Daring Statement 2014

Daring Statement 2014

Sydney June 6 – 9

Daring to Celebrate
Pentecost Sunday 2014

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) members of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA), our family members and allies, have gathered for the eleventh time since Uniting Network Australia (UNA) was formed in 1994.

We gathered and celebrated the inclusive love and grace of God the Creator, expressed in the Person of Christ Jesus, sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

We gathered and reflected on progress in the UCA towards the full acceptance of LGBTI people in all areas of church and society.

We gathered and lamented those areas of our life together where we do not demonstrate the love and grace of God for all.

We celebrated the growing number of UCA Congregations and Presbyteries which welcome openly LGBTI people as ministers-in-placement and in other leadership roles; and Congregations which welcome LGBTI people, our partners and children.

We celebrated our belonging to a church where 71% of members value inclusiveness , being a people on the way and still “uniting”.

We celebrated the willingness of many in the UCA to listen carefully to the voices of LGBTI people, our family members and allies.
We celebrated the leadership role taken by UCA agencies such as UnitingCare to provide access to quality services for LGBTI people in areas such as aged care, community, family and youth services.
We celebrated the equal treatment by the Assembly Beneficiary Fund of ministers-in-placement with same gender partners.

We celebrated recent changes in Australian Government policy and legislation, including: the passage, in 2013, of national anti-discrimination legislation covering sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status; High Court ruling to remove the legal obligation to be registered as male or female;  overseas aid policies to include LGBTI people; and funding for the national safe schools coalition.

We reflected on the current Assembly discussion on marriage, noting that community and church views supporting change have not been sufficiently reflected. It was considered that the document reflects an outdated paradigm based on a simplistic binary view of gender, and does not take seriously Paragraph 11 of the Basis of Union, which encourages the UCA to take seriously contemporary scientific understandings.

We reflected on the views of Pacific Islander people and the changing perspectives of UCA migrant ethnic congregations, particularly the more open attitudes to sexuality of second generation UCA members from a migrant ethnic background.
We reflected on the need for ministerial formation, theological education, and UCA schools to ensure that curricula reflect the concerns of LGBTI candidates and students, and recent scholarship affirming LGBTI people.
We reflected on the need for further research into and understanding of intersex people.
We reflected on the perspectives of the parents and grandparents of  LGBTI people; and the needs of LGBTI people who are parents (ie rainbow families).
We reflected on ways in which Christians can contribute in a positive way to the debate in  society about marriage equality.
We reflected on the need for UCA Councils and agencies to engage in direct dialogue with the members of Uniting Network Australia.
We reflected on developments in the aged care sector to actively include LGBTI patients, residents, carers and employees.

We lamented the hurt, rejection and stigma still experienced by many LGBTI people from congregations, families and employers.

We lamented the significantly higher suicide rates for LGBTI people in Australia.
We lamented the exclusion faced by those coming out later in life; HIV positive people; transgender people making the transition in various ways; and intersex people dealing with the consequences of inappropriate medical and surgical interventions.

As a community of faithful Christians, celebrating the Feast of Pentecost:
we celebrate the liberating gifts of the Holy Spirit  given to the early Christian communities.

We pray that the Uniting Church in Australia:
will continue to celebrate the gifts of the Spirit, affirming the participation of LGBTI people in all areas of church and society.

UNA requests:

1.    That the Assembly National Working Group on Doctrine develop a theological statement on the equal participation of transgender and intersex people in the life of the UCA, and the affirmation of their gifts for ministry.

2.    That each Synod encourage UCA schools to join the safe schools coalition, and to ensure that there are written policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBTI students.

3.    That UnitingCare Australia endorse an explicit policy of LGBTI inclusion for all UnitingCare services, covering staff and service recipients.

4.    That Uniting World adopt a policy on LGBTI people, including the equal provision of services, and non co-operation with agencies which legally or socially penalise LGBTI people.

5.    That UCA theological colleges examine curricula to ensure that recent scholarly developments in LGBTI perspectives are included in all courses such as biblical studies, systematic theology, ethics, and pastoral care.

6.    That UCA members participate in the civil society discussion concerning marriage equality; and that members consider and respond to recent Assembly documents on marriage.