“This is the story of a God who adores each and every one of us and invites us into radical community, coming among us in person, weeping our tears and calling us to compassion not just for ourselves, but for others and the earth itself.”
Rev Sally Douglas loved going to church as a child, left it in frustration and then returned with more passion than ever. Today she ministers in Melbourne’s inner-city Richmond and is a lecturer at Pilgrim Theological College, with several books to her name and a diverse flock to nurture.
“There’s a really significant opportunity for the church in Australia today to speak meaning into people’s lives,” Sally says. “I love that I get to engage with the deepest questions of meaning and purpose with people and help them answer the question, ‘where is God in all this?’” It’s a question the Australian church has struggled to answer in recent years.
Membership is in decline as people no longer regard churchgoing as a social networking opportunity or moral safety net. In the absence of a larger ethical or spiritual framework, people turn to other narratives that encourage them to find their identity in work, possessions and status. “I think people in our culture are actually starving for meaning, and we have this opportunity to get back to the early image of church as salt or a mustard seed – quietly working in people’s lives,” Sally says.
“Our congregation is a place where all different types of people are building a community – refugees, people from the LGBTQI community, local families. Part of that is providing people a way to give back to others and feel they have something to contribute.” Richmond Uniting is committed to looking outward, and supports local, national and international ministry.
They pray regularly for partners in Papua New Guinea and throughout the Pacific, and have collaborated with local churches to run a Food Centre staffed by volunteers. “We love the image of being living water, and so have committed to give and pray for water projects through UnitingWorld as well as support the development of leadership opportunities for women in the Pacific,” Sally says.
“I’m inspired by the hymn in Colossians in which all people and all of creation are reconciled and caught up in the life of God… ultimately, that’s our goal.”
The UCA witnesses to God’s love through worshipping congregations, and leadership in Australia’s social and political landscape.
We are vocal advocates for justice on First People’s rights, environmental responsibility, multiculturalism and inclusion for people who are often silenced - including LGBTQI communities, people with disabilities and people seeking asylum.
The UnitingCare network is one of the nation’s largest community services providers, fighting for the dignity of Australia’s most vulnerable people.
UnitingWorld connects the Uniting Church in Australia with global partners as they strive toward lives of hope and God-given dignity.
If your congregation vanished overnight, what would nonmembers, local or far afield, miss most? Think of an action you can take to strengthen your faith community in how you bless those around you. Or call others to join you in a new initiative if you feel inspired.