【October 2018 No.399】Uniting Church In Australia Holds 15th Triennial Assembly

by Kato Makoto, Kyodan executive secretary

The Uniting Church in Australia convened its 15th triennial assembly, July 8-14, at Box Hill Town Hall, located 20 kilometers east of Melbourne. As the Kyodan Executive Council met on July 9, I was only able to attend the assembly from Wednesday morning, July 11. When I first arrived at the assembly, I was surprised that there seemed to be no paper documents. The approximately 260 assembly delegates had all downloaded the assembly documents on their smart phones or computers and were looking at the agenda items.

The reception desk, however, was not paperless. There was one sheet of A4-size paper entitled “Key People at Assembly,” on the front and back of which were the names and titles of 15 key people, along with photographs of their faces. Of the 15 people, 11 were women. Seated on the platform were the president (equivalent to “moderator” in the Kyodan), vice-president, general secretary, and assembly chairperson, all of whom are women. When considering the reality of the Kyodan, the Kyodan is admittedly out of balance in the opposite way that this assembly was out of balance. In the entire history of the Kyodan, there has been only one woman who served in one of the four positions of moderator, vice-moderator, secretary, and general secretary.

Of all the proceedings, the most time spent on any one issue was on that of same-sex marriage. The Uniting Church in Australia has been talking about this matter for the past 30 years. In the assembly hall, guests from overseas were distributed among the tables of the delegates. The delegate sitting next to me, who was absolutely against same-sex marriage, told me that if this resolution was passed more than 100 churches might leave the Uniting Church. Same-sex marriage became legally recognized in Australia last year, and perhaps that fact had a strong effect. In any case, the resolution was passed. After returning to Japan, I saw on the church website the comment made by President Dr. Deidre Palmer. Her comment also gave enough consideration to the point of view of the people who oppose same-sex marriage.

On Thursday, there was a study tour to the Narana Aborignal Cultural Centre, which lasted half the day. We had some time to learn about the culture and eating habits of the Aboriginal Australians. A dinner party was held that evening at St. Andrew’s Church, near the assembly hall, for the members of the executive office and the guests from overseas. The whole agenda was six days long. Perhaps the long agenda made it possible to ensure that there was enough time for fellowship. (Tr. KT)

 

第15回(triennial)オーストラリア合同教会総会報告Uniting Church in Australia

 7月8日(日)から14日(土)にかけてメルボルンから東に20キロ離れたBox Hill Town Hallを会場にしてオーストラリア合同教会の総会が開かれた。私は9日の常議員会に出席の都合上11日(水)の朝からの参加であった。会場についてまず驚かされたのが、紙の資料が全くないことであった。総会には260名ほどの議員がいたが、全員がスマホかパソコンに総会資料をダウンロードして議案を見ていた。受付には紙がないわけではなかった。KEY PEOPLE AT ASSEMBLYとタイトルのついたA4の用紙が一枚置かれていた。表裏に15人のKEY PEOPLEの名前と肩書が顔写真と共に載せられていた。15人中11名が女性であった。議長席には3人の女性が陣取り、全体会の司会も女性が担当していた。教団の現実を考えると教団の方が逆の意味でバランスが狂っていると言わざるを得ないであろう。教団の歴史においては議長、副議長、書記、総幹事の4役にかつて一人だけ女性がいたに過ぎないからである。

 議事の中で最も時間を割いたのが同性婚の問題であった。オーストラリア合同教会は過去30年にわたってこの事柄を話し合ってきた。会場で海外ゲストは議員たちのテーブルに割り振られる。私の隣の議員は同性婚には断固反対で、もし可決されるなら100以上の教会が合同教会から出て行くかもしれないと話してくれた。昨年オーストラリアでは法的に認められた事も大きかったのかも知れないが、この議案は可決された。Dr. Deidre Palmer議長のコメントを帰国後ホームページで確認したが、同性婚に反対の立場の人たちにも十分配慮されたコメントであった。木曜日にはNarana ABORIGINAL CULTURAL CENTREへ半日のスタディーツアーが行われ、先住民の方々の文化や食生活に触れる時が与えられた。又夜には会場近くの聖アンドリュー教会で執行部と海外ゲストの夕食会が持たれた。十分な交わりの時間が確保されるのも6日間の議事日程であるがゆえであろう。
(加藤 誠)