In June, I was invited to attend the bi-annual National UCA Historical Conference in Melbourne. Every state and territory was represented. The four days included guest speakers and historical members presenting different papers pertaining to the past and emerging ministries within the UCA. It was a wonderful time of meeting people of whom I had been emailing with for years. To listen to how different states preserve their heritage and the challenges presented within that was also beneficial.

Some highlights of the event included D’Arcy Wood and a small choir leading us in hymns – modern and timeless with their history attached. One presenter gave a historical lesson on the communion tables found in the Presbyterian churches of Kirklands Campbelltown, Evandale and Oatlands. Such a presentation challenged theological thinking on how communion has previously been presented in relation to the different forms we present communion today.

On the closing day all states and territories were asked to present an artefact from their collection. Some of those items or stories included the story of a blade from the propeller of a WWII transport ship sunk by the Japanese in Darwin Harbour. The blade now forms part of a peace garden at a UCA Church in the Territory. Other items included a bible signed from every Methodist President from 1904-1964, artefacts from the Methodist Order of the Knights and the original Covenant documents signed with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress. From Tasmania, I presented one of Benjamin Carvosso’s books from the first public lending library in Tasmania.

With the theme of the conference being “Finding a Home in the UCA”, the challenge for us all moving forward is to see how we continue to hold onto what matters and to be willing to let go of what binds us to the past. How to tell God’s story in a way that is relevant to the audience we are presenting to hopefully will entice a whole new group of people to be able to find a home in the UCA. In saying that, the conference was well worth attending.

Karen Woolford