Australian Christadelphian Central Standing Committee
Unity In Australia

Background to Unity Movement in Australia

Events leading up to Unity among Australian ecclesias can best be summarised by quoting the introductory portion of Bro. Carter’s first report on Unity, appearing in “The Christadelphian”, July 1958, page 324.

Bro. Carter reported as follows:


All who have read the diaries of the visits to Australia by Bro. Robert Roberts will remember that again and again he was engaged in discussion concerning the nature of Adam when created, the effect of sin upon him, and the work of Jesus Christ in relation to man’s redemption.

There was a recurrence of trouble in the early years of this century which led to division. We have read over the ecclesial intelligence of those troubled years, with the usual charge and countercharge, which Bro. C. C. Walker at the time described as a “nebulous controversy”. At the time Bro. Walker expressed the view that by personal face-to-face discussions he might do some good; later in 1911, he mentions a proposal for a visit by him, in which financial co-operation by both sections of the brotherhood was offered.

He felt the difficulty arising from “the divisions that obtain”, but added that “if both parties could agree upon an invitation to brotherly mediation the way would be open.”

Apparently the proposal fell through for we can find no further reference to the matter. And now, when more than a half century has passed by, a sufficiently representative invitation “to brotherly mediation” has led the present Editor to visit Australia and this report of the work there is submitted to the brotherhood in Great Britain, Canada, U.S.A., South Africa and New Zealand, and wherever brethren may be scattered abroad.


Some reference must be made to the background to the situation during the last few years. The majority of ecclesias in Australia have been identified as “SHIELD” ecclesias. “The Christadelphian Shield” (begun we think when Bro. Roberts was in Australia) has been the magazine representing these ecclesias. If for this record we continue to use the name, it is for purposes of identification and to facilitate the writing of this report. These ecclesias are principally in the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. In more recent years, as the cities have grown, district ecclesias have been formed in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

The “Central” fellowship has been mainly represented by ecclesial in Melbourne, Sydney (Concord) and Brisbane (Elizabeth Street), with a few smaller groups in other places.


The invitation to visit Australia came in the first instance from the committee responsible for a gathering, or Conference as it is called, which is held biennially, this year’s venue being Melbourne. This committee consisted almost entirely of representatives of central ecclesias. (This statement will doubtless provoke a denial in some places, but a later explanation will make it clear). Later the reunion committees in Melbourne and Sydney joined in the invitation and it was decided to accept it and give what help lay in our power to clarify the situation.

For some time we have had a note at the head of Australian intelligence items that the position was confused. A word of explanation may be here added. As reported in “The Christadelphian”, 1956, page 189, the Victorian ecclesias (that is, in Melbourne and the vicinity) had agreed in 1953 on a basis for reunion, and with the exception of two ecclesias (one of which has since joined up), were co-operating together. This left somewhat undefined their position with regard to the ecclesias elsewhere in Australia and throughout the world.


This was but a temporary problem, such as confronted the English ecclesias in the reunion in February, 1957. A committee of “Shield” ecclesias was formed in Sydney to co-operate in putting the effort begun in Victoria on an interstate basis. Then an invitation from the Conference committee in 1956 to the Editors of “The Christadelphian” and the “Fraternal Visitor” to contribute to the discussions on reunion by a letter, led to the writing of the communication which was reprinted in “The Christadelphian” of 1956, page 269.

In that a suggestion was made that “when it was necessary in the interests of definition of a doctrine, sound simple clear language should be sought and the basic principles set forth”. In an ADDENDUM to the latter, a restatement of certain doctrines which have been the cause of strife was set forth as an illustration of our meaning. In the developments that followed, the addendum was adopted as part of a statement that was drawn up and submitted to all Central and “Shield” ecclesias as a basis of reunion.


In June, 1957, the reunion committee addressed a letter to the recording brethren of all these Australian ecclesias, the letter being reproduced in “The Christadelphian”, 1957, page 311- Then in the issue for March of this year we reprinted the proposed BASIS FOR REUNION to which reference has been made; and we added the comment: “It might be expected there will be margins of uncertainty for a time; but there appears to be a very wide spread acceptance of the STATEMENT given above, and in consequence the early co-operation of many ecclesias on that basis may be expected” (page 132).

Next Index Next