14 August 2014 Gavin Glenn

The Uniting Church at the beginning of the 21st century

From its beginning, despite its relatively small size, the Uniting Church has been convinced that it is a Church with a public role to play in Australia. This new book - from a variety of theologies and disciplines - is an important 'marker' of the Church's public role in Australia at the beginning of the twenty-first century

The study examines topics rarely discussed in denominational studies or by the authors of the standard texts on Australian religious history It deals honestly with themes that have newly emerged in the first decade of the twenty-first century These include the distinctive nature of Uniting Church spirituality; the tension between good management and theological faithfulness; the political involvement and ecological engagement of Uniting Church people; the Church's extraordinary cross-cultural and inter-faith commitment; and the rise of Progressive Christianity.

The book also deals with topics that have received renewed interest and sometimes heated debate in recent years, including the weakening of the Church's commitment to ordained ministry; concerns over the Church's softening attitude to scholarship the reception of the Uniting Church's founding document, the Basis of Union; controversy over Uniting Church schools; the complex place of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, the Aboriginal wing of the Uniting Church; and the struggles faced by Evangelicals within its life.

The contributors, both lay and ordained, represent a broad range of disciplines (theology, history, social sciences, environmental studies, political science), bringing both scholarship and passion to their writing. They are scholars and academics who write out of personal and practical experience, and include leading lay scholars in the Uniting Church from Australia's most prestigious universities who offer fresh perspectives from outside the Church's own formal structures.

The book is essential reading for all members of the Uniting Church, and for people – students, academics, leaders of other Christian Churches – who have a concern for the ministry and mission of the Uniting Church in Australia It offers rare glimpses into Australian religious, political, social, environmental and educational history; and serves as an accurate witness of what is happening within the Uniting Church and many of the other Churches in Australia in our time.

William Emilsen is an Associate Professor in the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University. He teaches Church History and World Religions at United Theological College in Sydney and is the founding and current editor of Uniting Church Studies. For over twenty years he has promoted scholarly reflection on the Uniting Church, co-editing Marking Twenty Years: The Uniting Church in Australia 1977-1997 and The Uniting Church in Australia: The First 25 Years.

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