30th birthday of the Uniting Church
Yesterday we celebrated a 30th birthday party at the local Uniting Church. Doesn't sound old, but the Uniting Church in Australia emerged from three historical churches - Methodist, Presbyterian, Congregational churches in Australia which joined together in June, 1977. At that time many church buildings were sold as people formed one congregation out of three. We lived in a small Mallee town of Hopetoun at that time and our boys were primary school age. I remember the day we celebrated the launch of this new church in Hopetoun. Peceli was the minister there and we had a very happy life in that wheat-farming community.
The logo of the Uniting Church is based on the cross, the dove of peace/spirit, and the U as unfinished and open. So 'Uniting' is better than 'United'.
Yesterday we invited two sister churches to join us at Geelong East and we had a fine time, good music (not me at the organ this time but a young guy who gave me a copy of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' so that made my day as I couldn't get it at the local music shops), action songs, prayers, stories, a cake and hospitality. I met lots of friends I hadn't seen for a long time.
Some of the more traditional Christian churches in Australia are struggling with membership these days and tend to be composed of elderly and middle-aged people. Younger families and children are more likely to join charismatic type groups with more lively music and a warm inviting style. Not that we are noticeably oldfashioned! However, thirty years ago our church had very active youth and children's programs and we lament the diminishing of interest in recent years. Why is this so? I guess part of it is do to with lifestyle changes - Sundays are now filled with sport, shopping and other options.