Crosslight April 2017

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Crosslight Celebrating 25 years of

N 275 April No. A il 2017



Early Melbourne life uncovered at Wesley Church

Three reflections on the meaning of Easter



They also serve – remembering animals in war

A 40-year-old logo that’s still flying high

Indigenous artist Miriam Simon’s depiction of the Fifth Station of the Cross is just one of the many artworks featured in Our Mob: God’s Story. Produced to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society, the book examines the relationship of Australia’s First People to the Christian faith. Turn to page 20 for a review.



Image by Miriam Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann

Why Tasmania should pull the plug on pokies

The cult shame of Victoria’s rich and respectable

Regulars Letters - 18 People - 19 Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 Moderator’s column - 26

Editorial Failing the most vulnerable PENNY MULVEY

I HAVE read three books over the last few weeks – two works of fiction and one non-fiction – all with a common thread, the treatment or mistreatment of children. During this time I also attended Case

Communications & Media Services

UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: ISSN 1037 826X

Study 56 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which focused on the Uniting Church in Australia. Room is a 2010 novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue. It is both a harrowing and uplifting story told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, born into imprisonment after his mother had been abducted by a sexual predator seven years earlier. His account shows wonder and love of life, instilled by Ma, who has shielded him from the predator. Ma has provided education, routine, exercise and love all in a space the size of a backyard shed. Tom Keneally draws on his intimate knowledge of the Catholic priesthood in Crimes of the Father (reviewed in this month’s Crosslight), a fictional account of a Catholic priest and psychologist who is determined to speak out about child sexual

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.

abuses committed by clergy. The story explores the impact of abuse at the hands of a single priest on three individuals. The Family (also reviewed in Crosslight) is a true account of the Melbourne-based cult headed by Anne Hamilton-Byrne, which stole the childhood from 28 children who were literally plucked from maternity wards or surrendered by cult members in the 1960s and 1970s. Last month the Royal Commission heard there had been more than 2500 incidents or allegations of child sexual abuse reported at an institution or place of worship of the Uniting Church since 1977. What is clearly demonstrated by the evidence given over several years to the Royal Commission, and repeated by the child survivors of The Family, is that no matter how resilient children might be, the damage imposed in their formative years

never goes away. Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan’s apology at the Royal Commission is an essential step in this Church’s journey towards ensuring a safe environment for children. “We are, and I am, deeply sorry that we didn’t protect and care in accordance with our Christian values for those children,” he said. “And I want to acknowledge the impact that it’s had in the lives of those young people and to say I’m truly sorry.” We all have a responsibility, both as individuals and within our corporate and community lives, to look out for children. Abuse against the innocent and trusting has been happening in our lifetime. It is never OK to look away. It is only as we all step up that abusive behaviours will be curtailed.

Circulation: 21,000 (publisher’s figure).


Deadlines: Advertising and editorial.

Executive Editor - Penny Mulvey Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Design, Digital Illustration and Print Services - Garth Jones Graphic Artist - Mirna Leonita Communications Manager - Nigel Tapp Digital Technology Officer - Graham Holtshausen Communications Officer - Tim Lam Advertising Co-ordinator - Lynda Nel Media Communications Officer - David Southwell

Please check exact dates on our website <>. Closing date for May – Friday 21 April 2017. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat Visit Crosslight online:



News Leading into a time of change THE Synod Standing Committee (SSC) has given the green light to the overarching design of the new mission and ministry unit of the Church. This was one of the recommendations of the Major Strategic Review adopted by Synod 2016 to enable an intentional, coordinated focus on mission. Synod resolved that this focus could be suppported by creating a new Mission & Capacity Building unit (working title). The unit is one of four key areas the SSC was authorised to restructure within synod-based ministries and operations. It will bring together activities of the Centre for Theology & Ministry, the Commission for Mission and BOMAR (Board of Mission and Resourcing). The unit will also support the coordination of ministry placements.

Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “I never design a building before I’ve seen the site and met the people who will be using it.” This was part of the approach of the Synod’s Implementation Team as it worked on creating the new Mission & Capacity Building Unit. Dr Jason Talbot is the Synod’s Strategic Review Implementation Director. He believes the workshops held last November and in January were crucial to the design direction of the new unit. “Our workshops brought together a range of people who represented various parts of the synod,” he said. “A lot of that input, as well as some excellent submissions and group discussions, helped us to confirm the approach. “What I take away from architects is that designing an excellent structure is about

talking to a wide cross-section of people, discerning the feedback, and being willing to adjust because of that feedback. In our case, it is not about a building, but about providing the structure that acknowledges the new and hopeful ways in which God is working.” As a result, the March SSC meeting approved a high-level framework for the new Mission & Capacity Building Unit to comprise four main functional areas. The areas are Leadership, Education and Formation; Relationships and Connections; Priorities, Focus and Advocacy; Functions and Administration. At the same meeting the SSC approved the ministry description of the executive officer who will lead the new unit. Synod general secretary, Rev Dr Mark Lawrence, believes the new Mission &

Capacity Building unit offers a leader an exciting opportunity to inspire in a time of change. “By bringing together operational areas that offer a range of resources and deep theological thinking, the new executive officer can nurture a culture of innovation that encourages the Church’s ongoing renewal,” Dr Lawrence said. “The Vision and Mission Principles and the Statements of Intent are central to the functions of this unit and the new direction of the unit’s work will provide a focus for the Strategic Priorities approved by the Synod.” The executive officer ministry position is currently being advertised and the person appointed will have a key role in shaping the change processes required to establish the new Mission & Capacity Building Unit.

the closure of the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres. It believes all refugees and asylum seekers detained offshore should be transferred to Australia. “The treatment of people seeking asylum in this country is one of our great shames,” Ms Hollis said. “They come seeking safety, security and a new home. ‘Instead of a welcome we lock them up and further traumatise them. We must continue to speak out against the cruelty of government policy. “I encourage all people of goodwill to come and walk on Palm Sunday to say ‘no’ to the current policy and ‘yes’ to being a generous, welcoming and inclusive country for refugees and people seeking asylum.” In August last year, the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments announced they will close the Manus

Island detention centre. Seven months on, more than 830 refugees remain on the island, in addition to the 378 refugees detained in Nauru. During the Palm Sunday walk, refugee supporters will urge the Australian government to ‘bring them here’. They will also call for justice for asylum seekers living in the Australian community. More than 30,000 people currently reside in Australia on bridging visas as they wait for their claims to be processed. Many of them fear deportation under the government’s fast-track assessment system. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection recently started sending letters to asylum seekers in the community, demanding they finalise their applications in as little as 60 days. The majority of these people have lived in Australia for several years but were prevented from applying for

a protection claim because of backlogs in the government system. Legal support services are concerned many applications are doomed to fail because of the fast-track process. Waiting lists for legal services can stretch for months. The applications forms are 60 pages long and filled with legal jargon that is difficult to understand for people without a legal background, particularly those who do not speak English as a first language. As in previous years, Wesley Church on Lonsdale Street will host a pre-walk gathering at 1pm. This event is open to people of all faiths. Ms Hollis will give an address before the group walks down to the State Library behind the UCA banner. There will also be a walk in Launceston this year. People can gather at Princes Square for a picnic from 12.30pm before the official walk begins at 2pm.

Walk for refugees

VIC/TAS moderator Sharon Hollis has described Australia’s treatment of people seeking asylum as a national shame ahead of this year’s Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees on 9 April. Ms Hollis will address the crowd as part of an interfaith panel alongside leaders from Australia’s Jewish and Islamic communities. She will then join other faith representatives in leading the walk from the State Library of Victoria. Speakers on the day include Nazir Yousafi (vice president of the Victorian Afghan Associations Network and a former refugee), Jane Wylie (a former teacher on Nauru) and Abdul-Hadi Matar (a former refugee and Sudanese community leader). Aziz, a Sudanese refugee detained on Manus Island for the past four years, will share his story via audio message. The Uniting Church has long called for APRIL 17 - CROSSLIGHT


Easter Celebrations at

St Michael’s

REV RIC HOLLAND LEADS THE EASTER CELEBRATIONS AT ST MICHAEL’S UNITING CHURCH Thinking of attending a church during Easter? Looking for an inspirational and contemporary spiritual experience? St Michael’s Uniting Church on Collins Street welcomes people of all faiths, and no faith. St Michael’s is known for presenting thought-provoking events by renowned international speakers and ministers; as well as world-class musicians in the architectural splendour of a heritage listed church. For a truly inspirational experience visit St Michael’s this Easter.





Palm Sunday Service. Those attending are invited to bring branches and greenery to be placed on the chancel.

A sombre Good Friday service of reflection the St Michael’s Singers will be performing Tomas Luis de Victoria and Edward Elgar.

Easter Sunday Service full of celebration with St Michael’s Brass Ensemble.

Address by Rev Ric Holland

Join us for the Way of the Cross, an ecumenical devotion, with St Michael’s and Melbourne City Churches in Action. A detailed itinerary at St Michael’s Doors open from

10am, Sunday 9 April

11am, Friday 14 April

5pm, Friday 14 April

Address by Rev Ric Holland

St Michael’s


Address by Rev Ric Holland 10am, Sunday 16 April

News UCA delivers apology and child safe pledge

POSITION VACANT PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Expressions of interest are invited for the full-time ministry placement in Alpine Regional Resource Ministry Ministering in the scenic valleys and mountains of North East Victoria, SGD OQHL@QX FDNFQ@OGHB@K @QD@ Q@MFDR EQNL ,@MRjDKC SN 3@KK@MF@SS@ @MC incorporates a number of towns in the area. This is a new, exciting and innovative presbytery placement and we are seeking someone with energy, enthusiasm and vision to resource, support, train and empower small congregations as they minister in their own unique communities.

across the synod.� The extent of the Church’s influence over independently incorporated schools was also raised in the course of the hearing. Mr McMillan said that the Church had relational and moral influence through its appointees to school boards and that there had been “significant conversations� since the beginning of the Royal Commission around frameworks, policies and practices, that went above and beyond whatever state legislation that might apply. He nevertheless admitted that consistent policies across all Uniting Church schools were “a work in progress�. The findings of at least 60 case studies, reports and research into aspects of child sexual abuse will be collated into the Royal Commission’s Final Report to be handed to the federal government by 15 December 2017.

POSITION VACANT ,_LJ\[P]L 6ɉJLY Mission & Capacity Building Unit [working title]


Originally published on the Uniting Church Assembly website.



Grammar and Shalom Christian College, Wesley Mission’s out-of-home care policies and procedures, and the Church’s approach to redress and civil litigation. However, until this case study the Church’s policies and procedures had not come under direct scrutiny. Mr McMillan, assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer and Queensland Synod general secretary Rev Heather den Houting were all called to give evidence. In the course of the hearing, Ms Geyer confirmed that the UCA’s national council had adopted all of the Royal Commission’s Key Elements of Child Safe Organisations into the recently revised National Child Safe Policy framework. Ms Geyer said that an implementation plan “will be rolled out throughout the Church so that we can be sure that policies and practices throughout our church will now be revised in light of this new framework.� Ms den Houting explained that synods would implement the national framework “then adapt the tools, policies, processes, practices and procedures and expectations


sexual abuse reported at an institution or place of worship of the Uniting Church since 1977. In his opening address to Case Study 56 of the Royal Commission, counsel assisting Angus Stewart SC detailed the scale of that abuse. The Royal Commission staff reviewed the available information and based on their review, they noted “255 claims made to or commenced against the Church that relate to child sexual abuse; and approximately $17.5 million has been paid by the Church in settlement of claims,� Mr Stewart said. Mr Stewart added: “As at 31 December 2016, 91 attendees at private sessions of the Royal Commission reported sexual abuse as children at an institution of the Church. This is 1.5 per cent of all reports given at private sessions.� Mr Stewart said, “A majority of these reports relate to experiences of child sexual abuse that has occurred at schools and out-of-home care facilities. Only 12 private session attendees reported sexual abuse as children at a place of worship within the Church. This represents 0.2 per cent of all private sessions.� Counsel for the Uniting Church Kate Eastman SC said that the Church would work with Royal Commission staff to clarify the data about the total number of incidents or allegations, and to give a clearer picture about whether they referred to allegations, inquiries or complaints as opposed to a finding or a report. Case Study 56 is the latest in a series of hearings in which the Royal Commission has asked institutions that have appeared before it to account publicly for their progress in implementing child-safe practices. Previous case studies involving the Uniting Church have focused on two schools, Knox


Uniting Church leaders appearing before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse pledged to survivors to make the Church the safest place it can be for children. President Stuart McMillan assured the Royal Commission hearing in Sydney on Friday 10 March that the Uniting Church would continue to apply the lessons learned from the Commission’s work. “As church leaders we pledge ourselves to continue to understand and to implement the lessons of the Royal Commission and remain open to the insights of survivors and professionals,� Mr McMillan said to a hearing room that included a number of abuse survivors. “We pledge to continuously seek improvement; to regularly renew our policies and practices in all parts of our Church, to ensure that they reflect the best practice for care, service and support of children. “We pledge to ensure that these priorities are integrated into our organisational culture and practices. This is our commitment to you.� Mr McMillan also re-stated an apology to children who had suffered sexual abuse either in the Church’s care or in the care of the UCA’s predecessor churches. “We are, and I am, deeply sorry that we didn’t protect and care in accordance with our Christian values for those children,� Mr McMillan said. “And I want to acknowledge the impact that it’s had in the lives of those young people and to say I’m truly sorry. “Our commitment to you is we will seek to make amends, and to ensure that others don’t suffer in the same way you have.� Mr McMillan made his statement after the Royal Commission announced there had been 2504 incidents or allegations of child


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Expressions of interest are invited for a fulltime ministry placement within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. ;OL ,_LJ\[P]L 6ɉJLY PZ H RL` SLHKLYZOPW YVSL YLX\PYLK [V lead and inspire in a time of change. This role will shape the development of a new Mission & Capacity Building Unit ^VYRPUN [P[SL ;OL \UP[ ^PSS VɈLY H ^PKL YHUNL VM M\UJ[PVUZ PUJS\KPUN [OLVSVNPJHS LK\JH[PVU MHP[O MVYTH[PVU SLHKLYZOPW KL]LSVWTLU[ ZVJPHS Q\Z[PJL YLZLHYJO HUK HK]VJHJ` NYHU[Z HKTPUPZ[YH[PVU HUK JOHWSHPUJ`" YLĂ…LJ[PUN Z[YH[LNPJ WYPVYP[PLZ resolved by the Synod in 2016. An intentional focus on mission will underpin everything the unit KVLZ PUJS\KPUN H[[LU[PVU VU JVU[L_[ YLSH[PVUZOPW I\PSKPUN UL^ MVYTZ VM JO\YJO -PYZ[ 7LVWSLZ JOPSKYLU `V\UN WLVWSL HUK MHTPSPLZ and cross-cultural communities. )HZLK PU 4LSIV\YUL [OL ,_LJ\[P]L 6ɉJLY ^PSS WYV]PKL SLHKLYZOPW in the delivery of services and promote collaborative and JVVYKPUH[LK YLSH[PVUZOPWZ HJYVZZ WYLZI`[LYPLZ JVUNYLNH[PVUZ and Synod-based resource and service teams and various facets of the wider Church. ;OPZ TPUPZ[Y` YLX\PYLZ [OL MVSSV^PUN RUV^SLKNL HUK L_WLYPLUJL!

Inquiries can be made to the Secretary of the Placements Committee of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania at:

ŕ Ž [LY[PHY` X\HSPĂ„JH[PVUZ HUK L_WLYPLUJL Z\JO HZ [OLVSVN` TPZZPVSVN` THUHNLTLU[ HUK SLHKLYZOPW H[ L_LJ\[P]L SL]LS ŕ Ž a sound knowledge of the Uniting Church in Australia and its WVSP[` Z[Y\J[\YLZ Z`Z[LTZ HUK WYVJLZZLZ ŕ Ž the ability to bring theological perspective to the development and implementation of operational plans and strategies ŕ Ž understanding strategic framework available at O[[WZ! ^^^ ]PJ[HZ \JH VYN H\ HIV\[\Z 7HNLZ =PZPVU 4PZZPVU HZW_ Applications close Wednesday April 26th


The placement will commence as soon as possible.


Legal Services



News The face of friendship DEB BENNETT

RHANEE Tsetsakos (nee Lester) is used to teaching people about her Indigenous culture. Growing up in the Uniting Church, participants in the UCA’s About FACE program were semi-regular guests in her Port Augusta childhood home. “I remembered how much I enjoyed it when I was a little girl and my parents were involved. I grew up having people come to visit us,” Ms Tsetsakos said. “It’s a bit scary inviting strangers into your


home, but my family has always been really welcoming of strangers. “We just always make time to meet new people and build relationships and see where it takes us. My parents are very fond of building relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.” The About FACE program has been running for more than 30 years. It is one of the ways the Uniting Church works with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to build understanding and respect between First and Second Peoples. Participants spend two weeks living in an Indigenous community building meaningful relationships with their hosts. Social justice officer Jill Ruzbacky is the coordinator of About FACE. She says the acronym stands for ‘faith and cultural exchange’ and points out the importance of the ‘cultural exchange’ aspect. “One of the things we emphasise is it’s not one of those programs where you are going to do something for someone. You’re not going to ‘fix a problem’,” Ms Ruzbacky said. “You’re going to live alongside Congress communities, to learn and share together. The program is about celebrating the covenant relationship between the UCA and the UAICC. “It’s hoped that people participating will be actively involved in both covenanting and working together for reconciliation both in the UCA and in their wider communities.” Ms Tsetsakos said the opportunity to teach others about Indigenous culture and traditions was something her extended family embraced. She said it is encouraging that so many people from all walks of life – and all ages – want to be involved. The last visit her parents hosted included two younger women, a woman in her 70s and Pastor Berlin Guerrero, who had recently arrived in Australia from the Philippines on a humanitarian visa. “We just treated them as if they were any other family member coming to stay with us,” Ms Tsetsakos said. “We gave them a rundown of who did what during the day and took them to different places so they came and saw where we worked and what we do in the community. “We took them up to the Flinders Ranges.

AboutFACE trip to Port Augusta

Aunty Denise Champion is my mum’s older sister. So with my mum and her two sisters, Aunty Denise and Aunty Colleen, we took them up to Wilpena Pound. “Along the way, Aunty Denise told them stories about the landscape and our kinship systems, so they got a real dose of some of our history and stories. “We had a great time with them; we did a bit of hiking and had lunch together in the Pound. On the way back we took them out to a bed and breakfast near Devil’s Peak and shared some more stories and time together.” Ms Tsetsakos said the experience had been particularly eye-opening for one of the young girls on the trip. “Kate didn’t actually realise the history of Aboriginal people and the struggles they had been through. It really touched her. “When she went back to Sydney she ended up quitting her job and going to uni to become a history teacher so that she could teach the true history of Australia in schools,” Ms Tsetsakos said. “It touches me when I think that if she hadn’t come on that journey and learnt what she did then she wouldn’t be on the

journey she is on now. “I think about all the students she will influence – it all started from About FACE.” Ms Tsetsakos said that About FACE was a shared experience that enriches both hosts and visitors. She told how at a church service in Port Augusta the About FACE participants were asked why they had decided to take part. “Berlin was the first one to answer and what he said blew us all away,” Ms Tsetsakos said. “He told us the story about how he wanted to come to Australia and the danger that he was facing in the Philippines. He thought that it was really important that he came and spent time with Aboriginal people and asked them permission to live in their country and bring his family over here. “I was in tears when I heard that. He wanted to get permission from the First People to live in their land with his family for their own safety and wellbeing.” Applications for the 2017 program close on Friday 5 May. To learn more go to: or contact Jill Ruzbacky:


News Unearthing the early life of Victoria DAVID SOUTHWELL

A CHURCH carpark has been peeled back to provide a rare and fascinating peek into the lives of Victoria’s early settlers. The archaeological work at Wesley Church on Lonsdale St is being conducted as part of heritage requirements of the site’s redevelopment. The carpark excavation has uncovered the lower structural remains of six singlestorey terrace houses and an earlier building thought to date back to before the 1850s. Jeremy Smith, principal archaeologist with Heritage Victoria, is overseeing the dig and said it represents one of the most important finds in past 10 years. “This one ranks within the top four or five based on the significance of the condition, the age of what we are finding. It’s a very old site,” he said. “There’s nice layers to the archaeology you can see here.” The six houses, which are shown on early maps of the area, are thought to date back to the 1860s. “There were different families and different residents here at different times,” Mr Smith said. “In the 1860s and 1870s the cottages were supporting factory workers but become valuable as residencies after that.” Mr Smith said that although council rates and other historical records might show who owned the buildings they didn’t necessarily reveal who lived in them. “The historical record gives us a one dimensional insight. The archaeology gives us a reality,” he said. The range and quality of artefacts at the site are particularly valuable because many were from before Victoria’s Gold Rush and resembled early colonial items more

commonly found in Sydney or Tasmania. “If we get a new understanding of the ethnicity or growth of Melbourne, or who was here before the Gold Rush, what they were using, what materials were available, what they were eating then we can present that back to the public,” Mr Smith said. “It’s a very strong collection. There’s very little 20th century disturbance on the site so the archaeology is intact, there’s a lot of it. “The good thing about this site is that we will end up with a collection of 20,000 pieces.” The historical records and artefacts point to at least two female-headed families living in the houses in the middle to late 1800s and later Chinese residents. Among the collected artefacts are ceramics, including Wedgewood oriental style china plates and a plate decorated with an Uncle Tom’s Cabin motif; bottles of varying

ages; children’s toys such as porcelain dolls, marbles and miniature tea cups; clay pipes with commemorative themes and jewellery; including some gold and precious metal pieces which would have been relatively valuable. There is also a whale tooth, perhaps reflecting the early whaling industry of Victoria. Michelle Cleary, who works for archaeological consultants Dr Vincent Clark and Associates, said the collection was genuinely surprising. “We were thinking this is going to be a fairly poor area, but some of the ceramics are actually associated with slightly more wealthy, middle class, artefacts like the china,” she said. “They actually had very nice possessions in the houses. In some ways the depth of the

deposit was interesting, the fact that they had cellars. We weren’t really expecting that.” There are still roughly eight weeks of archaeological work to done on the Wesley site before work begins on a new 39-storey office building and surrounds. The unexpected historical richness of the site has attracted wider interest. Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne was recently an appreciative visitor, while Channel 9 and the Herald Sun newspaper have featured stories on the findings. “It’s one of the most amazing blocks in the city,” Ms Cleary said. “Without Wesley and the Uniting Church being good caretakers it would have been lost forever.” The historical insights the site has offered up will be incorporated in a display in the new Wesley Place development.

Items found at the Wesley archaeological site

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For more information please contact Rev Dr Christopher Page: E: or M: 0417 506 338



Toorak Uniting Church is offering two Bursaries to regional Victorians to view the Exhibition and attend the Symposium from 11 – 13 May (includes travel to Melbourne, accommodation and registration).

For further enquiries email


Exhibition: 7 April – 26 May 2017 Australia & ‘The Divine Image’ Symposium: 11 - 13 May 2017

Communications will prepare some helpful hints and post them on line, including details of how to send your video clip to us. A compilation of these celebratory stories will be aired at Synod 2017.

Following Christ...


Sponsored by UCA Funds Management and the Centre for Theology & Ministry

How about grabbing your smart phone and creating a video of some of the justice, mission and ministry activities of your church?

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Is your congregation doing exciting and creative work with young people? Are you a crosscultural church? Are you engaged in new and renewed expressions of mission and ministry?

SYNOD 2017


News Circles of support

MOST people have a network of friends they can call on for support, but for those living with a disability these connections may be harder to foster due to stigma and social isolation. ‘Circles of support’ is a concept that originated in Canada in the 1980s to describe a group of people who gather regularly to support the goals, interests and needs of a person with a disability. Each circle is tailored to the individual and the group size can range from as small as three supporters to more than 20 people. Fiona Bottcher is a Uniting Church candidate for ministery who worships at Brunswick Uniting Church with Jack, her 14-year-old son. Jack is non-verbal and has autism. Ms Bottcher believes worship and participation in congregational activities would become much richer for her and Jack if a circle of support was in place. “I think it’s a wonderful idea for a congregation,” she said. “Brunswick Uniting Church has been very inclusive and welcoming of Jack and he can move around the worship space as he needs to. I know there are people in the

congregation who would love to be able to do more to support us. “But, as a parent, it can be very hard to go up to someone and say ‘would you like to help? Do you feel comfortable doing this with my son?’” Ms Bottcher said a circle of support means there will always a group of people she can rely on to assist and interact with Jack when she is at church. “It’s beneficial for both me and my son because I can engage with other people in a worship space and not always have my eyes on him. He gets to engage with other people instead of being around his mum all the time,” Ms Bottcher said. “I also think it’s empowering for the people who want to help because they have a structured way to say ‘yes I’d like to help – this is what I feel like I’m capable of ’. Everyone wins out of it.” The synod is organising two introductory sessions at 130 Little Collins St for people interested in circles of support. They are designed for individuals who wish to start a circle of support for themselves and church members keen on implementing the concept in their own congregations.

Mission-focused future

HOW presbyteries will carry out their pastoral ministry of supporting congregations and ministers and encouraging mission is an important issue facing the church. The Presbytery Transition Team (PTT) is talking with presbytery standing committees and presbytery ministers and office bearers throughout Victoria and Tasmania. Formed following a resolution of the 2016 Synod meeting, the PTT works with the Strategic Implementation Team to “develop a flexible new model or models of presbytery resourcing and ministry”. Rev Paul Stephens is convenor of the eight-person team and has ministered in congregational, agency and presbytery settings. He said the team is still at the information gathering stage, and is busy listening and learning from the experience of presbytery and synod leaders and the wider church. Mr Stephens said the team has been greatly impressed by the energy and commitment of presbytery leaders, especially during this time when presbyteries were unclear about the future shape of their ministry teams. “Our aim is to help the Church reflect on how presbyteries will operate in the future, recognising that we are living in a time of enormous change and challenge


The information sessions will be conducted by Michelle Veale, a circles of support facilitator with UnitingCare lifeAssist. Ms Veale compared the circles to a ‘think tank’ that gathers and plans ideas to help the person in the centre of the circle. She believes it is a simple idea that can have far-reaching benefits for both the person being supported and others in the circle. “We are introducing natural relationships in a very purposeful way,” Ms Veale said. “It’s a learning experience for other people in the circle as well.” There are two sessions to choose from: Saturday 6 May 10am12pm or Thursday 18 May 6pm8pm. RSVP to andy.calder@ at least two days prior to the session to confirm your attendance.

Jack and Fiona Bottcher

Candidates spread their wings

for the life and ministry of the Church,” Mr Stephens said. “We have engaged in conversations with other churches and other synods, and had a lengthy discussion with the moderator of Queensland. “We are also seeking to learn from the experience of partner churches overseas and have been in communication with the United Church of Canada and also wellknown theologian Darrell Guder from the Presbyterian Church USA.” Team members were appointed by the Synod Standing Committee (SSC). The team is designed to be representative and includes members with rural and metropolitan experience, a member from Tasmania and someone from the CALD community. Mr Stephens said common themes are already emerging and the team will present a report to the Synod Standing Committee in August with suggested recommendations for the September Synod meeting. For more information contact Paul Stephens, E:

A DESIRE to give candidates for ordained ministry the opportunity to experience life outside of the bubble of metropolitan Melbourne has led to rural ministry placements becoming part of students’ formation experience. Candidates for ordained ministries within the church must complete two supervised field education placements during their period of formation. These placements take place in congregations, agencies, schools, hospitals and community settings. But, because they usually occur during the academic year, students have tended to be limited to metropolitan ministry while continuing to study at Pilgrim Theological College. Sue Withers, the field placement coordinator at the Centre for Theology and Ministry, said she had been trying for some time to ensure candidates had the opportunity for rural ministry intensives. Kathryn Stoel-Cousineau recently spent time in Tasmania, the second student in recent years to be based in the state. She welcomed the challenge of being at Kingston in Tasmania during a period when its minister, Colin Gurteen, was on leave in January. “With Colin away I was given a lot of freedom,” she said. “I had more scope to do some things in worship which I have wanted to do and obviously I am also at a different stage in my formation than I was when I did my

first placement (at Wesley in Geelong).” Kingston has an on-site community of 12 young people with disabilities and has been active in that area of ministry for many years. “I read about the community in Crosslight, so I thought this would be a unique opportunity and I found it really exciting.” Ms Stoel-Cousineau said giving students the opportunity to undertake their placements outside of metropolitan Melbourne was certainly a bonus. “It’s a great experience, particularly for those who come from a background where they have lived all of their life in the city.” Kingston Uniting Church council chairperson Claire Wherrett said the local community also benefitted from the visit. “It is a wonderful idea to put students in different ministry settings because it gives them a vision of how other churches function,” she said. “I think Kathryn really enjoyed becoming part of the community and seeing how it works. It has also helped us share the vision and mission of Kingston further.” All candidates for ministry also visited Tasmania in February to work with Congress members and other ministry workers in an intensive learning experience. “I am hoping these sorts of collaborations can be developed with other Presbyteries and the College,” Ms Withers said. “It is an invaluable experience for candidates for ministry to work with experienced ministers in different contexts.”


News Bethlehem University – an oasis of peace in the Holy Land HEATHER R MATHEW

STUDENTS at Bethlehem University face many restrictions in their daily lives, the institution’s vice-chancellor Brother Peter Fray (pictured) told a February public gathering at Elm Street Hall in North Melbourne. Movement is even more restricted since the 2005 encirclement of Bethlehem by the separation wall, which has four checkpoints on its perimeter. Travel within Israel/ Palestine is subject to numerous physical barriers apart from the separation wall: there are many checkpoints scattered across the land, as well as ‘flying checkpoints’ that appear unpredictably. Checkpoints or barriers may be closed arbitrarily, requiring often arduous detours. A student from Jerusalem, for example, cannot predict how long the bus journey may take. Once the bus arrives at the checkpoint occupants may be subjected to a cursory check or they may be required to leave the bus and stand for long intervals in the hot sun while their papers are checked. They may also be strip-searched. Yet students display courage and resilience in confronting this uncertainty, anxiety and

fear, which Brother Peter continues to find inspiring. Resistance is not terrorism, Brother Peter reminded his audience. It is important to resist, it takes courage and persistence. Once the students reach the campus of Bethlehem University, however, they can feel safe. At Bethlehem University, they are nurtured in a peaceful oasis with attractive gardens carefully cultivated to offer students a sense of beauty, of calm, of safety that contrasts with their world outside. Bethlehem University was established in 1973 as a joint venture between the Vatican and the De La Salle teaching order. It has 16,000 graduates with a current enrolment of 3200 students. While less than 2 per cent of the people of Israel/ Palestine are Christians, Bethlehem University ensures that around one-third of its students are Christian. This builds understanding and a sense of community, without proselytising. The Church has a prophetic role: Bethlehem University aims to enact the words of Jesus

from Gospel of John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” The campus aims to provide an environment, atmosphere and opportunities through which its students can live life to the full. It cannot allow fear to paralyse its mission, although Brother Peter said that he is often outside his comfort zone. The Christian presence is made visible through words and practices that are inclusive. This faith can be the antidote to fear. Asked, ‘Is there a hope for change in Palestine?’ Brother Peter said he holds little hope at the moment. But then, with a note of optimism, he said: “Look at what happened in South Africa, Northern Ireland, the fall of communism in East Germany, and East Timor.” Brother Peter Bray was presented by the congregation of Mark the Evangelist, North Melbourne, in collaboration with the Palestine/ Israel Ecumenical Network Inc. (PIEN). To learn more or support the work of Bethlehem University visit

SOCIAL media has changed the way people find their news. With a quick Twitter search or a scroll through Facebook, users can tune in to the latest political developments, from breaking news out of Parliament House to updates from the other side of the world. Many politicians now communicate directly with their followers through social media, bypassing the traditional media gatekeepers. Donald Trump regularly uses Twitter to send unfiltered bursts of 140 characters to his devout supporters. Young people, in particular, rely on social media as their primary news source. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, this trend is spreading to other demographics with an increasing number of Gen Xers using social media to consume news. The Crosslight team publishes daily online stories to help congregation members keep in touch with the Church. But these stories can easily be lost amongst the deluge of fake news, pop culture memes and cat videos that swamp social media news feeds. The synod’s Communications and Media Services unit has created a Facebook

NewsBot to help readers stay up-to-date with what is happening in the Uniting Church. The friendly UCA NewsBot will deliver new Crosslight online stories straight to subscribers’ Facebook messenger inboxes every weekday. Users can subscribe by clicking ‘send message’ on the Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania Facebook page. The NewsBot will respond by giving you three options – subscribe, visit VicTas website or leave a message. Select ‘subscribe’ and follow the prompts to complete the process. Readers can unsubscribe from the daily updates at any time by typing in ‘unsubscribe’. The NewsBot will also occasionally send out church-related news alerts to people who subscribe to this service. During the Synod 2017 meeting in September, the NewsBot will send updates when significant proposals are passed. The NewsBot is young and still learning, so if it is unable to respond to your query it will pass on your message to one of its human companions. Social media has become an important

church communication tool, especially for young people to connect with one another outside the Sunday services. Even Pope Francis, a self-confessed technology ‘dinosaur’, described the internet and social media as “a gift from God”. The VicTas synod has launched a new Instagram account this month to showcase stories from the next generation of Uniting Church leaders. It will be a space for young people to share their hopes and vision for the Church with the rest of the synod. As part of the 40th anniversary, photos celebrating the history and future of the Church will also be shared over coming months. Church members are encouraged to join in the celebrations by posting photos of their congregations, accompanied by the hashtag #AllOfThisIsUs.

Introducing the UCA NewsBot TIM LAM


You can follow the synod Instagram account by searching ‘ucavictas’ inside the Instagram app. If your church is already on Instagram, let us know by following @ucavictas or emailing 9

Reflection They had no choice ANIMALS have served in war for hundreds of years, from elephants during the time of Hannibal, to the present day bomb-sniffing dogs used in the Afghanistan conflict. If pressed to nominate a famous animal who served in war, many of us would mention Murphy (also known as Duffy, or Abdul), Simpson’s first donkey – the Gallipoli donkey who became part of Australia’s national psyche. The Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation (AWAMO) recognises the role of animals serving alongside their human comrades on the battlefield. Since 2010 it has established 30 war animal memorial plaques within Australia and internationally. On 21 July this year, the AWAMO will open Australia’s official war animal memorial in Pozieres, France. Pozieres, a small village in the Somme valley, was the scene of costly fighting by Australian troops in 1916. The AWAMO will display purple poppies to commemorate the contribution and sacrifice of animals during wars and conflict. People are invited to crochet or knit purple poppies to be taken to Pozieres and displayed at the ceremony. The poppies will be laid at the ceremony and some of the knitted or crotched poppies will be made into a horse blanket as part of the memorial. Horses played a pivotal role in World War I transporting troops, hauling supplies and equipment, and participating in cavalry charges.

More than 136,000 horses were sent with Australian troops in WWI. These sturdy horses, originally from NSW, became known as ‘Walers.’ When peace was declared, many Australian light horsemen were shocked to learn their horses were not coming home, due to quarantine regulations. More than 13,000 horses were sold or transferred to other armies. Over 3000 were destroyed. Only one, Major General Sir William Bridge’s horse, named ‘Sandy’, returned at the end. In 1918, he was put out to pasture at the Central Remount Depot at Maribyrnong. Animals were also subjected to artillery fire and gas attacks. Special nose plugs were developed for horses so they could breathe during a gas attack. Later, gas masks were made for dogs and horses. Dogs have also served alongside Australian troops. In WWI both sides employed dogs on the battlefield, especially in the trenches, where terriers hunted and killed rats. There were also sentry dogs, scout dogs, casualty dogs (or mercy dogs: trained to locate the wounded on battlefields. They were equipped with medical supplies and remained with badly wounded soldiers) and messenger dogs. One German messenger dog, a doberman named Roff, was captured by the 13th Battalion near Villers-Bretonneux in May 1918. His name was changed to ‘Digger’ and he became a mascot for the unit. After the war he was taken to England, and placed in quarantine kennels. Due to quarantine regulations, he was unable to make the trip to Australia, so he remained in the kennels, dying of an illness in 1919. After his death he was stuffed and mounted, and is on display in the Australian War Memorial.

Gunner was a dog whose amazing hearing helped defend Darwin from enemy bombs in World War II. Aircraftman Percy Westcott rescued this six-month-old stray kelpie pup from the wreckage of Darwin after Japanese planes had bombed the city in 1942. Gunner could hear Japanese bombers before they showed up on the radar. Apparently he knew the difference between enemy aircraft and allied aircraft. He was so reliable that Westcott was given approval to sound a portable air siren whenever Gunner’s whining alerted him. The dog helped alert Darwin’s citizens during 60 raids, saving many lives. The Dickin medal is awarded for animal war service. The animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross was instituted in 1943 by Maria Dickin, founder of the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA), a British veterinary charity. The bronze medallion bears the words: ‘For Gallantry’ and ‘we also serve’, encircled by a laurel wreath. The green, brown and blue stripes symbolise the naval, land, and air forces. This was not the first award for animal war service; prior to the Dickin medal, a pigeon named Cher Ami was awarded the Croix de Guerre by France for helping to save 200 men during World War I. Carrier pigeons played a vital role, getting messages through enemy lines. Their success in reaching destinations saved thousands of people. The Dickin Medal has been awarded 66 times, the recipients being 32 pigeons, 29 dogs, three horses and one cat. At least two Australian carrier pigeons have been awarded the Dickin Medal for their service during World War II. One carried a message through a tropical storm, bringing

help to an army boat carrying vital cargo. The other carried a message through heavy fire, bringing relief to a patrol surrounded by the enemy, which had no other means of communication. In Vietnam, Australian troops left behind 11 black Labrador tracker dogs, which was a great source of grief; nowadays dogs who serve overseas come home. Last April, three dogs were included in the Anzac Day March in Mackay. In Ulverstone, Sparky, an explosives detection dog who served in Afghanistan, marched as well. Animal war service is ongoing, using hightech equipped explosives detection dogs, as well as more traditional tracker dogs and guard dogs. We know that animals continue to make a vital contribution in the war effort overseas and at home. Pet therapy is important for many returned servicemen, with a number of organisations training dogs (and, in some cases, cats) to bring comfort and raise self-esteem for those injured in body, mind, and soul. In November 2004, an ‘Animals in War’ memorial was unveiled in London’s Hyde Park. One of its inscriptions is short but poignant: ‘They had no choice.’ In the Australian War Memorial sculpture garden, a monument, acknowledging the contribution of animals in war, was unveiled in 2009, a joint project between the Australian War Memorial and the RSPCA.

Rev Barbara Allen Spirituality and Project Worker

Please post your poppy or poppies to: AWAMO HQ 13 Primrose St South Toowoomba. Old. 4350. For more information, or to view a patterns for poppies go to:

Pics courtesy: Australian war dogs combat profiles



Reflection New ways of remembering Anzac KEEPING memory alive, that is the legacy of the Anzac spirit. It has become especially important as we continue to recall the centenary events of World War I, a war that brought profound suffering and great slaughter to the countries of Europe and their allies on both sides. As we have been ever aware during the commemoration of World War I, the events on the Western Front were so grotesque as to be unimaginable. For example during the first days on the Somme, row upon row of soldiers were ordered out of the trenches into withering machine gun fire. Amongst the trenches and the mud and the blood of ‘no man’s land’ dead bodies piled up like walls that had to be climbed over by the next wave of troops. The experience of the 20th century has shown that the ‘war to end all wars’ did no such thing. It had the opposite effect. Wars have proliferated. Weapons have ever more power and reach, and


the once outlawed “collateral damage”, meaning attacks on civilians, now seems to be a matter of course. Sadly the effects of 1914-18 reach right into our time as daily reports of ‘terrorist’ attacks signal the response of many to their suffering, which is coupled with their frustration at the denial of their hopes for justice; feelings that often have their source in events that are decades, or even centuries old. At 11am this Anzac Day an ecumenical service will be held in St Paul’s Cathedral at which attendees will lament the losses of war and pray for peace and an end to war. They will renew their pledge to be peacemakers and continue to resist the pervasive power of militarism in our nation and in the world.

This service is taking place because the planning group believes it is time to graft a new narrative onto the vine of Anzac. A narrative that recognises the truth of the past – the bravery, the suffering, the losses and the grief – but does not stop there. A narrative that seeks to build a new story that learns from the past, and genuinely commits to turning swords into ploughshares, exchanging death and destruction for life and wellbeing, justice and peace for all God’s people. Seeking a new narrative for Anzac Day is consistent with practising the Christian faith. To take one example from the resources of faith, we have only to read the Beatitudes thoughtfully to realise that its message runs against the grain of the mood that prevails in the season of Anzac.

It is this narrative of memory and hope that we seek to make vibrant as we offer prayers on Anzac Day. To worship in this way could be seen as an act of resistance. Yet from within the Anzac narrative itself there are little-publicised stories that tell of those who advocated against war as the solution to the problems facing the world. Brave women and men who resisted the conscription of soldiers but who also gave their service to minister to the suffering and dying. In the age of global terrorism, it may seem impossible to advocate for pacifism. But it is militarism, and the greed that fuels it, that has brought us to this point. The time has come for us to make a concerted effort to find a new approach. Seeking a new way of remembering does not mean forgoing our cenotaphs and stained glass windows. Rather it is to dig deeper into our traditions of faith and hope and memory that can empower us to live in new ways, as active citizens joined in movements to rid the world of war, looking for the day when ‘never again’ will be a real possibility. Wes Campbell, for the Ecumenical Anzac Service Group


Profile Licence to print money NIGEL TAPP

on the poker machine issue for the next seven years. His book raises many questions about government decisions which have helped the Farrells become one of Australia’s richest families. Mr Boyce’s re-examination of the circumstances surrounding the fall of the Bethune Liberal Government in 1972 – and its replacement by a pro-Federal Reece Labor Government – has led to calls for Tasmania police to reopen a 1973 corruption investigation. Then-deputy premier Kevin Lyons resigned under a cloud of bribery and political corruption allegations. Mr Lyons held the balance-of-power at the time and his resignation forced an election as Angus Bethune lost majority government support on the floor of the Lower House.

James Boyce at the Launceston Casino

TASMANIAN author and Wesley Hobart member James Boyce’s examination of the often cosy relationship between Tasmanian governments and gambling giant Federal Hotels over the last 50 years is certainly timely. Mr Boyce’s latest book, Losing streak – How Tasmania was gamed by the gambling industry, investigates a litany of poorly conceived government decisions made over several decades, which seem to have benefitted no one except Federal Hotels. The company was granted the first casino licence in Australia by the Reece Labor Government and opened the doors of Wrest Point Hotel Casino in the exclusive Hobart suburb of Sandy Bay in 1973. Federal won the licence for the state’s second casino – in Launceston – less than a decade later, a deal which also attracted controversy. But key to Federal’s growth was monopoly control of all pokies in the state. That arrangement began in the early 1990s and was extended in 2003 – when it still had five years to run – without any attempt by the state Labor government to put the licences out to an open tender. The deal can be terminated next year but with a five-year expiration period. With a state election due in 2018, the role of pokies in Tasmania is expected to be heavily debated in coming months. By 2002 Tasmania, the most socioeconomically disadvantaged state in the nation, had one poker machine for every 84 people of gambling age compared with one-to-101 in Victoria. The number of problem gamblers in Tasmania has swelled alarmingly since the arrival of the pokies. While those who play the pokies have not been winning, neither has the government in the form of tax receipts. The only people pocketing big money, it seems, have been those behind the Federal Group, particularly the Farrell family. In 1993, Federal made an annual profit of $596,000. By 2003-2004 that had risen to $29 million and increased by $11 million 12

just in the five years between 1997 and 2002, thanks mainly to the control of the Tasmanian pokies market. Tasmania is estimated to have lost between $400 million to $700 million in tax revenue due to the monopoly relationship with Federal Hotels. Mr Boyce says in his book that if the ownership of all poker machines had been put out to tender in 2003, the government could have renegotiated a very different return, ensuring vital funds for Tasmania’s under-resourced schools, hospitals and other social services. “The terms of the remarkably generous pokies contract with Federal Hotels means that not even the harshest critic could claim the government’s gambling policy was driven by a commitment to maximise financial return,” Mr Boyce argues. Mr Boyce, who has been short-listed for almost every major Australian literary award, is no Johnny-come-lately to the pokies debate. For more than two years he was the manager of social action and research at Anglicare, responsible for gaming investigation and advocacy. He was then engaged in consultancy work

It is now known Mr Lyons: • Received a $1000 loan from Federal Hotels in the weeks before resigning • Was advanced $25,000 (about $150,000 in today’s money) by British Tobacco to write his memoirs, which were never published • His newly-established public relations company was engaged by Federal after he resigned although the nature of the work undertaken has never been made clear • Land Mr Lyons owned in Hobart was sold to a company linked to Tasmanian bookmakers. “Subsequent revelations have confirmed

monopoly casino licence is a result of wrongdoing, and unless the investigation is reopened a stench will (continue to) surround this whole affair,” Mr Wilkie said. Mr Boyce argues that the pokies deal should not be renewed and Tasmania would be better off ditching the ‘onearmed bandits’ altogether. He said the government was only obligated to see the current deal through to expiration in 2023 (by giving the required five years’ notice in 2018) and did not have to give a reason for ending it. Banning pokies would lead to only one big loser, Federal, as it holds the licence with only a few pubs and clubs not owned by Federal making money out of machines. Mr Boyce said the government spent $5 million a year to collect $55 million in taxes and licence fees from Federal but only $10 million to secure the remaining $820 million in annual state taxes. “Over the period from 1990-91 to 2012-13, while pokies proliferated across the island real gambling revenue to the Tasmanian government only increased from $65 million to $83 million, mainly because the introduction of the machines saw a directly associated decline in revenue from other forms of gambling,’’ Mr Boyce said. Mr Boyce suggests a state lottery would provide as much revenue as hotel poker machines and pointed to the West Australian model as one which would provide a better return to the broader Tasmanian community. “Per capita government revenue from all forms of gambling in Western Australia

The Synod is a member of the Community Voice on Pokies Reform formed in November 2015 in response to the public debate about the future of poker machines in Tasmania. It provided a submission to the Tasmanian Parliamentary inquiry into the future of pokies in the state, which argued that the machines should be removed from pubs and clubs and only allowed, in a modified form, in the two casinos. Tasmanian members of the Church have also signed a petition organised through Community Voice on Pokies Reform, to show public support for getting pokies out of hotels and clubs in Tasmania.

that the police were never told the full truth about the moneys received by the (then) deputy premier,” Mr Boyce said. Independent Tasmanian MLC Andrew Wilkie, who launched Mr Boyce’s book in Hobart, has written to Tasmania Police Commissioner Darren Hine calling for the police investigation to be reopened. “Allegations remain that Federal Group’s

is actually $13 per person higher than in Tasmania, despite the state’s absence of high-intensity poker machines, mainly because of higher spending on lotteries,” he said. “In fact the WA system is effectively what Tasmania had in place before the 1993 Gaming Control Act allowed pokies in pubs and legalised the high-intensity machines.” CROSSLIGHT - APRIL 17







Lead us not into temptation Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word, that comes from the mouth of God.’ - Matthew 4:4 LENT is an important season of reflection on what Jesus Christ has done for us in terms of his life, death and resurrection, and what that means for us as Christians today. In this short reflection, I wish to try to highlight some of the ways the ‘tempter’ tries to lure us away from the Gospel, that is, from the “Word of God on whom salvation depends” (Basis of Union paragraph 5). The aim is to help us to stand firm with confidence on “every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Jesus, in his baptism, begins his public ministry by declaring his total and irrevocable commitment to us as sinners; a commitment that would entail going down the via Dolorosa or the way of the cross. God the Father is indeed pleased with his Son because of his willingness to stand in complete solidarity with us ‘even unto death’ (Philippians 2:8). In his baptism, Jesus commits to fulfilling God’s plan of salvation on the cross by becoming the ‘Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Immediately after Jesus’ baptism, he is led into the desert where he fasts for 40 days and for 40 nights and is tempted by the devil. Each of the temptations in their own way pose an alternative path of salvation to Jesus other than the way of the cross. That is, Satan questions the necessity of the cross, particularly because, as Satan stresses, Jesus is already ‘the Son of God’ who has the power to turn stones into bread. Why take the way of the cross when you can have your glory now, Satan argues.

It is Satan’s method of trying to change the course of salvation history that is of particular interest here. In the second temptation (Matthew 4:6) it is striking that the devil cites Holy Scripture in order to lure Jesus away from fulfilling God’s plan of salvation. Satan quotes Psalm 91, which speaks of the protection that God promises to those who believe. Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) argues that Satan comes across in the guise of a Bible expert, one who can quote the Psalm exactly. That is, Satan poses as a theologian or a great Scripture scholar. In other words the second temptation takes the form of a dispute between two Bible scholars. This should not be seen as a rejection of scholarly biblical interpretation (as propounded by paragraph 11 of the Basis of Union), but as Razinger writes, “an eminently salutary and necessary warning against its possible aberrations.” That is, a warning against the misuse of scholarly exegesis to try and destroy the figure of Jesus and to dismantle the Christian faith. Ratzinger put it in this way: “The common practice today is to measure the Bible against the so-called modern worldview, whose fundamental dogma is that God cannot act in history – that everything to do with God is to be relegated to the domain of subjectivity. And so the Bible no longer speaks of God, the living God; no, now we alone speak and decide what God can do and what we will and should do.” To further highlight the stealthy nature of the devil’s temptations, let us look at the

way Satan tempted Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:1 reminds us that “the serpent was more cunning than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” The serpent poses to Eve the question, “Did God really say, ‘you must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” The serpent simply tries to create doubt in the minds of the human beings by suggesting the possibility that perhaps they have misheard God, or perhaps God did not mean it in that way. Famed German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes that “the decisive point is that through this question, did God really say the idea is suggested to the human being of going behind the word of God and now providing it with a human basis—a human understanding of the essential nature of God.” That is, as Bonhoeffer states, “the question is thus one that is put by a forked tongue, for it plainly wants to be thought of as coming from God’s side … The serpent claims to know more about God than the human being who depends on God’s word alone.” The cunningness in Satan’s question, is that it comes across as being innocuous and harmless. But, it is precisely in its being innocuous that “evil wins its power in us and through which we become disobedient to God”. How can we recognise the truth in the light of falsehood? Jesus said (John 8:31): “If you continue in my word, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. As Bonhoeffer contends, “not through

free research, not through disinterested thinking and searching for it, but solely through the free attempt to base one’s life for once completely on the word of Christ; for once to live totally with him, to live by following him, to hear him, to obey him. Only the one who has completely dedicated his life in this way can judge whether Christ speaks and is the truth. Only in living does one know the truth.” May God grant us the strength to stand firm with confidence on “every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Rev Dr Hedley Fihaki Minister

Power of the cross

I HAVE worn a cross around my neck every day for the past 20 years. It was a gift from a friend, Kathleen, who was our minister at the time. I wear it to remind me that I am a follower of Christ – the One who is the giver of new life and hope for the whole world. 14

Many people wear crosses. They are displayed in churches, homes, schools and in sacred spaces throughout the world. It may seem odd that what was used to execute criminals during the Roman Empire has become so prominent as a Christian symbol. Jesus was executed on a

cross, because there were those who were threatened by his ministry – his message of love and justice, his advocacy for the poor and marginalised. For Christians the cross reminds us of Christ’s suffering for the life and ministry he lived. In Christ, we experience a God who compassionately seeks to alleviate our suffering. The cross also reminds us that death and despair could not contain Christ. In Christ’s resurrection we witness and experience God overcoming all that threatens to diminish us, all that may try to alienate us from God, from each other and from ourselves. When Jesus died, his followers were thrown into confusion, disbelief and grief. Jesus’ followers were fearful – hiding in locked rooms. Their hopes were dashed. The Risen Christ came to them –reassuring them, overcoming their fear. Their lives were transformed – they dared to hope again and live courageously embodying God’s love and healing in their own lives.

This hope and love is expressed today, as millions of people all over the world celebrate the central message of Easter and of the Christian message – Christ is Risen! I have recently spoken with people whose life experiences have been marked by suffering and trauma. Life has been a struggle. And yet, their experience of a living relationship with Jesus has transformed their lives. Their lives are sustained by God’s love and hope. People experience today, in Jesus, God’s message of hope that we can live differently. Love can shape our relationships. Equality, justice and peace can be the foundation of our societies. We can be reconciled to God and to each other. Healing and new beginnings are possible. As we celebrate Easter, may you dare to hope, as we recall once more Christ’s message of love and peace for all the world.

Dr Deidre Palmer President-elect of the UCA CROSSLIGHT - APRIL 17


Forgive us our sins In the 21st century, what should Christians make of the concept of “sin”? A long-gone relic or a necessary corrective in a society seduced by moral relativism and the cult of victimhood? Simon Gomersall explores sin, Easter and atonement.

IT is now conventional to assert that the language and concept of sin is irrelevant in both 21st century Australian society and church. Society has moved beyond sin. The church finds the concept quietly embarrassing. A by-product of Western society’s journey from theism (belief in a living God integrally involved in his creation) to deism (belief in a distant God merely watching a self-contained world) to naturalism, pantheism and a variety of other ‘isms’, has been the shedding of previously assumed moral categories. If God is redundant, or worse, nonexistent, then humanity becomes its own frame of reference in moral and ethical thinking. Alistair McFadyen – author of Bound to Sin – set out to explore the Christian notion of sin in a society where pragmatic atheism (even if we believe in God, we live as though we don’t) has the narrative advantage. He acknowledges the church’s complicity in this state of affairs, referring to the legitimate “suspicion that sin is a language of blame and condemnation encouraged by its flourishing in religious enclaves where it is used to whip up artificial and disproportionate senses of personal guilt and shame”. God-talk – let alone sin-talk – seems superfluous to the conversation we use to make sense of the world and our place in it. Suspecting that psychological, sociological and philosophical language carried inadequate explanatory power to describe concrete pathologies at work in the world, McFadyen explored two phenomena which he found everyone agreed were categorically wrong: the Holocaust and child abuse. Beginning from these existential reference points, unpacking the nature of the events, he concluded: “Sin is an essentially relational language, speaking of pathology with an inbuilt and at least implicit reference to our relation to God.” So perhaps there is a relationship between our capacity to see currency in the concept of sin and the degree to which we are attentive to and dependent on God? To be sure there are numerous biblical words and images within the conceptual boundaries of ‘sin’. The most common New Testament word used to describe ‘sin’ is hamartia, which means to ‘miss the mark’. An archer shoots an arrow and misses the target. Another is parabasis which means to transgress or trespass, stepping beyond aboundary. Another is anomia, often translated iniquity. This word means ‘without law’, implying the rejection of a prescribed regulation. Asebeia (ungodliness) means literally ‘no worship’, living without any reference to a Creator; parakoe (disobedience) means ‘refusing to hear’; opheilema (debt) speaks of owing to another some degree of obligation. At even at a casual glance, these

are strongly relational images and make little sense without an active deity setting targets, drawing boundaries, inviting worship, speaking guidance and entering into social contract. English theologian Alan Mann (author of Atonement for a Sinless Society) explores the impact of the loss of moral categories for contemporary society: “The stories we tell seldom, if ever, attribute sin, guilt or wrongness to ourselves. In turn, geneticists, sociologists and psychologists increasingly legitimise our narratives and allow us to live in the confidence that we do no wrong.” Mann goes on to describe the ‘cult of victim’ gripping the Western imagination.

They end up being torn between an artificially created ideal self and their real self. They are told there is nothing wrong with them, yet they live with a persistent and niggling feeling that they are falling short of something. When our real self never matches up to our ideal self, instead of feeling guilty (no need to, because there is no moral standard to transgress) we instead live lives of quiet desperation and shame. Shame is a powerful emotion. It drives us into a self-imposed isolation from God, others and even self to cope with its internal dissonance. What we need is ‘atonement’ (at-one-

It is always someone else’s fault: our parents, teachers, the government or, increasingly, the church. Philosophically, we assume the postmodern virtue of prescriptive relativism (that the presence of difference denies the affirmation of particular ideas or behaviours over others). All views are equally valid. We each define our own morality. What is right for you, might not be right for me. As young people are assured that classifications of right or wrong are relative and personal, they are simultaneously bombarded through electronic media with pervasive images of personal ideals: visually attractive, socially competent, vocationally successful and compassionately altruistic.

ment). We need to be made whole. The disparate parts of our ‘self ’ need to be woven back together alongside our relationships with others and, foundationally, our union with God. Ian McEwan’s novel Atonement – turned into a 2007 film (starring James McAvoy and Keira Knightley) – has given some currency to the word. It is the story of a young girl, Bryony Tallis, who falsely accuses her sister’s boyfriend of rape, sending him to jail and then to war. His life is ruined. The book is the story of Bryony’s guilt: her desperate seeking to somehow atone for what she has done. Instead of living in her wealthy parent’s estate in the safety of the country, Bryony

trains as a nurse, working in the most dangerous part of London during the blitz in World War II. She wants to do anything she can to make up for her terrible deception. Reading the book or watching the film, one senses the deep need we all have for forgiveness and reconciliation. The Christian faith proclaims that each of the breakages in our lives and relationships are symptoms of a much deeper rupture, a wound that lies at the very heart of creation. John Henry Newman put it: “We live in a world that is out of joint with the purposes of its creator.” Though not a Christian, McEwan, expressed it: “You cannot ignore it when something deep has gone wrong. Something needs to be done to make it right. Atonement needs to be made.” This is, of course, the very thing we celebrate at Easter. In the Easter event, atonement was made. “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:25) God stepped forward in Christ to be “delivered over to death for our sins and raised to life for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Creation’s rupture was ‘covered over’ (the literal meaning of the word ‘atonement’) with the Creator’s love and justice. Though the exact mechanism of this transaction might elude us (Charles Wesley’s words are helpful: “’Tis mystery all, the Immortal dies, who can explore this strange design?”) the result is an invitation to be ushered into the fullness of life Jesus offered in John 10:10. Easter is not so much about the darkness of sin as the wonder of forgiveness, restoration, liberation and new beginnings. But, as Lord Byron once said, “The beginning of atonement is the sense of its necessity”. Or to pinch a line from Don Francisco’s Christmas Song, “The rudeness of the setting ignites the jewel’s fire.” As we take the time on Easter Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death, let’s also enter fully into the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday traditions of quietly and deliberately searching our own hearts, naming rather than excusing our sin and self-interest. By doing this we might experience the truth proclaimed in Hebrews 9:14, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”

Simon Gomersall Simon Gomersall is a project officer (Gap Year and Leadership programs) at Trinity College Queensland. Caption C Cap Ca Captio ap apttio ion ion c capt caption ap apt pttion io on ca o capti caption aption pttio pt pti on n



Celebrating 40 years Logo stands the test of time NIGEL TAPP

JIM Gibson can’t help but feel pride every time he sees the distinctive dove and cross logo of the Uniting Church. “It is not a sense of pride in what I did but the fact I was part of a process which developed a symbol which is recognised everywhere,” he said. “It is the face of the Uniting Church and shows no sign of being diminished.” Two years before the Uniting Church came into being, the quaintly named Working Group on Paraphernalia and Titles was tasked with designing a logo and motto for the new denomination. Mr Gibson had the job of finalising the

design after key elements were suggested by West Australian Bob Evans (the cross over the broken circle, or wide ‘U’) and Queenslander Don Hutton (the dove with wings of flame). The dove wings symbolise the flame of the Holy Spirit descending on new Christians at Pentecost. Those suggestions were among many made by church people after initial work with a graphic design firm did not produce an acceptable result. “We really did not care for any of the firm’s ideas so we decided we should give the whole Church the opportunity to make submissions,” Mr Gibson said. Mr Gibson, a retired Brisbane architect and long-time member of the Indooroopilly Uniting Church, said the challenge had been to produce a logo that was practical, modern and made a bold statement.

ACC logo

Jim Gibson with the UCA logo

Mernda UC logo

Designing the emblem was far from the only task assigned to the working group. It was also responsible for making recommendations on names and titles for various bodies of the ‘new’ church as well as matters such as the mode of dress considered appropriate for ministers and the name given to a minister’s residence. What does the emblem symbolise? “The cross of Jesus Christ, in its light and love, stands over a darkened world redeeming it through grace and truth. By that cross his people in heaven and earth are bound to him and to each other. “The Holy Spirit, symbolised by the dove with the wings of flame, empowers and guides us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ. “The wide ‘U’ at the bottom of the emblem points to the fact that we are uniting. As a semi-circle it reminds also that the renewing of both church and world are, as yet, incomplete.” Explanatory public statement from the Joint Constitutional Council for the new church following the adoption of the emblem in November 1976.


“Generally, if a committee is asked to design a horse it will end up with a camel. But that did not happen in this case,” Mr Gibson said. “If I had set out to design the symbol by myself I would not have arrived at that design. So I cannot claim ownership of the emblem. I might have created the finished product but the contributors of the committee and church members were vital.” The logo design was unveiled in November 1976, but the group never settled on a motto, perhaps partly because the emblem speaks for itself. While the logo, sometimes referred to as the roundel, remains unchanged for the broader Church, variations of the iconic symbol have been employed by agencies and congregations. For example, the roundel’s dove forms part of the UCAF logo. Both Share and Uniting AgeWell have developed a brand that only uses the ‘watermark’ dove, instead of the full Uniting Church roundel. Some churches have created their own logos. Banyule Network of Uniting Churches uses an artistic cross as part of its name, and Mernda Uniting Church has created a cartoon version with people working, walking and playing on the design. In 2009, an editor’s note in Crosslight was highly critical of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations with the Uniting Church in Australia’s (ACC) logo, which also adopts the dove set within a cross but heading in the opposite direction to the traditional roundel. Rev Dr Max Champion, ACC national chair at the time, wrote a letter disputing the accusation that this represented the movement “flying away” from the church. “The ACC symbol has the dove and the flame together (as in the UCA symbol but not in the ‘watermark dove’) leading

the Church and the confessing movement forward from the Cross and the open Scripture,” Dr Champion wrote. More recently there has been controversy around branding for Uniting, the new community service arm of the Church which from 3 July this year will drop the name UnitingCare. There is no visible sign of the Uniting Church logo in the Uniting branding as used in NSW, and there were complaints that it showed no Christian identification at all. That the absence or alleged misuse of the logo can create such controversy speaks to the power of the enduring ‘brand’. Mr Gibson said he was surprised that the original design had remained for four decades but believed that it had strong graphic design principles and was easy to reproduce had greatly assisted. “We had no great expectations of its longevity – we thought it might last a few years,” he said. “I am quite amazed it has been kept like it has been for 40 years when there have been so many changes in the life of the Church. “That has been quite remarkable.” Perhaps a Catholic nun summed it up best when she told working group convenor Rev Frank Whyte: “I envy your church this emblem. It says everything!” Visual Identity Guidelines (“livery”) exist for the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. They can be found at Documents/Livery.pdf If you wish to use the Uniting Church logo, please read the official guidelines which can be found at the above address. Should you have any queries, please contact Garth Jones (Design & Creative Services) on (03) 9251 5273 or E: CROSSLIGHT - APRIL 17

Vision and Mission Seeing the Vision in action

IT repeatedly amazes me how the Synod’s Vision and Mission Principles come to life around me: not because of my effort, but rather because I notice something or hear a story. Of course, these things are on my mind a lot nowadays, so that’s maybe why. I’ll share some examples with you … 1. At a recent education day in my presbytery, I approached an older lady at morning tea who was unfamiliar to me and we introduced ourselves. She started by saying she had never been to “something like this before”. So I began by asking the obvious question: “Why did you come?” It turns out that she was very happy with her congregational life, her minister and her home and community situation. So why did she come to this session by a visiting speaker on the theme of “Practising the way of Jesus”? She hesitated and then said: “I just wish to be able to share Jesus’ message in real ways”. I felt she had shared something very special to her. She had a heart for the Gospel and an emerging desire to share that Good News. I think that by the word ‘real’ she was trying to express ideas related to genuineness and integrity in Christian life. She was an inspiring person stepping out in faith in her community and I was blessed by her faith. 2. Another woman was so keen to explore the new booklet on the Vision and Mission Principles that we arranged an ‘unofficial preview’ copy for her. With her leadership group, she used one page of the booklet which invited an engagement with the Vision Statement. Her feedback was an excited story of their group reflections. One participant commented on the Vision saying: “It spoke wonderfully of what our Church stands for and what being Church means to me”. Just the one page was enough for them – sitting with the Statement, giving time and space for personal and group reflection. The sharing was lively, honest and a little challenging. It helped energise their community – in their own way and their own context. It was both affirming and challenging. 3. On a recent visit to Warragul Uniting Church, I noticed their vision statement displayed in large print on the wall: ‘Living God’s Love Without Borders’. This is seen as a response to God’s love. It is not simply a statement of belief but, as Rev Bruce Wood was quick to tell me: “It’s an


action statement - an action to be lived out.” Below the statement on the wall was a story of the church’s growing connection with Vanuatu. This connection emerged from relationships developed with seasonal migrant workers who had become part of the congregation. The presence of these men enriched communal life and offered new possibilities in mission. Adjacent to the Vanuatu stories was a design for a proposed community garden project. The congregation is determined to live out this hope and to be a connected presence of God’s love. Their vision interplays creatively with the hopes of the Vision and Mission Principles adopted by the Synod.

following up opportunities and learning the heartbeat of the community. In some sense, they are learning and listening for what God might be saying to them. It’s not easy, but it’s never dull. Together with a team that has come on board, they have run kids’ activities at local markets, pop-up family events in the local park, and meditation and discussion groups in fledgling community facilities. Messy Church and Mainly Music are in the planning in co-operation with neighbouring congregations. Now the team sees the need for a ‘hub’ of some sort, and is trying raise funds to rent a house for a couple of years. May God continue

why the Vision and Mission Principles have been created and reflect upon our common call to be open to the renewing work of the Spirit in our life as church. Interwoven throughout the booklet are simple exercises that invite discussion and seek to provoke faithful questioning. These exercises could be used for personal reflection, in small groups and in various community contexts. I hope you find them engaging and helpful, and I invite you to use them by adding your own creative ideas to the processes suggested. As you may already be aware, the Vision and Mission Principles comprise the heart of a broader Strategic Framework adopted by the June 2016 Synod. Additional booklets, addressing other elements of the Strategic Framework, will be released in due course. This current booklet is designed to explore how the Vision and Mission Principles sit alongside and aid your community’s response to the call of the Holy Spirit to participation in God’s Mission. Ultimately, I pray that the booklet is an informative and helpful resource in the diversity of ministry and mission contexts across our synod. I hope that the booklet affirms and celebrates what is already happening among us (like the stories above) while also calling us to be communities who are: Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion, and justice for all creation. David Withers Strategic Framework Minister


Chris Machar also has an inspiring story. He has been called to lead a new initiative of church in Armstrong Creek - a new housing area near Geelong planned to grow to 60,000 residents. How does one begin? Chris explained they are simply making connections, building relationships,

to bless their faithful persistence and courage. As I write, a new booklet, Introducing the Vision and Mission Principles, is finally ready for release and distribution. The booklet attempts to explore the invitation and focus that is embodied in the Vision and Mission Principles, explain how and

Hard copies of Introducing the Vision and Mission Principles can be obtained by emailing a request to the Implementation Team at Strategic.ReviewImplementation@ Or they can be downloaded from the Synod website at Pages/Vision-Mission.aspx. You will also find a short video of the Moderator introducing the booklet on this link which you may wish to share with your gathered community. Any feedback is invited and would be gratefully received.


Letters Judge not … RESPONDING to Dennis Litchfield’s letter (Crosslight, March 2017), who complains firstly about the statement “Crosslight seeks not to denigrate other denominations or faiths”, one wonders exactly what Mr Litchfield hopes to achieve. He links this concern with what he describes as “existing/potential problems threatening the good order of our communities.” Which particular denominations or faiths is he critical of here? Which particular “spade” or “spades” is he demanding ought be called spades, in avoiding the “stifling/limiting of alternative views”? Everyone is well aware of the views of people such as Pauline Hanson and the United Patriots Front by now, surely? And is the world’s current refugee crisis really capable of being summed up by his term “people trafficking”? Mr Litchfield also demands “stronger treatment” (which can only be translated, in the context of his letter, as “condemnation”) by Crosslight of issues such as “same sex marriage”, “safe schools (particularly that human sexuality is a matter of personal choice rather than our biological cell structure)”, “changing of gender on birth certificates”, “abortion” and “euthanasia”. In other words, he is upset that his own particular views on these issues are not being promulgated. One wonders how a suicidal gay/intersex teenager would be helped by the Church’s newspaper asserting that her/his sexual orientation/gender identity is contrary to her/his “biological cell structure” and therefore wrong. And of what possible interest or concern to Mr Litchfield, or others, is how a person’s gender is described on their birth certificate? Mr Litchfield is clearly welcome to express his views on all of these controversial issues. However he is not welcome to demand that the Church’s newspaper must editorially adopt or express those views, particularly if they may be seen as contrary to Jesus’ command to give up our habit of judging others. Peter Byrne (Member of Leighmoor Congregation, Uniting Church, Moorabbin)

War on terror and Christian churches A Roy Morgan Research survey in 2009 showed 62 per cent of Australians identified themselves as Christians; by 2013 this figure had reduced to 52.6 per cent. Today, it is less than 50 per cent. If this trend continues, the Australian Christian population will be insignificant within a few decades. Many of our churches have aging and dwindling congregations. Over the last few decades, hundreds of churches around Australia have been closed down and sold to be converted to flats, restaurants or gambling dens. The Pew Research Foundation survey revealed that in 2007, 78.4 per cent of the US population identified as Christians. That figure had reduced to 70.6 per cent by 2013. The trend is similar in major Englishspeaking Christian nations, viz., Canada, the UK and New Zealand. This may be the first time in the last 1500 years that Christianity has been declining so rapidly in Western Christian nations. Most of the Western churches are mired in schisms, petty squabbles or court battles. Few church leaders have knowledge or commitment to issues of justice and peace that wreak havoc around the world. Sadly, the major perpetrators of wars that killed, maimed and created refugees in 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.


their millions since the end of WWII have been the five Christian nations mentioned above. Think of the Korean War, Vietnam War and the War on Terror unleashed on the Muslim nations in the Middle East. These wars were premised on lies and cooked intelligence. The general silence of Church leaders on these issues has shown that Christianity has become both discredited and irrelevant to world affairs. Church leaders have a responsibility to speak truth to power. Small wonder that Christianity is dying in the West.

encapsulates this hopeful, positive, generous way of living which follows Jesus’ Great Commandment, benefits society and is good for us personally, even in these troubling times. “We leave with the blessing of mindfulness for people around us and for the issues in which we can make a difference. We leave with the blessing of peace, knowing that we cannot heal the ills of the whole world, but hopeful that those who can be healers will play their part. With those blessings, we continue the journey of our lives, guided by love.”

Dr Bill Mathew Parkville, VIC

Dr Ian Anderson AM Kew, VIC

Money matters

Basis of the ACC

ROBERT Parry (March), in criticising income available for an aged pensioner with investments of $487,408, uses an earning rate just over 2 per cent for his calculation, when a far greater rate is easily obtainable, according to a variety of investment commentary. To waste $333,500 “immediately” on “holidays and gambling”, as Robert Parry mentions in his second example, is against the long held belief of saving for a rainy day. Instead, wisely investing this amount could go a long way in providing a pensioner with financial security. It would also go to help sustain our welfare system into the future.

RESPONDING to two letters about the Assembly of Confessing Congregations conference in November 2016 (and the report about it entitled ‘Core Beliefs’ in Crosslight, December) gives me an opportunity to dispel some common misunderstandings. Firstly, that the ‘core beliefs’ represent a minority view in the Uniting Church. On the contrary, the ACC upholds the core beliefs of the Uniting Church as described in the Basis of Union. Secondly, that such beliefs tend towards ‘literal interpretation of Scripture’ in a wholesale sense. The consequence of that idea is that the Basis of Union tends towards ‘literal interpretation of Scripture’. Let us first be clear about what is meant by ‘literal’. “Jesus,” writes the first correspondent, “is not only the ‘Lamb of God’ (as the Confessing Church website affirms), he is the Way, Truth, Life, Door of the sheepfold, Bread of Life, True Vine, Resurrection, Gracious Friend, Wise Counsellor, Suffering Servant, God with Us, Comforter, Saviour, Wounded Healer (and more names beside).” How true. Are none of these to be taken literally? If not, what are we to make of the correspondent’s next statement: “[Jesus] is our friend and companion as we encounter the challenges of a risky, uncertain and often hostile world”? On the other hand, ‘the Lamb of God’ is obviously metaphorical. Let us agree that some things about the ‘core beliefs’ are to be taken literally, some metaphorically. A further objection is lodged against the ACC making statements in the “highly complex matters” associated with “biological and psychological analysis of sexuality and gender identity … until there is widespread consensus on research findings”. Here is the nub of the problem: there is no consensus on such matters. But that is no bar to the statement by the other correspondent to the effect that today’s scientific knowledge relativises the Church’s teaching on sin and God’s judgement. Further relativising is found in the statement: “we cannot be certain that Jesus actually said every word written in the Gospels”. What we can be certain of, the writer continues, is “the Bible’s constant assurance of God’s love for each of us, a message that surely the world needs to hear urgently again in these times of war, hatred and greed”. There is a difficulty here: how do we know about God’s love if Scripture is unreliable? Both correspondents seem to fear that the ACC will cause division (and negativity) in the Uniting Church. Neither considers finding unity in the Basis of Union, which is what the ACC wants to encourage. As for the biology and psychology of sexuality and gender identity, a broadbased (and preferably ecumenical) scientific enquiry (along the lines of paragraph 11) would be timely.

David Stannard Chartered Accountant. Brighton, VIC

Living hopefully in troubling times DO you feel that media reports convey a sense of our world and society unravelling in areas completely outside our control? Does this cause you to feel stressed, dismayed, fearful, weighed-down or even overwhelmed? We are, of course, besieged by negativity: the state of our Australian politics where governments and oppositions seem to prioritise party political and personal selfinterest above the good of the nation; global politics including the election of a President Trump, Brexit and the emergence and resurgence of (especially European) ultraright politics in a ‘fake news’, post-truth environment; the threat and politicisation of climate change and energy policy; our nation’s abhorrent refugee and asylum policy and practice. And, of course, we could all add many more troubling and negative influences to this list which is already much too long. Where then can we find hope in this world which, in so many respects, seems such a mess? At a recent Emerging Church service at Manningham Uniting Church’s Anderson Creek Road site, we were reminded that love is God and that wholeheartedly loving God and our neighbours is the cornerstone of our lives as Christians. In this way of loving and living, there is hope. Hope that comes from a personal discipleship which, while not shutting out the negativity which besieges us, does not give in to or disengage from it but, as an antidote to what troubles us in our world, focusses on living positively, generously, compassionately and constructively as our circumstances permit. In our families, our neighbourhoods and communities, our church and more widely, we can be instruments for good. We can have a positive influence, either directly through our own actions and relationships or by supporting organisations that have greater resources and influence as forces for good. The following extract from the closing blessing at that Emerging Church service

Katherine Abetz Poatina, TAS

I find myself in agreement with William Rush (February) who reminded us of the original vision of the Uniting Church to be uniting and ecumenically inclusive with a “desire to enter more deeply into the faith and mission of the church”. If we are serious about this, we will need to learn to be much more understanding and inclusive of the evangelical heritage of the Church and the ACC members within the Church. Two letters in February Crosslight indirectly questioned the intellectual integrity of those aligned with the ACC by implying they retreat to a position of literally interpreting the scripture. I have never heard of anyone in the Uniting Church advocating the plucking out of an eye or of adopting childish behaviour in order to enter the Kingdom of God. However, I do know of many faithful people who take both biblical scholarship and the unique inspiration of scripture very seriously. Rev Rod James is extremely well read in theology and secular ethics but to suggest he needs to be a genetic scientist before he speaks about contemporary culture is to deny him his role as a responsible Minister of the Word. If we don’t want the church to be divided by factionalism, instead of ‘putting others down’ let’s grow up, examine our attitudes and with the help of God begin to think about what it really means to be Uniting. Rev Ted Curnow Langwarrin, VIC

Pentecost hymns WHO is she? She broods on the waters, she wings over earth, she nests in the womb and she dances in fire. John Bell’s startling imagery of the Holy Spirit [TIS 418] challenges us to revisit the season of Pentecost. From Creation [Genesis 1:2] to the Annunciation [ Luke 1:35 ] to Pentecost [Acts 2:2-4 ], Bell sketches its mysterious work. In verse 4, he describes the Holy Spirit as one with God in essence, gifted by the Saviour in eternal love. The second couplet of each verse applies the continuing Pentecost miracle to our contemporary world. We are reminded that the Holy Spirit illuminates the Scriptures and rekindles potential, which is hidden to our eyes. We are heartened to read that its enduring, ineffable grace cannot be captured, silenced or restrained. That overarching theme of the gift of the Spirit’s love is further developed in Shirley Murray’s song “Loving Spirit” [TIS 417]. In successive stanzas, Murray visualises the third person of the Trinity as mother, father, friend and lover. The Spirit is articulated as forming us of its flesh and bone and enabling us to see the world from on high. In its promise and presence, we draw comfort and rest. Many hymns, both ancient and modern, invoke the Holy Spirit with the bidding: Come confirm us, come console us, come renew us and come possess us [e.g. TIS 413]. This yearning for the presence of the Spirit is a constant refrain of the people of God throughout the ages. These poems by living writers seek to illustrate what John Wesley in his Aldersgate experience recorded as his “heart being strangely warmed”. Murray’s opening and closing verses are worth making our prayer today: Loving Spirit, loving Spirit, you have chosen me to be you have drawn me to your wonder you have set your sign on me. Alan Ray Mont Albert, VIC CROSSLIGHT - APRIL 17

People Rosemary garland well deserved Congregation of St Albans UCA

Silver celebrations at St Albans THE congregation at St Albans Uniting Church recently celebrated 25 years of worship with a special service on 26 February. Back in February 1992, six Filipino families gathered at the Brooklyn Uniting Church in Altona. This later became the first Filipino Uniting Church congregation in Australia. The Filipino Uniting Church joined the congregation at St Albans in 2000 to form what is now the St Albans Uniting Church (SAUCA). During the celebration service, the congregation honoured the ministry of Rev Rex Fisher, who played an instrumental support role during the early days of the Filipino fellowship. The congregation also recognised the six families who helped establish the original Filipino ministry and bestowed a posthumous award to the late Cristina McDonald for her contribution to the church playground. St Albans church member N Elaine

Valenzuela-Jimenez said the congregation has grown from humble beginnings into a vibrant community that embraces people from different cultural backgrounds. “Sisters and brothers from the Pacific Islands; Malaysian, Africans and Vietnamese in the Uniting Church started joining the growing SAUCA congregation to be what it is today – a multicultural church,” Ms Valenzuela-Jimenez said. Sunday services are conducted in English and Vietnamese with Tagalog (Filipino) services held every second Sunday. The congregation also has a thriving youth group that plays music during worship every Sunday. “It is a church that has nurtured me to strengthen my faith in the midst of trials and persecutions, to be able to live a life worthy of His calling and to become an instrument of peace, love and unity in our community,” Ms Valenzuela-Jimenez said. St Albans Uniting Church farewelled Rev James S Murray last year following more than five years of ministry at the congregation. Since then, a number of temporary ministers have filled in every Sunday. The congregation will begin a new chapter when their new minister, Rev Feke Kamitoni, commences his placement in April.

IN January, retired teacher and educational advisor Rosemary Brown was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “for service to international relations through voluntary education roles”. “Part of me was embarrassed because so many people do good things but I was very honoured that people felt I had done a few worthwhile things in my life,” the 76-yearold said. An integral part of Rosemary’s volunteer work has been her and husband Bill’s attendance at St Luke’s Uniting Church in Mount Waverley since 1972. “Being part of the St Luke’s community has been very important in our lives,” Rosemary said. Rosemary has helped set up play groups, resettle refugees and house the homeless with St Luke’s. While working with St John’s Homes for Boys and Girls Rosemary also had children in care stay with her. Juvetta, a refugee from Idi Amin’s Uganda, became a part of Rosemary’s family. “She calls me Mum and tells everybody ‘you better listen to my mum’,” Rosemary said. Rosemary helped Juvetta survive being set alight by an ex-boyfriend who doused her in methylated spirits. “I sat with her in the burns unit for months,” Rosemary said.

Farewell to chaplains SARAH LOCKWOOD

Members from left Elaine Martin, Claire Green, Margaret Ranson, Margaret Hoey, Elaine Holman, Jan McGrath with some of their blankets

Making the most of inherited jeans

ABOUT five years ago the Clarence Uniting Church’s Unicorn op shop, on Hobart’s eastern shore in Southern Tasmania, had a problem. The shop was inundated with unwanted denim – jeans by the truckload were being donated but no one was interested in buying them, even at $1 a pair. Back at the church, a member of the congregation was wishing she could offer the city’s homeless something warm to snuggle under at night. The idea found its way to the church’s Connections Craft and Conversations Group. The craft group transformed the jeans into blankets with a polar fleece underlay, meaning the op shop was able to deal with one of its biggest frustrations.

Since then more than 200 blankets have been donated to UnitingCare Tasmania, the Hobart City Mission and Loui’s Van for the homeless. Other homemade blankets were given to UnitingCare Tasmania clients in Southern Tasmanian public housing communities at Bridgewater and Gagebrook. Connections coordinator Claire Green said the group, which began nine years ago, is proud of its ability to support local endeavours as well as care for each member, regardless of their church affiliation. “Some of the members live alone and do not have a lot of interaction, some have expressed how much the group has helped them,” Ms Green said While not a member of the congregation, Gwen Edwards said she had always felt comfortable attending Connections since fronting up to her first meeting about three years ago. “I have made a lot of dear friends and the support that comes from each and every one is wonderful,” she said. “I look forward to catching up with everyone each week and if I cannot attend I really miss my time there.”

AT the end of last year, the synod farewelled three long-serving chaplains: Rev Peter Burnham and Rev Peter Wiltshire from Wesley College and Rev Greg Beck from Kingswood College. Rev Graham Bartley, who has worked as a chaplaincy colleague at Wesley for the past few years, thanked Mr Wiltshire for his “wisdom, intellect and sensitivity which guide and enlighten us.” He also paid tribute to Mr Burnham’s “experience, spirit and personal qualities, which are enormous.” “We will miss him greatly but his legacy of love, strength and integrity will resonate in the college and through so many people for ages to come,” Mr Bartley said.

Rosemary Brown

With Rosemary’s help, Juvetta is now a psychiatric nurse. In 2001 Rosemary became a voluntary consultant to a secondary school unit in Malaysia for children with intellectual disabilities. Rosemary has since organised visits by Malaysian educators, parents and government officials to see how specialneeds schools and employment centres operate in Australia. Rosemary found yet another cause when Bill told her about the work of Teachers Across Borders in Cambodia, where educators were killed by Pol Pot. Since 2014, Rosemary has made three selffunded trips to Cambodia to train teachers. “We’ve affected many teachers, about 300 or 400 teachers per year,” she said.

Greg Beck retired from his role at Kingswood College at the end of 2016 after many years of ministry. His replacement, Lucinda Malgas, was welcomed into the role of school chaplain at an induction service in February. During the service, Ms Malgas expressed her vision of the type of school community she hopes to cultivate. “My hope is that we increasingly become the type of community that Jesus was striving for,” Ms Malgas said. “A community that challenges the injustices in this world, that resists behaviour and challenges institutions that create divisions and excludes people. “Let us not merely be bystanders where there is a need to stand up and speak out for what is right and let us truly believe that each and every one of us can indeed make a positive difference.” Sarah Lockwood is the synod’s Schools Project Worker.

Lucinda Malgas’ induction




Indigenous visions

Border farce

Home truths





IN one of last year’s better books, Position Doubtful, Kim Mahood wrote about how Indigenous peoples don’t just passively receive good and bad elements of introduced European culture, but instead adapt, innovate, resist and utilise. This ability is on show in the Bible Society’s Our Mob, God’s Story. The coffee table book celebrates Australian Indigenous art with a Christian orientation, as well as marking the Bible Society’s bicentenary. The featured artists tell biblical stories through the style and symbolism of traditional and modern indigenous art, and display a Christian faith as deep as their connection to the land, and as vital as rain. There are paintings here in the Western Desert style, often described as one of the great art movements of the 20th century, with their dot-patterned ‘optical gyrations’ and bird’s eye view of landscape and history. There are X-ray paintings from the far north, and paintings that incorporate European art elements. These harmonise with the subject matter – the Bible seen through Indigenous eyes alert to story, country, justice and community. It seems unfair to single out artists, but as an illustration of the breadth of the collection, we range from the easy movement of the dot paintings of Pitjantjara leaders Rupert Jack and Hector Tjupuru Burton to Daphne Davis’s black calligraphic figures in vibrant landscapes that recall Pro Hart. Susan Nakamarra Nelson offers controlled, pared-back scenes reminiscent of both colour field painting and Rover Thomas’ sparse work, while Julie Dowling’s highly accomplished pieces combine realism, dot painting and Renaissance iconography. Fern Martins reimagines the Stations of the Cross in a bushfire-blackened forest landscape. The art and faith here have simplicity and depth, and are examples of the enriching, two-way movement between Christianity and Indigenous culture. Proceeds from the book fund the work of translating the Bible into Indigenous languages, which in turn helps to preserve that culture.

IN 2015, 3700 people died trying to enter Europe. In the decade previous, 40,000 people, possibly one-in-four who stepped on a boat, lost their lives. How do we stop this? Much hysterical press focuses on deterrence, which assumes refugees have a choice. In Violent Borders Reece Jones focuses on a more ideological root issue, and what most of us just take as a given – international borders and their policing. As well as advocating for refugees, Violent Borders amounts to a short history of the border. Jones argues that international borders, which are a relatively recent invention and which often cut arbitrarily across geography and ethnic groups, are set up to protect privileges. ‘Border protection’ then naturally invites Trump-like rhetoric and violent defensive action. Jones outlines the international escalation of the criminalisation of ‘illegal’ migration and the increasingly unempathetic attitude towards refugees. This attitude towards the poorest in the world stands in contrast to the freedom afforded to international corporations to roam the globe to secure the cheapest labour. Jones suggests the benefits corporations bring to the head honchos of poorer nations entice those leaders to reduce regulations, including those that deal with environmental care, and to restrict the movement of labourers within their countries. Such is the hypocritical nature of globalisation. Jones describes this situation as ‘broken’. Why, he asks, if we consider people to be equal, do we not allow the poor equal access to employment? The freedom to travel and to offer your labour for a fair price should be a basic human right. He advocates for more open borders, which to many will seem like an invitation for global chaos. But, he says, this is no more radical an idea than giving women the vote seemed in the nineteenth century. Then again, it might simply seem as radical as the early church, whose members ‘held all things in common’.

RENOWNED author and former seminarian Tom Keneally is no stranger to writing about the Catholic Church as well as the issue of child sex abuse by the clergy. His memoir Homebush Boy and An Angel in Australia are two examples. He has returned to those topics with his new novel Crimes of the Father. The central character in Crimes of the Father is Father Frank Docherty, a Catholic priest exiled to Canada from Sydney when his radical human rights preaching in the 1970s puts him at odds with the Church’s leadership. Docherty establishes a new life in Canada. He becomes a psychologist and an associate university professor completing a study into clerical child sex abuse. Returning to Sydney for a lecture trip and to visit his aging mother, the 60-year-old priest is hopeful that Archbishop John Condon may be convinced to allow him to return to the archdiocese after almost a quarter of a century away. The novel is set in 1996, the year Australia began to become aware of sexual abuse, particularly by Catholic clergy, and the Church instituted its Towards Healing process. Keneally’s love of Australian history and culture rounds out the novel and the characters. As well as being a philosophical priest with political views influenced by the social changes of the ’60s, Docherty has a great love for cricket. The Vietnam War, the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception, Aboriginal disadvantage and the suburbs and CBD of Sydney all feature. This book reminds the reader of the ripple effect of child sexual abuse and the authority and power of the Catholic Church over its believers. What makes Crimes of the Father different from the many other books that tackle this subject is Keneally’s affection for Catholicism. He does not seek to demonise the Church as a whole, or the priesthood, for the actions of those who have abused that trust. Nor does he seek to excuse it.

Available from: RRP $49.99

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Available at: RRP Paperback $32.99.


THE fifth season of Call the Midwife confronts a range of significant social issues with the same honesty and commitment as earlier seasons. Set in the early 1960s, issues of the day such as the relationship of thalidomide use and birth defects are strongly in evidence, as is a storyline on the growing concern over the health impact of smoking. The developing same-gender relationship of two of the nurses is blossoming, but is treated by the two nurses involved as something clandestine, which would have been expected in the 1960s. As with other series of CTM, there is a wedding and a funeral providing the emotional ‘heart’ of the series. (I won’t provide spoilers as to whose wedding or whose funeral they are.) As a clergy-type myself, I’m personally impressed by the way the vicar and the community of nuns are portrayed. Jack Ashton’s Tom Hereward is rapidly becoming one of my favourite TV clerics. He’s without caricature, unlike some TV clerics such as: • the impossible perfection of Mark Williams’ Father Brown or the late William Christopher’s Father Mulcahy, • the overwhelming self-confidence of Dawn French’s Geraldine Grainger, • the “Moe, Larry, and Curly”-ness of the inhabitants of the Craggy Island Parochial House. Tom Hereward is utterly decent, utterly flawed, and always utterly human. The real heroes of CTM are the members of the small community of Anglican nuns who make up the Sisters of St Raymond Nonnatus. Trained nurse-midwives as well as nuns, they work in the most trying conditions. In contrast to our culture’s stereotype of people of faith, they show a great acceptance of human weakness and human foibles. They are always there for the families they serve, the young nursemidwives they support, and for each other. As a positive (yet rarely “preachy”) portrayal of people of faith, Call the Midwife is always a pleasure. Currently screening on ABC-TV, Saturday evenings, and available on DVD and Netflix



Cult def: a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous.

A powerful light has shone through the gloom, the secrecy, and the layers of subterfuge and power to expose Victoria’s shame – The Family cult – which lives on, but chiefly flourished among the privileged class for two decades, stealing children and destroying lives. Two formats telling the same story have been released concurrently – a documentary and a book – utilising the same material but offering two very different experiences. Anyone who has lived or grown up in Victoria from the 1980s on will know something of The Family. For older members of the Uniting Church, the relationship might even be more intimate and go back to the 1960s when the cult began. Many original followers of The Family guru, Anne Hamilton-Byrne, came from established religious families, including Methodist and Jewish. Her first believer and enabler was the then Master of Queen’s College, Dr Raynor Johnson. When he was initiated into

Space race triumph REVIEW BY ANN BYRNE FILM | HIDDEN FIGURES | PG IT’S about time – and it’s about space. It’s about gender and it’s about race. Hidden Figures is based on the true story of three black women working at NASA in the early 1960s – Katherine Johnson (Taraji Henson), a brilliant mathematician/ physicist; Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), supervisor of black female mathematicians; and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe), mathematician and later NASA’s first black female engineer. The film takes place at NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Virginia in 1961, during the ‘space race’, prior to the US’s first manned flight. The theme is inequality of both race and gender; segregation exists in this era of America. Schools, workplaces, and facilities (toilets, water fountains) are labelled ‘white only’ or ‘colored’. Racism and sexism are institutionalised, ingrained and casual – many of the characters don’t imagine they’re guilty of prejudice, yet what they say and do tell us otherwise. We also witness incipient rebellion against both types of prejudice. An early scene: Dorothy and Mary are driving to work, the car breaks down. As Dorothy fixes the car, a white policeman


The Family, he wrote that he had met his Master: “a mystic of a high order … unquestionably the wisest, the serenest and the most gracious and generous soul I had ever met.” One former cult member said “I wanted to find God and I met Anne.” Hamilton-Byrne – whose childhood was one of disadvantage not privilege or spiritual enlightenment from her mother, as she led her followers to believe – deliberately cultivated her aura and mystery. The documentary and book provide evidence of LSD-induced initiations into the cult. Hamilton-Byrne would appear to the initiate in the midst of powerful hallucinations in a blue dream-like state, dressed as the risen Christ. Her followers believed she was the reincarnated Jesus in the female form and were called to be her followers. “A place where I belonged,” said former cult member Barbara Kibby. Kibby’s husband Peter was The Family lawyer. As a whistleblower, he was interviewed by Victoria Police’s Operation Forest for months, giving detailed information about falsified documents, especially relating to stolen children and property. Twenty-eight children were caught up in The Family, 14 of these children were passed off by Hamilton-Byrne as her own. Their names were illegally changed by falsified deed poll, and they were hidden away and home-schooled, starved and beaten, and paraded as angelic blonde siblings, for nearly 20 years. Former Channel Nine journalist Marie Mohr was instrumental in tracking down the elusive Hamilton Byrne and her husband Bill after The Family was raided in

pulls up. Mary makes a smart reply as to why they’ve stopped and he immediately displays a menacing power over them (frightening to watch, and still happening in America). He asks for ID. Seeing their work badges, he remarks, “NASA – I had no idea they hired …” Before he can finish, Dorothy completes the sentence in a more acceptable way than he might have: “They have quite a few – women – working on the space program, sir”. He then gives them a police escort to work, because America must win the space race! At NASA, their work area, “West Computing Group”, is comprised of black female computers (whites are in another building), whose job is checking the math on engineers’ computations, by hand. People were ‘computers’ before machines were. Kevin Costner achieves what I feel is his finest-ever performance as Al Harrison, head of the high-pressure Space Task Group. His Al is a genuine, singularlyfocused leader with his eyes on the prize so completely that he has no time for the nonsense of ‘protocols’, customs and prejudices. Katherine begins working in his area (with all white men) after, frustrated with his team’s calculation failures, Al asks ‘computers’ supervisor Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst) for “a mathematician who looks beyond the numbers – we need math that doesn’t exist yet”. As Dorothy tells Vivian, that’s Katherine. Al’s lead engineer Paul Stafford (Jim Parsons) has ingrained gender and racial prejudices and is threatened by Katherine’s superior math skills. He enjoys white

1987 and the children were taken away and put into care. Speaking in the documentary, Mohr explained why she thinks politicians, the police and the public failed these children for so many years. “No one could see past the veneer of respectability,” Mohr said. Since the late ’80s, The Family has been the subject of lengthy police investigations, court cases, radio and television interviews, numerous books and tragic stories of lives destroyed. But the latest documentary and book are the first that attempt to reveal the extent of the cult’s spider web, from its very beginning. Melbourne director Rosie Jones and producer Anna Grieve have spent years researching the mysteries of The Family. They won the trust of a number of former children who grew up in the cult. The pair also spoke to former members, a current member, police officers involved in Operation Forest, journalists who had followed the story. They sourced archival footage and audio tapes of Anne Hamilton-

male privilege while being unaware of it. Paul continually thwarts Katherine’s work, for example deleting information she needs, telling her it’s ‘classified’. He resists crediting her in their joint efforts, telling her “computers don’t author papers” (thus relegating the women to non-human status: machines. They count – but they do not ‘count’). Al learns that Katherine is a maths genius who shares his mindset of “yes we can; if we can’t, we’ll invent a way”. One day he’s frantically searching for her for an urgent calculation. When she walks in, soaking wet from the rain, he demands to know why she disappears several times a day. Fed up, she tells him: because the ‘colored’ bathroom is half-a-mile away. His response had the whole theatre cheering. Astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) and other astronauts come to meet the NASA staff, who line up, with the black women at one side. Though an official tries to dissuade him, Glenn shakes hands with the

Byrne delivering sermons to her faithful. They visited the key locations at Ferny Creek and Lake Eildon. The one interview they were unable to produce was with the guru herself, who is now 95 and suffering dementia. The book, also titled The Family, is written by investigative journalist Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones. It is a perfect companion piece to the documentary, providing the detail, particularly relating to the police investigation, the drug use, the child abuse and the depth of manipulation of people’s private lives by Hamilton-Byrne. Only one current cult member agreed to be interviewed. Michael Stevenson-Helmer expresses no compassion for the children, now adults in their 30s and 40s. “They keep bringing it up, like regurgitating a foul smell from their stomachs,” he says. “They are on a victim-fuelled rocket to nowhere.” His comments hit like a punch in the stomach for the audience. We have just heard account after account from the mouths of these survivors – one who is Hamilton-Byrne’s biological granddaughter, another who is Bill Hamilton-Byrne’s biological grandson. They have spent their adulthood grappling with addictions, trying to make sense of life, track down their real families and working out how to be parents themselves. Australia has many dark secrets. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who forensically work to lift the lid and reveal the stench, the deceit and the resilience. The Family, the book and documentary, is a gripping crime story, unfortunately it is all true. The Family by Chris Johnston and Rosie Jones, Scribe, 2016, is available widely. The Family (M) directed by Rosie Jones, is in selected cinemas,

black women too, asking about their roles. Katherine responds, “We calculate your trajectories, and launch and landing, sir!” Later, Glenn sees Katherine in action at the blackboard, working her speedy magic with figures. During a pre-launch hold-up when the figures aren’t right, he says “Let’s get the girl to check the numbers.” Al asks, “The girl? You mean Katherine?” Glenn replies: “Yes, Sir, the smart one. And if she says they’re good, I’m ready to go.” This movie is better than any summary, write-up or review can make it sound. I laughed, I cried, I cheered. I came out of this movie feeling exhilarated, energised and happy. It’s the best I’ve seen in a long time. (PS, a side-note: it was intriguing to me, an American, to realise that, either due to one’s generation or to one’s awareness of the US space program, there were likely people in the audience who didn’t know the outcome as we watched John Glenn’s capsule threatening to burn up on reentry.)


Pilgrim Reflection The indeterminate zones of ministry

SOME years ago, when ministering in a congregation, a retired minister asked to speak to me on matters of faith and ministry. I willingly agreed and spent an enriching couple of hours sharing stories and listening to the highs and lows of ministry in the ’50s and 60s. One of his comments has stayed with me: “I feel sorry for all you ministers today. When I was in ministry it didn’t matter whether I was very good at ministry or not, the people still came. These days so much is expected of the minister – as if he or she was responsible for everything that is happening to and with the church. I wouldn’t be able to stand the pressure of all that.” There is no doubt the pressure in ministry has increased over recent decades. The breadth of expectations has increased – and the roles a minister fulfils have broadened beyond pastoral care, preaching and priesting. Ministers are also to be savvy when it comes to property matters, administration, finance and, of course, missional initiatives and project management. Some thrive on this diversity of expectations, others are brought low by the constant demand and the pressure to maintain and develop thriving congregations. As the expectations increase, so do the expectations on the training college, mandated to form candidates for this diverse and demanding ministry. The candidate body itself reflects the diversity of the church in this synod. Theologically, ethnically and experientially the students bring a wide range of experiences, giftedness and potential. The formation of candidates is accountable to the standards recently revised by the Assembly Standing Committee, which (unsurprisingly) encompass the development


of attributes around faith, call and commitment to the Covenant with UAICC, being a multicultural church and the Basis of Union. Other attributes (italics are mine) to be formed in the candidates include: • a mature knowledge of Christian tradition and the biblical witness, and the ability to help the Church shape its future in the light of that tradition; • a capacity to articulate Christian faith in contextually appropriate ways; • being equipped to help the Church be faithful to its identity and lead the Church in mission in a rapidly changing and diverse cultural and social context; • a well-developed and reflective understanding of their identity as an ordained Minister within the Uniting Church; • ability to engage the tasks of ministry with critical imagination, courage, emotional maturity, theological judgment

and self-reflection; and to exercise this ministry within the ministry of the whole people of God; • readiness for the practice of day-to-day ministry, and the quality of being and awareness which gives integrity to the exercise of this practice; • the capacity for and commitment to intentional life-long learning. The attributes required highlight the need to offer an integrated ministry founded on the unchangeable realities of faith and the biblical and Christian traditions along with the capacity to express and display such realities in an ever-changing world. Donald Schön (in his book on developing professional practice) speaks of the capacity to be a reflective practitioner in the “indeterminate zones of practice”. Those places where we exercise ministry

that no one can prepare us for. Schön encourages us to prepare individuals who not only have professional knowledge and practical expertise, but wisdom, talent, intuition and artistry. Reflective ministry practitioners are able to read the context in which they find themselves and know intuitively what to bring out of their store of knowledge and practice, so to be effective in ministry. Beyond that they need to discern what else they need to develop and learn to be effective in a specific context. Hence the need to engage in life-long learning. Thus the task for theological educators within the formation program at Pilgrim is to equip candidates for ministry with knowledge, robust faith and practice as well as coaching candidates to develop wisdom and artistry in ministry – a life-long journey for most of us. Pilgrim is partnered in this responsibility with communities who engage with the candidates in field education and the presbyteries who offer mentoring and support. It is not the intention to exit candidates for ministry who are perfect! Our task at Pilgrim is to exit candidates who display the attributes and capacity to adapt and be effective in ministry no matter where they find themselves in the years ahead. We know the Church is on the move and is not a static reality. So too, ministry changes from day-to-day and context-to-context. Our educational and formational program aims to equip individuals to feel confident that, even in the indeterminate zones, they are able to effectively minister. We, and they, need your ongoing prayers and support for this exciting and challenging task.

Jennifer Byrnes Head of Pilgrim Theological College


Opinion Racism in the Church? “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

EARLY in March I watched the SBS shows broadcast as part of a themed week on race and prejudice – FU2Racism: Face Up to Racism. I found myself reacting with different emotions – anger, sadness, disbelief, frustration and even tears. I learned much from the series. I applaud the SBS for leading us in the exploration and discussion of this difficult issue. As the introductory show asks: Is Australia Racist? When a ‘dark-skinned’ six-year-old girl is asked to choose which doll (of three dolls

a follower of Jesus is intimately connected with the Uniting Church in Australia. English is not my first language (I speak Mandarin and three other Chinese dialects). I speak with an accent that some in the church find difficult at times. And, if truth be told, some congregations decided not to approach me as a prospective minister because of my accent. Several years ago I wrote an article entitled ‘It should be obvious but…’ Under the subheading ‘In a multicultural church

representing Anglo, Asian and black) she preferred to be like, she repeatedly chose a blonde haired ‘white’ girl. I was broken hearted. How does a six-year-old get racialised so young? SBS together with the Western Sydney University conducted the biggest ever survey on racism and prejudice in Australia. The survey found one in five Australians has experienced racism in the last 12 months. Reading the statistics, I wonder if a similar survey taken within our Church membership would show similar results? I am proud to belong to a church that champions justice, inclusiveness and declared itself “a multicultural church” in 1985. At the Justice and International Mission unit conference last year, the attendees nominated ‘combating racism’ (4th out of 10th) as an issue they want the JIM unit to focus on. The Uniting Church is the only church I have known since arriving in Australia. My formation, my growth and development as

we will have multi accents’ I wrote: “A multicultural church is also a multi accents church. When are congregations going to accept this reality? Maybe non-Anglo ministers should consider suing the church for discrimination and then the multicultural church might become more accepting”. Believe it or not I was called into an office and chastised for making that suggestion! And not in a polite or conciliatory way such as: “Swee Ann I know there is racism within the church. Let’s work together to overcome it. Maybe suing the church is not the best way to deal with the problem.” I was flabbergasted. I felt small. I felt muzzled. I felt that my voice was being gagged. Is there racism in the Church? I guess it depends who we ask. I want to make a couple of things clear. The first is racism or racial prejudice can and does exist in all communities, not only from the dominant culture community. However, I have witnessed and heard from members of the minority


groups within the UCA that they have experienced racism and racial prejudice in our Church. I have tried to engage different parts of the Church on this issue but it appears it is too uncomfortable. We know that racism is not just personal but systemic. The most common mistake people make when taking about racism or racial prejudice is to think of it as a problem of personal prejudices and individual acts of discrimination. I know

many of my friends and colleagues in the Church are not racist. However, until and unless we are prepared to acknowledge that racism, like sexism, is a systemic issue, a web of interlocking and reinforcing institutions that continue to privilege the dominant culture, we guarantee it will continue. I am aware that talking about ‘privileges of the dominant group’ evokes pangs of discomfort. This can lead to avoidance in engaging the issue altogether, as well as the manifestation of defence mechanisms, including denial, projection, tokenism, intellectualisation and rationalisation. One other thing. ‘Recognition of your privilege’ does not translate to ‘bearing the blame’ or ‘I am guilty’. Privilege refers to the myriad of social advantages and benefits associated with being part of the dominant group. Benefits and privileges exist whether or not one’s earned them or consciously sought them. In fact, almost universally, privilege is something conferred without

the recipient having any say in the matter. So when I raised the issue of the existence of privilege within the dominant culture within the Church, it isn’t about shaming or pointing an accusatory finger. It’s about justice. I love this church and, as I have said, this is the only church I have known since I arrived in Australia. If I have been critical at times, it’s because I love this church and want it to be a truly just multicultural church and experience the rich blessings

from its rich diversity. Luke reminds us: “How can you say to your neighbour, ‘Friend let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbour’s eye.” (Luke 6:42) We can’t truly deal with racism in the society if we show little willingness to deal with racism within the Church. One last thing, we are going through a restructuring process in the Synod. The one and only question I have is – Will the new structure facilitate and empower the voice of the minorities to be heard? Or will it simply remain the vehicle for the voice of the dominant culture?

Swee Ann Koh Director of Intercultural Unit 23

Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 21 MARCH 2017 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND The Lakes Parish** PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Barham – Wakool – Moulamein (0.25) (P) Quambatook Cooperating Parish (0.25)** Sunraysia (UCOS) (0.5) (P) Tyrrell Parish (0.6) (P) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Alpine Regional Resource Ministry (P) Seymour Community Pastor (P) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) Korean Church of Melbourne Korean-speaking Minister Mount Waverley (St John’s) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Ulverstone – Sprent (3-year-term) (P) Kingston (Rowallan Park) (P) South Esk (P) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Ulverstone – Sprent (3 year term) (P) Kingston (Rowallan Park) (P) South Esk (P)

SYNOD Executive Officer, Mission and Capacity Building Unit (5 year term) (P) UAICC Tasmania** ** These placements have not yet lodged a profile with the Placements Committee, therefore they are not yet in conversation with any minister. There is no guarantee that the placement will be listed within the next month. (P) These placements are listed as also being suitable for a Pastor. A person may offer to serve the church in an approved placement through a written application to the Synod. Further information on these vacancies may be obtained from the Secretary of the Placements Committee: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson. Email: Formal expressions of interest should be put in writing to Isabel.




PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton Canterbury (Balwyn Road)** Croydon North – Gifford Village (0.5) (P) Melbourne (St Michaels) Ringwood**

Paul Creasey, Church of All Nations Carlton to commence 1 June 2017

Julie Hall, Bentleigh to commence 1 April 2017

CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT Joseph Teo (Lay) concluded at South Camberwell – Gospel Hall on 6 February 2017

MIND BODY SPIRIT Service - North Balwyn UCA, Duggan St. North Balwyn (Mel. 46 F3) SUNDAY 30 APRIL 5.30 - 7.30pm - Assoc Prof Phil Connors, Sonia Brokington, Prof in Nursing Bodil Rasmussen - Deakin Uni – Centre for humanitarian Leadership Topic - “Developing a course in Humanitarian Health” The story of a university course on how professionals can address the needs of children and vulnerable groups impacted during a humanitarian crisis.

SUNDAY 28 MAY 5.30 - 7.30pm - Stephen Mayne, Dir of Aust Shareholders Assoc. Australia’s best known shareholder activist, award winning former newspaper journalist who founded and former political spin doctor for the Kennett Gov’t also spending 8 years in local gov’t Topic - “Corporate transparency” Transparency and accountability across media, business and political sectors

Talks are followed by soup & Reflective Worship Further details: 9857 8412, or

POSITION VACANT MINISTER OF THE WORD Yamba/Iluka Uniting Church, Far North Coast Presbytery, NSW/ACT Synod Yamba is a town at the mouth of the Clarence River renowned for its beaches and welcoming community. Expressions of interest are invited for a Minister of the Word (0.8) to • Lead us into the next stage of an exciting future with our vision statement, “To be a beacon of hope in today’s world, committed to living and growing as followers of Jesus.” • Lead worship each week in a contemporary style in Yamba and traditional style at Illuka. • Facilitate pastoral care and faith development of the congregation. For more information and supporting documentation, please contact Rev James Annesley, Convenor of the JNC via email at Expressions of Interest by May 1 and should be directed to: the Acting Associate Secretary of the NSW ACT Synod: Rev John Thornton PO Box A 2178 SYDNEY SOUTH NSW 1235 P: (02) 8267 4323 Any applicant must hold or apply for a valid Working with Children Check number.



ANATOLY DOKUMENTOV PLAYS TCHAIKOVSKY 2.30PM, SATURDAY 8 APRIL 2017 Richmond Uniting Church, 304-314 Church Street, Richmond. Tickets: Adult $35, Concession $25, Child/ Student $15. Bookings online at or at the door. For enquiries P: 03 9569 9178.

AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST MORNING TEA at THE HUB, supporting CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA 10.00AM – 12NOON, THURSDAY 25 MAY 2017 Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, Glen Waverley. Come along to The Hub and enjoy a delicious morning tea. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to the Cancer Council Victoria. For information and group bookings, enquire on P: 03 9560 3580.

125TH ANNIVERSARY ST CUTHBERT’S, LORNE 10.00AM, SUNDAY 23 APRIL 2017 St Cuthbert’s Church, Mountjoy Parade, Lorne. Celebrate 125 years of witness to the community, from 1892 to 2017. Join us in a service of praise and thanksgiving at St Cuthbert’s Church. Please RSVP (for catering purposes) to Pauline & David Walker on P: 03 5289 1569.

TREBLE TONES LADIES’ CHOIR ANNUAL CONCERT 2.00PM, SATURDAY 27 MAY 2017 Burwood Uniting Church, cnr Hyslop Street & Warrigal Road, Burwood. The Treble Tones Ladies’ Choir will present its annual concert “Don’t Stop the Music” on Saturday 27 May. Admission is $22, $20 concession, $50 per family, and children under 12 free. For enquiries phone Loraine Baldock on P: 03 9955 4522 or E:

ANZAC DAY SERVICE: PRAYERS FOR PEACE at ST PAUL’S CATHEDRAL 11.00AM, TUESDAY 25 APRIL 2017 St Paul’s Cathedral, cnr Flinders Lane & Swanston Street, Melbourne. All are welcome. Sponsored by St Paul’s Cathedral, Pax Christi Australia, the Victorian Council of Churches, the Uniting Church in Australia, the Anglican Social Responsibilities Committee, Social Policy Connections, and the Anzac Centenary Peace Coalition. For more information contact Rev Dr John Smith on E:

EDWINA GATELEY RETREATS Retreat 1: Call to Global and Personal Transformation FRIDAY 28 to SUNDAY 30 JULY 2017 (Mixed retreat) Retreat 2: Soul Sisters: Women Called to Connect, Bond and Heal in the Broken World FRIDAY 4 to THURSDAY 10 AUGUST (Women’s retreat). Held at the Edmund Rice Centre Amberley, 7 Amberley Way, Lower Plenty, and presented by The Sophia Circle. For more information or enquiries about retreat costs or programs go to or E: For registration go to


GREAT COMMUNITY EVENT and THANKSGIVING SERVICE CELEBRATING 175TH ANIVERSARY SCOTS UNITING CHURCH 11.00AM–3PM, SATURDAY 6 MAY 2017 and 2PM, SUNDAY 7 MAY 2017 Scots Uniting Church, 1702 Sydney Road, Campbellfield. Community event on Saturday, 6 May, with free entry for kids under 12; Thomas the Tank Engine rides, mini-golf, face-painting, an animal farm, show bags, and a Scottish dance group. Enjoy a sausage sizzle ($1), Devonshire tea ($2) or ice cream, donuts and drinks. We will celebrate the 175th Anniversary of worship with a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, 7 May, with the Moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis preaching. For information contact Val on P: 03 9357 8551 or Jocie on P: 03 9309 1062. 160TH ANNIVERSARY ST ANDREW’S UNITING CHURCH, BERWICK 10.30AM, SUNDAY 7 MAY 2017 St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 105 High Street, Berwick, (on service road). St Andrew’s Uniting Church will celebrate 160 years of continuous worship on Sunday 7 May with a service of praise and thanksgiving, followed by a luncheon. Please RSVP (for catering) to Heather Pentreath on P: 03 9704 5687. 140TH ANNIVERSARY ST KILDA UNITING CHURCH, BALACLAVA CHURCH 10.30AM, SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017 Balaclava Church,163 Chapel Street, cnr Carlisle Street, St Kilda. The St Kilda Uniting Church is celebrating its 140th anniversary of the Balaclava Church on Sunday 21 May at 10.30am, followed at noon by the launch of its history, Campaigns, Causes and Commitments: the continuing story of the St Kilda Uniting Church in the Balaclava Community by Maureen A Walker. Welcome is extended to all. For catering, or to order a copy of the history, contact: Desleigh on P: 03 9534 3145, M. 0413 158 855 or E:, or Maureen on P: 9534 1966, M: 0400 187 250 and E:

175th ANNIVERSARY, WESLEY CHURCH UCA GEELONG CITY PARISH 22 OCTOBER 2017 Wesley Church at 100 Yarra Street, Geelong, will be celebrating its 175th Anniversary on 22 October 2017. This will also coincide with 40 years of being a parish in the Uniting Church in Australia. The celebrations will include a service of worship and thanksgiving, a provided shared lunch and various activities throughout the day. We would be delighted to welcome all who have been part of this congregation, especially over the last 40 years and during the period of ‘Worship in the Round’. More details will be made available later. Enquiries should be made to the Church office, P: 03 5229 8866 or E: CONTEMPLATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY NETWORK 2PM – 4PM, FIRST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH Centre for Theology & Ministry, 29 College Cres, Parkville. Are you interested in photography/videography as a spiritual practice? The network gatherings will offer a time of reflection, a place to enhance technical skills (whether newly acquired or well-seasoned), and a forum for discussion, support and encouragement. RSVP essential to Rev Deacon Peter Batten at E: or M: 0419 255 585. 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 Enquiries to Elizabeth Bethune on P: 03 9818 2726.


Notices TREBLE TONES COMMUNITY LADIES’ CHOIR SEEKS NEW MEMBERS At Burwood Uniting Church, cnr Warrigal Road and Hyslop Street, Burwood. Treble Tones Community Ladies’ Choir is seeking new members. The Choir is a non-profit organisation presenting programs to senior citizens, retirement villages, church groups, nursing homes, etc. Two- and three-part works performed include folk songs, ballads, light classical, sacred and music theatre songs. Rehearsals are on Wednesday mornings from 10.15am to 12.45pm at Burwood Uniting Church. For further information contact Musical Director Lorraine Pollard. P: 03 9807 5936. 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. COME AND VISIT THE HUB The Hub at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people needing 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 Tuesday and Thursday 10am2pm, and Wednesday 10am–noon. People of all ages are welcome. For information P: 03 9560 3580. POOWONG UNITING CHURCH, A small rural congregation in the South Gippsland hill country, is in need of additional Together In Song hymn books for when they have a parish service or take hymn books to smaller congregations. Can your congregation help? Do you have any books to spare? Please phone or text the Church Secretary, Laurie, on M: 0400 780 896 if you can help.

CLASSIFIEDS CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 E: CAPE WOOLAMAI: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. Ring Doug or Ina P: 0403 133 710. ELECTRIC ORGAN - FREE: A Lowrey Genie, small, electric organ free to a good home or congregation. Contact Jenny Walker on M: 0418 312 549 for more information. GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am. LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: 03 5289 2698. OVERHEAD PROJECTOR WORD SHEETS available: Various overhead projector sheets including songs from Australian Hymnbook, some from Methodist, Together in Song, Scripture In Song, Praise and Worship, are available if needed. Also a quantity of Praise and worship music books. Contact Diena Jenson on Email: if interested. QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN PAINTER: handy-man, interior/exterior work, available outer eastern suburbs. P: 03 9725 6417.

For Christian and all people of good will,

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. 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.

POSITION VACANT CHAPLAIN - DAME PHYLLIS FROST CENTRE AND TARRENGOWER WOMEN’S PRISON ࠮ Assist prisoners meet religious and spiritual needs ࠮ Provide respectful and non-judgmental listening and support ࠮ 6.3 hours per week


The Commission for Mission works alongside Uniting Church congregations, agencies, schools and communities, to help bring to life Jesus’ radical vision of justice, compassion and life for all. Situated in Ravenhall Dame Phyllis Frost Centre is a maximum security prison for women with an operational capacity of 419 women.- 5 hours per week. Tarrengower Prison is a minimum security prison with an operation capacity of 72 women located near Maldon, Central Victoria.


The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of Victoria and Tasmania is seeking a part-time Prison Chaplain to provide support and pastoral care to the women.

Essential to the position is a sound knowledge of current best practice as articulated by leading pastoral care organisations such as Spiritual Health Victoria and Spiritual Care Australia.


To secure this role you will: ࠮ Have appropriate experience working with women within a relevant industry context ࠮ Strong empathy and compassion Obtain a position description and apply online today at:

Applications close: 23rd April 2017 The UCA is proud to be an inclusive employer. The Uniting Church is committed to Keeping Children Safe. A willingness to work within the ethos of the Uniting Church is essential Appointment is subject to a satisfactory criminal history check

With the capacity to serve in an inter-faith context, you will have excellent pastoral skills and a nurturing holistic approach.



Moderator’s column

Reflection, repentance and change

AS a church, we are now deep in the season of Lent. While many practices have now grown up around the observance of this season, the primary purpose is not about rituals but about taking time to think seriously about Jesus Christ and what it means to follow him. In this invitation to reflect on who Jesus Christ is for us and for the world, we are drawn into the story of Jesus living in our midst, showing us ways of renewal, life and hope. The season of Lent draws us towards Holy Week and Easter. We encounter stories that remind us whose we are. We are reminded that in Jesus we are given the chance for new life over and over again. We are pulled again into the life of God who anchors us, softens our hearts and opens our minds. The season calls us to ask ourselves again: Do I truly believe Jesus is the Christ? Am I willing to be living as a disciple of Christ when the way is not clear and the path not easy? Am I willing to open my heart to the work of the Spirit that my faith might be renewed? Reflecting deeply on the stories of Christ strips us bare. The season enables us to face our weakness and woundedness. It helps us confront the ways our own lives and the life of the church fail to reflect the love and goodness we know in Christ. Over the last few weeks, these themes of Lent have come close to me as I observed the Uniting Church’s appearance at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and wrestled with the challenges of change.


The Royal Commission has shown us how badly we failed to create environments that were safe for children to grow, learn and develop. We have been shown how poorly we responded to sexual abuse, refusing to believe children who reported their abuse, protecting the perpetrator. The Royal Commission is showing us how poorly we have lived as disciples of the One who brings wholeness of life. At the conclusion of giving evidence before the Commission, UCA President Stuart McMillan again offered an apology to all who suffered child abuse in any part of the Uniting Church and acknowledged the ongoing impact of abuse on survivors. He also pledged we would strive to become a safer, more childcentred church that seeks to have policies and procedures reflecting what we have learnt from the Royal Commission. He repented. Being physically present, seeing our practices scrutinised by the Royal Commission, forced me to confront again our sinfulness in a new way. The route to repairing our failures of discipleship must travel through acknowledgement of our sin and the seeking of ways to ensure such sin might not happen again. We travel with Christ who renews and makes new so that we might be more faithful, building communities that protect the vulnerable. This is Lenten work that shapes our living in ordinary time. We are in a period of change within the life of our synod. We are beginning to implement the resolutions of the last Synod in relation to the Major Strategic Review.

Change is often unsettling, causing many of us anxiety. It often results in a period of uncertainty where we know that what was no longer is but we cannot see clearly what new thing will emerge. This period between the ending of one way and the beginning of a new one can be both painful and lifegiving. In times like this we must draw deeply on what sustains us as the church and as individual Christians. The season of Lent reminds us that even as we journey to Jerusalem we encounter the gift of life in Jesus Christ. The call to follow Christ is a call to life. Unfortunately, this does not provide a blueprint for what we should do as a synod at this time. What the Lenten season has offered me is an invitation to deepen my prayer life where I am reminded that God is faithful. I have been strengthened by the gathered community, where I am reminded that our shared faith binds us to each other. I have heard again and again that my worries, ego and weakness are transformed not through my own effort but by the grace of God who calls us all to new life. These are the Lenten practices that sustain us by anchoring us to God through the sadness, hope, and uncertainty of change. They mould our hearts to presence of the Spirit day-in day-out, seasonby-season.

Sharon Hollis Moderator CROSSLIGHT - APRIL 17

Crossword This month in Crosslight


For the cluey reader COMPILED BY LYNDA NEL 1 2 4








11 12 13

04. The Gallipoli donkey 09. House for nuns and midwives 10. Systems and structures to serve the Church 12. Facebook notification of Crosslight stories 14. Hashtag to use with VicTas 40th anniversary Instagram images 15. The first Filipino Uniting Church congregation in Australia, now St Alban’s UC 18. A group who when asked to design a horse will end up with a camel 19. NASA’s Research Center in Virginia 20. Blankets made from this for the homeless 22. Mary, the ‘sinful women’ from here 23. Author of book on developing professional practice DOWN




01. Set up to ‘protect privileges’ 02. University established as a joint venture between the Vatican and the De La Salle teaching order 03. The synod’s schools project worker, Sarah 05. Saint who founded the Jesuits in 1539 06. Bird with perfect pitch 07. Seasonal migrant workers in Warragul are from here 08. Bible Society celebrating this milestone 11.The Creek near Geelong with a new housing area 13. Medal awarded for animal war service 16. Country of residence for Mathew Rusike Children’s Home 17. John, a famous preacher and quite methodical 21. Legacy of keeping memory alive



19 20

21 22


Giving is living

Loving father, Look after the children of this world Watch over them as they journey through life And grant them courage to face difficult times We pray they will have a bright future Filled with hope and joy Protected in the embrace of your everlasting love Amen

Church of Zimbabwe, a partner church of the UCA. Over the past three years, Mr Edmonds has raised funds for the orphanage with the support of congregations from the Yarra Ranges parish – Wandin Seville, Healesville

and Yarra Glen. The orphanage has now installed water in the dormitories and established five acres of vegetable farm, including a piggery for more than 100 pigs. This is an example of the life-giving work that takes place within the Uniting

Church. To read more stories of hope and generosity, visit the synod’s Giving is Living campaign website ( GivingIsLivingUCA). You can also download monthly pew sheets and prayers for congregational use.

ACROSS 4. Murphy 9. Nonnatus 10. Governance 12. NewsBot 14. #AllOfThisIsUs 15. Brooklyn 18. Committee 19. Langley 20. Denim 22. Bethany 23. Schön

CHILDREN at an orphanage in Zimbabwe turn on a tap for the first time in their lives. The photo was taken by Wandin Seville Uniting Church member Mark Edmonds at Mathew Rusike Children’s Home in Zimbabwe. It is run by the Methodist

DOWN 1. Borders 2. Bethlehem 3. Lockwood 5. Ignatius 6. Butcher 7. Vanuatu 8. Bicentenary 11. Armstrong 13. Dickie 16. Zimbabwe 17. Wesley 21. Anzac



Synod Snaps

“Photography is the beauty of life captured.” - Tara Chisholm

Every year, members of the Hopkins Region of Churches participate in a Soul Water Walk to mark the beginning of Lent. It is a time to reflect with their fellow travellers as they journey with Jesus on the way of the cross.

Members from the East Stonnington Uniting Churches joined in a World Day of Prayer service at St Mary’s Catholic Church in East Malvern.

More than 100 people attended the Hopkins Church Picnic at the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens. The Hopkins Region consists of congregations from Warrnambool, Allansford, Port Fairy and Mortlake.

More than 150 people attended an organ concert at Ivanhoe Uniting Church. Four organists played a range of pieces that highlighted the diverse qualities of the organ.

The Lara Uniting Church sold pancakes during the weekend of the Avalon airshow to raise funds for UnitingCare.

The History of Unicare was launched by Rev Dr Peter Blackwood at the North Balwyn Uniting Church on Sunday 5 March. L to R: chairman Rod Harden, convenor Mrs Ruth Shipp, author Graham Beanland and Rev Dr Peter Blackwood.

The Wendouree Uniting Church Ladies Evening Group held their annual Strawberry Luncheon to raise funds for Uniting Church Hospital and Aged Care Chaplaincy. A $2200 cheque was presented to the hospital and aged care chaplain Andrew Shearer-Cox.