The Uniting Church, Australia’s third largest Christian denomination, was formed in 1977 by the union of the Congregational Union, the Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church. Like many churches in English speaking nations, the Uniting Church is discovering the difficulty in keeping in fellowship those who believe in the full inclusion of gay persons in the body of Christ and those who believe that Scripture forbids acceptance of homosexuality.
In 2003, the Church adopted Resolution 84, which allows individual presbyteries to appoint gay clergy. Church leaders insist this reaffirms the autonomy of presbyteries, but conservatives say it endorses gay ministry and oversteps the boundaries of biblical orthodoxy. Growing concern and anger going into the national assembly this week appears to be heading towards a showdown which will result in a less unified church.
I am less familiar with the ongoing conflict in Australia and cannot predict whether the debate will find resolution, if the church will split, or if a “church within a church” compromise will be achieved. I welcome comments from those who know the situation better.