Last year, I posted a series of Affirmations relating to sexuality and same-gender attracted people, and their place in the church. These Affirmations were inspired by a summary that one of my colleagues made of various resolutions adopted by the National Assembly of the Uniting Church or its Standing Committee (thanks Avril). [You can read that post at https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/10/20/seven-affirmations/]
Recently, one of my colleagues commented that these Affirmations would make for a good creed (thanks Neil). I played with them for a bit, and came up with the series of Affirmations below. I think this sequence flows well and the key issues are identified.
I have kept pretty much the wording of the formal resolutions, although they are “tweaked” at some places, to make for a more amenable pattern for saying together in a liturgy. We have moved and developed in our understandings as a church, so the evolving language and ideas reflect that.
I baulk at calling this a creed—rather, it is a series of Affirmations (with thematic unity, listed in chronological order). You can see how I have played with the classic creeds at https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/affirming-the-teachings-of-jesus/ and https://johntsquires.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/interpreting-the-creeds-in-a-later-age/.
This post isn’t like those posts. I’m not suggesting an expansion, modification, or reinterpretation of the classic creeds. I’m simply offering a series of Affirmations which the Uniting Church, over the years, has made; and providing them in a useable public form.
Today (13 January) seems to be an appropriate day to offer these Affirmations: it is six months since the 15th Assembly made a decision which allowed UCA ministers to marry couples of the same gender in UCA churches, using an alternative approved liturgy. And six months marks the time after which there can be no suspension of the decision pending further consultation. So it is a good day to mark with these Affirmations. Here they are:
We affirm that all baptised Christians
belong in Christ’s church
and are to be welcomed at his table,
regardless of their sexual orientation.
We affirm that membership of the Uniting Church
is open to all persons.
We reject judgemental attitudes in sexual ethics
[and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.*]
We bear witness to the renewing grace of God
in all attitudes of human behaviour.
We recognise the pain of those in the church
whose sense of identity
and experiences of healing
through a faithful commitment
to a person of the same gender
was, for many years, not recognised
and not blessed by the church.
We regret that faithful Christian gay and lesbian people
have continued to experience pain in our church.
We commit to become safe communities
where people may hold diverse beliefs
and to work together as the Body of Christ.
We recognise that the possibility of living with difference
is a gift which Christ offers to the world.
We recognise that within the Uniting Church
there is a diversity of religious beliefs
and ethical understandings,
developed through continuing faithful discernment
and held with integrity
on matters relating to sexuality and marriage.
We rejoice that the Church is able
to accept this diversity within its life
and support its ministers and members
as we each act with integrity
in accordance with our beliefs.
[* I have added this phrase to clarify what I think was the specific intention of this 1997 resolution, which out of context has quite a broad scope.]