Australian Christadelphian Central Standing Committee
Unity In Australia

A Report of Progress towards Unity

“That we may be one” (John 17:22).

A Report was issued by the Unity Committees of N.S.W. and Victoria in 1957. It appeared in “The Christadelphian” of March 1958, page 132.

This in effect was the BASIS OF FELLOWSHIP formulated for presentation to all ecclesias in Australia and New Zealand for the implementation of Unity.

The Basis was presented to ecclesias in both fellowships and included the addendum of the Carter-Cooper letter (see p. 12), now known as the “Carter-Cooper Addendum” in explanation of clauses 5 and 12 of the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith.

Unity in Australia

The Unity Committee meeting in Sydney, N.S.W., and working in conjunction with the Unity Committee in Victoria, wish to bring to the notice of the brotherhood, the objects of their labours, together with an indication of the progress that has been made.

Following constant labour extending over a period of almost two years, a clear basis for ecclesial unity has now been formulated. This basis which we here set forth has received the support of the great majority of the ecclesias and numerically almost the whole of the total membership comprising the Shield and Victorian group ecclesias, consents having been communicated to us in writing.

The basis arrived at and which is offered as a means to ecclesial association is as follows:

Basis of Fellowship


We agree that the doctrines to be believed and taught by us, without reservation, are the first principles of the One Faith as revealed in the Scriptures, of which the Birmingham Amended Statement of Faith (with positive and negative clauses and the Commandments of Christ) gives a true definition. Clauses 5 and 12 are understood in harmony with the explanations provided by Brethren Carter and Cooper, reading:

“We believe that Adam was made of the earth, and declared to be very good; because of disobedience to God’s Law, he was sentenced to return to the dust. He fell from his very good estate, and suffered the consequences of sin-— shame, a defiled conscience and mortality. As his descendants, we partake of that mortality that came by sin, and inherit a nature, prone to sin. By our own actions we become sinners and stand in need of forgiveness of sins before we can be acceptable before God. Forgiveness and reconciliation God has provided by the offering of His Son; though Son of God, He partook of the same nature—the same flesh and blood as all of us, but did no sin. In His death He voluntarily declared God’s righteousness; God was honoured, and the flesh shown to be by divine appointment rightly related to death. To share in God’s forgiveness, we must be united with Christ by baptism into His death, rising from baptism dead to the past, to walk in newness of life. The form of baptism is a token of burial and of resurrection, and in submitting to it we identify ourselves with the principles established in the death of Jesus “Who died unto sin”, recognising that God is righteous in decreeing that the wages of sin is death, and that as members of the race, we are rightly related to a dispensation of death.”

“In all His appointments. God wills to be honoured, sanctified and hallowed by all who approach to Him. By His promises God sets before man a hope of life and a prospect of resuming those relationships that are lost by sin. With the setting forth of this hope, there comes a new basis of responsibility. Times of ignorance God overlooks, but with knowledge a man becomes accountable, and a responsible creature with the obligation to believe and obey God.”
Acceptance of this basis would not preclude the use of any other adequate Statement of Faith by an ecclesia, provided this is in harmony with the B.A.S.F. understood as in Clause 1 (a) above.

(2) FELLOWSHIP It is affirmed that:

Where any brethren depart from any element of the One Faith, either in doctrine or practice, they shall be dealt with according to the Apostolic precept and that extreme action would be ecclesial disfellowship of the offender. (Matt. 18: 15-17; Titus 3: 10-11.)
If it is established that an ecclesia sets itself out by design to preach and propagate at large, false doctrine, then it would become necessary to dissociate from such an ecclesia.
The course of action necessitated by the above clauses (a) and (b), will be regulated by the principles of the Scripture and follow the spirit of the Ecclesial Guide, Sections 32, 41 and 42.

This basis is now in the hands of all ecclesias throughout Australia and New Zealand, not only of the Shield and Victorian groups but also what are known to us as the Central fellowship meetings.

An Appeal Letter

This report also included a letter, signed by the Secretary and members of the N.S.W. Unity Committee, which accompanied submission of the proposed basis to those ecclesias with whom the “Shield” group sought resumption of fellowship.

This letter, dated 14th October, 1957, read in part as follows:

“Dear Brethren,

“Following constant labour in the cause of unity in the brotherhood, a position now obtains whereby a clear basis for ecclesial unity has been formulated for peace in the ecclesias in Australia and New Zealand. This work has been carried on, not only from our own desire to heal the breaches of the past, but also because of the reunion which has been successfully achieved in Britain by the Central and Suffolk Street meetings, and arising from it, their expressed desire to achieve a satisfactory settlement with the Australian Ecclesias. Suggestion has been made by our English brethren, that, say, a simple endorsement of the Amended Birmingham Statement of Faith, coupled with the addendum to the Cooper-Carter letter or some equivalent together with a clause defining fellowship, will suffice for this purpose.

“Accordingly we attach a statement as a basis for re-union. This basis provides for the incorporation of the Cooper-Carter explanations affecting clauses 5 and 12 of the statement of faith and the remaining portion of the basis has been worked up in conjunction with the Victorian Ecclesias. This basis has received the support of the Shield Ecclesias throughout Australia as also the Victorian Ecclesias in the main, and those yet to endorse it have, nevertheless, expressed themselves favourably disposed towards it.

“We earnestly seek the support of Ecclesias not now meeting with us to give consideration to this basis, in order to end division in this country and your attitude is asked.

“The basis is, we believe, fundamental, and we trust will give a foundation of assurance in any contemplated step. Clause 5 of the Amended Birmingham Statement of Faith has been described, and correctly so, the cause of dispute, and in many of your minds the divergences of belief arising from these differences you believe to be vital. So do we, and the explanations are designed to overcome the technical problems concerned with past disputes, and we believe sufficient to safeguard the truths we cherish, and are also by design short and simple.

“We believe that the individual standing of brethren should be regulated, not according to private judgment, but by the appropriate procedures provided for in the Constitution of the Amended Statement of Faith, Birmingham, and following the spirit of the Ecclesial Guide-example, Sections 32, 41 and 42.”

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