Uniting Church prepares for the end

Photo: Brendan Esposito

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Niall Reid, the head of the Uniting Church in NSW, has implored his church to start selling its underutilised churches, manses and halls and give the proceeds to the poor and disadvantaged.

Faced with dwindling congregations and conceding the church could all but disappear in 30 years, the Reverend Niall Reid says the church should let go of its “holy, sacred spaces as beautiful as they may be” and work to establish an “underground” community of faithful that connects with the spiritual needy in pubs, on beaches and in shopping malls.

Unfortunately, the problems of the Uniting Church will not be resolved by selling off some buildings and going “underground”. The story of the Uniting Church is one of the great tragedies of Australian church history.

For some reason there is a lack of interest or reflection on the reasons behind this spectacular decline. Perhaps a new generation is unaware of the recurring danger of drifting from our evangelical heritage.

I keep coming back to Stuart Piggin's challenge to hold together the evangelical synthesis of Word, Spirit and mission.

UPDATE: Does the Uniting Church have a future? Yes, according to the Assembly of Confessing Congregations. They represent the many loyal evangelicals who have remained within the UCA and are calling the denomination to return to it's true heritage.