Introducing my course on the Basis of Union


In 2005, the Uniting Church’s Trinity Theological College in Brisbane invited me to teach a short course program of Introduction to The Basis of Union. It was conducted on Monday afternoons in the first semester each year until 2015.

Students for specified ministries were required to complete the Course as part of their requirements. It was also available to any who would like to gain some fresh understanding of the status, role and authority of the Basis in the worship, witness and service of The Uniting Church. It was also intended to be a helpful ‘refresher’ for people who have been in ministry for some time.

The course was also offered to Presbyteries wishing to invite people to engage in its content. The Presbyteries of South Moreton and Mary Burnett took up this offer.

The expectation of the Course was that participants would become familiar with the Basis, its background, theology and role in the life of the Uniting Church as we live and work within the faith and unity of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The Course covered key areas in the Basis, including:

  • The historical background of the Basis,
  • the Scriptures as the unique prophetic and apostolic testimony to Jesus Christ,
  • Jesus Christ, the Word of God’s grace,
  • the Sacraments as visible acts through which the Church proclaims the Gospel,
  • Ministry and oversight,
  • the ecumenical imperative of the Basis,
  • the polity of the UCA as described in the Basis,
  • the Basis of Union as a source of prayer – and more.

Time has moved on – and it has brought changes to the teaching program at Trinity Theological College and the Course is no longer taught as it had been. The Basis of Union is now appropriately integrated into other subjects.

Browsing through the material that I had used in the Introduction to the Basis of Union Course, it occurred to me that I am now among the few people remaining from the time when the Uniting Church was inaugurated. I was among the people who taught programs that were designed to help people to prepare for the advent of the Uniting Church. Much of the material that I wrote and other resources that I used from the writings of other people still have strong relevance for the Uniting Church today.

I got to thinking that there might be useful resources in all that material and someone might assemble some of it and make it available to the church. And I thought that I might have the kinds of material and experience that could still be useful for the church. Some of it would come from the work of others and some of it from my own experience and work as a Minister of the Word, Presbytery Minister, Moderator and Christian Educator.

In each session in the Course, I gave out a paper I had prepared for the students to read and discuss as we went along. Some of these were my own writings, others were adapted from the work of others, eg, Andrew Dutney’s Where did the Joy come From?, Davis McCaughey’s Commentary on the Basis of Union, Lynden Broadstock’s piece, ‘Praying the Basis of Union’ in Robin Pryor’s Open to God and the Introduction to D’Arcy Wood’s Building on a Solid Basis. I also used a piece about the Uniting Church I had written for Queensland Churches Together. Based on a study booklet , Committed-to Worship, Witness and Service, prepared by Ian Gillman for the 1981 Synod, I adapted it for a wider audience than the Synod.

Welcome to this website! I trust that you find the material to be informative, helpful and enriching. Personally, I enjoyed the experience of travelling through the lectures I prepared for the course, and trust that you will enjoy the experience of travelling through them.

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