Project Title: Being a Covenanting and Multicultural Church? Explorations of Ecclesiology in the Uniting Church in Australia

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Neil Pembroke

Project Abstract: Since the 1970s churches in the West have been grappling with how (a) their complicity in colonisation and the consequent displacement of First Peoples and (b) successive waves of migration inform their ecclesiology. The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) is no exception. A product of the ecumenical movements of the 1950s and 1960s the UCA, since its inception in 1977, has issued many official statement and publications that (a) recognise a particular ecclesiological relationship with the First peoples of Australia (termed Covenanting) and (b) proclaim and encourages itself to be a multicultural church. This has often been done through a bicultural lens; with the anglo church being in dialogue with First peoples or with people of culturally and linguistically diverse background. The purpose of this thesis is to explore how ‘ordinary theologians’, in this case young leaders in the UCA, articulate their theological understanding of being in a church that proclaims itself to have both a particular relationship with First peoples and be a multicultural church. These conversations with young people who have inhabited an Australia replete with discourse on reconciliation and multiculturalism will be brought into critical dialogue with the ecclesiology of official statements and documents from the UCA on these topics. Through this dialogue insights will be gained on (1) the ordinary ecclesiology of young leaders in the UCA (2) points of connection and disconnection with official statements/publications of the UCA (3) potential models of covenanting and multicultural ecclesiology.

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