Our History

The Uniting Church in Australia was inaugurated on 22 June, 1977. It was a union of three churches which had been in Australia for nearly two centuries. These churches were:

• the Congregational Union of Australia
• the Methodist Church of Australasia
• the Presbyterian Church of Australia.

The document on which the union was established is the Basis of Union, which states our core beliefs and structure as a Christian church.

The Uniting Church’s beliefs are drawn from the Bible and from the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. The Church also takes heed of the Reformation Witness in the Scots Confession of Faith (1647), the Savoy Declaration (1658), and of the preaching of John Wesley in his Forty Four Sermons (1793).

We affirm the place of ongoing theological, literary, historical and scientific study. The Church’s Basis of Union (1971) brings together aspects of these writings and traditions and sets out the church’s way of living and believing.

In 1992, an updated edition of the Basis of Union was published, after concerns had arisen about the language used, in relation to gender. The 1992 edition sought to use gender inclusive language while staying true to the original message and meaning of the original document.

In his introduction to the 1992 edition of the Basis of Union, Rev Gregor Henderson, past president of the National Assembly, says it is a visionary and inspiring statement. “Its grounding in Jesus Christ ‘the risen crucified One’, its commitment to the mission and unity of the whole church, its portrayal of church order and of the ministry of every church member, and its conviction that the living Lord Jesus Christ leads the church on its pilgrim way, make it a rich document which will nourish and guide the Uniting Church for the duration of its life.”

The Basis of Union is available from the Ministry Resourcing Centre  and on the Uniting Church in Australia National Assembly website at http://www.assembly.uca.org.au/basis-of-union-1971-1992.

Since Union, the Uniting Church has progressed in a number of ways.

At the 6th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia, in 1991, the church affirmed the renewal of the diaconate, meaning deacons became ordained in ministry. Prior to union, the three traditions which merged into the Uniting Church each had their own understanding of the diaconate ministry. In the Uniting Church, since the renewal, the diaconate is an ordained ministry with a focus on service.

The Uniting Church in Australia has had a long and often painful history with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In 1985 the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) was formed as a national body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within the Uniting Church. The UAICC is dedicated to seeking the spiritual, physical, social, mental and emotional well-being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

A covenant between the UAICC and the Uniting Church in Australia was signed in 1994, which commits Indigenous and non-Indigenous members to work together towards building a strong partnership within the church and the wider community.

In 2011, the Uniting Church in Australia was the first church in Australia to constitutionally acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia in the preamble to the Uniting Church Constitution. The change to the preamble signifies the natural and rightful extension of the covenantal relationship that the Uniting Church has with the First Peoples of the church, and by extension of this land. To find out more about this covenantal relationship visit (covenanting page on our own site).

The Uniting Church in Western Australia, through its Social Justice Board, has been vocal on a range of different issues, from abortion, prison justice and prostitution to rights of Australia’s First Peoples, refugees and asylum seekers. For more info visit our Social Justice page at http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/services/taking-a-stand/social-justice/.

If you want to find out specific information about the history of the Uniting Church within Western Australia, contact the Uniting Church Archives on (08) 9227 6427 or email archiveswa@wa.uca.org.au

National Assembly Video : 35 Years Together

35 Years Together from National Assembly on Vimeo.