Forward Together

Combined Parish Service in Stanthorpe Civic Centre,

Sunday 26th June 1977 at 9.15 a.m.

Bihle Reading: Galatians 3.21-29.

Paul writes, “You are all one in union with Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3.28b).

All one? That is an amazing statement! Amazing for first century and for twentieth century readers alike, for, as we all know –


Those who watched a recent ABC television programme will be aware that scientists speculate on and even predict the possibility of duplicating a person's DNA molecules so as to produce an identical person. It was suggested that there could be a whole series of Bob Hawkes and Tony Streets all over Australia!

But we are different! We are individuals! We have different physical characteristics and different emotional tendencies. And even the identical freaks they speculate about would fail to be truly identical because of differences in environment and experience during their growth.

Each of us is unique, and yet, having said that, it is still true that


problems which stem from our propensity to focus our lives on ourselves.

Of course, how we express this will depend on our variety. Whether it is the criminal,

the pervert, the idle waster... or the keen business man, the sporting star...  each in his own way

will try to live without the reality of God the Creator at the heart of all things.

We live in a darkened world where the tremendous potential of human knowledge and

achievement threatens to blow us all to chaos and oblivion!

But –


to set life right again – right with God. God sent his Son – sent him to live a human life truly focussed

on God the Father.

In history, Jesus came into the life of this darkened world  and died on a cross! He died

on the cross because we are wicked and want our lives to remain self-centred. The people

of the day could see he was too good for us – he couldn’t be allowed to stay here.

The religious leaders didn’t want him – they preferred to live with the illusion that they were

good enough. And for the tax collectors and prostitutes they could see no hope.

So he died because of our sin.

But he died also because of God’s love – even for sinners. His cross stands as a sign of hope

and a promise of redemption against a darkened world. Jesus died to cancel out our sin.

Believing in him we are rescued – to live a new life, a life which focuses on God and expresses itself in love.

But the redemptive love of God is not just a thing of the past – of 2000 years ago in Palestine. Jesus lives and


poured out on the day of Pentecost on the believers.

The Holy Spirit is active in bringing the message to our human conscience today,

in bringing us to faith today, in transforming us into children of the heavenly Father today,

in sending us out in witness and service today.

So we are


There is no difference – in how we are put right with God. There is no difference – in our status

before God. There is no difference – in the true source of our Christian life, all of these are “in union with Christ Jesus”

So we form the Uniting Church. The U in our  Church’s emblem is incomplete,

just as our name “Uniting” implies that, while Congregationalists, Methodists and Presbyterians

have come together in this union, the new Church does not include all of God’s family.

God has only one family. He doesn’t have a Catholic family, an Anglican family,

a Congregational family, a Methodist family, a Presbyterian family, a Baptist family…

Because of our humanness we find it difficult to receive all of God’s truth. Our knowledge

and understanding are partial, as Paul said (1 Corinthians 13.9).

But as our lives are drawn to him, into his life, we are drawn into deeper relationship

with one another. Let us, then, step forward together with him.

Local Celebrations on 26 June 1977

The day was cold, but the occasion was an important one. The crowd, estimated as at least 300, gathered in the Civic Centre to mark the beginning of the Stanthorpe Parish of the Uniting Church.

Leadership of the service was shared by Rev. M.C. Mayes and Rev. P.J. Blackburn, the latter delivering the above sermon. The combined choir, conducted by Graeme Parkinson, ably led the singing; Sunday School children massed on the stage to bring their item. Mr Howard Goulter, Presbyterian Session Clerk, and Mr Harold Phillips, Methodist Senior Circuit Steward, presented brief historical sketches of the beginnings of the two denominations in this area.

Greetings were read from Cr. F.A. Rogers, Mr P.R. McKechnie MLA and Pastor Ray McKenzie, unavoidably absent. Greetings were given by Mr Jim Corbett, MHR, Fr. H. Dineen and Fr. S. Kattie.

Central to the service was our commitment to the Lord and to one another – a commitment to go forward together with him.