No. 284 February 2018
A family staves off, for now, the cruel threat of separation
Tasmania’s vibrant cultural and community hub for First Peoples
Church leaders condemn the political and media tarring of African migrants
How a homesick Native Canadian helped transform a tiny town’s church
Brian and his beloved cat visit an animal welfare clinic run at Wesley Uniting Church in Melbourne. Once a month, volunteer vets and vet nurses from Pets in the Park use the church to provide free veterinary services for animal companions of Melbourne’s homeless population. Turn to page 8 for the full story.
No church, no problem for this unstoppable dynamic duo
Bill Pugh on the silent solidarity of cancer treatment waiting rooms
Letters - 17
Moderator’s column - 19 Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 People - 26
Editorial THIS year Crosslight will invite a variety of people from throughout the church to speak with our readers through the editorial. Our aim is to represent a diversity of opinions and feature the voices of people who are passionate about the Church’s life and witness. This month Crosslight welcomes Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes, executive officer of the synod’s newly-formed equipping Leadership for Mission unit.
Welcome to eLM
Communications & Media Services
UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 1037 826X
IT is with enthusiasm and energy that I introduce to the readers of Crosslight the new synod unit equipping Leadership for Mission (eLM). The work and name of this unit is an activity (equipping) rather than a noun; and rightly has its focus on serving and resourcing the presbyteries and congregations, the individuals and groups across the Synod to increase their capacity to engage, lead and thrive as disciples in mission. eLM has three streams: education and formation for Leadership; relationships and connections; and priorities, focus and advocacy. In this month’s Crosslight, readers will find living examples of the three streams of focus within the life of our diverse and vibrant synod. Two of the stories in this edition feature Crosslight is a monthly newspaper produced by the Communications and Media Services unit of The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. It is published 11 times a year. Opinions expressed in Crosslight do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of The Uniting Church. Advertising: Crosslight accepts advertising in good faith. Acceptance of advertising does not imply endorsement. Advertising material is at the discretion of the publisher. Distribution: Crosslight is usually distributed the first Sunday of the month.
Paul Dau and Gospel Ralte. Both demonstrate the impact of education and formation for leadership. As recent ministers, they are contributing to their faith communities through personal insights and first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced by refugees. Rev John Clarke, director of mission for Uniting, highlights relationships throughout the church. In the lead-up to Easter, volunteers from Hobart to Swan Hill don aprons and serve pancakes to support the invaluable work of our agencies. The priorities, focus and advocacy stream includes the ongoing work of justice. Justice is central to two stories in Crosslight this month, demonstrating that shared conversations and partnerships guide our journey as we walk together
as First and Second Peoples. Crosslight features the inspiring work of Leprena in Hobart and reports on the Uniting Aboriginal Islander and Christian Congress (UAICC) conference held in Geelong. This significant re-formation of the synod-based resourcing for mission and ministry has come with some cost. Faithful workers in several of the previous units have had their employment concluded after years of service. I ask the people and congregations of this Synod to pray for the unfolding of this new venture in resourcing for mission and the people who are stepping into this new expression of the Synod’s work; and to pray for those whose employment has been concluded in these past months.
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UCA affirms Jerusalem belongs to all THE Uniting Church in Australia has joined with its global church partners to express grave concerns over the move by the United States to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. World Council of Churches General Secretary Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit warned the US decision to change the status of Jerusalem seriously threatens negotiations for a two-state solution and undermines the efforts of many working for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. “Such a step breaks with the longstanding international consensus, and almost seven
It’s that flipping time of the year again JOHN CLARKE
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decades of established American policy, that the status of Jerusalem remains to be settled,” Dr Tveit said. “It also pre-empts a negotiated resolution of this most difficult issue in any final peace agreement, which must be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians themselves.” The city of Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Christian faith. The UCA joins its global ecumenical partners in acknowledging Jerusalem as a sacred city, home to two peoples and three faiths, and central to a just and lasting peace in the region. The UCA has long advocated for a twostate solution between Israel and Palestine and affirms the right for the State of Israel and the State of Palestine to exist side-byside in peace and security. In 2015, as a result of an Assembly resolution, the Uniting Church launched the Living Stones campaign to raise
awareness and advocacy over the plight of Palestinian Christians and Palestinian people who continue to face oppression and injustice. The UCA stands in solidarity with the people of the Holy Land impacted by this decision and shares the concern expressed by the ACT Alliance, of which UnitingWorld is a member, that tensions and violence will escalate in the region, adding to the common suffering. In a joint letter to the US President, the patriarchs and heads of local churches in Jerusalem called on Donald Trump to uphold the international status of Jerusalem. They wrote: “Our land is called to be a land of peace. Jerusalem, the city of God, is a city of peace for us and for the world.” The Church leaders appealed to Mr Trump to help them achieve peace. “We ask from you Mr President to help us
all walk towards more love and a definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all.” Uniting Church members are urged to pray for the people of Israel and Palestine at this time. Past UCA President, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, offered the following prayer from the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre.
THE ubiquitous hot cross buns in the supermarkets are an early reminder of the beckoning journey towards the suffering of the Crucifixion. Across our life as the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania, there is a call to us. Our synod’s Vision and Mission Principles remind us that “the Spirit is calling us forward to new things and back to the hope in the Gospel of Jesus”. It might be working with young mums and babies, volunteering in our op shops, flipping pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, or participating in homework clubs, worship, breakfast clubs, Bible studies and community gardens – we don’t have to look far to see the Principles embodied in a rich diversity of life-giving ways. And whether it’s the work of Uniting, or congregational life, the Principles are all the same. Our contemporary expressions of mission, words and deeds are sustained and renewed by the Spirit for our
continuing participation in the mission of God in the world. Shrove Tuesday (this year 13 February) is traditionally the last day to eat all the flour, eggs and dairy products in our kitchens before the start of Lent, a time of abstinence and reflection as we head toward Easter. Every year, people come together for Uniting’s Pancake Day to flip for a good cause. Congregations around the country are encouraged to host their own Pancake Day event in February or March, helping Uniting to support Australians living in crisis, including those suffering homelessness, domestic violence, addictions and financial hardship. Rev Lisa Stewart said Pancake Day events at Glen Iris Rd Uniting Church and Community Centre provide important connections within the local community. “We always make a feature of Pancake Day,” Lisa said.
“Pancake Sunday is an informal get-together and fundraiser for the congregation, but by far the most popular is Pancake Day on the actual day at our family drop-in centre. “The congregation links up with the community centre for a Pancake Day event, creating an event with direct community benefit at the same time as raising funds to support Uniting community services.”
Lord, we pray for the city of peace, our city Jerusalem. May the powerful decision makers abandon tyranny and exclusivity and surrender to your will of justice and inclusivity. We pray for true peace in the city of Jerusalem, the city loved by all its children. Lord in your mercy…
Go to www.pancakeday.com.au to register. While many of our congregations are experienced flippers, there’s information to help set up Pancake Day events with colleagues, friends or at your church. There are resources, tips and ideas about how and when to run an event. Rev John Clarke is the director of mission at Uniting. 3
Why is ethical investing important to you? Transparency is very important to me. Initially I was investing overseas, but there wasn’t enough transparency [around investments]. I also think ethical investment is critical. It was easy choosing UCA Funds Management as they gave me both. Patricia Jean Begg
Patricia is a long-term ethical investor, and has invested with UCA Funds Management for almost 30 years. Transparency and investing ethically is very important to Patricia. That’s why she chose UCA Funds Management.
Does your investment align with your values? 1800 996 888 – www.ucafunds.com.au/difference UCA Funds Management is the registered business name of UCA Funds Management Limited ABN 46 102 469 821, AFSL 294147, and is a social enterprise of The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The information provided is general information only. It does not constitute financial, tax or legal advice or an offer or solicitation to subscribe for units in any fund of which UCA Funds Management is the Manager, Administrator, Issuer, Trustee or Responsible Entity (UCAFM Funds). This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information or deciding whether to acquire or hold a product, you should consider the appropriateness of the information based on your own objectives, financial situation or needs or consult a professional adviser. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or Offer Document which can be found on our website www.ucafunds.com.au or by calling us on 1800 996 888.UCA Funds Management may receive management costs from the UCAFM Funds, see the current PDS or Offer Document. UCA Funds Management, their affiliates and associates accept no liability for any inaccurate, incomplete or omitted information of any kind or any losses caused by using this information. All investments carry risks. There can be no assurance that any UCAFM Fund will achieve its targeted rate of return and no guarantee against loss resulting from an investment in any UCAFM Fund. Past UCAFM Fund performance is not indicative of future performance. January 2018
News Florence and Sheryil Allen avoid deportation
Florence and Sheryil
AN eleventh-hour reprieve against a deportation order has kept an 80-yearold mother and her 50-year-old autistic daughter together with their family in Australia. Florence Allen and daughter Sheryil were booked on a one-way flight to India on 15 January, with the immigration department requesting evidence that the tickets had been purchased. However, solicitors acting for the family began pursuing a temporary visa option on medical grounds, which means Florence and Sheryil did not have to board the flight. The temporary visa will enable Florence
and Sheryil to remain in Australia for a year, and continue living with the family of Synod of Victoria and Tasmania employee Jacqueline Vanderholt, until Sheryil completes her medical treatment. “For the moment the family is beaming with happiness to have our mother and sister with us even though it may be short-lived,” Ms Vanderholt said. Sustained public lobbying followed the decision that Florence and Sheryil had to leave Australia (where they have lived since 2012) and return to India, where they have no relatives. A petition calling on the government to allow the pair to stay gathered over
66,000 signatures and a number of MPs and senators responded to the requests of constituents by taking up the matter with the minister and department concerned. “There has been so much support,” Ms Vanderholt said. “People have been fantastic. I can’t fully express how thankful I am to everybody who has helped take up the cause to keep our family together. “I am deeply touched by the overwhelming support from Uniting Church. There are no words to express the gratitude to everyone who went out of their way to truly practice the vision of the church in seeking community,
compassion and justice for all creation.” Florence and Sheryil were denied permanent residency on the basis that Sheryil’s autism meant she might become a taxpayer burden. This is despite the extended family in Australia, including Ms Vanderholt and her two brothers, demonstrating self-sufficiency in looking after her. Ms Vanderholt said that similar departmental decisions have been reconsidered in the past, which has given the family hope. “As Martin Luther King says: ‘We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope’,” Ms Vanderholt said.
equipping LEADERSHIP FOR MISSION (eLM) eLM (formerly working title Mission & Capacity Building Unit) is currently seeking people for four key positions. • Two leadership placements in eLM • Two academic appointments with Pilgrim Theological College TWO LEADERSHIP PLACEMENTS
ACADEMIC TEACHING APPOINTMENTS
Director Relationships & Connections (readvertised) This placement has responsibility for leading a team of experienced and skilled administrators, community developers and program managers. The primary focus is facilitating connections between eLM’s Relationships and Connections Team and presbyteries, Synod operations, faith communities
with a passion for theological education and research to join the vibrant and experienced Faculty of Pilgrim Theological College within the Synod’s Education and Formation for Leadership Team (within eLM).
community development, sociology, theology/missiology, and/or relevant discipline. Lay Leadership Development Reporting to the Director of Education & Formation for Leadership, this placement focuses on creating effective leadership development strategies and programs to equip lay leaders for ministry in contemporary of the synod for future lay leadership is a key element. This position requires leadership development, adult learning principles and contemporary practice.
Co-ordinator of Studies: New Testament A teaching, research, formation, and engagement role at Pilgrim Theological College, working in relationship with the University of Divinity and the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The successful applicant will have expertise in an area of New Testament or early Christian studies. Co-ordinator of Studies: Ministry Studies A teaching, research, formation, and engagement role at Pilgrim Theological College, working in relationship with the University of Divinity and the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The successful applicant will have expertise in the areas of Practical Theology, Pastoral Studies, or Liturgical Studies.
For a position description of the two leadership placements, contact E: Jennifer.Byrnes@victas.uca.org.au, M: 0427 071 007
For a position description of the two co-ordinator of studies roles, contact E: email@example.com
Deadline for applications: 25 February 2018
Deadline for applications: 25 February 2018
FEBRUARY 2018 - CROSSLIGHT
News Hope and healing UNITING Aboriginal Islander and Christian Congress (UAICC) members recounted their experiences of crossgenerational trauma – along with stories of hope and healing – at the 2018 National Conference. More than 130 UAICC members from Australia gathered at Geelong Grammar School in January to explore how Congress and the Uniting Church can work towards the healing of First Peoples. Canadian visiting keynote speaker Harley Eagle reflected on the impact of trauma among First Nations people in Canada. Mr Eagle is a member of the Whitecap
Dakota First Nations Reserve in Saskatchewan and implements cultural safety practices at Island Health in British Columbia. “Colonisation and unresolved trauma and all that pain affects our being and that can add to the way we interact with one another,” Mr Eagle said. “So the journey of naming trauma and telling stories and speaking about it is not an easy task.” Mr Eagle looked at the history of the Doctrine of Discovery as well as the area of epigenetics – the likelihood that trauma can cause inheritable damage to a
person’s DNA. During the conference, Congress members were invited to share their personal stories of post-colonial trauma. Mr Eagle praised Congress members for courageously speaking up about past injustices. “If you look at the root of the word ‘courage’, it’s from the French word for ‘heart’,” Mr Eagle said. “So courage is less an act of bravery and valour and more one that comes from your heart.” Rev Denise Champion and Old Testament lecturer Rev Dr Liz Boase of Uniting College
in Adelaide provided Bible studies, with Rev Dr Boase guiding the Congress through the Book of Lamentations. Anglican Wiradjuri man Fr Glenn Loughrey addressed the conference on the theme “Sovereignty and Treaty – It’s in Our Bodies.” Interim UAICC national coordinator Rev Dr Chris Budden believes the effects of colonialism – invasion, loss of land and loss of culture – are passed on across generations. Reflecting on the Gospel reading of Jesus raising a girl from the dead and healing a sick woman, Dr Budden said Jesus offers hope that healing is possible. “Christian people like us believe that
Going back empty MATT PULFORD “My wife was the eldest of 14 children and one day her mother and father went to the races on the mission, and the welfare came and took the 14 of them all in one hit.” “My brother died two months ago. We brought his body home yesterday. He didn’t speak good English, so he didn’t know when he was diagnosed with cancer.” “I was an unwanted child in the family - in my father’s side family and my mother’s side family… even today my father’s side family don’t see me as their family.” THESE are some of the stories shared by those attending Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress National Conference after listening to keynote speaker Harley Eagle, a First Nations member from Canada and expert in the traumatic effects of colonisation. “The first interactions with Indigenous people and the colonisers were of conflict,” Harley told the conference. “It’s never been resolved. Just living with it has been normalised. “If somebody has gone through a terrible situation – if that’s not dealt with then your whole life becomes about making sure that you never experience that trauma again. “So what happens if you’re living in a community where something terrible has happened to everybody and this goes on for generation after generation?” Harley’s account of the treatment of First Nations people in Canada is almost a mirror image of the abuses perpetrated against First Peoples in Australia. As in Australia, resistance to the colonisers in Canada was met with deadly force in places like Wounded Knee.
Canada also has its own Stolen Generations. For more than a century, the Indian Residential School system, administered by churches, removed 150,000 First Nations children from their parents. Children were forbidden from using their language, and many experienced physical and sexual abuse. A class action by survivors led to a $2 billion settlement – the largest in Canadian history, and in 2015, Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission described the Residential School system as cultural genocide. Forced relocation of Indigenous families, also practiced in Australia, is known in Canada by a rather lyrical name - a “trail of tears”. On a more affirming note, Harley spoke of the ‘creative genius’ of Indigenous people in ‘going underground’ to preserve their culture. Members of the Métis Nation learned how to dance a jig without moving their upper body, due to the church’s disapproval of dancing at the time. Snooping neighbours walking past the Métis Nation houses couldn’t see their legs moving through the windows. “Colonisation has affected almost all, if not every, aspect of our lives,” Harley said. “So many people are carrying all kinds of unresolved trauma which results in many of us just being survivors and we carry that thinking into everything we do.” Some of the conference attendees said that Harley’s sessions had been a step on the path to healing. One of those who shared their story of pain thanked all who had done likewise. “I go back empty not having to take back what I’ve been carrying for long years now.”
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Jesus actually brings healing and he can break the cycle of trauma,” Dr Budden said. “Jesus, by turning aside for this poor woman, was saying that you can’t have healing for the wealthy and powerful without understanding that poor people also deserve to be healed. “Our own healing always depends on the healing of other people. “We can’t separate ourselves and our lives… we must take the risk, start the adventure and trust ourselves that Jesus can, in fact, change our life.” On Tuesday, conference members visited
UAICC Victoria’s Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Narana founder Vince Ross and Wadawarrung elder Aunty Corrina Eccles explained the role of the centre in promoting greater understanding of Aboriginal culture and history. The Tasmanian delegation gave a report on the Leprena centre and its work supporting reconciliation between First and Second Peoples. “We are making strong steps to weave stories of hope, of determination, of cultural wellbeing and, most importantly, of cultural safety,” Leprena manager
Alison Overeem said. “Aboriginal culture is built on relationships. We happen to be blessed with a moderator, Sharon Hollis, who took the time to get to know us, to form a relationship with us. “The walking together message is not just on paper. What we feel that we’ve been privileged to do is to bring alive Congress Tasmania and to walk together with our Uniting Church brothers and sisters in a way that I never believed was possible.” The conference covered a number of business items including employing a full-time national president and a full-time youth worker for the next three years.
The incoming national executive face a busy agenda with questions about membership, marriage, treaty and sovereignty slated for further discussion before the 15th Assembly. On the final day of the conference, assembly president-elect Dr Deidre Palmer also launched her theme for the 15th Assembly – “Abundant Grace Liberating Hope” – in recognition of the grace and hope she sees in Congress ministry. All resources from the conference will be posted on the UAICC National Conference webpage in the coming weeks.
THE National Conference rang in a number of generational leadership changes for Congress, electing Rev Garry Dronfield to the new role of national president. The president’s role will be supported by a full-time resource worker, Megan O’Connell. Long-time interim national coordinator Rev Dr Chris Budden will take up a part-time training coordinator role as he transitions towards retirement. Outgoing national chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa is also headed for retirement. He will remain an ex-officio member of the national executive as chair of the Qld Regional Committee. Chris Budden
Outgoing national chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa
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New Congress national president Rev Garry Dronfield
News All creatures great and small DAVID SOUTHWELL
IF you visit Melbourne’s Wesley Uniting Church on the last Sunday of the month, you will find its historic church hall transformed into a mobile pet clinic. Kittens, canines and even the occasional pet rat can be seen receiving medical check-ups from a team of volunteer veterinarians and vet nurses. The clinic is run by Pets in the Park Melbourne, a volunteer organisation that provides free health checks, vaccinations and medication for pets of people who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. “We usually have a really loud, raucous church,” Pets in the Park Central Melbourne administrator Carol Addicoat said. “We have young children who own pets come with their parents, to people all the way up to their 70s.” Pets in the Park was formed in 2009 by veterinarian Dr Mark Westman, who offered free vaccinations at a small park in Parramatta for the pets of people attending a community outreach program. Since then, it has expanded to four states, with clinics in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and the Uniting Church Early Morning Centre in Canberra. The first Melbourne clinic opened in Frankston three years ago. A second clinic was established at Wesley Uniting Church in 2016 to meet the needs of homeless people in the CBD. Ms Addicoat said the arrangement with Wesley began during a visit to The Big Issue office, formerly located next to the church. “We got asked by The Big Issue to come to their vendors. Our manager at the time, Dr Mark Kelman, had a talk with the minister at Wesley, Alistair Macrae,” she said. “He said he would love to have us there and that it would be a very good use of the church hall.” Approximately 30 to 40 people visit the clinic each month with their furry friends. They are greeted by a team of volunteers,
Volunteer vet nurses tend to a curious kitten
which includes vets, vet nurses, support staff, administrators and photographers. There are currently 158 Pets in the Park volunteers across its two Melbourne sites. “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers,” Ms Addicoat said. “Usually, we have three or four vets or vet nurses at each clinic. But we also have a lot of vets and vet nurses turning up to staff the produce table or give out medications if they need to take any home. “We also have people who donate pet food. Donations come in from the public – toys, blankets, financial aid.”
For those sleeping rough on the streets or living in temporary accommodation, pets offer love and emotional support that they may not be able to find elsewhere. Numerous studies have shown that pets can have a positive effect on physical, social and mental wellbeing. “They bring companionship when people are lonely. Sometimes they’re their only friend,” Ms Addicoat said. “Pets provide protection and they love you unconditionally. They are nonjudgemental, although with cats I’m not quite sure!
“It also teaches responsibility. Being a good pet owner means you have someone to look after.” However, the financial cost of caring for pets can quickly accumulate. Vaccinations, flea treatment, worming, de-sexing and micro-chipping all add up to hundreds of dollars every year. Some pet owners face a heartbreaking choice: sacrifice their own welfare to pay for their pets or surrender their beloved companions to an animal shelter. “We’re here to provide some support when things aren’t going so well,” Ms Addicoat said. “For those that are at risk of homelessness because they can’t pay their rent or have a huge bill because of their pets, this service helps keep a roof over their heads.” The stigma associated with homelessness can often lead to further social isolation. Ms Addicoat said it is vital that visitors to the clinic are welcomed and acknowledged as pet owners, rather than defined by their socio-economic status. “When people come to the clinic, they’re happy that they are respected,” she said. “No one wants to end up homeless so we are very non-judgmental about the way we work. “And pets don’t care if you have money or not. They care if you have love – and you can see a lot of that at our clinics.”
Upcoming events of interest Not-for-profit Post Budget Breakfast 17 May 2018
Kooyong Tennis Club, Kooyong Now in its third year, this event will include special panel guests and cover funding and legislative changes to the sector. Question time is also included. Charity and Church leaders and managers encouraged to attend.
Annual Investor Briefing 9 August 2018
Rydges Melbourne, Exhibition Street Save the date for this year’s investor briefing. Session times and event theme will be announced mid-2018.
To register or for more information > www.ucafunds.com.au/events > 1800 996 888 8
CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
News Minister dismayed by crime commentary DAVID SOUTHWELL
Rev Paul Dau is ordained at Footscray Community UC
UNITING Church minister and South Sudanese refugee Rev Paul Dau has described some of the media coverage and high-level political commentary on African youth crime as “hugely disappointing”. Mr Dau has lived in Australia since 2003. At the age of 10 he fled civil war in Sudan, leaving behind his family. He spent the next 16 years trekking across Africa and living in refugee camps. The newly ordained Springvale Uniting Church minister endorsed comments from UCA President Stuart McMillan who last month said the spread of fear and negativity about South Sudanese and other African communities is a “blight on our public life”. He said the negative portrayal of his community is nothing new. “This is not the first time, we are used to this kind of media coverage or political commentary. It has been going on for a decade or more,” he said. Mr Dau said it was sadly true that a small
FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
number of South Sudanese youth in Victoria were engaged in criminal and antisocial behaviour. “What is disappointing is that, first of all, I have to admit that as a community we are not in agreement or happy with what a few of the young people within the South Sudanese community, or African as a whole, are doing,” he said. “That is the fact that has to be acknowledged.” However, Mr Dau said the media and political commentary, which has seen notable contributions at a federal level by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, has not been helpful. “The amount of coverage that is given to this tiny group of people within the community seems to portray the rest of the community in the same manner,” Mr Dau said. “This is where a huge disappointment is coming from and especially when it is taken up by the government and the Prime Minister. That’s really discouraging because
we are trying our best to ensure that we fit within the community.” Stuart McMillan called some of the media and political commentary highly destructive. “I find it deeply regrettable and offensive that some of our political leaders and media have begun the new year by demonising a group of young African men,” Mr McMillan said. “This is no doubt hurtful to many Africans who have made Australia their home and do their level best to contribute to the Australian community while in many cases also supporting loved ones in their home nations.” Mr Dau said that while some South Sudanese youth were being affected by issues such as a breakdown in parenting, high unemployment and housing difficulties, there were significant efforts being made to overcome this. “There are a number of initiatives coming forth from the state government, the local communities and the community at large
to ensure the newly arrived migrant is supported and that integration into the larger community is encouraged,” he said. “No one can deceive themselves that that can be achieved overnight. It is going to be a process.” Mr McMillan also urged more recognition of the good news stories out of the South Sudanese and other African communities. “Our politicians and media need only lift their eyes to the wonderful African communities of faith to find positive role models and affirmation,” he said. He pointed to the South Sudanese National Conference held in Melbourne last September as a glowing example of South Sudanese youth “taking their future into their own hands.” Mr Dau agreed that such positive stories were often being ignored or drowned out. “If you happen to visit one of the South Sudanese places where we gather and see what young people are doing you will have a different perspective,” he said.
Profile ‘Have a go’ recipe for success DEB BENNETT BARBARA Dorward and Carol Coon know the importance of good food and good company. When they realised that some elderly widowers in the Airport West East Keilor Uniting Church congregation were struggling to prepare meals, they decided to run simple cooking classes in the church kitchen. The two women had recently attended an education day at Port Phillip West Presbytery, which encouraged them to explore missional initiatives in their local community. As Barbara explained, she and Carol were able to identify a need and provide a service. “The idea was expanded to the wider community and, after placing a small ad in the local paper, the first group of five men learnt the basics of nutritional, easy food preparation,” Barbara said. “We started off simply. We did a soup and a stir-fry, golden toasties, a simple pastry pinwheel – tomato paste and bacon and cheese rolled up – and very basic sweets. “Everybody had to chop and wash and the guys had to wash up all the dishes. “We then sat down and ate together, which was fellowship for the men. At the end of the five weeks they had five recipes and suggestions for small things they could do without much effort.”
The cooking classes proved so popular that they decided to run a second group. A local woman saw a flyer in the neighbourhood chemist and rang to ask if her two adult sons with disabilities could attend. “It was lovely the way the older men in that group interacted with the boys,” Barbara said. “It was only on a small scale but we felt it was very successful and at the end of the group we presented each of the men with a certificate as a bit of fun and to acknowledge they had made an effort.” For many churches, finding opportunities to connect with the wider community can seem daunting. This is particularly true for congregations whose members might be older, or may feel they don’t have practical skills to share. But as Barbara and Carol prove, age is no barrier to innovation. “Our youngest members would be in their late 60s, the majority are in their 70s or 80s and we have a few in their 90s,” Barbara said. “Despite age our people are forward thinking. We are active and we are intent on growing. We have always been community minded; we do things and the community supports us.” This ‘can-do’ approach was evident throughout last year, when the congregation had to worship at Gladstone Park as a new church building was developed. Rather than wait for the new church to open, activities continued at the local tennis club, football club and library. When Barbara and Carol noticed a new coffee shop in a local strip shopping centre, they saw this as another opportunity. “We knew we were going to have to find other places to do things,” Barbara said.
The craft club enjoys a cuppa together.
“I kept looking at this little shop. I approached them and said ‘how would you feel if we tried to organise a group to learn to crochet?’ We asked what would be an off day for them and the owner was very amenable to that. “It was only a five-week course, we had eight or nine for that group and actually had a waiting list. So we ran a second one.” A knitting course run by Barbara and Carol proved even more popular, and the women were encouraged to apply for a grant from the presbytery. The grant meant they could buy wool and subsidise coffees for the knitters as they made scarves, hats and jumpers to donate to the KOGO (knit one, give one) program. “The ladies were thrilled with what we achieved. Some only knitted when they came, others knitted at home and got very enthusiastic about it,” Barbara said.
“All the ladies got something out of it. We had a few with serious health problems and they really looked forward to it, it was the highlight of their week. “The only disadvantage with the little shop is because it is so small they are not required to provide toilet facilities – and we’re older ladies!” The new Airport West East Keilor Uniting Church will officially open next month, and Barbara and Carol are already planning more courses for budding master chefs and craft groups, as well as a Messy Church. “We look at things and think ‘we’ll have a go’,” Barbara said. “If it doesn’t work, well OK. But if it does work, terrific. And I think that’s the attitude you’ve got to have – just have a go. And the other point I’d make is that age is no barrier!”
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Profile Unexpected twin blessing
WHEN Ulverstone Uniting Church minister Rev Gospel Ralte baptised Myanmar refugees Emily and Linda Fanai in a Malaysian refugee camp in 2012 he could not have guessed how their paths would one day again intersect. Five years later the Fanai family, consisting of the twins, their parents Sena and Mimi and big brother Joel, live only 115 km north of Mr Ralte and his wife Grace, on Tasmania’s north coast. Both families have wasted little time reconnecting since Mr Ralte, also a refugee from Myanmar, commenced ministry in Ulverstone last month. The ties between the two families run deep. When Mrs Fanai was a little girl, her mother became a Christian during a series of church meetings and Bible studies that Mr Ralte ran in the village of Vaphai, in North-West Myanmar. Mr Ralte met the rest of the Fanai family in 2012 while serving as a pastor to refugees and migrant workers in Malaysia. The Fanai family came to Tasmania as
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refugees in 2015, settling in the Launceston suburb of Mowbray. Mrs Fanai said life for the family had been very difficult in Malaysia, where they were living in a single room after escaping from Myanmar in 2010. She said the differences between life in Malaysia and Tasmania became clear when they first arrived at their new home. “The children became very excited and were running around, and our case worker asked why they were so excited,’’ she said. “I told her it was because they had never seen such a big house before and she started crying.’’ The three children now attend a local primary school and Mr and Mrs Fanai work on a strawberry farm in northern Tasmania, which requires a 100 km return trip six days a week. The family have attended several services in Ulverstone and joined with the Raltes to sing a Burmese Christian song at the Sprent Shalom Uniting Church’s Christmas carol service in December.
Rev Gospel Ralte (centre) with the Fanai family.
News A minor messy miracle DAVID SOUTHWELL BY trying something new a small country church under the threat of closure received an unexpected Christmas gift – a fresh lease of life. St Andrews Uniting Church is located in the town of Howlong, which sits alongside the Murray River 28 km west of Albury. Although it is on the NSW side of the border, the church is part of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Throughout 2017 the church hosted Sunday morning congregations that typically ranged from two to six people. The regulars comprised four older women and two younger families that attended sporadically. Presbytery of North East Victoria supply minister Rev Jeanne Beale began holding meetings with the St Andrews faithful to discuss what should be done and whether the church was viable. Michelle Matthews, who is a mother of two young children, attended the meetings and said that some of the church stalwarts were pessimistic. “Some of the older ladies thought that the church was about to close and were a bit sad about the whole thing,” she said.
“It’s hard for them to understand the way that families do things now is a little bit different. For ages we had been saying that the 9am service is really hard for people with young families to get to. It’s hard to get that many kids out of the door at that time. I don’t think they understood at all. “But Jean was very frank that families find it hard to go to church every single weekend. There’s so many other commitments, such as kids’ sport. She said you’ve got to change things up to fit in with these new-age families.” “That was really good because that got the ladies thinking a bit. They also thought about the use of the hall as being part of the church too.” Ms Beale drew on presentations held throughout the presbytery by children and families ministry coordinator Chris Barnett
Making a mess at St Andrews
to come up with the plan of putting on a messy church. “For us, messy church was really appealing because it’s during the week,” Ms Matthews said. “We looked into it. There’s a lot of information online about it. We decided we could probably do something like that for Christmas.” The St Andrews members approached a non-affiliated craft group that met at the church hall to help out. Ms Matthews advertised the 13 December early evening event on social media and also created the church’s first Facebook Page. More generally they relied on word-ofmouth to invite people. “The idea that I kept trying to push was to keep it quite informal and that worked really well,” Ms Matthews said. “I just roped in my husband to cook the barbecue. One of the ladies talked to the craft ladies and they were great, they came along and did that bit and it just sort of ballooned from there.” On the day of the event, Ms Matthews and other St Andrews people kept their expectations in check. “We’ve been excited about things before and only had a few people,” Ms Matthew said. “We would have been happy to have an extra five kids.” As it turned out 35
people attended with a number of new young families. Ms Beale also came along with regionallybased minister Rev Graeme Wells, who often runs services at the church. The session started with the craft group helping the children make Christmas decorations. Then everyone watched a short video of a Nativity play, before all the children dressed up in costumes to re-enact it. Barbecue dinner was served and Zooper Dooper flavoured ice tubes were eagerly devoured for dessert. “The kids had a ball,” Ms Matthews said. Ms Beale agreed. “There was a buzz of excitement,” she said. “The whole thing was such fun. People were walking out of there saying ‘when is the next one?’ “One of the St Andrews’ ladies said ‘Easter’.” Ms Matthews said as well as Messy Church at Easter, they have other ideas to increase interaction with the community. “We’ve definitely got some plans to do some stuff in the hall because that keeps the church active and people there,” she said. Ms Matthews is president of the local toy library, which is located in the building next to the church, so she thinks the St Andrews hall could be used for playgroups. Another idea might be music lessons, something Ms Matthews’ mother teaches. Ms Matthews said there was definitely a new vibe in St Andrews since the messy church event. “It’s given everyone a new lease of life.”
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Feature Behind the quiet façade of a brick building in Hobart is a place buzzing with activity, and a group dedicated to inviting First and Second Peoples to experience Aboriginal culture in a meaningful way. LEPRENA is the home of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in Tasmania. It is a place where the synod’s vision statement – Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation – is in action. Congress Tasmania minister Rev Tim Matton-Johnson believes the synod’s current Vision and Mission Principles are important in guiding the relationship between First and Second Peoples in Tasmania. Under the tireless leadership of centre manager Alison Overeem, Leprena has been transformed and re-imagined in recent years.
Una returns ‘home’ to Leprena WHEN Una Lalagavesi walked into Leprena just over a year ago, one of the first things she saw was a photo of her latefather, Rev Saula Lalagavesi, hanging on the wall. The photograph recognises Mr Lalagavesi’s work with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress in Tasmania in the early 1990s, up until his sudden passing in 1993. Since that time Una had largely lost touch with Congress, despite attending a few services five years previously. But seeing
Started primarily as a worship gathering space for the local Aboriginal community, Leprena now seeks to provide projects and programs in a culturally safe space. Alison is a Palawa woman who traces her Aboriginal history back to the line of Fanny Cochrane Smith, considered to be the last fluent speaker of a native Tasmanian language. Alison joined Leprena as a project officer about four years ago and has been instrumental in broadening the centre’s engagement, networking and connections. She said Leprena was not just for the local Aboriginal community; its vision is to provide holistic community development and cultural inclusion.
the photo and talking with Leprena centre manager Alison Overeem, who knew Una’s father, brought back a strong sense of belonging. “We were able to share stories and it really did feel like I was coming ‘home’,” Una said. When Mr Lalagavesi was appointed as the Christian Congress minister in Tasmania the Lalagavesi family moved to Hobart from Papua New Guinea, where Una had lived her entire life. “Tasmania was very different in culture, environment and family relationships,” she said. “Attending church on the first Sunday was surprising because in PNG, religion was dominated by the youth and the congregation was made up of over 50
The centre offers a variety of activities such as children’s programs, family support programs, training and development and mentoring. Leprena also acts as a conduit for the wider community seeking to connect with Indigenous people.
Cultural learning and sharing training LEPRENA frequently engages with nonAboriginal groups to provide ‘Welcome to Country’ experiences, which Alison believes
to100 people. But in Hobart the Congress congregation was much smaller.’’ Una remembers being accepted and warmly embraced by community elders such as Auntie Ida West, Auntie Girlie Purdon and Auntie Eva Richardson. All three women have been important contributors to the Leprena story. Una now manages Discovery Early Learning Centre – Dominic (Tolosa St, Glenorchy) and Illara Pre-School (Gavitt St, Glenorchy) which have partnered with Leprena to ensure the cultures of First and Second Peoples are shared with the children through joint programs. This includes working with Alison at Leprena over the past year to display Aboriginal-inspired mural painting at Illara Pre-School.
are vital in helping to bridge the gap between First and Second Peoples. It uses cultural educators, dancers and singers to assist this program. “For me, the Welcome to Country concept has become a bit lost,” Alison said. “Traditionally a welcome was to say ‘come in and be a part of this place’. “A welcome needs to be about inviting people into the story of that place – who the Aboriginal people were, what the place meant to them and what their cultural practices were. “It is about welcoming all into the story of place in its past, present and future.”
Una Lalagavesi with Tasmanian Aboriginal elder Auntie Girlie Purdon
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Art exhibition opening with artists Grace Williams and Wendy Pitchford, Leprena centre manager Alison Overeem and Hobart North minister Jeff Savage.
Children’s programs ON an average week, Leprena engages with about 50 young people. Most are First Peoples, family members and friends. Its activities include a playgroup for children up to four-years-old, a music therapy program aimed at developing communications skills and school holiday programs for primary school children. Young people from local schools and organisations also attend the centre for cultural learning opportunities. Alison said a philosophy of intergenerational engagement forms part of the cultural basis underpinning Leprena’s work. All of the programs aim to develop a sense of belonging to a community and family in the young people. “It is about us giving young people cultural strength and identity. Being able to be proud of their heritage and culture, but still telling historical stories of vulnerability from colonisation and telling that story from a position of cultural confidence,” Alison said. “Nothing gets me more excited than seeing a proud Aboriginal five-year-old.”
Women’s programs A SAFE Families program funded by the state government under the banner of Listening with our takila (heart) provides a safe environment for women to share their stories of struggle and trauma around family violence. In June last year, Leprena hosted a Safe Families Expo. Government agencies and Tasmania Police were invited to listen to Aboriginal people explain why community members might be reluctant to access services or report family violence. “It is still a very small community, so there is a barrier to reporting because of difficulties associated with the information remaining private and the sense of shame within the community,” Alison said. “Cultural practices are a big reason why people don’t leave (an abusive relationship)
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and our message around the importance of safe families is that it must come from within the community. “Our new men’s program will push the message that there is a need for change and help men to understand that they need to change.” Alison said Leprena will launch a range of learning resources in the first half of 2018 to assist the state government and NGOs better engage with Aboriginal women and families around the subject. “We are seeking to empower women around family violence but also to advocate for better cultural awareness.”
Men’s program STILL in its infancy, Leprena’s men’s program has grown out of the Safe Families initiative. It is currently collaborating with men from the community to decide what the group will look like. Alison said it is important that men drive the discussion to determine what they want to achieve from such a group. Conversations have already begun with The Salvation Army and Relationships Australia to develop specific services for men, with wellness a particular focus.
Community lunches FOR almost four years, Leprena has offered lunch on Wednesdays in an open house environment. There are no RSVPs and it is simply a case of people turning up and partaking in the meal. Administration officer Tameeka Jamieson said volunteers arrive early in the morning to prepare the food and trust that they have enough, given that attendances fluctuate between 15 and 50 people. “Just getting people to feel welcome to come into the building can be the hardest part,” Tameeka said. The lunches break down barriers between the Aboriginal community and organisations providing support services, as both parties meet in a relaxed environment.
“We act as a bit of a middleman because people are more likely to access services if they know the people behind them.” Tameeka said a growing number of organisations want to engage with the community, and Leprena welcomed regular guest speakers on a range of topics. “People can come in and have a cuppa, something to eat and have a yarn. It is a very precious part of creating a sense of belonging within the community and helping people to understand that they are not alone,” she said. “What better way is there to connect with each other than over a plate of tucker?” The lunches also provide a way of meeting members of the Aboriginal community who are engaging with Leprena for the first time. “One woman has been able to develop friendships and learn a lot more about her history. She had tears in her eyes as she experienced that sense of connection to community,” Tameeka said. Tameeka stressed the lunches were open to all. “Hopefully that is the message we are getting out there – that Second Nations people are most welcome or, as one of the main founders of Congress Rev Charles Harris said, ‘Second Nation’s people are welcome in a black church’.” Alison describes Leprena as a collaborative effort. “We will have more impact when more institutions (church, government agencies and NGOs) join together,” she said. “It (working with a broad range of providers) allows us to provide a safe space for the provision of services at no cost to us for Aboriginal families who otherwise may find accessing such services intimidating. “It is also crucial, through cultural learning, that Leprena becomes a space for the Uniting Church people to live out the Preamble.” This intent has been helped by a resurgence in the relationship between Congress in Tasmania and the Presbytery of Tasmania. “We are grateful for the support of the Uniting Church in funding Congress and Leprena. It is important that the Uniting Church has a place to gather and live out the story of First and Second Peoples,” Alison said. Alison admits that the level of engagement
between the Church’s First and Second Peoples in Tasmania has fluctuated, but Leprena looks forward to the future positively. She credits retired synod liaison minister Rev Carol Bennett and former presbytery chair David Reeve with helping to drive the new relationship. “We are really trying hard to make it open and we have some solid supporters but I think there is still room for presbytery to engage (more deeply) in a cultural program where we work more closely together and in a more meaningful way,” Alison said. Alison said her message to the Church’s Second Peoples is “We are here, utilise this space, be part of it and engage with it.” “Guidance and strategic planning from presbytery will filter down to congregations as we work more closely together around intentional cultural immersion.” Alison said she believed the development of new cultural resources through the Vic/Tas synod would be extremely beneficial. UAICC Tasmanian-based minister Rev Tim Matton-Johnson agrees there has been a pronounced change over the last few years in the relationship between Congress Tasmania and presbytery. As well as the work of Leprena, Congress Tasmania is working with Uniting AgeWell and community services provider Uniting to embed the Aboriginal cultural story in their programs. Tim said education was one way this could occur. It is important that cultural education is historically honest, but done in a way that welcomes people to engage without a feeling of guilt. In January last year, students and staff from the Pilgrim Theological College undertook a cultural learning experience with Leprena. Tim said the five-day visit was a joint initiative of Congress and presbytery and offered a clear example of working together. “We got to engage with students and staff but also with members of Uniting Churches who travelled with them,” Tim said. “It was the type of engagement you would not have seen in the past and people who experienced it would have seen that Congress is open for conversations (with the wider UCA). “We are open now, more so than we were in the past, and that is coming from both sides.”
Reflection Every person has a story to tell
“I sat where they sat” So remembers the prophet Ezekiel. He had journeyed with his fellow exiles from Jerusalem to Babylon. Refugees from their homeland, Holy City and Temple. Sad and disillusioned people of God. Ezekiel was there with them experiencing the sadness and loneliness they knew. He felt for them. He was beside and with them. As a prophet he felt a human inability to reassure his own people, as he felt he ought. He was vulnerable too.
THE ‘Arts’ section of the Crosslight website is a popular place for readers to share stories, poems and artwork, and we would like to extend that opportunity to readers of the print edition. At Crosslight, we know that many of our readers encounter faith and spirituality in the everyday. It could be something as simple as the joy of walking your dog in the evenings, or something as profound as holding your first grandchild in your arms. It might be a moment when you experienced faith in a different way or questioned your beliefs. In each edition, we invite readers to send through reflections in the form of poems, threaded tweets, comics, creative writing or images of artwork such as kids’ drawings, culinary art, graphic design, photography, digital illustration, sculptures, pottery, paintings and sketches. If English isn’t your first language, or you are unsure of how to start, please contact us at Crosslight for assistance. This month, retired UCA minister Bill Pugh shares his experience of undergoing cancer treatment.
THE experience of cancer. Diagnosis a shock. Going to hospital for many days of treatment. The colour of the gown you are given to wear tells everyone the type of cancer you have. You begin to know each person by name. They were more than patients, real people. Some with scarves. Very young, too young. It was not all about me. Some smiled, a few chatted. Others silent, sad or meditative. Privacy respected. Yet there was a sense of solidarity and cheerfulness, a greeting. Weeks of treatment ahead. Some would recover, some not. Some came alone, some with family or a friend. Over time you learned what had happened as a result of their treatment. Remissions, more treatment, hope, death of one known for all too brief a time, all part of the unfolding picture. The staff, wonderful dedicated people, who greeted you personally, smiled, made you feel OK, amidst those impersonal machines. Respecting your feelings and privacy, yet businesslike in their approach. Genuine professionals in the business of healing. You were special to them. To the
staff you mattered as a person as you occupied the waiting room week-byweek. You were more than a name on a list. Their confidence reassuring your embarrassment and nervousness in strange and revealing attire as you underwent radiation treatment. You sat day-by-day in that waiting room, a privilege to be with the others. Cancer, a dreadful disease. Many worse off, but you were one in understanding and acceptance of each other. My mind reflected on the story of Jesus and the widow of Nain. Bereft of her only son and all that meant for a woman in the ancient world. When Jesus came upon her, he understood her plight and was deeply moved. Over many weeks in this unique community of acceptance, understanding and healing, I learned something of the difference between sympathy and compassion. As I sat where they sat, the difference became real. I am grateful for what this experience taught me. Much to be thankful for. It was, and is, not all about me. Once a year I return to Peter Mac for tests. My specialist and I are like old friends. He
is so dedicated to research and to helping others. I owe him a great deal. I am privileged my recorded data will be used for further research. Each time I return to Peter Mac I pass the waiting room where so many wait patiently for diagnosis and treatment by such special carers. As I wait I offer a prayer for each. It was the great physician, theologian, talented organist and missionary Albert Schweitzer, whose own contribution to healing resulted in his witnessing to, and living out his wonderful dictum – Reverence for Life. All who serve in the field of healing are witness to that.
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Letters Property and progress NOW when the Church is soul searching about the issues of property and mission, I commend the timely insights of Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People by Rev Dr Michael Owen (Morning Star Publishing 2017). Dr Owen was formerly principal of the Theological Hall in Perth. The subtitle asks: How much has the Uniting Church now lost the way? The author accuses the Church of being under the influence of modernism and managerialism. The danger of modernism, according to Owen, is that it sees the past as dated and tradition as something that should be overcome. The author is concerned that the Church’s policy documents emphasise ‘new forms and expressions of church’ and ‘emerging change’. Owen reminds us that the managerialism mentality currently advocated by the Church authorities sees that the sale of existing assets may be required to promote that goal. I agree with his view that any standards, principles or policies borrowed from other forms of human communal, societal or political life may have, at most, subordinate validity and application with the Church. The Church must not be driven by managerial principles but by a Christcentred theology. It is not too late to re-assess our stewardship of resources. Alan Ray Mont Albert
Farewell IT was sad to read in the December Crosslight of Synod’s Major Strategic Review impacting upon the position of director of Communications and Media Services and the consequent redundancy of its outstanding director, Penny Mulvey. As someone who spent a decent slab of their working life in the daily news media and corporate communications, I have valued the high degree of professionalism brought to the communications position by Penny over the past seven-and-a-half years. At a time when churches need innovative, creative and sensitive approaches to communications, it has been good to know that Synod’s were in capable hands. Media awards bestowed on Crosslight bear witness to this. Penny’s article on the Reformation in the December (and 25th anniversary) issue gave clear evidence of fine journalism. Well done, you good and faithful servant and may the road ahead find you another working environment where you are “warmly received and greatly encouraged”. Rev Jim Foley (Retired) via email
Overload RUTHERGLEN, situated in northeast Victoria, has a population of 2500 people and is a close-knit community. Our mature-age UC congregation is very supportive of each other and the community in general. Over the last few years, we have received what appears to be a never-ending stream of requests from synod to provide details of our church finances, attendance records and such. Many questions included in such surveys are often so vague in their nature and restrictive in their formatting, that one wonders what the actual intention of the question is. To quote Jenny Gordon’s comment ‘Are we in danger of overloading our congregations?’ The reply would surely be a resounding ‘Yes’. As part of our outreach to the community, a dance group uses our hall four afternoons a week each school term. This usage, and a simple agreement form that covers all our requirements, has been in place for over 10 years and has worked well for both parties. The (per hour) rental we charge is nominal but, in return, the hall is kept clean, tidy and used almost daily instead of only once a month for morning tea after the service. This rental, whilst minimal, is useful income without putting strain on the dance group or us. We have now received an 11-page ‘Licence Agreement’ legal document to be completed and returned to synod. A page full of instructions listing criteria to be met accompanies the Agreement and, while very thorough, lacks the church’s call to care for others and shows that it cares only for itself. Quoting the document – ‘Unsure about anything?’ – yes, we are. Where is Christ in this administrative overload? If, because of the demands of this new document, we lose our friendship and liaison with the dance group, we will also lose the rental paid and the loss of outreach will impact on the wider community. No, they don’t pay the first of the month – they pay at the end of each term. Yes, they have loud music playing – no complaints have ever been received from neighbours. Yes, they know that the hall is available except when we have a funeral in the church. To this end, we are happy to allow extended usage on any given day, to make up for this lack of availability. Yes, they have installed dance equipment/mirror and while we don’t use the barre to stretch before a service, when we do use the hall, our numbers appear to double! The dance group and other people who wish to hire the church hall are generally friends and neighbours in the literal, as well as the biblical, sense. Church council and congregation members volunteer in many other spheres in the town such as the UC op shop, driving the community car, men’s shed and many other activities. Their time is better spent doing this rather than filling out complicated, aggressive forms that do not appear to demonstrate the spirit of Christianity. We are members of the Uniting Church to worship God, not to fill in forms. Zelma Eltringham on behalf of Rutherglen Church Council & Congregation
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Cultivating a new future in 2018 PORT Phillip East Presbytery has engaged Rev Phil McCredden of the Ecclesia Leadership to facilitate a cultural change. Hopefully he will lead us to reimage God as the Creative Spirit who gave birth to the universe in an explosion of matter and energy 13.8 billion years ago. In the Bronze Age imagery of the first century an imperious God sat enthroned above the blue dome of the sky with his Son at his right hand. The Earth was the centre of being. The greater light, the Sun, went to bed in the west and miraculously reappeared again in the east. The lesser light, the moon, was a gift to humans for the setting of the seasons. The stars were LED lights set into the blue dome sky. For the first Jewish Christians, Jesus resurrected to the bodily form was the Christ come to restore the Israeli kingdom of David as suggested by the third creation story [Gen5:1ff]. With Earth seen as but a tiny speck in the vast cosmos, it is now appropriate that we grant God a greatly enlarged image; that we see Jesus as at-one with the Creative Spirit, its human face, one who is both real and relevant to the grown-up men and women of this day. ‘Jesus’ has been held captive by the church as the one who endured the pain and humiliation of the cross for Christians alone. We can now see him as the one who directs all humanity to a new way of peace. The first creation story, with which so much of our ageing membership was indoctrinated as literal truth when children, becomes a great poem of praise to the Creative Spirit whose idea is effective. Neil Gordon Cameron Meredith VIC
Too much talk
IN the December issue of Crosslight Greg James suggests a further three years of discernment on the status of same-gender marriage within the Uniting Church, a further three years of ‘respectful listening’. Surely the Uniting Church having debated, I am sure respectfully, the status of samegender marriage for something in the order of five years, has exhausted the process of ‘respectful listening’ and has reached a place of decision making. However, due to our curious and cumbersome process of decision making it would appear that the Uniting Church is, on this issue, paralysed. As consensus has eluded us, let us move to a point of common sense and allow those within the Uniting Church licensed to perform marriages to do so in accordance with their own conscience. (Even our politicians in the end had the wisdom to do this.) In this way those licensed to perform marriages within the Uniting Church and who, in all good conscience, are wanting to marry same-sex couples may do so. Those who do not sit comfortably with same-gender marriage are free to make their decision in accordance with their conscience. And the church will respectfully acknowledge the right to differ. A further period of ‘respectful listening’ I presume to result in a Uniting Church tick
of approval for same-gender marriage, or the reverse, we do not need. The whole process of ‘respectful listening’ has for me quite a strong whiff of sitting in judgment upon a very primary relationship of some Uniting Church members. From my recollection the Gospel accounts have quite a bit to say about sitting in judgment upon others. For the sake of the Church, and for the sake of all people within the Uniting Church, let us move into a space where the marriage law of Australia is embraced by the Uniting Church, and reflected in the actions of the Uniting Church. Should this not be done, we have one great comfort and that is this – that God and the blessing of God are not confined within the Uniting Church, nor indeed within any church. God is the God who goes before to lead and to beckon, the God of the beyond, and it may be necessary for same-gender couples, hurtful though it is, to move beyond the Uniting Church. Elaine Grant via email
Inspiring image Re ‘Image Problem’ in Letters to December Crosslight. Like your correspondent Andrew Whitely I too am a person of ‘mature years’ (81 in 2017), but unlike him l was not ‘confronted’ by the image showing a Rohingya refugee carrying his invalid parents in separate baskets hung across his back; rather I was inspired by his devotion and determination to save them from certain death. Mr Whitely was also concerned for any children being exposed to this photo, but forgets that far more graphic images can be viewed on TV news programs most nights of the week. As a retired primary school teacher I would have no problem with a middle/senior school child who brought this image along for ‘show and tell’ or a current affairs discussion, because such examples of heroism, endurance and compassion can be a means of enlightenment for all of us. Finally he worries that such images “induces a sense of helplessness” , without realising that the audience can play an important part in helping to alleviate or minimise such suffering, through charitable fundraising, letter writing, attending demonstrations and marches, school sponsorship and exchange programs, and so on. Thanks Crosslight editors for continuing to alert readers to some of the injustice and evil perpetuated in this world, and hopefully stir many of us into action in God’s name. Max Waugh Mount Eliza, VIC
Letters to Crosslight are always welcome. Letters should be 300 words or less and include full name, address and contact number/email. Letters may be edited for space, style and clarity.
Family / Youth
Marlee’s deciding moment DAVID SOUTHWELL
WHEN Marlene ‘Marlee’ Reid moved to the remote Gippsland town of Swifts Creek from Canada in late 2015 she was in for a shock. “You blink and you go through the whole town,” Marlee said. “I kept waiting for the town to start and then we were out of it and I said ‘what was that?’” Marlee, a Native American of Cree and Dene ancestry, had followed Andrew Reid back to his family farm after meeting him in the Canadian city of Lethbridge, in the western province of Alberta. They met while the Australian was on a working holiday and Marlee was a single mother employed at a satellite imaging company. In hindsight, Marlee admits she was unprepared for how big the change from an urban lifestyle to living in a farming town of a few hundred would be. “I struggled with how isolating it is here in Swifts Creek,” Marlee said. “I had my whole sense of self just ripped out from underneath me. I went from being a crazy workaholic to a stay-at-home parent. “The culture shock was crazy. I didn’t want to be in Australia because I just didn’t like it. I didn’t feel at home. I wanted to go home.” However, Marlee said that one day she came to a realisation that she needed to find a way out of that mindset. She asked herself what would make her feel better and came up with the answer that she needed to “find her way back to God”. Marlee knew that Swifts Creek had a Uniting Church, but she didn’t know if anyone actually attended. She thought that if services were held they would be conducted by a visiting minister. Once she learnt that Frontier Services patrol minister Rowena Harris lived in Swifts Creek, Marlee said she contacted her straight away. Marlee’s first impression on attending the monthly service at the Uniting Church was that it was “absolutely beautiful” and “listening to Rowena’s words just made me feel at home. I was like ‘this is where I need to be’.” However, the small country church service in the middle of Victoria was a different experience to the Baptist services Marlee was accustomed to attending in Canada. “I am used to church having 200 to 400 people in the one building every Sunday morning,” she said. “I was really shocked that I was the only one there (Swifts Creek Uniting Church) with school-age children. It was about five older generation ladies.”
In spite of the generation gap, Marlee instantly felt welcomed by the Swifts Creek faithful few. “I just loved them,” she said. “They are very lovely, really cheerful and open.” “My children were running around like crazy but they said to me ‘Your children are so well behaved’.” Marlee began spreading the word about the church. Soon a second family with three boys under age seven became regular attendees. “All I did was tell a few people ‘Hey there’s a church here in town, let’s go’. And we’ve been growing and it’s been great,” Marlee said. Since then two other married couples have started coming along as well two single men. Rowena said the change has been remarkable. “Suddenly church is filled with babies and breast feeding and little children clumping around in big thick winter boots,” she said. “I love the fact that the children wander around chatting to everyone in church. The babies crawl around and get picked up by the nearest grandma.” Swifts Creek still has its traditional service but now runs a monthly Messy Church service along with Bible study every Friday night. Marlee said that this was an initiative of the congregation’s younger members. “We’re the ones who want church every Sunday,” she said. “We’re craving that spiritual connection with God and having church every Sunday means something to us.” There are moves afoot for a regular Sunday school and plans to form an afternoon youth group event, which will provide after-school activities and a supervised place for teens to just hang out. Tragically, the importance of the church became apparent
in October last year. Many of the young people in the tight-knit community were left in shock after two teenage girls lost their lives in a car accident. Marlee had been planning to go to Melbourne for a colour fun run with one of the teenagers and was left shattered by the news. “I was just devastated. It took a couple of days for me just to be OK,” she said. The accident happened 10 days before Halloween. Marlee and Rowena decided to put on an event to help rally the area’s young people. “We just kind of quickly threw it together,” Marlee said. “Everyone donated money or something to use.” To decorate the surrounds of the church, Marlee got the young people to do chalk drawn pumpkins on the footpath. There were plenty of games, food and dancing, with gift card prizes donated by Kmart for the best movers and shakers. At one stage, a costume parade was held down the street until a burst of rain sent everyone scurrying back. “It was really fun,” Marlee said. She said parents thanked her for doing something to help their children in the wake of the tragedy. Swifts Creek church is planning more outreach and mission activities into the community, including a food bank. Rowena said that when asked at presbytery meetings how she had revived the church, her reply is that the credit belongs to the congregation that has welcomed new members who, in turn, have embraced the community spirit. “I’m just staggered by their commitment to spreading the good news and doing it in a really informal family based way,” she said. “It’s absolutely in God’s hand. All I did was hug some people and make cups of tea. It’s God.” Marlee, who in November married Andrew in Swifts Creek church in what was thought to be the first wedding there for many years, also sees the influence of the divine. “I really went from hating, hating, hating it here to making that decision to find my way back to God, to finally being at peace and saying ‘It’s going to be OK, God’s got your back’,” she said. “Most definitely when I opened up my heart and my mind and my body to God it was like ‘Alright show me what I need to be doing and tell me what you want me to do’. “That’s when all these little things have added up to something big.”
Marlee and her son Kalex 18
CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
Sharon Hollis speaking at UAICC national conference
Position of privilege
FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
IN January, I was privileged to attend some of the 2018 Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Conference (UAICC), which is held every three years. The theme for the conference – Trauma and Healing – created space to name the pain and trauma in need of healing as well as celebrating the resilience and strength of First Peoples. The roots of the trauma First Peoples experience in this country go back centuries to the beginning of Western colonisation. Western colonisation was built on a belief that the First Peoples living in ‘discovered’ countries were not fully human and so their land could be occupied and their culture dismantled. This Western belief led to the loss of language, cultural knowledge and dislocation from land and belonging for many First Peoples including the First Peoples of Australia. This loss continues to impact First Peoples with the trauma being passed on generation to generation. Rev Ken Sumner is a Ngarrindjeri man and former state director of the UAICC Victoria. He spoke of a sense of being out of place in his own country because of the disrupting effects of colonisation and the ongoing structural impact of Western settler-colonial ways that privilege Western ways of doing things. Ken said First Peoples are alienated in their own country even when they seek to have respectful relationships. At the same conference last year Rev Denise Champion, an Adnymathanha woman, said that the Intervention in the south of the country in the 1800s had been
so ‘successful’ that her people had lost much of their land, culture and customs. I have pondered these issues over the last six months and, as I sat listening to stories of struggle, strength, pain and healing from First Peoples, I was reminded again of the inherited privilege I have as a white person that comes from the dispossession of First Peoples. Most of us take this privilege for granted; we barely notice it day-to-day. We fail to take account of how our white privilege continues the trauma of colonisation on First Peoples. If we are to be faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, if we are to walk together as First and Second Peoples, if we desire the flourishing of First Peoples, we need to talk about and take account of the privilege of being Second Peoples. This is particularly true for those of us who are from European heritage. What would it look like for those of us who are Second Peoples to talk seriously about our privilege? Are we courageous enough to talk with each other about the privilege we have and how we might divest ourselves of privilege? Are we willing to ask ourselves how we might become allies of First Peoples? These are important conversations for Second Peoples to have for our own healing and to assist in the healing of our nation and our church. I would also encourage congregations and faith communities to seek to build a relationship with the First Peoples of your area with a deep sense that our liberation as a nation is directly tied to the liberation of the First Peoples. This has to be done with
respect. First Peoples must have agency and power to decide how the relationship might unfold. The UAICC is full of wonderful, courageous, resilient, broken, healing people. The very act of gathering to share together their trauma is healing. Their commitment to offering a holistic ministry of healing is inspiring. Their desire to continue to work with the Second Peoples in the church to find ways for us to more faithfully live out the Covenant relationship and Preamble is remarkable. The UAICC is a blessing to the Uniting Church but we cannot take this for granted or fail to play our part in healing the trauma of colonisation. This year may we renew our commitment to truly walking together by doing the hard work of reflecting, repenting and relationship building. Sharon Hollis Moderator Resources to explore the Preamble to the Constitution can be found at https:// assembly.uca.org.au/walkingtogether You can read Ken’s presentation to last year’s President’s Conference on being out of place here: bit.ly/BeingOutOfPlace The Uniting Church Assembly has produced A2 sized posters to acknowledge the Covenant with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. If you would like one of these posters for your congregation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. 19
Marx for dummies
REVIEW BY GARTH JONES
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
REVIEW BY RACHEL KRONBERGER
BOOK | TOTAL PROPAGANDA: BASIC MARXIST BRAINWASHING FOR THE ANGRY AND THE YOUNG | HELEN RAZER
BOOK | TABOO | KIM SCOTT
BOOK | PROPERTY AND PROGRESS FOR A PILGRIM PEOPLE | MICHAEL OWEN
EIGHT rich, old, white men control more wealth than the poorest 50 per cent of people on planet Earth. That’s a depressingly slight percentage of the vaunted 1 per cent which benefited from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and birthed the Occupy movement. As global inequality has intensified in the decade since the GFC, the shock of the decline of capitalism has given rise to Trumpism, Brexit and the re-emergence of fascist politics. Helen Razer’s Total Propaganda: Basic Marxist Brainwashing for the Angry and the Young poses the question: surely a better, more equitable alternative exists? Razer – a Gen X figurehead whose punk ethos defined Triple J radio for a generation of ’90s kids – is today an author, Crikey columnist and cranky public intellectual. She’s also a proud, self-described Marxist. With a professorial zeal for clear explanation of dense economic, philosophical and cultural concepts, Total Propaganda zips succinctly from industrial revolution to GFC and beyond. Razer unpacks automation, neoliberalism, the offshoring of manufacturing and the exploitation of the global south using a curt turn of phrase and direct language. The author also nods to the popularity of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders – two woolly-headed old white dudes espousing Marxist ideas – with millennial voters. Total Propaganda: Basic Marxist Brainwashing for the Angry and the Young is a brisk, often hilarious and, most importantly, educational read for anyone intimidated by the language of class, political theory and economics. Razer’s book is an excellent starting point for further reading in the field, and includes a comprehensive further reading section including links to all of Marx’ writings, which now live in the public domain and are available online.
AT the beginning, and in an afterword, to Kim Scott’s new novel about the struggle of Aboriginal people to crawl through the wreckage of the clash of cultures, he writes about the difficulty of conveying Indigenous culture in the English novel. Telling the story of ‘magic in an empirical age’ can only be done in faltering steps. This difficulty is mirrored in the adventures of the Aboriginal characters in Taboo, a group of Western Australian Noongar people who visit the site of a massacre, plus other cultural sites, on the land of a kind-hearted white farmer. The farmer wants to honour his deceased wife’s wishes, and his Christian beliefs, by seeking some sort of peace with the traditional owners for the sins of the past. Things don’t exactly go to plan. At times it is grim reading, with sex, abuse, swearing, drugs and alcohol. But there is also love, generosity, determination and a depth of connection with the land. The novel’s strength lies in Scott’s ability to sensitively portray Indigenous people negotiating the complexities of how culture survives. There is no idealisation. Instead, Scott paints a realistic picture of the dual pressure to both fit into white culture and to be exemplary Indigenous cultural ambassadors, while being cut off from the land that sustains that culture. There are parallels to a church. Scott tells the story of traditionalists who bemoan the lack of zeal in their fellows and who tally genuine loss, and those who see culture as fluid and adaptable, though sometimes too much. There are flawed individuals who come within the embrace of community, who are trying to keep the threads of tradition and wrestle with, while being battered by, modernity.
Free verse REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
Available from www.panmacmillan.com.au RRP: $32.99
IN his new book Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People, Michael Owen reflects on property in the UCA and asks to whom does a congregation’s property really belong? Owen argues from the Basis of Union and the Regulations that it belongs to the congregation. He asserts that one council, such as a synod, cannot make an executive decision to sell or transfer a property held in trust for the use of another, such as a congregation, nor benefit from the proceeds of such a sale. He describes recent examples of this happening as reflecting a growing power imbalance between councils of the church. He contends that this imbalance is driven by managerialism in synod operations and a pursuit of ‘progress’. In this imbalance, the life of worship, witness and service of congregations is lost as ‘the primary expression of the corporate life of the Church’. Owen’s analysis is challenging. It is, however, inevitable that synod operations develop in response to growing responsibilities for property. This growth has benefited the church in having a synod structure with which to respond to other state-based legal issues such as child safety legislation. In an Assembly year it is timely to be reminded of the perennial call to follow Christ the risen crucified One in all matters, spiritual, material and organisational. We are not at the end of tough decisions about property and for this reason Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People is important reading. Available at: morningstarpublishing.net.au RRP: $14.95
BOOK | MILOSZ: A BIOGRAPHY | ANDRZEJ FRANASZEK
THE idea of literature as a counter to totalitarianism and war may seem a quaint notion to some, but it’s the reason why the Lithuanian/Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz won the Nobel Prize, as this new biography details. As a young man Milosz witnessed first the Nazis then the Soviets rolling through Poland during WWII. He was criticised in Poland for his defection to France and then the US after the war, as communism took over in Eastern Europe. Milosz became famous for The Captive Mind, a critique of Stalinism, though he was also disgusted by the survival-of-the-fittest materialism of capitalism. As his friend the monk and writer Thomas Merton noted, Milosz tried to tread a narrow but necessary path between competing ideologies, in order to affirm the worth of the individual. Milosz was a man of faith who had a cautious relationship with the church, wary as he was of the Polish entanglement of church and state. Although he welcomed reform of the church, he found the American modernisation of faith shallow and naïve about darker forces at work in the world, having lived through the evils of war and communist surveillance. What is inspiring about his poetry is his insistence that human beings are not just flotsam in the currents of history, a sentiment reinforced by his faith. His poetry, while acknowledging those darker historical forces at work, in its deliberate attention to small instances of beauty celebrates the individual life, much as Jesus did in his ministry. Jesus’ disciples wanted to fight oppression in like manner, but Jesus recognised, as does Milosz, that combatting injustice involves attending to people not as abstractions but as individuals with their own unique stories to tell. Available at: www.hup.harvard.edu RRP: $35.00
Available at: www.allenandunwin.com/, RRP: $22.95 or kindle $9.73
CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
Review People power REVIEW BY JULIE PERRIN AND ANDY CALDER BOOK | THE POWER OF FRIENDSHIP, THE OPEN HOUSE STORY | DIGBY HANNAH
FROM its beginnings in 1971, Open House Ivanhoe – and now Open House MacLeod – has taken on the characteristics of a social movement. Based on research and interviews, author Digby Hannah has compiled the stories and images that make up this compact yet abundant book. Hannah’s experience as a youth worker, teacher, editor, pastoral minister and songwriter make him well placed to write about this remarkable community.
Instigated by a passionate church youth leader, George Farrington, Open House became an independent community operating out of a shopfront near Ivanhoe Town Hall, complete with ‘the obligatory pool table.’ Funded by donations, the heavy lifting was done by a range of volunteers Farrington referred to as the ‘motley crew’. Initially, Farrington was employed by St James Anglican Church, but Open House was soon independent and interdenominational, including Uniting Church members. Today, Open House inhabits the previous site of the MacLeod Uniting Church and manse and maintains its Christian identity. As Farrington said, “The volunteers are not there to convert people…It is a friendship model based on God’s grace with no strings attached.” Hannah addresses some of the theology underlying the Open House approach of respecting people who have been marginalised. It adopted the biblical passages in Matthew 25 and 28 (where Jesus challenges his followers to leave their comfortable places, respond to those in need and make disciples) as its foundation. The teaching of Athol Gill’s Life on the Road and Kraybill’s Upside Down Kingdom also influenced Open House. Hannah is familiar with the theology, the era, the joys as well as the costs of this approach. Open House never became an agency, it exists with minimal government funding and refuses to compartmentalise services. The community was – and is – based
on reciprocal friendship rather than the implicit separations of professional practitioners and clients. In this way, Open House diverges from and speaks into the familiar scenario where church agencies are now fields of professional social work practice. Throughout the last 45 years, Open House has offered programs including drop in centres, live-in accommodation, a plant nursery at Hurstbridge, numerous camps, weekly clubs, cricket and football matches and billycart-building workshops. It engages with people experiencing mental health issues, alcoholism, social and emotional issues arising out of fractured family life, family violence, poverty and disability. People are not siphoned off into silos according to need, but are seen as coparticipants in the community. Over the long haul, participants are companioned in the slow changes of daily life that can open into transformation. To this day George Farrington holds that the ‘motley crew’ approach works best within this friendship model. “Life is messy and sometimes the most unlikely connections bear fruit as turning points in people’s lives,” Farrington said. A letter from a previous participant says, “As we sipped coffee or played pool we heard no lectures or sermons just felt warmth, compassion, understanding and caring – from people who were comfortable in their positions, not proving anything to anyone, allowing us to follow by example.” Surprising volunteers pop up in the story, like the mayor of Ivanhoe who called by
at the drop-in centre and became the long term architectural consultant to Open House. The women in this story sound extraordinary, many of them with four or five children of their own – including the beloved ‘Ma C’ who oversaw the live-in accommodation. They’ve volunteered for years at a time or supported their partners to do the same. Since Farrington’s early long-term leadership, Open House has been directed by Ross Oldmeadow and now Paul Burgess. Hannah examines the limitations and the strengths of the Open House approach with the hope that the holistic model of the ‘motley crew’ may still have something to offer in this era of increasing specialisation. He hopes to illustrate the surprise factor “…when unequal relationships become mutual friendships – when people who have imagined themselves as helpers or benefactors realise they are also ‘the helped’.”
As the film builds to the climatic showdown between King and Riggs, it also delves into King’s off-court dramas as she becomes embroiled in an affair with her hairdresser Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough). Steve Carrell brings plenty of hubris and humour to his role as Bobby Riggs. It is easy to reduce Riggs to a chauvinistic caricature, but Carrell handles the character with sensitivity. He is depicted not just as a boisterous showman but also a desperate hustler struggling with marriage problems and a gambling addiction. He espouses old-school sexism to disguise the deep-rooted fear of his own obsolescence. Tennis may have made significant strides
since the 1970s, but many of the gender issues in Battle of the Sexes remain relevant today. Retired tennis great John McEnroe ignited controversy last year when he said Serena Williams would be ranked 700 if she played on the men’s circuit. At last year’s French Open, male tennis player Maxime Hamou tried to forcibly kiss a female reporter during a live interview. While the four grand slams have equal prizemoney for women and men, some pundits insist men should be paid more, citing higher television figures and longer match duration. The real antagonist in Battle of the Sexes is
not Bobby Riggs; it is the insidious sexism perpetuated by tennis administrators who run an industry designed to systematically disadvantage women. With nearly daily revelations of sexual harassment by high-profile celebrities, Battle of the Sexes is a timely reminder of the misogynistic attitudes that still prevail more than four decades on. It is also a tribute to all the pioneers who have fought for a more equal world, a battle that is far from over.
The book is available for $20 at www.openhousecic.org.au
Rev (Deacon) Andy Calder is the Disability Inclusion Advocate with the Vic/Tas synod. Julie Perrin is a writer and oral storyteller.
Ongoing battle REVIEW BY TIM LAM FILM | BATTLE OF THE SEXES | M THIS year’s Australian Open was shrouded in controversy before a ball was struck, with women’s tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King calling on Tennis Australia to rename Margaret Court Arena following the Australian’s remarks about homosexuality. King has long been an outspoken advocate for gender equality and LGBTI rights and her pioneering role in women’s tennis was recently turned into a Hollywood production. Battle of the Sexes documents the historic 1973 tennis match between 29-yearold Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and 55-year-old former tennis champion Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). Riggs, a self-proclaimed chauvinist, famously claimed he could beat any female professional tennis player. After easily defeating Court in straight sets, Riggs challenged world number one King to a ‘battle of the sexes’ to prove male superiority. Directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine), Battle of the Sexes serves up an entertaining re-creation of one of the most watched sports matches of all time. Emma Stone gives a strong performance as Billie Jean King. While Stone and Carrell both receive top billing, this is primarily a King biopic. FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
Battle of the Sexes is now out on DVD. 21
Pilgrim Reflection It’s not what you think…
Fool On The Hill - Beatles Songbook Vol.1
YOU might have noticed comments on social media predicting a crisis for Christians this year because Ash Wednesday falls on St Valentine’s Day, and Easter Sunday is April Fool’s Day. Facebook is assuming the incongruity is too much. Actually, there are synergies between the secular and sacred calendars that help us see the Gospel more clearly. First, consider St Valentine. Behind the festival of chocolate and romantic love is an earlier story. Valentine was originally remembered for decisions that led to his violent death. The records establish that in Rome on 14 February 269 AD, by order of the Emperor Claudius II, one Valentius was beheaded for refusing to deny his faith in Christ. Tradition assumes, probably rightly, that he was a sturdy Christian preacher and healer, perhaps a bishop. Less securely, but within the seeds of his current reputation, legend also has it that Valentius made a point of marrying couples so that the husbands were ineligible for military service in wartime. In this direct confrontation with imperial edicts, Valentinus was a champion of love over fear of enemies. Did his contemporaries think he was making crazy decisions inspired by a fool-on-a-hill 22
centuries before? Yes, essentially. It’s all about discernment. Second, what might this have to do with Ash Wednesday? The traditionally stark day at the end of our summer begins the count of 40 days (excluding Sundays) of Lent, the time of prayer and fasting in preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is not a time of austerity for its own sake but of focus on the call of the Gospel; a stepping away from distractions to recalibrate and renew our inner freedom before God. Lent is a movement towards grace and against idolatry. Again, it’s all about discernment. Around the same time as Valentine was in Rome, ‘discernment’, or what it meant to ‘choose the good’, preoccupied the desert communities of Christians in Egypt and Syria. According to the later accounts we have from John Cassian, the desert teachers of the second and third centuries gathered to listen collectively to Scripture, to consider their own lives and what they knew of those around them, in order to identify the keys to wise choices. The ascesis (extreme discipline) of their lifestyle was like the ascesis of athletes or soldiers or scholars focussed on a task. For the Christian seekers, the key task was to
make choices that drew them towards God. This did not always go well. In the rigorous lifestyle beyond the cities some were prone to self-confident displays of excessive fasting and long prayer, others shrugged off commitments with self-seeking excuses or got caught in distractions (such as the shallow affirmations of power or romance or obedience to the system for its own sake). Rather than one extreme or the other, or even one approach over another, the elders advocated balance, what they called ‘discretion’. This quality of balance maintained a calm focus on God and the reality of the world, actively challenging fantasies. Choosing well became the most valued spiritual quality, a kind of laser beam of perception that clarified the genuine promptings of the Spirit. Discretion sifted out the false messages that preyed on old wounds and vulnerabilities. In the process, accountability to a loving community was especially important in keeping people honest about themselves. For these Christians, spiritual wisdom and authority was pivotal and always collective. The capacity for discernment was carefully honed so the community together would become more Christlike in their decisions. Australian writer Michael Casey summarised this process in the desert communities as a journey from fear to love. Through increasing trust in God and awareness of their own recurring patterns, Christians learnt an inner freedom, where decisions were made in good faith and readily submitted for scrutiny. Humility and trust were key. If something can be taught, or if a capacity responds to discipline, it follows that it is not simply innate. Discretion is rather like breathing: we breathe all the time but by learning to be aware and focussed we can breathe more deeply and with better effect. If discretion can be honed so that the capacity to ‘choose the good’ improves, it also follows that without honing, decisions might not be so faithful. What does it mean then to hone the spiritual tool of discretion? Luke Timothy Johnson’s short book Scripture and Discernment (1996) gives an example of the collective process that is worth exploring here. He calls theology itself a process of ‘ecclesial discernment’ based in the shared reading of Scripture. He uses the story of the conversion of Cornelius the Gentile as it is presented in Acts 10 and the working out of its implications for the whole community in Acts 15 as an example from Scripture of discernment in action. Johnson traces the theological process of the Christian community making a decision about one of the hottest issues for the early church: whether and how to include Gentiles as equal members alongside Jewish converts. Luke’s account in Acts differs significantly from Paul’s report to the Galatians, and the question Johnson asks is not ‘What really happened?’ but ‘What does remembering this story in this way mean for the church? Reading closely, he argues that the account goes to some trouble to demonstrate the dynamics of discernment.
As the church wrestles with what it means to stay faithful to God who appears to be doing new things beyond the boundary of the Chosen People, touchstones emerge for the way forward: silence, prayer and both giving account of personal experience and weighing narratives in community are all essential. The drama of discernment is the work of the whole church – with an assumption that God is the lead actor. As the community hears testimony of events, the stories prompt new insights into Scripture, and evoke recognition of God at work in the lives of people in unexpected and challenging ways. The testimony that comes from awareness of God in prayer is repeated, tested, and from the experience of individuals, the whole community debates. Disagreement is valued, not feared; challenge and opposition are part of the process. Prayer and accountability to each other and the gospel safeguard the community. Decisions are communicated personally and with pastoral commitment. It all takes considerable time. The decisionmaking is connected at every step to their clear (if consistently surprised) understanding of who God is. Contrary to the initial expectation of those learned in the law, they move forward with the conviction that ‘God shows no partiality’ (Acts 10:34). The net effect of the process is that their religious assumptions are upended. Thirdly, and finally, this brings us back to the calendar that has us celebrating Easter on April Fools Day. Should we be surprised? Hardly. This is precisely the paradox that Christian discernment often uncovers. As Paul put it to the Corinthians by quoting Isaiah: “The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’…Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1Cor 1: 18-20). More than Facebook understands, the clash has always been the point.
Katharine Massam Co-ordinator of Studies (History) Pilgrim Theological College
Pilgrim’s subject ‘Authority and Discernment’ begins in July 2018. For more on these themes see K. Massam, ‘Hope is of God: the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia’ in Hope: Challenging the Culture of Despair (2004); and K. Massam, ‘Accountability in Discernment: Our Life and Death is in Our Neighbour’ Conversations: an ejournal of the CTM (2011)
CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
Opinion A mission strategy: the weekly Eucharist
‘MISSION’ is everywhere in contemporary mainline churches, not least the Uniting Church and not least because changes in the fortunes of the church have seen us turn to the question of mission with renewed vigour. Projects such as our Synod’s Major Strategic Review spring directly out of such concerns. As we watch the Synod respond to this renewed call in response to the findings of the MSR, I propose a complementary mission ‘strategy’. Ministering in congregations which celebrate the Eucharist (Holy Communion) in their principal Sunday worship service has pushed me to consider more deeply what the sacrament is about and, then, to consider the question of the frequency of celebration in relation to our nature and efforts as church. My conclusion is that moving towards the weekly Eucharist as the typical rather than exceptional practice in the UCA would make us more faithful, bring individual worshippers and the whole church closer to God and, just so, strengthen our mission. The frequency of celebration, in fact, is not quite the point. The pressing issue is the same whether we receive daily, monthly or quarterly. The issue is what it is the Eucharist brings and, if it brings anything which matters, why we are satisfied to receive that blessing only monthly or quarterly when in most faith communities weekly reception would be entirely feasible. Why do we typically separate Word and Sacrament in this way? This separation is largely an historical accident but it has developed into a theological and ecclesiological model, and a distorting one at that. Asking about the nature of the Eucharist and its relationship to weekly proclamation of the Word is a very concrete way of pressing into heart-ofthe-faith questions: creation, incarnation, reconciliation, church and mission. Do we not desperately need this? The Uniting Church would only be stronger if it even seriously considered, let alone moved, to a weekly Eucharist and grew into a deeper understanding of the nature of the gift Christ has given the church in this sacrament. We have had difficulty conducting theological conversations in the Uniting Church which do not quickly descend into religious truisms or slanging matches. We are starving for want of good theological reflection. The nature of the Eucharist is something we might be able to talk about because any change in frequency of celebration would push nearly all of us in the same direction and so be a journey of common discovery, which cannot be said FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
of most other things we debate. What has this to do with strategy and mission in the church’s troubled times? The strategy here is asking whether there is more to know about who we are and what God has given us in Jesus, on the understanding that the better we know this the more useful we will be for God’s work in the world. More specifically, it is asking whether the Eucharist itself can teach us such things, as most of the church has believed since the institution of the sacrament, and how much of that teaching we need. The obvious problems such a shift would create – the communion preparation roster, the problem of available celebrants, the length of services, and so forth – ought not to distract us at the outset; if it matters enough, these will be overcome. This may seem to be an immensely impractical proposal in the face of shrinking membership, crumbling buildings, the need for risk mitigation and so on. But when these matters are separated from the faith and worship of the church, we are lost. When gathered worship as the Body of Christ always means eating together (so to speak), we begin to realise that a body depends on being fed, and that we can trust Jesus that he will not fail to provide himself for us every time we eat this bread and drink this cup. Placing Communion at the heart of our weekly worship, by receiving it every week, is a sign that salvation is ultimately nothing more than opening one’s hands to the ‘grace upon grace’ that God offers to all out of his fullness. This daily bread on which we depend is not for our own sake, but rather is a gift that turns each of us into a gift to the other and to the world God loves. Here is worship, here is mission. If our worship and mission is about experiencing and presenting Jesus to the world as God’s love for all, ought we not assume that Jesus was serious when he instructed, “Do this for the realising of me”? The more Jesus is so realised within the life of the church, the clearer and more convincing our evangelism and service will be. Rev Dr Craig Thompson North Melbourne
[Postscript] A small group of congregations have already undertaken to experiment with a weekly Eucharist in their regular Sunday services in 2018. For more information go to www.dothis.unitingchurch.org.au. 23
Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 18 JANUARY 2018 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Echuca – Moama (5 year term) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) Cranbourne (*) Mount Martha (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Airport West (C) East Geelong (C) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Newtown (St David’s) (C) Surf Coast Parish (*) Western Health Mental Health Chaplaincy (*) Williamstown (St Stephens) (0.6) (C) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Cradle Coast (Burnie, Devonport, Penguin, Wynyard) (C) Queenborough Rise Chaplain (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Ararat (*) Henty Region – Grange Cluster (P)(C) Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) (C)
Hopkins Region Correctional Facility – Chaplain (0.2) (*) Kaniva – Serviceton (P)(C) PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Banyule Network – Ministry Team Leader (C) Banyule Network (*) Croydon and Croydon North (*) Glen Iris Road (*) Joongang (0.4) (C) Manningham – Children Young People and Families (P) (C) Ringwood (C) SYNOD – EQUIPPING LEADERSHIP FOR MISSION Continuing Education and Leadership Development (P) (C) Director Relationships and Connections (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Youth (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Young Adults (P)(C) Lay Leadership Development Ministry (P) (C) Ministry Studies Coordinator (P) (C) New and Renewing Communities (P) (C) New Testament Studies Coordinator (P) (C) (C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an Expression of Interest. Enquiries and written Expressions of Interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email: email@example.com
MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED
Rufus Black, Master of Ormond College concluded 31 December 2017
Lavingi Tupou, Ashburton to commence 1 March 2018
Tina Lyndon Ng, Glenroy – Pascoe Vale Parish to conclude 28 February 2018
Salesi Faupula (NSW/ACT), Canterbury (Balwyn Road) to commence 1 March 2018
Judy Rigby, Glenroy – Pascoe Vale Parish to conclude 28 February 2018
Lindell Gibson, Bright Alpine to commence 1 March 2018
Karen Eller (Lay), Royal Melbourne Hospital Chaplain to conclude on 16 March 2018
Rohan Pryor (Lay), Synod Liaison Minister – Tasmania to commence 1 April 2018 Nigel Hanscamp, Director – Priorities, Focus and Advocacy to commence 1 April 2018
Vladimir Korotkov, Victorian Congress – Resource Worker to conclude on 13 April 2018
Meaghan Paul (YW), Methodist Ladies College Chaplain concluded 15 December 2017
James Godfrey recognition withdrawn by reason of resignation Reg 2.10.3(a) 1 November 2017
Notices COMING EVENTS LENTEN STUDY RESOURCE: THE LORD’S PRAYER A new Lenten Study resource for congregations: The Lord’s Prayer: Prayer for those who can no longer pray by Bruce Barber, is now available for free download from marktheevangelist. unitingchurch.org.au/illuminating-faith/. THE HUB IN 2018 Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Avenue, Glen Waverley. The Hub resumes on Tuesday, 6 February 2018. The Hub is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people to enjoy some company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practise speaking in English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am – 2pm, and Wednesdays 10am - 12 noon. People of all ages are welcome. For more information P: (03) 9560 3580. TRANSFIGURATION: AN EXHIBITION OF OIL PAINTINGS BY WES CAMPBELL 4 FEBRUARY – 28 MARCH 2018 Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer, Castlemaine Library, 212 Barker St, Castlemaine. The exhibition is a response to a key Christian narrative traditionally observed on 6 August, as Transfiguration. The sxith of August 1945 is remembered as the date of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima. The double focus of this exhibition brings together the brutal death of Jesus in his confrontation with powers that oppress and destroy, and his ‘light’ that has the power to transform life. Wes Campbell is a retired UC Minister, theologian and painter in oils and acrylics. To be opened by Paul Gahan at 5.00PM-6.30PM, Thursday 8 February 2018. Opening hours: Weekdays 10am – 6pm; Saturday 10am - 12 noon. BETHLEHEM UNIVERSITY IN THE HOLY LAND 6.30PM, THURSDAY 22 FEBRUARY Elm Street Hall, 4 Elm Street, North Melbourne, near cnr of Curzon St. The Congregation of Mark the Evangelist in North Melbourne, in collaboration with the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network, invite people to come and hear Vice-Chancellor Brother Peter Bray speak on what is happening in Bethlehem University and in the Holy Land, at a session entitled Oasis of Peace Behind the Wall: Bethlehem University in the Holy Land. Enquiries: Heather Mathew M: 0403 654 185. WORLD DAY OF PRAYER 10AM, FRIDAY 2 MARCH Uniting AgeWell – Matheson Chapel Strathdon. 17 Jolimont Rd Forest Hill. The World Day of Prayer service will be followed by morning tea. For more information please contact Jenny or Marge on P: 9845 3152 WORLD DAY OF PRAYER AT WESLEY UNITING CHURCH, GEELONG 11AM, FRIDAY 2 MARCH Wesley Uniting Church, 100 Yarra Street, Geelong. A World Day of Prayer service will be held in Wesley Uniting Church, at 11am on Friday, 2 March, followed by light refreshments. The theme this year is SURINAME, South America.
USED BOOK SALE – GLEN WAVERLEY UNITING CHURCH 8.30AM - 1PM, SATURDAY, 3 MARCH 2018 Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Ave, Glen Waverley. Thousands of second-hand books, most are only $2 each. Devonshire tea served. Donations of books welcomed. For information please contact the church office on P: (03) 9560 3580. PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT SEMINAR (FOR NON-RETIRED MINISTERS) 10AM, TUESDAY 7 MARCH UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. A ‘Planning for Retirement’ seminar will be held at the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Office. All non-retired ministers and their partners are welcome. An email invitation will be sent with registration details. Please direct further queries to E: firstname.lastname@example.org or E: email@example.com. “WHAT SORT OF MESSIAH WAS JESUS CHRIST?” LECTURE WITH SOFIA 7.30PM, THURSDAY 15 MARCH Carlton Library, 667 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. Lecture by John Noack (Carl Jung Society) followed by Q&A. Sea of Faith in Australia (SoFiA) promotes the open exploration of religion, spirituality and meaning. Gold coin donation appreciated. For more information see: www.sof-in-australia.org. OPENING SERVICE FOR KEILOR EASTAIRPORT WEST UNITING CHURCH 2PM, SUNDAY 18 MARCH Keilor East-Airport West UC, Cnr Roberts & Glenys Ave, Airport West. Airport West Uniting Church is opening their long awaited new church facilities on Sunday, 18 March at 2pm. The moderator Rev Sharon Hollis will officiate the dedication. Please RSVP to Denise Grady on E: firstname.lastname@example.org indicating the number attending for catering purposes. The following Saturday, 24 March will be a community day from 11am to 2:30pm for all to enjoy. DEEP CREEK UNITING CHURCH CELEBRATIONS 12PM, SATURDAY 17 MARCH 2018 AND 10AM, SUNDAY 18 MARCH 152 Andersons Creek Rd, Doncaster East. The Deep Creek UC community from Andersons Creek Road is moving! The church community has amalgamated with three other churches in the area. A building to house a new church and community centre in Templestowe will be the new home for Manningham Uniting Church. Come and enjoy shared memories and mingle with people who were part of the shared journey at Deep Creek. Celebrations include a luncheon at midday on Saturday, 17 March, and a final service at 10am on Sunday, 18 March. All are welcome. Please RSVP for professional catering purposes to Kay Robert on P: (03) 9775 4224 or Ruth Hodges on P: (03) 9722 2000.
CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
Notices HOT CROSS BUN MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM – 12 NOON, THURSDAY 22 MARCH Glen Waverley UC, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Avenue , Glen Waverley. Come along to The Hub and enjoy a hot cross bun with a cuppa. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. For information and group bookings P: (03) 9560 3580. SINGERS WANTED – EASTER CANTATA 2018 FOR PALM SUNDAY, 25 MARCH Rehearsals commencing 7.30PM – 9PM, Mondays, February 2018 at Balwyn North UCA. Join the Immanuel Singers to sing an Easter cantata Seek Ye First, written and conducted by Gary Bradley, on Palm Sunday. All welcome. We particularly need tenors and basses. Following an audition, music score and CD, in parts, can be provided immediately for familiarisation prior to rehearsals commencing in February 2018, on Mondays from 7:30pm – 9pm at Balwyn North UC. Contact Gary Bradley on P: (03) 9898 7770 or E: email@example.com. FAIR TRADE FAITH CONFERENCE 27 – 29 APRIL Queanbeyan Uniting Church Centre, 13 Rutledge Street, Queanbeyan, NSW. Learn more about Fair Trade and how it connects with your faith, meet and share with others. The inaugural Fair Trade Faith Conference features guest speakers including Dr Jonathan Cornford, Manna Gum Ministry, Rev Scott Higgins, Christian educator, writer and consultant, Dr Keith Suter, Global futurist and Rev John Martin, Fair Trade Advocate. Register now at http://allthenashes.wixsite.com/ fairtradefaith.
FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
WESTERN WOMEN’S RETREAT 25 – 27 MAY Join us for the 40th Anniversary of the Western Women’s Retreat (formerly Murtoa Ladies Camp), from 25–27 May at Norval, Halls Gap. For more information contact Fran Robinson on P: (03) 5381 0850 or M: 0402 017 247. CLOSURE SERVICE FOR PLEASANT STREET UNITING CHURCH, BALLARAT 1.30PM, SUNDAY 29 APRIL Pleasant St Uniting Church, 56A Pleasant St Sth, Ballarat. After 157 years of continuous service, a closing service for the Pleasant Street UC will be held on 29 April. The service will be one of commemoration and thanksgiving as we acknowledge the dedication of those past and present who have served this church and congregation faithfully at this site. Afternoon tea will be provided. All those who have had any association with this congregation are warmly invited to attend. Please RSVP to Margaret Bennett on P: (03) 5332 3028 DANCE CLASSES FOR MATURE WOMEN 1PM-2PM, THURSDAYS Habitat Canterbury, cnr Mont Albert Rd and Burke Rd, Canterbury. Join this gentle, joyful space for movement and self-expression. For more information contact Susan on M: 0433 259 135.
GROUNDSWELL 7PM, FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Groundswell is a monthly inter-spiritual gathering. We draw upon our rich human history of spiritual journeys to experience the sacred together. We look at all spirituality in the light of the archetypal patterns in our lives and engage in practical transformative experiences. For more information, visit the Habitat website www.habitatforspirituality.org.au Enquiries to Elizabeth Bethune on P: (03) 9818 2726. FEED YOUR SOUL YOGA MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY – MORNING, MIDDAY & EVENING CLASSES Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Free your mind, body and spirit; strengthen your back and core muscles, and improve your overall wellbeing. Classes include yoga for beginners, yoga for seniors, yoga for men, yoga for menopause, yin yoga and hatha yoga. For more information please contact Angelika on M: 0401 607 716 or go to: www.feedyoursoulyoga.com.au.
CLASSIFIEDS CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second-hand/ retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920.
WANTED TOGETHER IN SONG HYMN BOOKS: Ten copies, plus four in large print, of hymn books for chapel at Masonic Peacehaven, Launceston, Tasmania. Contact Louisa Phelps on E: email@example.com CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775. GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am. LORNE: Spacious apartment, breath-taking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. PAINTER: Qualified Christian painter, handyman interior/exterior work available outer eastern suburbs. P: (03) 9725 6417. SELF CATERING RURAL RETREAT: In the beautiful Kiewa Valley, N E Victoria. For enquiries text Sue on M: 0400 085 202. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: (03) 5628 5319. SOUTH GIPPSLAND WORSHIP: When visiting South Gippsland you are invited to join the Mirboo North Uniting Church congregation for worship at 10am each Sunday. Contact Lynne Oates on P: (03) 5668 1621.
People Reasons to celebrate RANDALL PRIOR AND GILLIAN STEWARD
THE 1960s was a visionary time in Alexandra in Victoria. Optimism for the future was high. The growing number of children in church saw the construction of a building to provide more space for the thriving congregation. The foundation stone was formally laid in 1966 and the church officially opened a year later on 18 November 1967. A celebration of the opening brought together past and present clergy, ecumenical visitors, town dignitaries and congregation members.
Of course, the situation has changed dramatically in these last 50 years. In the Alexandra region, a number of churches have closed down and the Alexandra congregation itself has dwindled in numbers. But that didn’t stop the current congregation from holding a celebration of the building’s golden jubilee last November. People gathered to give thanks for the building and for the people who had served in past generations. Most significantly, they came to celebrate the hope that is grounded in the Gospel. The gospel reading – Matthew 25:31-46 – renewed the message of God’s compassion for a suffering world and the gift and promise of transformed life embodied in the Easter event. It seems that whether the church is thriving or struggling its reasons for celebration remain unchanged.
Rev ready for motorcycle ministry TELL Andrew Delbridge that he has to get on his bike for the new role of Alpine Regional Resource Minister and he couldn’t be happier. The role, created by the Presbytery of North East Victoria, calls on Mr Delbridge to develop resource networks and provide ministerial and pastoral support for a region that extends just over 300km from one end to the other. However, by climbing on his trusty V-Strom 650 he has the means to do it having got back into the habit of motorcycle riding that he first developed as a university student. “It’s good bike-riding territory,” Mr Delbridge said. “There are worse places to work than the most beautiful presbytery in the state.” Mr Delbridge, whose previous placement
Rev. Andrew Delbridge gladly accepts his responsibilities
The 50th anniversary service at Alexandra Uniting Church
Rufus Black to head University of Tasmania
THE former Master of the University of Melbourne’s Ormond College and ordained Uniting Church minister Professor Rufus Black has been appointed the ViceChancellor and President of the University of Tasmania. University Chancellor Michael Field said Prof Black – a respected ethicist, educator and strategic consultant – was an individual of extraordinary quality and one who could lead a new chapter in the life of the institution. Mr Field said Prof Black stood out among a quality international field for the position. “He demonstrated a rare mix of high intellect, academic standing and commercial experience that we feel will be necessary to lead a period of cultural transformation here,” Mr Field said. Prof Black holds degrees in law and politics from the University of Melbourne, as well as a degree in moral theology from the
University of Oxford where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He was also Principal Fellow in the Department of Management and Marketing in the Faculty of Business and Economics and Principal Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. A co-founder of the university’s Wade Institute for Entrepreneurship, Prof Black is also a director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research and president of the Museums Board of Victoria. Prof Black said he was excited by the promise which lay within the relationship between the university and its island state. “There is an emerging vision of the future and I’m very keen to explore how we harness the collective energy and insight of those within our university – along with the broader community – in bringing that vision to reality,” he said. He will begin in his new role next month after stepping down from his Ormond College role at the end of last year.
Rufus Black 26
was the presbytery’s pastoral care minister, said he is looking forward to helping lay people blossom into leadership and ministry often in the context where there are no fulltime or ordained ministers available. “My job is to walk beside the people, to train them and equip them, but also to be there as support when major things happen,” he said. The role is funded in partnership with the Rural Presbytery Ministers’ Leadership Fund and the Presbytery of NE Victoria, along with the parishes of Bright, Beechworth and Wangaratta. Mr Delbridge said that shaping the new ministry would be a challenge. “Everybody has an opinion of what the role is, so the challenge will be keeping as many people happy as I can,” he said. He believed that working with such diverse and widely spread congregations will require adaptability. “There will be some similarities across the board but each congregation, like each family, has its own particular style, its own nuance, its own way of being and relating,” Mr Delbridge said.
From little things big things grow ONE young congregation member’s desire to make a difference has inspired Buninyong Uniting Church to raise much-needed funds for homeless people in Ballarat. Last December, nine-year-old Leila asked her parents if she could do something to help those struggling with financial difficulty during the Christmas season. With the support of her parents, Leila set about making shortbread stars and platesized rounds. These baked goods were sold at morning coffee after the church service. As a result of her fundraising efforts, the congregation raised $350 for Uniting Ballarat. Buninyong Uniting Church minister Rev Keith Kynoch praised Leila for her efforts and believes it could be the catalyst for something grander. “I wonder if Leila has just started something that might grow beyond her hopes,” Mr Kynoch said. “If one child from each congregation was to catch this vision, I wonder what the impact could be in 60 years.” Mr Kynoch drew parallels with the story of the Christmas Bowl, which began at a dinner table on Christmas Day more than 60 years
ago. It has since grown into a national fundraising appeal, raising more than $2.5 million every year. “On Christmas Day 1949 the Rev Frank Byatt of Victoria placed an empty bowl on the dinner table and asked his guests to give a gift to bring relief and hope to refugees who had fled the horrors of World War II,” Mr Kynoch said. “He could never have known that his simple act would grow into the incredible outpouring of love and compassion it’s become today. “As Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody wrote in 1991 – From Little Things Big Things Grow. Well done Leila!”
Leila and one of her many satisfied customers CROSSLIGHT - FEBRUARY 18
Word search This month in Crosslight This COMPILED BY LYNDA NELmonth
in Crosslight Compiled by Lynda Nel
r s g i n n p y n a i r p i h s i r s r y a n m g n o i n i i s o r n s y e a i n t p o i e m n n v o a u m c l b r i e h s r o m y r n
s a e r e c o n c i l i a t i o n
t a t u i o n o n i c i m i r r e
icon Presbyterian Jerusalem Nain Ngarrindjeri conversations Leprena
v r y e o n n a a r r i s s n h t
j p b n u v c n m e l a s u r e j
n a s e r e e a g j e r o i r u g
a i e r n r v a r d s p n r a c c
a r r p p s n t a n m g i o m h a
Pilgrim Eucharist incarnation reconciliation managerialism missional veterinarians
i l p e n a e t g i a t s s n a a
i r y h c e g mm o l v r t m r t n e p m p a i a t i o n s n y e p s s i b i i n t y l o r r a g n o n t r i t m n i o t i g m a o r o r a a y m n n r i s t u e l i r g
Look for these words:
companionship stigma territory Buninyong compassion Myanmar Entrepreneurship
Giving is living
Loving God, source of light and hope We pray that you watch over our children Guide them with your tender love And bless them with your abundant grace May we strive to be patient and wise parents Nurturing our children’s talents Filling their hearts with compassion and mercy Amen
THE synod’s Next Gen youth will witness worship in one of the fasting growing Christian communities in the world when they travel to South Korea later this year. A group of culturally diverse Next Gen youth from Victoria and New South Wales will visit churches in Seoul and Busan as part of a 10-day pilgrimage. Christianity in South Korea grew rapidly throughout the latter half of the 20th century to become the largest religion in the country. Approximately 30 per cent of South Koreans now identify as Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist or Catholic. During the trip, the participants will meet young Korean people from various Christian congregations and learn about the churches’ mission outreach projects. On their return to FEBRUARY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
Australia, they will share their observations and experiences with their synods. The cross-cultural trip is run by the Vic/Tas and NSW/ACT synods, in partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and the Korean Methodist Church. The above image, taken during the Next Gen trip to China in 2015, is featured in this year’s Giving is Living calendar. The synod’s Giving is Living program encourages congregations to embrace a spirit of generosity. Monthly pew sheets and prayers documenting stories of kindness can be downloaded at www.victas.uca.org.au/givingisliving.
“FOR ME, THE CAMERA IS A SKETCH BOOK, AN I N S T R U M E N T O F I N T U I T I O N A N D S P O N TA N E I T Y.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson
The congregation at High Street Uniting Church Frankston were hard at work putting together Christmas hampers for local families in need last December.
Macedon Ranges Uniting Church shared an interfaith lunch with members of the local Muslim community.
Participants at the Uniting Church Icon Schools paint at their January workshop.
Ocean Grove Uniting Church members packed Christmas hampers in December.
Queenscliff Uniting Church held their annual tea cosy exhibition in January. Visitors were greeted by the sight of a suspended two-metre papier-mache whale presiding over a school of clown-fish tea cosies.
Della, granddaughter of Sheila and Sig Gassert and Ros Shuey, lit Advent candles on Christmas Day at Strathdon/Parkmore Faith Community, Strathdon Uniting Agewell.
Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church.The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasman...
Published on Jan 30, 2018
Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church.The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasman...