Church and Nation is a term that has come to be associated with Presbyterian and Reformed churches in many parts of the world. It refers to the committee of the Church’s General Assembly which deals with issues of morality, ethics, government, law, civil rights, values and social attitudes.
Through it the Presbyterian Church has sought to fulfil a prophetic role by advising governments, citizens and the mass media on matters of public good. It does not act as a political lobby group seeking political concessions in exchange for a bloc of votes. Instead it investigates matters of public interest, shares its findings, makes submissions to government agencies and, on rare occasions, make public statements on significant issues.
The Church and Nation Committee of the Presbyterian Church of Australia is a standing committee of the General Assembly of Australia which serves the purpose of providing links between the respective Church and Nation Committees of the State Assemblies of the Church.
The Presbyterian Church of Australia came together as a single church in 1901 with the federation of the Australian states. Previously it had existed as six independent colonial churches.
In character with a federally-organised church, each state church retains its separate character and most of its powers (each operating their own web-sites). However the supreme responsibility for some issues, most notably doctrine, overseas and inland mission, the national journal, standards of worship, standards of discipline and standards of admission to the Ministry of the Word and Sacraments, was vested by agreement with the General Assembly of Australia.
All other matters remained with each of the State Churches including the work of the respective state Church and Nation Committees, which are free to investigate issues, disseminate information, communicate with governments and make recommendations to their respective State Assemblies as each sees fit and are not bound by decisions in this area made either by the GAA Committee or by the General Assembly of Australia itself.
However it seemed sensible to maintain links, share information, take steps to avoid duplication of research or embarrassing conflicts in conclusions and to enable joint public statements when the respective state committees are agreed. This is the primary reason for the existence of the Federal Church and Nation Committee.