At our first meeting in the offices of the China Christian Council in Shanghai the Rev Gao Feng, the CCC President, said how impressed he and the CCC delegation had been by the way the Uniting Church’s 13th Assembly went about making decisions last year. In fact, he said, they had decided to adopt some of our practices at the quinquennial Assembly that had been held just the week before.
For the first time ever they had scheduled a time of open discussion about one of the matters of business. Also for the first time they had elected the CCC office bearers by secret ballot.
Practices that the Uniting Church just assumes to be right and necessary to a council’s discernment were experienced as an exciting new possibility by our Chinese partners.
As our meetings continued over the next few days both Rev Gao and the CCC General Secretary, the Rev Kan Baoping, referred several times to the impact the Uniting Church’s 13th Assembly had on them. I was grateful for this affirmation, and accepted it as an invitation to ask what other Uniting Church practices in decision-making and oversight are just assumed – accepted as given without further thought.
More than one person reminded us during those meetings that wisdom begins with questioning our assumptions. Until they are explored and tested by questioning, our practices or ideas aren’t wisdom or knowledge. They’re just practices or ideas – and they are not a source of growth.
This is just one example of how visiting the church in China became an impetus to thinking more carefully about the church in Australia.