Celebrating 25 years of
No. No N o. 2 278 27 7 78 8 July JJu ullyy 2017 201 017
CTM executive director Jennifer Byrnes takes on an important new leadership role
From darkness comes light as Tassie churches are artfully transformed from top-to-bottom
Peering into the sometimes harrowing past of churchrun children’s homes
A detention centre visitor tells of the grim reality of being locked up for seeking asylum
Crosslight’s predecessor publication Church & Nation covers the inauguration of the Uniting Church 40 years ago, on June 22, 1977.
28 News in briefs, how a church got behind the drive to send knickers to Nairobi
Synod Snaps: Plenty of cakes, smiles and song as UCA people celebrate 40 years of union
Regulars People - 11 Letters - 18 Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 Moderator’s column - 26
Editorial Celestial and Celestin proof of the divine
Communications & Media Services
UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: email@example.com ISSN 1037 826X
A LETTER to Crosslight this month eloquently reminds us that human beings do not have all the answers. The letter writer tells us that as astronomers learn more about the complexity of the universe, the probability of a planet which enables intelligent life becomes infinitesimal, perhaps even suggesting a divine hand. People of faith have known this for centuries. Throughout time, humanity of all colours and creeds has acknowledged some kind of divine being. That knowledge hasn’t stopped humankind doing awful things to one another. Our history books are stories of the victors and the vanquished. Our present is no different. The month of June has witnessed almost daily reporting of terrorist incidents in various parts of the globe, some committed by individuals purporting to represent Allah, another by a man wanting to kill Muslims. Crosslight is a monthly newspaper produced by the Communications and Media Services unit of The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. It is published 11 times a year. Opinions expressed in Crosslight do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of The Uniting Church. Advertising: Crosslight accepts advertising in good faith. Acceptance of advertising does not imply endorsement. Advertising material is at the discretion of the publisher. Distribution: Crosslight is usually distributed the first Sunday of the month.
History books are, however, also full of stories of people who have stood tall in the midst of hatred. Nelson Mandela, unbroken despite 27 years of incarceration, emerged from Robben Island to be elected president of South Africa and institute a time of healing. Corrie ten Boom who, with her family, hid Jews escaping the Gestapo in a secret room in their Netherlands home (recorded in her biography, The Hiding Place). When arrested and incarcerated by the Nazis, ten Boom ran Bible studies in the concentration camps in which she was held. Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, William Wilberforce, Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr, Anne Frank… Each of us has our own heroes, men and women who have demonstrated love and bravery in the midst of hatred. Mine is Celestin. I met Celestin in
Rwanda in 1997, three years after the genocide. His two sons had been butchered. His wife and twin daughters had fled to France and would not return. He had worked in a Red Cross camp in neighbouring Burundi serving both Tutsis and Hutus in the midst of the genocide, and continued to serve his people. His pain was evident. But so was his love. Celestin is the embodiment of the risen Christ, broken on the cross, the scars still evident, risen to offer grace and forgiveness to the world. Pain, brokenness, death are part of the human condition. Our faith is firmly embedded in the muck of life. However, each of us is called to respond, like Celestin and Corrie and Bishop Romero in love not hate. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 “And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Circulation: 21,000 (publisher’s figure).
Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <crosslight.org.au>. Closing date for August – Friday 21 July 2017. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online: crosslight.org.au
Executive Editor - Penny Mulvey Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Graphic Artist - Mirna Leonita Design, Digital Illustration and Print Services - Garth Jones Communications Officer - Tim Lam Media Communications Officer - David Southwell Advertising Co-ordinator - Lynda Nel Communications Manager - Nigel Tapp Digital Technology Officer - Graham Holtshausen
VicTas child safe website LIVE
MODERATOR Sharon Hollis presses the computer key to launch the brand new Keeping Children Safe website: ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe/ Many congregations have waited several months for this website. In a letter to congregations announcing the new website, the Culture of Safety team thanked the Church for its patience and expressed gratitude for the excellent work in keeping children safe already being undertaken by church councils and individuals. The Keeping Children Safe policy has changed. The new policy, Keeping Children Safe (May 2017) is on the website. Please only refer to this policy from now on. It (along with the many resources) reflects the Victorian Child Safe Standards, the Royal Commission’s Ten Key Elements of a Child Safe Organisation and the UCA’s Child Safe Policy Framework.
Jennifer Byrnes to take on missional leadership role
REV Dr Jennifer Byrnes (pictured) has been appointed as the inaugural executive officer of the Mission and Capacity Building Unit (working title). The new unit assumes responsibility for all missional-based synod functions, including the Commission for Mission, the Centre for Theology & Ministry (CTM), administrative support for the Placements Committee, and some Board of Mission and Resourcing (BOMAR) responsibilities. Dr Byrnes is leaving her role as executive director of CTM to take up the five-year term on 1 September 2017. “The appointment to this new role is
exciting, humbling and daunting,” Dr Byrnes said. “It is a time in the life of this synod to refresh our vision for resourcing and educating for mission and ministry, in close and coordinated partnership with presbyteries, congregations and individuals. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of bringing many of our shared hopes for a thriving church to fruition.” The unit will be asked to focus on the Vision and Mission Principles, and related synod commitments, and is expected to work closely and effectively with presbyteries, and other councils and institutions of the Church.” The appointment was announced in a
whole-of-church statement, which said that a nominating committee had found that Dr Byrnes was the “outstanding” candidate for the role and made that recommendation to the Synod Standing Committee. “The Synod Standing Committee discerned that Dr Byrnes has the considerable gifts and graces to embody and implement the leadership and change that is being envisaged in the executive officer role, and indeed the life of the unit,” the statement said. Interim arrangements are being made to undertake Dr Brynes’ responsibilities at CTM during the transition time until she commences at the Mission and Capacity Building Unit.
Presbyteries in transition
SIXTY representatives from across the presbyteries and synod gathered at the Centre for Theology & Ministry last month to hear about progress relating to future plans for the presbyteries. At the June 2016 Synod meeting a resolution was passed to establish a Presbytery Transition Team (PTT) which would work closely with the Strategic Review Implementation Team to develop flexible new models of Presbytery resourcing and ministry. The purpose of the 17 June meeting was for the PTT to report to the representative group on what they have heard in their consultations across the synod. PTT convenor, Rev Paul Stephens, said the team has consulted far and wide, including meeting with other synods, talking with local and overseas theologians, consulting the architects of the Basis of Union and reading extensively on the role of presbyteries in other places. “We met with Norman Young and D’Arcy
Wood to hear how those who framed the Basis of Union perceived the role of presbytery,” Mr Stephens explained. The Basis of Union (paragraph 15) states that presbyteries as part of their role of oversight are ‘to exhort congregations to fulfil their high calling in Christ Jesus.’ Mr Stephens said this role of oversight is crucial in the life of the Uniting Church, which the PTT has been describing as ‘pastoral, missional leadership’. As the PTT has travelled around the presbyteries, they have heard many stories of new life, some of which they shared with the CTM gathering in June. However, they also heard story after story of presbytery leaders being worn out by the demands of their role. “There are many challenges during this time of enormous change for the Church and presbytery leaders are at times burdened by the pastoral load of offering leadership into change,” Mr Stephens said. “We were surprised to find ourselves
reflecting at length on the role of chairpersons in the life of presbyteries. “We discovered that by regulation chairs hold a key role for leadership, indeed for ‘pastoral oversight’. “The responsibilities of those in the role are significant and seem to be growing.” The specific question relating to future resourcing of presbyteries (as per the 2016 Synod resolution) was not raised at the June event. Mr Stephens said one of the key recommendations coming to Synod will be that the model of presbytery teams should vary according to the needs of the particular presbytery. He also said the report will also present some options relating to the presbytery chairperson role. The PTT is now in the process of preparing its final report which will be presented to Synod Standing Committee in August and the Synod meeting in September.
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The ABCs of copyright
IS your church or organisation aware of its obligations in relation to copyright laws? Just because an image can be downloaded from the internet does not mean you can project it free of charge. The same applies to short excerpts from movies and playing music at church events outside of worship services. Different units within the synod field phone calls and emails from ministers and lay people confused about copyright expectations. The legal team, in consultation with Communications and Media Services, has reviewed the
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copyright minefield and has prepared a clear document titled ‘Copyright Licensing Guidelines for Uniting Church Congregations’. This can be found on the VicTas website, under UCA Resources, and will be sent to all congregation secretaries in July. The general rule regarding copyright is: “All original copyrighted items must be licensed from the copyright owner if they are to be used in public, copied or projected. This includes copying or projecting words or music in church, and playing music at church events (but not during worship services) such as youth groups, discos, fetes, concerts or art shows.” If you have investigated matters relating to copyright you will be aware that copyright laws exist to protect the creators of works and content from unauthorised use. Individuals and organisations have a legal and ethical imperative to honour copyright laws. A number of licensing organisations responsible for protecting content are outlined in the Licensing Guidelines document. The CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing International) for churches is initially based on church congregation size, and makes it easy and affordable to make copies of the words of songs for worship activities. This includes words projected onto a screen via a data projector, church bulletins, wedding programs, Sunday
school cards, the making of legal audio and video recordings of the service and customising arrangements of music. It also covers normal church activities outside the main service such as youth camps, retreats, home groups, and children’s classes. Other licenses can be purchased through CCLI, making it one of the easier options for purchasing of licences that cover most eventualities for churches. Another group also focusing on church licences is the Big Studio Movie Licence (BSML). It has an exclusive arrangement with some significant studios including Disney, Sony, Icon, Madman and Heritage Films. BSML provides advice to groups regarding suitable movies, and its pricing is also based on church size. Movie nights are definitely a great outreach for churches, and BSML encourages smaller churches to consider doing a combined event. There are certain rules around advertising and charging, but these are carefully explained on its website. Copyright Licensing Guidelines for Uniting Church Congregations is written in plain language under clear headings. If in doubt about any content that you are reproducing, check first. For more information go to: www.victas.uca.org.au/UCA%20Resources/ Pages/Copyright-Guidelines.aspx au.ccli.com/ www.church.bsml.com.au/
News Group has a thirst to support Lenten appeal NIGEL TAPP
Thirsty Ground group in studio. John Coleman pictured on the right
PROCEEDS from the second CD produced by Hobart music group Thirsty Ground will aid the work of the synod’s Lenten Offering appeal. Last year Thirsty Ground received a $13,500 Lenten Offering grant to assist its performance program and make its second CD. The group’s leader, experienced Hobart singer-songwriter John Coleman, said members were keen to give something back to the appeal as a thank you for the generous contribution. The CD contains 10 original compositions – eight songs along with two instrumental pieces – which can be used as an entry point into worshipful meditation. All Thirsty Ground members are members of Hobart’s Choir of High Hopes, based at and supported by Scots Memorial Uniting Church in Hobart. Aged between 26 and 66, many have experienced significant physical and emotional challenges. They form part of the regular Tuesday
morning worship at Scots Memorial, which Mr Coleman facilitates. Once a month they provide the music for regular Sunday morning worship. Mr Coleman said the grant allowed Thirsty Ground to take the time required to develop the CD to a high standard and to recognise the efforts of backing musicians by paying them for their time. “For the first CD, our musicians gave their time and skill freely,” Mr Coleman said. “The grant allowed us to dignify their gifts by paying them – they are all professional musicians and of course give more than they are paid for. It also meant we had more time in the studio to get the sounds we were after,” he said. Mr Coleman said the group members had a lot to teach local congregations. “What people see from the group is a sense of relationship, respect, joy and a spirit of collaboration,” he said. “This is a community of diversity which takes great joy out of singing with each
other and spending time together. “And you can see people in the audiences emotionally affected by the music and songs. There is something special about the transparent joy and faith which shines from the group.” In being open about their own brokenness, Mr Coleman believes the members help other people accept and acknowledge their own struggles. “People go away uplifted and encouraged to pray, or they find a deeper faith and feelings about common humanity.” Thirsty Ground member Rohan Whelan met the group two years ago and quickly accepted an invitation from Mr Coleman to become involved, despite not having a formal background in music. Known for his love of Elvis Presley, Mr Whelan said he got a lot out of the opportunity to interact with not only the group but also the wider church. “We all have different music tastes but I really enjoy myself and there is an
opportunity to spread joy and peace through the music,” he said. “We make people smile and I know it makes them happy.” Rohan said he enjoyed talking to people after performances and sharing his own story as well as getting an understanding of their challenges. “I feel really good inside when I do that,” he said. Share director Angela Goodwin is delighted the group wants to support other Lenten projects. “Thirsty Ground is a very special group within the Uniting Church, and their desire to give back to the Lenten Offering, effectively paying forward the support they received, is an expression of this,’’ she said.
Copies of the CD cost $15 and are available by contacting Mr Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Profile Brunswick Uniting creates a community NIGEL TAPP ONE of the biggest challenges many young people face is their first experience of leaving home and this can be even harder for those who have to relocate far afield to further their education. Brunswick Uniting Church is doing its bit to support students moving to Melbourne from throughout Australia and overseas through a Student Housing Program (SHP). Currently 10 young people aged between 18 and 25 share two five-bedroomed apartments in the inner city suburb. The congregation’s student and youth support worker Anika Jensen, who is also a former resident, said students tend to stay until they either completed their undergraduate degree or moved from Melbourne. In 2009 Brunswick Uniting, formed by a merger of St Andrew’s and Brunswick South-West congregations, bought the five-unit Bucknall Court property which was previously used to house ministry candidates. It was redeveloped into three units, two for students and one that is rented out. Two decades on, some of the early students are still part of the congregation, an indication that lifelong and sustaining relationships have been forged. The SHP aims to create a community where students develop skills to support and care for each other. They also engage with the broader church community, which offers care and support to the students. House members are encouraged to become active in the missional outreach of the church, which includes support for asylum seekers and those living on the edges of society as well as youth activities. “It is a place with a diverse mix of young people where they can share their different cultural backgrounds and approaches to faith. There is a lot of respect shown by all members and this leads to real community building,” Anika said.
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Enjoying a laugh with support worker Anika Jensen (left) are students Sam Rauert, Giovanni Young, Brianna Bartley, Andrew Crane and Steph Wilson
“There is a natural flow of reciprocal relationships between students within the community and beyond to the broader church and these relationships are dynamic and ever growing.” Anika said for many of the young people it was their first experience in becoming part of a faith community as an independent adult. SHP committee members and the residents share a meal once a month. “It is an opportunity to pause and help each other out,” Anika said. “It is very much a community and that is the type of culture we strive to maintain. “There are people in the church community that the young people get to know and can seek assistance from in terms of practical and emotional support.” It may be as simple as a resident being invited for a home-cooked meal or, as occurred a few weeks ago, a request from one house for a television being quickly met by a congregation member. Brunswick Uniting minister Rev Ian
Ferguson stressed the invitation to engage with the church is not some form of `payback’ . “It is primarily an exercise in community building and supporting them in a practical way,” Mr Ferguson said. “There is a strong sense of engagement between the students and the congregation and it is wonderful to have them here.” Abi Bannon has maintained a strong connection with Brunswick Uniting after four years living in student housing. She volunteers at the church’s Olive Way – a drop-in engagement with the local community which operates three days a week and provides lunches and an art workshop – and puts her continuing connection down to the support she received when she first moved from Castlemaine. “I never really imagined myself moving to the city but I had to. I found the people just so welcoming right from the beginning, just so willing to back me up and support me,” she said.
“It was absolutely vital for me.” Brianna Bartley has lived in the student housing accommodation for more than three years. She said finding a safe space had been very important when she moved from Launceston to begin her university studies. “You are learning how to be independent. Being able to go through that with others helps you to mature,” she said. Sam Rauert said moving into share house accommodation could be fraught with difficulties so having people of a similar background made settling in easier. Andrew Crane said he had found the support from congregational members very helpful. “They help out with little things, like telling you where the shops are. Everyone is very welcoming and you can have a conversation with anyone.’’ At the end of this month a vacancy will exist in the student house community. For more information contact Anika at email@example.com
News Become a shooting star PENNY Mulvey learnt a thing or two about mobile phones on her latest trip to a rural presbytery. The director of communications for the synod decided it was time to “practice what we preach” as she valiantly took on the task of producing short video stories to document her trip. “For the past few months we have been asking congregations to send in videos taken on their mobile phones depicting life in their congregations. These will be shown at the Synod meeting in September,” Ms Mulvey said. “I thought perhaps it was time for me to give it a go, and I must admit it presented a bit of a challenge at first.” Despite a background in television and radio, Ms Mulvey found framing a shot, recording action and asking questions (all at the same time) was actually as difficult as it sounds. “I quickly realised that a bit of planning goes a long way,” she said. “Luckily, I had a mobile tripod and a lapel mic. I found that filming ‘action’ shots, then conducting an interview was the easiest way to get a material we could use.” “This can then be edited back at the office as a short video with a voice-over.”
Elaine Edwards, chairperson of the Henty Region, with Rev Will Pickett
Ms Mulvey said it was lovely to be out and about for a few days meeting such a diverse range of people. She visited Warrnambool, Hamilton and Horsham, participating in a community lunch at Warrnambool UCA; met the volunteers who pack the hampers for the Second Bite food delivery service at Hamilton UCA and caught up with Uniting Wimmera staff at Horsham. The trip highlighted the incredible programs and initiatives happening throughout the state. The CoMS unit has been impressed with
the videos that have been sent in so far. While they depict the variety of church life throughout the synod, they also highlight a common theme – the commitment of church members to live out their faith. If people are a bit unsure about producing a video, Ms Mulvey said it helps to have a few practice runs and then put something together. And she wants to remind budding Spielbergs that help is always at hand. “We have a list of handy hints and we encourage people to contact us here if they
have any questions,” she said. “Once we have something in our office it will be edited, so you are not expected to send through a perfect video. Our job is to polish it ready for viewing.”
For hints on mobile videoing go to: www.victas.uca.org.au/aboutus/Pages/OurSynod-Meeting.aspx For a sneak peek of a video go to: bit.ly/victas
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News Where is the Uniting Church heading, and how will we find our way? ROHAN PRYOR
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“I SEE growing faith and abundant hope all over the place,” Dr Deidre Palmer, president-elect of the Uniting Church Assembly said. “I see Uniting Church worship that impassions people to go out, emboldened to live God’s good news in the world. And I see the Uniting Church in many diverse ways forming disciples of Jesus Christ who are passionately joining God’s mission in the world”. Deidre will join Rev Dr Geoff Thompson to address the question of where the Uniting Church is heading at a public forum as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations on Sunday 16 July in Melbourne. Both leaders carry a strong sense of hope for the future of the Uniting Church. This is based not only on their connections to the growing world church as the Uniting Church actively participates in international relationships, but also on their personal experiences of local Uniting Church congregations forming faith and growing disciples of Jesus. The Christian church is growing strongly in many parts of the world. This is demonstrated by the growth of the Methodist movement in South America, Africa and Asia – the World Methodist Council is but one of the Uniting Church’s family connections to the universal Church. In Australia, and in particular in the Uniting Church, it is easy to feel a sense of decline, and even crisis. Recent articles
reflecting on the 40th anniversary of the Church, and drawing from the recent National Church Life Survey, continue this narrative. Perhaps the Uniting Church has been in decline as part of the western world’s generations-long slide into pluralism and diversity, consumerism and individual choice. However, these large-scale narratives overlook changes happening in local communities of faith, and the vibrant life in many smaller congregations that persists despite the challenges that pervasive change brings. At a recent one-day Living Leadership workshop on leadership for an intercultural church – with a focus on generations growing in faith together – Matthew Julius raised the question of hope. “Anyone who has no sense of hope for the future of the Uniting Church clearly hasn’t been talking to anyone under 40, or anyone with brown skin,” Matthew said.
Matthew is a private theology student at Pilgrim Theological College and a member of the SPACE community with the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches. He also recently contributed to Crosslight’s online conversations. Geoff and Deidre each engage with the younger generation in the Uniting Church. Deidre was a mentor at the National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC) last year at which 130 young leaders gathered for six days of inspiration, empowerment and equipping. Geoff teaches theology classes peppered with astute and passionate young leaders. The Uniting Church is growing, although not everywhere and not evenly. It still has good news to share in a world hurting and hungering for the inspiration and transformation that God-with-us can bring. Where and how will we find our way? Together, as disciples of Jesus, and with the gifts of the Spirit who brings new life to share God’s eternal love and build community and justice in the world. Rohan Pryor is a lay leadership educator at CTM
A People of God on the Way is a public forum on Sunday 16 July 2017, from 2:005:00pm at the CTM, Parkville. Registration: https://ucavt.goregister.com.au/ ucapathways2017
News Piecing together life stories DAVID SOUTHWELL
Group photo from the Methodist Babies’ Home from the 1950s. Credit: Synod Victorian Archives
SYNOD’S Victorian Archives is making it easier for those who were in the care of church-affiliated babies and children’s homes to find out more about their past. Archives was awarded a federal government grant as part of the national Find & Connect project, which has funded casual staff to index the records kept from babies and children’s homes run by the Uniting Church and its predecessor denominations. “We are creating finding aids for care leavers – people who have lived in institutional care – to access a whole variety of records and other materials relevant to their time in care,” archivist Dr Jenny Bars said. The easier access to information will be welcomed by many, but it also offers a harrowing insight into the attitudes of the time. Archives does not give out the information directly and directs people to access records through the Wesley Heritage Service, which offers support. “Catriona Milne is the gateway for all these records. People go to her and request the information and she forwards the request and we search through our materials and scan our materials back to her,” Dr Bars said. The records for some institutions date back to the 1880s and can be quite complex with name changes or relocations.
“The first point of call for people should be the Find & Connect website, which is a really fabulous resource,” Dr Bars said. The initial stage of the project was a records survey of the roughly 130 boxes of material relating to the babies and children’s homes, which before 1977 were run mainly by the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. “The indexers are going through all the records with a fine-toothed comb and indexing every time they’ve found a child’s name,” Dr Bars said. “So in the future, for people who want to find out about their time in care, it will be much easier for us to pinpoint where their records may be found.” The records kept by Archives are usually administrative records, such as minutes of board or committee meetings. Dr Bars said for individuals these records could give “quite useful extra little scraps of information” such as what allowances were paid for the child, if they were mentioned in a personal care committee or if their name was mentioned in any correspondence. “They’re all the sorts of things that can help care leavers put together a picture about their life story,” Dr Bars said. “It provides social and contextual information about their time in care.”
Although the church-run institutions are often thought of as orphanages, Dr Bars said that is largely a misnomer because many children were in care for a variety of reasons often related to a lack of contemporary social support. “It was a fairly common thing for children to be in homes in the past,” Dr Bars said. “Children weren’t necessarily orphans or not necessarily in care for the long-term. Often it was because their mother was in hospital or the father was out of work or for some reason. Children were in a home for two or three months and then their parents would retrieve them again. There was a lot of out-of-home care.” Dr Bars said going through the records could be distressing. “The indexers have found some of the stuff they have had to read quite confronting,” she said. “Especially from the 1920s and 1930s where there wasn’t much of an understanding of child psychology and the things that were said were quite appalling really.” She said the records revealed some callous offical attitudes. “No one thought children had feelings or would be adversely affected by things, so you know if the parents were killed in some accident a couple of weeks later they thought the children would be all over it.
They should be much better by now and ready to be fostered,” Dr Bars said. “There was little understanding of what children might be suffering or enduring in that sense. Obviously some of the things that happened to children were just tragic and heartbreaking really. They were very cruelly treated.” Dr Bars said there had been a surge of interest in uncovering people’s past in out-of-home care following an ABC Life Matters radio show on the subject and the media coverage of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. “This whole issue of care and children’s homes has been in the news quite a bit and maybe it’s prompted people to say ‘I’d really like to find out more about my background’. Just in the past week about 10 enquiries have come in,” she said. The Synod’s Victorian Archives is keen to hear from people interested in regularly volunteering at its base in Malvern East. Volunteers can assist on various projects, including helping research the extensive collection of archival photos. Archives is in process of digitising the collection to make the images more accessible. For more informationcontact Dr Jenny Bars on 03 9571 5476.
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People Queen’s Birthday gongs for 11 synod members
Knickers for Nairobi A UNITING Church congregation in a Victorian alpine town is changing the lives of girls in Kenya through an unconventional fundraising campaign. Knickers for Nairobi has collected more than 8000 knickers and 1000 bras for girls in the Kibera slum in Nairobi in the past six months. The project is spearheaded by Graham Clutterbuck, co-ordinator for mission and outreach (pictured below) at Upper Kiewa Valley Uniting Church in Mount Beauty. For many children living in Kibera, education is the only realistic means of escaping slum life. But girls often miss school because they cannot access sanitary products and do not have spare underwear to use during their period. Rev Alf Thistlethwaite, minister at Upper Kiewa Valley Uniting Church, said the
How neighbours became more than good friends DAVID THOMPSON IT all began almost as soon as I arrived to take up my placement, eight months ago in the Wimmera. Next door was a couple with five young daughters and the first of many, many conversations over the back fence quickly led to an offer to mow what then passed for a lawn on our rented property. The weather soon turned hot and the eldest daughter then became the guardian and waterer of my newly planted garden, whenever I was away for more than a day. The friendship ripened, then conversations which had been friendly and comfortable took a serious turn when, quite out of nowhere came a request from the girls’ mother – would I talk to them, please, about baptism? It turned out the two oldest girls attend the
congregation came up with the idea of Knickers for Nairobi following a visit from Women for Women in Africa co-founder Marguerite Ryan. “There are so many things we can’t change but this seemed like something we could,” Mr Thistlethwaite said. The church op shop was used as the initial collection point but new drop-off sites were soon opened in Albury and Wodonga to meet demand. Volunteers created flyers and a Facebook page and the project also received promotion on ABC Goulburn Murray radio. The collections points were inundated with new underwear and some sites required pick-ups twice a week. The congregation recently shipped two large boxes of underwear to Nairobi and plans to send another 14 boxes in July. “Church groups, service clubs, schools, and individuals have opened their hearts with extreme generosity,” Mr Thistlethwaite said. “Our faith in God has spoken to us in a way that has empowered our church to step outside the box of traditional fundraising. “Our desire has caught the imagination of so many throughout Victoria and Southern New South Wales so that over 8000 items of underwear will be sent to Nairobi.” local Catholic primary school where they receive regular religious instruction. This had piqued their interest in matters of faith, hence the request. We then began a series of discussions on the meaning of baptism, with both parents listening in. Some weeks down the track, father Josh indicated that he, too, would like to be baptised. The conversations, by the moving of the Spirit, had persuaded him to make his decision. And so it was that, on 23 April, I had the enormous privilege of baptising five young people and their father, and receiving them into the fellowship of the Donald Uniting Church. The sacrament was performed in front of their friends and relatives, including staff members from the school they attend, and who accepted the invitation to take communion with us. The family continue to worship with the congregation whenever their circumstances permit it. They are now missionaries to their extended family and friends, even though they would not have used the word. It all goes to show how the growth of relationships allows the Holy Spirit to work in its wonderfully mysterious ways and has enabled an older congregation to rediscover the joy and the privilege of having youth in their church once again.
The Pratt family with David Thompson
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Rev David Thompson is a minister with the North Central Living Waters Cluster
ELEVEN people connected with the Uniting Church in Victoria were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday honours list released on 12 June. Julie Ann Cox (pictured below) was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) while the other 10 received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). Ms Cox – a former teacher and director of special education at Methodist Ladies’ College – was recognised for her significant service to the arts through executive roles supporting cultural institutions and to special education and child welfare. Peter Rowse’s work for a variety of Church organisations for more than six decades saw him awarded an OAM. Mr Rowse is a past chairman of the Belgrave Heights Convention Centre for Christian gatherings, college council president of the Bible College of Victoria and former chair of Outreach and Church Ministries. He also served for 15 years as a council member of the Christian Leaders’ Training College in Papua New Guinea. Mr Rowse is a lay preacher and office bearer at St Luke’s Ellinbank UC in Warragul.
Rokewood Uniting Church organist William Carr, who has held the role for more than 50 years, was honoured for his service to rural health and the community. He also served his local church as its chairman and treasurer. Doncaster couple Ian and Adele Sharpe were recognised for their service to youth through Scouts and the community. Mr Sharpe has been a member of the Heidelberg East Ivanhoe Uniting Church since 1992, a member of the Property Committee from 1993-2007 and former coordinator of the church’s annual fete. Mrs Sharpe has served as a church elder since 1997 as well as undertaking roles on the social, communications and annual fete committees. For a full list of Victorian UCA recipients go to: crosslight.org.au
Op shop rises from the ashes THE Bridgewater Gagebrook Uniting Church has re-opened its op shop doors again after the building was severely damaged by a deliberately lit fire on 6 April. About $35,000 damaged was caused to the Tottenham Rd property, located in Hobart’s northern suburbs. The fire and smoke damage destroyed all goods housed inside. The congregation has spent about 10 weeks fixing the insured building and securing donated goods, which allowed the doors to re-open on Tuesday. Uniting Churches from throughout Hobart joined the call for goods, with BridgewaterGagebrook Uniting Church council chair Rev David Parker saying there was still a need for more blankets, winter-weight sheets and towels. Mr Parker said the congregation was thrilled to be able to reopen the shop. “The dedication of our volunteers to provide a friendly place and an opportunity for the local community to pick up essential items of clothing, homewares, toys and linen at minimal cost is greatly appreciated,” Mr Parker said. He said the shop also served as
an important meeting hub for the wider community, and that had been greatly missed over the last three months. Op Shop volunteer manager Pauline Kelly said volunteers were devastated by the blaze and disappointed that the service to the local community had been disrupted for so long. “Through the hard work of the volunteers and generous donations from the community we are able to now re-open,” Ms Kelly said. The shop opens from 9.30am until 2pm on weekdays. The blaze is being investigated by Tasmania police and anyone with information is urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
OpShop volunteer manager Pauline Kelly left and volunteer Josh large restock the shop
Obituary Family ministry
REV RONALD ALISTER BLACKWOOD 23 AUGUST 1919 – 12 JUNE 2017
RON Blackwood was born in Dimboola, Victoria on 23 August 1919. By his crib his parents, Rev William and May Blackwood, dedicated him to the ministry of the church. Ron was told this just prior to taking up his first ministry appointment in the Presbyterian Church, Stanley, Tasmania where he was ordained and inducted in April 1944. On his retirement in 1985 he said: I was conscious of the fact that I was called to undertake certain tasks which I did not regard as those for which I had any particular talent. One of our teachers used to say our prayer to God must be, not for tasks more suited to our strength but for strength more suited to our tasks. I found this prayer was answered by Christ, the Head of the church. Brought up in Mildura with his brother, Alan, and sisters, Jean and Heather, Ron finished his schooling at the Geelong College. While a resident at Ormond College, Ron completed an arts degree and preparation for ordained ministry. Partway through his tertiary education he became a home missionary for a year in Lakes Entrance. There he met Jean Baker of Bairnsdale, a 23-mile (37km) push-bike ride away. They married at the conclusion of his studies and moved to Tasmania.
In 1947 Ron was called to St David’s, Newtown, Geelong. He was also part-time chaplain to the Morongo Girls College. The baby boomers were expanding the Sunday Schools. In the early 1950s tuberculosis struck the family – first Roger, their eldest, and then Jean. Both survived but Ron needed support to manage the crisis. His parents joined the household and twoyear-old Alison was cared for by May Hazeldine, mother of Revs Bob and Jim Hazeldine. Ron was called to Wahroonga, a northern suburb of Sydney in 1957. His responsibilities included a part-time chaplaincy at Knox Grammar School. The baby boomers were now joining the youth groups. His three children completed their schooling at this time. A call to Gardiner in 1969 saw Ron and Jean return to Victoria. The baby boomers were getting married. Saturdays were busy with weddings, often several on the same day. The most was five. These were the years leading into Church union. Ron was the inaugural chairperson of the Nepean Presbytery. Sunday Schools were shrinking so to address the nurturing of young families Ron had his congregation join a small band of innovative churches. They radically changed their family worship services into high participatory
events that were called ‘worship in the round’. This creative expression of Christian nurture has been rebranded in recent times as ‘Messy Church’. In 1982 the synod appointed Ron to Mildura where he had grown up and from where he retired. Again, as presbytery chairperson, he provided wise council across the Mallee. Ron loved music and was closely involved in organ building. In Geelong the organ was rebuilt. In Wahroonga and Gardiner the organs were replaced. He was chaplain at Knox when Ronald Sharp’s first organ was built in the chapel. He gave leadership to the wider church and chaired the Joint Board of Christian Education, which provided most of the Christian education material for the church. He wrote for devotional publications and prepared more than 30 reflection programs for radio and television. Jean and Ron enjoyed a long and happy retirement in Kiama on the NSW south coast. Jean died in June 2008. Ron died 12 June 2017. He is survived by Roger (a Sydney accountant), Peter (retired minister in Melbourne), and Alison (retired palliative care nurse in Albion Park), nine grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren. Written by Peter Blackwood
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ALTARED CONSCIOUSNESS +
LAUNCESTON Pilgrim Uniting Church
+ + + +
CLEVELAND ROSS Uniting Church
OATLANDS Uniting Church
Scots-Memorial Uniting Church
by GARTH JONES
Feature images: Dark Mofo/Lusy Productions, 2017 Image Courtesy Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
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LAUNCESTON Pilgrim Uniting
Dark Mofo is a provocative, annual Tasmanian arts festival which takes place around the traditional pagan winter solstice. Founded in 2013 by Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) enfant terrible David Walsh, this year Dark Mofo courted controversy with its staging of Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch’s 150.Action, which was originally planned to involve the live slaughter of a bull.
THICK, otherworldly purple fog cascades from the lobby of Pilgrim Uniting Church on a typically bitter winter evening in Launceston. An usher – made up and clad in white – stands solemn, silent sentry at the main entrance, which is crimson lit. The steeple’s cross is a vivid red beacon. As you approach the entryway, vague figures move in silhouette, rendered apparitions by murky atmospherics. Stepping inside, bright floodlights briefly disorient as you notice the disquieting ambient throb and hum of disjointed soundscapes pulsing from the heart of the church. There’s a whiff of something earthy – not quite incense – infused with the mist. Anticipation buzzes as the teeming crowd is received into the church auditorium, which is illuminated with fluorescent scarlet stalactites punctuated by frigid, roaming searchlights. Framed by a cross, a projection at the back loops a moody, black and white cloudscape. There is a stage set up here, but the audience are seated with their backs to it. Pilgrim’s imposing Tasmanian blackwood pipe organ – erected in 1910 – towers over the capacity crowd. There’s a reverent hush as lights dim and, after a languid theatrical pause, two shadowy figures approach. One, shorter, reminiscent of a Victorian era footman, takes up his place at the organ. The other, tall and gaunt – evoking FW Murnau’s Nosferatu in the haze – approaches a strange, science-fiction contraption mounted on the altar. Adopting a conjurer’s bearing, the robed, towering wraith coaxes an otherworldly squeal from his instrument. The Crossing has begun.
“I notice on the Dark Mofo website that several Uniting Churches are being used for Dark Mofo performances, almost certainly in contravention of their consecrated purpose. Perhaps the Uniting Church have crossed to the dark side?” Letter, The Launceston Examiner, June 6 2017 “Oh, I don’t think it was everyone’s cup of tea!” laughs Hobart Scots-Memorial minister Rev Graham Sturdy. It’s the day after the final performance of the Unconscious Collective curated Crossing project (a part of the 2017 Dark Mofo program) in Hobart, and Mr Sturdy is reflecting on the response to the previous evening’s show. “We had some mixed reviews – but that’s art. It’s an artistic event, and that means your response is formed by your life experiences,” he said. “We saw 400-500 people over the course of the night, with a full house of 250 for the performance itself.” There was also a mixed response from those attending in Launceston. “Quite a number of the congregation attended,” Pilgrim Uniting’s Rev Rod Peppiatt said. “I wouldn’t say everyone was necessarily thrilled with the idea – not from within the congregation – but some people who know congregation members were concerned that we were going into territory that we perhaps shouldn’t.” Rev Dennis Cousens, whose ministry as part of the Midlands Patrol covers 18,000 square kilometres, including the Ross
and Oatlands Uniting Churches, notes “interestingly, for (many) it has been an opportunity to enter a building of some historical significance, a space used as a place of worship, and which is now a place to remember with a feeling of welcome and inclusiveness.” Sue Walker, from Launceston’s synod office, was inspired by the Crossing experience. “It was a different to anything I’d been to before, musically and presentation wise the use of lights and the music connecting with them was amazing,” Ms Walker said. “Certainly using a theremin and the electronic sound was different - it’s not really my taste in music, but I’m out to check anything new, and the performers were obviously very talented. “It’s all about checking it out and seeing what it’s all about, isn’t it?” “A cross is a geometrical figure consisting of two lines or bars, intersecting each other at a 90° angle and dividing one or both of the lines in half.”
Based in Hobart, the Unconscious Collective is a loose affiliate of artistic collaborators established by David Patman and Michelle Boyde in 2014. For Crossing Patman – an academic and engineer– and Boyde – an artist and curator – assembled a diverse array of artists and musicians to undertake a six-day pilgrimage from Launceston to Hobart. Traversing 200km of the Midland Highway, the project progressively illuminated six roadside churches, starting with Pilgrim Uniting Church in Launceston, taking in Ross and Oatlands Uniting Churches
Images via Instagram: @hou
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useofunholy & @jonesesque
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en route and climaxing with a standing room only performance at Scots-Memorial Uniting Church in Hobart. Other sites included the former Cleveland Union Chapel and St Mary’s Church of England in Kempton. The Crossing project set out to investigate notions around pilgrimage and spiritual seeking. “The project was inspired by car journeys in my childhood from Hobart to Launceston, along the old Midlands Highway through the various towns Kempton, Oatlands, Ross,” Patman said. “I wondered about the inhabitants and their lives as we drove through, sometimes stopping for petrol or a snack. Something about the drive was very reflective, and it felt like a significant journey. As I got older the towns began to be bypassed by the new highway, and it seemed that maybe life was bypassing them too. “The churches mostly remained visible, because of their size, and more recently driving the highway, I wondered about their congregations and whether the churches were able to retain their place as centres for community and spirituality, and whether that too was being passed over. “I also love the neo-gothic architecture which characterises many Tasmanian churches. “The original project title was Pastoral, referring to the role of churches as caring for the flock, but Crossing also seemed appropriate because of the journey aspect of the project – crossing between places, geographically, but also from secular to spiritual. In church architecture and of course the sign of the cross, both in its pagan form as representing a journey into the spirit world as well as its Christian symbolism.” Amongst those participating were Melbourne-based musician Miles Brown, lighting artist Matthew Adey and a small army of hair, clothing and olfactory artists. The opening night event in Launceston culminated in a haunting, one-off musical performance from husband and wife duo Danielle de Picciotto and Alexander Hacke, whose renowned band Einstürzende Neubauten was also on the
Dark Mofo bill. Brown, a composer and curator whose hypnotic theremin+ playing was the linchpin of the six performances, teamed with organist JP Shilo, who “really made the big organ sing”, according to Mr Peppiatt. Patman and Boyde admit that “Dark Mofo events are intentionally challenging and explore darker themes,” but point out that Unconscious Collective were very aware of the need to be “respectful to the Church and its values.” “Miles’ performance alludes more to ritual, due as much to how the theremin is played by waving the hands in the air, as does his costume,” they said. “As I understand it, the architecture of churches of all kinds, or interior design if you like, is meant to encourage a feeling of contact with the divine. The soaring ceilings, stained glass windows, columns and so on create a feeling of solemnity and reverence, and we wanted to work with this – to point it out – through a more mysterious and, perhaps flamboyant, performance which was sympathetic and respectful to the space, but also a bit playful.” Mr Peppiatt said the level of trust with Unconscious Collective was very high. “We’ve had a really good relationship. They spent a lot of time getting to know us, including spending time in worship. Our sense was that this was something that could be done with respect,” he said. This view is shared by all Uniting Church ministers involved. “There has always been a great respect for what the building is used for and for the openness of the Uniting Church. “To me the Uniting Church and the Midlands Patrol in particular have been the winners,” Mr Cousens said. “The folk here are really impressed with the team, really enjoyed working with them. We can’t understand why other churches would take offence to it!” Mr Sturdy said. “Unconscious Collective were originally talking about a lighting installation. As we met up and walked around the church, it grew a bit from there. We talked about it at church council and were aware this
could be a good thing and that there was a level of excitement about it. It grew from something quite low key and understated to more of an event,” Mr Peppiatt said. “I think it works well as a part of Dark Mofo – it has the bite for it.” “Simply put, illumination in the spiritual sense is “turning on the light” of understanding in some area.” It is the afternoon after the opening Pilgrim performance, and Mr Peppiatt is contemplating the intersection between art and spirituality, as evoked by the previous evening’s event. “Thinking back on the early years in the life of my church, in some ways I think there has been almost a restoration of what our tradition has lost in recent centuries, in engagement with art, with the spirituality of artistic expression,” he said. “I commented to Miles after the show last night that it would be very hard to see him perform and miss the fact that he was deeply engaged with and committed to music, and there’s a sense of devotion in that which is completely appropriate. “If you take church practice as necessarily traditional Sunday morning worship, the links were probably less clear, but certainly the stuff around non-verbal culture and non-word-based based devotion hit us early in the piece. “There was a recognition that a lot of this was around sound, and particularly light, which is something that Uniting Church tradition has come to late, I suppose.” Mr Sturdy said the lighting highlighted aspects of the faith. “There were floodlights illuminating the organ, and our only stained glass, depicting Moses and the burning bush, was lit up in Dark Mofo red,” Mr Sturdy said. “What hit me was not necessarily the lighting – it was our Bibles, opened up at the Book of Job, lit up white in the gloom of the church.” Frontier Services’ Rev Dennis Cousens is thrilled by the project’s execution. “The church spaces were magnificent,” he said.tlands was themed around water.
+ The theremin, originally iginally g y known /etherphone, p as the ætherphone/etherphone, thereminophone orr termenvox/ thereminvox, is an electronic musical instrument controlled ontact by y without physical contact erformer). ) the thereminist (performer). he WestIt is named after the ernized name of itss Soviet remin, inventor, Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928. The instrument’s controlling section two metal usually consists of tw e th tthe e antennas that sense relative position off the thereminist’s handss and control uency y with one oscillators for frequency de (volume) ( ) with hand, and amplitude t i signals i l ffrom the other. The electric the theremin are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. 15
Feature “Oatlands was themed around water. Veiled in blue lights and enhanced by a lake recessed inside the church, the soulsearching combination of theremin and organ music accompanied a young woman in white walking across the lake. As you entered the church, the entrance foyer greeted you with a communion cup, cross, bread and the Bible beautifully displayed and draped in a sprig of gum leaves and nuts. “Ross Uniting was themed around fire. Situated on a prominent hill – seen from a main artery highway – it glowed like a beacon welcoming travellers. “There is a an ornate wall print of the Lord’s Prayer and the Nicene Creed at the pulpit of Ross Uniting. Miles was positioned between these prints, which were spotlit. I actually heard a person reading the Nicene Creed quietly to himself. It was a great outreach, even though those who attended may not have expected such.” “A crossing, in ecclesiastical architecture, is the junction of the four arms of a cruciform (cross-shaped) church. In a typically oriented church (especially of Romanesque and Gothic styles), the crossing gives access to the nave on the west, the transept arms on the north and south, and the choir, as the first part of the chancel, on the east.” For Mr Sturdy, projects like Crossing are all about making connections within the community. “That’s how people see it here – the main mission purpose is to engage with our community. Dark Mofo and cultural events are another part of the life of the church in the civic community, just like Carols By Candlelight, really,” he said Speaking via hands-free mobile phone, the rumble of his 4WD’s engine occasionally drowning him out, Mr Cousens is energised by the project’s reception. “Crossing, embraced as it was by the church and attended by the general public and congregants – with full houses both nights – will leave a great impression on many people. The ‘thank you for allowing this to happen in these churches’ received by wife Sally and I have been very humbling. This is the church being out there, meeting the people where they are expecting nothing in return. In God’s time much will come out of it I am sure.” Back in Launceston, Mr Peppiatt recalls two significant experiences from the day. “One was that I led a worship service in a nursing home, a very traditional setting, down to the old version of the Lord’s Prayer, because for a whole lot of people, that’s where their stories and memories are,” he said. “Then, to come straight from there to this (Crossing) was kind of a culture shock. But in each I saw profound things, of the church in community and in the life of the city.
“I’m really glad that we were willing to take a crack at it; opening the door to community, offering the church an opportunity for hospitality.” “He who enters by way of the north gate to worship shall go out by way of the south gate.” Ezekiel 46:9 We are standing in the middle of a dark field, illuminated by fire pits, in the tiny community of Cleveland (population 15), just outside Campbell Town on the Midland Highway. The former Cleveland Union Hall is not a Uniting Church, but it is the smallest of the venues taking part in Crossing. Inside the hall, a woman dressed in white grinds a mortar and pestle while ambient music rumbles. An usher, clad in furs, offers egg-nog and soup to audience members. Outside, a projection of the highway scrolls across the hall’s exterior as locals pick their way across the field, flashlights in hand. Grave markers are illuminated in the evening mist, and a pen full of sheep garners constant attention from the children in attendance. With Hermann
Nitsch’s ritual slaughter performance still on the horizon, we are relieved to be reassured that there are no nefarious plans afoot for our woolly friends. There is a reverent, electric atmosphere in the church hall as the crowd slowly assembles. Conversations are punctuated by visible breath in the chill. Incredibly, many residents of Cleveland rarely see one another owing to the sparsly populated distances – this is an opportunity to catch up, share stories and see “something a bit different”. “It’s putting us back on the map!” says Peter, a bearded retiree from Melbourne who’s renovated a nearby three-storey, 19th century property with his wife, Grace, over the last decade. Peter has just finished telling me about his snake
infestation issues - apparently the Tasmanian weather is no deterrent, though he’d assumed it would be “so cold they wouldn’t bother” down here. More than anything, these smaller Crossing events seem to be an ideal locus for community, a place to convene and relate. One suspects this is an occasions which will fuel many years of local dialogue, discussion and reflection. “It’s been 30 years since some of these people set foot in a church,” Peter said. “Everyone’s got at least a tiny bit of spirituality - isn’t that what we’re after?”
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Letters Responding to terror Hear, hear! to the views expressed by the editor in regard to using the awful terrorist attacks in Manchester as a means to vilify those seeking to escape bombings and war to find refuge in a safer place. I use the word ‘those’ deliberately, whether their skin colour is white, brown, black, brindle wearing head scarves or not. What would you do if your family home was being bombed from above or from shelling close by? Or if your country was being invaded or persecuted as happened to the Jews and those from the Baltic States during the Second World War. Some were fortunate to escape and find a safe haven in a refugee camp. Why is the burden falling heavily on Italy and Greece at the moment? They are sending out boats to rescue these poor souls from overfilled boats and drowning. Not like us who send out the navy to turn these boats back not caring whether they make it back or not or whether they drown or not. Italy and Greece need help in doing the right thing. And let’s not ever forget that Jesus was a refugee. Meeting a pilgrimage of Catholics and Lutherans from Germany, Pope Francis said he does not like “the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West, and, on the other hand, are against refugees and other religions”. “This is not something I’ve read in books, but I see in the newspapers and on television every day,” Pope Francis said. “The sickness, or you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy… You cannot be a Christian without living like a Christian. It’s hypocrisy to call yourself a Christian and chase away a refugee or someone seeking help, someone who is hungry or thirsty, toss out someone who is in need of my help. If I say I am Christian, but do these things, I’m a hypocrite.” And bravo to Stuart McMillan for his article on the 2017 Budget and in particular foreign aid. Cutting the foreign aid budget for the fourth time in a row is truly a disgrace and embarrassment. We now sit 16th in the world in terms of GNP given to overseas aid. And what is more, UNICEF, UNHCR and the UN are aware of our lack of generosity to those in need due to famine, drought, hurricanes, earthquakes and so on. Bruce Rogers Seaford, VIC.
Editorial mistake EARLIER this year I forwarded a letter to Crosslight for possible publication. It was in response to a letter you had published earlier that suggested there were things we could learn from Islam. In my letter, I outlined several aspects of Islam critical of the outworkings of that faith. What I said then I would repeat now. It was true then and true now. If that letter, plus others you alluded to in an editorial response, were found to be unacceptable because they were erroneous at some point, or malicious in content, I could accept your decision quite readily. However, it seems that while it is acceptable to laud Islam, your editorial policy does not allow any criticism! The recent horrific events must give you cause to review that policy and allow your readers 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.
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the opportunity to express valid opinions that you may find unacceptable, but which are valid and held legitimately. Rev Bob Ower Via email ONCE again as I read your editorial in the June issue of Crosslight I had to say that I disagree with the thoughts expressed. Some years ago I was strongly against what our government was doing in treating refugees the way it did and sending them into offshore detention centres. I attended a number of rallies in Melbourne protesting this, and wrote letters on two or three occasions to every newspaper in Western Victoria stating that “I am ashamed to be an Australian” because of what we do to these people. But then one day I happened to sit down and look at a map of the world and I asked myself, ”Where are all the wars in the world at the moment?” Of course it was in the Islamic countries. Sunni versus Shia and so on. And all the people were fleeing the wars in these countries. Of course it is true that the great majority of them only want to live in peace – but there are many who don’t. We only have to look at the terrorist occasions here in Australia and the many plots that have been discovered before they came to fruition. You also mention Muslims who live here being subjected to abuse. There is no place for this of course, but these people are quite free to leave Australia if they don’t like it here and return to their own country – unlike the many Christians in Islamic countries who suffer harassment, imprisonment, beatings and even death because they are not prepared to give up their Christian faith. I decided to leave the Uniting Church but have not yet done so because my wife and I belong to a very small country church which is noted for the friendliness and welcoming attitude of the congregation. However, our house is up for sale and you can be sure that when we leave this area we will also be leaving the Uniting Church. If ever I raised this matter for a discussion with our members, almost all of them have exactly the same opinion as I do. How many of our taxpayer dollars have we spent in the last five years on police resources to uncover and try to prevent Islamic terrorism? I’d really like to know that answer to that one. Len Martin Pomonal VIC
Ask Google Gosh, sometimes when I open my church Crosslight and read the letters I really wonder. In June a minister seemed to be saying don’t bother about a Keeping Children Safe policy and then another writer from Balwyn doesn’t seem to have a computer. Or even a phone to ring the synod. Even though I’m getting on in years, I managed to google (my grandkids taught me that verb) ‘Royal Commission’ and found a report that said the UC across Australia had 2504 incidents or allegations of child sexual abuse and 133 were said to have occurred at a place of worship. I reckon one allegation or incident would make me want to introduce a safe children system. I congratulate the synod for wanting to do this. And in Balwyn, a writer said there is no visible sign of this important (MSR) document. Well, I love using my new verb ‘google’ and sure enough I found lots of lists straight away for the MSR Report. And I would think that if I asked my minister or rang up synod they would arrange for me to get a copy. Anyway, I’ve just discovered online scrabble so I’ll see if I can get two ‘G’s and two ‘O’s on my
board and use the word ‘google.’ That would earn me 30 points on a triple word. Rose-Marie MacDonald Via email
WWCC/R wrong I COMPLETELY agree with the letter in the June Crosslight by Rev Adelene Mills. I believe that the person replying to her letter should have given her the courtesy of using her title of Rev, not Ms. (Or is that an “Ethical Standard”?)* I must state that we do not have children in our church! Could someone please explain how the holding of WWCC/Rs by leaders and worship leaders will protect children if they attend our church? A WWCC/R only indicates that the person has not come under attention by the issuing authority, not that he/she is OK. I put this hypothetical but possible scenario to you: A child attends a church with its parents. During the service the child goes out to the toilet. A visiting person happens to be in the toilet and interferes with the child. Hey! That can’t happen, because all the appropriate people have WWCC/Rs! The statement was made that if we do not have WWCC/Rs we would have to turn away any family who came to church with children. So parents are not capable of protecting their own children! How presumptuous! The only place that children are unsafe with their parents is at church? Outside of the church situation, a child can still go to a shop without his/her parents if the shopkeeper does not have a WWCC/R. I would consider this a far greater risk than a child going to church with parents. And we were told that we would not be able to take our grandchildren to church! I would not hesitate to say that every member of our congregation who has grandchildren would be happy if they would come to church with them, and to this end a WWCC/R would not be required. After all, all of those grandchildren happen to be adults. It will be interesting when the findings of the Royal Commission are made public. I dare say that in every case where a child has been abused by someone in the church they have been a member of a choir, youth group, altar attendant or the like, or in a church institution, and I doubt that there will be one case of a child being subjected to abuse as a member of the congregation attending with its parents, with no involvement in any other activity of the church. I wonder if the powers of the Royal Commission extend to examining the treatment of innocent children of asylum seekers who are imprisoned on a remote island by our supposedly very caring government. I am also disappointed by the attempt to frighten and/or shame our church council, which only demonstrates how desperate some people must be to justify their position. Keith Wools-Cobb, Shearwater, Tasmania. *(Editor’s note: Reverend or Rev is an honorific adjective. It is not a title or honorific in the same way as Professor, Doctor, Father or Bishop.)
Just JIM READING Crosslight I noted with interest an advertised position for executive officer of the new Mission and Capacity Building unit. A list of the responsibilities appeared in the advert showed the breadth of the Uniting Church in Australia’s involvements, one of which is Mission and Justice (the JIM unit). The JIM Unit has been a very important team, encouraging our congregations to write, and put into practice as Christians, our concerns on slavery, refugee treatment, corruption,
racism, and other important issues. The abuse of human rights by foreign and Australian governments is not unnoticed by the JIM unit, often resulting in an appeal for us to write respectfully to the appropriate foreign, or sadly at times, Australian governments. The JIM unit’s valuable background information for our letters always included detail of responsible persons we can to appeal to, such as company directors, and government ministers who may have influence to correct the injustice. In closing, the purpose of this letter is to appeal that the ‘Capacity Building unit’ recognise the importance of our Uniting Church’s JIM unit in challenging injustice. I proudly have provided information from JIM over the years to City of Kingston Human Rights Committee, the Kingston Interfaith Community and, at times, seen positive change for the good. So please, members of the Capacity Building unit, in your decisions for change, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water! Les C Williams OAM Edithvale
Universal belief In 1966, Time magazine ran a cover story ‘Is God dead?’, reflecting the prevailing cultural narrative of western civilization that as science progresses, the need for ‘God’ to explain the universe became inapplicable, almost silly. The wheel has come full circle. The best argument for God’s existence is now coming from science itself. In 1966, Carl Sagan pronounced that a planet need only meet two criteria to support life: the right star and the right distance from that star, leading to massive and hugely expensive SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) projects, with scientists confident of debunking Genesis. They estimate that there are at least a septillion (1 followed by 24 zeros) planets that meet the criteria. But as our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. As the parameters grew to over 200, the number of potentially life-supporting planets plummeted to nil. Every one of the 200 life-sustaining criteria must be precisely met or life cannot exist. Without gravity-rich Jupiter nearby to draw away the thousands of asteroids on a collision path with Earth, life cannot exist. Without the protective envelope of its planetary magnetic fields that deflects harmful solar radiation, life cannot exist. In fact, by scientists’ reckoning, the precision with which life-giving factors and their interplay need to be fine-tuned and balanced is so mind-boggling (of course here we have to remember we are talking about the ‘mind’ that is confined to our 1.3kg brain here) it’s a ‘miracle’ that we are even here, on earth, alive and …talking about being alive. Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term ‘Big Bang’, said that his atheism was ‘greatly shaken’ at recent discoveries on the creation of the universe so much so he wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has ‘monkeyed’ with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology”. Dr John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University would have hit the bulls-eye with his observation: “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.” Which asks less faith of us? Believing that an intelligence created the universe and perfect conditions for life on Earth? Or that the universe ‘just so happened’ and it ‘just so happened’ our planet and life on it somehow managed to beat inconceivable odds to come into being. Kimmy Fam Ballarat, VIC 17
Celebrating 40 years Being 40 years young NIGEL TAPP
Crusader Choir sang every night at first NCYC
MINISTERING to children, young people, youth and families has been central to the mission of the Uniting Church in Australia. Over time, the nature of this ministry has evolved, with new ways of doing church embraced. Ministry to young people has moved from the Sunday School model many people would be familiar with – or a camping style model popular through KUCA (Kids of the Uniting Church) – to the hands-on ministry offering Messy Church, which engages participants in an intergenerational setting. Messy Church is typically held monthly and includes a creative experience, a celebration and a meal. It is an intergenerational model in that it does not prioritise the needs of children or adults but seeks to engage with all ages. The synod’s children and families ministry coordinator Chris Barnett said the Uniting Church experience was that, typically, Messy Church attendances numbered about 50 people. Children attend Messy Church as part of family groups in significantly greater numbers than at many traditional services. “In a fragmented society Messy Church is one of the few places where people of all ages can be together,” he said. Mr Barnett and Judith Roberts, from the Synod of New South Wales and the ACT, brought the Messy Church concept to Australia six years ago. According to Mr Barnett, Messy Church is about creating communities and growing a discipleship community, rather than just staging a program or event. Messy Church communities negotiate times and spaces which work best for participants, with Sunday nights between 4.30pm and 6.30pm proving very popular. “Messy Church is certainly a good match for the UCA because it is multi-generational and it is being taken up with a real degree of enthusiasm,” Mr Barnett said. He said while the involvement of children and young families in church life was ‘mixed and
patchy’, many exciting stories were emerging which indicate the decline of recent years was slowing or being turned around, particularly in congregations which had embraced the Messy Church model. “There are examples where the Messy Church attendance is greater than the church attendance on a Sunday morning,” Mr Barnett said. Rev Sandy Brodine from the Banyule Network ministry team in Melbourne, said Messy Church is popular because it allows families to form continuing relationships and explore issues of faith together. The network offers Messy Church at Heidelberg, where about 25 people regularly attend, and at Ivanhoe, which attracts about 35 people. Ms Brodine said most attendees view Messy Church as their church community. Parents are keen to engage and learn alongside their children, which is not always easy in a traditional Sunday worship setting. “Having a model where parents sit at the back and try to keep their children quiet is not easy,” she said. “At Messy Church we do all the things like a normal service – we read the Bible, we pray together, we do baptisms. While it does not look the same almost every element is there.” While NCYC (National Christian Youth Sarah and Hannah Howells at Yurora
Street march as part of NCYC 57 in Adelaide
Convention) has always been an integral component of the Uniting Church’s engagement with young people, it is presented differently today. NCYC began as a biennial evangelical campaign of the Central Methodist Mission, in Sydney, in January 1955. From the beginning, NCYC was ecumenical in design and sought to reach the entire Christian youth community rather than just young Methodists. At its peak NCYC attracted 3000 young people aged between 16 and 30. From a highly structured seven-day timetable, NCYC has evolved into a fiveday event with a less structured program that allows young people to choose from a range of diverse electives. Every Australian state has hosted at least one gathering, with the two most recent hosted at Stanwell Tops by the Synod of NSW and the ACT. The latest event held in January this year, Yurora – which means ‘passion’ in the Dharug language – was attended by about 1000, with the large majority connected with the Uniting Church. Drew Hanna is the youth ministry coordinator at the Centre for Theology & Ministry. He said NCYC recognises the importance of developing a balance between theological teaching and social activities. Yurora attendee Sarah Howells, from Hobart, said the gathering helped her appreciate there were a lot of young people seeking to understand their place within the church. “As a young person you can sometimes feel you are a minority within the church. It is not a case of exclusion but just having opportunities to be involved. NCYC was a really important time to remember that I
was not alone,” Ms Howells said. “It was also good to get a taste of many things such as different types of worship and how different cultures interact.” Mr Hanna said at its broadest NCYC sought to express the breadth, depth and diversity of the Uniting Church and to celebrate the unity in that diversity. “It is a national expression of the Church alongside a discipleship opportunity which offers young people a chance to learn about Jesus and what it means to follow Jesus,” he said. The minister at Launceston’s Pilgrim Uniting Church, Rod Peppiatt, remembers his time at NCYC – in 1985 and 1987 – coming at a seminal period in his life as he considered entering ordained ministry. “I needed to explore what being part of this church meant to me,” he said. “The 1985 theme was ‘Dreams and Visions’ and there was a lot of talk about the courage to dream and to look for where the Holy Spirit was at work in the world and to be a part of that. It was an important time for me.” Mr Hanna said young people want to understand what it means to be a Christian rather than have difficult questions watered down. “If we are serious about naming and owning our faith we need to be open and allow young people with curious minds to ask what it means to be a Christian and to follow Jesus,” he said. But Mr Hanna stressed that could not be done by NCYC alone. “NCYC is very much a mountain-top experience. Research tell us that about 80 per cent of people only attend once so it can only be seen as part of a multi-layered approach to supporting young people.”
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 17
Vision and Mission Mission and the art of powerful questions IN my sharing with gathered communities across our Church, I am convinced we are helped by those among us who can ask ‘powerful questions’. Powerful questions is a term made popular by Canadian business strategist Eric Vogt who was convinced that: • questions are a prerequisite to learning; • questions are a window into creativity and insight; • questions motivate fresh thinking; • questions challenge outdated assumptions and; • questions lead us to the future. Eric quotes Albert Einstein saying: “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” So much opens up for us when we ask a powerful question. Such a question might excite our imagination and energise us in new directions. The art of powerful questions is a tremendous skill to learn and practice. In Luke 10, we read of a teacher of the law who came to Jesus one day with a question: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” After a brief exchange another question is asked of Jesus: “And who is my neighbour?” Jesus then tells the story of the Samaritan who helps a beaten man on the road to Jericho. The story is a prelude to what I would call a powerful question, where Jesus asks: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” This question leads the man (and those of us who read this account) to insight, fresh thinking, challenges and a new possibility. How might this notion of powerful questions happen today as we seek renewal as gathered communities called to participate in God’s mission of love for the world? Over recent years, the congregation of Craigieburn-Wallan, located in the northern fringes of Melbourne, has sought to renew their mission plan. The closure of the long-running opportunity shop at Wallan triggered a particular focus on the future possibilities for the Wallan church site. With help from the presbytery, the congregation was encouraged to learn more about the Wallan mission context – a rapidly growing suburban satellite of Melbourne. Warning! Here come the powerful questions that excited me… Through contacts nurtured over the years, some representatives of the church were able to speak with the local secondary school principal. She thought it might be best that they meet with the school’s student leadership team. After explaining to the team that they had come to listen and had no other agenda, the church representatives asked questions like: “What needs or issues are you facing as young people in Wallan?” Also: “In what ways might our church be able to help you?” These questions are powerful. They are made more powerful of course by the context in which they are asked. Powerful questions are pregnant with possibility. Soon the replies and discussion flowed from the student leaders: “Our parents work and are not home when JULY 17 - CROSSLIGHT
we leave for school, nor when we get home. Hanging out on the streets is dangerous. We need a safe space … to relax… to do homework... to talk together”. A spirit of possibility began to take hold and ideas of collaborative effort were discerned. The students suggested that if the church wanted to pursue something, then they’d like to help. The mission planning team spoke to the local police, telling them about ideas around a homework club and a safe space for young people. And the police were keen to help and added further ideas. The Shire of Mitchell was also consulted and officers spoke of isolated mothers in nearby new housing areas. The team shared a further idea of re-invigorating the opportunity shop with the manager of a local Salvo store. She was supportive and even suggested one of her own volunteers as a capable possible manager for the venture. Powerful questions invite collaboration and invigorate an infectious energy. The presbytery was excited by the ideas that were flowing, and later the skills of the synod’s property team were welcomed to explore the possibilities of the property and facilities they had. The creativity and energy continued. The synod’s Vision and Mission Principles are alive in this effort and the Statements of Intent are discernable. Craigieburn-Wallan presently has many exciting mission possibilities on the drawing board. Although that’s a nice problem to have, they are cautious not to overreach. They have shaped their new mission plan and are taking the first steps to improve their existing facility to create a more welcoming community space. Preparations are under way towards the relaunch of the opportunity shop initiative. They are also seeking to pursue some ‘sparks’ of new life while honouring the existing signs of their faithful witness. Other new possibilities have been named and will sit before them until the time is right. With love and support from folk at Craigieburn, the small congregation at Wallan ‘pack a punch’ way above their weight. But if the power of the Spirit of God is at work in their journey, boundaries will be overcome and new life will spring forth. Their vision for mission is being renewed by the Spirit through their willingness to step out into their community and simply ask a power-full question. May the Spirit inspire us all to do likewise. P.S. Albert Einstein also said: “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” [If interested in reading further, search the internet for a copy of a paper The Art of Powerful Questions by Eric Vogt et al]
Craigieburn-Wallan Uniting Church
David Withers Strategic Framework Minister
Not One for All
Stranger than fiction Heart’s desire
REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY
REVIEW BY DAVID SOUTHWELL
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
REVIEW BY CRAIG THOMPSON
MOVIE | WONDER WOMAN | M
BOOK | GOD IS NOT ONE: THE EIGHT RIVAL RELIGIONS THAT RUN THE WORLD, AND WHY THEIR DIFFERENCES MATTER | STEPHEN PROTHERO
BOOK | THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS | MICHAEL FINKEL
BOOK | DESIRING THE KINGDOM: WORSHIP, WORLDVIEW, AND CULTURAL FORMATION | JAMES K.A. SMITH
THE basic premise of a superhero movie is that good triumphs over evil. The only grey to the story is that the personification of ‘evil’ has experienced something which tipped him (evil in the genre is normally male) into the world of darkness. Wonder Woman turns the genre on its head in so many ways. At its core, this wonderful, strong feminist story has a message for our time, a concept core to the Christian faith. Evil is multi-dimensional. Humans, in all their complexity, are capable of both good and evil. Diana (Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot) had to learn this lesson after leaving the magnificent cloistered island of Themyscira, home of the Amazons. Daughter of Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), Diana has grown up knowing only women, all trained in the art of war (relying on strength and skills not guns and bombs), believing that the Amazons are training to protect the world from Ares, the God of War. Diana learns the hard way that evil is often disguised and her own Garden of Eden was built on lies. Constructed, perhaps, to protect her, she is unprepared for the brutality of the war to end all wars. There is much to enjoy about this movie. Women are presented as strong, funny and not needing to define themselves in relation to men. The male lead, American spy Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), quickly understands Wonder Woman’s power and readily enables her to take a prominant role. Director Patty Jenkins honours the superhero genre – viewing needs a big screen with surround-sound to do it justice – but the detailed retelling of Diana’s time on Themyscira, alongside the positive power of Wonder Woman provides an important message for women and girls. You don’t have to be male to be significant. Wonder Woman is as good a role model as any, even if she is a figure of fantasy.
THIS 2011 book, written by Boston University religious studies Professor Stephen Prothero, promises to be a polemical broadside but mostly comprises a general introduction and overview of world religions. The book’s early pages do come out swinging. Prothero labels the notion (which has been espoused variously by poet William Blake, the Dalai Lama and Gandhi) that all religions are different paths to the same spiritual goal or ethical understanding as “wishful thinking”. Not only do religions often give diametrically different answers to the big questions, they often don’t even agree on the questions, Prothero argues. Furthermore, skating over religious differences is dangerous because it reduces understanding of what motivates conflict. The book then launches into a description of eight major religions. They are somewhat unnecessarily and contentiously ranked in terms of “greatness”, meaning global influence. Broad-brush tenets, history, trends and variations of Islam, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Daoism and the Yoruba religion (from Nigeria) are briskly outlined. It reads a little suspiciously like a first-year comparative religion textbook. However, the scope of learning is impressive, and despite occasional minor repetition, the writing is easily digested. Prothero states he will be largely sympathetic in representation and he is. A short chapter devoted to atheism is something of an exception where he takes aim at the evangelistic opponents of religion such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. In emphasizing incompatible difference Prothero is eventually left in the uncomfortable position (however bracingly ‘realist’) of having little to say about avoiding religious conflict. Rather farcically he makes the case that people of different religions can live together peacefully because rival baseball or soccer team fans generally manage to do so. Prothero also makes a closing call for religious humility, saying humans can’t fully know the mind of God, which paradoxically he says is something all religions can agree on.
ONE day in the 1980s a young man fed up with the modern world abandons his car by the side of the road and disappears into the woods of the northeast United States, where he remains for the next 30 years, living in isolation. Christopher Knight, described as the last true hermit (a problematic term as becomes evident), sustains himself by breaking into nearby holiday cabins and thieving food, clothing, fuel and camping gear, sparking a decades-long investigation. Upon his eventual arrest he becomes something of a reluctant celebrity, the subject of marriage proposals and songs. Besides the intriguing story, the book raises interesting moral questions. After his arrest, Knight tells police that virtually everything he ‘owns’ is stolen. Rainwater was the only provision he didn’t steal. He didn’t grow or hunt any of his food. Author Michael Finkel suggests Knight’s ‘back was fully turned to the world’, but Knight did not live in the wilderness. His camouflaged campsite was within three minutes’ walk of a form of civilisation, and he could only survive with the modern conveniences he stole. He took from the community while turning his back on contributing to it. Hermits typically have a religious purpose, and give back by dispensing wisdom. Knight offers no manifesto for his ways, except for an affinity for Greek stoicism, dismisses the ‘hermit’ label, and is ashamed of his thieving. Finkel is full of admiration at Knight’s tenacity in surviving and determination to shun the falseness of much of modern society. Locals are less forgiving, while the online hermit community (yes, there is such a thing) decides Knight is not a true hermit, but simply a thief who gives hermits a bad name.
JAMES K A Smith’s, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview and Cultural Formation is an accessible and valuable introduction to the nature and purpose of Christian worship. Drawing on contemporary understandings of the nature of the human being – which nevertheless have ancient Christian resonance – Smith characterises Christian worship and education as a process of formation of hearts and desires. In this, Christian practices are not different in kind from those of other communities and institutions. Human communities establish and perform rituals which express desire and give shape to some beloved ‘thing’. Smith makes this case by demonstrating the liturgical character of attending and consuming at a local shopping mall, and studying at university. The practices of the church are thus shown not to be much different in kind from those of other communities or institutions. Alternatively, those other communities and practices – even self-nominated ‘secular’ ones – can be understood as having their own religious character not much different in kind from that of the church. We are all, Smith proposes, ‘homo liturgicus’: liturgical animals. And the impact of these liturgies and practices runs very deep. The practices in which we engage affect how we think and how we will continue to act. The importance of worship is then heightened, for it is a matter of our being trained in particular ways of seeing and acting in the world, of being nurtured into a particular kingdom. The liturgy is not only the ‘work of the people’ (the meaning of the Greek roots of liturgy) but a working of the people into a different people, a different community, a different kingdom. Desiring the Kingdom is very readable and would serve well as a refresher for the tired worship leader or as a stimulant for a church council or worship committee towards deeper reflection on what we are called to do, to be, and to receive in that most central aspect of the life of God’s people – its worship.
Available at www.simonandschuster.com.au RRP: $29.99
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Available in ebook form from www. blackincbooks.com.au. Ebook price $4.99 20
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 17
Review Page turner REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY BOOK | OFF THE PAGE | CLARE BOYD-MACRAE
Historic truth REVIEW BY SUZANNE YANKO BOOK | THE EMBARRASSED COLONIALIST | SEAN DORNEY
JULY 17 - CROSSLIGHT
CLARE Boyd-Macrae has a gift – to turn the mundane and the routine into something of beauty, of grace, of God. Her latest book, Off the Page, faith reflections, is a collection of her writing published in The Age Faith column and The Melbourne Anglican. Nothing is off limits for Boyd-Macrae and this is the gift she gives her readers. We are invited into her reflection to consider our own struggle with bad news or an encounter with an old friend or our relationship with ourselves. Boyd-Macrae reveals much about herself through her writing. She has spent a lifetime struggling with self-worth. How can God possibly love her? The reader learns that she is a serious introvert who goes to church to worship God not to engage with people. We learn about her family; the news of her husband’s cancer diagnosis; her love of walking; her early years in India, the daughter and granddaughter of missionaries.
These stories are used as a signpost. They point to her relationship with God and invite others to consider the magnificence of this God to whom she has poured out her anger, sorrow, joy and love for a lifetime. My review copy of Off the Page is filled with bits of paper, marked as possible examples of Boyd-Macrae’s lyrical writing, each story drawing me in, making me smile, leading me to prayer. A story about Sheila’s hanky reminds Boyd-Macrae of Jesus’ parable of the woman who lost her gold coin. It reminded her of God’s unstinting love for all people, not just church people. Her love of nature – of rivers, oceans, the outback and quiet places – challenges Boyd-Macrae to think about Jesus’ words to not be anxious. She gently challenges herself (and the reader) to feast on the lilies in the field, God’s abundance. “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” I like to think that
Jesus is not just talking about anxiety here. Maybe he is pointing out that anyone who can see lilies or watch the carefree swooping birds through the evening sky, is exposed to as much beauty and wonder as a king with all his treasure and feasting and slaves and concubines. And that our tendency to worry is lessened every time we really see the abundance all around us displayed for free.” In a world that can sometimes seem overwhelming and dark, is that not a gift of the writer? To remind us anew of the beauty around us which can gladden the heart and lift the spirit?
SEAN Dorney is an Australian journalist who has probably been the most trusted voice on Papua New Guinea affairs since he arrived in Moresby as a rookie ABC reporter in the early 70s. His thesis in this slim volume is simply that Australia needs to be more aware and involved in what is happening in PNG, our former Trust Territory. History, relationships of all kinds and financial ties all make this essential. But, Dorney asserts, this isn’t happening. Instead, Australia is “the embarrassed colonist” of the title. This reluctance to be involved with PNG, or even to take a detached look at our past relationship with that country, does neither country any good and needs to be reassessed as well as understood, the writer argues. That Australia has always found PNG ‘difficult’ to understand and manage is hardly surprising. PNG is a country of more than 800 languages and near impenetrable terrain. It has a complex history of its own, even before European countries – notably Britain and Germany – became involved. PNG brought many cultures and practices to the political table, some of them in direct contradiction of the Westminster system of government that Australia aimed to make the bedrock of an independent PNG. After Gough Whitlam won power in December 1972, PNG became selfgoverning at the end of 1973 and independent in September 1975. In the intervening years (when Dorney first arrived) the Constitution was framed and translated into Pidgin. Trainee patrol officers from the Administrative College (Adcol) were charged with getting the message out to villages near and far. They generally found little appetite for the changes ahead. There was a real concern that Australia, its experts and its wealth, would withdraw and leave the country to its fate. This sentiment was articulated by Michael Somare, leader of the Pangu Party and the country’s first Chief Minister. “Australia did not put in enough effort to prepare us,” he said. In modern times, as PNG has had the pressure of its own troubles – Bougainville,
the appalling law and order situation in Port Moresby, and a sensationalist press observing all this with disapproval from a distance – it is clear that Dorney has a case to make. This he does with fairness, and a deep concern for the relationship between the two countries, which goes beyond his profession. He represented PNG in its national rugby league team, the Kumuls, and is married to a Manus Islander, with two now-grown children. Dorney has a journalist’s gift for choosing pithy quotes on his subject. The former Australian High Commissioner in PNG, Ian Kemish, believes it is “a responsibility for all of us to think about and talk about what is happening in Papua New Guinea.’’ Ken Burton, the former mayor of Cairns who was born in PNG and headed up the PNG tourism office for four years, believes PNG is “a very rich country. It has wonderful resources, wonderful people, we’ve got the best waters, we’ve got the best fishing with the best reefs ... I can say unequivocally this is the most resourcerich, gorgeous tourism destination in the world.” Much of the publicity however has been negative. A staffer from the Melbourne Herald told Dorney: “The sub editors want ‘raskols’, plane crashes and tribal fights! And that’s what I’m giving them’’. Admittedly, this was in the 1980s but things have hardly improved. More recently, the news editor of the PNG Post-Courier “cannot understand why the Australian media has so little interest in a country that gets more than half a billion dollars of Australian taxpayers’ money, where Australian investments total $19 billion and two-way trade is worth $7 billion.” The Australian government, obsessed with “border control” and “the refugee problem” has reason to be thankful to PNG for providing an offshore detention centre (conspicuous failure as Manus may be), but also for regularly reporting the movements of ‘illegal’ boats in the area. One of Dorney’s suggestions about “what’s to be done” is to increase the capacity of PNG officials, and support plans to strengthen governance, attract academics back to the
country and so on. In this PNG needs (and has) the support of the Australian government with a strong ally in Julie Bishop. Dorney spends some time detailing the Foreign Minister’s connection with PNG, which stems from a childhood interest, and to this day remains quite personal. I can vouch for this long-lasting effect of time spent in PNG, a deep affection for the country and its people and despair at the negativity of news reports in the mainstream press. In 1974, when Dorney was settling into his first job at the National Broadcasting Commission – previously the ABC – I was occasionally in another part of the building recording ‘learning English’ programs for primary schools, teaching those young kiaps previously mentioned, and other national field officers at Adcol, as part of the massive program of localisation before independence. I mention this because I agree with Dorney when he talks of people who “are absolutely committed to the country”. He singles out “truly dedicated Australians working for the major Christian churches and doing remarkable work in health and education… Australian Volunteers International and number of NGOs, such as the Kokoda Track Foundation, which has built a teachers’ college in the area.” Dorney’s message is clear. There is work to be done and stories to be told but there is plenty of hope for PNG. It’s time that Australia lost its own embarrassment about its colonial past and gave its all to a collaborative present. The groundwork is done... we just need to get on with it. Suzanne Yanko taught and worked in radio in PNG from 1971 to 1976 and now belongs to the group Friends of the United Churches of PNG and of the Solomon Islands. It started in the 1980s and is a fellowship of people who have worked in PNG and/ or SI. Friends meets three times a year on a Saturday afternoon and the average attendance is 30. For more information contact Don Cracknell mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Available from www.ctmresourcing.org.au RRP: $19.95 www.mediacom.org.au RRP: $19.95
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The youth delegates and stewards rehearse for the youth message in the #LWFAssembly.
Pic courtesy: The Lutheran World Federation
Liberated by God’s grace THE 12th assembly of the Lutheran World Federation was held from the 10-16 May and I was privileged to participate in it. This assembly brought together over 309 delegates representing its 145 member churches in 98 countries, as well as many others totalling 800 attendees. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation and the Assembly, which gathered in Windhoek, Namibia, was the venue for its global commemoration. Namibia is deeply rooted in the Lutheran tradition, and is a good example of how the Lutheran faith is embraced, taking shape, and lived out in contexts outside of Western Europe. More importantly, it shares a special relationship with the LWF, which offered support and solidarity to and accompanied the Namibian churches in their struggle against Apartheid enabling all Namibians access to freedom, justice and dignity. “To anchor the Assembly in Namibia is to epitomize and celebrate this accompaniment made possible by the grace of God,” the LWF website says. One of the highlights of the Assembly was a public statement on reconciliation with respect to genocide in Namibia. The statement called to mind the pain caused by the German colonial powers in the early 20th century that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people. The Namibian and German governments have recognised this hurt and are committed to a process of telling the truth and doing justice in view of what they both call today a genocide against the Herero, Nama and other indigenous people. The Assembly reflected on the central theme “Liberated by God’s Grace,” which articulates two fundamental insights of Lutheran theology: the prevalence of God’s grace when it comes to justification, and the gift of freedom that results from God’s transformative action. The sub-themes, “Salvation not for sale”; “Human beings not for sale” and “Creation not for sale” are 22
issues identified as being pertinent to our time and requiring our attention. The “not for sale” caption, encapsulates a key insight that prompted Luther’s public opposition to ecclesial practices of his time. His powerful declaration of protest – that grace is a gift and not a thing that can be sold or bought! This paved the way for the emergence of the Reformation movement. We live in a world today where wealth is prized above all else. By focusing on the three sub-themes the Assembly offered a space to critically reflect on attempts to subjugate, control and trade what ultimately cannot be defined as commodities – salvation, human beings, creation – and should therefore never be subjected to trade or monetisation. Of the three sub-themes, the last two are perhaps more appealing in that we are familiar with the ongoing debates and discourse on human trafficking and issues surrounding climate change. Many of us within the UCA are involved in combating these issues. But, what about ‘Salvation: not for sale’? Are we concerned about salvation? How close is it to our desires? How often do we think about being saved/redeemed/ justified? What is it that we want ‘saved’ in our lives? How is salvation experienced in the Australian context? For many who live in relative comfort in a secularised world, thoughts on the saving grace of God are perhaps far from their minds. I was told that even if salvation were sold, there would be few buyers because the need for God and God’s saving grace is non-existent. Many in such situations believe that one can save oneself through one’s own effort even if at the expense of the other. Everyone is saved when he or she attends to his or her own interests. This is the culture of the market; we are trained to possess. How do we understand the saving grace of God in the Australian context? A friend jestingly said that salvation in the
Australian context is having your favourite football team win! I come from a context where the impact of charismatic and other independent Christian movements lead every second Christian to ask, “Are you saved?” For thousands drowning in hopelessness against forces of evil far too strong and beyond their capacity to overthrow, the justifying, redeeming, saving and empowering grace of God is pertinent; it is questioned, debated, doubted and sought after. Clever sellers of salvation (perhaps you can identify who they are in this context) take note of the needs of the people, master the surroundings, contexts and their materiality. They construct needs, guilt structures, desires and package God and God’s salvation for sale. For many, all they have to help them cope is faith and refuge in God as saviour. Drowning in despair, and struggling to keep their heads above water, they become victims to these distorted and convoluted sales pitch of religious leaders and organisations offering ways out of the predicament. Desperation and fear clouds judgment, hinders creativity, and prevents resistance to such understandings of salvation. There are many definitions of ‘salvation’ out there, including many spurious ones, which have distanced us from God – definitions that conform to market theologies and their current political, social and gender ideologies. History is replete with examples of the effects of salvation understood in totalitarian terms – controlling, defining and organising people in rather dogmatic ways. Luther used his theology to serve the proclamation of the gospel – “that salvation is received and not attained. Salvation or justification was therefore God’s gift to the faithful – a present, a living experience, and not something in the future. It comes about through faith in the risen Christ, present here and now, with whom one is bound through faith, and saved through His Spirit. All human beings are now justified by
God’s grace as a gift, through redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood” (Romans 3: 24-25). We are justified by God’s grace and love. This we/I know. It requires faith to accept it with joy and believe in it. However, the question then is “how are we to show that this salvation, this justifying grace has taken effect in our lives?” In other words, “what is the outcome of this knowledge – of having been saved? How do we give expression to this experience of salvation?” Luther writes: “We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds” ~ (Luther’s Works 31, 12). “We are to offer up ourselves for our neighbours’ benefit and for the honour of God. This offering is the exercise of our love—distributing our works for the benefit of our neighbours. He (sic) who does so is a Christian. He (sic) becomes one with Christ, and the offering of his body is identical with the offering of Christ’s body” ~ (The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol. IV, “First Sunday after Epiphany,” p. 9). Hence, in solidarity with another, there is grace and one is encouraged to give of oneself. The ills in the world have to, in Luther’s words, “trouble, afflict, vex and tempt” us to respond, to resist and to overcome. In responding through acts of solidarity, through care and kindness, we bring into effect our salvation and the salvation of individuals beyond our own narrow circle of concern. Faith eventually is the ability to understand and accept ourselves as the objects of God’s saving grace and love. It is unsurprisingly transformative: it opens up the capability of loving others and it gives us the power to do so… and this is salvation taking effect. Moreover, we all have it already… the challenge lies in believing it, living it and practising it! Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon Coordinator of Studies, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Pilgrim Theological College CROSSLIGHT - JULY 17
Opinion A glimpse into the despair of detention
JULY 17 - CROSSLIGHT
WHEN I visited a Melbourne asylum seeker detention centre recently, I was not allowed to take in a bunch of flowers for my friend’s birthday. No reason given except ‘it’s policy’. So instead, I sent her a photo of the flowers. At Easter, the small chocolate eggs I wanted to give her were refused: “Foil not allowed,” I was told. Lately I’ve been met with another refusal. My friend is now not allowed to bring her writing journal into the visitor’s room. I’m an English teacher and I had been helping edit my friend’s writing. I am aware of the therapeutic benefit of writing and have encouraged her to write. Finally she started. (I had given her a writing journal several months ago.) Her writing is powerful and persuasive, speaking of incarceration and loss. It is imaginative and metaphorical. And she is really pleased to be doing this. She is alone. She is young. Her partner died in Nauru. Life in detention is lonely, confined, depressing, sad and boring. Time passes very slowly. She has trouble sleeping. She feels she has no future. She can’t go back to her country now and, as she has come to Australia from Nauru, there is no legal pathway for her, at this stage, to stay in this country. Writing together passes the time in a fruitful and positive way. We even find things to laugh about. She tells me it is the best two hours of her week. It’s the time she forgets where she is. We had looked forward to our next meeting so she could show me her latest writing and we could discuss, edit and refine it; important to her, especially as English is not her first language and she wants to get it right. She is also a talented artist. In the past I had given her canvasses, paints and brushes, but she’s now not allowed them. They are locked away in ‘Property’. So she draws on paper but she is not allowed to
bring any of her drawings into the visitors’ room to show me. Three weeks ago on a small slip of paper I had written down some writing sites that I thought she may like to access (yes, she does have internet access). However on her way back to her room the paper was confiscated. It was returned, but days later. The moment was lost. She is a person who loves to read and is working hard to improve her English. I am happy to supply her with books but have to go through an unwieldy way of getting them to her. First, she has to make a request in writing to the authorities asking for anything she may want, like a book, a writing journal, an item of clothing. A written request will take up to 10 days for approval to be given (or not). And then, somehow, I have to find out if the approval has been given, so that I can deliver the item. All the people I have met in detention are reluctant to ask for anything from those who visit. We can’t spontaneously take a birthday gift in. They rarely ask because they say they are simply grateful for the fact that we want to visit. I have been visiting the two Melbourne detention centres regularly for about four years. To visit you need to state in writing or by phone whom you are visiting. There is a limit to how many people you can see each time and you must book the visit at least 24 hours in advance. We used to be able to visit for the entire afternoon, but now we are limited to a two-hour slot which, by the time you get through reception and the ‘client’ is called, means there may only be an hour or less to visit. In the old days, young visitors, especially, would stay for hours, playing games, singing, playing guitars and sharing food around a table. We used to be able to take in musical instruments. No longer. Musical instruments were banned. When
I asked what was the problem with taking in a ukulele the answer was “it could easily be used as a weapon”. No one at the centre takes responsibility for the constant change of rules. It is always a case of “I’m just following the rules”. Now when we visit, we are allocated a table and are not supposed to move around. Open-toed shoes are not allowed to be worn in, and we are regularly drug tested. If a detainee needs a toilet visit during the time, they are not allowed back in the visiting room. If I realise I’ve left something outside in my car, I can’t go out and then come back. Asylum seekers in detention are usually traumatised. They are regarded as ‘illegals’, even though it is a right to seek asylum, whichever way they arrived. They generally have no idea as to whether, or for how long, they must wait before their claim will be processed. Some men have been in detention for eight years. I have seen their hopes diminish and their spirits broken. Some have not seen their children or wife or parents or siblings for years. They no longer believe they will be reunited. A person in prison has a much clearer idea of their release time. Good-behaviour may even shorten the time. Not so it seems for so many people seeking asylum. And it is especially so for those who came after 19 July 2013, when Kevin Rudd said they “would never be resettled in Australia”. For me it is hard to visit as I cannot realistically offer hope. I can offer friendship and love and some time together to pass what is otherwise a lonely and despairing time. There are things that can be done. Visit if you can. Tell others about the situation. Letters to politicians, newspapers, and Facebook help get the word around. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre is an excellent source of information. For more information go to: www.asrc.org.au/
Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 19 JUNE 2017 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND The Lakes Parish (*)
PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region (*)
PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (*) Sunraysia (UCOS) (0.5) (P) (C) Tyrrell Parish (0.6) (P) (C)
PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton (C) Burwood (C) Canterbury (Balwyn Road) (C) Croydon North – Gifford Village (0.5) (P) (C) Deepdene (*) Ringwood (C)
PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Alpine Regional Resource Ministry (P) (C) Seymour Community Pastor (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) Frankston (High St) (*) Mount Waverley (St John’s) (C) Springvale (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Aitken College Chaplaincy (P) (C) Coburg (*) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Highton (St Luke’s) (C) Newtown (St Davids) (*) Williamstown (St Stephens) (*)
SYNOD Uniting – Mission and Ethos Partner (P) (C) (C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an Expression of Interest. Enquiries and written Expressions of Interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email: email@example.com
PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Bridgewater-Gagebrook (*) Derwent Cluster (Glenorchy and Claremont) (0.6) (*) Mid North West (*) Devonport (*) Synod Liaison Minister (5 year term) (P) (C) Ulverstone – Sprent (3 year term) (P) (C)
CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED
Sally Apokis (OD), Wesley College – St Kilda Rd Campus (appointment), to commence 10 July 2017
Christine Aisbett, Wangaratta to retire on 31 August 2017
CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT Andrew Gall to conclude at Central Mallee Parish on 14 June 2017 (amended) Scott Finlay to conclude at Mount Waverly (High St Rd) on 15 July 2017
COMING EVENTS SOCIAL JUSTICE LUNCH at ST JOHN’S UNITING CHURCH 12PM for 12.30PM START, SUNDAY, 16 JULY 2017 St John’s Uniting Church, 567 Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick. Guest Speaker, Amanda Donohoe, CEO Servants Community Housing, will talk about the organisation’s innovative approach to homelessness. Cost is $25. BYO wine. For tickets see www.trybooking.com/QCON PUBLIC FORUM: A PEOPLE OF GOD ON THE WAY 2PM – 5PM, SUNDAY 16 JULY 2017 Centre for Theology & Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville. Where is the Uniting Church heading, and how will we find our way? Marking the 40th anniversary of its inauguration, join Deidre Palmer, president-elect of the national assembly and Geoff Thompson, systematic theology teacher at Pilgrim Theological College, for a forum to explore the current and future shape of the UCA. Cost is $10, which includes afternoon tea and a copy of the Basis of Union. Register and pay online at ucavt.goregister.com.au/ucapathways2017/ For more information contact E: firstname.lastname@example.org. SEA OF FAITH MEETING 7.30PM, THURSDAY, 20 JULY 2017 Carlton Library’s Meeting Room, 667 Rathdowne Street (cnr Newry Street), North Carlton. Rev Dr Paul Tonson on “The FaithFreethought Divide is a False Dichotomy”. This address will focus on common elements of religious and secular worldviews including shared altruism and ethical values.
Jenny Byrnes, executive officer, Mission & Capacity Building Unit, to commence 1 September 2017
Nicholas Randall, Geelong East and Leopold to retire on 30 June 2017 Chris Howard to retire on 30 June 2017
ENVIRONMENT AND FAITH WORKSHOP NOON - 6PM, SATURDAY, 22 JULY 2017 110 Albion Road, Box Hill. Feel more confident about raising environmental and sustainability issues in your faith community. Sessions on practical strategies and on basis-in-faith traditions. Organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and its Victorian branch, GreenFaith/ARRC. Event includes light lunch, afternoon tea and a choice of ARRCC Climate Action Kit (book) from one of five religions. Suggested donation is $25/$15 for concession. RSVP to E: email@example.com by 20 July. For more information go to www.arrcc.org.au.
THE CHURCH IN SOCIETY COMMITTEE OF ST JOHN’S UC - DEMENTIA AND PASTORAL CARE WORKSHOP 1PM - 3PM, FRIDAY 21 JULY 2017 St John’s Uniting Church, 37 Virginia St, Mt Waverley. Joan Waters, who was pivotal in the development of this resource material, will introduce and guide the workshop. Participants will learn about issues and concerns for pastoral care related to dementia, effective strategies for pastoral care and pastoral visiting, and how to source further information. Tea and coffee will be available. Please advise of your intention to attend. A gold coin donation in aid of dementia research would be appreciated. For more information, please ring St John’s UC Office on P: 03 9888 2295 or Kathy on P: 03 9807 8449. EAST CITY SOUND WOMEN’S CHOIR FUNDRAISING CONCERT and BEANIE BONANZA 1.30PM, SUNDAY, 23 JULY 2017 Boronia Road Uniting Church, 209 Boronia Road, Boronia. Join us for a concert by The East City Sound Women’s Choir followed by a delicious afternoon tea. Cost is $15. Call M: 0421 769 067 for more details. BRIAGOLONG UNITING CHURCH – SERVICE OF CLOSURE 1.30PM, SATURDAY, 29 JULY 2017 Briagolong Uniting Church, Church Street, Briagolong. A final worship service will be held at the Briagolong Uniting Church followed by afternoon tea. Those with a past association with the Briagolong congregation are particularly invited to attend. Enquiries and RSVP to Alice Mills on P: 03 5145 5219, or Jessie Walker on M: 0427 455 203. SPECIAL SLICE MORNING TEA at THE HUB, SUPPORTING RESEARCH INTO PARKINSON’S DISEASE 10AM – 12 NOON, WEDNESDAY, 16 AUGUST 2017 Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Come along to The Hub and enjoy delicious home-made slices for morning tea and take home the recipes. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations go to research into Parkinson’s Disease. For information and group bookings, P: 03 9560 3580
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 17
Notices UCA FUNDS MANAGEMENT INVESTOR BRIEFING 11AM AND 5PM, TUESDAY 8 AUGUST 2017 Rydges Melbourne, Broadway Room, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne. This year’s annual investor briefing “Investing for impact” will provide an update on your investment as well as share how your investment makes a positive impact. Each session will include question time and a meet-and-greet with the investment team. For more information or to register contact Karli McRostie on P: 1800 996 888 or visit www.ucafunds.com.au/InvestorBriefing
175th ANNIVERSARY, WESLEY CHURCH UCA GEELONG CITY PARISH 22 OCTOBER 2017 Wesley Church, 100 Yarra Street, Geelong. The celebrations will include a service of worship and thanksgiving and various activities throughout the day. A shared lunch will be provided. We would be delighted to welcome all who have been part of this congregation, especially over the last 40 years and during the period of ‘Worship in the Round’. Enquiries should be made to the church office – P: 03 5229 8866 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKSHOP: THE WAY OF THE SYMBOL SATURDAY, 19 and MONDAY, 21 AUGUST 2017 Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Uranio Paes is an internationally recognised Enneagram facilitator specialising in spiritual, transformational work with groups and individuals based around the Enneagram. If you are prepared for profound personal work, you’ll find this workshop invaluable. This is a rare opportunity to experience Uranio’s unique and highly experiential approach to psychospiritual transformational Enneagram work. For more information, contact the Habitat Office on P: 03 9819 2844. Bookings essential: www.trybooking.com/PZOH
SWAN HILL UNITING CHURCH CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS ADVANCE NOTICE On the weekend 2-4 March 2018, Swan Hill Uniting Church will be having a weekend of activities and a Service of Thanksgiving to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Church. For more information please contact E: email@example.com, office P: 03 5032 2380, Jen Waldron (church council chair) on M: 0466 569 010 or Anne Ryan (office sec.) on M: 0439 345 979.
POOWONG UNITING CHURCH (South Gippsland) wishes to express their thanks for the donation of 25 TIS hymn books from Manningham UC following their plea in the April issue. This gift will enable us to better resource our own, and three neighbouring churches in a shared parish, worship services START MAKING BEANIES FOR THE BEANIE BONANZA SATURDAY, 23 SEPTEMBER 2017 Boronia Road Uniting Church, 209 Boronia Road, Boronia. Drop your entry into the church office whenever it’s open. You may well be one of our award winners! Judging day is Saturday, 23rd September, and there will be market stalls selling a variety of crafts, jewellery, cosmetics, homewares, etc., on the day, as well as Devonshire Teas and light lunches. Call M 0421 769 067 for more details. DANCE CLASSES FOR MATURE WOMEN 1PM – 2PM, THURSDAYS Habitat Canterbury, cnr Mont Albert Rd and Burke Rd, Canterbury. Join this gentle, joyful space for movement and self-expression. For more information contact Susan on M: 0433 259 135.
WORLD FEDERATION OF METHODIST & UNITING CHURCH WOMEN – SOUTH PACIFIC AREA SEMINAR. 2 – 6 JULY 2018 Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort Hotel, Sigatoka, Yanuca Island, Coral Cost, Fiji. Theme: Chosen people called to proclaim... with hearts on fire. Join 500 women from seven South Pacific nations at this event featuring Bible studies, guest speakers, unit reports, cultural entertainment and a guided tour of the Nadroga areas, together with a Fijian traditional welcome, white beaches and swaying palms. Registration fee is due by 31 July 2017. Cost is approx $800 (includes seminar fee, all meals, travel from Nadi International Airport, and accommodation). Registration forms, fees and information from David Wang, P: 03 9251 5255 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEED YOUR SOUL YOGA MONDAY through SATURDAY – MORNING, MIDDAY & EVENING CLASSES Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Free your mind, body and spirit; strengthen your back and core muscles, and improve your overall wellbeing. Classes offered include yoga for beginners, yoga for seniors, yoga for men, yoga for menopause, yin yoga and hatha yoga. For more information and to express your interest, please contact Angelika on M: 0401 607 716. www.feedyoursoulyoga.com.au.
WEEKLY SITTING MEDITATION IN NORTHCOTE 7.20AM for 7.30AM start, TUESDAY MORNINGS Chalice Community of Faith, Northcote Uniting Church, 251 High Street, Northcote. Contemplative practices invite us to a deeper relationship with ourselves and God. They comprise of sitting meditation, a reflective reading and an opportunity to connect. Open to people of faith, no faith or seeking a contemplative lifestyle. No charge, no need to book. See www.chalice.org.au or P: 03 9482 2884 for more information.
GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am.
COME AND VISIT THE HUB The Hub at Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly place for people needing company, a cuppa and a biscuit, time to relax in a busy day or to practice speaking English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Wednesday 10am - 12noon during the school term. People of all ages are welcome. For more information phone 9560 3580.
CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 E: email@example.com. CAPE WOOLAMAI: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina P: 0403 133 710.
LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: 03 5289 2698. QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN PAINTER: handyman, interior/exterior work, available outer eastern suburbs. P: 03 9725 6417. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: 03 5628 5319. WANTED: Any unwanted AHB or TIS books would be appreciated by the Winchelsea Uniting Church. Contact John Bumford on M: 0419 535 490. 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.
GROUNDSWELL 7PM, FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Groundswell is a monthly inter-spiritual gathering. We draw upon our rich human history of spiritual journeys to experience the sacred together. We look at all spirituality in the light of the archetypal patterns in our lives and engage in practical transformative experiences. For more information, visit the Habitat website www.habitatforspirituality.org.au Enquiries to Elizabeth Bethune on P: 03 9818 2726.
CALL FOR PHOTOS FOR 2018 CALENDAR The Commission for Mission is looking for photos for the 2018 Giving is Living calendar. The photos will showcase the mission and outreach work of gathered communities at a grassroots level. Photos should be high quality and accompanied by a caption. Each person featured in the photo must complete a permission form, which can be downloaded from this link: bit.ly/CalendarUCA (case sensitive). Please send your photos and permission forms to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 1. JULY 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Moderator’s column Food, faith and friendship AS I write, I am busy preparing for celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church (which will be over by the time you read this). At the same time I have been privileged to be invited, as a UCA representative, to attend several Iftar dinners. An Iftar dinner is the meal Muslims share each night of the month of Ramadan where they break their fast. Alongside these moments of deep joy I have watched in horror as acts of terror, both here and around the world are perpetrated and people of the Muslim faith are maligned because of the barbaric acts of a few. While at first glance there may not seem to be a connection between these things, I think there is. For me this connection is found in the Statement to the Nation made at the time of union. In that Statement the church spoke about how a key responsibility of each Christian and the Church is to act for the goodwill of society and involve ourselves in social, national and international affairs. In the Statement to the Nation, we said: “We affirm our eagerness to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being, the need for integrity in public life, the proclamation of truth and justice, the rights for each citizen to participate in decision-making in the community, religious liberty and personal dignity, and a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.” Participating in Iftar meals is one way we can affirm the personal dignity of Muslims at a time when their dignity is threatened as they walk the streets, go to work or participate in community activities. Breaking bread, hearing the call to prayer and discussing faith are ways to enhance our commitment to religious liberty for all, not just those who share our faith. Gathering in acts of welcome and
hospitality bears witness to our desire to love our neighbour, to be good neighbours. At the Iftar dinners I engaged in conversation with Muslims and other faith representatives about how we practice our faith; what our faith means to us; how it strengthens and sustains us to be better Christians or Muslims or Jews or Sikhs and therefore better human beings and citizens. Conversations with people of other faiths help me in my own journey of faith. Their faith practices challenge me to reflect on my prayer, generosity, service to the poor and vulnerable. I am also given the chance to speak of my own faith. In the face of the terror attacks and the subsequent demonisation of an entire
faith, sharing meals together with people of other faiths is so important to me as a citizen and a Christian seeking to live the vision of the Statement to the Nation. The meals allow an encounter with people as people rather than categories. They help us see our shared common humanity and our differences, which make the world a richer place to live in. Fear and hatred will not be overcome by fearing and hating people because of their faith. Fear and hatred are overcome by love and mercy. As Christians we see this truth incarnate in Jesus Christ who comes into a world that does not welcome him offering love. Jesus meets unlove with love, fear with mercy, hatred with goodness. Even
when he is despised, hunted down and pursued to death, Jesus is love and lives love. Those of us who seek to follow Christ are called to live this way in the world. When we live as people of love, mercy and goodness, we are participating in God’s good work of healing creation and reconciling all things.
Sharon Hollis Moderator
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 17
Crossword This month in Crosslight
For the cluey reader
1. Tasmanian museum of old and new collections 6. Annual Tasmanian arts festival, Dark _ 7. The … sing that Jesus condemns most is _ 8. In the spiritual sense is ‘turning on the light’ 11. Our position in the world in terms of GNP given to overseas aid 13. Asylum seekers are regarded as this 15. Namibia is deeply rooted in this tradition 16. Means ‘passion’ in the Dharug language 18. Item of underwear 19. Unit dealing with mission and justice 22. ‘The Art of Powerful Questions’ by Eric _ 23. Word with Greek roots meaning ‘work of the people’ 24. A religion from Nigeria
COMPILED BY LYNDA NEL
DOWN 1. Church offering hands-on participation in an intergenerational setting 2. Kingswood College students visited here in 2015 3. A project that sets out to investigate notions around pilgrimage and spiritual seeking 4. To protect the creators of works and content from unauthorised use 5. Lilies of the field reflect this about God 9. Believed it was important to never stop questioning 10. Dr _, president-elect of the Uniting Church Assembly 12. A public conversation about ‘A People of God on the Way’ for UCA 40th Anniversary 14. An electronic musical instrument controlled without physical contact 17. Theological College, part of the Centre for Theology and Ministry 18. A slum in Nairobi 20. Meal shared each night of Ramadan to break the fast 21. Astronomer ‘greatly shaken’ at recent discoveries on the creation of the universe
Giving is living Dear God, Please watch over our children as they explore the world Help them follow the example set by your son, Jesus So they can grow to be kind and thoughtful adults We also pray for wisdom and patience As we seek to be more loving and open-minded parents We offer this prayer to you, O Lord Amen
students to be ethical and responsible travellers. A key lesson from the trip was the importance of building relationships with their hosts and working in partnership with local communities to create lasting change. The synod’s Giving is Living program encourages congregations to embrace a spirit of generosity. Visit www.victas.uca.org.au/UCA%20Resources/GivingIsLiving/ to download monthly pew sheets and prayers for congregational use. ACROSS 1.MONA 6. Mofo 7. Hypocrisy 8. Illumination 11. Sixteenth 13. Illegals 16. Yurora 18. Knickers 19. JIM 22. Vogt 23. Liturgy 24. Yoruba
TWO groups of students from Kingswood College travelled with Uniting Journeys to Cambodia in 2015. During the trip, Kingswood students exchanged formal gifts for ritual blessings from the monks. It is customary for Buddhists in Cambodia to spend some time in a monastery as a rite of passage to adulthood, and many of the monks were the same age as the students. The journey was part of the school’s Community Based Learning program and encouraged
DOWN 1. Messy 2. Cambodia 3. Crossing 4. Copyright 5. Abundance 9. Einstein 10. Palmer 12. Forum 14. Theremin 17. Pilgrim 18. Kibera 20. Iftar 21. Hoyle
CROSSWORD ANSWERS JULY 17 - CROSSLIGHT
“DON’ T PACK UP YOUR CAMERA U N T I L Y O U ’ V E L E F T T H E L O C AT I O N .” — Joe McNally
Every month, the Ocean Grove-Barwon Heads Uniting Church congregation holds an intergenerational worship service called ‘4R Thrive Together’.
The St Andrew’s Uniting Church in Alexandra was rebuilt from an old wooden Presbyterian building to a brick church 50 years ago. Windows were installed on the north side of the building 40 years ago to celebrate Union, with the badges of the three churches and the Uniting Church logo.
Synod staff celebrated the Uniting Church’s 40th anniversary with a special cake baked by Merryn Rowlands
An intercultural celebration was held at St Andrew’s-Hanbit Uniting Church in Box Hill to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church.
St Thomas’ Uniting Church in Craigieburn hosted an Iftar dinner with members of the local Turkish Muslim community.
The Presbytery of Tasmania held a morning tea to celebrate the church’s 40th anniversary. From left: Ian Farquhar, Eliza Day, Rev Amanda Nicholas and Presbytery Chair David Reeve. The cakes were made by Launceston North’s youth group members.
Sammy Stamp celebrated its 40th birthday
Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...
Published on Jun 25, 2017
Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...