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Crosslight Celebrating 25 years of

No. 283 December 2017



The Uniting Church joins with First Peoples to support the Uluru Statement

Even if he didn’t use a hammer, Martin Luther’s ideas had a huge knock-on effect


20-21 A man who was enslaved in Australia spots his liberator in the back pew of a church

Crosslight staff give their picks of what to read, watch and download over summer

Our cover image this month is Our Lady of the New Advent an icon of Mary written/painted by Fr William McNichols, SJ and presented to Pope John Paul II on World Youth Day in 1993. Based on the Mirozh icon and the hymn O Virgo Splendens, as Moderator Sharon Hollis discusses in her column this month, Mary is rarely depicted as pregnant. As Christmas approaches, Ms Hollis suggests “the implications of Mary’s pregnancy is to affirm the importance of the body … Our bodies also say a lot about what we believe and where our commitments lie.”


A refugee from Myanmar begins ministering to a small congregation in Tasmania



Christmas events are already in full swing across many congregations

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

Editorial Good bye and God bless


Communications & Media Services

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

ONE aspect of my role as director of Communications and Media Services (CoMS) for the Vic/Tas Synod is executive editor of Crosslight. The managing editor, Deb Bennett, has had to train me up and it has been a very satisfying partnership over the last seven-and-a-half years. We have had robust conversations over a range of topics relating to the paper. The production of Crosslight is the definition of teamwork. Every member of the CoMS team plays an active role – reporting, writing, editing, designing, managing the advertising, updating the website, taking photos and videos and liaising with our readers and writers. The ultimate privilege has been writing the monthly editorial. Thank you for your support. It has been an honour. And if this sounds like a good bye, it is.

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.

As you may know, the synod has been undergoing a major strategic review, which has led to change both within the presbytery and synod operations. The implementation of the Major Strategic Review (its recommendations were passed at the 2016 Synod) is now rolling out across synod-based ministries and operations. The role of director of CoMS has been made redundant. Crosslight will report more on what other changes are afoot in the February edition. I am not sure what my next steps are. I leave a little heartbroken, as I have had such fun working for the Uniting Church. I have been warmly received, and been greatly encouraged by different individuals along the way. I have even found myself reading the regulations and the Basis of Union!

What impresses me about the Uniting Church? The revised Preamble – wow! The next step is to keep on that journey of truly walking together as First and Second Peoples. The consensus model of decision-making, which is a powerful way to work through complex issues. The commitment of the staff here at the synod to serve the Church. What will I miss? Helping the church navigate difficult public issues; working with the different moderators; talking to church members; writing for Crosslight; my synod operations colleagues… and especially the CoMS team. It has been a delight leading this group of highly talented, professional and passionate individuals. Wishing you God’s blessing for the Christmas season as we celebrate the birth of the Christ child and a happy and healthy 2018.

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


Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <>. Closing date for February – Friday 19 January 2018. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online:



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


Pic credit: Hogarth de la Plante

Uluru statement THE Uniting Church has urged the Australian government to listen to the voice of First Peoples and support the Uluru Statement. In May this year, Indigenous leaders met for three days at Uluru to discuss their approach to Constitutional Recognition. The meeting developed the Uluru Statement of the Heart, which called for the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament.

Safe spaces


But the Turnbull government rejected the recommendation in October, as it believes the proposed body would be seen as a “third chamber of parliament”. Church agencies Uniting Vic.Tas and UnitingCare Australia joined 2500 other signatories in calling on the Australian government to adopt the Uluru Statement. Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa and Uniting Church president Stuart McMillan also signed the statement. The signatories believe the government must undertake structural reforms so that First Peoples will have a representative

voice in parliament. Mr Corowa said the government has missed a historic opportunity to honour the sovereignty of First Peoples. “They asked us what we wanted. We told them and they just knocked us back. Why did they ask in the first place if they weren’t prepared to listen?” Mr Corowa said. “We have a government that is doing nothing and playing around with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.” Mr McMillan expressed disappointment at the government’s ‘weak’ response. He said the Uniting Church has shown that progress on Indigenous representation is possible.

“We in the Uniting Church changed our own Constitution in 2009 to recognise prior ownership of First Peoples, and have regulated for Indigenous representation in the major deliberative meetings of our church,” Mr McMillan said. “I’m very disappointed that 50 years after Australia gave the First Australians a vote Malcolm Turnbull’s government has refused them a voice. “Instead of buckling pre-emptively to intolerance, the government should be leading for the future. We don’t need a dead hand on the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

THIS year the Victorian parliament legislated to establish the Reportable Conduct Scheme. Overseen by the Commission for Children and Young People, the legislation only applies in Victoria. The Reportable Conduct Scheme commenced on 1 July this year and aims to improve organisational responses to suspected child abuse by workers/ volunteers and to identify people who pose a risk of harm to children. From 1 January 2018, all religious organisations must report allegations of reportable conduct against workers and volunteers to the Commission for Children and Young People. Moderator of the Vic/Tas synod Rev Sharon Hollis said the new legislation reflects the concern many have voiced about the impact of abuse on children. It is just one of a number of ways institutions can ensure their spaces are safe for children.

“We applaud these initiatives which are in line with our Keeping Children Safe Policy commitments to zero tolerance of all forms of abuse and ensuring children are protected and safe,” Ms Hollis said. “Preventing child abuse is both an individual and collective responsibility of the Uniting Church and all who engage with it.” A reportable conduct allegation can be made about any person over 18 years of age who is an employee/volunteer. A volunteer is defined as “an appointed leader of Uniting Church in Victoria.” There are five types of reportable conduct. These include: • a sexual offence committed against, with, or in the presence of a child, whether or not a criminal proceeding in relation to the offence has been commenced or concluded • sexual misconduct committed against, with, or in the presence of a child

physical violence committed against, with, or in the presence of a child • any behaviour that causes significant emotional or psychological harm to a child • significant neglect of a child. From 1 January, anyone with a reasonable belief that reportable conduct against a worker or volunteer who is an appointed leader has occurred must report to You can also report directly to the Commission for Children and Young People: P: (03) 8601 5281 email: If you would like further information on the scheme please refer to the Commission for Children and Young People website https:// Or contact the Keeping Children Safe unit at for more information 3

L UCA Funds Management is the registered business name of UCA Funds Management Limited ABN 46 102 469 821, AFSL 294147, and is a social enterprise of The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. CA122017

News Queen Street memorial service at St Michael’s A MEMORIAL service will be held at St Michael’s Uniting Church – on the corner of Russell and Collins Street in Melbourne – on 8 December to commemorate the 30th anniversary of a mass shooting which rocked the city. On 8 December 1987, a man armed with a sawn-off shotgun entered the Australia Post headquarters in Queen St and began killing people as he moved from floor to floor. Eight people were killed and five wounded

before the gunman fell to his death on the 11th floor when he attempted to escape through an open window. It was the second mass shooting in Melbourne in four months and followed the killing of seven people in Hoddle St, Clifton Hill, on 9 August. At about 4:20pm on the day, the gunman went to the fifth floor where his rampage began. He moved from floor to floor killing and injuring office workers before two

Well versed in interfaith fellowship

St Kilda minister Rev David Pargeter and Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) president Reem Sweid. Each month there is a different theme with the overall intent of deepening relationships and trust between the members of the church and MPV. At the first meeting in September the theme was journeying. The group shared their own faith journeys and the geographical and cultural boundaries that had to be crossed. Participants said both the journey outside, and the journey inside, are significant. Sera, from the MPV group, presented the poem/song Shelter by Scottish poet and folk-singer Eric Bogle: To the homeless and the hungry May you always open doors May the restless and the weary Find safe harbour on your shores May you always be our Dreamtime place Our spirit's glad release May you always be our shelter May we always live in peace Sera said the work conjured up a bighearted and welcoming Australia that she remembers with both great pride and much sadness of loss. St Kilda UCA and MPV would like to thank the Centre for Theology and Ministry, which gave a small grant to support the dinners the church will host for the next six meetings.

UNITING Church members in Melbourne’s east have been meeting with young Muslims to share a mutual love of poetry. At the monthly Poetry and Faith evenings, people from St Kilda parish share a meal with Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) members at the St Kilda church. Someone then presents a specially chosen poem and offers an interpretation, often sparking lively discussion as others share their impressions and understandings of the work. The idea came out of a discussion between


office workers who had already been shot and a colleague tackled him and another worker hid his rifle. He had bought the gun and obtained a shooter’s licence only a few weeks beforehand. He had also kept press clippings from the Hoddle Street massacre. Several of the workers in the building on the day still work for Australia Post and many have suffered from post traumatic stress. Australia Post spokesperson Michael

Halloran was a young worker in the building at the time. He said: “This is not only a most significant event in Australia Post’s 200-year-old history, it is also a significant event in Australia’s history and action has rightly been taken to commemorate the event.” The service, which will feature readings and music, begins at 10:30am The families and friends of the victims, Australia Post workers and the general public are invited to attend.

Reem Sweid, President MPV


News Uniting Network urges church to change marriage policy TIM LAM

THE Uniting Church’s LGBTIQ network has called on the Church to amend its policy on marriage following the results of the marriage law postal survey. Australians overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, with more than 61 percent of respondents voting ‘yes’. Uniting Network national secretary Warren Talbot welcomed the results of the survey and urged Parliament to amend the Marriage Act before Christmas. “Although unnecessary, the postal survey confirmed that a significant majority of Australians support marriage equality for LGBTIQ Australians,” Mr Talbot said. “Marriage is about love and commitment, not the sex or gender identity of the two people involved.” Mr Talbot said it is now time for the Uniting Church to amend its policy to allow same-sex marriage. “It is a plain denial of the Gospel that all LGBTIQ people are systematically denied access to one of the church’s major rituals,


namely marriage,” Mr Talbot said. “This policy sends a message of exclusion and rejection to LGBTIQ communities and others. “Our Uniting Church already accepts openly LGBTIQ clergy, including those in committed same-sex relationships. “There is an opportunity at the Assembly meeting in 2018 to change the church’s policy and give substance to our stated aim of being truly inclusive.” Rev Ric Holland, minister at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne, echoed Uniting Network’s call for the Uniting Church to make a swift decision on marriage equality. ““If the government is being persuaded by 61 percent of the population, so should the church,” Mr Holland told The Age. “We already have gay ministers, we have people in all our congregations who are gay. A whole lot of people want to get married in church; why should we reject them?” In Victoria, 64.9 percent voted in favour of marriage equality while 63.6 percent of Tasmanian respondents voted yes. Thousands gathered at the State Library of Victoria at 10am on 15 November for the official announcement. The result was greeted with scenes of jubilation from the ‘yes’ crowd with many hugging their partners, family and friends. Meredith Butler and Mel Carron attended the State Library along with their dog, Scout. The couple have been together for more than 30 years. Ms Butler grew up in a Christian household with missionaries and preachers on both sides of the family for three generations.

“I’ve watched many members of my family change in relation to our relationship,” she said. “It’s been quite a personal issue and it’s been great to see Christians come out and say that the no campaign fronted by Lyle Shelton doesn’t speak for all Christians. That is very powerful to us. “We’re also very angry at how the debate has become about things other than marriage – like Safe Schools, transgender children and families – so we’re here to support them too.” Ms Butler said she wants Christians to continue to advocate for the rights of LGBTIQ people. “I think many Christians have said (marriage equality) is not an issue and that they have accepted many LGBTIQ people in their congregations,” she said. “They can continue to be allies, as many churches and Christians have been.” Ms Carron hopes the ‘yes’ vote will inspire Christians to fully accept and embrace LGBTIQ members. “I feel what comes up with some members of the family is that it’s ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, which is very patronising,” she said. “It’s about accepting people as they are unequivocally.” Ms Carron said the landmark survey was significant for the rights of LGBTIQ people in Australia but warned the fight for equality has just begun. “It’s great to celebrate today and now we need to gather our resources and be alert to the fact that discrimination can still happen,” she said. “We may not choose to get married but

what’s important is that it’s now our choice. It’s not other Australians, the government or far-right Christians – it’s simply our choice.” Those in the ‘no’ camp have vowed to continue fighting for freedom of speech and religion. FamilyVoice Australia said any samesex marriage law that passes through parliament must have protections for freedom of conscience and religion. “The yes campaign has repeatedly promised that legalising same-sex marriage will not compromise freedom of conscience and religion. They must now deliver on this promise,” FamilyVoice Australia national director Ashley Saunders said. Mr Saunders said protections should not be limited to religious marriage ceremonies but extended to “encompass every Australian in any walk of life who cannot, in good conscience, support same-sex marriage”. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the result was an “overwhelming participation rate and an overwhelming yes vote.” More than 12.7 million people – 79.5 percent of eligible voters – participated in the voluntary survey. He said it is now the federal Parliament’s job to legalise same-sex marriage before Christmas. Celebrations in Melbourne continued throughout the week following the decision, with many buildings flying rainbow flags and the sound of The Village People echoing through the streets. “I never thought the song YMCA would make me feel emotional,” said one lunchtime office worker, “but it’s been that sort of a day.”


News A fresh approach to theatre TIM LAM

FOR the past 15 years, a theatre company in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs has helped young people navigate the challenges of adolescence. Fresh Theatre for Social Change is the brainchild of Sharyn Mullens Taylor, whose husband Rev Lucas Taylor is the minister at Manningham Uniting Church. She started the program in 2002 as a response to the limited support services for youth in the Manningham and Whitehorse region. Ms Taylor, who was 19 at the time, decided to set up a youth theatre group in Blackburn to empower young people in the community. Through the use of applied theatre techniques, participants strengthen their resilience and learn how to develop healthy relationships. Fresh Theatre now operates at Manningham and Elsternwick Uniting Church, as well as the TLC (Truth and


Tyler Nimmo, Ruby Elms, Joe Lambert and Mark Shneyderman (back) perform The New Wild West

Liberation Concern) Church in Bayswater. A new group opened in Ringwood Uniting Church this year to cater for young adults over 18 years of age. Manningham Fresh Theatre manager Ruth Hodges said Fresh is different from other theatre companies because it prioritises personal development over performance. “Every session we have a portion of pastoral care where the theme of each play and how it affects their daily lives is talked about,” she said. “A lot of our kids are perfectly normal high school students, but there are so many pressures today that it helps with developing their self-esteem.”

The Fresh Youth Theatre program is open to young people aged 10 to 18. It operates for two seasons a year; each season comprises an original play developed by the Fresh creative team in consultation with the young performers. During the workshop phase the young actors identify social issues important to them. Some of the topics covered in past productions include consumerism and materialism, body image, relationships and digital technology. In November, the Manningham Fresh Youth Theatre group performed their first musical – The New Wild West. Set in a futuristic dystopian world where

people have become addicted to television, The New Wild West looks at what happens when people stop communicating with each other. Some of the young actors also took turns working backstage as stage managers, light operators and sound technicians. The Manningham group is led by 26-yearold theatre director Zac Alaimo, 23-yearold pastoral care coordinator Imogen Kalisch and 20-year-old theatre assistant Josh Fielding. Every week, they rehearse at Manningham Uniting Church for two and a half hours. “They have about an hour of games and pastoral care and an hour of rehearsal before a meal together,” Ms Hodges said. “The church community forms back-up support. We handle the finances and a lot of the ladies help with meals.” Manningham’s Family@10 service provides an afternoon tea every week and a number of congregation members volunteer as frontof-house staff during production week. The Manningham Uniting Church band also provided musical support during the performance of The New Wild West. Ms Hodges said the congregation supports Fresh because resilient and healthy young people are an integral asset to the community. “It’s all designed to help young people feel connected,” she said. “We don’t do any evangelising. We’re not expecting them to all of a sudden come to church. “It’s about providing a service in the community and helping young people handle the stresses of being a young person.”


News Congress shares with Canadian Indigenous leaders NIGEL TAPP

Outside the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. Front row from left: Tim Matton-Johnson, Jordan Cantwell (Moderator UCC), Chris Budden. Second row from left: Diane Torrens, Denise Champion, Mark Kickett, Gary Dronfield, Ray Jones (UCC), Ray Minicon, Colleen Geyer, Sara Stratton (UCC).



News UNITING Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Tasmanian-based minister Rev Tim Matton-Johnson still recalls, with some emotion, witnessing a cleansing and healing service for indigenous Canadian children in Saskatchewan earlier this year. The moving service – for those who died while in Canada’s residential school system – was a memorable moment of the three-week exchange with local Indigenous leaders organised by the United Church of Canada (UCC) in July. In Canada the residential school system began in the 1800s and the last one only closed in 1996. Children were each given a number as they entered the schools. Uniting Aboriginal Islander and Christian Congress (UAICC) members who participated in the exchange were particularly struck by the similarities with the Stolen Generation experience in Australia. Mr Matton-Johnson said, like in Australia, the British had sought to break down language and assimilate Indigenous children by taking them out of their own homes. Not surprisingly, stories of abuse and neglect arose from both experiences. “Like us in Australia, the intergenerational process of that is still happening today,” he said. “The cultural disruption because of the loss of language is still prevalent. And ongoing issues of poverty, high crime rates and substance abuse are still prevalent in both Indigenous communities.”


Learning about the school system helped the UAICC delegation when it stood before the Reconciliation Totem Pole in the grounds of the University of British Columbia later in the trip. UCC Elder Ray Jones is a hereditary chief of the Gitxsan Nation and a residential school survivor. He read the pole’s images to the gathering, which included children from residential schools. The delegation also visited an unmarked graveyard near the site of a former residential school. Seven UAICC members as well as assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer took part in the exchange, which formed part of UCC Moderator Rev Jordan Cantwell’s Reconciliation Dialogue. The group learnt how the UCC had worked through sovereignty and Treaty discussions with its First Peoples. This will help inform the conversation currently happening in the Uniting Church. Mr Matton-Johnson, who represented the Vic/Tas synod, said while there were some differences in the First and Second Peoples’ relationship in the two countries, there were also similarities. “They have a longer history of identifying native ministry than us and probably have more congregations that are mixed (Aboriginal and settler) but in theological development, such as the revised Preamble to the constitution, we would be a couple of steps ahead,’’ Mr MattonJohnson said. “They are probably ahead of us in the use

“The cultural disruption because of the loss of language is still prevalent. And ongoing issues of poverty, high crime rates and substance abuse are still prevalent in both Indigenous communities.” – Rev Tim Matton-Johnson

of Native American cultural and spiritual practices as part of their liturgies. “In their liturgical practices they would speak of ‘The Creator’ as the dominant word for God while we are inclined to use Lord, Father or God.’’ Mr Matton-Johnson said he was also struck by the use of a traditional smudging ceremony to prepare people and implements for worship. Ms Geyer said the group had the opportunity to learn about the treaties of Canada, their intent and what they did and did not offer to First Nations people. “According to our UCC hosts, sadly, treaties in Canada have not brought certainty for

First Nations people,” Ms Geyer said. Ms Geyer said it took more than goodwill and good words to be open to change. The group were special guests at the UCC’s All Native Circle Conference (ANCC), a national gathering of the Church-based bodies representing different Indigenous cultural ways of life and languages. Members also attended a powwow at Carry the Kettle Reserve in Saskatchewan. Ms Geyer said she saw some possibilities for the Uniting Church and its covenant with First Peoples through the Congress arising from the trip. The Uniting Church will host a Canadian delegation in March next year.


Profile Global gift giving NIGEL TAPP

LAST year the extended Maynard family provided each of their nine children with $50 to choose what they wanted to buy for another sibling for Christmas. The gift was not a present handed directly to the other child but something bought in their name to support an ethical project overseas. The gifts could help a child remain in school, provide crops for a local farming initiative, help build a health centre, provide clean water for a village or a cow for a family so they had a regular supply of milk. Evandale couple Grant and Anthea Maynard – along with their three daughters Abigail, Clare and Bridie – have used Tear Australia’s Useful Gifts Catalogue to assist with their Christmas gift giving for more than a decade. They have firsthand experience of the value of such gifts as Mr Maynard is a former state co-ordinator for Tear Australia, a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation. While Tear Australia arguably pioneered the ethical gift-giving catalogue, UnitingWorld and Oxfam offer a similar service. Mr Maynard said a growing number of Australians are committed to ethical gift giving. “It is the time of year when people want to be generous, they want to show love to other people, they want to be kind but they

Grant Abigail Clare and Anthea Maynard check out Christmas gift catalogues


The Alotau Water Project in PNG has been supported by funding received by UnitingWorld

are in a bind because people where we live mostly have what they need,” he said. “There is a real mismatch between the simplicity of Jesus’ birth and the hyper consumerism of the Christmas season. “So it (buying unwrapped gift cards) is an incredible way to still engage with the spirit of Christmas without buying into Christmas consumerism. “It is a soft way to be subversive.” Mr Maynard said involving children across four family groups last year had been a good way to share the message. “Children have a well-defined sense of justice so by helping them be involved by choosing the gifts meant we had some really good discussion around which gift represented the best value for money,” he said.

“I want my children to have a global consciousness and to realise there is another world out there where people are not as well off.” UnitingWorld is the international partnerships agency of the Uniting Church. All the projects it supports are run by overseas partners with the agency providing funding, capacity building and oversight. Many of the projects are in the Asia Pacific and support capacity-building in local churches as well as schooling, health and agricultural initiatives. National director Dr Sureka Goringe said the Everything in Common gift cards are an ideal way to engage with community aid projects. Dr Goringe said Christmas time is a peak

period of support for UnitingWorld with about 30 percent of donations coming at this time of year. “It is a time when people are thinking a bit more about others rather than just themselves,” Dr Goringe said. Dr Goringe said while water, health and agricultural initiatives are strongly supported, a growing number of people support programs which help raise up leaders and the capacity of churches within the Asia-Pacific region. While UnitingWorld is grateful for all the support it receives, providing money is not the only way supporters can assist the agency. “One of the ways they can help us most is to talk UnitingWorld’s work with their friends, families and congregations,” Dr Goringe said. “Having advocates for compassionate giving at Christmastime is very helpful.” Oxfam Australia is one of Australia’s longest running social enterprises. It sells a range of handicrafts which support artisans and producer partners throughout the world, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Purchases can be made online or from retail outlets in the Bourke St Mall, Chadstone Shopping Centre and Launceston’s Brisbane St Arcade Unwrapped gift cards can be purchased in store or online. Shoppers can also visit to learn the stories behind their gifts. Pam Anders, Oxfam’s Director of Public Engagement, said the stories allowed people to shop with the confidence of knowing their gifts are produced ethically. Some shoppers prefer to buy presents from general retailers but still seek to ensure the goods and services free from exploitation. The Ethical Consumer Group is a community-based not-for-profit that encourages sustainable purchasing practices by consumers. It seeks to educate and empower people to make shopping choices that reflect their values. At consumers can access a rating guide for the operating practices of retailers across a range of categories. This includes appliances, clothing electronics, food and drink, household, office supplies, toys and personal and pet care. Dr Mark Zirnsak, the director of the syond’s Justice and International Mission unit, said the site provided easy-tounderstand guidance for people seeking to buy ethically.


Profile Slave and liberator reunited

Moe Turaga and Audrey

MOE Turaga came back to the Uniting Church in Mildura on Sunday 29 October. The disability services worker from Bundaberg in Queensland was returning to the Sunraysia region for the first time in 30 years – a region that holds some painful memories for him. For three years from the late 1980s, Moe was a horticultural worker at a farm near Mildura, picking grapes and other fruit and veg to fill the shelves of Australian supermarkets. Moe came to Australia from Fiji at the age of 17 to support his mother and the rest of his family after his father died. The work, arranged through his cousin – a minister of religion – was hard and unrelenting, picking in season, pruning in the off season. At least the money he earned was being sent back home to support his mother. So he thought. Two and a half years later, Moe’s world came crashing down when he spoke to his mother on the phone in Fiji. She told him that she hadn’t received a cent. Like many people trapped in modern slavery situations, Moe had no idea that he was working for nothing. His good


intentions had been cruelly twisted around to the advantage of the person who had trafficked him to Australia. Despair and dark thoughts set in. “I felt cheated and deceived by this man who I, and our community, trusted,” Moe said. “But I also felt trapped because of his position of power in our society and that I would be shamed by my community if I complained or came home empty-handed. “I would be seen as the wrongdoer or the rebellious person who didn’t make good of the opportunity that was provided to me.” Salvation came through a member of the local Uniting Church. Audrey owned a nearby farm and heard of Moe’s plight when he visited her church. She offered Moe a job on her farm. As Moe tells it: “I escaped from the grape farm and my cousin and worked for her from then on.” “It was exhilarating to get paid a real wage into my own hand and to finally have money to get new clothes,” Moe said. “I was proud to send the money I made to my mother and hear the pride in her voice on the phone.

“Audrey helped me to get my passport back from the migration agent. I was finally free to make my own choices and live my own life.” Moe has told his story many times in the last few months – to church forums, journalists, international government representatives and global business leaders. As he entered the Uniting Church in Mildura again, Moe wondered about the woman whose intervention had turned his life around all those years ago. God’s grace is a marvellous and powerful thing. Sitting in the back pew at Irymple Uniting Church that Sunday, were Audrey and her husband Alan, now in their 80s.

Tears welled up as the free man embraced his liberator. When Moe thanked her, Audrey said, “That’s how life should be.” The following day in Mildura, Moe told his story again, this time to a hearing of the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade Human Rights Sub-Committee. The Committee is inquiring into establishing a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. As a result of many people like Moe telling their stories, there is now bipartisan support for the introduction of a federal Modern Slavery Act, sometime in 2018.

Like many people trapped in modern slavery situations, Moe had no idea that he was working for nothing.


Reflection Gospel and Grace start a new life in Tasmania NIGEL TAPP

WHEN Gospel Ralte and his wife Grace decided to escape from Myanmar three years ago they told nobody, not even their two teenage children. Gospel explained that it would have been far too risky to share their plans given the tight controls placed on Christians by the military rulers in the country. “We did not tell anyone the real reason. We just said we wanted to visit Australia and do some ministry,” Gospel said. “It was very hard but we were worried our children might be persecuted and we did not want them to have to live with any fear.” The couple’s 19-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son still live with friends at the church compound in Burma’s cultural capital of Mandalay. The family of four is able to speak briefly via Skype most evenings. “It is very difficult and we are worried for them but they have not faced any real problems,” Gospel said. The couple hope and pray it will not be too long before their children can join them in Australia. Gospel said the Myanmar government has adopted a motto of “One race, one religion, one nation” since it gained independence from the British in 1948. Buddhism is followed by more than 90 percent of the population and supported by the military. In the early 1960s, many Christian missionaries who did not take up an offer of citizenship following independence were forced to leave the country. Gospel’s father, a North East India General Mission missionary from India, was able to remain as he had taken out citizenship.


Gospel and Grace with Prof Howard Wallace (left) and Rev Ian Cayzer (right) at Burwood farewell last month

He said Christians were very much in the minority and suffered persecution for their beliefs. “As a Christian I have experienced discrimination from a very young age,” Gospel said. “The military and the police would often come into services and tell us to stop singing or preaching. “Life was very insecure and I have been afraid of uniforms ever since I was a child. I was also afraid to go into any government office.” Gospel believes he was destined to follow Christ ,which is perhaps not surprising as the Burmese (Chin) name his father gave him includes the words for gospel, preaching, surrounding and popular. Gospel and Grace studied at a Bible college in India in the late 1980s before Gospel worked as an itinerant evangelist and taught at the Penial Bible School, in his home town in the north western part of Myanmar. In 1997 Gospel joined the Methodist-run Myanmar Theological College before accepting a position as a pastor to Burmese (Chin) refugees and migrant workers in Malaysia in 2011.

The couple seemed destined to become part of the Uniting Church after they moved to Australia. Their first home in their adopted country was located within walking distance of the Mulgrave Uniting Church in the suburbs of Melbourne. The church took them in and nurtured, supported and guided them for their first three years in the country. Rev Prof Howard Wallace, the previous congregational minister at Mulgrave, and Rev Ian Cayzer, the current supply minister at Mulgrave, were particularly involved in supporting the couple along with a dedicated band of parishioners. Mulgrave Church council chair Kaye Cosham said Mulgrave had gladly welcomed the couple into their community. Since 2016, Gospel has led a group of Mizo Chin community members called Victoria Mizo Kohhran (VMK Church), which founded a sanctuary at North Ringwood Uniting Church (NRUC), meeting regularly for worship every Sunday afternoon. Gospel said he was excited that the VMK is in the process of becoming a faith community of UCA, with support and guidance from the NRUC and Presbytery of Yarra Yarra.

Gospel and Grace said they felt blessed to have received so much love and support from friends in the UCA. Gospel’s understanding of the Uniting Church was also helped by a period of supply at St Columba’s in Noble Park. “It was a good experience for me to be with an Anglo and intercultural church,” he said. An ordained minister of the Methodist Church of Upper Myanmar, Gospel has just begun his first placement at the Ulverstone and Sprent Uniting Churches, on the North-West Coast of Tasmania. The couple were farewelled from North Ringwood and Mulgrave in late October. About two weeks later Gospel was officially inducted at a service at the Ulverstone church. Gospel said he was excited by the opportunities that lay ahead. While the congregation was small he believed the parishioners’ faithfulness over many decades would be blessed by God and he looked forward to reaching out to the community. Gospel is in the process of being admitted as a Uniting Church minister, something which cannot be completed until at least 12 months after beginning in a placement.





Feature MARTIN Luther has been feted, condemned, discussed and studied more than usual this year as 31 October marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. Like any part of history, there are both myths and facts which capture the impact of this great Christian reformer. Many historians now say Luther’s famous nailing of 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral is one such myth. What is a fact, however, is that Luther began a revolution in the Western Church, leading to a schism which broke the hold the Roman Catholic Church had on Christianity. As a result of his actions, and the influence of other key voices such as Jan Hus, William Tyndale and John Wycliffe, the Protestant revolution began. The Uniting Church and its predecessor denominations would probably not have come into being if not for the actions of this German Catholic priest who dared to question the rituals of his church, to publicly critique the Pope, and bring the Bible to the masses. However, the Reformation did not begin solely because of Luther’s actions. Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches are more likely to credit John Calvin with its beginnings. Rev Dr Jason Goroncy is a Uniting Church attendee and senior lecturer in Systematic Theology at Whitley College. He feels it is important to recognise the significance of influences other than Luther in the contemporary Uniting Church. “It is Geneva and not Wittenberg that is the UCA’s real grandparent here, at least for those parts of the UCA’s DNA that are


Congregationalist and Presbyterian in origin,” Dr Goroncy said. Rev Dr Geoff Thompson, coordinator of studies – Systematic Theology at Pilgrim Theological College agrees that it is important not to idealise Luther or this period in the church’s history. Dr Thompson believes that the UCA “appropriates the Reformed tradition not by allowing that tradition to define us, but by ‘continuing to learn from’ it (as expressed in the Basis of Union)”.

word at work So what can the 21st century church, and in particular the Uniting Church in Australia, take from Luther? How has the church changed in those 500 years, and what might the next reformation look like? The term reformation is an allencompassing descriptor for the major religious changes that, beginning with Luther, swept across Europe, heralding seismic shifts not just to the state-sanctioned Church, but also to politics and society. While Luther is credited with lighting the spark that led to the Protestant Reformation, historians today describe multiple reformations during the 1500s, a time of significant persecution as individuals and dissident groups challenged the status quo. Dr Thompson said there was already a huge foment in the Catholic Church at the time, with vast amounts of agitation for renewal. However, what made Luther different was that he was prepared to challenge the authority of the Pope. “It wasn’t simply because he had the courage to stand up to the Pope,” Dr Thompson explained. “He was driven by a set of deep theological convictions, particularly around justification, so I think clearly he was courageous, if not belligerent, because of these convictions.” Dr Goroncy believes that we are indebted to Luther and his writings, as these were key in giving the first generation of Protestants courage and another way to articulate their faith. “Luther, like all of the magisterial reformers,

had a strong commitment to the freedom of the Word of God, to do its own work, in its own way, through its own mechanisms, by its own means, in its own time,” Dr Goroncy said. “That Word would not be harnessed or controlled – it simply could not be controlled, it refuses to be controlled – by bishops, by popes, by priests, or by the church. “So the Word is as free to work inside the church as outside the church. You can see this concept is challenging to the hierarchical, medieval, social map of the world, or construction of the world.”

the best contemporary example we have of a Reformed confession,” he explained. “But there still remains the question of whether it is incumbent upon each congregation, each presbytery, and certainly each generation, to articulate its own hearing of the Gospel from its own place?” Dr Thompson believes the Calvinist tradition brought ongoing reformation to protestant

How has the c ongoing reformation in 500 years, a the next reforma What does Dr Goroncy mean when he says that the UCA’s real grandparent is Geneva rather than Wittenberg? Churches and governments across Europe were extremely hostile to this early uprising, and the humanist John Calvin, like many others, was forced to flee his home country, in his case France, for friendlier soils. It was during his time as a minister in Strasbourg, and then in Geneva, that his theology began to emerge. According to Dr Goroncy, the basic tenets of the reformed tradition stem from Calvin’s experience as a refugee. “In Lutheranism you’ve got essentially one document that binds all Lutherans together. It’s called the Augsburg Confession. Regardless of whether you’re living in Antarctica or Tokyo or Berlin, you have one document, one confession, that binds you together. That’s what makes you Lutheran,” Dr Goroncy said. “Whereas the Reform tradition was committed, right from the outset, to creating local confessions that were culturally and ethnically unique in some ways. “There is a sense that every local church, every local community, had a responsibility to hear and to interpret and to articulate the word of God for itself.” Dr Goroncy sees this aspect of Calvinism being played out in the Basis of Union. “I think that the Basis of Union is probably

churches which sprung up in its wake. “Giving churches the freedom to be selfcritical actually sows the seeds of the church being able to more easily divide than it might otherwise,” he said “So it’s an odd situation we are in. “On the one hand, we want to affirm a particular element of the reformation – that the church learns how to be critical of itself – but that same willingness can lead to division.” As Dr Thompson reflects on the concept of the splintered church and whether


Feature there is need for a new reformation, he focuses on the story of the Uniting Church as an example of churches being able to overcome their divisions. “How does it do so?” Dr Thompson asks. “It did so by returning to the basics of the faith, and I guess confronting the splintered church today; the challenge is to make sure that we don’t divide over things that are secondary.”

THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS Luther’s focus might have been the primacy of Christ, but Dr Goroncy says his view of Christ is very different to the way contemporary Australian society portrays Jesus. “Australians have an admiration or warmth towards Jesus as a kind of ‘normal bloke’ who stands on the side of the battler, perhaps a bloke who has also been unjustly coopted by the church for its own agendas, whereas Luther would want to say very clearly that the only place we see God is on the cross. So Luther’s Jesus is always very bloodied, very broken,” Dr Goroncy said. “One of the things Luther might want to say to our world, and to the church in particular, is that the church has too often associated God’s work with those things which seem glorious and powerful and successful. “For Luther, the hidden God is only ever revealed in the cross, only ever revealed in the experience of violence, the experience of abandonment, and the experiences of those places in humanity, in our social imagination and political dislocation. “Where humanity finds itself in situations at the extreme end of its tether and God appears to be entirely absent.” As Dr Goroncy unpacks this concept, it is evident that Luther’s concept of God would challenge the way many Christians operate within the public realm today – in social media, in public debate and from the pulpit. “Luther understood that there were two kinds of theology – a theology of the cross and a theology of glory”, Dr Goroncy said. “The church’s tendency is always towards a theology of glory – looking at those places which seem to be so obvious, so successful, so clear that God is at work or not at work in particular places – and those are often

hurch changed and what might ation look like? He believes the predecessor churches – the Presbyterian, Congregational and Methodist – allowed the secondary to become primary, and the Basis of Union sought to return the newly formed Uniting Church to the foundations. “What the Uniting Church learns from the Reformation is the primacy of Christ. We can only confront this splintered reality of the church by confronting ourselves with the primacy of Jesus Christ,” Dr Thompson said. “Will that guarantee overcoming splinters? No, it won’t. But I think that’s our vocation within the midst of this divided and splintered church.” Dr Thompson is speaking of the global church, although he willingly acknowledges the splinters within the UCA.


associated with very church-centric activities. “Luther’s theology of the crucified God, what he called ‘theologia crucis’ (theology of the cross), presses upon us that we actually can’t know in advance where God is at work.” He suggested that Christians should consider when they might have claimed knowledge of what God wants and apply that concept to the various social issues we are currently debating. Dr Goroncy believes Luther might well challenge anyone who claimed to be on the side of justice, on the side of liberation, on the side of doing God’s work. “Faith simply doesn’t live with that kind of certainty,” he said, “and the action of God on the cross robs us of that certainty.” “This isn’t an excuse for inaction; it’s a warning against trusting in your own judgment about what is and what is not God at work. “So we live literally by the Word, and this idea is much stronger in the Reformed tradition than in the Lutheran tradition – that we live literally by the word that is given to us day-byday, moment-by-moment.”

LET EVERYTHING ELSE GO As Dr Thompson reflects on what excites students as they study the Reformation, he speaks of the power shift away from ordained clergy, which is very much a legacy of that period. “The priesthood of all believers which came out of the Reformation is still something that touches people’s imagination,” he said. “I think the notion of the freedom of the Gospel, the priority of God’s grace in dealings with humanity. “I focused very much in one of the lectures on Luther’s comments that ‘sinners are attractive because they are loved. They are not loved because they are attractive’. “That strong affirmation of the freedom of God’s grace is the most significant aspect of the Reformation for me.” However, as we continue our musings, particularly about whether a Luther or a Calvin could bring about another reformation in today’s global, post-Christendom world, Dr Thompson believes the impact of Christianity here in

Australia will be more likely at a local level. “It will be through the formation of particular intentional Christian communities. People who see themselves called to the way of Christ and live by that locally,” he said. For Dr Goroncy, the Reformation reminds Christians that every generation has a responsibility to keep listening and to keep trying to find language that faithfully communicates God’s Good News. “Something from our tradition that is really strong is that no one cultural or theological consortium has a monopoly on the experience or truths about God,” he said. “One of the strengths of this is that it’s a way to both resist the temptation to domesticate God and to confess the absolute imperative we have to remain in fellowship with those with whom we disagree, and those whom we don’t yet understand.” As we prepare to celebrate Christmas – the birth of the Christ Child – it seems fitting to end on Luther’s words, as part of a sermon he gave on Christmas Day nearly 500 years ago: If the sun, moon, and stars save, I can call them saviours. If St Bartholomew or St Anthony or a pilgrimage to St James or good works save, then they surely are my saviour. If St Francis, then he is my saviour. But then what is left of the honour of the child who was born this day, whom the angel calls Lord and Saviour, and who wants to keep his name, which is Saviour and Christ the Lord. If I set up any saviour except this child, no matter who or what it is or is called, then he is not the Saviour. But the text says that he is the Saviour. And if this is true—and it is the truth— then let everything else go.


Celebrating 40 years Sorry for sins of the past NIGEL TAPP

Kings Canyon, Petermann, Australia

THE Uniting Church’s relationship with the nation’s First Peoples has changed markedly throughout the last three decades. Those of non-Aboriginal heritage have sought to throw off the cloak of paternalism that dominated much of the early relationship between First Peoples and the formation churches. In 1985, the UCA Assembly unanimously endorsed the establishment of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). In doing so, the Church recognised the rights of Aboriginal leaders to have more autonomy over their own ministry and mission. This was exemplified in 1994 when the UCA Assembly accepted an invitation from Congress, first made six years earlier, to enter into a covenantal relationship “so that all may see a destiny together, praying and working together for a fuller expression of our reconciliation in Jesus Christ”. Fifteen years later the 12th Assembly adopted a Preamble to the UCA Constitution. The Uniting Church was the first church in Australia to publicly express its sorrow for past injustices. In the Preamble, the Church acknowledged it was “complicit in the injustice that resulted in many of the First Peoples being dispossessed from their land, their language, their culture and spirituality”. During a gathering with First Peoples in Sydney earlier this year, UCA president Stuart McMillan said the 2009 Preamble “recognised the violent history of our 16

Kings Canyon, Petermann, Australia

nation, our part as Second Peoples in this history and God’s presence with First Peoples prior to colonisation”. The synod’s former Commission for Mission executive director Rev John Rickard and former Victorian Congress state director and chair Vince Ross consulted with Congress nationwide to determine what to include in the Preamble. Mr Rickard describes the experience as “one of the greatest privileges of my entire ministry”. “The fact there was to be some acknowledgement (of God’s presence in the land before white settlement) in the law of the Uniting Church was very important to First Peoples,” Mr Rickard said. But Mr Rickard stressed the Preamble was only one step towards a deeper relationship with First Peoples. “We still have so far to go to make things right for the damage we have done,” he said. Mr Ross is adamant that work on issues such as the Preamble helped solidify the relationship between First and Second Peoples within the Church. “I certainly believe it has helped bring us closer together, because we have been able to have good conversations and listen to each other,” he said. “Documents like the Preamble certainly help in building a bridge.” Rev Dr Djiniyini Gondarra is a First Nations man who has journeyed with the Church since the formation of Congress. Dr Gondarra was a close confidante of

Congress founder and inaugural president Rev Charles Harris. Mr Harris – became convinced of the need for an autonomous Indigenous body within the Church after visiting New Zealand in 1981. During the trip, he saw the distinctive Maori theology and organisational structure that existed within Protestant churches. Dr Gondarra attended the pivotal meeting of Aboriginal leaders in 1983, which established a national Indigenous organisation at Galiwinku, in the Northern Territory, and designed the distinctive UAICC logo. He vividly recalls sitting down with Mr Harris and former assembly president Rev Rollie Busch to discuss Mr Harris’ vision to establish the UAICC as a nationwide body. “Charles said he needed $1 million and I thought the president was going to fall down from his chair,’’ Dr Gondarra said. “I often called Charles ‘the million dollar man’ after that.” Dr Gondarra recalls the debate around the Preamble as difficult for all parties. The discussions came at a time when the true nature of the covenanting relationship was a source of tension between the Church’s First and Second Peoples. The question of whether God was in Australia prior to colonisation was a particularly challenging one for some within the Church. Dr Gondarra explained the First People’s position this way: “God is a God that cannot be limited; he created the universe

(so) he was already here. This is his land.’’ The UCA and UAICC have now turned their attention to questions around sovereignty and Treaty. The assembly has asked synods to discuss a paper by Congress’ interim national coordinator Rev Dr Chris Budden. It arose from a decision of the 2015 Assembly “to explore with Congress what it would mean for the practices of the Church to recognise and affirm that First Peoples are sovereign Peoples.” It will be discussed in more detail at the 2018 Assembly in Melbourne next year. Dr Gondarra said the UCA deserved credit for its willingness to openly discuss the issues. As Dr Budden said in his paper, “We (the UCA) are being challenged to make space for the idea that First Peoples are both citizens of this nation, and also have political rights as independent communities”. “While there is not one First Peoples’ view about sovereignty, the common concern is to assert an inherent right as a community – and not just as individuals – to negotiate their place within the nation,” Dr Budden said. Dr Gondarra said the church has a unique opportunity to provide state and federal governments with an example of how difficult matters can be addressed in a constructive environment. “We are the ones who can show governments and in every area of our work we can be witnesses and say ‘it is not that difficult, we have done it’,” he said. CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 17

Vision and Mission Small steps and spirited generosity IN 2013, the Presbytery of Port Phillip West adopted its three-year strategy called Regenerating the Church. Following a thorough review in 2016, the next phase of this strategic project, Regenerating the Church 2021 Strategy, was formulated. This current Strategy clearly identifies links to the Synod’s Strategic Framework including the Mission Principles and Strategic Priorities. The 2021 Strategy gives the presbytery focus and direction in fulfilling its role of: “resourcing, supporting, encouraging and equipping communities of Christ across our region to fulfil our high calling in Christ Jesus” (a quote from the 2021 Strategy).

The five-year journey has been one of surprise, encouragement and inspiration. It has also been a journey of challenge, tough decisions and difficult discernment. Since June 2012, Rev Dr Adam McIntosh has travelled this journey as Presbytery Minister Mission and Education. Adam has just accepted a call to a placement as Associate Director of Mission with UnitingCare Queensland. As Adam concludes his placement with the presbytery, he has offered some reflections on the key learnings of the past five years. Following is an abbreviated version of these reflections.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Vision creates culture. Hope is the power of vision.

This is one of the reasons why the Regenerating the Church strategy has been embraced so widely across the presbytery. It has focused the presbytery on serving, equipping and supporting lay and ordained leaders to engage in new mission, deepen existing mission and explore new ways of being church. A clear learning for me is that this resourcing and encouragement takes considerable time and investment. Reports and consultations are all very good, but ultimately people need long-term accompanying and leadership investment to engage in the challenging and changing world we live in.

This saying reminds us that no matter what our strategy is, our culture will ultimately win the day. Vision is central to the creation of a flourishing culture as vision is powered by hope. In Scripture we hear the story of the movement of creation towards God’s vision. A key word that describes this movement is telos (goal). Jesus Christ is the end towards which creation is moving. My guess is that a clear telos can engender energy and shape the way we act, our values and how we do things. Ultimately, the power of telos is in the hope that it engenders. Hope can create energy and movement. Hope transforms the way we live. Hope gives us the strength to start walking towards a vision, even when that vision seems blurred and distant. Part of the Regenerating the Church strategy has been to remind us of our hope in Jesus Christ. Hope that the Spirit of Christ is renewing the church and that we are called to respond, witness and participate in God’s mission. As a presbytery, and as congregations and faith communities, it is critical to be clear on your vision and the ground of your hope. This can be the driver of a flourishing witnessing culture. Small steps transform Hope grows in the church when we take small steps in mission. I am astounded by the simple small acts that people across the presbytery have taken and the impact of these actions. I’m reminded of Jesus’ parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. Small things such as mustard seeds, seeds scattered in a field and the smallest of all seeds. Thinking big is great, however, it can also lead to a kind of paralysis, as we are overwhelmed with what needs to be done and don’t end up doing anything. I encourage each congregation to begin by taking small steps and to celebrate these small steps. As we have said repeatedly in the presbytery: just ‘have a go’! Small steps move us out of despondency, give us a feeling of accomplishment and create momentum and energy.

Encouragement through sharing stories A critical part of the two strategies has been to support people to ‘have a go’ and to celebrate this. It is encouraging to see videos of communities experimenting in mission or new forms of church, to hear stories of new initiatives and personal stories of transformation and fresh ways of people encountering the Gospel. At a recent Messy Church celebration in the presbytery people shared stories about the past year. Listening to people having a go and testifying to the way that God meets us as we start walking in faith is truly inspiring. As we intentionally create space for sharing stories and testifying to what God is doing among us, we are encouraged as God’s people. Spirited generosity ‘Spirited generosity’ is powerful and transformative. This is about the way we treat each other; our behaviour, disposition and manner within the presbytery. Some people are excited by change and new ways of doing things. Other people can feel threatened, challenged and anxious. This is not about agreeing with each other or avoiding vigorous conversations. It is about the way we have the conversations and our relational engagement with each other. Do we listen with openness to being transformed by the Spirit? Are we generous in our behaviour, encouraging each other in Christ regardless of our personal opinions? Do we have a respectful tone and curiosity about the opinions of others and what God may be saying through each other? The role of the presbytery Although institutional functions and administrative tasks are important, for a presbytery to be effective and relevant it must be an enabler, equipper and servant of congregations across its region. If this does not happen, the presbytery is likely to be another burdensome institution and ultimately irrelevant. This involves joining with congregations to discern future directions, equipping mission and diverse expressions of church, education, resourcing, pastoral support and encouragement.

Both presbytery strategies and the 2016 review report are available for download from the presbytery’s webpage at The Synod continues to produce and offer resources to assist your own journeys of participation in God’s transforming mission. Watch out for two resources which will be released this month to gathered community leaders: Understanding the Strategic Priorities (2016-2022), and Engaging the Areas of Focus. Further new and emerging resources can be found on the Synod website at DECEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT

New expressions, novelty and contextualisation When we began the Regenerating the Church strategy in 2013 there was some reaction to the language of new expressions of church. Some people felt about the term ‘new’ meant that something was ‘old’, with the implication that it was somehow wrong and irrelevant. Language can be tricky, especially when trying to express a significant shift from what has been. New expressions of church are not about being different. It is about responding afresh in contextual ways to the Gospel. As people grow as followers of Jesus in community, this community will take a unique shape in worship, community and mission. An emphasis in the Regenerating the Church strategies have encouraged congregations to explore what it means to create diverse ways of gathering and community for people not currently connected with church. This isn’t about consumerism or cultural captivity. It is about the Gospel being encountered in diverse and fresh ways. The idea that people need to fit in with our tradition and come to us, and our task is to simply be faithful in our worship, is a form of consumerism. It is about everyone else conforming to our ‘style’. The church doesn’t exist to save the world, or as a group of faithful people letting the world know how secular it is. The church exists because the world is saved in Christ. God is already at mission in the world; it is only the church if we witness to and participate in God’s mission in the world.

Church growth Church growth has become a dirty word in some parts of the Uniting Church. There are many dimensions to growth: spiritual, social transformation, discipleship, service, mission and community to name a few. Church growth is not about ‘bums on seats’, it is about people transformed in encountering Christ, communities and society transformed. The Gospel is not static; it is transformative. Jesus didn’t speak about a declining Kingdom of God, he spoke of the expansion of the Kingdom through the transforming work of the Spirit. Church growth, in this sense, needs to be on the agenda of the Uniting Church. We also need to do some listening about our decline. It is too easy to blame the changing world or secularism, consumerism and every other ‘ism’ when thinking about church decline. The key question is what is God saying to us and calling us to as a church in this time and what does it mean to be faithful anew in our changing world? Innovation, investment and integration The three core ingredients for new expressions of church are: innovation, investment and integration. Innovation in the church encourages the emergence of something new that adds meaningful value to the life of the church and the community. The task of a presbytery is creating an environment in which innovation happens, is celebrated and flourishes. Investment refers to resourcing innovative effort. Getting the balance right is critical. This includes financial, property and people resources. Too much investment can lead to a dependency culture and too little can be ineffective. Integration refers to the way new life is embedded within the various processes and functions of a denomination. If I was to put a weight on these three areas, I would start with innovation, then investment followed by integration. We need a level of all three in our approach, but innovation and investment are necessary steps for integration to grow within the UCA.

May God’s Spirit inspire you; May you meet companions in Christ to encourage you; May we find those small steps to participation in God’s mission. In the power of God’s transforming hope. Amen. Rev David Withers Strategic Framework Minister


Letters Image problem I found the picture [an image of a young Rohingya man carrying his elderly parents] accompanying the moderator’s column in the November edition extremely distressing, particularly as it occupied more than half the page. I am a person of mature years and unfortunately accustomed to seeing such material. I believe such a photograph is not suitable for a publication to which older people and children may have access. In addition to any distress, it also induces a sense of helplessness in the face of the many crises of which this is but one. Our commercial media constantly invades our homes with traumatic visuals from around the world illustrating the abuse perpetrated by mankind to the extent that unfortunately the impact is lost or as the Bible would say ‘our hearts are hardened’. Thank you for this opportunity to provide feedback. Andrew Whiteley via email

Dying with dignity DURING the debate on Voluntary Assisted Dying, I have been waiting for a church to come out and say: “Death is not necessarily a bad thing. It does not have to feared and prevented at all costs.” In April 2013, I spent four days in ICU with acute renal failure. I was told that, if I had not gone in, I would most likely have died during the night. I thought, “You can’t get lower than this. [My husband] Barry is steadily dying and you are very close to dying yourself. But you believe in a loving God so whatever happens it will all work out in the end”. A great peace came over me and remained with me during my time in ICU. I was resuscitated at least once and, at one stage, I saw a vision of my parents smiling at me. I believe I came very close to dying and it was not a fearful experience. While the church is quite correct in applying the concept of the sanctity of life to situations such as war and widespread famine and poverty, I do not believe that the God of Love would want it applied to people who are living lives of suffering to which there is no possible end but death. In 2012 my husband was diagnosed with lung cancer in association with a heart problem. In February 2013, he was diagnosed with a large number of small secondary brain cancers. He deteriorated quickly and the erudite university professor quickly became a frightened small boy who did not know where he was or what was going on. In the early stages, when he had some understanding of what was happening to him, he used to say he had “holes in his brain” because he could not remember things and he hated it. He cried a lot. In the last month, he developed a bad case of gangrene in one foot. He died in late June and his last days were very difficult to witness. As a Christian, I believe that there is some form of existence after death and that it is a positive one. Isn’t that what the Resurrection is about? My father was a hard-nosed journalist, who spent 27 years as the editor of a big city 18

newspaper, travelled extensively and, in his retirement, chaired the committee that set up Griffith University. When he died at the age of 95, he left a note on his desk that said, “I have lived a full life. I have gone to the Great Adventure.” Finally, I would like to mention quality of life. I was blessed to get a kidney transplant in 2015 but had a difficult recovery period. I am not afraid to die but I know how dreadful it is to live continually in survival mode, where all your energy goes to just staying alive, and I am fearful of this happening again. Felicity Fallon Burwood Uniting Church Helplines: Lifeline P: 13 11 14 Beyond Blue P: 1300 22 4636

Marriage: a suggested way forward NOW that civil marriage law in Australia will change, the Uniting Church needs to think about its response. My suggestion is that the UCA National Assembly in 2018 commits to a three-year period of discernment ready to make a decision on marriage at the 2021 National Assembly. In the first two years of the discernment period UCA leadership could offer study groups (perhaps bi-monthly) where interested people have the opportunity to study the scriptures and dialogue respectfully guided by the question: “What is God’s intended design for marriage?” In the final year, interested groups could consider possible marriage proposals for the 2021 National Assembly and provide feedback before the proposals are put to the whole Assembly. I am picturing a three-year period of respectful listening and dialogue where people who might currently have different views come together to seek God’s will for marriage and try to find consensus on how the Uniting Church might respond to this issue. I acknowledge that the Uniting Church has provided some forums already for the discussion of marriage. In our church we have been offered two opportunities (a marriage discussion group in 2014 based upon UCA papers that were circulated in 2014 and another marriage forum led by Professor William Loader in 2017). I found these interesting but not sufficient to help me fully discern God’s will on this issue. Indeed, they highlighted the diversity of views on marriage and this division was reinforced by the letters and online conversations in the September 2017 edition of Crosslight. I believe that we need a process that includes all who want to participate as we continue our discernment of God’s will for marriage and our endeavour to show God’s love to all people whatever decision is made about marriage. Greg James Member of Pilgrim Uniting Church Launceston, Tasmania

Importance of ecumenism THE Ecumenical Relations Committee of the synod was heartened to see Nigel Tapp’s double-page spread on ecumenism (Crosslight, November). We appreciate the fact that many significant contributors in the UCA ecumenical scene were consulted. It is noted that people’s enthusiasm for the ecumenical venture varies according to the particular level of involvement/experience they have, which is understandable. This article rounded off a trio of stories highlighting the necessity for ongoing ecumenical conversations. The first was the launch by the moderator and the Archbishop of Melbourne in August of Weaving a New Cloth, the Anglican-Uniting national agreement on working together. The second was the successful ecumenical panel at Synod in September on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Reformation. It was extremely encouraging for us as a committee to see a ‘full house’ at the lunchtime forum, to hear Lutheran, Roman Catholic, and Uniting Church reflections on the anniversary. Our only regret was that there was not enough time for discussion. Ecumenism is an important element of the life of the Christian Church and the Uniting Church in particular. Unless it specifically appears in the job description of particular people then no one is actually responsible to do the work of ecumenism. This is an issue, we feel, at both assembly and presbytery levels, with new models of staffing in both. We have written to our presbyteries regarding this, and the Christian Unity Working Group has raised the matter at assembly level. Rev Peter Weeks Chairperson Ecumenical Relations Committee As a committed and involved ecumenist, I was heartened and encouraged by Nigel Tapp’s feature article ‘Let’s get Ecumenical’ in the November Crosslight. That the Basis of Union of our Uniting Church in Australia stresses the continuing vision of, and search for, unity is a significant feature of our church. We need to support ecumenical ventures in our Christian witness. As we prepare and implement any vision we have for our witness, we should also consider the ecumenical question as endorsed by the UCA assembly for all our agendas. In 1998 the UCA Synod of Victoria and Tasmania resolved to encourage congregations, presbyteries and committees to consider prayerfully: ‘Who are our partners?’ and ‘Can this be done ecumenically?’ The document Weaving A New Cloth suggests a number of strategies by which Anglican and Uniting congregations could work more closely together. One possibility might be to consider how God’s mission for his church might be cooperatively implemented – locally, regionally, nationally or internationally. Opportunities for God’s mission exist at each of these levels. Remember, it was mission work that first brought the churches from different

western protestant traditions together at the Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in 1910. Finally the UCA declares in the Basis of Union: “… her desire to enter more deeply into the faith and mission of the Church in Australia, by working together and seeking union with other Churches.” Our challenge in this 21st century is to keep the ecumenical spirit and action that we, as the UCA, inherited with our foundational principles. Whilst ‘organic unity’ may no longer be the way forward, cooperative mission and seeking to learn from each other provide means by which the ecumenical spirit may endure. Gavin Faichney St Luke’s UC

Electronic Good News So often we read depressing news in Crosslight of churches closing after very many years. It is sometimes said that recognisable church architecture is an inspiration to the community and a Christian witness to the world in bricks and stone. Are our buildings, however, a relic of denominational pride, from an age where many parishioners walked to their local place of worship? Should we be promoting the Gospel in a 21st century manner? Perhaps it is time to record the positive news of our witness to Christ’s message through electronic media. Many congregations now have websites in which they reproduce their ministers’ sermons or publicise their outreach activities. These are easy to navigate and contain photos of the vibrant life of that faith group. They provide a safe window into what goes on inside our communities for those who are enquiring about our practices. A computer-savvy generation can easily ascertain service times, special events and seek a faith community in which they would feel comfortable. Other congregations have produced PowerPoint presentations, which can be played on church recording systems. These are modern wayside pulpits, portable on memory sticks to any venue, proclaiming the life, faith and relevance of the Christian message. In that way we promote news of a Gospel alive in the community. Alan Ray Mont Albert, VIC


People Launceston South Uniting Church closes

don’t leave God behind,’’ he said. The Margaret St site, on the corner of Balfour and Margaret Streets, includes the church building, a hall, a manse – which was used as the Presbytery of Tasmania’s administration office – and a car park. The original wooden Margaret St Methodist Church was erected on the site in about 1837 at a cost of 250 pounds. The current church building dates from 1918. The site has been sold to a local developer. The presbytery has relocated to remodelled office space at the Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Paterson Street. The Launceston South congregation will worship at Scotch Oakburn College’s Briggs Hall until its finds a permanent new home.

AFTER 180 years of meeting the spiritual needs of the people of Launceston South, the South Esk Uniting Church Cluster closed the doors on the Uniting Church building in Margaret St for the last time in late October. In the final sermon, acting synod liaison minister Rev Michelle Cook said they were saying goodbye to the church building but still have much to look forward to. “We are being asked to let go of the past and embrace the new beginnings and the good things which lie ahead for us,’’ she said. The closure service heard from members who had worshipped at the church for many decades. Clarrie Pryor has attended the church for more than 90 years. One of his happiest memories was the joint Christmas services with the nearby Church of Christ, which packed the main space and required the overflow to occupy the overhead gallery. Mr Pryor said the congregation would take such memories with them. South Esk Cluster Chair Hilary Parry closes the door at Trinity “When you change the Uniting for the last time flanked by (clockwise from left) Rev address of the church you Michelle Cook, Craig Osborne, Mary Rothwell and Clarrie Pryor

Ted’s ton

THE grand old man of Penguin Uniting Church, Ted Howe, was the guest of honour at a special morning tea at the church in October to celebrate his 100th birthday. Mr Howe has worshipped at the church on Tasmania’s North-West Coast for almost 80 years. He was also the guest of honour at a birthday party the previous night which was attended by about 100 people. Mr Howe served in Borneo, the Kokoda Track, in Papua New Guinea – which he always referred to as a trail because he did not believe it reached the status of a track – and Syria during World War II. He also spent time in England during the blitz. He married his wife, Edna, in 1945 when on leave from active service. After the war they settled in Penguin and Mr Howe spent many years working for the local council.


Mr Howe said he had been a bit overwhelmed with all the celebrations held to honour his century, “I am feeling a bit tired and a bit worn out because it has all happened at once, but I am fortunate to have so many lovely friends. I am a lucky man,” he said. Mr Howe served for decades as a trainer with the Penguin Football Club and is a life member of the club as well as a member of the North-West Football League’s Hall-of-Fame. A medal presented to Penguin’s best player in its annual Anzac Day game against neighbouring club Ulverstone bears Mr Howe’s name. Mr and Mrs Howe have two children, seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

Ted Howe cuts his birthday cake with a little help from daughter Susan Grist

Patchewollock celebrates 90 years THE north-west regional Victoria town of Patchewollock may only have a population of 133 people, but more than 100 churchgoers and visitors gathered at the local Uniting Church in early November to celebrate the congregation’s 90th anniversary. In 1927, the Patchewollock Uniting Church foundation stone was laid at its current site on Yenolom Street. Patchewollock Uniting Church secretary Sandra Mole said local volunteers were instrumental in constructing a place for community members to practice their faith. “The brick building is a testament to their determination, courage and tireless work,” Ms Mole said. “Not only the original trustees who fought so hard to build a church in which locals could gather to worship and celebrate their faith, but to all members of the congregation who have maintained it since.”

A number of past and present congregation members attended the anniversary service, along with visitors from the Central Mallee Co-operative Parish. Some travelled long distances to join in the celebrations. Rev Rob Dummermuth and his wife Barbara journeyed all the way from Western Australia to deliver the sermon. Mr Dummermuth was a minister in the Central Mallee Co-operative Parish from 1992 to 1997. “All present enjoyed the talk from Rev Dummermuth on his past work as a patrol minister with Frontier Services as well as a sing-a-long of many favourite hymns,” Ms Mole said. The service also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Patchewollock Friendship Circle. It was formed by a ladies guild in November 1967 and the group has met on the third Tuesday of every month for the past five decades. Following the service, attendees enjoyed a shared basket lunch at the Patchewollock Memorial Community Centre. They also cut the anniversary cake, which was adorned with a picture of the church.

Photo Courtesy Hopetoun Courier

Birthday bash at Burwood Heights BURWOOD Heights Uniting Church’s English conversations group reached a new milestone last month when it celebrated its fifth birthday. Formed in 2012, ECOS (English Conversations for Overseas Students) provides informal English practice for international students, working holiday travellers, new migrants and refugees. ECOS celebrated five years of chatting with a special chocolate cake topped with five candles. The 17 participants and six volunteers present on the night sang ‘Happy Birthday’ together in their own language. Organiser Barry Horn said they want participants to feel comfortable in social situations. “We have a supper break which is a great opportunity for socialising. The atmosphere is always friendly,” he said.

Twenty participants have been given a certificate or ‘joined the 25 Club’ by attending at least 25 sessions, while eight received a personalised coffee mug for visiting 50 times. Long-time participant Judy has been awarded a trophy for joining the exclusive 100 Club. She was given the honour of blowing out the candles on the cake. Mr Horn said teaching English to young people and migrants is “very rewarding” for the volunteers as they can learn about different cultures and form friendships across generations. “It is a joy to meet so many lovely people, and though they are all younger than me and some of the other volunteers, this doesn’t seem to matter to anyone,” he said. “It is an honour to be asked to stand in for distant parents at graduation ceremonies or weddings.” The ECOS team is currently looking for new volunteers to join their Sunday roster from February next year. Contact Barry Horn at: or phone: 9803 5999.

The birthday celebrations 19

Review Summer days As summer approaches, many of us begin to think about the holidays ahead. Once the flurry of the festive season subsides, it is time to unwind and perhaps catch up on all those books, movies and TV series you missed throughout the year. Crosslight staff share some of their recommendations for your reading or viewing pleasure over the summer break.


FOR the avid reader, starting a new book is comparable to setting foot in a different land. Who will you meet? What adventures lie ahead? Will your spirits soar, your heart break, your beliefs be challenged or changed? One of the good things about belonging to a book club is the variety of books, some wonderful and others not so great, as well as being forced to read books (and explore other lands) I might not otherwise consider. Among my book club highlights this year have been the emotional Room by Emma Donaghue; Helen Simonson’s whimsical Major Pettigrew’s Last

Stand; the confronting Dog Boy by Eva Hornung and the disturbingly compelling Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. Summer is often a time to catch up on all those ‘must-reads’ recommended throughout the year. But the thought of packing five or six novels, particularly if you are flying, means you often limit yourself to only one or two books. That’s why one of my greatest discoveries this year is not actually a book or an author, it is the smart device app Overdrive. For those unfamiliar with the free library app, it is similar to a Kindle-reader. Easy to download on your phone, tablet or iPad,

once installed you record your library membership information and you can digitally borrow. You literally have a whole library catalogue at your fingertips. For the not-so-tech-savvy, most local libraries offer quick, one-on-one ‘how to’ sessions. Some features of the app include adjustable text size, choice of back lighting, audible books and word definitions as you read. With a limit of 20 books, you can head off on holidays and still not have to pay for extra luggage. And, perhaps best of all, automatic return means you can extend your holiday without worrying about late fees.

THE nameless narrator in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer describes himself as a “man of two minds”. So it is fitting that duality is a central theme of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. This debut novel from AmericanVietnamese author Viet Thanh Nguyen is an unconventional spy story that

explores identity, nationalism and the immigrant experience. The narrator is the illegitimate son of a Vietnamese maid and a French Catholic priest. He is also a Viet Cong operative spying on a South Vietnamese general. The Sympathizer opens with the Fall of Saigon. Nguyen vividly recreates the chaos, confusion and bloodshed of the final days of the Vietnam War as American soldiers and South Vietnamese citizens evacuated the capital. The story follows the double agent as he adjusts to life in America while continuing to spy on the South Vietnamese general, who is planning to launch a counteroffensive to liberate his homeland. Nguyen is a refugee from the Vietnam War, who fled to America as a fouryear-old with his Catholic parents. He channels his personal experience as a first-generation American into the narrator’s journey as he details the trauma, dislocation and rejection faced

by refugees trying to start a new life in a strange land. The protagonist’s narration captures the struggles of navigating between two cultures. He is forever an outsider, rejected by American and Vietnamese people because of his dual heritage. His shifting loyalties mean he is a traitor in the eyes of both North and South Vietnamese soldiers. The double agent’s divided identity is reflected in his ambivalent attitude to his occupation. He is neither a coldhearted assassin nor a patriotic firebrand. He is a chameleon who blends into the background, a keen observer of human behaviour. His ability to sympathise with both sides makes him a perceptive spy, yet this same quality leaves him with nothing to truly believe in. More than just a generic spy thriller, The Sympathizer is a timely commentary on race, gender and class issues that continue to exist half a century on from the Vietnam War.



I blame my colleague Deb. I had always been loyal to Detective Harry Bosch of the Los Angeles Robbery and Homicide Division… a copper with a tough exterior and iron-clad integrity. His creator, Michael Connelly, had drawn me into Harry’s (an abbreviation for the name Hieronymus, named after a 15th century Dutch painter) life, taking me on scenic tours of LA, as Harry forensically documented the latest crime scene and interviewed witnesses and suspects. Then Deb handed me a new man, 6’5” tall, 250 pounds of muscle, by the name of Jack Reacher, known by all simply as Reacher. And just like that, Harry was discarded in favour of my new love – the tough, ‘react first, ask questions later’, former US military policeman. 20

Harry and Reacher have a bit in common. They tend to be solo operators. They share a significant distrust of others. Both have military backgrounds. Harry was a Vietnam vet who spent much of his time down the tunnels of the Vietcong. Reacher was a military kid, who also served. And then he quit. He now lives a gypsy life, no suitcase, no phone, no credit card, no driver’s licence – just a toothbrush, a comb and a roll of cash in his back pocket. I know they are both on the side of good, although Reacher is a little more unorthodox in his methods. They both have great respect for women (and a bit more than respect in some of their encounters!). And, surprise, surprise, you can guarantee that at the end of their adventure each of them will still be standing! I like that in a crime novel. I have probably read in excess of 10 Lee Childs’ novels this year (Jack Reacher’s parent). Another is due out shortly. (Deb, Christmas present please). If you like a rollicking crime yarn, you’ll find both Bosch and Reacher in the crime section of any book shop and library. CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 17


Telling tale

THE most addictive thing I watched this year was The Handmaid’s Tale, the TV adaption of Margaret Atwood’s imagining of a brutally patriarchal dystopia. The near-future scenario is that the US government has been overthrown by a fundamentalist vaguely Christian sect that seems to take more inspiration from the Old Testament than the New.

In the fledgling society of Gilead, depicted as largely located in and around Boston, women are given strictly functional roles as marthas (servants), wives, handmaids or jezebels (prostitutes). Handmaids are fertile women, a rarity when for some unspecified reason there is widespread barrenness. The handmaid whose tale this series tells is Offred (Elisabeth Moss). She has become the property of leading Gilead ‘commander’ Fred Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) and, to a lesser extent, his wife Serena Joy (Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski). During what is called ‘The Ceremony’ the male head of a household attempts to impregnate a handmaid while she lies in the lap of the wife. The horror of this ritual rape is magnified by its cloying euphemism and businesslike formality.

Gilead is monstrous mix of medieval punishments, with minor offences or rebellions punished by cutting off hands or taking out eyes, and a modern police state, with a pervasive highly armed black clad militia and a secret web of informers. The incredible centrepiece of this production is Moss’ remarkable performance continually shot in close-up. Her face is a marvel of fleeting forbidden emotions and repressed thoughts. This series is totally immersive in its gloomily drab and claustrophobic sense of horror. It also routinely delivers jarring shocks, many perpetrated by the scene-stealing Aunt Lydia (Ann Down), the regime’s hellish version of a mother superior. While hardly typical light summer fare, the series does at least introduce some tantalising moments of hope pointing to its next season.

CAST your mind back to 2006. The Australian 24-hour news cycle was in its infancy – scuttlebutt, innuendo, hearsay, grossly ill-informed speculation and flat out bull**** travelled at much slower speeds. Terrestrial television, talkback radio and tabloid newspapers were still the preferred delivery methods for half-baked dog whistling and racist paranoia – Twitter and Facebook were years from hitting their straps in any meaningfully awful, democracy endangering way. Fake News – AKA spurious bunkum – was what you heard over the back fence from your gossipy neighbour, or over a few pints from the dotty old racist down the local. Viewed in the rear-view mirror from bad old dystopian 2017, 2006 has almost acquired a warm, nostalgic glow. Believe it or not, that was all a mere decade ago.

Tony Martin’s career has thus far spanned four decades; his comedy long-attuned to the art of gently ridiculing day-to-day Aussie mundanity. Deadly Kerfuffle, Martin’s debut novel, leans heavily on the Kiwi author’s keenly observed insights into the sinister flip-side of our daggy national character. “It’s 2006, and terror scaremongering in the media has rattled the residents of sleepy, suburban Dunlop Crescent. When a Maori family moves into number 14, the local cranks assume they are Middle Eastern terrorists hell-bent on destroying the Australian way of life. Rumour has it that they plan to turn their house to face Mecca...” Events spin madly out of control when pompous radio shock jocks, fedorasporting conspiracy theorists, cable news muckrakers, hysterical tabloid newspaper coverage and bumbling national security apparatchiks quickly turn a bit of benign

cul-de-sac pensioner bigotry into a potential terrorist event. The seedy cast of oddballs is fleshed out with bumbling twits, scheming egomaniacs with half-baked schemes and some all-too believable Nazi thugs. Martin’s keen eye (and ear) for trenchant detail permeates Deadly Kerfuffle. Melburnians in particular will revel in Martin’s sense of place – dramatic hostage scenes play out in the absurdly appointed confines of an extinct theatre restaurant. Deadly Kerfuffle is, to engage dual critical clichés, a laugh-out-loud funny pageturner. Martin’s affable literary voice makes this a jovial holiday read, while darker truths bubble at the fringes of this amiable tale of radicalised OAPs and outsized egos. Having shrewdly set his first novel in our recent past, one wonders what accelerated horrors would beset Martin’s protagonists were it to have been set in the present day?





Pilgrim Reflection

Advent reminders

IT IS the time of the advent! I asked what I should remind myself of this advent? Over the course of the season many of us will revisit the birth narratives. It is my hope that, despite the familiarity of these stories, we will all, in various ways, be enchanted by them and discover afresh their power and potential to profoundly reshape our lives leading to new commitments.


It is also my hope that we will read them in conversation with issues and events that grip our minds and lives at this time. It is the context that opens one up to a process in which new meaning and understanding of the stories might emerge. Only in specific contexts will the biblical text come with exemplary purpose and power that leads to transformation of lives and guides us to participate in God’s liberative action in Christ. I would like to call attention to a couple of issues this advent season. First, a close and careful study of the birth narratives reveals the fact the narratives are set in the midst of much political upheaval. We hear of the movements of people, taxation, census taking, emperors and kings. The stories mention the political mass murder of innocent children by one who wants to remain in power at any cost. Issues concerning shelter, food, clothing, politics, death of children, assassinations and population control are all theological questions requiring theological responses. This teaches us that the birth of Christ is an undeniable affirmation that the locus of God’s saving presence is set amidst the physical and tangible plane of turbulent history, of messy politics, and of ruthless economics. Who wants to be reminded of the many troubling issues confronting the world, our society, our churches or even our congregations and families at a time like Christmas? Christmas has become a time of privatised

peace, joy, and freedom from guilt which, we are assured, leads us to an ahistorical life in eternity. However, the birth narratives compel us to remember that Jesus’ birth was set in the midst of political disorders, mass murders, migration and power hungry leaders. Will these become elements of our Christmas sermons? This reminds me also that our God is not removed from the happenings of this world, indifferent and apathetic. This God is very much in control, is observant of all that is happening – the good and the bad – and will work towards changing it. Isaiah draws on the dramatic image of a woman in labour to describe how God will assure us that new life will emerge, that God will accomplish the work long conceived in God’s mind (42:14b – But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.). God calls us to listen, to see and take note, and join God in the task of transforming the world. To be a follower of Christ is more than just the proclamation of faith – it also involves a radical transformation into the likeness of Christ. Along with Paul we are invited to say, “My little children, for whom I am again in the pain of childbirth until Christ is formed in you” (Gal 4:19). Second, the Luke version informs us that the shepherds – people at work keeping a sleepless night watch –were the first recipients of the good news of Jesus’ birth. They are the inheritors of God’s new life and its first messengers.

This scene brings a radical critique of those who separate religion from labour and spirituality from the daily chores of life and struggles for wholeness of life. Something unheard of takes place; angels appear in the midst of a stinking sheepfold and sweating shepherds. The separation between the sacred and the secular is broken down. The place of work becomes the place where God’s peace is announced. There can be no glory to God in the highest unless there is glory in the high streets and the alleys of our cities and towns. The birth narratives of Christ radically challenge a spirituality that is pursued in one’s private isolation from the masses. If the joy and peace proclaimed at Christ’s birth are integrally related to the life and struggles of people, then we can boldly affirm that the peace Christ offers is a peace inextricably connected with justice and wholeness of life for all. O Come, O Come Emmanuel, open my mind and my heart to see your world—its hurts and its triumphs. Lead me, guide me, heal me and use me to help restore your world.

Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon Coordinator of Studies, Old Testament Pilgrim Theological College CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 17


South Sudanese youth perform at the South Sudanese National Conference

Money or mission?


RECENTLY I participated in the biennial South Sudanese National Conference in Melbourne. The theme for the conference was ‘First Be Reconciled’ based on Matthew 5:23-24. It was my privilege to share the weekend with my brothers and sisters from South Sudan. I listened to their stories of war and conflict, pain and suffering, escape and refugee camps. I also heard stories of their new life in Australia – stories of discrimination and displacement, shattered dreams and hopes. According to the Scanlon Foundation’s Mapping Social Cohesion survey, African immigrants experience up to five times more racial discrimination than people born in Australia. The 2016 survey found that more than three in four South Sudanese migrants – most of whom arrived as humanitarian refugees – say they have experienced discrimination. South Sudanese youth are over represented in youth detention centres. The Synod of South Australia was the first synod in the Uniting Church in Australia to ordain a South Sudanese woman. I had the privilege of meeting her at the recent conference. I understand the synod provided her with three years of funding to minister amongst her people. But the funding will soon run out, and she is wondering what’s going to happen to her people. Will they be deprived of a shepherd? Of late, I have been reflecting on the

relationship between mission, ministry and money. The question I ask myself again and again is, “Are mission and ministry based on affordability?” From my observations, it appears this is so. Let’s take the example of the South Sudanese communities within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania – Springvale, Melton, Footscray, Hoppers Crossing and Werribee. They average from 50 to 120 members. None of them have ‘paid’ ministers or pastors exercising ministry because they can’t afford it. The South Sudanese migrants are one of the most disadvantaged communities in Australia. Are mission and ministry only for those who can afford it? It seems that if a community doesn’t have capacity to pay a minister or a pastor, they don’t get one. It doesn’t matter that the community has an authentic mission. The South Sudanese are not the only group in this situation. The Burmese communities within our synod also face the same predicament. There are congregations within our synod with less than 10 or 25 members on Sunday mornings who have part-time or even full-time ministers/pastors. Some of these congregations have incomes through property rentals, bequests or sales of property proceeds. I have heard of one congregation that has less than 30 members on Sunday mornings and $1.5 million in the bank.

We are a church that champions justice, the common good and the support of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in society. And yet it seems we have not taken the time to consider the needs of some of the migrant communities within our own synod. I am not naïve. I know we have limited resources so can’t fund every ministry we desire. We do need to prioritise. So the question is, how do we prioritise and fund mission and ministry in our synod? I keep hearing that the growing part of the church is the CALD communities and yet some of these communities fail to receive financial support. Who would advocate for them? Is there justice if a 25-member congregation can afford to have part-time or full-time ministers while a congregation with more than 80 members is deprived of one? How can we truly be a JUST multicultural church? The synod is restructuring. Will the new structure make any difference in identifying the growing CALD communities within the synod and find support for them financially? Or will mission and ministry continue to be based on affordability?

Rev Swee Ann Koh Director Intercultural unit


Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 21 NOVEMBER 2017 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Bright Alpine (0.5) (P) (C) Wangaratta (P)(C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Airport West (*) East Geelong (P) (C) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Williamstown (St Stephens) (0.6) (C) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Cradle Coast (Burnie, Devonport, Penguin, Wynyard) (C) Derwent Cluster (Glenorchy and Claremont) (0.6) (*) Queenborough Rise Chaplain (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Grange Cluster (P)(C) Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) (C) Kaniva – Serviceton (P)(C)

PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton (C) Banyule Network (*) Banyule Network (*) Manningham (*) Ringwood (C) SYNOD – MISSION & CAPACITY BUILDING UNIT Continuing Education and Leadership Development (P) (C) Director Priorities, Focus and Advocacy (P) (C) Director Relationships and Connections (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Youth (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Young Adults (P) (C) New and Renewing Communities (P) (C) NORTHERN SYNOD Casuarina (C) General Secretary (C) (C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an Expression of Interest. Enquiries and written Expressions of Interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email:

MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED John Mann, Burwood to commence 1 February 2018 Paul Stephens, Highton St Luke’s to commence 1 February 2018 - revised date Ron Rosinsky, Coburg to commence 1 March 2018


RETIREMENTS Richard Arnold retired on 26 October 2017 Rajitha Perera, Noble Park St Columbas to retire on 24 December 2017 Angela Tampiyappa, Burnley St Georges to retire on 1 July 2018 Alison McRae, Western Victoria Presbytery Minister, Mission and Education to retire on 1 October 2018

Notices COMING EVENTS CHRISTMAS MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM - 12 NOON, THURSDAY 7 DECEMBER Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Bring your family and friends. All ages welcome. All donations to help families in need in our community. Info and group bookings P: (03) 9560 3580. SIXTH COMMUNITY CAROLS IN THE VILLAGE WITH THE MT WAVERLEY CHADSTONE INTERCHURCH COUNCIL 6.30PM – 8PM, FRIDAY 8 DECEMBER 2017 The Village, Hamilton Place, Mt Waverley (Mt Waverley Shopping Centre adjacent to IGA). The Mt Waverley Chadstone Interchurch Council invites you to the 6th Community Carols in the Village, Hamilton Place, Mt Waverley. There will be community singing from 6.30Ppm to 8pm, plus a children’s activity tent. Come one, come all! COMBINED CHARITIES CHRISTMAS CARD SHOP UNTIL SATURDAY, 16 DECEMBER North Essendon Uniting Church, 132 Keilor Road, North Essendon. The Uniting Lentara Christmas Card Shop will open at the North Essendon Uniting Church from Thursday 9 November, and will close on Saturday 16 December . Opening times will be 9.30AM to 4PM on Thursdays and Fridays and 9.30AM – 12.30PM on Saturdays. FOLLOW THE STAR – COME IN AND LET THIS BABY CHANGE YOU – BURWOOD UNITING CHURCH MONDAY 4 TO SATURDAY 23, DECEMBER Burwood Uniting Church, cnr Warrigal Rd and Hyslop St, Glen Iris. The annual Follow the Star display will be open to the public daily (except Sundays), presenting the story of the first Christmas, with a Christmas Tree Forest decorated by local schools and organisations. There will be opportunity to donate non-perishable foods to the gift tree in support of Camcare and Hotham Mission food hamper programs. Opening times are Mon, Tues & Thurs,12.30pm–3pm, Weds, 10am–3pm, Fri, 3pm–5pm, Sat, 10am– 12.30pm. Other group appointments may be available. Contact Felicity on M: 0449 751 402 or Anne M: 0487 750 442.

150TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS FOR MELTON UNITING CHURCH 10AM, SUNDAY 10 DECEMBER, AND 3 – 10 DECEMBER FOR WEEK’S ACTIVITIES Melton Uniting Church, Yuille Street, Melton. Join the Melton congregation for the celebration of this amazing milestone with a service of worship and thanksgiving on Sunday, 10 December at 10am with guest preacher Rev Dr Allan Meyer. A shared lunch will be provided. We will be delighted to welcome old friends and new. For more information of activities for the week contact Rev Paul Blacker on M. 0407 553 495 or E: GARAGE SALE AT INVERLOCH UNITING CHURCH 9AM, SATURDAY 6 JANUARY 2018 Inverloch Uniting Church, Williams Street, Opposite P.O. Garage sale, many stalls. For enquiries contact Bev on M: 0408 502 707 or Liz on M: 0401 472 669. SINGERS WANTED – EASTER CANTATA 2018 FOR PALM SUNDAY, 25 MARCH 2018 REHEARSALS COMMENCING 7.30PM – 9PM, MONDAYS, FEBRUARY 2018 AT BALWYN NORTH UCA. Join the Immanuel Singers to sing an Easter Cantata Seek Ye First, written and conducted by Gary Bradley, on Palm Sunday. All welcome. We particularly need tenors and basses. Following an audition, parts of the music score and CD can be provided immediately for familiarisation prior to rehearsals commencing in February 2018, on Mondays from 7.30pm– 9pm at Balwyn North UC. Contact Gary Bradley on P: (03) 9898 7770 or E: 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 WESTERN WOMEN’S RETREAT 25 – 27 MAY 2018 Join us for the 40th Anniversary of the Western Women’s Retreat (formerly Murtoa Ladies Camp), from 25 – 27 May 2018 at Norval, Halls Gap. More details in February. FEED YOUR SOUL YOGA MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY – MORNING, MIDDAY & EVENING CLASSES Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Free your mind, body and spirit; strengthen your back and core muscles, and improve your overall wellbeing. Classes include yoga for beginners, yoga for seniors, yoga for men, yoga for menopause, yin yoga and hatha yoga. For more information please contact Angelika on M: 0401 607 716. 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, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people to enjoy some company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practice speaking English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am 2pm, and Wednesdays 10am – 12 noon, during school terms. People of all ages are welcome. The last day for The Hub in 2017 is Thursday 7 December, 10am – 12 noon. The Hub will resume on Tuesday 6 February 2018 at 10am. For information P: (03) 9560 3580. LENTEN STUDY RESOURCE: THE LORD’S PRAYER A new Lenten study resource for congregations: The Lord’s Prayer: Prayer for those who can no longer pray by Bruce Barber, is now available for free download from http://marktheevangelist.

CLASSIFIEDS AUSTRALIAN HYMN BOOKS – LARGE PRINT: Emerald UC is in need of copies of The Australian Hymn Book Large Print Edition. Please contact Barb Allison on M: 0409 796 450 if you can assist. CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 or E: CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775. CHOIR MUSIC/ANTHEMS AVAILABLE: Weeroona UC Bendigo has a wide selection of choir music/anthems available for any church or choir interested in adding to their repertoire. Full list available on Enquiries can be directed to E: Asking price is $10 to cover handling and postage.

SOUTH GIPPSLAND WORSHIP: When visiting South Gippsland you are invited to join the Mirboo North Uniting Church congregation for worship at 10 am each Sunday. Contact Lynne Oates on P: 03 5668 1621. VENUS BAY HOLIDAY HOUSE: Sleeps eight, two bathrooms, walking distance to beach and shops. Call Robyn M: 0407 113 376 or Johannes M: 0419 517 051.

WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second hand/ retro furniture, bric–a–rac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920. WANTED - TOGETHER IN SONG HYMN BOOKS: Fifty hymn books wanted for Highfield Road UC. 10 harmony editions, 40 melody line editions. Please contact Barry on P: (03) 9830 4992.


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. PIANO FOR SALE: ‘August Forster Lobau I/S’ beautiful panelled burr walnut, scrolled ormolu metal frame. Originally ‘M. Brash & Co Melbourne Sole Agents’, purchased from Channel 9, obviously kept in top notch condition. French polished, tuned to concert pitch. $3250. Contact Olive on M: 0407 412 222. SELF CATERING RURAL RETREAT: In the beautiful Kiewa Valley, N E Victoria. Opening January 2018. For enquiries text Sue on M: 0400 085 202. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: 03 5628 5319.



Moderator’s column

Piero della Francesca’s Madonna del Parto, an iconic depiction of the pregnant Virgin Mary

Embodiment of hope


A COLLEAGUE recently commented to me that she had noticed that we don’t focus on the pregnancy of Mary. Mary has not often been depicted in art as pregnant. Rarely do we put pictures of Mary obviously pregnant up for Advent. I’m not sure what she had in mind when she said this but it got me to thinking about how bodily impactful pregnancy is. Pregnancy stretches a women’s body almost to breaking point. Skin grows translucent, organs are rearranged, babies can be felt kicking and moving. For me, one of the implications of Mary’s pregnancy is to affirm the importance of the body. The body matters. God chose the body of Mary to bear Christ into the world. In becoming human, Jesus experiences humanity with all the joy, wonder, pain and sorrow of the body. His death is borne in his body, suffering extreme physical pain on the cross. Early on in the Christian tradition, a stream of thought began to despise the human body, viewing it as less important than the soul. The body was seen as weak, the place of sin, female. This has had serious negative repercussions for our understanding of the goodness of the body, of sex. I wonder what it might mean to take our bodies seriously. Increasingly, psychologists are coming to understand that traumatic experiences manifest themselves in physical symptoms. For a long time we imagined abuse, grief or other trauma to be known and experienced in the mind or emotions. But now we

know anxiety and trauma can manifest in symptoms like tightness of chest, feeling faint, difficulty breathing and a range of other symptoms. Trauma can be passed not just psychologically but physically across generations. I know from my own experience how much grief affected my body. I couldn’t eat, my stomach churned, I couldn’t sleep. I felt physically agitated and could often only relieve the agitation through a long walk or other physical activity. My body often tells me I am stressed before my mind. I am learning to listen to what my body is telling me. If we take this understanding of the body seriously, it will shape how we offer pastoral care and what we take seriously in our active listening. Pastoral care will see us listening to what people are telling us, not just with their words but with their bodies. We will be alert to and honour bodily experiences of loss, suffering and mental illness. We could affirm people’s body experiences and take them seriously. Pastoral care should take the impact of physical illness on the whole of life seriously. We will listen to people tell us about their symptoms, pain and treatment because they matter and impact faith, wellbeing and sense of self. Our bodies also say a lot about what we believe and where our commitments lie. Where we place our bodies speak of our commitments. We understand what it means to be loved

not just because someone says ‘I love you’ but because of their embodied loving care – tending us when sick, cooking meals, just showing up. New parents know the way loving an infant requires so much care borne by the body, in the body. Such care is demanding and speaks of deep love. Our bodies speak of what we love. The non-violent civil rights movement knows the power of the body to witness to belief. There is a long tradition of putting bodies on the line, in danger to bear witness to the violence of racism, the suffering of immigrants, the tyranny of colonial occupation. Risking one’s body speaks powerfully to a commitment to follow the peaceful justiceseeking ways of Christ. Showing up to worship, holding out our hands to receive the presence of Christ in bread and wine, opening our ears and hearts to words of grace is an embodied expression of our desire to meet God’s love over and over. We cannot take Christ into ourselves in Holy Communion without being physically present, eating and drinking. Being bodily present in Christian worship makes fellowship and grace possible. This Advent may you ponder Mary pregnant and find your faith renewed and your commitment to embody Christ in the world strengthened. Sharon Hollis Moderator CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 17

Crossword Test your Nativity story knowledge For the cluey reader



4. The King of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth 5. The only gospel which details the nativity story 6. The gospel book which does not refer to Jesus’ birth or beginning at all 8. The direction from where the wise men came 10. One of the gifts brought by the wise men 11. Caesar _, who called a census 12. The meaning of the name Jesus 15. Jesus’ home town 16. City where Jesus was born 18. Joseph was from this region 20. The Old Testament prophet who wrote of the birth of Mary’s child 21. Country that Joseph, Mary and Jesus fled to in order to avoid Herod’s persecution 22. Bethlehem is in this direction from Jerusalem DOWN 1. How was Elizabeth related to Mary? 2. One of the types of birds offered as thanksgiving sacrifice after the birth of Jesus 3. Saint credited with building the first manger scene complete with live animals 7. The city where the wise men first stopped to ask about the birth of Jesus 9. The probable job description of the wise men 12. Those who spread the news of Jesus’ birth throughout Bethlehem 13. The name of the angel who came to Mary 14. The name of Jesus’ earthly grandfather 17. Distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem in miles 19. Number of days after the birth of Christ when Joseph and Mary give him the name Jesus 22. The number of angelic encounters associated with the birth of Jesus

Giving is living

Almighty God, We give thanks for the blessings we have received this year And the new friendships we have made As we enter a new year Let us make a renewed effort to improve ourselves To strengthen our relationships with others To appreciate the beauty of your creation And be more faithful followers of Christ Amen

DISABILITY Sport and Recreation organised an overseas cycling tour last year for a group of able-bodied and wheelchair Australian athletes. The CyclePower tour saw a group of 18 participants – eight of whom have a disability – cycle 520km from Siam Reap in Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Some of the participants used hand cycles to help them peddle their way across two countries. The tour, funded by a Uniting Journeys grant, highlighted the barriers faced by people with a disability. As the travellers journeyed, they met local communities and raised awareness about improving mobility and disability inclusion. In the image above, CyclePower tour participants enjoyed a friendly game of basketball with

women from the Battambang Wheelchair Basketball team. Disability Sport and Recreation provided the team with wheelchairs during a visit three years ago and support a coaching program in Cambodia. The International Labour Organisation estimates more than 15 percent of the population of Cambodia and Vietnam live with at least one form of disability. Land mines laid during the Khmer Rouge conflict caused more than 25,000 amputees alone – the highest per capita ratio in the world. The synod’s Giving is Living program produces monthly pew sheets that can be downloaded and printed for congregational use. Visit to access them. ACROSS 4. Herod 5. Luke 6. Mark 8. East 10. Frankincense 11. Augustus 12. Saviour 15. Nazareth 16. Bethlehem 18. Galilee 20. Isaiah 21. Egypt 22. South

Pedal power

DOWN 1. Cousin 2. Turtledoves 3. Francis 7. Jerusalem 9. Astrologers 12. Shepherds 13. Gabriel 14. Jacob 17. Eighty 19. Eight 22. Six



Synod Snaps


Congregation members at Torquay Uniting Church enjoy a cuppa after their Sunday service.

Young people at Coburg Uniting Church prepared and conducted a traditional Samoan ‘White Sunday’ service in October.

Charlotte and Oliver

The synod’s Justice and International Mission unit’s mail-out team hard at work.

Annual nativity dress-ups at the Hub, Glen Waverley.

Elizabeth, Joy and Thomas packing gift boxes for Wendouree Uniting Church’s Samartian’s Purse

Shaun the sheep

St Andrew’s Gardiner Uniting Church’s Soli Deo Gloria Choir took part in the Many Voices, One Song service at St Paul’s Cathedral to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Bellbrae Uniting Church is a dog-friendly congregation.

Crosslight December 2017  

Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...

Crosslight December 2017  

Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...