Wesley Mission traces its roots to the first Methodist Church established in Sydney in 1812. This church was renamed the Central Methodist Mission in 1884, developing a unique ‘Word and deed’ ministry focussing on evangelism and social justice for the poor and vulnerable of Sydney.
In 1977, after years of planning and negotiation, Australia’s first home-grown mainline church was established, drawing together the Methodist Church of Australasia, the Presbyterian Church of Australia and the Congregational Union of Australia to become the Uniting Church. As a Methodist church, the Central Methodist Mission became part of the Uniting Church, taking on a new name, Wesley Central Mission, which later became Wesley Mission.
The Uniting Church was inaugurated at a meeting held at Wesley Mission’s Lyceum Theatre, founded on the ecumenical principle of working together while recognising the diversity of the bodies represented within.
Today the Uniting Church is the third largest Christian denomination in Australia with about 300,000 members across some 2,800 congregations. Decision making is devolved among the many congregations and this administrative structure gives it a strength that enables a flexible, co-operative and ever changing church.
The Uniting Church has a commitment to love God and others. Congregations nurture the spiritual, social and educational growth of members, welcoming people to engage theologically and biblically with the life of the church.
It is fuelled by the belief that Christians are called to bear witness to a unity of faith and life in Jesus Christ which transcends cultural, economic and racial boundaries. To this end, the Uniting Church plays an active role in the political life of Australia, with an eye on the moral, ethical and social issues that shape the nation. The Uniting Church stands alongside marginalised people and seeks to give a voice to those who are most in need.
The Uniting Church has congregations throughout Australia with a broad range of theological and spiritual views and practices, worship styles, social opinions and mission focuses. The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress is the Aboriginal arm of the church with some 10,000 to 15,000 Aboriginal and Islander people involved. Around five to seven per cent of Uniting Church members worship in languages other than English, representing about 25 different language groups as well as various Aboriginal tribal languages.
The Uniting Church in Australia has made provision in its regulation for parish missions. At the heart of every capital city is a Central Mission. Under Uniting Church in Australia regulations a Synod, found in most States and Territories, may designate a parish as a parish mission if that parish is responsible for approved ministries of such special character and extent that the parish should be allowed to do one or more of the following:
- to look beyond its own membership and bounds for additional persons to assist in the general oversight and management of the responsibilities of the parish
- to seek additional financial support by appeal beyond the bounds of the parish, provided that such appeals shall not be addressed to parishes without prior consent of the appropriate body appointed or designated by the Synod
- to make a case for the extension of ministerial settlements beyond the normal maximum term when the proper exercise of the special ministries so required
- to follow a simple structure that allows for the unique contribution to the church of the Central Missions and Parish Missions.
Wesley Mission is a Parish Mission in Sydney and retains its evangelical purpose.