A word of hope for us all

There are plenty of congregations, members and ministers in the Uniting Church who are disappointed by the Assembly’s recent decision on marriage – many have described the way they feel as “heartbroken”.

Personally, I think the Assembly has done its work properly and that, with God’s help, we can flourish with diversity in this matter. I’ve written about that. But I know others disagree with me.

Late on Friday night, after the decision had been taken, a colleague and friend who does not share my view sent me a really inspiring affirmation from Calvin. I share it now to encourage all of us – the devastated and the pleased. This is where our hope really lies.

Although the church is at the present time hardly to be distinguished from a dead or at best a sick man, there is no reason for despair, for the Lord raises up his own suddenly, as he waked the dead from the grave. This we must clearly remember, lest, when the church fails to shine forth, we conclude too quickly that her light has died utterly away. But the church in the world is so preserved that she rises suddenly from the dead. Her very preservation through the days is due to a succession of such miracles. Let us cling to the remembrance that she is not without her resurrection, or rather, not without her many resurrections.” [John Calvin – Commentary, Micah 4:6]


  1. Wisdom from an unexpected source! Thanks Andrew. If Calvin could believe all those years ago in the ability of the Church to revive and re-invent itself, so should we, now. I had not dared to hope that this Assembly could come up with such an excellent solution to a problem that threatened painful division and enmity. Well done Assembly 2018!

  2. Have you written about your theological views on homosexuality? I would like to see some papers on this as I feel like people are talking about their feelings a lot, but not many of our leaders will put pen to paper about what the bible says (unless they disagree with homosexuality then there is more). Our young people need to know what the bible says and I would like to be pointed to some from uniting church leaders that explain why (also not just using old testament, new as well as we must read the bible as a whole)! If you can point me onto some that would be great.

    • I’ve been giving that some thought, Jenny. I’m away this week and will try to put some of my own thoughts down when I’m back. I’ll try to identify a couple of other examples too. The Doctrine Working Group Report is good, although it was written for a different purpose. Thanks for your suggestion.

  3. Hi Andrew. In affirming the applicability of Calvin’s words to we in the UCA, did you notice his diagnosis of sickness unto death?

  4. Quote “Anything that is meant to contain you, protect you or provide you with something beneficial is [often referred to as] a she; anything that is a perceived threat is a he. That’s why cars, boats and some countries are she”.

    My guess is that my three closest Uniting churches (Houghton, Hope Valley & Tea Tree Gully) would choose not to marry a homosexual couple. This disappoints me.

    Maybe theses churches should be referred to as “he”.

    Trish Smith (Houghton)

    • Wow Trish this is so unhelpful. Men and women are created equal so any indication that men are worse then women is extremely against scripture and also just wrong.

      • I’m not implying that men & women are not created equally. I would have to say though that certain parts of “Timothy” do not promote the equality of men and women.

        “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.Do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over mam; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived;it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

      • I said worse. Women are not worse then men in these scriptures some of it is fact the women ate the apple… Then the man did. Although I do believe we need to read them in context. Your argument that churches who could have a different theological understanding of scriptures should be labeled as men is completely disrespectful of men and also women because women and men are bothful useful. Pretty sure if there were no men in the world we’d all be doomed for any future population…. Pets celebrate men and women for what they each bring to the table and speak life not death!!

    • Hang on I am saying that I don’t believe women are worse then men and these scriptures don’t say that…. I think you got me confused there.

  5. The quote was a google definition of using gender pronouns for inanimate objects as John Calvin did when he referred to the church as “she” or “her”.
    And from there……….marriage equality & the Uniting Church.

  6. Gay Religious Suicide – why we can never count the cost

    Research demonstrates something I have been pointing out for some time now. That is, that LGBT people of faith and religion experience the usual issues of resolving their sexuality or gender identity, coming out, finding their place in the community and learning what it means to live authentically in a predominately straight world. They often however, experience these things with greater intensity and also have additional issues to deal with making them potentially one of the highest risk groups in our community.
    The research project Writing Themselves In 3 (WTi3) 2010 interviewed 3,134 LGBT young people aged 14-21.

    When religion was mentioned the key findings were:

    More likely to feel bad about their same sex attraction.
    More likely to have experienced social exclusion or had to tolerate homophobic language from friends.
    More likely to report homophobic abuse in the home.
    More likely to report feeling unsafe at home.
    More likely to not be supported by their mother, father, brother, teacher or student welfare coordinator/counsellor, when disclosing their SSA.
    More likely to report thoughts of self harm and suicide or to carry out self harm.
    Previous research has shown that LGBT youth are 4-6 times more likely to attempt suicide so this recent research has demonstrated that my assumptions are correct. Thoughts of and attempts to suicide are much higher for LGBT people of faith.

    More detailed research about this specific group is underway. Sex and the Sinner: Comparing Religious and Nonreligious Same-Sex Attracted Adults on Internalized Homonegativity and Distress 2014

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