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Crosslight No N No. o. 294 294 29 D De December ece ce cemb emb m er e 2 2018 01 0 18

’Tis the season

to think of those in need HOW YOU CAN HELP, P6-7


16 From calisthenics to head of College

Preaching with a purpose in mind



2018: A year of following the light

Sheep pen - how Cecil took flight

Crosslight No. 291 September 2018

Guest editorial

Boots and all giving


Communications & Media Services

I STARTED volunteering more than six years ago, when my youngest child started kindergarten. I was working four days a week, but got sick of being at home cleaning the house on my day off. I wanted to do something more meaningful. Volunteering in emergency relief at Uniting has opened my eyes to the issues many people face each and every day. Every Tuesday we see up to 35 families at what we call The Tin Shed, AKA The Community Youth Club in St Albans. We provide food for people in crisis. Many people who come to us have nothing, so if we can provide them with food, that’s one less thing for them to worry about. No one should go without food. People who come to us for help are often tired and emotionally drained. They’ve had to deal with some really tough things. I just hope in some small way, I can help them unload some of their concerns and help them see there are people who are always here to help them. I’m often overwhelmed when I see the look on someone’s face when they are

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leaving with food fr their children. My fondest memory is of a refugee family who reached out for help because the parents were unable to find work. I talked to the youngest child, a little boy around the same age as my middle child, about his love of sport. He told me he loved playing soccer, but he didn’t have a soccer ball or boots. It broke my heart and, when I got home that night and told my son, he raced into his room and started packing his spare soccer boots and jerseys. I arranged to meet the boy and his father to give them my son’s soccer gear. They were so grateful. That’s something I will never forget, and I hope my son never forgets. I want my children to know the importance of helping others. For the Uniting Church and its agencies Christmas is an especially significant time to help others in need. You can read about the Uniting Vic.Tas Food for Families appeal on page 6. On pages 7 and 8 there are other stories of churches giving to help those in need and offering hospitality to those in their community.

As the year winds up it also time to reflect. This issue of Crosslight looks back on some of the memorable stories covered this year on pages 14-15.

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Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <>. Closing date for February – Wednesday 2 January 2019. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online:



Maria Magno is a volunteer with Uniting Vic.Tas

Maria Magno

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Uniting Church to observe Day of Mourning THIS January, Uniting Church congregations across the country are being asked to hold worship services that reflect on the effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples. The observance of a “Day of Mourning” was endorsed by the 15th Assembly at the request of members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. Assembly covenanting consultant and former UCA president Stuart McMillan said the move was welcome. “Rather than seeking a change to the date for Australia Day as some propose, the Congress asked the Church, in the spirit of the Covenant between us, to declare the Sunday before Australia Day as a Day of Mourning. Assembly members enthusiastically agreed,” Stuart said. Sunday 20 January 2019 will be the first official UCA Day of Mourning, with the event to become an annual fixture on the UCA liturgical calendar. Congregations, agencies and schools are encouraged to honour First Peoples on the day or in the week before 26 January by using the resources prepared, together with your own resources. “The desire is that the service and

Rev Denise Champion, centre, with Auntie Mona and Olsson Lorna

any related events acknowledge the dispossession, violence and murder of First Peoples, and lament the fact that as a Church and as Second Peoples we were and remain complicit,” Stuart said. “If that comes as a surprise to some, this is what we have already acknowledged in

our Church in the changes to the Preamble to the UCA Constitution, approved by the Ninth Assembly in 2009 and formalised by Synods by 2011.” A Day of Mourning is not a new concept in Australia. The first such day was held on Australia Day 1938, organised by the

Aborigines Progressive Association in NSW with support from the Australian Aborigines League in Victoria to coincide with sesquicentenary celebrations. “Our declaration of a Day of Mourning is a way in which we stand together in Covenantal relationship to honour, remember and acknowledge the truth of our history, the fallen, the wounded and their families and the next generations, just as we do in this nation on Anzac Day each year,” Stuart said. “On 20 January I for one will be reflecting on the lie of terra nullius – the claim that Australia was a land that belonged to no one - and the devastating effects this declaration had on the First Peoples of this land, together with the generational legacies which still affect First Peoples today. “I will lament, say sorry, ask for forgiveness, and pray that our nation will be led to do likewise. “

UCA Day of Mourning resources will be made available on the Assembly website ( during December.

Pilgrim’s big finish PILGRIM Theological College held a busy End of Year service last month, which recognised nine exiting candidates for ministry and farewelled 22 students who had completed or were completing awards. The ceremony also welcomed two “new” members of faculty, although as worship leader and head of College Dr Sean Winter remarked both Dr Robyn Whitaker and Dr Stephen Burns are already a familiar part of the Pilgrim community. Both joined Pilgrim in July, Robyn as coordinator of studies – New Testament and Stephen as coordinator of ministry studies as well as professor of liturgical and practical theology in the University of Divinity. Rev Graeme Harrison gave a formal welcome and induction. The valedictory address was delivered by Rev Nigel Hanscamp. He drew on the Gospel reading of Mark 12:28-34, where Jesus told a Pharisee that the greatest commandment was to love the Lord and then to love your neighbour as yourself. Such love does not allow us to turn people into “others”, Nigel said, even those we disagree with, which was something to remember especially when posting on social media. “For love always demands more of us than justice,” Nigel said. “And love always takes the first step


Pilgrim Theological College’s class of 2018

to reconciliation. Love is collective and inclusive. Love wants all of us.” In the final part of the service those completing awards were presented with candles, while those exiting for ministry received candles and holding crosses from Associate Professor Katharine Massam and Rev Dr Sunny Chen.

Paulo Kwajakwan said exiting for ministry, which he did mid-way through the year, had been the culmination of a long journey. He was brought up as a Catholic in a remote South Sudanese village. A calling to ministry led him to complete a Bachelor of Theology in Cairo in 1996.

On returning to his village he found he was under military surveillance and not safe. So he fled South Sudan as a refugee and arrived in Australia in 2001. Paulo founded Chollo Community Christian Fellowship which later developed ties with the Noble Park Uniting Church, where he is a candidate for ministry.



Why Sammy Stamp is licking his lips SAMMY Stamp is dedicated to making every post a winner. Over its 40-year history the group has collected and sold stamps to raise money for community service and mission projects run by UCA congregations and other Christian agencies in Australia and overseas. Sammy Stamp organiser Allan Clark says the group will soon be able to boast of distributing a million dollars. “We are at $980,000 but we are getting close to reaching our target,” Allan said. Every Thursday a dedicated bunch of philatelists gather at 130 Lt Collins St Synod offices to sort through mostly donated stamps looking for ones to sell. Occasionally they hit the jackpot, once finding a rare South Australian 30 cent stamp that had been left in Synod’s mailbox and selling it for $1500. Why the Uniting Church Adult

Fellowship group is called Sammy Stamp remains a bit of a mystery. “A lady who helped set it up gave it that name and it has stuck ever since,” Allan said. Sammy Stamp donations have assisted a wide variety of projects such as the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness, maternity health care workers in South Sudan and SHARE, the Victoria and New South Wales Flood Appeal. “We give money to worthy humanitarian causes,” Allan said. “As such, we will continue doing what we do to help those in need.”

To find out more about Sammy Stamp or to volunteer please Allan on (03) 9557 1008. Stamp sale days are Thursdays from 9:30am to 2pm at the Synod building at 130 Lt Collins St.

Allan Clark

Phil Maritn and friends

Wooden you know it, dinos are on the loose DINOSAURS, or at least their replica skeletons, helped tranform the gardens of the Narre Warren North Uniting Church into “fossil park” last month. To the sounds of dinosaurs roaring in the background, almost 100 children and adults came to meet ‘Fossil’ Phil Martin and his 10 large-scale colourful handmade dinosaur skeletons. Phil said he has loved dinosaurs since being a boy and after turning 50 decided to make the skeletons as a hobby. After taking a model to Sunday school and seeing how excited it made the children he decided to put them on display. Besides the models there were plenty of other dinosaur-related things to do and see on Fossil Experience Day. “One of the favourite activities was the digging for fossils,” Phil said. “It was so much fun watching the children’s faces light up with excitement when they dug deep into the sand and lifted up one of the fossils they had found.

“Some of the children even came prepared with their little buckets and spades. The children also coloured in dinosaur pictures, searched for the hidden dinosaur nest and helped me build one of my dinosaurs as I explained how fossils were formed. “I was very impressed with their knowledge of the dinosaurs displayed, as the kids pronounced their names with ease as parents and grandparents watched on with pride.” Phil said he was also very thankful to “a great team of volunteers who helped make the day a successful one”. Each of the models, which range up to five metres long and two metres high, has a name. The raptor’s name is Big Red, while the largest model is Bronte, the teenage brontosaurus. They were assembled in Phil’s backyard and he says that each one took between 3040 hours to create.

Hazel’s generous gesture helps three charities A CHEQUE for almost $40,000 was presented to Uniting Vic.Tas last month as a bequest from a Uniting Church member whose commitment to social justice is a defining legacy of her faith and life. Margaret Elizabeth Stuart Bowie, who was known by all as Hazel, left $39,813 in her will to the Outer Eastern Asylum Seeker Network via Blackburn North-Nunawading Uniting Church. The bequest was presented during a Sunday service at the church to Uniting Vic. Tas representatives. Hazel’s long-time friend Cherril Randles spoke at the service. “Hazel was very committed to her faith, she really put her faith into practice and it enriched her life,” Cherril said. “She was very independent, private and lived frugally but she had a strong sense of social justice.” Cherril said that Hazel had been a donor to the Outer Eastern Asylum Seeker Network for 11 years, but had limited 4

financial means having been only modestly paid during her working life. “Her only asset was her house, which she had bought in the mid-1970’s at a time when it was difficult for a single woman, with inequitable pay, to obtain a loan,” Cherril said. When Hazel had to sell her home to move into care she couldn’t believe how much it was worth in the contemporary real estate market. In her will, drawn up shortly before she died, Hazel left equal sums to three charities - the two others being Save the Children Fund and Fred Hollows Foundation Hazel was a loyal member of the Nunawading Uniting Church serving on the council and being involved in a number of fellowship groups. Because Hazel lived close to the church she even became the unofficial caretaker. “She would often ring up my husband and say the ‘doors have been left open’,” Cherril ssaid. “She always tried to do what she could.”

Uniting Vic Tas represntatives Melissa Carrozza and Andi Jones receive the bequest from Uniting Church member Bev Brown and Rev Lauleti Tu’inauvai


1996 1992 1999

2010 2013


new year, new look, New features The first thing youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll notice about Crosslight next year will be its new magazine size, making it easier to carry and keep. And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 40 pages will featuring more stories, more news, more pictures, in fact more of everything. All of your favourite elements will remain, augmented with new features and exciting new regular content. We will be able to celebrate even more aspects of the life of the church in greater detail. The other major change is the publication dates. From February 2019, the Crosslight will be published every second month. In between, you can keep up-to-date with Crosslight online.

This is not the first time Crosslight has changed its appearance. Like most of us, it has had a few different looks in the past 27 years since it first appeared in February 1992. What has never changed, however, is the commitment to fostering faith, showcasing a wide variety of expressions of the church and keeping our readers informed across Victoria, Tasmania, nationally and beyond. The new Crosslight magazine will also appeal across cultures and generations. We hope you will enjoy reading the new Crosslight as much as we will enjoy preparing it for you.

The Crosslight team



Feb 2019

Christmas charity

Christmas is a time for CHRISTMAS is often referred to as the “festive season”, but a growing number of hard-pressed grandparents are finding it difficult to celebrate. Sandra has become what some label a “granny nanny”, where she has assumed fulltime care of her grandchildren. It’s a role the 65-year-old cherishes, but relying on her Newstart Allowance makes it difficult to put food on the table for her two young granddaughters. In a bid to help people such as Sandra, Uniting Vic.Tas is once again staging its Food for Families appeal, hoping to collect 70 tonnes of non-perishable food and household essentials – almost twice what was collected last year. Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier said the 40 tonnes of food collected last year wasn’t enough to meet the growing demand. “The number of people accessing our emergency relief services across Victoria and Tasmania continues to grow each year,” he said.

Sandra is a full-time carer to her granddaughters Pic credit: Georgia Verrells photography

“Our fear is that the rising cost of living will force increasing numbers of families into severe financial hardship and homelessness in 2019.” Paul said many families will be forced to decide between putting food on the table, buying gifts for their children or paying bills this Christmas. “Christmas is supposed to be a wonderful time of year, but for families experiencing illness, violence, homelessness or living in crisis, it can be the most difficult time of all,” he said. “When you’re struggling for money, food is often the first thing to go. We want to help every person that reaches out, but we can’t do it alone – we are very reliant on strong community support to ensure assistance to people in need.” For Sandra and her two granddaughters, Food for Families donations will mean a brighter Christmas. “It means the world to the girls and I. I really don’t know where I’d be without Uniting,” Sandra said. “It’s certainly hard raising two young girls on a Newstart Allowance - most of that is spent on basic living expenses.” Last year, Food for Families helped Sandra put a hot Christmas Day meal on the table and helped her save a small amount to buy gifts for her granddaughters. “Thanks to the support, I could give the girls a proper Christmas,” she said. To register your support, visit or call 1800 060 543. You can also support people in need by donating to the Uniting Christmas Share Appeal, buying Christmas cards, or supporting the Target UnitingCare Australia Christmas Appeal, which includes gift giving. Find out more at

Ayesha Khafun and (above) Janet Cousens at Bangladesh’s Jamtoli refugee camp

Funding education and further study in 2019 Educational Grants, Scholarships and Bursaries equipping Leadership for Mission

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12/10/2017 10:50:26 AM


CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 18 2017 11 Crosslight Ad OUTLINES.indd 1

12/10/2017 10:50:26 AM

Christmas charity

some Santa causes Bowl is ready to serve those in need once more JANET COUSENS

RYDA outta the oven A PICTURE, the old saying goes, tells a thousand words and Doug Williams says that is certainly the case with this image (right) of goodies being baked. The cooks are orphaned and vulnerable children completing a non-formal exam in the Catering and Hospitality classroom of the Rubaga Youth Development Association, located in Buloba, Uganda. “They have come to RYDA with no more than one bag of personal items, to train for two years to attain a government trade qualification,” Doug said. “They are provided with uniforms, curriculum materials, food, accommodation, showers, toilets, intellectual and physical challenges, community and, perhaps most importantly, a safe place to uncover, enable and extend their potential. “When they graduate they will be supported to find their first employment.” RYDA is a non-government organisation founded in 1992 by social worker DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

Geoffrey Kyeyune to give opportunities to disadvantaged young people, often living on the streets, in Uganda’s capital of Kampala. In particular, RYDA seeks to increase life skills, opportunity, education and vocational training to help put an end to child labour. Doug’s congregation at St Margaret’s Uniting Church in Mooroolbark has been a long-time supporter of RYDA’s work.

“The students pay no fees,” Doug said. “It all comes through donors, gifts and grants. One way people might consider heling out is bying a Christmas gift certificate from our website. To learn more about RYDA, buy gift certificates or otherwise support its work visit

RIGHT now there are more than 68 million people who have been driven from their homes and families by war or persecution - the highest number recorded. Among those most in need are hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees forced to flee violence in Myanmar last year. They witnessed their villages being burned, their wives and daughters raped and family members and neighbours being killed. It is impossible to fully comprehend what these men, women and children have endured, and it is vitally important we don’t turn our back on those who have already suffered so much. Earlier this year I visited the Jamtoli refugee camp in Bangladesh, an experience I found intense and challenging. I had the privilege of meeting deeply troubled, but highly resilient, people. One of them was a young mother called Ayesha, who escaped with her family at night when the Myanmar army attacked their village. Ayesha and her family travelled for days with little food or water to reach Jamtoli but the conditions were so bad she lost her baby. Despite such trauma, Ayesha still faces each day with incredible dignity and resolve. She wants to raise her children with safety and opportunity. She is working hard to support them on a daily basis. We have an extraordinary crisis on our regional doorstep and I feel challenged about how we can reach out as Christ would in this situation. I imagine Christmas Bowl appeal founder Rev Frank Byatt felt similalry challenged in 1949 when he saw the plight of refugees who had fled the horrors of World War II. Frank saw the needs around him and he felt God’s call to respond. So the young minister called on his Victorian congregation to “get a bowl to put on your Christmas dinner table as a Bowl of Remembrance and see if you can get everybody around the table to make a generous gift so that you can share your good dinner with hungry children in other lands”. As we sit down to share our Christmas meals with our families and friends to celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us also pause to be grateful for what we have. Let us also remember to share our good blessings with our brothers and sisters in need, and respond to Jesus’s call to love our neighbours. The Christmas Bowl appeal is run by Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia. To find out more or donate, go to www. Janet Cousens is Act for Peace Chief Executive Officer. 7

Everybody has a story

Christmas among the refugees CATHERINE LEWIS

THE poem on the right is not an antiChristmas diatribe. I love Christmas, particularly when there are children involved. I love the tinsel, the carols, the excitement of special foods and overdoing things because it’s a special time, a celebration, an extravagance. But leading up to Christmas in 1992 I was faced with two worlds impossible to reconcile. Our family had lived in Sierra Leone for two years, where my husband, David, worked on a rehabilitation program for people with disability. The year before a brutal “blood diamond” war began and, by 1992, it had engulfed the area the program operated in. About 300,000 people from the diamondmining area of Kona were forced to flee the barbarity inflicted by rebels. There was no international help and little internal support. With funds provided by David’s program, he was able to establish a relief effort near the frontline fighting. However, the money was desperately inadequate to properly help. I will never forget driving towards the war zone, passing mile after mile of people carrying their bundles of possessions. At the same time, I was preparing Christmas for our three small children,


far away from family, wanting to make it a joyous day, a time to relish being together. I wanted a time to enjoy gifts chosen and packed so carefully in Australia, to eat special food and hang decorations. I hoped to forget the relentless pressures of daily life and the project’s demands just for one day and simply celebrate as a family. I wanted that so badly. But I could not bring these two worlds together. All I could do was accept it was our calling as God’s image bearers and children, to live in the tension, was to be stretched beyond what seemed possible. We are called to celebrate and grieve at the same time, to be part of the world’s joy and its suffering, as God chooses to be.

Postcript It is 26 years since I wrote this poem, but the weary footsteps continue worldwide – in places such as Syria, Myanmar, Sudan, Afghanistan, Somalia – marching endlessly from conflict, starvation, genocide, dispossession, fear and hopelessness. We can still hear them, if we choose to listen. But sometimes it is so hard to listen. Catherine Lewis is a member of St Andrews Uniting Church Fairfield.

Christmas 1992 – Kono Refugees Oh! Can’t we hear them crying through our busy Christmas cheer? Can’t we hear the sound of footsteps dragging down the road, blindly walking, walking, walking, with no goal, no hope of haven, only fear to drive them on? With the weary children crying, crying, crying for a rest, or struggling, mute with terror, to keep pace? And can’t we hear the sound of wailing that will not be hushed or soothed? Rachel weeping, weeping, weeping for her children, the new-birthed mother wailing, wailing, wailing for her baby, born too early in the terror and the unrelenting march, now left cold and still beside the road beneath his hasty covering of dirt and anguished tears. And the mother reaching, reaching, reaching helpless empty arms as her family pull her from him, and the weary fear-filled flight to nowhere starts again. Can’t we see the stable for the tinsel and the glare? Can’t we smell the cow dung for the turkey and the cake? Can’t we hear the baby crying for his dark and bloody world? Will we chant out empty carols and leave him weeping in the dirt? Or will we let ourselves be stretched by human joy and pain as that tender babe was stretched on that cross so long ago? Catherine Lewis, 1992



Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch? DAVID SOUTHWELL

FOR too many people Christmas Day arrives with a sense of loneliness and even despair at being shut out of the general festivity. Recognising this, Uniting Church groups across the Synod offer hospitality and fellowship by putting on community Christmas lunches and associated events. They often become much cherished traditions as can be seen in the two examples below. Diamond Valley Diamond Valley Parish is gearing up for its 13th Community Christmas Day Lunch. Parism member Lesley Alves said the idea originated with the Justice and Mission Team as an outreach program. “We were aware that there are people for whom social isolation is much worse at Christmas, but we had no idea how many would come,” she said. “Nor did we know where the food for the lunch would come from.” Lesley said it was important to the Parish, which has the Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge congregations, that they involved the community. The Parish asked Nillumbik Shire Council to introduce them to welfare organisations that could suggest potential guests and volunteers. Council also provided a social worker to advise, helped with printing the flyers and lent the community bus to carry guests who needed transport. “We had no budget for provisions, so we sought the help of local businesses and community groups,” Lesley said. “The response was very positive. Much of our fresh food was donated by local butchers, greengrocers and bakeries. “The Rotary Club donated Christmas puddings and cakes, and friends of some of our members gave food – one lady made enough soup for 60 people.” Tables and chairs were kindly lent by the local Anglican Church and the CFA Fire Brigade, which also lent a large industrial refrigerator, which they eventually donated to the church. Lesley said there was a remarkable response to the call for volunteers, who came from near and far.

“People were prepared to come along early to make salads, or stay late to wash up, or to pick up guests from their homes and return them at the end of the day,” she said. “We did not expect the volunteers to spend the whole day in the kitchen – they were invited to sit down to lunch with the guests, acting as host to the people at their table. “The primary task of all volunteers was to make our guests felt warmly welcome and glad that they decided to come.” Sixty people, including volunteers, attended the first lunch in 2006. “There was enough food, even a bit left over,” Lesley said. “Most importantly, everybody had a wonderful time. “One guest said as she was leaving ‘It’s been lovely, dear. I didn’t know the church was open at Christmas.’ “So we have kept the church open on Christmas Day ever since. Word has spread and numbers attending the lunch have increased, peaking at 145 in 2012. Every year more food seems to turn up, Alva said. “One of our team members calls it ‘the annual loaves and fishes extravaganza’. “We have come to rely on some wonderful volunteers, who turn up year after year. This year we have invited a few of our experienced volunteers on to our planning team.” The only “religious” content is the grace, said by a parish minister, and carol singing.

However, Lesley said the message conveyed the lunch is clear. “We want to share the love and goodwill of Christmas,” she said. “The lunch brings joy to many people, and gives others the pleasure of contributing to that joy. “Thank you for encouraging me to come. I had come to dread the Christmas season. It was such a happy day for me.” Hampton Park At Hampton Park Uniting Church in Melbourne’s South East they are holding their 11th Christmas Day lunch, which typically has about 120 guests attending along with 30 volunteers. “We get all kinds come along and it’s just good fun,” said Dianne Leak, who is one of the main organisers. “There are people out there that are lonely on Christmas Day. We’ve had single mums come and say ‘we’ve got nowhere else to go’ and they’ll come along. “One year, a lady rang up to volunteer but we had filled up our spaces.

“There was just something in her voice. So I said ‘what are you going to do tomorrow?’ “She said ‘I think I will ride the trains’. “I said ‘No, no, no come and be a guest and if you really want to you can help us clean up afterwards’. “And you know what? She came and stayed to help clean up at the end.” Dianne said there were a number of regular guests, including one full-time carer grandmother who had been to 10 out of the 11 lunches. Some people had been asking about coming to Christmas lunch since October. Many of the guests also attended the weekly Carer’s Hub and Open Up groups run by Hampton Park. Casey council has provided a grant to help fund those programs and the Christmas lunch. “This is really fantastic,” Dianne said. “It has taken so much pressure off.” Even with the financial help the success of the lunch depends on volunteers. “We’ve had some people come in from different churches and different denominations,” Dianne said. “A whole family came in last year after already having lunch and just did the dishes. It’s just fantastic when you get that.” While most guests register beforehand there are always some who just turn up on the day, but this doesn’t bother Dianne. “It has never not worked, it always does,” she said. “It all falls together.” The lunches usually have an MC and musicians, with Santa making an appearance to hand out stockings full of chocolates to the kids. Table hosts are appointed to help make sure it’s a social and fun occasion. “We’ll have some icebreaker games or things like that,” Dianne said. “It’s about belonging and hospitality, about having a sense of community, about not feeling left out at Christmas and knowing that somebody cares.”

Kathie Hockley and Courtney Burd




In tents focus on doing mission THIS year Uniting Church camps hosted hundreds of people from schools, sporting clubs, craft groups, large family gatherings and other faith communities but they are always on the lookout for more visitors and will even help pay for them. UC Camping (UCC) director Daniel Murray said the organisation offered financial assistance and tailored programs to appropriate groups but this was not always widely known. “A community care unit for people with intellectual disabilities came to us wanting to do a program. They didn’t know there was any capacity to support them,” Daniel said. “It was evident early on that financially they were really struggling, so we went to the presbytery in Port Phillip East and they were very supportive.” Daniel said camps worked closely with their presbyteries to decide which missional initiatives to support. “Some are for UCA groups but others might be a school where the kids are on EMA (educational maintenance allowance),” Daniel said. “We might go ‘all right, let’s contribute x-amount to this camp’ so that each child’s camp cost is reduced from $250 to $150. “Uniting Church Camping is entirely self-funded. What we generate in revenue goes back into managing the camps in terms of capital development and program development. We also present five per cent of that gross revenue to missional activities.” Daniel has witnessed the ripple effect of UCC’s missional work in the community. “Our maxim is creating opportunities – it’s the UCC byline, if you like,” he said. “That is not just opportunities for people who come to the camps, it is also creating opportunities for others to participate in something of value. “For example, the bus company that we use will often reduce their rates for a school that is really struggling. We have surf schools that provide lessons at no cost if it’s a special needs group.

After 60 years it’s a big Hoo-Ray

Green gong for Clarence


Coffee, cakes and cards are helping refugees make a clean start. Four Uniting Church women are preparing to sell a new set of greeting cards to raise money for welcome packs of toiletries to be given to refugees and to provide cleaning agents for a refugee accommodation house owned by the Camberwell Uniting Church. Camberwell members Eril Deighton and Ruth Akie take photos, often of birdlife, to put on the front the greeting cards. Every year there is a launch event to sell the cards at the Point Lonsdale home of Lyn Mulligan, who along with fellow Ocean Grove Uniting Church member Joan Calcutt, prepare free coffee and cakes. Lyn said the launch is not a public event and attendees learn of it and are invited through friendship networks of churches, social justice and refugee advocacy groups. She expects about 50 people to come. The cards cost $3.50 each and can be customised for Christmas with an insert or left blank for any occasion.As well as buying the cards in bulk attendees give donations. “We hope to raise $2000,” Lyn said. Money not spent on the toiletries and cleaning products goes to the Queenscliff Rural Australians for Refugees (QRAR).

If you are interested in buying the cards or making donations contact Lyn Mulligan (03) 5255 2638 or

For more information about group bookings with UCC go to or phone 1300 304 560.

LAST month, Clarence Uniting Church was presented with two Five Leaf EcoAwards, making it the first church in Tasmania to receive such recognition. The church claimed the Five Leaf EcoAwards Basic Certificate and Eco-Worship Award in recognition of their long-term commitment to worship with ecological themes and eco-theology and their work for the environment. Green initiatives taken by the church include installing efficient lighting, regular

Playing their cards right

energy audits and review of efficiency measures, reducing paper use, participation in Clean Up Australia Day and the Season of Creation and congregational environmental actions. Five Leaf Eco-Awards director Jessica Morthorpe made the presentation. “It’s particularly exciting that this is the first church in Tasmania to receive an award,” she said. Clarence minister Rev Ann Perrin said it was exciting to receive the recognition.

“These awards remind us that we are not alone in all the hard work that we have done,” she said. The Five Leaf Eco-Awards are an ecumenical environmental change initiative to encourage churches and religious organisations. The awards are non-competitive and achievement-based, with churches completing tasks from a list of flexible criteria to earn each certificate. Learn more at

After leading an October Sunday monring worship at Glenroy Uniting Church’s Ray Averill announced he was “hanging up his preaching boots” after more than 60 years of lay ministry. “At 88 years of age I look back on a wonderful journey,” Ray said. In the early 1950s Ray began sharing his faith in the West Brunswick Methodist Circuit. Ray and two other young Christians, full of energy and evangelical zeal, filled in wherever needed. While one of the trio became a Baptist minister, Ray went on to qualify for registration as a local preacher. When Ray joined the staff of Scripture Union Victoria in 1954 he had more opportunities to take services in various denominations, throughout Victoria. “Some years ago I counted up more than 600 worship services I had conducted. In those days local/lay preachers did not receive any remuneration or even ‘petrol money’,” Ray said. “Then there were the Sunday school anniversaries. Do people remember them?” For the past few years Ray has been leading one of the three Glenroy UC worship teams. In his “retirement” he has volunteered to keep contributing as a consultant. At the retirement service Ray’s Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) and Certificate of Appreciation from the UCA were on display.



A matter of principal DEB BENNETT

Helen Drennen


GIVEN her evident passion for teaching and education it is something of a surprise to learn this wasn’t Wesley College principal Dr Helen Drennen’s first career choice. “I was studying in neuro-physiology with the thought that I would pursue a research career,” Helen says. “It was then that I decided I would like to teach; a very strong urge came to be a teacher. Most of the people working at ANU in the John Curtin School of Medical research were astounded when I decided to do that. “It is clear to me when I think about myself in the upper-primary years that I was a natural to be a teacher. But I never vocalised that, I wasn’t conscious that I was heading in the direction of being a teacher. “But I remember I loved calisthenics and I loved teaching and doing rehearsals and practice with the whole team. When I look back that must have been something to do with a natural disposition to teach.” As Helen comes to the end of her time as principal at the independent Uniting Church school, the importance of continued, lifelong learning is at the forefront of her mind. “One of the big changes – that wasn’t there 20 or so years ago – is the increased understanding about the process of learning,” she said. “That manifests itself in all sorts of different ways. I think that is one of the wonderful developments. “People might think that it is challenging keeping up with those changes, but the training of teachers is very different now from the old days. It’s recognised that learning just doesn’t start and stop at school, and it’s the same in the teaching profession.” One of Helen’s great personal learning experience had been Wesley College’s partnering with Aboriginal community members in the Kimberley, Western Australia, to establish the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio

School on Leopold Downs Cattle Station for year 10 to 12 students. “I learnt the deepest lessons from Aboriginal women who were so supportive of me,” she said. “They are very authentic and focused – and I learned a lot about the importance of tenacity and stubbornness.” The success of the partnership is evident by the relationships formed among Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. As the students learn from each other, they are questioning long-held stereotypes and traditional thinking. Helen has led Wesley College for the past 15 years after being appointed the first female head in the school’s 153year history. Some might be daunted to be such a trailblazer but Helen was well prepared. From her first teaching job at Altona North High School, Helen went on to become the inaugural academic director for the International Baccalaureate in Wales; director of the Asia Pacific Region. “I’m very lucky because my whole life has been in a mixed environment,” Helen said. “My schooling was co-ed, my parents very deliberately didn’t want their daughters in a single-sex school. “I was one of three girls, the middle daughter, and my father was very clear that he wanted his girls to grow up in an environment where they could mix naturally with men and women. “Because of that I have always felt the diversity of the population was normal. “When I came to Wesley, given that I was the first female principal, I could have faced some challenges. “But I felt the majority of the community was very accepting and weren’t judging me by my gender.” It come as no surprise that under Helen’s leadership, genuine respectful relationships have been fostered between boys and girls throughout the school. “One of the things I’m proudest of is the wonderful, respectful, naturally inclusive culture at the school; gender is not an issue. Learning to naturally value others is important in preparing for the world,” she says. Helen’s commitment to education was recognised in the 2016 Australia Day Honours list. She was awarded as a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for “significant service to secondary education through leadership roles, to professional bodies, and to the community”. Although Helen is excited about pursuing new opportunities, she lists the sound of children, the daily rhythm of school life and a supportive staff environment as things she will miss about Wesley College. 11


It’s been a year of challenge and change JENNIFER BRYNES IT WAS way back in February’s edition of Crosslight that I introduced you to the equipping Leadship for Mission (eLM) unit, so it’s fitting that I share an update and reflections on this past year. Like any newborn baby some of the eLM’s personality and attributes are yet to be revealed, suffice to say at this point of time it is looking healthy and energetic. As with any birth there is a range of emotions swirling, mostly joy and hope for what is yet to come. With due diligence and faithfulness, eLM has taken its first steps – perhaps somewhat haltingly yet full of aspirational hopes for serving the Synod. Some new faces have joined us to help resource and coordinate our partnership with the presbyteries and pursue Synod’s strategic goals and priorities. Some of those who have joined us would be known to regular Crosslight readers, people such as Rev Fran Barber, Rev Prof Stephen Burns, Bradon French, Rev Nigel Hanscamp, Rev Mat Harry and Rev Dr Robyn Whitaker. The change and challenge has been significant in eLM, as well as across the presbyteries, where new leadership teams are being established, striving to embrace new directions and possibilities.

The eLM team is working hard to foster collaboration and cross-fertilisation through its theological, justice advocacy and contextual ministry practice. Key projects, such as chaplaincy development, young adult internships and leadership building among others, have been identified for 2019. These will bring a focus to our collaboration across the whole Synod. More detail regarding these projects will be forthcoming in the New Year. There are many challenges still to be addressed as we enter 2019. A priority in any team this large is to ensure effective communication across and beyond eLM; a coordinated engagement with presbyteries; and a vibrant partnership with those also in ministry and mission beyond eLM, such as Uniting Vic.Tas and Uniting AgeWell. In early 2018 I asked for your prayers for the individuals and the work of transition into this new phase in equipping Leadership for Mission. Your prayers will continue to be much appreciated as 2018 draws to a close and 2019 unfolds. Jennifer Byrnes Executive Officer, eLM

Christmas greetings The children of the Uniting Church say Thank you! Thank you – the congregations and people of the UCA Victoria and Tasmania – for your gifts of time and care and thought that have helped make our church safer for children. It is hard work. It takes time to make sure your church has a statement of commitment to child safety and has signed the code of conduct; to ensure that the right people have attended Safe Church Training and have Working With Children Checks – but it helps to make our church safer. We in the Culture of Safety Unit also say thank you – and wish you a very blessed Christmas and a new year full of rich and faith-filled experiences. For help with questions or issues pertaining to child safety, see the Keeping Children Safe website.

Keeping Children Safe



Moderator’s column

Looking to Jesus with a sense of Advent-ure SHARON HOLLIS

I’M writing this column just a few days after one man’s actions in central Melbourne’s Bourke St brought death, fear and anxiety to so many people. Also on my mind is a personal anniversary that causes me sadness and an awareness that many people are carrying sadness, anger and despair. And while all this is going on the Church offers us the gift of the season of Advent. The season of Advent is the season that invites us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ so we might see him at work in the world today and be ready to greet him in the Christmas season. This season invites us to ponder where we see Christ coming in the present, how Christ was at work in history and from this to have hope about how Christ might be present in the future. Advent begins with a gospel reading that gives us an image of the second coming of Jesus, an event that will usher in the end of the world. This year, the reading is from Luke 21 and has images of the Earth in distress, people fainting and the heavens being shaken. Such images can seem strange or even frightening with its focus on destruction and death. They can invoke fear and cause us to become anxious about our own salvation, the salvation of those we know and the salvation of the church. I don’t believe this is the way we should read such a passage. This reading about destruction arises from the prophetic tradition that warns against spiritual blindness. This blindness prevents us from seeing God’s ways in the world and holds us back from participating in God’s actions. The prophetic scriptures wake us up and reassure us that God’s love will redeem and sustain us and all creation. So often God’s action in the world happens in places and with the people we least expect. God’s reign, which is among us but still coming, does not conform to the ways of this world. It upends the norms with God’s glorious, loving redemptive actions. The remaining gospel readings for the season of Advent take us back to the beginning to help us understand what the reign of God was like and how we can participate in God’s loving redemptive action in the world. In the opening chapters of Luke’s gospel we hear God chooses the overlooked ones DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

to bear God’s child and speak of God’s transforming love. Elizabeth, childless and old, and her husband, Zechariah, are given the gift of a son who will bear witness to Jesus and prepare people for his coming. Mary, young, betrothed and ordinary is chosen to be the God-bearer, the one in whose body the baby Jesus will grow and be born, and in whose body the pain of grief at the end will be felt. Elizabeth, Zechariah and Mary show the wider implications of their being chosen. God’s is a way of loving redemption which lifts up the powerless, feeds the hungry, scatters the proud and remembers God’s promise to God’s people. God’s way brings light where there is darkness, forgiveness of sin and hope for salvation. This way brings judgement on those who use power to exclude and exploit, on those who lack mercy and those who do not feed the hungry and empower the poor. These readings, which take us back to the beginning, show us what the end is like. At the end what will prevail is God’s way in the world. This is a loving transformation of our ways so that they become God’s way. This is why we should not fear the end, but be filled with hope for God’s coming. So, as I turn my mind to Advent conscious of despair about events in our city, aware of the hurt many are feeling and continuing to live with my own grief, I turn in hope towards God whose coming brings a word of judgment against the prevailing powers that is in fact a word of love. I turn in hope towards the child Jesus, whose birth brings the good news that God’s love is at work in the world renewing, saving and transforming us. This Advent let us stay alert for God’s love which will likely surprise us by revealing itself in unlikely people and places. And let us keep our hearts open to being renewed by love which holds and remakes the world.

Sharon Hollis Moderator 13


Shining a (Cross)light JACQUI KAIRU

CROSSLIGHT ventured here, there and everywhere this year, bringing you stories from not just Victoria and Tasmania but as far away as the demilitarised zone dividing the two Koreas. We witnessed a birth (Synod’s new eLM unit), went to hospital, played with some pets, attended a royal wedding, got a little Messy, highlighted the hardships of drought-stricken farmers and met a comedian who finds Christian audiences to be her toughest (are we really that hard to please?). February saw the launch of our equipping Leadership for Mission unit (eLM). The branch, which focuses on education and ministry, has three streams: education and formation for leadership; relationships and connections; and priorities, focus and advocacy. Executive officer Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes said eLM would focus on “serving and resourcing the presbyteries and congregations, the individuals and groups across the Synod to increase their capacity to engage, lead and thrive as disciples in mission”. We also visited Melbourne’s Wesley Uniting Church which, on the last Sunday of each month, turns into a mobile pet clinic. The venture is run by a volunteer organisation that provides free health checks, vaccinations and medication for pets of people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness. Administrator Carol Addicoat said most of these people faced a heartbreaking choice: sacrifice their own welfare to pay for the pets or surrender their beloved companions to an animal shelter. “For those that are at risk of homelessness because they can’t pay their rent or have a huge bill because of their pets, this service helps keep a roof over their heads,” Carol said. In March we met Messy Church founder Lucy Moore, who came up with the idea because she believed her church’s traditional Sunday service was not meeting the needs of local families. Messy Church was formed in Portsmouth, England, in 2004 and has spread to 35 countries. Lucy said Messy Church was not trying to replace traditional church, it was simply bringing a fresh approach to worship. 14

“It is a separate congregation working in synergy within the same church,” she said. “The Messy Church brings new life and new hope and new opportunities to serve God and develop new leaders. It’s a fresh expression of the same truth. “We’re not saying this is a better way of being church, we’re just saying there are different ways of being church.” April was a reflective time as we remembered the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pilgrim Theological College (PTC) student Carlynne Nunn wrote movingly about what Easter meant to her and how it had changed over the years. “When I was younger, Easter was a time of awe ... the pain, the weight, the thorns and the nails,” she said. “It’s only recently that I’ve realised the cross is a picture of the closest God has come to us all. But Christianity’s key act is to remember again and again in thought, word and deed, the capture and wrongful imprisonment, humiliation, torture and death of a man. “That God, in the person of Jesus, walked in skin, stubbed his toe presumably, got irritated with his mates, felt lonely and was as broken as a person can be, means a great deal to me these days, a part of which is that I am never really alone.” We also interviewed comedian Hannah Boland, who performs “clean” material for secular and Christian audiences. “It’s a lot tougher in the Christian context because people’s definition of what is clean and acceptable is a lot more stringent than it is in the secular industry,” she said. Hannah said she didn’t swear on stage, but pointed to the fact the Bible contained “many instances of vulgarity and even some swearing”. “If it was any other book it would be banned from many Christian bookstores.” In May, Pilgrim Theological College coordinator of studies Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon focused on the Old Testament and why it was still relevant. “The Old Testament is Scripture and Scripture formed and influenced Jesus Christ, who cited it liberally,” she said. “He questioned it, challenged it, reflected upon it and drew inspiration from it, but he did not reject it. May

April: Carlynne Nunn

April: Hannah Boland CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 18


February: Mobile pet clinic

June: Horsham Uniting Church royal wedding

November: David Howie

September: Tambar Valley drought

July: Holly Allen

June: Bradon French with family DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

August: NextGen in Korea

“Our understanding of the New Testament is impoverished when we distance it and its connections to the Old Testament. “The many issues the Old Testament addresses provide opportunity to address similar issues today.” In the June issue we met the Synod’s new intergenerational ministry youth worker, Bradon French. Bradon said it was hard for young people to be heard in the church and his mission was to empower them to share their stories. “Young people aren’t some homogenous group,” he said. “You get to see each individual person as a story and that story is worth hearing. It helps the church shift so that we make space for young people to participate and lead.” On the day before Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot in London, Horsham Uniting Church staged its own version of the royal wedding. Co-ordinator Denise Merrett said it was a chance to show people an unexpected side of church life. “There is enough sadness in the world,” she said. “We wanted to show people that church involvement can be fun.” In July we interviewed Dr Holly Catterton Allen, a leading academic researcher, author and teacher in the field of intergenerational ministry. She spoke about the importance of nurturing children spiritually. “We want children to know God, not just about God. Of course, to know God, children must know who this God is, what God has done and what God is doing in the world,” she said. “Children are quite capable of entering into a conversation with God.” In August we flew with members of the Synod NextGen Youth group to Korea, still starkly divided between North and South even as hopes for peace grew. NextGen member Anna Harrison said it was important to embrace all Koreans as part of the global human family. “The conflict is not something that’s happened to a bunch of people who are far away from us; this is a part of the human family that’s really hurting,” she said. “It’s really different hearing a story from afar to being in the actual place. You get a real sense of the emotional trauma and how real and deep this goes for people.” Grace Yung, whose family come from South Korea, was surprised to discover most Koreans had normalised the state of threat on the peninsula. “Compared to how the media portrays

how dangerous Korea is, people were just fine,” she said. “They are used to the tension. They are immune to it, which I find really sad.” For September’s Crosslight, we reported on the Mountains Project, an ecumenical effort led by Rowena Harris from Frontier Services to help struggling farmers during the drought that has gripped Victoria. Volunteer Michelle Grimstead said it was “a blessing to be part of such an aweinspiring cause”. “It is a powerful reminder of the invisible God becoming visible through the actions of students and teachers,” she said. Tambar Valley farmer Evan Teague painted a bleak picture of what life was like on the land. “East Gippsland is bloody awful and don’t get any ideas it is half bad – it’s very bad,” he said. “I can’t keep doing what I’ve been doing. Physically it’s taking the sap out of me and financially it’s pretty severe.” Mental Health Week fell in October, which prompted Moderator Sharon Hollis to share her deeply personal story. “Even though I’ve been fairly public about how Michael died there is still a nervousness in saying this out loud because of the stigma attached to mental illness and the particular stigmatisation of death by suicide,” Sharon wrote. “I offer my truth in the hope it builds understanding and compassion. I won’t ever have closure. One of the challenges after the death of anyone you love is how do you renegotiate your relationship with them so that you don’t sever the tie while also accepting that they have died?” In November’s Crosslight we met Royal Children’s Hospital UCA chaplain Rev David Howie. David said as difficult as his work could be there were also great rewards. “I’ve always had a keen interest in the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children,” he said. “The emotional nature of working within a children’s hospital can be very challenging. There is something about the innocent suffering of children which brings another level to people’s response. “Being with children in pain and discomfort through illness or injury, and the impact this has on them and their families is difficult to witness. “However, when journeying with people through the highs and lows of their child’s illness there are significant relationships that develop. Occasionally one gets the sense that we have actually made a difference in the care and support that we offer.” 15


Have you ever wondered what it’s like for the person behind the pulpit? BARRY GITTINS

IF you go to church on a Sunday it’s likely you’ll sit and hear a sermon. Traditionally one person will stand up behind the pulpit or lectern and preach for varying lengths of time and, possibly, various levels of relevance to the individual listeners. The word “sermon” derives from the Latin “sermō”, for “talk or harangue” and unfortunately for many it might be the second part of that definition they identify with. In our society the very term “preaching” has become an insult; postmodern shorthand for patronising sanctimony. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Rev Fran Barber, the continuing education coordinator for ministers at Pilgrim Theological College, says that sitting down to listen to a sermon “is pretty much an odd experience for everybody; both the churched and unchurched”. “You are among a motley crew of people you might not otherwise choose to gather with, which is multi-generational and multi-racial,” she said. Fran also argues that “in our culture, it’s odd for a consistent argument, in any form, to be shared”. 16

“It’s increasingly rare, with our dependence on social media and 24-hour news cycles and reactions.” However, Fran says good preaching gives the congregation “a different lens to see ourselves and the world in a new, transformative way”. “Preaching is both an invitation and a challenge,” she said. “It forms us as a people who can live the values of the Kingdom readily in this world, because we are immersed in this language of the sermon and its connection to the community,” she said. This means preachers have a responsibility and a type of dependence you never experience until you get up behind a pulpit. “When we get up to preach – if we have given it the time and consideration that we can - the Holy Spirit has worked in the processes of our preparation,” Fran says. “We rely on God. Beyond that, we have no control over how it touches people, and how the Holy Spirit moves and works.” Sermon length is often a subject for humour, but Pilgrim Theological College head Rev Dr Sean Winter has a serious reply.

“For many people, the most important question about the sermon is how long is it going to last? It seems to me that is the least important question,” Sean says. “The stereotype of some learned, bearded person, usually a gentlemen, droning on for endless amounts of time is fixed in certain people’s understanding of what preaching is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. “If we think about preaching as described in the New Testament, it is the sharing of good news. Good news, on the whole, isn’t boring. “If preaching is experienced as dull, monotonous or uninteresting, it is, by definition, not preaching. It’s not good news.” Sean says concerns over attention spans are spurious, when you consider many people will happily go into a cinema for two or more hours. As for whether preaching is still relevant,

Sean maintains “the word of the Lord has to be proclaimed”. “You don’t intuit it. You don’t wander around in the world, experience your life and just ‘know’ … you may feel God is present, but you don’t know that God’s presence is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That needs proclamation,” he says. “It’s also relevant in our contemporary society, because preaching is one of the places where there is sustained attention to the importance of public language and public speech in a culture where public speech has often become debased and/or deeply manipulative… or dumbed down, to use a blunt term, to the point where people are being vacuous and meaningless.” Preaching is important, Sean says, because it’s one of the few places “where you can CROSSLIGHT - DECEMBER 18


We are not there to entertain Let’s talk about aspects of a good sermon: what about humour? Fran Barber: It’s important, but only as a vehicle to connect with people. If it’s not pertinent to the goal of the sermon, then it’s a bit silly and distracting. Humour is a nuanced thing … I don’t write a sermon thinking, ‘This is an entertainment, I have to get laughs’. Sally Douglas: Absolutely, but not lame jokes! There are really funny jokes in the biblical text. Sean Winter: It needs to be used with care, as it is the easiest manner in which the preacher can get in the way... it can very easily go wrong. Warmth, or empathy? Fran: You want both but sometimes the message is a hard one. You want it to be heard, but at the same time I am not going to soften it too much by trying to be folksy. Sally: That’s where “letting the text preach to you first” comes in. You are already in that space, and you see the challenge is for all of us. Sean: You need both, definitely.

actually hear someone talk seriously about genuine human experience, in a way that tries to articulate the truth of that experience”. “You may not agree with that attempt, or agree that it is true, but there is someone actually trying to do that in a sustained, intellectually demanding and reflective way,” he says. “Even if no one takes any notice; the importance of this constant quest to speak the truth of our world in the light of the gospel is fundamental to Christian identity.” Rev Dr Sally Douglas, associate lecturer at Pilgrim Theological College and Richmond Uniting Church minister, says sermons should never be dull or irrelevant. “The whole scandal of the ‘Jesus way’ means the word of God comes to us in person, in Jesus, which is entirely disruptive and shocking,” Sally says. DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

“It’s something we need to continue to come back to. It retains its shock in every generation and across cultures - that we dare to claim that somehow the Divine comes with skin on, in Jesus. “And Jesus talked about these radical concepts like loving enemy and loving self and loving neighbour, saying that I came to serve and not to be served. “This is what God looks like with skin on, God is the one who gets down and washes our feet. This is the God who chooses not to wield power over others, who chooses not to smash enemies, but who actually opens up and is entirely non-retaliatory.” Sally has been re-reading German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. She says that he believed the question of relevance “entirely misses the point”. “It’s not about trying to look at the news of

the day, and tie it into the worship.” she says. “It’s about the whole Christ event, not just the cross, but the whole notion of the incarnation, where God comes to us in the person of Jesus. “Jesus lives and feasts with people. Jesus includes people and forgives people. “He dies and rises in ongoing forgiveness, instead of just being furious at everyone for betraying him. “The thread is consistently ‘homecoming’ and ‘welcome’. What does that then mean? It’s the heart of the universe. So it’s not about trying to make trivial things relevant. “It is about coming to this mystery again and again.” Sermons must address this big picture, Sally says, and answer the question:“How is our life challenged or reformed or changed when we are faced with this God?”

Factual accuracy, clarity, context, intellectual rigour; balancing content and context? Fran: All those things are necessary. However, a sermon is not an academic essay; it doesn’t have the same rules regarding plagiarism or attribution. Novelty is something the world is in love with [but] all great thought, wisdom and preparation should go into sermons. It’s not primarily about our own fresh thoughts on the gospel, or new information. Sally: There are [biblical] overlaps between narrative and historical accuracy, such as the cleansing of the temple stories, and it’s really interesting. People start to see the complexity. A lot of the time, people have been brought up to these the biblical text as ‘flat’… they find out that it is actually multidimensional, really complex. Sean: [laughs heartily] Yes, I think you have an obligation to be accurate in what you represent and what you say. The Bible isn’t a bunch of facts. Narrative and story have a stronger call on preaching; preaching is neither providing good information, nor providing good advice – it is proclaiming good news. Self-disclosure? Fran: For some people, it would be a distraction. I am not up there as Fran Barber – I’m up there as the minister to deliver the word on that day. Sally: Like sharing a personal story? Yeah, sure, where appropriate or helpful. Sean: It can be useful or distracting. My vulnerability will sometimes be a means of conveying that to them. It needs to be done with sensitivity. 17

Letters Written exam

Beyond belief

I AM glad to see Wal Dower read our letter published in the October edition of Crosslight. It’s good to receive a response and we have had quite a few. We would like to make it very clear, however, that we do not reject doctrine that cannot be proved by science. On the contrary, we see there is a scientific view and a spiritual view and, despite many attempts by some in the scientific field, spirituality is a valid and important part of our lives. With regard to the virgin birth debate, we need to look back into the earliest Christian writings. The first writings were the letters of Paul between 50 and 65 AD, and in these there is no mention of virgin birth and, if I remember rightly, miracles. Thomas was probably written before Mark but it has no miracles. Next was Mark, about 65 AD and he makes no reference to a virgin birth. Matthew was written in about 75 AD and he brings into his version the virgin birth with the wise men - however, a literal reading is deeply flawed. I should point out that I am not a scholar but have gleaned this from several very reliable sources. Luke then wrote his version in about 85 AD and he says Mary was a virgin but there was no indication she stayed that way. John, written about 20 years later, ignores Jesus’s early years. We question many aspects of the gospels, particularly the miracles. If we were to believe in an intervening God then Christians would suffer less sickness and injury but in the real world that is not the case. To us the teachings of Jesus do not prevent problems, but they do give us an inner strength to cope. That is the spiritual strength that we receive that enables us to see the “Kingdom of God on Earth”. We would strongly recommend the writings of Elaine Pagels and Bishop John Spong to those who wish to look deeper into the faith.

I WAS astounded to read the response from Bill Norquay (on behalf of the Glen Waverley Uniting Church Friday Discussion Group) in the October edition of Crosslight. Firstly I’d like to acknowledge the importance to a right of opinion. However, that being said, Bill’s assertions regarding the most fundamental issues of our Christian faith, indeed that which defines our Christian faith, seem to have been done away with to such a point that I have to question how his discussion group identifies with the church at all? To claim that the creation, virgin birth, miracles and resurrection of Jesus Christ are myths is agnostic in the extreme and at complete odds with the Apostles’ Creed from which UCA charter is drawn (amongst other sources). This is an alarming stance from a group identifying with the UCA!

Bill Norquay On behalf of the Glen Waverley Uniting Church Friday Discussion Group

Warm reminder I CONGRATULATE the Synod’s Justice and International Mission unit for the convention it recently held. The theme of “peacemaking” rightly focused on questioning the militarism which animates Australia’s major political parties’ vote-buying. However, there was a notable gap in the agenda - climate change. This topic was passed over in favour of domestic violence, tax justice, combating racism and the victimisation of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island. A distinctive Uniting Church in Australia should find its raison d’etre in goading apathetic politicians to action on global warming. The Gospel imperative of Jesus directs us Christians to fight for climate justice. Along with the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, our UCA members have a key role in challenging the supine posture of the Morrison Government (“coal is good for you”) regarding the monstrous Adani project. As glaciers melt, the Earth and oceans heat up and congregations like ours at Crossroads Werribee want to work with JIM staff on strategies for preserving this planet. Neil Tolliday Werribee, Vic


Shane Kew Warragul, Vicw

Home truths

Alien concept Why? Why are we the dominant race? Why do we exist? Why are we here today? Why not yesterday? Why are we called human? Why are we called what our friends call us, our names? Why is anything anything? What is anything? Everything? Nothing? All but none? What are we? Monsters? Animals? What is an alien? We call anything strange or new alien so why do we have such difficulty finding alien life? Truly we find it whenever we discover a new species Or newly learn of an old one So out of all of the questions I have already asked you today I ask you this: Why is a stranger not an alien? When you go home or have a moment to think contemplate this question because truly are you not an alien yourself? If not to yourself then to the girl at the grocery store or the man who walks his dog every day? To anyone in another country or any stranger you may pass why are you not an alien? Or are you? Charlotte Oates Pryor (age 11)

Crooked scenes ’TIS crook at Christmas! The nativity scenes are all set up, and all is well with the world. Well, almost. In a number of these Advent depictions you will see Joseph holding a crook, but he was a carpenter. Is Joseph minding it for a shepherd who is admiring the baby? Or is he inspecting the workmanship of the whittler who whipped up it up one night? Sometimes there are no shepherds to be seen, but Joseph is still left holding the crook. Did the shepherd present it to him as a gift

before departing? A crook could be handy for Joseph as a walking staff on a trek to Egypt, or to fend off wild animals in the night. It may even be used to hook a stray goat for dinner, or to catch a fish from a river ... if Joseph can find a bit if string and a bent nappy pin. All this reminds me of a little boy who came home from church and told his mother: “I sat next to the bishop ... and now I know what a crook is”. Anyway, check your Christmas cards for crooks this year. Melva Stott Anglesea, Vic

WE cannot allow the letter from Sarah Nankervis (Crosslight, October) re community housing for people with a disability to go unchallenged. We are parents of a 46-year-old daughter with a moderate intellectual disability. With four other ladies she has now lived for eight years in a supervised community residential house. Ms Nankervis asks if our daughter and others “can have full and meaningful lives” in such an environment. Let us assure you she does. She regards her house as her true home. She and her housemates enjoy their home life. They are a group of people living together, who participate in running the unit accordingly to their abilities. Skilful and experienced staff provide the necessary caring environment for this to happen. Ms Nankervis suggests these people should be allowed to “make mistakes”. Some mistakes can have terrible consequences. Does she seriously suggest they be allowed to make mistakes with medication? Should they be exposed to the risk of being lost on public transport - a situation that in today’s society could threaten health and safety? Every weekend our daughter and other residents go into the community to do activities of their choice, with the aid of a support worker. These excursions have given the residents rich and varied experiences. Yet whenever she goes out from her house she wants to return there at the end of the day, as this provides her security. We know many other families in our situation feel the same way as us. Robin and Bernard Shanahan Knoxfield, Vic

Letters to Crosslight are always welcome. Letters should be 300 words or less and include full name, address and contact number/email. Letters may be edited for space, style and clarity. Send your letters to



Drawing from Scripture DAVID SOUTHWELL

LIFE’S pivotal moments don’t always come by choice, as Andrew McDonough discovered while a Bible College Student. Andrew was helping out in ministry at a South Australian church almost 30 years ago when he got tapped on the shoulder. “Because I was the youngest one on the team I had to do the children’s talk,” Andrew said. “I had nothing written down. I stood in front of this huge auditorium warehouse church. I’m a country boy so standing in a church with more than 10 people and a dog asleep under a pew is overwhelming.” However, Andrew had a trick up his sleeve. “I’ve always been able to draw a bit,” he said. Andrew says his style of “googly-eyed” drawing emerged even at age three or four. “I could draw a yellow sheep. So I thought there’s this Bible story about a lost sheep somewhere so I drew a sheep,” he says. Andrew used an overhead projector to display his efforts. “I dropped the first picture down, one of a shepherd and the place erupted with laughter,” he said. “And I thought this is good. What struck me is that I can’t remember children being there but I remember men sitting back and laughing their heads off. “I saw the power of stories. It struck me even at that point that these are powerful for all ages.” Andrew drew more stories inspired by Scripture or Christian life and started giving them out for others to use. “I’d hand them my butcher’s paper or overhead projector slides, no words or anything,” he says. “I knew at some stage I needed to DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

Andrew McDonough

formalise this to make these story-telling resources available for other people.” In 2005, while ministering at the inner-city WestCare mission in Adelaide, Andrew drew a children’s book telling the story of the lost sheep, Cecil, who has become a reoccurring character and motif of Andrew’s work. Andrew gathered together his creative activities under the label of Lost Sheep, which has become his full-time occupation. However, he remains very much involved with WestCare and has his studio adjoining the church. “We’ve placed ourselves right in our community,” he says.

“I am able to advocate for that community. We run workshops every week for the homeless community and people who come through here. “All of the stuff for the kids grows out of what we have here.” Andrew has published 32 books and has about 50 downloadable PowerPoint presentations on the Lost Sheep website. The presentations display Andrew’s images for a storyteller to narrate using a prompt booklet with thumbnail pictures. “I want the event of someone telling the story,” Andrew says. “The main driver is I want to put stories in the hands of other people so that they can then share it and use it.” Andrew is very critical of what he sees as the implicit message of children’s books traditionally used in church settings. “There’s pastel colours saying ‘calm down, calm down’. It’s all saying ‘be nice’ ‘be good’, ‘be still’,” Andrew says. “I want red and red-cordial red. I am not having a white fluffy sheep that looks like it’s never been outside. I want a yellow sheep that pops and looks like it’s been rolling around in yellow dirt. “How you portray children sends these messages about what it is to be a Christian. “To be a good Christian child is to sit still, when God’s made boys and girls with legs.” Andrew says this also presents a sanitised version of Christianity. “I want to draw Jesus in a way that no one has seen him in a children’s book before,” Andrew says. “In Scripture you find he’s angry, so I want him to look angry. I want him to look crying

or nervous or scared or all the things that are articulated in Scripture and we gloss over. So the Jesus we give is really bland.” Not surprisingly Andrew’s latest book, Jesus was a Refugee, isn’t the typical retelling of the Christmas narrative as it has scenes that suggest trauma and fear. “I like the idea of doing the Bible stories or the Jesus stories that get overlooked,” Andrew says. “When it comes to the Christmas story everyone is bored stiff because they reckon they know it.” “The whole trip of Jesus, Mary and Joseph down into Egypt I thought I wanted to draw that because it’s ignored and we all like the fun stuff of Christmas but there is this immense sorrow,. “You can read Matthew 2 and not realise what was going on. So where it says Herod was going to kill all the boys under the age of two, he would have done it. The book reflects Andrew’s experience working with the Australian Refugee Association and his passion for helping asylum seekers and refugees. “I don’t want to get away with being trite. I don’t want to let the church or the rest of Australia get away with being trite - they’re not issues, they are people,” he said. In February Andrew will visit Victoria to conduct workshops with the intriguing title of: Thriving Ministry Leadership: lessons from a duck, an echidna and a caterpillar. Contact to find out more and to reserve your place. Read a review of Jesus was a Refugee on page 26. 19


Attracting teens is easier Zed than done THE connection teenagers have with religion and spirituality should not be judged on church attendance alone. They are still very interested in spiritual matters and surprisingly open-minded about religion, according to new research. Monash University Professor of Sociology Gary Bouma said while the rate of people identifying as “no religion” was growing in general, the number of Gen Z’s (teens aged 13-18) in this category was in the minority. “We have diversity among these teens. Not religious, but not anti-religious,” he said. “They really are curious, they really want to know. They aren’t choosing, they aren’t set in any particular way. Some of them are looking around.” Gary said the Monash University research (1200 students across Australia) pointed to ways churches could engage with youths. He said a good place to start would be to “meet them where they are at” as many now had little contact with the mainstream church.


“We’ve got to get out. Get with them. I’m not saying we don’t have a message, but you have got to get out there.” he said. A possible place to start was to recognise the surge in spirituality, which was reflected in the increased interest in Eastern practices such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga. As an example, in 2005, only four per cent of Gen Y’s practiced meditation. That figure for Gen Z had now jumped to 28 per cent. Gary said the mainstream churches had to face up to no longer being the default spiritual affiliations. “From 1960, people have had agency and choice about what they believe, what they do and how they go about it,” he said. Gary also said that the “failure” of Boomers (born 1946-64) and Generation X (1965-79) to pass their religion onto their children and take seriously what it requires to “grow a Christian” is very evident.

Gary Bouma


Pilgrim Reflection

“Christianity – in whatever form it takes – has no reason to defend or preserve itself for its own sake”

Dealing with an identity crisis GEOFF THOMPSON

THE question of Christian identity in an increasingly plural cultural and religious world has become contentious. Christmas is a good time to think about these issues. The celebration of the Incarnation draws our attention to one of the pivotal particularities of the Christian faith: God takes on the vulnerability of creaturely existence. I’ll come back to Christmas soon, but first let’s ponder some of the wider issues of Christian identity in this postChristendom context. Some stress the distinctiveness of the Christianity by advocating the formation of robust communities committed to cultivating the pivotal practices of the Christian faith: prayer, love, compassion, service, hospitality, etc. This approach often includes a calling to a certain kind of withdrawal from the world. Such is the controversial approach of Rod Dreher in his book The Benedict Option. Others adopt an approach that is more defensive but also more aggressive. This posture is characteristic of the increasingly vocal defence of the so-called “JudeoChristian tradition”. This involves an insistence that the previous Christian dominance needs to be reclaimed in order to preserve what is loosely called “Western culture”. In Australia, this stance is associated with politicians such as Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott. Their writings on such issues show little, if any, interest in the life and witness DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

of the church. They focus on political and legal strategies aimed at preserving a certain Christian privilege. Another, even more problematic, version of that type of approach has been given the label of “Christianism”. It is less obvious in Australia than it is in the USA and certain parts of Western Europe. The name mirrors the distinction between Islam and Islamism. British writer, Ben Ryan, has described this phenomenon in these terms: “In this new Christianism a string of populist leaders … have taken Christianity as a defining feature of national purity. “As with the idea of Islamism this has little, if any, theological depth to it, but it is the application of Christianity to a political ideology, one that establishes the pure people against outsiders.” Each of these approaches represent a form of “Christianity” which is altogether too self-conscious. This is an abiding temptation even for more mainstream “church” versions of Christianity. What then is the antidote to these problematic and defensive attempts to stress Christian identity? In my view, perhaps ironically, the antidote is to stress the particularity of Jesus Christ. Essentially: the more focused we are on Jesus Christ and his mission, the more we easily see that Christianity – in whatever form it takes – has no reason to defend or preserve itself for its own sake.

This is not a Jesus-vs-the-institution kind of argument. There is nothing at all wrong with the followers of Jesus developing institutions which serve to foster and nurture the Christian community’s mission. Problems only arise when the institutions become self-justifying, and then prone to their own defence and preservation. Nor is the point about focusing on Jesus a plea that we all become far more pious. God save us from that. Stressing the strength of “our” personal faith, or even the strength of our activism, is as misplaced as stressing the strength of our “Christian” institutions. No, my argument is for a singular focus on the highly particular and unique way in which God engages the world in Jesus of Nazareth. And, this is what brings us back to Christmas. At Christmas we celebrate the incarnation of God. Although less dramatically so than Good Friday, Christmas nevertheless keeps us conscious of the distinctly Christian view of the vulnerability of God. One of the features of the early debates about the incarnation (which is often lost in the caricatures of those debates) is that many fourth- and fifth-century Christians were anxious that thrust of the doctrine made God too vulnerable. It’s as if they were trying to protect God from God’s self-chosen vulnerability. In its deepest theological convictions, Christian faith challenges our seemingly

natural inclination to desire a stronger ‘god’ than the God revealed in Jesus. Yes, the language of divine vulnerability can easily be romanticised, sentimentalised and (as feminists point out) manipulated – and thus its true significance is lost. But by focusing on this very particular conviction about Jesus Christ as God’s presence in the world, the door is open to particular ways of being Christian. We can be freed of the need to rush to defend or preserve Christianity in ways that try to make it stronger and more selfconscious than it was ever intended to be. The end of Christendom is a chance for Christianity in all its churchly forms to enter into the vulnerability which belongs to the character of God. That’s something to proclaim this Christmas.

Geoff Thompson Coordinator of Studies – Systematic Theology Pilgrim Theological College 21


Mark Zirnsak at October’s meeting of governments in the Solomon Islands. Can you spot him?

Look to Pacific for working solution MARK ZIRNSAK

UNEMPLOYMENT is a problem many societies have to grapple with, but some countries are struggling more than others to keep it in check. This is especially true of our Pacific neighbours. For example, 18,000 people reach working age each year in the Solomon Islands but only 3000 jobs are created. For countries such as this, allowing willing workers to travel overseas to earn money and send it back to their families is vital to

addressing inherent poverty. Overseas workers sending money home is now the biggest source of foreign income for Fiji, Samoa, Timor Leste, Tonga and Vanuatu. In Warragul, foreign workers say the money they earn supports their families, pays school fees, builds better homes and assists widows and extended family members in the villages they come from. The Australian government has

Seasonal workers on a farm in Warragul


established a program that permits people from the Pacific to work on Australian farms for six months at a time. Called the Seasonal Worker Program, it brought in 8457 people from the Pacific last year, which was a 37 per cent increase on the year before. Unfortunately, as well as the workers on temporary visas there are tens of thousands of people working on farms in breach of their visa conditions. Many of these people are from Malaysia. There are organised rings trafficking innocent Malaysians into Australia to work on farms, lying to them that they will be legally employed. These people are often exploited by the labour hire businesses and farmers. In 2016, Malaysian journalist Saiful Hasam went undercover to work for a contractor supplying labour to a Swan Hill fruit supplier. While pretending to be working in breach of his visa, Saiful spoke to a senior manager at the company about how he was being exploited. “Are you legal? You got legal papers?” the farm manager asked. “I can’t employ you direct. You don’t have the paper. You know what I mean? That’s why we use the contractor because they dodgy it up.” The National Farmers Federation and other bodies say there is a shortage of 100,000 workers in rural areas. They want a new “agricultural visa” that will not include the current safeguarding against exploitation. The push has been supported by the National Party, while some federal Liberal Party ministers have called for more

backpackers and unemployed Australians to work on farms. However, our Pacific neighbours could easily fill the vacancies. What is required is safeguarding these workers from exploitation. People on the Seasonal Worker Program are given access to unions and community groups, including churches, to ensure they are being treated fairly. We need to show our support for those in power that support increasing the number of people from the Pacific working in Australia with proper safeguards. Every time a group of workers comes to Australia on the visa program I am sent an official notification so I can ring churches to assist the migrants. Participating congregations have welcomed these workers to their services and events. Some have also provided material assistance such as food, clothing and bedding. I also encourage you to befriend these workers and alert me to any allegations of maltreatment. In a recent case, we worked with local Uniting Church members and government officials to get a refund of accommodation charges for two workers from Vanuatu who had been ripped off by being charged $150 a week to live in tents on a farm in WA in the middle of winter. I can be contacted at Mark Zirnsak is Justice and International Mission (JIM) senior social justice advocate



Strange times

Wild ride

Full Nelson

Running narrative









I NEED to make one admission at the outset. When I was asked to review this book, my initial thought was: “But hasn’t the Basis of Union been done to death already?” However, by writing this book, Geoff Thompson has provided the Uniting Church with a strong resource for ministry, for three compelling reasons. The first is that Geoff prefers to allow the Basis of Union to speak to us on its own terms, rather than placing it into any particular doctrinal straitjacket – be it “evangelical”, “progressive”, “neo-orthodox”, or some other. The second reason is in the extended book title that acknowledges our time as “Post-Christendom”. This study takes seriously the relationship between the Christian churches and the broader society. In Australia and other western nations, this has changed radically in the four decades since the Basis of Union was written and the UCA was inaugurated. The third reason is this study is structured in 16 segments that can be used for group sessions. Each session contains a brief commentary on the relevant section of the Basis of Union, brief statements on how our “Post-Christendom” situation relates to the particular section of the Basis, discussion questions, and relevant passages of Scripture. This book looks like a good starting point for reflection by a more ambitious adult study group, one which wants to spend an extended time with a single resource. It would also work well with ministers, pastors and chaplains wanting material for some group theological reflection.

HOW is the 1517 schism between a faction led by a German monk and the Catholic church relevant to post-Christendom in 21st century Australia? Library shelves have been filled with stories written about those far away heresy trials and excommunications. Do we need another inquest to exhume Martin Luther and his legacy? Luther railed against the power of the medieval church, which was more concerned about its image and status than living the Gospel. The recent child abuse scandals in the church emphasises this lesson must be taught again. Progressive Christianity’s comemporary call to remove the mysticism of our beliefs and implement a more rational expression of worship, finds echoes in Luther’s insistence on a simplified liturgy in the people’s language. The role of religion in government schools is a much discussed issue. It was the same in post-medieval Germany. Faith in the public square and how it intersects with secular beliefs is a perennial concern. Mark Worthing, pastor at Adelaide’s Immanuel Lutheran Church, wears his scholarship lightly in this crisply written volume. The short chapters are jargon free and not overburdened with footnotes. It is not a hagiography. The subtitle describing Luther as a wild boar, epitomises his physique and his rugbytackling approach to opponents. Does Christianity need another Luther or Lutheran revolution? Reformed churches have proclaimed they must always be reformed. Worthing’s accessible biography, which was rightly short-listed for the Australian Christian 2018 Book of the Year, hints we must be trustees of Luther’s vision. We must interrogate our faith here in the Lord’s vineyard, just as Luther did 500 years ago.

NELSON Mandela is described as a “battering ram” by the editor of this collection of his prison letters, if you can imagine a polite battering ram. He wore down an unjust system by living out the wider dream of respecting all persons, regardless of race. Collections of letters by famous people often lack the cohesive narrative of a biography. But, more so than biographies, which no matter their truthfulness are driven by hindsight, letters can convey the immediacy of experience and an unfiltered intensity of emotion. It is hard to imagine the effects of Mandela’s decades long prison term on his emotional and physical health. It is equally extraordinary to contemplate his sustained determination to retain his dignity in the face of the injustice of his incarceration, the wider injustice of apartheid. He treated even his jailers with respect after his vengeful and racist treatment in prison. Letters were Mandela’s vital link to the outside world. In them we glimpse not only how he was encouraged by family and friends, but also how he encouraged them with judicious praising, counselling, explaining and reprimanding. Lost letters deprive him of his communicative threads, and it is heartrending to read his anguish, nevertheless articulate, over the harassment of his wife and her arrest as he was denied knowledge about the fate of his young children. Like Martin Luther King, he refuses to duplicate the hatred of his enemies. Later in life, as momentum for change gathers in South Africa, he writes that while he regrets the hurt to his family, he does not regret the fight for justice, his eyes always on the prize. Necessarily, the letters cover obscure family connections, complaints to officials and long legal arguments. But they also contain tender, hopeful messages. He writes to his daughter that not even the judge who sentenced him to life knows how long he will actually be in prison. “Hope”, he writes, “is a powerful weapon” no-one can take away.

Harper, age 7.5

Available from MediaCom Education, RRP: $17.25

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP $29.99

Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition is on currently at Melbourne Museum.

I REALLY like this story. I liked that it talked about Jesus being a refugee. I think it’s important because other people are refugees too and they can’t go home either. I really liked Jesus’s drawings when he was a boy – they’re like my drawings. I do wonder why Mary didn’t get to tell her story. It’s a bit different to other Christmas stories, because in most Christmas stories they stop after Jesus was born. In this one, we find out what happens when he was a boy. The Border Security man was a meanie. Patrick, age “nearly 5” I LIKED this story. I liked that when they walked away, the bad king didn’t kill them. They had to hide in the bushes and in Egypt – but not like hide and seek. I like the drawings and all the colours. My favourite drawing was Jesus playing with the girls. I learnt that if you have a dream and the angel tells you something, you should do what they say. I think other boys and girls would like this book too. Bradon, age indeterminate THIS is a great book, our family really enjoyed reading it. It’s a timely text that grounds the story in our Australian context. We cannot read it in a bubble (thanks to the Border Security references). It refers to some of the darker parts of the Jesus infant narrative, yet allows us to engage and respond appropriately. I would recommend it to families with kids of all ages. I also think congregations could build services, or even entire advent series, around it – the additional materials on the Lost Sheep website would make it really easy. Available from Lost Sheep (, RRP $7

Available from Liveright, RRP $49



Social media round-up

Facebook: Ray Averill hangs up his preaching boots

Video: Sebastapol – more than just an op-shop

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Young talent time

Anna shows she has the write stuff

CROSSLIGHT is always on the lookout for talented young writers and Anna Wood certainly meets both those criteria. At age six, the Christian College Junior School prep student is already an awardwinning author. Anna entered this year’s Humans in Geelong writing competition: “Discover your Inner Journalist”. She was named winner of the Lower Primary School Section and received a $100 gift voucher. Entrants were asked to write about someone from another culture that had

made a difference in Geelong. Anna, who attends Belmont Uniting Church, decided to write about her minister Rev Ikani Vaitohi. Her mother, Merrin, said Anna made a good choice of subject because Ikani’s contributions were “something to celebrate”. Humans in Geelong is a website and Facebook page run by volunteers to “report on the ‘good news’ stories of our home town Geelong, and region”. It is part of a worldwide trend inspired by Humans of New York collection of street photos and short personal stories.

Anna’s entry Ikani Vaitohi is from Tonga and he is a big man with a big heart. He is the Minister at Belmont Uniting Church. He has a wife called Moana (she even looks like the girl in the movie!!) and a busload of kids. Words to describe Ikani are kind, fun and a WONDERFUL cook! He loves music veeeeeery much and noticed some school kids in Geelong were not getting to play an instrument. Ikani set up the Whittington Strings project for children whose families could not afford for their children to play violin or cello. It has been an AMAZING success. Ikani is making a huge difference in children’s lives. He has a load of LOVE to give.

Anna Wood and Ikani Vaitohi 24


Christmas treats

Cracker recipes to try out

Hilary Salmon

HERE are some tried-and-true Christmas treats from Australia’s longest continually published cookbook. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find in The PWMU Cookbook, which was first published in 1904. “All of these Christmas recipes are simple but will give good results,” PWMU Committee member Hilary Salmon said. “The fruit cake and shortbread can be made in advance. “The summer pudding is a light, berry alternative for the festive season. “These are just some of the Christmas recipes found in the cookbook.” Hilary offers the shortbread short-cut hint of placing all ingredients in a food processor until combined. The PWMU Cookbook is available to UCA members from $25. Congregations can buy the book for $15 a copy and sell them for up to $29.95 with the difference going to mission work of the

UCA and Presbyterian churches. To place an order or contact the cookbook committee email: pwmu.cookbook7@gmail. com.




Ingredients: • I cup (250 ml) water • ¼ cup (60 g) sugar • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced • 2 cups berry fruits (see note) butter or margarine • Sliced white bread • Berry Sauce • Reserved juice • cornflour (I teaspoon per cup of juice)

Ingredients: • 2 cups (360 g) raisins • I½ cups (270 g) sultanas • I½ cups (270 g) currants • ½ cup (90 g) mixed peel • ½ cup (90 g) glace cherries • ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice I teaspoon vanilla essence • I teaspoon lemon essence • I teaspoon almond essence • I½ cups (225 g) plain flour ½ cup ( I 00 g) self-raising flour • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg • I teaspoon mixed spice • I teaspoon cinnamon • I½ cups (250 g) brown sugar • I cup (250 g) butter • ½ cup (125 ml) milk • 4 eggs, well beaten

Ingredients: • 3 cups (450 g) plain flour • ½ cup (65 g) rice flour • I ½ cups (335 g) butter • ½ cup (125 g) caster sugar

Method: •

• • • •

Boil water and sugar until sugar has dissolved. Add apples and berries, cook until pulpy. Strain fruit pulp, reserving juice. Add half the juice to pulp and reserve rest for sauce. Lightly grease one litre soufflé dish. Remove crusts and cut each bread slice into 3 sections, cover bottom and sides of dish with the bread. Spoon layer of pulp into dish, ensuring bread is well soaked. Continue layering bread and pulp, finishing with bread. Cover with greased plate of size to fit dish exactly. Press plate down with a heavy weight. Set overnight in refrigerator. Berry sauce: Blend remaining cold juice with cornflour (1 teaspoon cornflour per cup of juice) and boil for 1 minute until thickened. To serve, run knife around edge of souffle dish and turn on to serving plate. Serve with berry sauce and cream. Note: Use fresh, frozen or canned raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries, but not strawberries.


Method: • Prepare fruit, mix orange juice and essences and pour over fruit in large basin. • Leave for 2 hours. • Line a 25 cm square tin or 28 cm round tin well with baking paper. • Sift dry ingredients together. • Melt butter, sugar and milk together. Let cool then pour over fruit. • Add flour and spices and mix well. Add beaten eggs and mix well. • Bake for 3 hours at 150°C

Method: • Preheat oven to slow (150°C). Sift flour and rice flour. • Cream butter and sugar together, add dry ingredients and mix to a firm dough (if preferred, by hand). • Turn onto a floured board and knead well. • Divide mixture into four portions. • Shape each portion into a round about 1.5 cm thick. Pinch edges and cut each round diagonally into eight wedges. • Place on greased oven tray and bake until shortbread just begins to colour, about 20-30 minutes. • Allow to become quite cold before storing in airtight containers. • Hint: Mixture can be rolled and made into fingers or into shapes using cutters.

Recipes reproduced with permission PWMU Cookbook Committee and Hachette Australia; September 2018.





COMBINED CHARITIES CHRISTMAS CARD SHOP 29 NOVEMBER – 15 DECEMBER 2018 The Lentara Uniting Care Christmas Card Shop will open at the North Essendon Uniting Church, 132 Keilor Road, North Essendon, from Thursday 8 November. Hours are 9.30am-4pm Thursday/Friday and 9.30AM – 12.30PM Saturday. For any enquiries please phone (03) 9379 3326.

CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775.

COME AND VISIT THE HUB The Hub at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly place for people to meet and enjoy some company, a cuppa and a biscuit. It’s a place to relax in a busy day or to practise speaking in English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Wednesday 10am - 12 noon during school terms. All ages are welcome. For more information and group bookings phone (03) 9560 3580 FREE NATIVITY PLAY Looking for Christmas nativity inspiration? For a free original script that’s already been tried out email Don & Carmyl Winkler E: CHRISTMAS MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 6 DECEMBER Thursday 10am - 12noon Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway Bring your family and friends. All ages welcome. All donations to help needy families in our community. For more information and group bookings phone (03) 9560 3580

What would Jesus do to overturn the stigma of leprosy? Use your phone to scan and view the 360 tour of Anandaban Hospital

LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. 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. CHOIR ROBES AVAILABLE: North Balwyn UC have 20-plus choir robes in good condition (burgundy colour), to give to another congregation or choir. Please contact the office on Friday morning on P: (03) 9857 8412. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, secondhand/retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920. NEW INTERPRETER BIBLE SET AVAILABLE: 12 large books from GenesisRevelations are being given away for collection at Sunbury. Contact Robert P: 03 9744 5688 T.I.S HYMN BOOKS REQUIRED: Penguin Uniting Church is looking for 30 T.I.S. Large Print Hymn Books. Contact Barrie, E: or P: 03 6425 1061

“He is not disgusted by our sores” “He is willing to touch us.” In Matthew 8:3, just after delivering the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is approached by a man with leprosy who kneels before Him and prays for healing. “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ Jesus said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” Jesus demonstrates love and compassion towards people affected by leprosy and sets the example. Kashi is one of those people following Christ’s footsteps caring for those affected by leprosy. As a person affected by leprosy, Kashi was once rejected, isolated and discriminated. But he’s now spent the last 28 years working at The Leprosy Mission Anandaban Hospital in Nepal. Binding their wounds, cleaning their ulcerated feet and treating them with compassion and love. You and your church can help stop others from suffering like Kashi did and overturn the stigma of leprosy. Order a FREE 2 minute DVD to show at your church or Book a speaker Call 1800-LEPROSY (1800 537 767)

THE AUSTRALIAN HYMN BOOK AVAILABLE TO A GOOD HOME: Published by Wm Collins Publishers. 1977 compilations first published Sept 1977, reprinted Dec 1977 in Hong Kong. 50 of the normal size plus three large print. Contact Kevin Close M: 0427 825 553.

MOVING TO MELBOURNE FOR TERTIARY STUDY NEXT YEAR? Are you Interested in being part of a Christian student house in Brunswick? Our program provides affordable housing close to university and public transport in Melbourne’s inner-north. Students explore their faith with fellow young Christians and actively participate in the life of Brunswick Uniting Church. If you are interested in joining our vibrant community, and need more information, visit our website: www. brunswick.unitingchurch. and contact our Student House Support Worker at



Advertisment Banyule Network of Uniting Churches Clinical Pastoral Education Centre

Advertise with Crosslight in 2019 Here are the dates to get your message out next year

Pastoral Care in the Midst of Change and Transition 4 February to 2 December 2019 This CPE Centre is offering an innovative and fully accredited part time program of Clinical Pastoral Education in 2019. Successful applicants will be engaged in 200 hours of actual pastoral care with members of congregations experiencing change during a building for mission program. Education days are scheduled on Mondays. Further information is available at: or by contacting Jennifer Gibbons 0418 318 589 l

2019 CROSSLIGHT ADVERTISING BOOKING DEADLINES FEBRUARY: 2 January, APRIL: 6 March, JUNE: 1 May, AUGUST: 3 July, OCTOBER: 4 September, DECEMBER: 30 October Booking enquiries, contact Jacqui Kairu P: (03) 9340 8846 or E:

Florence and Alexander Yule Memorial Scholarship This scholarship is to support further theological study at an overseas College or University. It is open to graduates of Pilgrim Theological College (formerly Uniting Church Theological College).

Applications close 1 February 2019 Application forms are available at

For more information, contact Sean Winter

Celebrating the joy of Christmas Whether youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at home, with family or in an aged care community, Uniting AgeWell wishes everyone peace and happiness this Christmas and New Year. We thank all staff, volunteers and supporters for making a difference to the lives of older people, providing care and support to help them live well every day of the year. Victoria l Tasmania

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1300 783 435 DECEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Synod Snaps

Joan Billington celebrates her 90th birthday at Ocean Grove Uniting Church.

Andrew Phillips who won the Most Valuable Lamb’s Wool section at the Tatyoon Show. The show is sponsored by the Tatyoon Uniting Church.

Isobel Anderson with Don Bone at the Western Port Uniting Church Op Shop, with the property recently being bought freehold by the church.


Participants take a break during Tasmania’s first Godly Play Core training that took place last month in Hobart.

The dedication of the fire trucks at Lockwood Uniting Church in Central Victoria.

Zoe inspects a quilt held by Rosemary at the Montrose Uniting Church talents show and exhibiton weekend. Over $1448 was raised for outreach and the Stable One shelter program.

Profile for UCAVicTas

December 2018 Crosslight Edition  

December 2018 Crosslight Edition  

Profile for ucavictas