Abstract of Lake, M. “Western heritage, Asian destiny: the Australian Council of Churches’ activity in Asia, 1950 – 1965”.
The history of the Australian Council of Churches’ involvement with Asian Christians and church councils during the 1950s and early 1960s can be understood in terms of Australia’s changing place in the region. It is also a history that exposes the negotiation of new identities and the development of new ways of living the Christian life as an Australian. This article explores the consequences of interaction between Australian and Asian Christians for how the former understood their position in relation to Asia and the west, their domestic and regional vocation and their political response to the upheavals of the period. It will be argued that the Australian Council of Churches came to see itself less as a western council in geographical proximity to Asia, than as a Council with Asian interests and an Asian future, despite its western heritage. This shift in self-perception had substantial implications for the values and responsibilities of Australian Christians and redefined for the church the meanings of ‘Australian’ and ‘Asian’.