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    Uniting Faith & Justice : a biographical essay

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    Uniting Faith and Justice: a bibliographic essay

    21 YEARS OF THE UNITING CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA'S
    SOCIAL JUSTICE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: 1977 - 1998

    Rev. Robert G. Stringer, Secretary for Social Justice 1992-1998[...]duction

    The twenty years of commitment to social justice by the Uniting Church in Australia is
    an interest[...]ents where the National Social Responsibility and Justice
    Agency and its predecessors in the Uniting Church[...]and the actions taken. The focus is on the social justice and human rights
    work of the national Assembly, b[...]ption, been a church publicly
    committed to social justice and human rights. In the Basis of Union it states[...]ssembly stated its mandate with respect to social
    justice:

    "A Christian responsibility to[...]
    [...]ic life,
    the proclamation of truth and justice, the rights for each citizen to participat[...]thers."2

    Within this public commitment to social justice the UCA set up committees nationally
    and in each state to co-ordinate and act for social justice and human rights. A similar
    public commitm[...]
    An Intercouncilar Church

    The social justice witness was never intended to be the exclusive preserve of the
    Social Responsibility and Justice committees but was seen as permeating all the
    mis[...]1977 by the Commission for World Mission with its Justice and
    Human Development Committee guided by the ful[...]Dick
    Wootton. In recent times concern for social justice has become part of the curriculum
    of Uniting Educ[...]National Mission and Evangelism Committee.
    Social justice featured prominently in the mandate of the newly[...]oderators have made numerous
    statements on social justice. Individual church members have taken acti[...]ssembly committees. This has aided the sharing of
    justice commitments.




    Not Without Controversy

    In the[...]Caledonia, Taiwan, Latin and Central America. The justice support given by the staff
    of the Uniting Church[...]s that have been built and the commitment made to justice against unjust
    regimes of the Uniting Church and[...]Dick Wooton was the full time staff person of the Justice and Human Development
    Committee, Commissio[...]
    [...]tand the strength of this commitment to prophetic justice it is important to
    identify some of the main expe[...]l to the church's understanding of solidarity
    and justice: people must be free to decide; solidarity[...]ment
    in Montreux where the key issues were social justice, self-reliance and economic
    growth. For him the emphasis on social justice was the key to qualifying the rate and
    style of e[...]ng" which meant
    the development of a new focus on justice whereby grassroots people were trained
    and organi[...]people are able to
    organise themselves for social justice cam the oppressed regain their dignity and
    help secure justice and dignity for all.11

    The mission agenci[...]
    [...]place and wherever demonstrations took place for justice and
    human rights. Church members were encouraged[...]8115, was co-ordinated by a Uniting Church social justice researcher, the Rev.
    Stuart Reid. This was another important influence in the social justice development
    taking place in the churches.




    You[...]Robert Stringer (then
    Synod Consultant for Social Justice in the Synod of Western Australia) on the URM
    Committee of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) the social justice staff of the
    UCA were able to bring the insights[...]e marginalised into the main
    stream of the social justice commitment of the Uniting Church. Through[...]
    [...]lieves that there has been a split between
    social justice and evangelism within the Uniting Church18, most staff who work for
    justice would affirm that they are attracted to a Christ[...]Uniting Church because of its deep
    commitment to justice.

    In the beginning each synod has employed[...]me staff in the
    area of social responsibility and justice. The churches at Union did not have any
    na[...]venor, an unpaid position, of the national social justice committee was Rev
    Noel Preston, based at that tim[...]important to note because many aspects of
    social justice were associated with the city missions and commun[...]this area were very outspoken critics and social justice
    advocates, such as the Rev Allan Walker.22 In the[...]ter, The Uniting Church in Australia and Economic Justice: The Changing Australia
    Controversy, unpub[...]of Sydney 1990. p. 13
    19 Robert Stringer, Social Justice as a form of Evangelism, an unpublished pa[...]
    [...]rtheid Laws? Sydney, Uniting Church World
    Mission Justice Fund and the Australian Council of Churche[...]
    [...]where possible. In the
    decade after Union, social justice was one of the areas where this ecumenical
    commit[...]actions. Historically, ecumenical
    commitment for justice and development had been expressed through the wo[...]on between the
    Australian Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) and the Uniting
    Church, particularly in the UCA's commitment to justice for indigenous peoples. This
    general commitment to social justice emerged in the development of a common day
    for the celebration of Social Justice Sunday (the last Sunday in September), a day on
    which the CCJP had traditionally issued their annual social justice statement.

    Based on this growing shared commitment to social justice and confidence with each
    others public statements it was decided in 1983 to produce a common social justice
    statement on economic justice entitled Changing Australia34. This was prepared[...]e ACSR.

    Changing Australia focused on the social justice changes needed to develop greater
    justice and equity in Australian society. It advocated a[...]esponsibility Commission, Catholic Commission for Justice
    and Peace, Australian Council of Churches and ACS[...]ter, The Uniting Church in Australia and Economic Justice: The Changing Australia
    Controversy, unpubl[...]
    [...]he CCJP was replaced by the Bishops Committee for Justice,
    Development and Peace. The new body is di[...]p's Conference.




    Bringing it all Together with Justice

    In 1986, there was a major restructuring when th[...]. At that time the work of
    social responsibility, justice and human rights were brought together in the one[...]ew name of the Assembly Social Responsibility and Justice
    Committee (ASR&JC). The new structure was clearly committed to social justice,
    using the insights of the solidarity mode[...]nsibility Commission, the Catholic Commission for
    Justice and Peace, Australian Council of Churches and the[...]Council of Churches, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace and The uniting
    Church in Australia Social Responsibility and Justice Committee, A Just and Proper Settlement,
    Melbour[...]lities Commission, The Australian Catholic Social
    justice Council, the ACC Commission on Church and[...]
    [...]mid-1990s. This commitment to
    solidarity with and justice for people developed and led to some high profile[...]. Such actions were important in the struggle for
    justice and led to dialogue with the management of the co[...]lect theologically on the process of doing social justice. This was
    reflected in the new program ann[...]out in the small study book The Church
    and Social Justice: A Call to Wholeness48. In Australia's bic[...]in instigator within the Church of
    the "March for Justice" led by the Rev Charles Harris and other indigeno[...]en ASR&J has continued to
    work with the UAICC for justice for indigenous peoples along with the Rev John
    Br[...]er Keith Suter on peace and disarmament, economic justice
    and uranium were brought to the Assembly in 1985,[...]r study and reflection under the titles:
    Economic Justice51, Peace and Disarmament52 and Uranium53. In resp[...]ASR&JC, Pacific Issues, 1985 - 1993
    45
    Justice, Human Development and Peace, Korea Commun[...]. 121
    48
    Chris Budden, The Church and Social Justice: A Call to Wholeness, Sydney, ASR&JC, 1987[...]ough, Give Us This Day, Our Daily Bread: Economic Justice, Sydney, ACSR, 1986
    [...]rch who disagreed with this stand.55




    Economic Justice and the development of Policy Principles

    Buildin[...]nsbrough
    developed the UCA commitment to economic justice in the book Give us This Day
    our Daily Bread56 in[...]mary statement was published in 1986 as:
    Economic Justice-the Equitable Distribution of Genuine Wealth. Thi[...]y principles arising from our basic commitment to
    justice and the equitable distribution of genuine wealth.[...]ironmental Task Group, 1994
    60 ASR&JC, A Call For Justice Concerning Employment, Statement passed by[...]
    Justice Within the Church

    In response to the perception[...]mittee asked the Assembly Social
    Responsibility & Justice Committee (ASR&JC) to carry out a study. Under th[...]on
    Women and Men. Out of this same commitment to justice within the church and the
    emerging debate about t[...]in the Church. The National Secretary for Social
    Justice the Rev Robert Stringer was a member of this comm[...]TG


    64 Rev Chris Budden was Secretary for Social Justice, 1986 - 1992
    65 Women In the Uniting Churc[...]Church: A Word of Hope, Social Responsibility and Justice Committee,
    1990
    69 National Churches Worki[...]
    [...]ir issues to be heard as part of the dialogue for justice
    within the Church. In his final year in the position of Secretary for Social Justice, Rev
    Robert Stringer, produced the Musical[...]Rev Chris Budden attended the WCC Convocation on "Justice, Peace and the
    Integrity of Creation." Fro[...]he
    booklet Healing the Earth78 as the 1990 Social Justice Sunday Resource. It has
    continued to be an important theolo[...]
    [...]ssure on companies to take these issues of social justice and the
    environment seriously, the ASR&JC chose t[...]r the environment and human rights.

    Out of these justice concerns there has been ongoing dialogue with the[...]an ex-moderator of the Synod of Victoria to raise justice concerns
    about Ok Tedi at the BHP Annual General[...]he Work Place, Assembly Social Responsibility and
    Justice Committee, 1992
    81 Rev. Robert Stringer, T[...]
    [...]ese changes and the ongoing concern for issues
    of justice for workers: Sale of Telstra86, Workplace Relatio[...]within the Uniting Church, many aspects of social justice as they affect
    the delivery of community services[...]They have
    built upon the ASR&JC paper A Call for Justice Concerning Employment94 and
    resolutions of the 19[...]urers 1977-1998, National Social Responsibility & Justice Agency,
    1999. .html version
    94 A Call for Justice Concerning Employment, ASR&JC, 1994
    95 Uniting Co[...]member of the National Social Responsibility and Justice staff since April
    1993
    [...]or Human
    Rights, the commitment to solidarity and justice pioneered by Dick Wootton was
    continued. With so[...]partner churches in a more direct way.




    Social Justice Sunday

    Social justice is affirmed as a holistic activity and as such mu[...]is through the production
    of resources for Social Justice Sunday. As already noted this was first pioneered by
    the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in association with their annual social
    justice statement. It became a part of our commitment as[...]ect an appropriate Sunday to
    celebrate the social justice work of the church.105 During the early 19[...]
    [...]to working together ecumenically. The NCCA-Social Justice Network
    was formed in 1996. This group took some[...]09 and National Housing Policy: Reform and Social
    Justice110. A third issue, unemployment, has been more di[...]d under the title: A Covenant for Employment111


    Justice Pervades the Uniting Church

    It has been interesting to observe the way in which social justice has pervaded the
    total life of the Uniting Church. The commitment to justice can be found in every
    synod through the appropria[...]rd for Christian Education, has identified
    social justice as part of the Christian education matrix, Nation[...]in Creation112. National Social Responsibility & Justice113 has worked
    together with Frontier Services on[...]rating the Environmental Sabbath, 1995
    109 Social Justice Network of the National Council of Churches in Au[...]g Inc, National Housing Policy: Reform and Social Justice, Melbourne,
    Ecumenical Housing Inc., 1997
    111 Social Justice Network of the National Council of Churches in Au[...]gelism, 1998
    113 National Social Responsibility & Justice is the current name of the agency previously known as the
    Assembly Social Responsibility & Justice Committee and the Assembly Commission on S[...]
    [...]lace in the Uniting Church's commitment to social justice over the past
    twenty-one years. This has not been[...]we have tried to
    take seriously our commitment to justice, to act with theological reflection not on[...]the membership. Controversy surrounds
    many social justice issues. There is sufficient anecdotal evidence to[...]church to express the
    love of Christ and act for justice in solidarity. This has been both a pastoral and[...]arked the Uniting Church as a church
    committed to justice in the Australian and international context.

    MD

    Justice
    Uniting Faith & Justice : a biographical essay