Canberra welcomes the rest of the world
To celebrate the UCA’s 40th anniversary, historian Jenny Rowland provides a snapshot of the first four decades of Canberra City Uniting Church.
Before the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia in 1977, Canberra City Uniting Church had just one Congregation worshipping as the Congregational National Memorial Church. Christians from a wide range of countries were beginning to worship with us, partly because of the church’s proximity to the Australian National University.
In 1982, a Tongan fellowship asked to worship on our site. Two years later its members became the first ethnic Congregation officially recognised in the then Presbytery of Canberra. Our Tongan friends, more recently known as the Toe Talatalanoa Congregation, were followed by a Korean Congregation.
Canberra City Uniting Church moved into a newly constructed church building on Northbourne Avenue in 1988, with its neighbouring office block, Pilgrim House. At the end of that year, the Congregations welcomed 25 West Papuans. We were the closest church to the events of the World Council of Churches’ Assembly in Canberra in 1991.
We still pray for countries around the world according to the World Council of Church’s ecumenical prayer cycle. However, we experience almost first-hand the joys and difficulties of many countries through having, in our midst, worshippers from diverse origins.
We are proud that we have provided two chairpersons of the Presbytery, Revs. John Bennett and Ivan Roberts; the current Moderator Rev. Myung Hwa Park; and a President of the Uniting Church from 1991 to 1994, Rev. Dr D’Arcy Wood (while he was our minister).
What sustains us? Love of God and the certainty that his peace and hope surround us.
We know that God will grant us the strength to be welcoming to people of all cultures, abilities, ages, family structures and sexual orientations, as we begin our next 40 years representing the Uniting Church in Australia in Canberra City.
Jenny Rowland is a member of Canberra City Uniting Church