Page 1

insights

AUGUST/ SEPTEMBER 2017

LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE

FAIRTHTS &AISSUE

ALL CULTURES WELCOME IN GOD’S HOUSEHOLD PATHWAYS CHARTS A HOPEFUL FUTURE


Rookwood Cemetery

is renowned for being the largest and most historical working cemetery in Australia. It is not only a place of remembrance and peace, it is a place that captures the history and essence of our diverse cultures. To honour the significance of Rookwood’s 150th year, we invite you to our upcoming commemorative events.

HIDDEN is an outdoor sculpture exhibition that takes place amongst the gardens and graves in one of the oldest sections of the cemetery. We invite audiences to experience artworks that respond to Rookwood’s themes, with many artworks inspired by the cemetery’s 150th anniversary.

This year’s Open Day event showcases Rookwood and all the amazing things it has to offer. The day invites the local community and beyond to discover Rookwood’s superb landscape, fascinating history, evolving communities and unique services.

26 August – 24 September 2017 Sunrise to sunset

24 September 2017 10:00AM – 3:00PM


W E L C O M E F R O M T H E G E N E R A L S E C R E TA R Y

New idea, new reaction REV. JANE FRY ACTING GENERAL SECRETARY The General Secretary is appointed by the Synod to provide leadership to the Church by actively engaging in strategic thinking about the life, direction, vision and mission of the Church.

IN CHURCH a few weeks ago, I encountered a children’s story called ‘What do you do with an idea?’ It’s by Kobi Yamada and I don’t think it’s particularly new. The image for the idea in the story is a golden egg with stick legs wearing a golden crown. I won’t tell you the story but if you’re interested, you can listen to it on YouTube here: http://bit.ly/1H4uEBf I’ve been mulling on the story since then and reflecting on what happens to ideas in the UCA. For the recent joint Assembly/Synod celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Union, the Assembly General Secretary, Colleen Geyer, raided the UCA Archives. There were displays of photographs, documents, newspaper reports and video footage of the Opening Worship for the first Assembly (accompanied by a soundtrack of the music from the ’70’s – those were the days!). As I wandered around the exhibits, I was struck again by the sheer audacity of the ‘idea’ — the vision — that brought the Uniting Church into existence. I was also amazed by the courage, tenacity and sheer energy of those founding people who did the work in Congregations and councils across three denominations, to bring that idea to fruition. How did they convince all the people who must have argued it was impractical, unrealistic, unfeasible, unnecessary or all too hard? Even a cursory acquaintance with the history of the Christian Church would give

the impression that giving legs to ideas on this scale — ideas that change the world — is unusual. However, quite obviously, it is possible. The celebrations were held in the Lyceum Theatre at Wesley Mission. These days, on the wall of its foyer, is a familiar quotation from John Wesley: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” This similarly audacious, unrealistic idea underpins and shapes the signature ministries of Wesley Mission to serve the complex needs of those on the edges and to advocate on their behalf, in order to change the world. Where do ideas come from? Who do they come to? What happens when they arrive? Where do they go? And the big one: is there any room for ideas in the way we organise ourselves as church? My hunch is that our ‘responsiveness to ideas’ track record has not been great in any of the councils of the church in this Synod over the past few years. In this respect, we’re probably not vastly different to any of the people in the Biblical story confronted with new ideas. Think of the reactions of Abraham and Sarah (Don’t be silly!), Moses (Why me?), Jonah (You can’t make me!), Jeremiah (I’m too young!), the rich young ruler (I’m too busy!), Martha (I’m also too busy!), among many others. It may also be the case that we have a preference for patching up old ideas rather than attending to new ones.

GIVING LEGS TO IDEAS ON THIS SCALE — IDEAS THAT CHANGE THE WORLD — IS UNUSUAL. HOWEVER, IT IS POSSIBLE As I write this, there are 79 days until the Synod gathers on 29 September. The planning is well advanced, the logistics are in hand and the agenda is coming together. The new Moderator will be installed, a new General Secretary will be appointed, boards and councils will be reinvigorated with new membership. What if all those people and bodies together held a commitment to make space for the future, to attend to the new ideas that emerge among us and to give legs to opportunities presented to us? What if the Synod itself, in its deliberation and decisions, could capture some of the audacity of the vision that brought the Church into being? And what if it could empower leaders across the Church to give legs to God’s new ideas? i

insights 3


18

FAITH AND THE ARTS

We speak with Christian artists to find out how their faith influences their art, and how God, being the ultimate creator, inspires their creativity.

Contents

REGULARS 3 WELCOME 6

YOUR SAY

7 NEWS 39 DIGITAL MINISTRY 40 MAKING MONEY MATTER

11

37

44

45

41 LECTIONARY REFLECTIONS 44

BELIEF MATTERS

45

CULTURE WATCH

46

ENTERTAIN ME

The Uniting Church in Australia is one of the country’s largest denominations. Our vision is that it will be a fellowship of reconciliation, living God’s love, following Jesus Christ and acting for the common good to build a just and compassionate community of faith.

MANAGING EDITOR Adrian Drayton EDITOR Ben McEachen PRODUCTION/DESIGN Rana Moawad EDITORIAL/ADVERTISING/ DISTRIBUTION INQUIRIES PHONE 02 8267 4304 FAX 02 9264 4487 ADDRESS Insights, PO Box A2178, Sydney South, NSW, 1235 EMAIL insights@nsw.uca.org.au WEB www.insights.uca.org.au Insights is published by the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of New South Wales and the ACT. Articles and advertising content do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor or of the Uniting Church. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Australia $38.50 (incl. GST); overseas $50. © 2017. Contents copyright. No material from this publication may be copied, photocopied or transmitted by any means without the permission of the Managing Editor. CIRCULATION: 16,000. ISSN: 1036-7322 Commonwealth of Australia 2016

4

insights


M O D E R AT O R ’ S R E F L E C T I O N

A privilege to serve REV. MYUNG HWA PARK MODERATOR The Moderator is elected to give general and pastoral leadership to the Synod, assisting and encouraging expression and fulfilment of faith, and the witness of the Church.

AS I WAS writing my very last “Moderator’s Reflection” for Insights, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the incredible opportunity and privilege that was given to me to serve the Synod. I still find it hard to believe that the Synod of NSW and the ACT put its trust in me to serve as Moderator for this critical time of the Church’s witness. So let me begin by thanking and praising God for calling me, a “poor gentile widow”, to exercise this leadership, which I can only justify with the words of Saint Paul who said in his letter to Corinth: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.” (1 Cor 1: 27) Not that I think I have shamed the wise or the strong, but I am prepared to call myself, sometimes, foolish and weak! Almost every morning, I have woken up wondering how I could ever carry out the task I have been given, as a faithful vessel for God’s grace and mercy. I prayed each morning that God would excite my heart to journey beyond doubt and a sense of my limitations, as I sought for courage and vision that would not only inspire me but also others. People have asked me if I have been able to achieve anything as Moderator. I might have disappointed many with my answer: “No, nothing.” But I have not even attempted to “achieve” anything — other than witnessing to God’s love and Christ’s ministry, the same mission that is the role of the Church to which I was called.

Yes, I have witnessed the sincerity and hospitality of people across the Synod. I am especially deeply convinced of the presence of God in so many of our ‘small’ churches — both in urban and rural places — as they faithfully share God’s love with their communities. They do this through SRE, op shops, drop-in centres, shelters for homeless people, student housing, prayer gatherings and worship services.

I AM CONVINCED OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD IN SO MANY OF OUR SMALL CHURCHES It is a costly and challenging choice to be a Christian in a world fashioned by materialism and consumerism. The recent Census revealed that almost one third of Australia’s population said they have no religion. While the huge increase in people’s disinterest in spiritual matters concerns me deeply, I remember a strong witness made by a small country church in central NSW, in a town with a population of less than 300 people. The Congregation only meets for one Sunday per month but opens the church gate every Sunday, just in case anybody passing through the town would like to worship there. This little church reminded me of the zeal of the Psalmist

who said, “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.“ (Psalm 84: 2) At a recent evangelism conference in our Synod, “Gospel Yarning” called for a re-ignition of our call as disciples, to spread the good news of Christ Jesus. As Moderator, I have always tried to remind and emphasise the ultimate truth that Christ is the head of our church, to be clearly seen through all our worship, service and witness. We are the body of Christ who follow His ministry and teaching, spreading the good news of God’s love for the world in Jesus (John 3:16). Forty years on, the Uniting Church has been constantly reshaped to respond to the mission of God in our world; an inclusive, open and daring church in Australia. We have made a strong commitment to the First People through UAICC, as well as to our environment, strangers, refugees and asylum seekers, to people of different cultures and sexual orientation, as we endeavour to live out our calling as a genuine reflection of God’s kingdom. As a pilgrim people on a journey to the Promised Land, we are called to share the goodness of God in Christ Jesus with those who we meet on this journey. Let me encourage you to continue to witness to Christ’s ministry of healing, reconciliation and transforming life, and we will indeed say together: My cup overflows with blessings as we journey beyond the old limits! i

insights 5


LETTERS

Your Say THANK YOU

Be rewarded for having your say. Every contributor to ‘Your Say’ in this issue receives a copy of the DVD Lion, courtesy of Transmission Films. ‘Your Say’ letters should be sent to: insights@nswact.uca.org.au or posted to Insights, PO Box A2178, Sydney South, NSW, 1235. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

WELL WORTH READING Congratulations on your anniversary edition of Insights (June/July) for our 40th year. I really enjoyed the “Looking forward with hope for the future” article, where the past, present and future Moderators of NSW and the ACT discussed the key issues which we face as the Uniting Church in Australia and what their hopes for the Church may be. John Squires’ informative and instructive article on “Statement delivered to the Nation” and the illustrations of the Inauguration ceremony were all helpful to me in reflecting on our years as the Uniting Church in Australia. It reminded me that as a young ordinand in 1979, I was not aware of all the angst of the ‘uniting process itself. I also was not aware of what a blessing it was in those early days of Uniting to be in a parish that had actually moved physically from its Methodist building to join with Presbyterians in their building - and what a difference that made to Lithgow parishioners. I rejoice in our Uniting Church with the hope that we will continue to grow and change as the Spirit impels us and as we continue to weave the Christ story with our Australian/multicultural

6

insights

accent and our Australian/ multicultural context. One sadness is, as Chris Owens points out in the ‘Your Say’ section, that regional and rural NSW is crying out for ministry. Perhaps, this will be part of our next Moderator’s agenda, to address this issue. Thanks for the eminently readable and challenging articles, Insights. Nerida Drake, via email

UNION STARTED EARLIER Congratulations on Insights special edition, celebrating UCA’s 40th birthday. It was good to read the reflections from so many different people. However, noone really looked back before the vote, to see the comingtogether as part of a very long process which began with Australian Federation. In 1902, my grandfather, the Rev Walter Cunliffe-Jones, was the Congregational representative on a committee which met to consider the formation of an Australian Protestant Church! It was 75 years before the Uniting Church came into being and, back then, only three denominations were involved. More recently, in 1967, I was part of a team in the Hurstville area which visited Congregational,

Methodist and Presbyterian Congregations to inform them about the proposed union. There were many such teams, each with lay and clergy representatives, from each denomination. I think this was done under the auspices of the Joint Board of Christian Education. Joan Wilcox, Epping Uniting Church

MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the June/July edition of Insights, marking the 40th Anniversary of the UCA. It highlighted the many major contributions the Uniting Church has made and continues to make to Australian society. The articles featuring two former Moderators, the current Moderator and the incoming Moderator was particularly interesting in seeing their insights and perspectives on the Church. I came into the UCA after Union and after 15 years as a (continuing) Presbyterian Minister. It was the best move I made in my ministry. While the various Councils continue to make decisions with which I disagree (sometimes strongly), it nevertheless continues to inspire me that

in this Church there is a broad range of acceptable opinion and that we continue to grapple with issues of importance to the nation. I pray that will be ever so. Congratulations Insights on a wonderful edition. Congratulations UCA on a generation of worship, witness and service. (Rev) Neil Ericksson, Merrylands

IT CONTINUES TO INSPIRE ME THAT THERE IS A BROAD RANGE OF ACCEPTABLE OPINION AND THAT WE CONTINUE TO GRAPPLE WITH ISSUES OF IMPORTANCE


ALL OF THIS IS US

ON 22 JUNE, CHURCHES AROUND THE SYNOD CELEBRATED THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNITING CHURCH. HERE ARE A FEW OF THE PHOTOS SHARED WITH US ON FACEBOOK.

8 1

7

2

3

6

5 4

1. ASSEMBLY & FRONTIER SERVICES STAFF 2. ST ANDREWS-RICHMOND UNITING CHURCH 3. NORTH RYDE COMMUNITY UNITING CHURCH 4. SIGN AT GORDON UNITING CHURCH

All of this is us

5. WAGGA WAGGA UNITING CHURCH 6. CUTTING THE CAKE AT WAGGA WAGGA 7. WESLEY CASTLE HILL UNITING CHURCH 8. UNITING STAFF CELEBRATIONS

If you celebrated, let us know by liking and sharing at www.facebook.com/unitingchurchnswact

insights 7


News FRONTIER SERVICES CARING FOR COBAR FRONTIER SERVICES VOLUNTEERS FROM FAR AND WIDE CONVERGED ON COBAR TO LEND A HELPING HAND AND LIFT THE COMMUNITY’S SPIRIT.

COBAR IS A MINING TOWN and a popular tourist stop in central western New South Wales. On the way to Queensland and South Australia, Cobar sits at the crossroads of Kidman Way and the Barrier Highway. The Cobar Shire is almost two-thirds the size of Tasmania. Farmers in this vast rural area continue to struggle in an increasingly isolated community. From hot summers and devastating droughts, to freezing winters which threaten livestock, Cobar has weathered it all. Frontier Services volunteers arrive in fourwheel drives, kicking up the rich ochre dust as they twist and turn along the outback roads in search of their next adventure. But this trip is more than taking in the sights of an idyllic outback town; this is about giving back. Property owners welcomed the volunteers with open arms, appreciative of their energy and commitment to offer them practical help. Whenever Frontier Services visits with volunteers, there’s always a flurry of activity from the beginning - caravans are unpacked, tents are pitched and the kettle is boiled.

8

insights

The volunteers get to know each other and the property owners over a cup of tea, forming lifelong friendships which are likely to stand the test of time. Because, sometimes, all you need to do is to have a cup of tea and show you care. Many hands made light work of putting fresh coats of paint on an original shearer’s quarters, a newly-built coolroom, a couple of sheds and the Cobar Youth Club. Some of the locals driving past the Youth Club felt a renewed sense of pride in their community, even stopping to say thanks to the Frontier Services volunteers. This trip was made possible by Frontier Services Patrol Minister Rev. Jo-anne Smalbil and her dedicated husband Lou. With the greatest care, they worked with the Cobar community to find properties and projects.

www.

Join a passionate group of volunteers from all walks of life, offering a helping hand to the people of remote Australia: frontierservices.org

THIS TRIP IS MORE THAN TAKING IN THE SIGHTS OF AN IDYLLIC OUTBACK TOWN; THIS IS ABOUT GIVING BACK


HELPING TO FEED THE NEEDY IN PARKES A GUARANTEED SCRUMPTIOUS home-cooked nutritious meal will be prepared by Wesley Uniting Church members and offered to residents of Parkes at no cost. The coordinators of this new initiative are Bev Hawken, Evelyn Shallvey and Adrienne Bradley. “No one offers free meals,” explained Bev about how the Wesley Uniting Congregation is providing something very different to Parkes. “We just wanted to do something and we really hope it takes off and helps those in need.

“All are most welcome, especially families, people who are looking for company and those who have stretched budgets and don’t normally have the opportunity to go out for a meal.” Each month, a team of 12 church members will prepare and serve the free meals. “We have managed to get three teams of 12 together who will take it in turns,” Bev said. “But of course we would welcome help and support from anyone who would like to be involved.”

Uniting Church members will trial the “Free Monday Meal” for 12 months. “Hopefully our diners will spread the word so we can reach as many people as possible,” Bev said. Since July, on the first Monday of every month (from 5.30 to 6.30pm), the doors of the Wesley Uniting Church Hall in Court Street have been open to anyone who would like to be part. Bev added that Free Monday Meals have been supported by local businesses.

WE JUST WANTED TO D O SOME THING AND WE RE ALLY HOPE IT TAKES OFF AND HELP S THO SE IN NEED “Many thanks go out to Coles, St. George’s Pantry, Parkes Stationery and Christine’s Signwriting who have all helped to make this venture possible,” Bev said.

CAMPBELLTOWN: A HUB OF COMMUNITY ACTIVITY IN JUNE, A RENOVATED hall at Campbelltown Uniting Church was reopened as the South West Sydney offices of Uniting Disability. With more than 100 people in attendance at the opening, the celebrations doubled as a 40th anniversary gathering. This is the second Uniting program to operate out of the block which also includes Uniting Brighter Futures program.

UNITING DISABILITY STAFF MOVE INTO THE NEWLY REFURBISHED HALL AT CAMPBELLTOWN UNITING CHURCH

Besides Uniting programs, Campbelltown UnitingCare operates a Literacy Centre and Focus On Families program. The offices of Campbelltown UnitingCare also provide support to 32 refugee children who go to school in Uganda, as well as a free Medical Clinic in Kampala, Uganda’s capital.

Along with the many Church programs, University of the Third Age and an Anxiety Support Group also share the buildings. University exams are also held there. Five different Congregations share the worship spaces including Seventh Day Adventists (Pentecostal), Samoan, Tongan and Fijian Congregations. There is a total of six buidlings on the site. The kitchen onsite also operates an outreach at Christmas and makes Christmas puddings to sell (which they have done for 35 years). There are plans afoot to look at purchasing a further parcel of land to enlarge this growing hub of activity and mission.

insights 9


SHARING ‘GOD MOMENTS’ IN UTALK ON ORDINATION

THE MODERATOR REV. MYUNG HWA PARK GATHERED WITH MORE THAN 100 ORDAINED UNITING CHURCH MINISTERS, FROM ACROSS THE SYNOD, AT THE FINAL UTALK AT THE CENTRE FOR MINISTRY IN NORTH PARRAMATTA. THEY SHARED THEIR “GOD MOMENTS,” PRAYED AND LISTENED TO GUEST SPEAKER REV. PROFESSOR ANDREW DUTNEY AND OTHERS.

MORE THAN 100 Uniting Church ordained Ministers — both Ministers of the Word and Deacons — as well as lay ministry agents, gathered to share their experience of ordination, at the 21st UTalk hosted by the Moderator, Rev. Myung Hwa Park. The UTALK meetings have provided an enriching opportunity to hear diverse perspectives about the life of the church and “moments of enlightenment” or “God moments.” Rev. Dorothy Harris Gordon travelled from Lismore in the Bundjalung Nation, to start the day with an Acknowledgement of Country. As one of the Moderator’s last events before Synod, Rev. Park prayed in Christ’s name for “the gift of leadership that awakens in us as a vocation. I seek your Spirit to invigorate in our hearts, to make us mindful of the providence that calls us to serve. Let us have the wisdom to read time clearly and know when the seed of change will flourish.” Guest speaker Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney offered a deeper understanding of ordination with his two keynotes on the subject and noted the significance

10

insights

HALOTI KAILAHI: “TELL ME WHAT YOU SING AND I WILL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE.”

“The entire mindset of people has completely changed from thinking about how God works through to how they are taking in knowledge. There is a ministry challenge [here] which we have to take up.” And thirdly, how is the current sense of structures working in our society? “The stronger the structural thinking, the more we will be able as a group to take up the range of challenges that the Royal Commission is bringing.”

of understanding ordination in the life of the Church. Rev. Andrew Collis convened the contributions by ministers Rev. Bernard Thorogood, Rev. Eli Ellia, Rev. Haloti Kailahi and Rev. Nerida Drake, who all shared their ministry journeys. Associate Professor Gerard Moore, Uniting Theological College, wrapped up the day with some theological observations, gathering the contributions from the groups and five speakers. Dr Moore put forward three challenges. First, what is the future’s call to us? Second, what is the next ‘mind’ step going to be about?

BERNARD THOROGOOD: “FAITHFULNESS MATTERS MORE THAN BRILLIANCE.”

www.

For more photos of the UTALK on Ordination, go to: bit.ly/UTalkOrdination


Pathways charts a hopeful future At 40 years, it is a good time for the Synod of NSW and the ACT to take some time to reflect on where we have come from and who we are called to be. It is a good time to take stock and to ensure that we are aligned with the moving of God’s Spirit in the world today. It is a good time to dream a new dream for God’s people in the Uniting Church and to move with hope into God’s future. It is a good time to be reminded of the energy that brought the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches into union and to inject new energy into our life together today. We understand our legacy, but what will our investment in the future be? The Pathways Project is developing processes that will enable us to listen to each other – to help Congregations hear the stories of other Congregations; to help Presbyteries hear stories of Congregations within and beyond their bounds and of other Presbyteries; and to help the Synod hear a more comprehensive story of the Church in NSW and the ACT. SHAPING THE FUTURE

Currently in a pilot stage across two Presbyteries that each share unique challenges, The Pathways Project is giving members of the Church an opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the Uniting Church for the next 40 years. Leaders and members of the Church in New England North West and Parramatta Nepean Presbyteries are dreaming together to discover how to shape ways in which we

might work together to share Christ’s story of love in the world. Findings from this initial pilot will be presented at Synod when it gathers on 30 September with a view to then opening up the process to the whole Synod. “Parramatta Nepean Presbytery is a large and somewhat difficult Presbytery covering most of Western Sydney, with all of the joys and pain of people in this

part of the world,” says Geoff Stevenson, Presbytery Chairperson of Parramatta Nepean. “There is a broad diversity of people from across the world in [perhaps the most] multi-cultural Presbytery. It is a region of significant change, as new housing is bringing 100,000s of people into two significant parts of our Presbytery — the North-West and South-West Sectors.”

“These significant changes, along with the major upheavals rocking our whole society in this time of semi-millennial change, have a huge impact upon the Church. Our Congregations, based in more traditional village style forms and with traditional forms of ministry, are struggling.” Geoff is hopeful that The Pathways Project will provide outside resources that will help the Presbytery see more clearly, be accountable in mission and ministry, ask questions of them and provide skilled people who can assist our strategising and planning processes. “The Project promises to provide a framework that will enable us to move with confidence and support into new ways of experimentation and learning, trial and error, and, we believe, new ways of being the Church in Western Sydney in our time and contexts,” explains Geoff.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 12

insights 11


“IT’S INVOLVING MORE PEOPLE AND NOT NECESSARILY IN THE CHURCH. MORE PEOPLE FROM THE PERIPHERY AND EVEN FURTHER BEYOND, DISCUSSING MORAL ISSUES, SO THAT WE CAN PUT CHRISTIAN EMPHASIS ON THEM.” PEEL VALLEY

“I PICTURE SHARING LOVE, SUPPORT, AND INCLUSIVENESS IN OUR COMMUNITY.” TAMWORTH

Opportunities to hear the voices of both the densely metropolitan Presbytery and the more isolated parts of the state have given Rev. Will Pearson, Chairperson of New England North West Presbytery, hope for the next 40 years of the Synod of NSW and the ACT.

members from within the local and adjoining Congregations who joined in healthy discussion of the topics as they were raised. They were not afraid to voice their understanding of what the Church may be as we transition into the next 40 years.”

“Each section of the community has their own specific issues that impact on the ability of each to express their faith and commitment in a 21st Century world,” explains Will of the challenges that lie ahead for the Church. “Underlying these is the unity that is so much stronger as we move into the next 40 years in the life of our amazing Church.”

FUTURE-FOCUSSED MISSIONAL PRIORITIES

“These meetings and discussions across the state give members of the Congregations who may not be able to experience Presbytery or Synod meetings an opportunity to share both their dreams and frustrations in a safe environment, knowing that their input can be used to form a more complete picture of the UCA in 2017, and be utilised in the development of our ongoing mission. “At the Armidale meeting [in early July] there was a good representation of church

12

insights

Pathways sits alongside other Synod-wide, inter-related projects, in the context of identifying missional priorities and creating an integrated, futurefocussed plan for the Synod.

As Acting General Secretary Rev. Jane Fry has said, “There is an urgent need to find new ways to engage with our communities, to tell our story and to plan for the future. And yes - it is really scary and (at the same time) exciting.” “We are committed to keeping before the Church our purpose by asking who are we called to be, and why do we do what we do. We want to encourage clear and open communication and

consultation, across the whole Church. In doing so, we acknowledge the vast differences, diversity and needs across Presbyteries and membership as we seek to love and care for the people around us,” says Rev. Fry of the commitment to The Pathways Project from a ‘whole of Church’ perspective. “At the end of 40 years, Moses took the people up the mountain and he showed them the promised land — a land flowing with milk and honey — a fantastic prospect; a place of opportunity, possibility and hope. We are at the top of the mountain looking forward into a land full of possibility and hope. And as Synod we have to get ready for that. “The Uniting Church is a unique organisation in the way that it structures itself. It is a grassroots organisation. Leadership and direction comes from people in Congregations and Presbyteries working to feed the hungry, clothe the

naked and bind up the broken hearted. That’s where the work of the Church happens. “We need as a Church to organise ourselves in relation to the missional priorities that are evident in the Congregations and Presbyteries,” says Rev. Fry of the priorities for the Synod.

PATHWAYS ON THE ROAD

Of course such an undertaking needs experienced people to begin to understand how we as a Church can work together more effectively to achieve our goal of being a ‘fellowship of reconciliation’. Rev. Kath Merrifield has been released from her position as Executive Director of Uniting Mission and Education — along with Melanie Dicks from Uniting — to carry out the initial pilot consultations across New England North West and Parramatta Nepean. Such diverse Presbyteries have been chosen to understand the unique challenges faced by rural and urban Presbyteries, but also to listen and report back so that these challenges can be addressed. “Having been in a Congregation and worked with Presbyteries and then in my Synod role, part of the


“I AM REALLY HOPEFUL THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO ENCOURAGE YOUNGER PEOPLE TO BE A PART OF OUR WORSHIPPING COMMUNITY.” ARMIDALE

“THE SENSE OF BELONGING FOR MANY HAS LEFT. IN THE SETTING OF PATHWAYS, IT GIVES THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO SAY ‘I BELONG HERE’ AND THEY CAN CONTRIBUTE SOMETHING.” HOLROYD

“WHEN YOU MOVE INTO SOMETHING — EXPERIENCE ADJUSTS TO THAT — AND WHERE IT GOES I DON’T KNOW, BUT GOD’S IN CHARGE AND THAT FOR ME IS EXCITING.” ARMIDALE

“I LOVE THE IDEA OF GETTING TO THE GRASSROOTS, TALKING AND LISTENING TO THE VOICES WITHIN THE CONGREGATIONS AND TRYING TO FIND A WAY OF DOING CHURCH ALTOGETHER.” BERALA

challenge for us is the way in which we take seriously the inter-conciliar nature of the Church,” says Kath about her role as a consultant to the project. “Pathways is an opportunity to explore what can be achieved together in more effective and helpful ways. We find ourselves in a complex, time poor and everchanging environment in the Church and working together and telling the same story is more important than ever.” I have worked with the gifts of the Uniting Church for the majority of my work life,” says Melanie about her experience and why The Pathways Project is important in the life of the Church. “I’ve worked in and managed Uniting Aged Care facilities and I’ve seen how the light of Christ has been expressed through these services to the community. Uniting Church Presbyteries and Congregations have created such great gifts for the disadvantaged and aged in society. In a rapidly changing society, The Pathways Project gives us an opportunity to work with members of the Church to create a long-term plan for the future of the Church.”

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES

As Kath and Melanie roadtrip across the state, they are listening and making space and time to hear members concerns, hopes, dreams and ways that the Church can collaborate at all levels.

WE FIND OURSELVES IN A COMPLEX TIME POOR AND EVER CHANGING ENVIRONMENT IN THE CHURCH AND WORKING TOGETHER AND TELLING THE SAME STORY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

“The project creates an opportunity for us as a Church to have a shared conversation. Everybody sees different aspects of this story at the moment, but this creates an opportunity where we can all contribute to the same story to find the opportunities for the future,” says Melanie. “My hope is that people will think, talk and take hold of the opportunity to chart a hopeful vision where we can live out the work of Christ in society, but also how we can work more effectively together as a Church. We want to work to make the vision real and map out a plan to get there. I would also hope that we can see the challenges as opportunities to work more closely to create a vision for the future. We want this project to connect with Presbyteries and Congregations and how they see their future. “From our stories, we will celebrate and build on our strengths, and we will also seek to give shape to ways we

can address the challenges that we face together so that we might be well-prepared to embrace the next 40 years!” “The things that we have in common are the things that enable us to dream and vision a future for the Church. We are about God’s mission in the world,” says Kath. “Alongside our brothers and sisters, whether that be the next Congregation or across the state, it enables us to share a common vision for the Church.” As pilgrims we are invited to think about opportunities, to let go, and move forward in faith. The Pathways Project will help us to begin to chart a hopeful future in a changing and challenging landscape. i

You can find more information about the Pathways Project at nswact.uca.org.au/thepathways-project where you will find Q&As and also ways you can give feedback to the process. Also ‘like’ the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and ACT Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ unitingchurchnswact) for regular updates on The Pathways pilot project.

insights 13


All cultures welcome in God’s household One of the UCA’s defining statements is that it wants to cross cultures and bring diverse people together. Insights spoke with the former National Director of Multicultural and CrossCultural Ministry, Apwee Ting, to find out how the UCA is going with breaking down barriers. “WE ARE A multicultural church.” The Uniting Church in Australia officially declared that in 1985. Fast forward to 2017 and there are 193 specific language groups connected with UCA Congregations. Services take place in 26 different national languages, as well 15 Indigenous languages. Fifty nine Congregations have explicitly determined they are cross-cultural Congregations. There is one Presbytery in our Synod which is solely for Korean Congregations, while national conferences take place each year for 12 racial groups.

But Apwee reminds us that there are a lot of different people, from different cultures, who are part of God’s family. Let alone that they also are part of the ever-diversifying Australian population.

“The multicultural church [reflects] the reality in Australia,” adds Apwee. “The recent Census says half of the population has at least one Impressive. But what do those parent born overseas. numbers add up to? If you had So when the church to explain what it means to be accommodates a multicultural church, what different cultural would you say? THE it’s reflecting M U L T I C U L T U R A L groups, For the past two years, the life in Australia.” CHURCH Apwee Ting has been the But it’s doing much REFLECTS THE UCA’s National Director more than that. REALIT Y IN of Multicultural and Apwee points us back AUSTRALIA Cross-Cultural Ministry. to the second chapter He has done everything of the apostle Paul’s from inform Assembly about letter to the Ephesians. multicultural matters to nurturing According to Apwee, what is local Congregations. So, Apwee, you reflected within the UCA’s 1985 “One are well placed to ask: what does it Body, Many Members: Living faith and means to be a multicultural church? life cross-culturally” statement is the “The church has many cultures and “household of God” portrait that Paul we try to work together, to support and painted in Ephesians chapter two. nurture each other to do God’s mission,” Apwee likes to use the expression of says Apwee, who has visited over 100 “household of God” to explain what different cultural groups across the UCA. the UCA’s multicultural focus is about. Simple question, simple answer, even “Paul is looking at the household of God though the idea of relating with many as consisting of people with cultural cultures can seem daunting (thanks to differences,” says Apwee. “Within traditions, customs and sensitivities).

14

insights

our time, when I am talking about the Uniting Church, I’m talking about the ‘multicultural’ church – including the English-speaking and non-Englishspeaking groups. And we are joining together to serve God.” Apwee’s role in the UCA changed this year and he has become one of three National Consultants in the Assembly Resourcing Unit. He hopes to continue serving the UCA’s multicultural aims, of which he thinks three key areas are notable: providing education for particular communities; helping them to be part “of the life of the Church”; and establishing leadership positions. There is one significant area for improvement, though. “The important thing to improve is how to work together. How can the particular language group work together across different cultural groups, so we really live in the household of God as the one community?” “When I look at the UCA since that ‘One Body, Many Members’ declaration, I think the first 15 years were only looking at growing inward. But now, when we look at the structure, the leadership, the opportunities, the Uniting Church already has many strong CALD communities.” i Ben McEachen


Coming in from the cold for a warm welcome IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, and getting colder, with a biting frost descending as the temperature hovers around 0°. Inside the church hall, however, there is the comfort of warmth and it’s not only provided by the heating and the presence of a growing number of people. There is an inner warmth, too, that comes from smiling, welcoming faces, and the joy of conversation and fellowship with friends new and old.

This is the Alpine Uniting Church hall in Jindabyne, in NSW’s High Country, and it’s any Wednesday night in the ski season. Church member Gordon Wilson rises to speak briefly to those who have stopped by to share in the weekly community meal. “I offer you the blessing of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We welcome you here and are glad you’ve come. We would like to get to know every one of you personally.”

It’s a simple but powerful welcome to up to 165 people who may gather for this special meal. And everyone is welcome, but the meal tends not to attract the wellheeled tourists. Instead here gather itinerant workers, come for the seasonal employment on snow fields, and young backpacking skiers whose dollars are exhausted by the exorbitant cost of even the humblest accommodation in town. They are from all over the world – Europe and the UK, North and South America, Asia, and distant regions of Australia. And there are locals too, who find in these evenings the sense of community that perhaps escapes their everyday life.

THERE IS AN INNER WARMTH THAT COMES FROM SMILING, WELCOMING FACES, AND THE JOY OF CONVERSATION AND FELLOWSHIP

The meal is completely free, paid for by the proceeds of the amazingly successful Op Shop operated by the Church. The skilful team of cooks and servers produces a superb two or three course meal. As the meal proceeds, members of the team circulate, conversing with as many guests as they can. All express their gratitude for the meal, and their enjoyment of the atmosphere. It also can be a welcome break from the loneliness of the seasonal

ski fields. (The Op Shop also can meet more urgent needs, such as giving people tents for shelter or stocking them up from its Food Bank) The Alpine Congregation recognises the whole enterprise as a vital mission. A number of the other volunteers who assist in the Op Shop and at the dinner (it’s known as “Soul Food Community Kitchen”, by the way) eschew a traditional Church connection because of unhappy past experiences elsewhere. But they have come to regard this work as their “Church”. And the broader community has embraced the whole undertaking with generosity, donating huge quantities of quality goods for sale in the Op Shop.

When we first arrived in Jindabyne and went into the National Parks information centre, we mentioned we were in town to work with the Uniting Church. The officer serving us and a customer enthused about what a great job the Church was doing for the town. What an unusual, special introduction to this band of Christ’s people. When Jesus spoke of separating the “sheep” from the “goats”, the sheep asked him when they had ever seen him hungry or thirsty. Jesus replied, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 26:40). Those words echo around the humble church hall in Jindabyne. i Alan Harper OAM

insights 15


Telling Our Story INSTALLATION OF THE MODERATOR

You are invited to the Installation of Rev. Simon Hansford as Moderator of the Synod of NSW and ACT. Celebrate with us at St Stephen’s Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie Street, Sydney, the ministry of Rev. Myung Hwa Park over the last three years and welcome Rev. Simon Hansford as he is installed as Moderator for the next three years. Date: 29 September 2017 | Time: 7pm Venue: St Stephen’s Uniting Church, 197 Macquarie Street, Sydney RSVP: 15 September 2017 to suew@nswact.uca.org.au If you have limited mobility please let us know.

“At Synod this year, we will remind ourselves of the story in which we locate ourselves; we will celebrate ways in which we can articulate this story to those around us. We will hear from people across our Church, as they tell our story, not as a theme to galvanise the Church, but an affirmation of who we are called to be. We will give voice to the hope within us – that our lives are woven into the story of God, spoken in Jesus Christ.” Rev. Simon Hansford

I think of Synod as a resting place where the pilgrim people can come together for encouragement and refreshment to re-group and to make decisions and plans for the next part of the journey with God. This Synod gathers around the theme of ‘Telling our Story’ and we will sing and reflect, pray and listen to God’s story, to stories of mission and promise, witness and faith as we engage with each other and work together to plan for the future. Bring your enthusiasm, your energy and your hope and help get the pilgrim people on the move again! Rev. Jane Fry, Acting General Secretary

16

insights


SYNOD

2017

GETTING READY FOR THE SYNOD EVENT This year the theme of the event is “Telling Our Story”.

“We are called, as a community of God’s people, to give voice to the story which shapes us, and into which our own lives are woven. The service we offer and the worship we celebrate are shaped by our witness, and give form to how we speak of the hope we have,” says Rev. Simon Hansford of the event. Pray in the lead-up to the event as we gather to seek God’s will for the life and mission of the Church and articulate – together – our hopes for the future of the Uniting Church. We will join as a “fellowship of reconciliation” to listen and value each other as a body of Christ.

Speakers

Hannah Boland: Hannah Boland: Hannah is a mutli-talented comedian and musician whose bread and butter is telling her story from her unique perspective. Hannah will be a keynote speaker on 2 October. Rev. Thresi Mauboy: Thresi is an Indonesian woman who grew up in Soe, West Timor, and is the current Moderator of Northern Synod. She acknowledges the movement of the Holy Spirit in every part of her life. Thresi will be a keynote speaker on 3 October. Joel McKerrow: Joel is a writer, speaker, educator, community arts worker and one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring performance poets. Joel will be creatively leading us through Bible

Studies on Saturday 30 September and Monday 2 October.

BBQ Lunch on Sunday

On 1 October, we have an opportunity to come together for a complimentary BBQ (sponsored by Uniting Financial Services) with entertainment by Hannah Boland and other music as we enjoy food, comedy and music.

(UFS Board Chairperson) about how the boards are working with the Church to make space for the future of the Church.

Mobile-first Synod

Telling Our O D S Y N

Making Space for the Future with John Cleary

This Q&A-style panel on Sunday evening 1 October will be an open forum with John Cleary moderating a discussion with Heather Watson (Uniting Board Chairperson), Meredith Yabsley (Uniting Resources Board Chairperson), Simon Hansford, Moderator, and Michael Anderson

t

S ory

7 2 0 1

The Synod will be paperless with a full event website offering access to agenda and other papers. The Synod App will be launched a few weeks prior to the meeting. Members will be advised when the app is available for download.

Market Stalls

This year we will have market stalls throughout Synod. Take a break and make sure you check out what is on offer from the various exhibitors.

Have you registered yet? Nominated members will need to register prior to the meeting and pay for accommodation at Knox Grammar School (if needed) and lunches for three days (BBQ lunch on Sunday 1 October is being sponsored by UFS) by 28 August. Elected members will receive a customised email asking them to register which will contain a draft agenda and other useful information. This year an external event management company is being used to coordinate registrations and nominated members will be contacted by Cre8it Events to register.

insights 17


18

insights


We all react differently to that small yet infinite word and what it can mean. Art. Some of us think it is the reason to get up in the morning. Others think art is a massive waste of time and breath. Most of us can be baffled or gobsmacked or reflective or enraged about different sorts of art (or, for that matter, what actually defines a work of art). All of that just increases when it comes to Christians and art. For if God is THE creator and we have been created in his image, shouldn’t we honour God by getting our art on? And if we are called to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17), how could art possibly be left out of that all-consuming equation? The special focus of this edition is Christianity and the arts. We spoke with a variety of creative people who follow Jesus, from ground-breaking photographer Ken Duncan to stand-up comedian Hannah Boland, video game developers to singers, illustrators and broadcaster Laura Bennett. We share their experience and wisdom about how God’s gifts can be projected through artistic endeavours. 20 THE ART OF IMAGINING GRACE 21 EXPRESSO: LINKING CREATIVITY AND SPIRITUALITY 22 THE POWER OF LAUGHTER 26 MINDFULLNESS AND SPRITUAL PRACTICE 29 FOCUSING ON THE CREATOR 32 FAITH IN THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY 34 EMBRACING FAITH AND LIVING YOUR DREAM

insights 19


A R T S & FA I T H

The art of

IMAGINING GRACE God is creative beyond our wildest dreams but Christians can struggle to express their artistic side. Artist, minister and historian Rod Pattenden explains how worship can be enhanced by thinking outside the box. “FOR ME, the arts are about provoking, enticing, expanding the human imagination and its grasp of what the world could be, sustained by the grace of God.” That’s how Rod Pattenden sees the role of art in the Christian life. Not that he is into boundaries or labels. The minister at Adamstown Uniting Church, Newcastle, for the past five years, Rod is one of the most prominent proclaimers in the Synod of how art can inform Christianity (and vice versa). An established artist, ordained minister Rod was approached by art-inclined Adamstown Congregation due to his background in the creative realm. Along with his own paintings, performances and paper-cut pieces, Rod is an art historian, lecturer and community facilitator with a keen interest in spirituality connected with art. Rod believes art is an “absolute fundamental human activity,” core to who we are as beings created by the creator God. But in Rod’s experience, church circles can too narrowly define what art is. “What we are talking about is imagination,” says Rod about art/ creativity in Christianity. “Life without imagination would be devoid of hope and joy and compassion. So when we look

20

insights

ROD URGES CHRISTIANS TO COME UP WITH “NEW WAYS OF BEING CHURCH IN A CHANGED SITUATION” AND HOPES THE UNITING CHURCH WILL MORE FULLY EMBRACE ITS ARTISTIC ELEMENTS.

at our biblical tradition, the Bible is filled with a world of the imagination – ‘What would the world look like if it was lived out of grace?’” “When Jesus gives his parables, or we hear the poetry of the Psalms or read the stories of the Old Testament, these are all imaginative forms which give us a grasp of what life is like when we know we are loved by God.” All of that sounds wonderful. Right? Not exactly. Rod has encountered Christians and Congregations who struggle to work out how artforms – and artists – can be part of how they worship. “People are not quite sure how to encourage and value creative folk because those people think outside the box.” But Rod adds that “artists and musicians are not special people; they’ve just developed skills that we all have.” He maintains that creativity in Christian life can be celebrated and encouraged – in everybody. Whether it’s painting or gardening, handicrafts or writing, Congregations could intentionally cultivate artistic gifts in a bid to “open our eyes to a bigger sense of ourselves and God and the world around us.” Rod can’t list off any words of caution or foreseeable risks which a Christian might encounter as they pursue artistic

expression. But he offers the principle of striving to project God’s glory as a helpful guide for our creativity. Rod points to Colossians 1:15 and how it reveals Jesus is the “image of the invisible God … So if we look at the face of Christ, that is God’s greatest artwork.” “Christ is alive and working in the church, so part of our calling is to be God’s artwork to the world, so people ought to be amazed, shocked, or startled to see this community of people do amazing things. That calls for a great deal of experimentation, innovation, failure, tears and wonder.” Rod urges Christians to come up with “new ways of being church in a changed situation” and hopes the Uniting Church will more fully embrace its artistic elements. Not only does Rod see art and creativity as vital to expressing Christianity at any time, he also upholds how they “take us out of time” and assist our response to the past, and forging into the future. “Art and music tell us about where we have come from, as human beings in a culture or as individuals. Then it also turns us around to face the future, to give us resources for where we might be headed towards.” i Ben McEachen


A R T S & FA I T H

A SPACE FOR LINKING CREATIVE EXPRESSION AND SPIRITUALITY

EXPRESSO

“As well as an opportunity to support local artists, it is also an insight into artists’ creativity and passion and sharing something of themselves. We definitely have a passion for the arts and want people to seek deeper meaning in the arts.”

Every month, a group of people gather together in a café-style setting in The Dungeon beneath Adamstown Uniting Church. They listen to artists that provoke thought about deeper issues around faith and life. Expresso seeks to create deeper faith and community through the sharing of music, stories and creativity. Featured artists provide a rich environment to stimulate ideas through music, art, comedy and other performing arts. AS IT FOSTERS AN APPETITE for sharing a richly creative experience with like-minded people, Expresso also serves up delicious food and drinks. Alison Davies is in charge of promotions for Expresso, having taken over from Heather Price in the task of letting the wider community know about this unique performance space. Insights spoke with Alison and Heather about the ideas behind Expresso and the space made for creative expression. The pair are long-time friends, musicians, songwriters and performers who have a passion for encouraging creativity. “Expresso has been going for about four years and is a family-friendly and inclusive space,” explains Alison. “It’s a really relaxed atmosphere in a café setting where we have feature artists that share their art with us and share something about their story.”

Expresso audiences at The Dungeon at Adamstown Uniting Church (where Rod Pattenden is based; see story on opposite page) are between 50-100 people. A core of regulars support the program but Expresso also attracts people who wouldn’t normally come to Church. “We are always looking out for performers that would be a great fit for Expresso,” says Alison. Heather adds: “We have come to a point, I feel, in the Church where there are a lot of preconceptions about what happens in Church - and that get in the way of what’s important.” There’s a synergy between performer and the audience at Expresso that enables a unique kind of conversation to begin. As Heather explains, people in the audience often relate to the creative expression from performers, regardless of whether or not they are Christian. “Creative arts is a medium through which people can let that barrier down and allow themselves to think more deeply and more personally,” explains Heather. “It allows much deeper thought and discussion about deeper things. It’s a great way not just to reach out to a broader community but also to be people who are able to sit in a room together and talk about deeper and really important issues which are so often ignored in every other aspect of our modern life.” i

www.

To find out more about Expresso Arts, visit the website for upcoming performances: adamstownuca.org.au/expresso

insights 21


A R T S & FA I T H

E TH

R E W O P GHTER U A L OF

tralia’s s u A d e dubb ars e n y e e d b e r s e nd ha iscov a d l o e ling B h a s e h t d a u f n B o n . Ha dian” a way e ith s a m w o w c d e o n n o a o h e l b d “c funny began in chil r loss e h e t h t a h h t t h i o c ag ks whi to adulthood w s climbing c a b t e s d in with o wa n h a w , ical n n n i i a l a i c t p s d i c i r n chron bies. As a Ch ss disorder a lling a c a e b r e t l s o b a c w i i t of aumat felt an unden r give t o t t s r o u p o f h o m a out of hu Hann e , s n n o i e re. s s s u t d u e f n l o u depre f h e a hop r well e f h o e e s s u p to glim ear’s y s others a i h t t ech a ft for i e g p s d n e t a o keyn nistry i r e m ring h r a f e h o h S d . s s a e d e s Ah wor iscus n d w nah h o n a r a n e H n h a , s n H i e , lling - s what she do Synod e t e is y p r o o t h s y e e m v o she d er I perform, creati y ift of h g w e t h u t o v h e b t i when ed w a lot a “ s t s ry.” a e o l l h t b g s e s e i b s h l s l r i it fo le w confe e p s o u e l p l i t a w th always r... and that God laughte

22

insights


insights 23


HUMO UR THE WORK I DO, basically, is in two parts. There is the ministry side of what I do which is working specifically with churches, doing outreach events or speaking at churches. The second part of what I do is work in the secular industry – still as a ‘clean’ comedian and an unashamed Christian, but it’s for a different purpose. A lot of that is to do with my own professional development as a comedian. I find Christian audiences and churches can be quite a bit more brutal than the secular industry because everybody has a different idea of what it means to be ‘clean’ and the line you have to tread. I often play it extremely safely with the churches and I’m glad I have because I have had very, very few complaints. Christians do need to get over themselves a little bit, though, and not be so stuffy — but you have to get them to trust you before you lead them along that path. In the secular industry, not only are people delighted to find out that a Christian can be funny, there is the

24

insights

“CHRISTIANS DO NEED TO A LITTLE BIT AND NOT BUT YOU HAVE TO GET THEM TO YOU LEAD THEM ALONG

opportunities I have to be a Christian presence in an industry that is so antigospel, anti-Jesus. I can get to be a living example of the gospel in those situations, which is tremendous and so desperately needed. If I am doing a show that I am touring around, the material is pretty much sorted. It’s well rehearsed and I know it backwards because that’s the only way I can pull it off. That gives me scope on stage to play around with things a little bit more and to have a bit more fun with it — because I’m not worried about forgetting my lines. If I have had a chance to prepare properly and it’s all fresh in my mind, I love performing and I’m not nervous at all. I’m just eager to get out there and have a really good time. Before a stand-up gig, I have had everything from just 30 seconds to try to do my hair and put on a full face of stage make-up, to hanging around for

an hour and a half, twiddling my thumbs, waiting for it to happen. I’m not a nervous back-stager; I’m quite happy doing a bit of crochet if I’ve got the time.

discuss 60 different topics. They’ve got to be quick and punchy and it’s a very intense form of writing. I probably throw out about 50 per cent of what I write.

By the time you see me performing in front of an audience, that’s the last five per cent of what I do. For me to write about 80-90 minutes of material, that’s usually an 18 month process. Generally, comedians want to hop from one thing to another, to keep it interesting. So, in a 90 minute show, you can easily

I do try to be open to my Christian convictions, and whether I have crossed the line a bit too much or there are topics I need to stay away from. I still pray about that and try to get a second opinion on that from a Christian. Like any job, though, you get a feel for what’s working and what’s

I TRY TO BE OPEN TO MY CHRISTIAN CONVICTIONS, AND WHETHER I HAVE CROSSED THE LINE. I STILL PRAY ABOUT THAT AND TRY TO GET A SECOND OPINION FROM A CHRISTIAN


GET OVER THEMSELVES BE SO STUFFY...

TRUST YOU BEFORE THAT PATH.”

not. But whenever I perform, whether it’s to a secular audience or Christian, my hope is always that people will be blessed with the gift of laughter and that God would be present. And that he would do whatever it is he does through whatever it is I do — and that he would just use it for his glory. Most comedians would do Open Mic nights to test their material. I don’t have the luxury of doing that because I live in semi-rural New South Wales – I live in the Southern Highlands – and I also have young kids and health complications. The craziest thing I have ever done in my life is the first time I ever did stand-up comedy. I booked a whole tour — and I had never done stand-up comedy! Talk about a leap of faith … and the first time I ever stepped on to stage, I had written a 90-minute solo show. But it was received so well. Even now, the first time that I do a new show, a lot of the material is untested. I tweak as I go but that can be really hard, because different audience members laugh at

different things. If one or two jokes bomb, you just move on. You can’t dwell on it. If you can keep the momentum going and the audience is with you, they can forget about the joke that bombed if you do. If you have a really tough crowd, I tell you, it’s like pushing sand up hill. You’ve got to put your head down and get through it, just like any bad day at the office. But if you are tanking night after night after night, then there is obviously something wrong with your comedy! But one of the nicer things about doing ‘clean’ comedy is that the audiences you tend to have, especially the church audiences, are pretty kind to me. Usually the heckling I get is very nice, very complimentary. During my show, I do some stand-up and storytelling but I also do songs, poetry and I sometimes do skits. I’ve got a bit of an ‘old lady’ sense of humour; I’m only 35 but I would absolutely die in some of these hipster, trendy, cutting edge clubs, because that’s not my humour.

Still, it’s a real challenge for me to get up there and do this ‘old school’ type humour, when everyone is trying to be so cutting edge - doing all the political jokes and things that are so modern and culturally relevant to a particular age group. It really is quite scary to get up there and do this sort of style of humour but the wonderful thing is I have had so many people who love it – and be surprised that they love it. I get these guys who run the technical stuff at clubs – these big, burly guys who watch foul-mouthed comedians or rock concerts; they’re really hardened guys – and after the show they shake my hand and say, ‘I cannot believe I laughed for 90 minutes and you didn’t swear once or have sexual innuendo.’ They’re so staggered that they’ve enjoyed it. i

WANT TO CATCH MORE HANNAH? Visit her website for tour dates and information:

hannahboland.com.au

insights 25


A R T S & FA I T H

Mindfulness and spiritual practice Mindfulness, spiritual practice and colouring-in. Perhaps these are three words you have not seen together before. Rev. Karen Mitchell-Lambert has a unique blog that brings together her faith story with yours. She hopes Lectionary Doodles helps people of all ages to take some time, colour in and reflect upon their faith.

The blog has a weekly colouring item that reflects on the lectionary readings. Karen’s hope is that visitors to the site might stumble on something new about the Christian faith story they didn’t notice before, grow a little in their own faith, gain a deeper connection with God or have fun and relax as they meditate and colour in. Insights spoke with Karen about Lectionary Doodles and how this type of spiritual practice has also enhanced her own faith.

REV. KAREN MITCHELLLAMBERT doesn’t consider herself an artist and wasn’t raised in the Church, but this has given her a unique perspective on how the Church might work better in the community and also led her to design a unique kind of spiritual practice. Karen was recently appointed to the Church Engagement Team at Uniting, but before taking on the role, she was a minister at Wesley Castle Hill Uniting Church. “As a leader in our Church, I have seen the value of spiritual practice. Yet not

26

insights

being the sort of person who is good at getting up at 5am and reading my bible and praying, I have struggled with how to best connect with God regularly, to hear from God’s word and apply it to my life,” says Karen.

in the process, she would also help others connect meaningfully to scripture.

“When I am preaching every week I connect meaningfully with God, but when I’m not preaching, it’s different.”

“A member of my Congregation asked if it was possible to introduce ‘adult colouring-in’ to Church, to help them listen. I had a look around and while there are some beautiful pieces, I felt like they didn’t really help explore the scriptures.”

What began as a Lenten practice a couple of years ago grew to be her blog Lectionary Doodles, something Karen said helped her focus on her spirituality. She did not expect that,

Adult colouring-in has had a resurgence in the last few years, as an antidote to the rapidly changing technology landscape. Sitting and colouring-in is a discipline that requires quiet

contemplation and the space to think. “To my surprise, some people found it very helpful,” says Karen. “Word got around my friends that I was doing this and some of them asked me to send it through to them each week as well. From there, they convinced me that others in the Church might benefit from what I was doing. “I was astounded at the different ideas my friends had about how they could use it; a weekly devotion, class reflection and focus, even a way for people


outside of the church to learn more about God. By the end of Lent, I realised how valuable it had been to me and finally I found a way to listen to God each week that I could relate to.”

sheep” at Church for many years. She also believes that not growing up in Christian circles helps her to connect with “the broader community in ways that are meaningful to them.”

Karen is not a trained artist, which is why she says her blog is modestly called Lectionary Doodles.

Such gifts and insights affirm for Karen that God is creative and ingenious, a truth to be found in many places. “You merely need to look around this world to appreciate that. We humans are part of that creativity but while we may have been made in God’s image, we are not made as cookie cutters of the same thing. God is too big for that.

Each week she approaches the Gospel readings by drawing and listening to what God is saying to her. In this way even the creation of the doodles involves meditation on the scriptures. “Most weeks I am amazed at what comes out from my hand and I am also amazed at what I notice about the text in the process of trying to draw it,” explains Karen about the act of creating each lectionary doodle. “For me the task is about trying to hear what the text is saying to me in my time and place.” “It would seem that me being who I am is no accident,” says Karen who felt like a “black

“So how is it that God invites you to connect with God that is unique to you? What if our creative God had space for creativity in our worship and spiritual practices? “What if it was not merely for your own benefit but as a gift for the whole Church?” i

www.

WE HUMANS ARE PART OF THAT CREATIVITY BUT WHILE WE MAY HAVE BEEN MADE IN GOD’S IMAGE, WE ARE NOT MADE AS COOKIE CUTTERS OF THE SAME THING

Visit Karen’s blog: lectionarydoodles.wordpress.com

insights 27


KINGDOM HERE KINGDOM NOW

Seeking, Finding and Rejoicing in Christ the Healer and His Kingdom Date: Fri. August 18 (7-9pm) and Sat. August 19 (9am-5pm) (Including Healing Service at 3.30pm open to public)

Venue: St Stephen’s Uniting Church 197 Macquarie Rd, Sydney NSW Cost: $60 (includes morning & afternoon tea on Saturday) Partial Attendance: Fri - $20 / Sat: $50

Guest Speaker: Rev. Mike Endicott Author of the “Blind Healer” & “Rediscovering Kingdom Healing” (www.simplyhealing.org)

Register: http://au-jacobswell.org

POSITION VACANT

MINISTER OF THE WORD/PASTOR

Alstonville Uniting Church, Far North Coast Presbytery, NSW/ACT Synod

Alstonville is a village on the Plateau close to Southern Cross University and Ballina on the Far North Coast of NSW. Alstonville has a strong welcoming community. Expressions of interest are invited for a Minister of the Word / Pastor, to: • Lead us into the next stage of our exciting future within the church and in our community in the light of our vision statement, “To know Christ and to make him known.” • Lead worship in a traditional style with some contemporary elements. • To facilitate pastoral care and faith development of the congregation For more information and supporting documentation, please contact Rev Maggie De Leeuw, Convenor of the JNC via email at maggie120@outlook.com

EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

by 1st of October 2017, and should be directed to: the Acting Associate Secretary of the NSW ACT Synod: Rev John Thornton PO Box A 2178 SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235 Ph: 02 8267 4323 Any applicant must hold or apply for a valid NSW Working with Children Check number.

Presented by The Order of Jacob’s Well (Aus.): A group of ecumenical Christian communities rekindling enthusiasm for the Kingdom of God by walking in the footsteps of Christ the Healer. For conference enquiries contact Dean Drayton: 0424368286

POSITION VACANT

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES COORDINATOR

Based at Quakers Hill Uniting Church 18-26 hours per week with current funding for 2 years Uniting Church Lay Ministry Worker Level 3

Quakers Hill Uniting is a growing, vibrant, multi-cultural, communityoriented church in the North West sector of Sydney. We are seeking to appoint a Children and Families Coordinator to build on the current mission activities including Noah’s Ark Preschool. Main responsibilities: • Coordination of Sunday morning Kids’ Church, Tuesday Playgroup, fortnightly Friday night children’s programs and Monday Toy Library alongside the volunteer team. • Connecting with Noah’s Ark Preschool families. • Training and resourcing volunteers for the above programs. • Promotion of community activities • Identify opportunities and promote partnerships and connections with the wider community. • The Children and Families Coordinator will be an integral member of the church ministry team. Essential Criteria: • Passion and demonstrated experience connecting with children and families • Personal and spiritual maturity • Strong personal time management and planning skills • Strong oral and written communication • Computer literacy skills • Commitment to work within the ethos of the Uniting Church • Current driver’s licence and car • NSW Working with Children Check For detailed job description or applications (with resume, covering letter and at least two referees, including one Christian referee) please email Rev Grant Atkins at grant.atkins@qhuc.org.au Closing date: 31st August 2017

28

insights

PITT STREET ANNUAL LECTURE IN PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIANITY

PROGRESSIVE FAITH FOR A NEW REFORMATION REV. DR HAL TAUSSIG

Hal Taussig is a United Methodist Minister, Lecturer at the Union Theological Seminary, NY, and author of several books on progressive congregations and early Christian communities.

Friday 13 October 2017 | 7.15 – 8.45pm

Pitt Street Uniting Church, 264 Pitt Street, Sydney

Saturday 14 October | 10.00am – 4.15pm “Faith Futures Festival”

Talks by Hal Taussig, music, workshops on ecology and faith, and progressive worship.

Inquiries:

Ph: 02 9267 3614 www.pittstreetuniting.org.au office@pittstreetuniting.org.au

Registration:

Friday night: $25/$12. Saturday: $70/$35.


A R T S & FA I T H

G N I S F CNUTHE

r o t a Cre O

Ken Duncan is one of Australia’s most famous and successful artists. He’s also a passionate Christian who gives credit where credit is due – to the “great God” who has transformed his artworks. And his entire life. EVERYONE CAN TAKE a panoramic shot with their smart phone but Ken Duncan made everyone take notice of panoramic shots, long before cameras were pocket-sized. Back in the 1980s, Australian photographer Duncan pioneered the wide-angled shot as a piece of household art. His style of landscape photography, in particular, swiftly became part of the landscape of Australian loungerooms and rumpus rooms. Credit doesn’t go to Duncan for his success, though. By his own admission – with no hint of joking or false humility – Australia’s most famous lens man thanks the Creator for any creativity he conjures. “You know, if you let God in, an average person can do extraordinary things. I’m a living testimony to that: an average photographer with a great God.”

IT’S NOT BY HOW GREAT WE ARE BUT HOW GOOD JESUS IS TO MAKE THAT WAY, SO WE CAN BE CONNECTED WITH GOD THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE

Speaking excitedly and often roaming from topic to topic, Duncan is a free-wheeling bloke who happily shares with Insights what it’s like to be a Christian artist. “If you want to be creative, it’s a good thing to know the creator. Man’s creativity is limited but God’s creativity is unlimited. And that’s the hardest thing because people so want to be in control – yet they’re not in control – and they don’t want to allow God to control the action.” “I know where my help comes from. The more you take credit for that, the less you will be connected to that power.” Duncan was raised in a Christian household but he wasn’t always “connected to that power”. Speaking over the phone from his Central Coast base, Duncan mentions his parents several times in our conversation — “My parents are probably the greatest examples of Christians that I have ever met” — as well as the church communities they were part of it. “My mum was a Methodist and my dad was a Presbyterian, so you had the serious and the dancer. Great combination,” shares Duncan about growing up around rural New South Wales and knowing that plenty of people were praying with his parents — for him. “I was quite adventurous and getting involved with Buddhism, Hinduism and Aboriginal spiritualism; you name it. I just know that the power of those prayers really protected me in many situations.” With his parents, Duncan spent plenty of time in Uniting Church Congregations as a younger man and it’s obvious how grateful he is for the prayerful support they offered him. Duncan doesn’t pinpoint the exact moment that God gripped his heart through Jesus Christ but he does explain one of the creative differences it made. “My photos beforehand, when I look back, were just God trying to get my attention. I look back at those shots and I can see what God was trying to say.” In particular, Duncan vividly remembers one photograph he took called Cannonball.

insights 29


While he has taken famous shots of Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and other iconic Australian landmarks, Duncan distinctly remembers when he “nearly died of hypothermia” trying to capture a big wave crashing on the rocks. “And that was my life at the time” admits Duncan about what his art was imitating. But what stands out to Duncan about taking Cannonball is how the end result features a road going off to one side, towards a light. The photographer didn’t plan for that to be as prominent, or meaningful, as it turned out to be. “That ‘narrow little road’, you know?” hints Duncan about its deeper meaning. “God was seeking me there, saying, ‘Have you had enough yet?’ “I tell ya, I was lost in the wilderness, trying to find meaning to life. What I found when I came to God through Jesus is my whole life changed. You know, that’s the key – it’s not by how great we are but how good Jesus is to make that way, so we can be connected with God, the creator of the universe. Man, what a privilege to have him as your best friend.” Duncan also believes he takes better photos since he wholeheartedly became a Christian. “[Some] people in the world think being a Christian is limiting but it’s the opposite. It’s opening up to the whole universe of God; it’s quite amazing.” “He constantly keeps you looking to new frontiers; not just doing the same thing all the time. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve got this down pat. I am rebellious some times and I think I know better than God some times. I think, ‘Oh, I’ve done this before; this is going to be a great shot.’

THAT NARROW LITTLE ROAD, YOU KNOW? GOD WAS SEEKING ME THERE SAYING, ‘HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH YET?’ “I’ll do one for God and 52 of mine, and guess which wins?” It’s understandable that Duncan could think he’s a big deal, though. He was the preferred photographer for classic Australian rock band Midnight Oil, has scored cabinets full of awards, and forged a trademarked photographic style that still stands out around the world. Such an established artist seems to have every right to not be humble but Duncan keeps pointing us back to the source of his artistry. “God is my supplier. He’s awesome. For me, I could just be the photographer. I can just go and start more galleries around the world, making lots more money. But in the end, what is the point, you know? God really challenged me at one point; He said, ‘Son, what’s more important? That your name be lifted up or mine?’ And it really hit me: ‘Well, your name, God. Your name is more important.’” i Ben McEachen

30

insights


VIVA LA

Revolution

KEN DUNCAN IS CONVINCED THAT THE POWER OF JESUS WILL SOON TAKE OVER AUSTRALIA — AND THAT SPIRITUAL SHIFT WILL START WITH FIRST PEOPLES, AT THE HEART OF OUR NATION. “I believe God is doing something in our nation. I believe there is a revival coming and I think it will happen through the aboriginal people because they’re open to this whole thing. There are already quite amazing things happening out in remote communities, in the middle of Australia.”

“This cross is not just a cross. It’s what it represents. It’s lifting up a battle standard in our nation, spiritually. The cross is the standard. I believe God is raising up an army of the Lord. Not in a ‘we’re going into warfare’ [sense] but, spiritually, he wants us to begin to work together as a body.”

Famous photographer Ken Duncan is a passionate guy. One of his biggest passions is working with First Peoples on a practical and spiritual basis. He is a director of the Walk A While initiative, a movement to help indigenous people in Central Australia to share their stories, learn creative skills, and enhance their life and work opportunities. Part of Walk A While’s energy is channelled into the building of a giant cross in the Australian outback.

Walk A While has raised about half a million dollars for the giant cross. Duncan hopes Christians from all denominations will rally behind the project as a prominent display of living out the love of Jesus. “It’s not whether it’s the Uniting Church or Lutheran Church or Catholic Church; it’s about bringing the message of hope in Jesus Christ out to communities and supporting these people. Because they are out there doing it tough.”

Having been already working with indigenous people to train them in photography, cinematography and music, Duncan was approached by elders to help raise funds for constructing an enormous symbol of Christianity. He asked them the obvious question: why build a giant cross in the desert? They replied: “We want people to realise that we are in spiritual warfare in our nation and that our land is covered by the blood of Jesus. We want a lot of people to come out here and see this cross and pray and unite at the foot of the cross, no matter what their denomination is.”

“I’m proud to be Australian but … How is it [that] so many of our indigenous people are being left behind? Our first Australians. Why is that there is seven times the youth suicide rate in these communities? Why is that we have 17 times the national average for domestic violence? Why is that we have them living in ‘4th World’ Conditions?

Duncan agreed to help, provided indigenous people led the project. A critic of how funding can be poorly targeted at remote communities, Duncan has copped his fair share of flak for supporting the giant cross’s construction. “People say building a cross is waste of money … That’s a load of rubbish. It’s a million dollars. The amount of money that is being thrown around in the aboriginal ‘industry’ is billions of dollars. And that’s not bringing about change. The problem is that [those trying to help First Peoples] are not allowed to deal with spiritual issues. Even the NGOs, you know? They can’t help in the spiritual side and if you are in a hopeless situation, you need hope.

“It’s not about the money; it’s about the money is not getting to the problems. In the midst of this, the only thing giving them hope is their faith in Christ.” www.

For more information: walkawhile.org.au

Ben McEachen

“As Christians, we have that message of hope. And they have it out there; they are singing songs for Jesus all the time. There is a revival going on in the heart of our nation and most Christians don’t even know it.

insights insights 31


A R T S & FA I T H

FAITH IN THE VIDEO GAMES INDUSTRY Situated on the cutting edge of technological innovation, video games have untapped potential to explore and discuss faith issues. While often neglected in the past, a small group of Christians who work in the industry are taking up the challenge of meeting this potential. JASON IMMS IS A freelance journalist who has written about games for publications such as Hyper, Kotaku, and Gamespot. He has also worked to support the industry in his home state of Tasmania. While describing the games industry as “startlingly inclusive”, Jason tells Insights that, in his experience, “Christians are few and far between — or, at least, very quiet about their faith.” “Discussions of faith or spirituality in general are hard to find within the games community,” Jason says. “I’m not really sure where that comes from, but the result is a general atheist or agnostic overtone to games conversations, and the games themselves.” “When religion does come up in games, it’s usually a superficial look at the subject, or treated with a general contempt. Often religion is used by characters in games as an attempt to make sense of the world around them, as a replacement for critical thought or scientific analysis and study.” A 2012 study carried out by the University of Missouri’s Greg Perreault would appear to confirm that video

32

insights

games do treat religion as a problem to be solved. Looking at high-profile games such as Final Fantasy 13, Mass Effect 2, and Assassin’s Creed, Perreault found that these titles tied faith to violence. This approach to faith may carry over to the way that games depict their protagonist characters. “I can’t think of even one example of a character in a video game from recent memory who held an evidence-based faith of any kind,” says Jason. The apparent lack of genuinely relatable Christian protagonists may be changing, however, as games continue to advance in their storytelling capabilities. One game that demonstrates the medium’s potential to explore faith well is That Dragon, Cancer. An autobiographical game, the title takes the player through Ryan and Amy Green’s experience of losing their son Joel, who passed away in 2014 after a four-year battle with the disease. Praised in reviews for its raw honesty, That Dragon, Cancer does not shy away from the Green’s Christian faith, which is referenced throughout its storyline and gameplay mechanics. For the family, Joel’s life was a miracle that they wanted others to experience through their eyes. According to Ryan, the games medium gave him the opportunity to achieve this. “You can create this world and ask the player to live in it and love what you have created,” Ryan has revealed.

THAT DRAGON, CANCER IS A GAME ABOUT RYAN AND AMY’S CHRISTIAN FAITH WHICH COULD EASILY HAVE BEEN ALIENATING TO THOSE WHO ARE NOT RELIGIOUS


In an interview with the Game Church podcast, Ryan likened the process of finishing That Dragon, Cancer to that of “a mission”. While not intended as an evangelistic game, That Dragon, Cancer sparked discussion about faith in the gaming press and wider industry, with The Guardian’s Keith Stuart praising this facet. “That Dragon, Cancer is inescapably a game about Ryan and Amy’s Christian faith, which could easily have been alienating to those of us who are not religious,” Stuart wrote in a glowing review last year. “However, the message imparted by the game can be universally understood.”

In the Game Church interview, the game’s co-creator, Josh Larson, said that the game had opened avenues for dialogue with all sorts of people. Jason Imms indicates to Insights that he would like to see more such conversations about gaming and faith take place. He cites the 2014 panel on videogames and spirituality (held at the annual Pax gaming conference in Melbourne) as another example of the industry providing such an opportunity. “I was honoured to join in [that] panel discussion on spirituality and religion in videogames during PAX Australia,”

remembers Jason. “I was fairly nervous going in, but was shocked at how respectful and valuable the resulting conversation between panelists and the audience ended up being. “I’m so used to conversations about religion taking a hard turn for the worse,” he continues. “Being in a room with 200 people holding various faiths and worldviews, critically discussing how games fail to serve this important aspect of being human, [was] staggeringly heartening.” i Jonathan Foye is a freelance journalist and academic.

insights 33


A R T S & FA I T H

Embracing faith and living your dream ast ey Hope 103.2 breakf One half of the SydnBennett says her faith radio duo, Laura rs. her creative endeavou continually inspires

d focus on the really live our dream an she ce spa a as io called to live rad are rly particula thing that we know we nnett was on the and . ute ’s concept. ok trib bo con the lly BACK IN 2010, Laura Be could rea for,” says Laura of gree de dia me r he g tin ple last leg of com ideas and rse, you petition to As for the source of her Laura believes that, of cou and had just won a com come can it s y’s create ne say to n Syd ura h tia La , ris wit on Ch ce inspirati don’t have to be become a radio apprenti s in those ion , this is ue est n. qu val tio d sta nse Go io me ing rad im y ask h nit m wit fro something Hope 103.2 commu image the in d . quiet moments because we are all create d Laura is an ay can tod th to fai s, rd wa lain for exp st ing Fa ere I am ask of God. But as Laura 103.2 breakfast ce “I am sitting in a place wh du pro to vity ati cre the co-host of the Hope I t ld really amplify tha Masters, God, ‘What do you see? What cou r he h wit d ate du are t gra tha g ing show havin of things would pieces with deeper mean e Your Dream: write about? What sor t written her first book Liv ?’ am g. dre gin ir ga the en truly d Prioritise really help people to live How to Cut the Crap an e nal Th g blo a w g sho nin s run thi d t in “Because we have perso Your Purpose an “Or, God what can we pu ativity ou people to you and relationships with God, r cre Connect Press. that’s going to connect should s res exp e we lov t sire and your and the ideas tha avours, staying really exemplify your de ect or exp le op pe at ?” With these creative ende wh d life ir be so far beyon r calling on the for t you d bu g, an m gin the llen for y are cha the be se cau inspired can what people imagine be s Laura. tinual source say con r he ura i La ng . thi ura me La 20 -so inspired by God,” says faith. As well as co-host of of inspiration lies in her Melissa Stewart the popular morning “The idea of creativity as w sho t fas ak bre on a whole really is centred on Hope 103.2, R for d Go in s C R E AT I V I T Y and originate LAURA’S TOP TI PS FO The Connect Press NS E IA ate L im ST O ult RI H the CH is G YOUN me. He AS A W is a blog Laura media. This D E R E s creator. Everything that T Be selective on social use d N an E tes C wri S I ls friend request. a fee d ng checki creativity looks an ND A as a way to express may mean un N O have to allow ,” n’t do Him in you d likes is centre and It’s also knowing as S ide E se T the A N I ounts and you ORIG says Laura. people to follow your acc everyday in th fai D O ryone online. IN G don’t have to follow eve n life and culture Growing up in a Christia o-face from film reviews to household Laura vividly Re -evaluate your face-t old rs lf, “…do I yea opinion pieces. remembers at seven interactions. Ask yourse d sse pa ing be and inspired n ed nio rag watching commu feel edified, encou full time at the radio being ng tly rki tan wo lieve that I ins ile d be an Wh to de rch ma chu around in or am I being a ted ple com the at she wh 15 d an 20 s in not some station, intrigued about what it wa am less than? Or is there e Journalism. tur Fu in e gre de ues that I rs val it. ste d Ma meaning was behin kind of affirmation of the r course, she was able to he . of ura rt La pa s As say ” intrinsically have? to actually publish her first book - all d an “I made my choice then te ple com I from then on “Know the is process produced a become a Christian and Make your own labels. to live in 12 weeks. Th t an l me wil s it pe at yourself stick. ho wh d for she an ke d rst an came to unde labels that you ma that helped her ok bo n tia ris Ch a s ge ing be other people nsition sta life with Jesus and what If you don’t like the ones help others who are at tra d your own an space looked like,” she says. are making for you, make in life, to clear their head ones that ke ma r, ones and even bette journey has follow their dreams. ed to From there her spiritual link or ure ipt scr g r life. Dabbling are inspired by of it all and in everythin ipture” ise informed decisions in he scr no in the you “In t ou ab s dia say Christian me pull back and what God lly ua act we w ho , in the arts, Laura found do we that

34

insights


n R o b i nos no n a c a un ssi i with D lind Mi I n H ahn oC h r i s t i a n B wit

Breakfast The Hope

team

Our creativity and t he ideas t hat we express should be so far beyond what people expect or what people imagine because t hey are inspired by God

The Breakfast team with Hillsong United

insights 35


Seeking Expressions of Interest Uniting Board Uniting is seeking suitably qualified people to express their interest in joining the Board, which provides oversight and governance of the organisation. Who we are

At Uniting, we believe in taking real steps to make the world a better place. We work to inspire people, enliven communities and confront Injustice. Uniting is the services and advocacy arm of the Uniting Church in NSW and ACT. Our foundation reflects Christ’s invitation to serve humanity by creating an inclusive, connected and just world. Our services are in the areas of aged care, disability, early learning and community services and chaplaincy. Our annual turnover is $800m and we have 11,000 people working at Uniting including 3,000 volunteers. As an organisation, we celebrate our diversity and welcome all people regardless of lifestyle choices, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation and gender identity. We are also the largest not- forprofit provider of aged care in the state.

Join our Board

The Uniting Board is implementing a challenging and ambitious growth and social justice agenda to better serve the most vulnerable people in our community, consistent with our mission. All Board members are required to demonstrate: • Capacity and willingness to operate within the ethos and values of the Uniting Church • A commitment to fiduciary requirements • Relevant experience and literacy in finances, accounting, risk management and Board governance responsibilities, having regard to the size and complexity of Uniting • Analytical thinking and strategic capacity • A commitment to work as a team player, to devote necessary time to the work of the Board, and assist in the ongoing improvement of the Board. In particular, we are seeking expertise, capability and experience in one of the following areas: • Performance management, development and re-development of large property asset

portfolios with market values over $1billion • Senior executive experience managing large customer focussed organisations, ideally around one or more of our core subsector activities • The Board membership is for a three year term. We know that good things happen when brilliant, compassionate people believe in change. If this is you, please submit your expression of interest, addressing suitability for appointment, via email to: pmodica@uniting.org Expressions of Interest close by 14 August 2017. If you have any further questions, please contact Heather Watson (Board Chair) or Peter Worland (Executive Director, Uniting) via an email to pmodica@uniting.org titled Uniting Board Expression of Interest.

A Questioning Piligrim’s Progress WEEKEND 25TH TO 27TH AUGUST | EASTWOOD UNITING CHURCH, 16 LAKESIDE ROAD

Dr Val Webb

The latest Census shows a dramatic shift in Australia’s religious climate: increasing diversity; declining interest among Gens-X & Y and the Millennials; established churches in retreat. Dr Val Webb will lead a searching exploration of possible theological responses to some of these winds of change. As a trained theologian and scientist, she has catalysed discussion on the directions of Christianity in England, America and Australia. Her latest, eleventh book is Testing Tradition and Liberating Theology: finding your own voice.

36

insights

Topics for the Saturday sessions will include:

• Our faith journey: asking questions and questioning answers (9.30am) • Theological hospitality: diverse views sharing faith journeys (11.30am) • New directions, new faith paths and new catalysts (2.15pm) Join us in getting to know Val over a light dinner on Friday evening (6.30pm for 7.30pm talk), three inter-active sessions on Saturday and a service on Sunday. Donation $25 ($20 for Saturday only and students). • Eastwood is a rail & bus transport hub –

adjacent to church campus • Bring or buy your own lunch on Saturday – many eateries nearby • Tea, coffee and soft drinks provided.

Register and more information: www.euc.org.au Call the office: 9858 5732 (9am to 3pm Mon-Fri) Please make contact with office for childminding


Our ‘why’ is our imperative welcomed me in a way that I am pretty sure I would not have received had I shared the experience on my CV. This experience taught me an important lesson: before we ask others to care – we need to work out and share ‘why’ we care. That’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you by sharing ‘why’ I do what I do.

AS WINSTON CHURCHILL famously said, “a change is as good as a rest”. My change, taking on a new role and moving to Sydney to work with the Uniting Church’s Synod of NSW and ACT has certainly been a wonderful experience. One of the most important aspects of this role involves me learning about how the Uniting Church operates through its’ people and building new relationships. Last week I was asked to join a team ‘away day’ in the Blue Mountains. It was quite unlike any team away day I have been to before. Within five minutes of me arriving, I found myself sitting by a fire, patting a dog and listening to people share about their world. I was then asked to share a little about myself. In this moment I realised the team did not need a synopsis of my career, my highlights or my achievements. I realised that what they needed was to know ‘why’ I care. So I shared with them my ‘why’. The feedback in the room was remarkable. They informed me that this was not what they were expecting and

Over time I have come to appreciate that everything I have sought to do in the area of compliance stems from my desire to make a long-standing difference in this world. A desire to engage with people about what it means to be a transformative community, inviting people to be part of creating that and working together with integrity on the basis of ethical intelligence.

Around 15 years ago nearly to this day, It is not just a job for me, and not even I went away for a weekend just a career. It has become my with my then boyfriend. mission or, as I like to think of it, On day two we went the great work of my life. up a mountain. BEFOR E WE It was wet and Our ‘why’ is our imperative! ASK OTHER S slippery and I It is what gets us out ended up falling of bed in the morning, TO CAR E – quite a large keeps us going when WE NEED TO drop off the side the going really does WOR K OUT AND of the mountain. get tough and keeps us Despite the large patiently explaining our SHAR E ‘WHY’ drop I was left work even when no one WE CAR E physically virtually seems to be listening. It is unharmed, save for what drives us (and certainly a concussion and a few me) to come up with creative ways damaged ribs. Unfortunately to inspire, persuade, challenge and my partner, who bravely came down the encourage people to do the right thing. mountain after me to see if I was ok, was So this week at work, when you have the not so lucky. He landed badly and was opportunity to speak with people about left paralysed from the waist down. But your role, perhaps take a moment to he has not let it stop him. He lives his life share the great work of your life and your with passion, integrity and grace and is a ‘why’. It can make all the difference. i constant source of inspiration for me. That day and that fall has never left me. What could I have done better? How could I have prevented it? But it also left me with another thought – one that has impacted me even more deeply. I was left unharmed, so what I am here to do? It took another few years and a few more experiences, but I started to work it out after transitioning from working as a lawyer to working in compliance, engaging people through storytelling, creativity and imagination. At first it just seemed like another role, another career progression and the ability to get a new perspective in an organisation.

Illustration courtesy of Nicole Rose

Nicole Rose is a published author, lawyer and compliance professional with 20 years’ experience implementing compliance and legal frameworks. She specialises in financial crime, integrity and compliance, anti-corruption, fraud, human rights, cyber security, global security and human resources. Nicole has recently been appointed Head of Compliance and Legal for the Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and ACT.

insights 37


A TRADITION OF CHRISTIAN CARE AND CONCERN

Richard & Deborah Spiteri, proprietors

FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED FUNERALS CONDUCTED THROUGHOUT SYDNEY

MEMBERS OF THE FUNERAL DIRECTORS ASSOCIATION OF NSW

Reconnect with

God

Reconnect with Each Other

Reconnect with the Community

Project Reconnect From The Hunter Presbytery

Small church? Just the right size! Project Reconnect is a DVD resource for small congregations providing: • A fresh weekly sermon (8 min) and all age message (4 min) based on the Lectionary

• A set of Discussion points for congregations to explore and discuss the sermon to share their thoughts • 16 songs from our library of 35 popular songs from “Together in Song” (soon to expanded to 50) for accompaniment to singing Use a DVD as and when you need one!

Want to try one free?

Email: orders@projectreconnect.com.au

Want to know more?

Tel: 02 4933 3312 Email: support@projectreconnect.com.au Website: www.projectreconnect.com.au

38

insights

Tupou College is a Free Wesleyan Church boys’ boarding school in Tonga. Their brother school is Newington College, Sydney and they have a very close relationship. Tupou College is seeking two teachers for a new academic program based on the NSW system to commence in 2018. Most teaching will be at the Year 7 level. The two positions are for; 1. ENGLISH (WITH HUMANITIES) 2. MATHEMATICS (WITH SCIENCE) Both appointments are for one year (2018) and a package including salary, accommodation and airfares will be provided. Both positions could suit recent graduates (upper primary or secondary) or teaching staff who could seek a year’s leave of absence or a recent retiree. Active support of the Christian ethos of the College will be essential. Further details about these positions are available on the Newington College website (About Newington > employment section). Applications are due to Newington College by 25 August 2017.


D I G I TA L M I N I ST RY

Ready Pastor One

The future is coming. Fast. Are you ready? As the digital world advances and people struggle to keep up, how can we create connections with deep meaning? ONE OF MY favorite books on technology is a complete work of fiction. It’s called Ready Player One, a novel written by Ernest Cline, and is soon-to-be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Ready Player One tells the story of Wade Watts, who is living in a dystopian American future, amidst a world in crisis. Using virtual reality goggles and special gloves, Wade, along with billions of people around the world, login to “The Oasis,” a digital virtual reality. “The Oasis” isn’t just a game. It is an entire world unto itself that is more real and appealing for many than the physical world. People turn to “The Oasis” for everything. People even get married on The Oasis, not even having known each other in real life. But when the famed creator of “The Oasis” dies, he releases a massive game that will award his massive fortune and control of “The Oasis” to the winner. And Wade joins the chase. Ready Player One is one part social commentary, one part a glimpse into the not-sodistant future of technology, and one part big-hearted romp through 1980s culture.

I won’t say more for fear of spoiling it for you.

humanity in the midst of this digital world.

I’ve called this column “Ready Pastor One,” because pastors and all ministry leaders need to be ready as the future comes rushing towards us with its accelerating technological advancements, including virtual reality. We all need to be ready to reflect with our faith communities on the implications of those technologies, about what it means to be human and to be people of faith.

When I was just starting out as a pastor, well before the dawn of social media, a friend said to me, “People just want a pastor that is down to earth, that they know cares about them.” And he was right. Yet that feels harder than ever in our digital world. As we continually vie for people’s time and attention (those most scarce and valuable of commodities), we unwittingly fall into a race or competition to present ourselves and our churches as more desirable than other.

Indeed, every technological leap calls into to question what it means to be human. Do pacemakers and knee replacements make us part cyborg? What does it mean that we live on through our Facebook profiles even after we die? What are the implications for the race to develop artificial intelligence? What is our value when robots can do our jobs better than we can? What is really real — the physical world or the digital world? What I love about Ready Player One is how it wrestles with these kind of questions and helps the reader to identify and celebrate our

WE CAN U N W I T T I N G LY T U RN O U R S ELV E S INTO PRODUCTS TO BE CONSUMED, R AT HER T H A N PEOPLE WITH WHICH TO BE IN REL AT I O N S HIP

Rather than being down to earth, we can unwittingly turn ourselves and our communities into products to be consumed, rather than

people with which to be in relationship. Our interactions become transactional, not relational. Like Wade in Ready Player One, we should try to resist the commodification of our digital connections. How do we stay ready and real? It is important to understand the technologies of our time and not just how to use them, but how they affect the ways we live, connect, relate, and make meaning. As ministry leaders, we not only need to do that for ourselves but to help our faith communities do the same. Furthermore, it is essential to focus on relationships, keep showing up, listen first and then respond, promote others rather than self, and be kind. Jesus told his disciples they must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Same goes for life online. We need to maneuver in this digital world in a way that enables us to connect with others, but then to go beyond just connecting — to ever-deepening relationship with those in our networks and communities. i Pastor Keith Anderson

insights 39


M A K I N G M O N E Y M AT T E R

Let go of what you rely on I’M FINALISING THIS COLUMN on the afternoon of the second State of Origin game. Tonight a large crowd will gather at a stadium at Homebush, excited and hopeful that the NSW Blues can clinch the series. But whether they do or not, life will go on exactly the same for that crowd after the game.

WARREN BIRD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNITING FINANCIAL SERVICES

40

insights

that they weren’t up to scratch in God’s scheme of things. Imagine how they must have reacted when they heard Jesus say that the poor have the kingdom of God, which is of infinite value, but the rich have only their riches, which are of limited value for a limited time (verses 20 and 24). Imagine their amazement when Jesus said the hungry will be satisfied, but those who have plenty will starve (v. 21 and 25). “Can he really be calling us ‘blessed’?” they must have asked themselves in astonishment.

Unlike the experience of a crowd I’ve been reading about in Luke’s gospel, chapter six. That crowd was mostly a gathering of broken and desperate sons of Abraham. They’d come to Jesus because he offered them healing and a chance He also taught people to love for life to be better than their enemies, not just their they’d previously imagined friends (v. 27-36), because it could be. He healed their there’s nothing particularly bodies, but he also spoke virtuous in just doing good to them in words that gave to those who’ve done them a new perspective the same to you. on life. In fact, he “Even sinners completely turned do that,” he around their W H AT R E A L LY said, which understanding M AT T ER S I S O U R was an of God and of RO OT S A N D W H AT arrow GROWS OUT OF themselves. shot T H EM . W H AT In the straight HOLDS US IN GOOD Romanat the STEAD ARE THE occupied, religious FO U N DAT I O N S O F Phariseeleaders OUR LIVES infested who looked Palestine of that after their day, the wealthy and own, but ignored privileged Jewish leaders the rest. Besides, just to looked down on these poor, react to how others treat you ordinary folk; they regarded hands the agenda of your life themselves as spiritually over to them – far better to set superior. They believed that the agenda by treating others their wealth proved that they the way you would like them to were the ones who’d been treat you (v. 31). blessed by God because of To those who thought that ‘the their wisdom and holiness. law’ gave them a yardstick with If you were poor, the leaders which to beat others, Jesus thought it was because you also taught the crowd not to were a sinner and out of God’s be judgemental lest it come favour. The crowd on the back to bite them (v. 37) and Galilean hill that day would to sort out their own hearts have been told all their lives before giving advice to others.

Otherwise it ends up just being a case of one blind man leading another (v. 39-42). To our 21st Century ears, these things have perhaps become familiar ideas. They shouldn’t be. They were bombshells for Judaism in 1st Century Palestine and they continue to blast away at all individuals and societies that assign superiority to one group over another. Relying on your wealth, your place in society’s class system, or any other sense of presumed superiority are all fraught and wrong. What really matters, Jesus said, is our roots and what grows out of them. Good roots make a good, fruitful tree (v. 43-45); strong foundations make for a well-built house that stands firm (v. 48-49). Who, then, is the person who has put down good roots and built strong foundations? “Everyone who hears my words and does them,” Jesus said — to rich and poor alike. This doesn’t guarantee an easy life, but we can stand strong and not be shaken. The life-changing words of Jesus urge us to let go of the things we rely upon that ultimately have no substance. Instead, becoming poor in spirit, we put down the roots of our lives in Jesus and build our character on His teachings. They urge us not to be satisfied with the false riches that the world offers. Aspire, instead, to the kingdom of God and its blessings. It’s tempting to say that they turn our view of the world upside down, but it’s more appropriate to say that they turn our view the right way up.

i


L E C T I O NA RY R E F L E C T I O N S

August: Jesus is Lord Since Trinity Sunday, the Lectionary has been tracing readings in Genesis, Matthew, and Romans. Reflections for August and September will follow Romans. We will also be thinking about some of the Uniting Church’s key documents, as it is our 40th anniversary year. AUGUST 6

ROMANS 9:1-5

This week’s passage is about privilege. Paul lists the set of privileges that his own people, the Jews, have enjoyed: adopted by God, in covenant relationship, with the gift of law, the privilege of worship, and the whole array of the promises of God. (These form the basis for the discussion in Romans chapters 9-11) In the Bicentennial Year, 1988, the Uniting Church issued a “Statement to the Nation” which identified some of the privileges within Australian society: justice, equality, mutual respect, care for the least, a welcoming society, expressing solidarity and friendship across divisions of race and culture. Reflect on that list. How much does it express who we are as a society in 2017?

AUGUST 13

ROMANS 10:5-15

Alongside that, it places the affirmation that “Jesus is head over all things, the beginning of a new creation, a new humanity” (paragraph 3). How do you understand the idea that Jesus is head over all creation? In 1977, the Uniting Church also issued a “Statement to the Nation” which made the claim that life in Australia was to be guided by “the concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere”, following the example which God has made known to us in Jesus, “the One who gave His life for others”. The Statement calls us to show our concern for others by our actions, which are motivated by what God has done in Jesus. How do you confess Jesus with your lips? Is he the One whom you want to believe in with all your heart?

AUGUST 20

ROM A NS 11:1-2A , 29 -32

This week’s passage contains Paul’s supreme claim that “Jesus is Lord”; something to be believed in our hearts and confessed with our lips. This short, snappy slogan guides and shapes all that Paul writes in his letters, and all he did during his years of activity among the fledgling churches.

Chapters 9-11 of Romans are about the relationship between the long-established people of God, and those who have more recently responded to the good news. It is a fascinating exploration of how the old and the new can relate to one another.

How do you respond to the statement, “Jesus is Lord”? What does it mean, for you?

Has this been something that you have had to deal with? How have you negotiated the challenges?

The Basis of Union of the Uniting Church cites Paul’s claim that “Jesus is Lord”.

At the heart of this discussion, there is a key question: Has God rejected

his people? (11:1) It gets a short answer (By no means!) and then a longer response (11:29). The message is clear: God keeps promises. God’s mind will not be changed. That is reassuring to the longestablished people of God. But Paul argues for space for the newcomers, the Gentiles, alongside the long-termers. Is that the case in your life? In your family? In your community of faith? In 2015, the UCA National Assembly adopted the “Space for Grace” document. It proposed that, in any discussion among people of different views, we must be intentional about ensuring safe space for considering various viewpoints, perhaps even space for competing theologies. That reflects the challenge Paul set before the church in Rome. Is there space in your discussion, for God’s grace to be present? Is there space for respectful hearing and understanding of different points of view? How are you grappling with this challenge?

AUGUST 27

ROMANS 12:1-8

This section of Romans is considered to be a key turning point in the overall argument of the letter. The first eleven chapters set out Paul’s theological foundations: God justifies by grace, we are invited into a community of believers, old and new are welcomed into the same space. Now, Paul’s attention turns to the practicalities of living your faith in daily life. One of the first instructions that he writes is: “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” (12:2). The Uniting Church values “the life of the mind” and encourages its members and ministers to be active in reading, thinking, and studying. Our Basis of Union expresses gratitude for “faithful and scholarly interpreters of scripture ... those who have reflected deeply upon ... God’s living Word” (paragraph 11). Can you think of someone who has lived out this form of ministry? What impact did they have on your faith? i

insights 41


L E C T I O NA RY R E F L E C T I O N S

September: Living out the gospel, in all areas of life SEPTEMBER 17

ROMANS 14:1-12

SEPTEMBER 3

ROMANS 12:9-21

This section of Romans focuses on a key set of values which, it is proposed, should form the centre of Christian action: love (12:9, 10), hospitality (12:13), living in harmony (12:16), living peaceably (12:18), and acting for the good of others (12:21). A very similar set of values was expressed in the Uniting Church’s 1977 “Statement to the Nation.” This document declared that “a Christian responsibility to society has always been regarded as fundamental to the mission of the Church.” What do you think about this claim? Is this value at the centre of Christian faith? The Statement identifies specific areas where we can show our concern for others: eradicating poverty and racism, opposing all forms of discrimination, challenging the values of acquisitiveness and greed, and urging the wise use of energy. There have been challenges to the way the church addresses these. But the Statement calls us to hold steadfastly to these ideals, and to emphasise these “universal values must find expression in national policies”. How challenging is it, for you, to consider that these

42

insights

ideals ought to be expressed in the policies of our nation?

SEPTEMBER 10

ROMANS 13:8-14

This week’s excerpt from Romans simply declares that “love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:10). What had been given to the people of Israel, through the commandments of the law, is now to be seen, focussed and concentrated in the call to follow Jesus. Love is to be the way that the faithful followers of Jesus are to be known. In recent weeks, we have been exploring key Uniting Church documents. The Basis of Union declares that Jesus is “a representative beginning of a new order of righteousness and love” (para 3), linking the idea of love with the need for a specific demonstration of that love. The 1977 “Statement to the Nation” refers to “the spirit of self-giving love” shown by Jesus, and relates this to a range of political actions that Christians could affirm. Each of these documents links love with ways of being and acting which demonstrate concrete, specific instances of that love in society. What concerted and specific actions could you undertake, to demonstrate the love of God in your neighbourhood? In your faith community?

How do we relate across our differences? This passage from Romans invites us to consider that challenge. Paul refers directly to those who are “weak in faith” (14:1). The context infers also a group of those who are “strong in faith”. It is clear there is conflict between the groups. Paul advises “the strong” to be mindful of the way “the weak” see things, and to be careful not to act in ways that they consider offensive. (1 Corinthians 8-10 provide more details about the dynamics in such a situation) The key factor in the way the two groups relate has to do with the idea of a “Space for Grace”. This is an idea adopted by the UCA Assembly in 2015. We are invited to create a space to encourage careful, sensitive, respectful discussion, bringing together people with strongly different views and perspectives. Paul directly addresses the strong, but his words apply to each group. He indicates they are to refrain from passing judgement (14:3-4), to continue to hold their own views with integrity (14:6), and to recognise they are each accountable to God (14:12). How might these instructions apply to conflict in your life?

SEPTEMBER 24

PHILIPPIANS 1:21-30

This week, we leave Romans and move to a shorter letter by Paul, written to the believers in Philippi. Here, Paul articulates a fundamental necessity of the Christian life: “live your life in a manner worthy of the

gospel of Christ” (1:27). Paul understands that integrity is at the heart of Christian life. What we do and how we act needs to be utterly consistent with what we believe and declare to be important. The Uniting Church has recognised the importance of integrity in public life. In 2009, after extensive consultation, the church adopted a Revised Preamble to its Constitution. This addresses the relationship between the First People’s of Australia (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples) and the Second Peoples, specifically those who came to the new “colony” from 1788 onwards. The Revised Preamble clearly recognises that the First Peoples suffered paternalism, racism, injustice and dispossession. They became “strangers in their own land”. The church was complicit in these actions. The document admits that “relationships were broken and the very integrity of the Gospel ... was diminished” (clauses 5-6). As Christians, we are called to live our faith in the public view, with integrity across all parts of our lives. Our life must be lived in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, as Paul declares. What changes might you make to ensure that your life best reflects the gospel? What changes might be proposed in your faith community? i

The August and September Lectionary Reflections were prepared by Rev. Dr John Squires.


N E W S F RO M U N I T I N G C H U R C H A D U LT F E L LOW S H I P ( U CA F )

Fellowship news HUNTER PRESBYTERY’S 80TH UCAF RALLY The rally was held on a beautiful autumn day at Charlestown UC with 80 attending. Special morning speaker was Margaret Pedler, UCAF National Chairperson. She shared many of her experiences travelling around Australia visiting groups and churches in her role. She also gave thanks for the donations to the “Outback Links Water Project” that UCAF NSW/ ACT Synod Committee has supported. In the afternoon, Lorraine Pepper spoke on “Own the Murray with Uniting”. The Men’s Choir group also entertained and great fellowship was had. Offering

was shared with the “Water Project” and “Backpacks for Refugee Children”. Toronto UC will hold the September Rally with Rev. Tara Curlewis as special guest speaker. ILLAWARRA PRESBYTERY RALLY Held at Shellharbour Uniting Church with 80 attending. Margaret Pedler UCAF National Chairperson also was the special guest speaker. She shared how important fellowships are in the life of the Church and what they can mean for Congregations. Allan Secomb, NSW/ACT UCAF Chairperson, bought greetings. He showed short videos about volunteers

with Frontier Services and shared why the Living Water project is so important. Holy Communion was led by Rev Rob Nance, and Lorkie Klevjer told of her community work with relationship breakdowns and domestic violence calls for intervention. The offering was shared with the “Water Project” and Baptist Community Services”. MID NORTH COAST PRESBYTERY A gathering was held at Nambucca UC and attended by representatives from seven churches. Allan and Denise Secomb attended as UCAF Synod Reps. The day was led by Rev Will and Betty Pearson.

They spoke of the joys and challenges of ministering in a remote location at Broken Hill. After lunch, those attending enjoyed touring a community garden. Rev Will Pearson concluded the day with stories of his role as a police and disaster chaplain. Offering was to the “Water Project” with Outback Links. RALLIES AND GATHERINGS: Mid North Coast at Gloucester UC, 16 August Hunter Presbytery at Toronto UC, 11 September Macquarie Darling at Gilgandra, 14 September Far North Coast at Casino 14th September.

If you would like to share your fellowship news or have any questions, please contact Judy Hicks on judyh_rnh@hotmail.com

GROWING HEALTHY CHURCHES

RURAL MINISTRY FIELD DAYS The Rural Field Days are a chance to, network, share resources and stories, and engage with the bigger picture across the Uniting Church. Growing Healthy Churches is designed to assist rural churches with a broad range of information, tools and resources to maintain and improve their health. Hosted by the Rural Ministry Unit in partnership with UME, the Field Days seek to support the active ministry of rural faith communities and congregations. The Field Days meet continuing education requirements for people serving as Minister, Deacon, Ministry of Pastor, Lay Pastor, Lay Preacher and other Ministry Agents.

DUBBO | 26-29 AUGUST 2017

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS Lisa Wells is the Press Go Catalyst with the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. Lisa will present four sessions on the nurture of healthy congregations. Mark Faulkner begins as the Director of Rural and Remote Ministry Intiatives for the NSW/ACT Synod in August. Mark will be speaking on a vision for encouraging scattered communities. Christine Sorensen is the Dean of Formation for the NSW/ACT Synod, based at the Centre for Ministry. Christine will speak on ways we continually respond to the challenges we face as disciples of Christ.

WORKSHOPS Workshop topics include healthy church governance for church councils, Presbyteries and committees, health checks for congregations, working with sales proceeds, social media, taking the pulse on our work with children, youth and families, growing a healthy church in a healthy environment, music in worship, hospitality with refugees and migrant workers.

VENUE

Dubbo Uniting Church 64 Church St, Dubbo

REGISTRATION COSTS

Whole event (includes Pizza/Trivia night and Dinner/Keynote): $180 Cost Per Day: $45 Pizza & Trivia Night Saturday: $15 Dinner & Keynote Speaker Monday night at Commercial Hotel: $30

Contact Bron Murphy: 02 8838 8920 or 0428411830 or Rohan England: rohane@nswact.uca.org.au

REGISTER ONLINE: ume.nswact.uca.org.au/course-registrations

facebook.com/groups/ruralfielddays

insights 43


MT AT TE B E LB IEELFI EMF AT ER SRS

The Kingdom of God: An archaic term or vital to use?

EVER SINCE MY OWN PERSONAL discovery 40 years ago of the importance of Jesus’s announcement of the good news of the Kingdom of God — and his teaching about the importance of ‘entering the Kingdom’ — I have been emphasising this term as vital for the description of the gospel.

but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” (Mark 10:42-43) 3. Jesus uses a familial Aramaic word for his Father, referring to The King of the Kingdom as “Abba Father”. The family relationship between Jesus and God is that of his beloved Son.

But gradually I have seen how the history of the term impacts 4. The heavenly Father has made known through the cross and on its present use. The millennia tell a terrible story of the resurrection the mystery of his will in Christ, “to gather up all way kings, in building their kingdoms, have so often been things in him, things in heaven and earth.”(Eph 1:16). This fulfills dictators and tyrants, the source of shock and awful Jesus’s prayer that “your Kingdom come on earth as in devastation, violence against groups, abuse heaven”. This view of the Kingdom encompasses the of the law, and the subjugation of women. totality of God’s restoration of the creation. In the Old Testament, the kings were usually authoritarian, hierarchical and I concluded that instead of allowing human THE KINGDOM patriarchal. For the first time in history, history to define the term, it is far richer to stay OF GOD IS GOD’S the democratic era declared each with Jesus’s use of the term as the totality of R E A L I T Y, S O person to be free and equal, even God’s living, future reality breaking into the A M A Z I N G LY A N D though these rights still need to be present. The earth is the Lord’s, not ours. The D E VA S TAT I N G LY realised in many cultures, especially Psalms have the trees and the fields praising SHOWN IN THE for women. God. Terms like ‘kindom of God’ and ‘family L I F E , D E AT H A N D of God’ actually restrict our understanding of Why in heaven’s name would one use RESURRECTION the Kingdom of God to ‘a human and relational the Kingdom of God with all those awful OF THE SON perspective’. And as important as this is, the associations? More and more I began Kingdom of God is far greater than that. to use substitute terms like ‘Kindom of God’ or the ‘Family of God’ for the Kingdom The Kingdom of God is God’s reality, so amazingly and of God emphasising, for the sake of our humanity, devastatingly shown in the life, death and resurrection of the reconciling relationships and round table decision-making. Son. The Kingdom of God is given as a “foretaste of that coming reconciliation and renewal for the whole creation.” (par 3, Basis As another decade rolled by, I began to sense that these of Union). The Kingdom of God is where we find a healing, substitutes were limited as well. Had I been too quick to draw redeeming and restoring perspective for God’s creation, with back from the term ‘the Kingdom of God’, on the basis of this God’s people and purposes as the ultimate framework of life. sort of history? It led to a time of re-assessment, weighing up the importance of the pros and cons in using it. Finally, for the And the reporting of this Kingdom so contrasts with the following reasons, I found the term to be so vital that too much ‘kingdoms of this world’! is lost when not using and celebrating the Kingdom of God. Recently, I attended a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus 1. Jesus’s core message, his teaching and his prayers are from Handel’s Messiah. It was explained that King George II explicitly about the Kingdom of God and how to enter the stood at an early performance of the Messiah during this key Kingdom. Any lesser term lessens the scope of the good news. chorus. He was acknowledging Jesus Christ, the true king, who is the King of kings. This is a Kingdom of the cross which when 2. Jesus was aware of history’s distortion of kingship and heard as the glory of God, offers a view of grace for the future, warns his followers of Gentile kings and kingdoms where “they the planet, communities and each of us. i recognise as their rulers, those who lord it over them, and their Rev Professor Dean Drayton great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you;

44

insights


C U LT U R E WAT C H

Turning 40 is hard to do How many times have you heard the phrase “Young people are the future of the Church”? It’s kind of a catch-all phrase that taps into the deepest fear that us oldies have about church — particularly as the UCA turns 40 this year. IT’S A HARD FACT to face but church is no longer interesting to young people. Let’s face it, church is no longer like it was in our youth. Research across the Western Christian world tells us that there is a growing cohort of people — from around 18 to 30 — for whom organised religion is something to avoid. In Australia, they are identified as “spiritual but not religious”. All of the reasons why we need Millennials in churches these days are the reasons why they don’t come to church. Let me explain: The Millennial mind is adaptive, craves authenticity, worships innovation and above all, thrives on social change. So which of these attributes exist in churches that you go to? If the answer is “huh?” or “how does this relate to Christianity?” then there are some things here that may give pause.

LOYALTY AND ADAPTATION

Much has been written and researched about the fact that Millennials are the least religious in around 60 years. But many of these studies, by researchers such as the Barna Group, confirm there is a robust group who hunger for spirituality and long to make meaning in their lives. They also crave authentic community, the biblical kind that we find in Acts 2. The kind of healthy community that fosters discipleship, relationships and delights in spending time in each others’ company. As Stephanie Vos of online community The Salt Collective says: “Millennials are seeking meaningful experiences that connect them to God, themselves, and one another, and help them live their lives with more meaning and purpose.” The church can and should be that place. In fact there is an imperative to do this. As a Church, we can wring our hands and push back, but there is a real sense that without being that place, denominational church could die out within a generation.

AUTHENTICITY

So much of what we do in church seems to be geared toward ‘doing’ and ‘being’ church in a very specific framework and set of rules. And there are lots of them. In The Uniting Church, one of them would be the Sunday morning “three-hymn sandwich”. This is where we can learn the most from Millennials. They love innovation. What would church look like if we truly engaged 1830 year olds in church? What if we actually asked them what would they like their experience of church to be? Again, Vos has some wisdom here, “Let church be fluid and inclusive, messy and surprising, changed by the people who are there and who haven’t come yet, experimental and real, a place that brings different classes and generations and races and ideas together into conversation and exploration. Millennials are seeking authenticity and vulnerability – they don’t need

a big fancy building; they need you to speak into the difficulty of their life and the hope they’re so carefully nurturing. They want belonging that comes from relationships not rosters. And they don’t have the time to wait around to be included.”

MOBILE AND NOT AFRAID OF CHANGE

To say a Millennial can quickly adapt to change is like saying ‘Is the Pope a Catholic?’ This age group deals with constant change and they don’t have time to wait around. Us oldies can shrug this off and get grumpy about how rapidly things are changing, but this won’t stop any time soon. And the age group best evolved to deal with it are the digital natives. As a result of this change, Millennials want to be at the forefront of what makes an impact in the world. Perhaps it is easy to shrug these attitudes off as the marks of “irresponsible youth” that need “instant gratification”, but society and technology has geared them this way. And harnessing their aspect of risk-taking and entrepreneurism is exactly what the church needs. As Vos says, “The church needs to be more nimble, allowing for and designing ways to get Millennials plugged in and making a meaningful contribution immediately. This type of energy may attract Millennials, but it will serve the church as a whole. How many people are waiting to be included? Hanging on the sidelines, waiting to be invited in?”

LETTING GO OF ASSUMPTIONS

If we crave meaningful experiences this should and can shape the future of the Church. But this will only happen if we seek to collaborate in an authentic way, let go of long-held assumptions and notions of what church ‘should’ be, look forward with an attitude that embraces new ideas and lets experiments unfold. And dare I say it, let the “three-hymn sandwich” go. As Vos says, let’s seek out the attributes of Millennials: “sincere engagement, activism, social media fluency, craving for what’s authentic, vulnerability. A desire to make a creative, meaningful, significant impact in their communities.” At 40, if we’re not willing to have the conversations and take the risks, we might be on the endangered species list. i Adrian Drayton

insights 45


REVIEWS

Entertain me REA D THIS

PRESS PL AY

DEAR LIFE: ON CARING FOR THE ELDERLY

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (M)

Karen Hitchcock, a doctor and writer, describes in Dear Life the ageism built into our health care system and our society in general. ‘Where’, she says, ‘are the parliamentary enquiries?’ She writes that the elderly regularly tell us, selfdeprecatingly, that they are a burden, and we, in our coldness, actually believe them. Because we largely agree.

Doing what they know best, unlikely heroes Star Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and co. are saving the galaxy once more. A fun if flawed followup to the hit original, Guardians Vol. 2 is more of the same (great soundtrack, cool cast), plus the odd new twist.

And so, Hitchcock, writes, there is a pervasive desire to get the elderly out of hospitals so that they don’t ‘waste’ resources. The elderly, supposedly, just keep getting sick and it becomes less and less productive to treat them. When severe symptoms present, staff are often too quick to assume an elderly patient is dying and will shunt them off into palliative care. Often, however, following the level of care we would afford any other human being, elderly patients recover like other human beings. The book is full of harsh judgements, but by someone on the inside who can envisage, and who practise, better ways. The attitude that the more vulnerable in society need more care, not less, set the early church apart, and arguably the Christian idea that every person is valuable has contributed to the high levels of health care we enjoy in the West. To view some patients as burdens or of less worth than others would be, as Hitchcock argues so empathetically, a dire development. Nick Mattiske

It’s also a type of family reunions special. The meaning of family is the central theme threaded throughout the film. If you look at the Guardians themselves as a unit/team, they are also examples of a dysfunctional family. But really, is there any other kind? We’re introduced to one of the film’s most fascinating characters, Ego (Kurt Russell). After saving Quill and the Guardians from an unwinnable battle, Ego reveals himself as Quill’s father. What Quill soon discovers is that family doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be blood related to show unconditional love and sacrifice. Quill’s journey of discovery challenges us all with the question: What is our purpose? A place to start is with your faith. Understanding and questioning that spiritual side of yourself may open a path to realizing what your purpose is. There are no road maps or easy answers, but you are not journeying alone, because even though you may stray, God will never leave your side (Deuteronomy 31:6). Melissa Stewart

BIG SCREEN

MAUDIE (PG)

Maud and Everett Lewis’ story is one that may only be known to fans of Canadian folk art. Maud’s style of painting would have been considered child-like and plain to many, but the profound detail of her work made her a sought after artist from the 1950s to the 1970s. Due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, Maud (Sally Hawkins) finds it difficult to walk and do many daily chores. But she finds her solace in painting. Reflecting the austere works of this pint-sized painter, the performances of Hawkins and Ethan Hawke (who play’s Maudie’s husband, Everett Lewis) must be experienced to be fully appreciated. The raw depiction of the Lewis’s against the beauty of the Nova Scotia landscape is an example of visual style that rivals Maud Lewis’ paintings. Director Aisling Walsh is able to reflect the simplicity and profound nature of the artist’s work through the marvellous visuals she crafts. It is worth taking a chance with arthouse drama Maudie. Go ahead an add it to your ‘must see list’ this year. Not merely for the message of understated triumph and hope depicted in Maud’s life, but for the sheer emotional journey it provides audiences. This little film may be different than the multitude of franchise blockbusters available this year, but Maudie will reward all who make the effort to discover this poignant cinematic gem. Russ Matthews

46

insights


SYNOD LIAISON MINISTER, TASMANIA COMMENCEMENT FROM OCTOBER 2017

This key role provides the prinicipal link between the Synod offices in Tasmania and Victoria, management of the Synod office in Launceston, excercising responsibility on behalf of the Presbytery of Tasmania for the pastoral care of ministry workers in Tasmania, and leadership of various kinds within the Presbytery of Tasmania. The person appointed will be a lay or ordained person who is a member of the Uniting Church and has a good working knowledge of UCA Regulations and processes. Excellent pastoral, communication, interpersonal and organisational skills are essential. Theological qualifications will be well regarded. For further information, please request a ministry description from: Robyn Hansen Executive Assistant to the General Secretary, P: (03) 9251 5215 or E: robyn.hansen@victas.uca.org.au Expressions of interest close on Friday 25 August 2017.

Vacancy Superintendent Minister Wesley Mission Queensland (WMQ) is seeking expressions of interest (EOIs) for the placement of Superintendent Minister (SM) of WMQ. WMQ is an integral part of the Uniting Church and our Purpose is to participate in the mission of God towards reconciliation, transformation, justice and hope for all people. As a Parish Mission under the Regulations WMQ is committed to worship, witness and service through the Albert Street Uniting Church and throughout the diverse range of aged care and community services that support 100,000 people in need in Queensland each year. WMQ employs 2,500 people and 1,500 volunteers. It operates from 60 plus locations mainly in South East Qld and has an annual operating budget of over $170M. As the director of ministry and mission and ‘spiritual leader’ (under the WMQ Constitution) the SM oversees the missional integrity of WMQ’s aged care & community services in accordance with the ethos of the Uniting Church in Australia and the Wesley Charter. The SM also offers leadership and influence across the whole of WMQ and is actively engaged in: • the governance of the organisation (as a member of the WMQ Council and WMQ Board) and also as a member of the Executive Leadership Team. • leading the Pastoral and Spiritual Care Team which provides chaplaincy services to WMQ. • leadership and development of the ministry, pastoral care, worship and the life and witness of Albert Street Church. • leading and supporting other members of the ministry team and also supporting members of the Albert Street Church to grow in their journey of discipleship. We are seeking a creative and innovative Minister of the Word with gifts and experience in: • sharing the Gospel, particularly through preaching and worship. • leading, inspiring and empowering people and teams. • engaging with a wide range of people in multiple roles and responsibilities offering encouragement, support and a theological context. • leadership in a governance role in a complex social services operating environment. For information about WMQ visit – www.wmq.org.au. For a copy of the PD and further information contact: Danielle Sullivan 07 3621 4550, d.sullivan@wmq.org.au EOIs are to be submitted to placements@ucaqld.com.au by 25 September, 2017. We seek to welcome our new SM sometime before the end of 2018.

This is a readvertised position.

insights 47


Working for you and your community.

When you invest with Uniting Financial Services, you can be sure that your investment is working in the same direction as your beliefs. Investing with us let’s you contribute to your community, as well as your own wellbeing. We put money to good work. Reliable returns guided by high ideals are the pillars of our success. Please join us!

It’s about earning and enriching.

Call 1300 133 673 or visit

Level 3, 2, 222 222 Pitt PittStreet, Street,Sydney SydneyNSW NSW2000 2000 PO Box Box A2178 A2178 Sydney SydneySouth SouthNSW NSW1235 1235

Financial services are provided by The Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Association Limited ACN 000 022 480, ABN 89 725 AFSL 292186 and654 by The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) ABN 77in005 284 605Property (together Financial services are provided by The Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Association Limited ACN 000654 022978, 480, ABN 89 725 978, AFSL 292186 and by The Uniting Church Australia and separately “Uniting Services”), for The Uniting Church inCorporations Australia, SynodAct of NSW the ACT (“The Uniting and Church”), under s.911A Corporations authorisation pursuantServices”), to APRA Banking Exemption No. 1 Trust (NSW) ABN 77Financial 005 284 605 pursuant to a s.911A 2001and (Cth.) authorisation APRA Banking ExemptionAct No.2001 1 of(Cth.) 2011 (“Uniting and Financial for The Uniting of 2016 and ASIC Regulatory Guide 87 and ASIC Corporations (Charitable Investment Fundraising) Instrument 2016/813 exemptions. Uniting Financial Services® is a registered trademark of The Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Association Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT pursuant to ASIC Regulatory Guide 87 exemptions. Uniting Financial Services® is a registered trademark of The Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Limited and is Limited used withand permission by with The Uniting Church in Property Trust (NSW). Neither The Uniting Trust Church, The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (NSW) nor The Uniting Church (NSW) Trust Association Limited is Association is used permission byAustralia The Uniting Church in Australia Property (NSW). prudentially supervised by APRA. Therefore, an investment with or contributions will not receive the benefit of the financial claims scheme or the depositor protection provisions in the Banking Act 1959 (Cth.). All financial services and products Neither Thefor Uniting Church intoAustralia, ofand NSW and the ACT nor Uniting Financial Services is prudentially APRA. An investment withimportance or contributions will not benefit from are designed investors who wish promote theSynod religious charitable purposes of Uniting Financial Services and the Uniting Church andsupervised for whom profitbyconsiderations are not of primary in their decision to invest. the depositor protection provisions of theand Banking ActInformation 1959. AllBrochure financial products are designed for investors who wish to promote religious and charitable purposes and for Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement the Product for services Terms and and Conditions. whom profit considerations are not of primary importance in their decision to invest.

48

insights

Please refer to the Product Disclosure Statement and the Product Information Brochure for Terms and Conditions.

Insights August/September 2017  

Faith and Arts, All Cultures Welcome in God's Household, Pathways Charts a Hopeful Future