Celebrating 25 years of
No. 277 June 2017
It’s last orders for printed copies of the much-loved Together in Song hymn book
Dealing with the deadly dilemma of drug addiction
High school students learn some valuable lessons in reconciliation and Indigenous art
Three became one on the 22 June, 1977 but the road to union wasn’t neat or smooth
Ross Uniting Church in Tasmania is taking part in Crossing, a modern-day pilgrimage along “a pathway of light” created by David Patman and Michelle Boyde as part of the Dark Mofo arts festival. Next month’s Crosslight will cover the exhibition in more depth.
Image by Ron Rainbow
Calling out a common misconception about people living in poverty
Is the Pope a Catholic? When it’s Jude Law, no one exactly knows
Regulars People - 19
Reviews - 20 to 21 Letters - 22 Notices - 24 to 25 Moderator’s column - 26
Editorial Answering hate with love
Communications & Media Services
UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 1037 826X
THE Bible is our road map to know God. The Bible makes clear what God wants for God’s people and the kind of people we are called to be. As I write this, our media is editorialising on the ramifications of the latest terrorist attack in Manchester England. Tragically more than 20 people, including children and teenagers, were killed as they left a concert. One of the ripple effects of such an event – a suicide bomber targeting families as they gather to enjoy a very special occasion – is a renewal of hate-filled letters, tweets, posts, talkback calls, opinion pieces – decrying Australia’s willingness to welcome refugees, people of Islamic faith, those with dark skin and who wear head scarves. What is more disturbing is that some of those voices are people who profess to be Christian. The Bible teaches us something different.
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; for he (God) makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous,” Jesus said. (Matthew 6:44-45) The prophet Micah tells us, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8) And in the story of the Good Samaritan, when the lawyer asked Jesus who is his neighbour, he learned from the parable, that the answer was the one who showed mercy. (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus constantly reinforced that Christians are called to love their neighbours as themselves (the second commandment, Matthew 23:39). As our media told individual stories of
heartache and loss stemming from the Manchester bombing, the news then reported the findings of a Pentagon investigation which had found that more than 100 civilians were killed after the US dropped a bomb on a building in Mosul, Iraq, in March. It appears the bomb triggered secondary devices planted by ISIS which caused a building to collapse, killing those inside. What do we know of those 100 people? Do we weep for them? We worship a God who loves the whole world, including our enemies. What role do we have in speaking up for Muslim people living in Australia who are constantly on the receiving end of hatespeak? Have we forgotten that in God’s eyes, every life matters and is worthy of redemption?
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.
Circulation: 21,000 (publisher’s figure).
Deadlines: Advertising and editorial.
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
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.
Please check exact dates on our website <crosslight.org.au>. Closing date for July – Friday 16 June 2017. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online: crosslight.org.au
A new era in Keeping Children Safe DAVID SOUTHWELL THE Vic/Tas synod’s new Keeping Children Safe policy will be available to download this month, along with a number of resources to help implement it. This policy replaces all previous documents, which are no longer current and should not be referred to. “Preventing child abuse is both an individual and collective responsibility of the Uniting Church, and all who engage with it,” the policy states. “Wherever the policy says ‘we’, it is referring to every entity and every individual connected with the Uniting Church.” The policy has been revised to be compliant with Victorian Child Safe Standards, which became law at the start of this year. It is also is in accordance with flagged recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Uniting Church’s National Child Safe Policy Framework. “As a community of faith, we are committed to providing safe environments for all people, including children, so that they may live life in all its fullness,” the Framework says. Synod’s Culture of Safety unit is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the
Keeping Children Safe policy. “This policy represents the church meeting the standards that society, and our faith, expects in providing a safe environment for children,” safe church educator Josh Woollett said. The new policy covers recruitment, codes of conduct, risk assessment and gives clear guidelines for reporting a concern. A website will outline the policy and provide all the associated forms, training material and templates in one easy to navigate space. Under the Synod’s Working with Children Check/Registration policy all appointed church leaders, employees and volunteers who, as part of their role interact with children, are required to have a Working With Children Check (Vic) or Registration (Tas). These processes screen applicants for offences relevant to the safety of children, such as serious sexual, violent or drug crimes and are different from a National Criminal History Check, commonly called a police check. “Not only is it the law but the Church is called to be a place where children are nurtured and protected,” Mr Woollett said.
The policy will be formally reviewed and updated at least every two years and continuously modified in the light of new research or as guidelines or standards are introduced by the Uniting Church or relevant governments.
The website will be continually refined to offer the best support and resources and will be live by mid-June. www.ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe Any concerns or questions can be directed to Josh.Woollett@victas.uca.org.au.
SOME COMMON KEEPING CHILDREN SAFE MYTHS MYTH:
Everyone needs a WWCC/R to participate in the life of congregations, even to attend.
False - appointed leaders are required to hold positive WWCC/R’s, people attending services do not
An elderly person shouldn’t have to get a WWCC/R
False - The legislation does not have a ceiling (an upper age limit) so someone of advanced age, wishing to remain in leadership is required to obtain a WWCC/R
A WWWC/R is the way the state “gets” at the church
False - A WWCC/R is common currency across the community and is required to participate in community life especially where it involves children (football clubs, swimming teams also require them)
Agencies and Share ready to join Uniting NEXT month UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria will begin operating under the name of Uniting, as they form a single organisation delivering the Church’s community services. Share, which raises funds for the agencies, will also become part of Uniting’s fundraising team, and operate under that name. Uniting CEO Paul Linossier said the new organisation represents a continuation and strengthening of the Uniting Church’s mission to serve the community. “Uniting represents a significant commitment by the Uniting Church to continue its ministry of compassion and care and to strengthen a prophetic call for justice in our time,” Mr Linossier said.
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
“It builds from the legacy of the founding agencies, synod’s early learning services and Share, and the partnerships with church and wider community that these agencies have.” Mr Linossier said painstaking work had taken place to make the transition to Uniting as smooth as possible. The aim is for the agencies’ work and interactions with donors, volunteers and clients to continue seamlessly under the single organisation, with the name change being the only obvious difference. This means there should be minimal disruption to the programs and partnerships that congregations and Church members have nurtured and sustained. There will be some transitional
arrangements, for example the Share Winter Appeal will run as usual this year under that branding even as the team managing the appeal moves into Uniting. Mr Linossier said that the ongoing generosity of Church members both as volunteers and donors was vital to Uniting’s work. “Our board and leadership team are committed to continuing to work with local congregations and communities to support people experiencing disadvantage,” he said. “It would be impossible for us to deliver the level of support and services we currently do without local support.” Mr Linossier stresses the consolidation of community services will magnify the impact the Church can have.
“Together we can do more,” he said. “This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.” This sentiment was echoed by Share director Angela Goodwin. “We’re excited about this move and the opportunities it provides,” she said. “A united fundraising focus will help us raise more money, giving us greater potential to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice. “We will continue to honour the wishes of donors. Whilst we may look different, the heart of Share’s work will continue and the generosity of our donors will continue to change people’s lives.”
News A Budget of few blessings TIM LAM
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
UNITING Church President Stuart McMillan has expressed disappointment at the 2017 Federal Budget. Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed the Budget was centred on fairness and opportunity, but Mr McMillan believes there are few blessings in the Budget for the most marginalised in the community. “A two-year freeze on foreign aid, punitive new welfare measures including drug and alcohol testing for the unemployed, and the extension of income management just make life harder for the poor and most vulnerable,” Mr McMillan said. “In all the commentary about winners and losers, we should remember that the poor are the ones who lose out most when governments neglect their needs. They are the ones who should be our focus. “Regrettably there are few blessings in this Budget for the poor in spirit, nor the prospect of the kind of support I’d expect of a wealthy developed nation like ours.” Foreign aid was once again hit hard in the Budget. The government announced Australia’s overseas aid contribution will be cut by $303 million throughout the next four years. This is the fourth consecutive budget in which foreign aid has been slashed. It comes at a time when the world is facing several unprecedented humanitarian crises with
more than 20 million people affected by the East Africa famine and millions fleeing war and persecution in the Middle East. UnitingWorld national director Rob Floyd said Australia’s increasingly shrinking aid contribution means churches and charities will have to work harder to close the gap left by the government. “The Australian aid sector had called for an increase of around $1.6 billion in the 2017 Budget as a step toward returning our aid budget towards levels in accord with our international obligations,” Mr Floyd said. “The people who suffer the most here are the millions of people who rely on Australian aid in our region.” From 2018-19, most Australians will face a 0.5 per cent increase in their Medicare levy to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Mr McMillan applauded the government’s plan to raise the Medicare levy to make life better for Australians living with a disability. The announcement was also welcomed by UnitingCare Australia’s national director Claerwen Little. “The commitment to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) by an increase in the Medicare levy is a significant measure and a landmark worthy of celebrating,” Ms Little said. “The full funding of the NDIS from
2020 will afford greater dignity and independence to Australians with permanent and significant disability.” But Ms Little lamented punitive measures announced in the Budget that targeted unemployed people and welfare recipients. This includes trialling drug tests on 5000 new dole recipients, with those who fail the test given a cashless welfare card. A new demerit-based system will also be introduced, which will deduct welfare payments for failure to meet ‘mutual obligations’, such as skipping a job interview. “The very worst elements of this Budget impose harsh compliance measures on jobseekers for no apparent benefit to their employment prospects,” Ms Little said. “The language of three strikes and demerits in the government’s proposed welfare reform effectively make it a crime to be unemployed.” Ms Little expressed concern at the lack of support for vulnerable young people, but welcomed the addition of $80 million for psychosocial support for people with a mental illness who do not qualify for the NDIS. The Budget confirmed a Commonwealth Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse will be implemented from July 2018, a move welcomed by both Mr McMillan and Ms Little.
News Uniting in song CHURCH members from all congregations are invited to come together for a special afternoon of singing in celebration of the Uniting Church’s 40th anniversary. Wesley Uniting Church will host ‘Uniting in Song’ on Sunday 25 June, which will see the choirs from Wesley and Brunswick Uniting Church join together for a liturgical music celebration. They will sing familiar classical hymns that honour the musical heritage of the UCA as well as more contemporary tunes. The afternoon promises to be an intercultural affair with the choirs from Gospel Hall Chinese Church and Brunswick Uniting Church Indonesian congregation also participating. Natalie Sims is part of the music team at Brunswick Uniting Church and one of the organisers of the event. “We wanted to do something that would celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the Uniting Church in a fun way,” Ms Sims said. “So we decided we would get a big bunch of people to sing older hymns and newer songs and as big a range of church music as we can fit into one afternoon.” The idea of having an afternoon of singing to celebrate the UCA’s 40th anniversary was initiated by Wesley Uniting Church minister Rev Alistair Macrae. He approached Brunswick Uniting Church to see if they would be interested in collaborating.
Brunswick UC musicians and friends leading worship at Wesley UC for moderator Sharon Hollis' installation
The Brunswick music ministry team has a number of songwriters who compiled 30 original songs into a book called Tune In!. Ms Sims also edits the Singing from the Lectionary website which shares weekly songs, hymns and music suggestions for worship based on the Revised Common Lectionary. “I think Al Macrae was keen to involve us because of our interest in church music,” Ms Sims said. “Our congregation sings a big range of
music from traditional hymns through to contemporary stuff. But we don’t have an organ in our church like Wesley, so it’ll be nice to pull together all the different styles.” The famous pipe organ at Wesley was the first of its kind in Melbourne. It was built in England and arrived in Melbourne in 1842, before it moved to the church in 1858. Ms Sims believes singing is a way of bringing people together and encourages congregation members throughout the synod to join in the festivities.
“The main goal with the afternoon is that people have a lot of fun singing together,” Ms Sims said. “While there will be plenty of songs there that people will know, there will also be new songs that people can learn and take home with them and continue singing. “We’re hoping to fill the whole church with people singing!” Uniting In Song takes place at Wesley Uniting Church 148 Lonsdale St on Sunday 25 June from 2-5pm. Refreshments are included.
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
News Closing chorus for printed version of Together in Song THERE will be no new printings or editions of Together in Song (Australian Hymn Book II), the hymn book most widely used in the Uniting Church. Publisher HarperCollins has told the Australian Hymn Book company, the ecumenical body that produces the hymnal, that it will not renew licence agreements with copyright holders when they expire in 2018. “Parishes, schools and other institutions contemplating introducing the hymn book, or those who require additional copies of congregational or full music editions, would be well advised to place new orders soon because the book will no longer be available once the copyright agreements have terminated,” the Australian Hymn Book company said. Australian Hymn Book company director Philip Nicholls, who is also music director at the Anglican St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, said HarperCollins would have decided that it was not worth their while to renew the 12,000 copyright arrangements. ‘It’s not really surprising,” Mr Nicholls said. “I am pleased it has lasted this long.” He said when Together in Song (TIS) was first published in 1999 it would have been expected that the 20-year deal on licences would be renewed when the time came.
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Koonung Heights Uniting Church member Harriet Ziegler in fine voice
“People worship in a different way now,” Mr Nicholls said. Mr Nicholls said many congregations project lyrics on a screen and use their own repertoire of worship songs. Brisbane-based Uniting Church minister David MacGregor, who is a UCA representative on the Australian Hymn Book editorial committee, said the decision not to continue printing TIS was regrettable and also urged congregations, schools and agencies to stockpile copies. “With few exceptions, denominations around the world continue to use a hymnal as a resource book for congregational songs,” Mr MacGregor said. “In recent years, for example, the United Methodist Church in the USA published Worship & Song. There’s a sadness in knowing that from early 2018, we in this country and
church will not be continuing in this light.” TIS contains 783 psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, including some especially written for the book. It also includes the work of writers from 48 countries, with a strong representation of Indigenous and female authors. The predecessor to Together in Song was the Australian Hymn Book, which came out in 1977 coinciding with the formation of the Uniting Church. The founding Australian Hymn Book editorial board was chaired by Methodist minister and strong advocate of church union Dr Alfred Harold Wood and included representation from the other denominations that formed the Uniting Church. The Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic churches plus the Church of Christ are all currently involved with the book’s production.
“A hymnal such as Together in Song by its ecumenical nature joins us to the wider church … the world church,” Mr MacGregor said. “Even for UCA congregations not regularly using TIS, its existence is something which tangibly holds us together, offering hymnody which connects us to our inherited past.” Mr Nicholls, who grew up attending a Presbyterian church, remembers when his congregation adopted the same hymn book as the Methodist church across the road. “By combining repertoires and including the great Presbyterians and Methodists it showed the dedication to bringing them together in one great book,” he said. “It was a great exercise in ecumenism, something we don’t see much of anymore.” Mr MacGregor said TIS was carefully curated, mixing revered traditional hymns with more contemporary worship songs. He said the book was also valuable in its theologically sound modern and eclectic approach to worship. “The careful attention to (where possible) inclusive language for God and people points us to informed contemporary scholarship,” Mr MacGregor said. “Will this be ignored? TIS gifts the church with a broad array of themes and emphases in worship, beyond the danger of a praiseonly focus. “ The Australian Hymn Book company will be releasing one more supplement of the TIS and its website has contacts for suppliers of the book. hymnary.org/hymnal/AHB
News President welcomes Timorese visitors A DELEGATION of five visitors from Timor-Leste enjoyed a welcome reprieve from the Melbourne morning chill last month as they met with Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan and synod staff at 130 Lt Collins St. The group’s visit was sponsored by Ringwood Uniting Church, which since 2011 has been in partnership with Hosana Church in Dili. As part of that partnership there is an exchange of visitors every year, with Ringwood people visiting Hosana and some from there coming to Melbourne. The visiting group was headed by Rev Moises Antonio Da Silva, who is the Hosana minister and former moderator of the IPTL Synod of protestant churches in Timor-Leste. At the meeting attended by Mr McMillan, Ringwood members and Justice and International Mission director Dr Mark Zirnsak, the main issue discussed was Australia’s refusal to recognise a maritime border that would give Timor-Leste the full ownership of offshore oil and gas reserves. The last Synod meeting adopted a proposal
Stuart McMillan, Dr Mark Zirnsak and Ringwood congregation members welcomed a delegation of visitors from Hosana Church
brought to it by Ringwood to campaign for Australia to recognise Timor-Leste, one of the world’s poorest nations, as the rightful owner of the resources. Rev Da Silva said the main challenge faced by his church and the people in TimorLeste was raising the standard of living. He said 70 per cent of people in his congregation had not been taught to read or write, leaving them with limited employment prospects. Most of the roughly 300 members of
Hosana depended on small scale farming for their livelihoods and were very vulnerable to changes in weather patterns, with rainfall becoming less reliable. As their talks wrapped up Rev Da Silva presented both Mr McMillan and Dr Zirnsak with a scarf and a packet of coffee. “It’s an absolute delight being here today,” Mr McMillan said. Observers noted the coffee was an especially apt gift as Mr McMillan had just taken part in the 40 hours of continuous
prayer by church leaders that had seen participants rostered to pray through Sunday and Monday nights. Mr McMillan vowed to do anything he could to fight for a fairer maritime border in the Timor Gap. “I encourage the church to get behind this campaign,” Mr McMillan said. “It’s a matter of justice, correcting something that is wrong. “Also with aid being cut we need to show a greater generosity of spirit.”
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
News Lessons in reconciliation LEARNING to listen to the First Peoples and what they want from reconciliation was an important theme of the all-day Inter-school Social Justice Forum. It was held at 130 Lt Collins St and attended by 55 students mostly from Years 9 and 10. A highlight of proceedings was the interaction with Indigenous artist sisters Karen and Rosie Bird from the eastern Anmatyerre community 200km north-east of Alice Springs. The sisters have been spending a week at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS) conducting art classes and interacting with the students. Their visit was arranged by PEGS chaplain David Hall. Mr Hall said the students had been “superengaged” by having the visitors. “Just spending time with Aboriginal people is very important,” he said. “Reconciliation becomes real when you have a relationship. These two women are very dear to my heart as is the whole Bird clan. The more time I spend with them the more important it gets. “Students can learn about reconciliation in theory or they can spend time with Aboriginal people.” PEGS Year 10 student Charlie Worsfold echoed this sentiment and said that the
day at Lt Collins St had been important in helping him see things from the point of view of Aboriginal people. “It’s given me a better education and knowledge of their culture and what the First Peoples actually want from us,” Charlie said. In one session Charlie learnt how government attempts to improve Aboriginal people’s lives through various programs had failed because they hadn’t listened to what they actually wanted. “It’s better to talk to the Aboriginal people than make your own assumptions,” he said. The Inter-school Social Justice Forum is organised in a partnership between the Justice & International Mission unit and Uniting Church schools. The schools taking part are Scots School Albury, Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School, Methodist Ladies’ College, Kingswood College and Cornish College. Each sent up to of 10 students to take part in the forum, which will have a follow-up day in August. JIM campaigns and communications officer Cath James said the forum has different themes each year. “We look at the structural injustices that underlie a lot of these issues and help the students feel empowered to make a
difference,” she said. “We always do some sort of role-playing game where students can immerse themselves in the experience of being disadvantaged or discriminated against or some form of injustice. It’s a very experiential learning program. “It’s also important to have a response
time writing letters, or preparing school assembly presentations that put into practice what they have learnt in some way so they can take that forward.” Ms James said the students themselves will lead the next reconciliation forum day, to be held in August.
Indigenous artist Karen Bird
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Obituary Called back to ministry
Rev Dr Kenneth Carlyle Dempsey 30 June 1934 – 25 May 2017
THE first born child of Rev R (Carl ) Dempsey and his wife Lillian, Ken spent much of his childhood in country NSW Methodist circuits. The lifestyle required the family to change churches regularly and Ken moved from school to school on a regular basis. Ken spoke of this constant loss of community during his childhood as a contributing factor in his early sense of isolation and a resulting difficulty in applying
himself to his school work, which caused his parents a great deal of concern. It couldn’t have been all that bad, however, because on the occasion of his 80th birthday celebration he reflected on his childhood in this way. “What I especially want to stress is that although my upbringing was very strict and my childhood often sad, any price I paid for it is greatly outweighed by what I gained from being born into the family I was. It is a rare day I do not reflect on just how fortunate I was to have the parents I had and to live my childhood out in the places I did and in the way I did. I owe both parents an immeasurable debt. Much of the substance of my life is still shaped by their parenting.” At age 17, and although not sure exactly the reason for doing so, Ken took the first steps toward following in his father’s footsteps to become a minister. Nine years later however, realising that his “calling” was motivated, as he claims, ‘“by self-interest rather than a commitment to proclaim the gospel or serve others”, he resigned. After briefly working as a high-school teacher, Ken spent the next 37 years of his working-life as a university lecturer and researcher. During this period he published a number of books and research papers and his achievements as an academic were recognised by La Trobe University when he was granted an honorary title Emeritus Scholar, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, Melbourne (Bundoora),
something that universities accord only to their best people. Although, as Ken pointed out, he was more a doubter than a believer, his interest in the Church was borne out by his painstaking research which resulted in the publication of Conflict and Decline: Ministers and laymen in an Australian country town (1983). This research, together with his promptness in defending Christianity when it came under a misinformed attack by a university colleague, proved to him that he was not as alienated from Christianity as he had supposed. After a number of attempts to find community and meaning in a variety of churches, an ad hoc visit to Highfield Road Uniting Church in Canterbury proved to be a ‘welcome back’ experience. Some years later, Ken reminisced on this experience: “Nostalgia kicked in when we sang a couple of Wesley hymns. By about halfway through the service I was saying to myself –“this feels like home, why have I not been coming?” He soon found himself involved in Bible study groups and finally leading worship again. On retirement from his academic position, Ken took steps to apply for readmission to the Christian ministry. A chance meeting with Rev Dr D’Arcy Wood led to him making a commitment to St Stephen’s Uniting Church Williamstown to provide supply ministry for a brief period. At St Stephen’s Ken discovered community. He spoke of this time as “probably the most
fulfilling and meaningful time of a working life that has extended over the best part of 60 years. I feel loved, valued and accepted. This community is composed of people I enjoy being with and talking to. This community has become part of who I am. I am grateful to have the chance to minister and be ministered to, at a stage of life when the big questions are at the forefront of one’s mind: what is this life all about, what makes it meaningful and worthwhile? What light can Jesus and the Christian faith throw on these issues?” Regrettably, due to increasing health issues, Ken retired after 11 years of ministry at St Stephen’s in November 2016. Members of St Stephen’s congregation were greatly gifted when Rev Ken Dempsey entered their lives in 2006. A passionate sociologist. A man of faith. A writer. An ideas man. A compassionate man, tenderhearted and loving, generous and forgiving. Strongly committed to social justice. Keenly interested in people. A patient listener. An animated talker. An avid reader of theology, biographies, stories, history, newspapers, especially political articles. A lover of music, art, sport, nature. He will be sadly missed but his teaching, his support, his love and his ministry will never be forgotten. Ken is survived by his daughters Julie, Susan and Elizabeth, and three grandchildren. Compiled by Elaine Peck from speeches given by Kenneth Dempsey.
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
News Uniting Church finds light in Dark Mofo
WHERE CROSSING WILL BE STAGED 13-18 June, Pilgrim Uniting Church, Launceston 7 pm, 13 June: Performance by Danielle de Picciotto and Alexander Hacke with Miles Brown (ticketed) 5.30 pm – 9 pm, 14-18 June: Installation by Dylan Sheridan
HOBART arts festival Dark Mofo has always been at the edge offering art expressions whichhave, in some cases, attracted controversy. The decision this year to headline the event with the three-hour 150.Action by Austrian Herman Nitsch – which has been described as “a bloody, sacrificial ritual” and involves the disembowelling of a bull carcass and copious blood poured on a naked figure on a cross – comes as no real surprise. This is what Dark Mofo founder David Walsh does, both with the six-year-old festival and his Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – he uses art as a medium to raise difficult and challenging questions. So why then would the Uniting Church allow some of its churches and other properties to be associated and used as part of a Dark Mofo exhibition? For the Presbytery of Tasmania it was simple – the congregations involved with multimedia light installation Crossing have been impressed with the vision of creators David Patman and Michelle Boyde and their willingness to work collaboratively with the Church. Crossing imagines a post-secular pilgrimage by creating a pathway of light across a 200km stretch of the Midlands Highway between Launceston and Hobart. From 13 to 18 June six roadside churches – Pilgrim Uniting (Launceston), Union Chapel (Cleveland), Ross Uniting, Oatlands Uniting, the former Presbyterian Church (Kempton) and Hobart’s Scots Memorial Uniting – will be progressively illuminated by lighting artist Matt Adey with musical performances led by Tasmanian-born and Melbourne-based composer Miles Brown. Exterior and interior lighting displays will occur between 5:30pm and 9pm with performances taking place from 7pm on the night each church lights up. Lighting will only be on for the evening of performances except for Pilgrim, which will be lit for the six days of the event. The interior of each church will also become a site-specific multi-sensory
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
14 June, Union Chapel, Cleveland 7 pm: Performance by Miles Brown (free) 5.30 pm – 9 pm: Installation by Matt Warren and Gail Priest 15 June, Ross Uniting Church 7 pm: Performance by Miles Brown (free) 5.30 pm – 9 pm: Installation by Matt Warren and Gail Priest 16 June, Oatlands Uniting Church 7 pm: Performance by Miles Brown (free) 5.30 pm – 9 pm: Installation by Matt Warren and Gail Priest 17 June, Former Presbyterian Church, Kempton 7 pm: Performance by Miles Brown (free) 5.30 pm – 9 pm: Installation by Matt Warren and Gail Priest 18 June, Scots Memorial Uniting Church, Hobart 7 pm: Performance by Miles Brown (free) 5.30 pm – 9 pm: Installation by Matt Warren and Gail Priest
(sound, lighting and olfactory) installation which invites audiences to participate in a simple ‘crossing’ ritual – guiding them to their next destination. Pilgrim will also feature the use of breathtriggered light and sound effects, designed by Launceston-based classically-trained composer Dylan Sheridan. Mr Patman said pilgrimage is found in almost all spiritual traditions, whether as a journey to sites of spiritual significance or as an opportunity for reflection and enlightenment. “While Dark Mofo events are intentionally challenging and explore darker themes,
we are conscious of being respectful to the Uniting Church and its values,” he said. “The work will be primarily light-based, but will also include sound and olfactory elements and audience participation. “We have found all the people we have worked with to be extremely open, supportive and enthusiastic. “There has also been a real understanding of where we are coming from, and a willingness to collaborate, which does not always happen.” Mr Patman said the Launceston-to-Hobart stretch of highway was chosen because of its historical significance to Tasmania.
Pilgrim Uniting Minister Rod Peppiatt said the tide of negative publicity associated with the Nitsch performance in April did cause him, and the Church council, some heartache but the nature of the conversations with Mr Patman and Ms Boyde made all parties feel comfortable. “They have come to worship at Pilgrim and have identified with the Uniting Church,” Mr Peppiatt said. “They have been very easy to talk to and have been very respectful at all points along the way.” Mr Peppiatt said he hoped people who participated in the event would leave with a sense of beauty and reverence “and find some interesting spaces to reflect on the light overcoming darkness and us (Christians) bearing witness to the light.’’
More information about the event can be found at: www.xcrossingx.com
Seven-year-old Sienna celebrates a new home her mum bought with the help of a business loan from UnitingWorld’s local church partner
Yes, poor people have mobile phones CATH TAYLOR
THE moment I spot the mobile phone I flash a look at our photographer. It says “Uh-oh, can we get that out of there? If not physically, then at least out of the shot? I totally forgot about mobile phones…” Then I continue to forget about mobiles because #otherfishtofry and clearly Alex doesn’t read the look, because when I check the photos later, there it is, in most of the pictures. The mobile. And this is a problem. Because here’s the thing, folks: ‘poor people’ don’t have mobile phones. And since we’re in West Timor shooting footage and film to encourage people to get behind projects that support said ‘poor people’, the presence of this contradictory, offensive mobile phone means we’re in trouble. Why don’t poor people have mobiles? Because they’re poor, obviously! Poor people should fulfil a range of criteria – brown skinned, humble, and definitely (tragically) without Nice Things Like Technology. Most people in West Timor live on less than $2 a day. Yet in spite of their very significant poverty, many of them have mobiles, and this is true of people in most developing (and developed) countries. More than half of India’s sprawling population own phones – more in fact than own toilets. In the US, growing and grinding poverty is a massive problem, but people will go without food before they
give up their phones. Ok then, goes the logic. These people can’t need our help too badly. Here’s where our understanding of poverty shows up in all its frailty. It takes relatively little to own and maintain a resource like a mobile phone – you outlay the cost, pay a bill. But the impact is immediate and ongoing – from lifegiving relationships, to staying safe, having access to vital information and being able to bank or trade easily. On the other hand, changing major structures like access to electricity, education and employment takes time and major investment. In West Timor, I watched a man with virtually no sight, who works as a masseur, use his voice-activated mobile to line up clients in Kupang. Thanks to a low-interest loan that helped build up his business, he earns around $5 a day which has totally changed his life, but he still draws his water from a well next to the house. There’s no doubt that the poorer, more desperate we think people are, the better we feel about giving to them. But does this make sense? It’s a source of unending pain to me that many of us only give once the pictures of Africa’s starving children or the Pacific’s floating bodies are all over our television screens. It’s as though people are not really ‘poor’ or ‘desperate’ enough in this world to warrant our attention or generosity until they’re actually dead, or near death. And yet, if we invested just a layer above – at those who own the mobile phones and are starting to make their way in the world, no matter how difficult it might be – we could save hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of dollars. Shouldn’t this sheer numbers return on investment make us feel better about our giving than simply how tragic the situation is at the time?
In fact, every dollar invested before a disaster can save $15 after tragedy strikes. It is far cheaper to help protect people from the crushing poverty that makes them vulnerable to disaster, war and disease than it is to help them recover afterwards. Proper investment in the lives of people in South Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and throughout the Horn of Africa three years ago could have prevented what’s now being described as the greatest food threat since 1945. Through a partnership with UnitingWorld and the local church in West Timor, 135,000 families have already been assisted using small loans to build lives for themselves that are meaningful and dignified. By anyone’s standards, they’re still poor. But investing in these communities is about looking ahead and creating a whole society of people more likely to resist disease, conflict, radicalisation and the
impact of changing climate, including devastation from natural disaster. Right now, UnitingWorld is eligible for special funding that recognises our development expertise and the generosity of our donors. For every $5 we can access, we must raise at least $1 in supporter donations. In effect, this means gifts from Uniting Church people are six times more useful to us in the field, combined with Australian aid funding. Please consider supporting strong, capable and creative people who can use your donation right now, combined with Australian aid funding, to create six times the impact beating poverty in West Timor, Bali and Zimbabwe. You can even donate straight from your mobile phone. Cath Taylor works for UnitingWorld. Call 1800 998 122 or www.unitingworld.org. au/freedom for more information.
Ama proudly shows off a thriving crop in a remote mountainous area of West Timor
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Beyond Addiction DEB BENNETT
THE Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania will consider its position on the establishment of Medically Supervised Injecting Centres (MSICs) when it gathers for the September Synod meeting at Box Hill. Responding to a recent coroner’s finding on the death of a young woman in Richmond, moderator Rev Sharon Hollis believes it is an important issue for the Church. In the lead up to the Synod meeting, consultation will be held throughout the synod to determine the Church’s response. “We are both service providers and people engaged in the community,” Ms Hollis said. “(Uniting agency) ReGen has been working in the AOD (alcohol and other drugs) space for some time and I thought it was the right time to bring it all together in our synod and have a look at it. Also, clearly the prompt is there as the government is looking at it.” In Victoria last year, nearly 500 people died from drug overdose, a figure greater than the road toll. The City of Yarra recorded the greatest number of deaths. In February of this year, after investigating the overdose death of a young woman in a Hungry Jack’s toilet in Richmond, the Victorian coroner recommended the Andrews government establish a MSIC in the suburb of Richmond – often referred to as ‘ground zero’. In spite of the recommendation from the coroner, as well as support from the Australian Medical Association and community groups, Victoria’s premier Daniel Andrews said his government does not support the establishment of MSICs. One of the groups to add its name to a letter of support for a MSIC trial was Uniting ReGen, an organisation with decades of experience in the treatment of addictions to alcohol and other drugs. ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said that treating drug addiction is extremely complex. Many addicts will use for up to
a decade before they seek treatment. As he explained, people cannot be ‘forced’ to enter treatment. For most programs to be successful, the drug user needs to commit to giving up. “We recognise that a lot of people are not at the stage where they are saying ‘we want to give up’. We often find that people who are substance abusers feel guilty about it but are nowhere near the point of giving up,” Mr Alvis said. “It’s about forming relationships and waiting for the opportunity to offer help when it is asked for. As the families say, it is a case of actually making sure we are keeping them alive so they can make the decision at some stage, when they are ready, that they need to stop doing this.” Mr Alvis is pragmatic in his response when asked why a MSIC needs to be established in Richmond. MSICs keep people alive. “A couple of months ago I went to a family drug support organisation,” Mr Alvis said. “Two of the families told me their children were involved in drug use for 10 years and then finally saw the light. “The third family was not so lucky. Their son died of an overdose about three years after he started using. “The key message is that we know that people are likely to use heroin for something like 10 years before they consider treatment – you have to keep them alive for that time. “This has become even more critical now with the introduction of synthetic substances like methamphetamine and ice. When synthetic products are mixed with normal grade-base heroin, its makes it up to 100 times more powerful. So people who are buying it, when they inject they can go straight into overdose.” According to Mr Alvis, the statistics should speak for themselves when deciding on the pros and cons of MSICs. In 2001, Australia’s first MSIC opened in
Sydney’s Kings Cross. Operated by Uniting NSW, staff have supervised more than 1 million injections, and managed more than 6000 overdoses without a single death. More than 80 MSICs are in operation throughout the world; there has never been an overdose death at any of these facilities. Last year the City of Yarra recorded 96 illegal-drug overdoses, more than three times the metropolitan average. Figures such as these can polarise views on both sides of the debate around MSICs. Some would say they point to an obvious need for more harm minimisation strategies, others argue for greater law enforcement. Ms Hollis agrees that the language surrounding this debate is extremely important. “Some people think it is a medical issue, others think it is a health issue, for others a legal issue,” Ms Hollis said. “There are polar views on both sides. I think we add to the conversation by taking on a difficult, tricky subject.” Two decades ago, the prime minister of Australia launched an initiative he hoped would combat Australia’s drug problem. In 1997, John Howard’s government budgeted $516 million for its ‘Tough on Drugs’ policy. Howard’s chief advisor was The Salvation Army’s Major Brian Watters. Major Watters was also chairperson of the Australian National Council on Drugs and took a moralistic view towards drug use. A few years after the Tough on Drugs policy was announced, social researchers Julian Buchanan and Lee Young suggested the language used when talking about drugs contributed to the social problems drug users faced. The 2000 article titled ‘The war on drugs – a war on drug users’ examined the impact of individualising the complex issue of drug abuse. “The policy of prevention, prohibition and punishment has resulted in the wholesale criminalisation of major sections of
society (especially those under 25 years) and locked long-term drug users into a process of stigmatisation, marginalisation and social exclusion,” the article stated. Speaking at a Centre for Independent Studies dinner in 2006, Mr Howard cited his Tough on Drugs policy as an example of the positive influence governments could have on social norms. “Governments do have a responsibility to articulate a clear cultural message, especially in confronting social pathologies such as crime, domestic violence and drug addiction,” Mr Howard said. Ms Hollis feels the language used when discussing drug addiction – whether it is a ‘social pathology’ or a health concern – is important. She hopes the church can help to tackle the sense of alienation from mainstream society that drug users often feel. “We have often seen drug taking as a kind of moral failure. If you were stronger or better or your family wasn’t so dysfunctional – whatever we think causes it. We put a lot of judgement onto families that they don’t deserve,” Ms Hollis said. “I suppose my own experience of having a partner die of suicide, that’s a really stigmatised area; it alerts you to the other stigmas that exist. Whenever you are battling something like that, the stigma makes it worse. “If you’re a drug addict or the family member of a drug addict, that’s enough – you don’t need the stigma to deal with as well.” While MSICs serve a very real function of keeping people alive, Ms Hollis feels they also signal to the person using drugs that they are still valued members of society. “I don’t imagine anyone finds it much fun shooting up in the back lanes of Richmond, so let’s give them somewhere where they feel like a human being,” Ms Hollis said. “By and large this is a problem that needs
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Uniting NSW’s MSIC at Kings Cross
“The key message is that we know that people are likely to use heroin for something like 10 years before they consider treatment – you have to keep them alive for that time.” - Laurence Alvis
to be dealt with clinically by allied health and welfare supports. I hope it sends the signal that you are a person worthy of respect and dignity. A person worthy to have decent, clean, comfortable facilities.” For more than 30 years, Carol* supported her youngest daughter as she lived with a heroin addiction. Maddie* first used heroin at the age of 16. Her then-boyfriend later admitted in a counselling session that he had injected Maddie in order to maintain control of his girlfriend, who he thought was going to leave him. Two years ago, 47-year-old Maddie died of a drug overdose. She was found by her partner in bed when he returned from the pub. He assumed she was asleep, it wasn’t until the next morning that Carol received the phone call she had been dreading for three decades. Her daughter,
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
who had won prizes for dancing and wanted to be a vet when she grew up, had died alone. Estranged from her husband and 12-year-old son, ashamed to attend family functions and living in an abusive relationship. “Nearly two years later I still can’t help thinking of how alone Maddie must have felt,” Carol said. “No one should have to deal with something like drug addiction on their own, but often the people who love them the most will actually avoid them. “Maddie was many things in life. She was incredibly funny, very loyal and she loved her son with all her heart. But, especially in the last few years, she had begun to see herself as little more than an addict. Because that was what she was labelled as.” Carol said that for many people, giving
up drugs was only half the battle. While Maddie successfully completed drug rehabilitation a few times, she often felt excluded from mainstream society and ashamed of her past. “In her 20s, after her boyfriend died, Maddie made a real effort to regain control of her life,” Carol said. “She was clean for the first time in 10 years, got married and had her beautiful little boy. But she found it so hard to make real friends. The other mums would sit and chat about things and she said to me that she was terrified they would find out about her past.” The sense of failure and being judged by others is a common hurdle for people suffering from addiction to overcome. Ms Hollis feels the Church also has a theological role in affirming the inherent worth of a person.
Part of the consultation process with the wider church includes a theological response to the issue of MSICs. Former principal of Pilgrim Theological College Randall Prior is working closely with Rev Dr Sally Douglas, minister at Richmond Uniting Church, to prepare a document for consideration. According to Mr Prior, the involvement of the church offers a tangible expression of the gospel. He feels the Uniting Church offers a different perspective to those of more conservative faiths, who may view drug abuse as a personal moral failing. “At the very heart of the Christian faith is that in Jesus Christ, God takes upon God’s self the fullness of our broken humanity,” Mr Prior said. “All of us, whatever colour, race, creed or human condition, all of us are sisters and brothers of each other. We stand as a community of people embraced by God in Jesus Christ. “There is no such thing in theological categories of people who are good or evil, right or wrong, people who deserve God’s love and those who don’t deserve God’s love. “All of us stand equally broken in the presence of God and in need of the graceful healing of God.”
*Not their real names
Celebrating 40 years Union not an easy step for many congregations ON 22 June 1977 the inauguration of the Uniting Church in Australia was telecast live nationally on ABC television. An amazing thought in this changed media landscape. The formation of a Uniting Church, which was also enshrined in all Australian states and territories’ legislation in 1977, was a significant step not just for its members, but for Australia. Church members and other dignitaries packed Sydney Town Hall to witness the birth of this new Australian church. Civic and church leaders also sent greetings to the new Church. Sir Henry Winneke, Governor of Victoria, said: “The church is the servant of God, certainly. But surely the church is no less the servant of all mankind. In your life together may you have the faith and courage to live out that dual concept.” However, the merger which had been a long time in the planning and consultation, was not without its difficulties. All Methodist Churches joined the Uniting Church and in Victoria and Tasmania the vast majority of Congregationalists did likewise, but there were many Presbyterians who remained separate. Voting in the Presbyterian congregations on whether or not to join the Uniting Church wasn’t straightforward. Members of congregations had two questions to answer. The first asked: if union occurred did they want their congregation to be part of the new church? The second asked: if a new church was established, did they want their congregation to remain part of the Presbyterian Church? It was a legal matter. For a congregation to be able to join in the new Uniting Church with the Congregationalists and Methodists, at least two-thirds of its members needed to vote ‘No’ to question two. However, to vote for and to join the union, the congregation had to vote ‘Yes’
Pictured at St John’s Uniting Church, Essendon after the inaugural service. Rev Coralie Ling (Buckley Park), Rev H. R. S Jeyachandran (South Essendon), Rev R Catford (St John’s), Rev B. D. Prewer (Mt Alexander Rd), Rev R. W. Renton (Keilor Rd). Standing at the front is Elizabeth Pinson. First published in Church and Nation on 13 July 1977
For a visit down memory lane, part of the ABC broadcast of the inauguration can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/98614435 The Moderator is releasing two video messages (with accompanying transcripts) looking to the next 40 years. One video includes the reflections of five former Vic/ Tas Moderators. Details will be sent out via Synod e-news on 8 June. These can be played at any church events including worship services. There are also prayer resources leading up to 22 June prepared by Assembly https://assembly.uca.org.au/40prayers
then ‘No’, which created some confusion. Many Presbyterians voted ‘Yes’ to both questions even though they wanted their congregation to come under the Uniting Church banner. That meant they were legally locked out of joining and had to remain in the Presbyterian Church. There was some talk among Presbyterians of a legal challenge to the questions, since the ’yes and no’ requirement seemed contrary to natural justice. In one case at least, a Presbyterian congregation in Victoria that was already part of a joint parish with Methodists was forced to remove itself from the arrangement because too many of its members had voted ‘Yes’ and ‘Yes’. It was keen on union but many members had
misunderstood the second question. However, strong support for union was borne out in the many stories of congregations joining and becoming stronger under the Uniting Church. One such story was the joining of the East Kew Presbyterian and Methodist congregations. It was made easier by the fact the two churches had strong links and the two ministers – Hamish Christie-Johnson (Presbyterian) and Norman Beurle (Methodist) – were already good friends and strong believers in ecumenism. East Kew Uniting member Alan Mathews, who eventually became a Uniting Church minister, said the two congregations had worked together for more than a decade
prior to union. Mr Mathews recalled that the two churches had formed a football team, East Kew combined, as early as the late-1960s and a joint youth group had grown out of an evening service and coffee lounge run out of the Presbyterian Church. “We were running a combined youth group, combined confirmation classes, combined confirmation services and shared Sunday School with some ages at Normanby Rd (Presbyterian) and others at Stratalbyn St (Methodist),” Mr Mathews said. However, the eventual merger of the two congregations was not without some hiccups. East Kew member Jenny Little – a Presbyterian who met her Methodist husband, Colin, at the coffee lounge – said feelings about union within the congregations were mostly positive, but some members of both churches were concerned traditions and autonomy would be lost. She said a few members felt obliged to continue with the Presbyterian heritage. “The two ministers were crucial in managing high feelings and troubled concerns that arose during that time. Both gave wise and enlightened counsel to all and the ideal of uniting was pursued and achieved,” she said. Mr Mathews said when the inauguration occurred it did not feel like anything different for most congregants because they already participated in many joint activities. “There was a sense of inevitability about it,” he recalled. He agreed the two ministers had been pivotal to the success of the exercise. “The joint congregation occurred very much because of the strong ecumenical leadership from Hamish and Norman,” Mr Mathews said. “Certainly Hamish was a strong leader and Norman was a gracious man who would have greatly assisted with the pastoral work and enabled things to happen.” Mr Mathews also said he and his wife Bronwyn’s first child was baptised jointly by both men. He said the sale of the Methodist Church to the Masonic Lodge made the decision for the two congregations to join on the Presbyterian site easier.
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Vision and Mission God’s invitation AS a leader of congregational worship, I typically speak the familiar words of greeting to the gathered community saying: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. As we again approach Pentecost on 4 June, the third part of Paul’s words from the end of his second letter to the Corinthians has been on my mind: ‘… the fellowship of the Holy Spirit…’. Some use the word fellowship and some the word communion. Either way, it speaks of sharing life together, eating around the table – divine community and human community sharing as one. The other day, I heard someone say that the church is a gathered community at whose table the Spirit always has a seat. I think the comment arose as a reaction to the feeling that we often live our Christian life and our church life as if God is not an active participant. But there’s something fundamentally wrong in the orientation of that thought. This invitation to ‘fellowship of the Holy Spirit’ is a divine invitation. It is God’s invitation extended to us and all people, not the other way around. This is an invitation that flows from God’s loving heart. It is written with words of grace in Jesus Christ and delivered by the Spirit sent to nurture us as a fellowship. It is we who are gifted with a seat at God’s table. We are invited to the feast of life that God has prepared. The Church is a gathered community that God is forming as a ‘fellowship of the Holy Spirit’ (Basis of Union #3). The fellowship of the Holy Spirit is crucial for us today because it speaks to our understanding and experience of mission. The fellowship of the Spirit is God’s gift to the church ‘in order that we may not lose the way’ (Basis of Union #3). In his book The Church in the Power of the Spirit German theologian Jurgen Moltmann aptly declares: ‘It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfil to the world; it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father that includes the church, creating the church as it goes on its way’. The mission of God is a community-creating movement whereby the barriers that divide the human family are overcome: in Christ’s love, by God’s grace, and with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the challenge to live out this fellowship of the Holy Spirit is vitally important for the church in our day. The Synod’s adopted Vision and Mission Principles and the range of initiatives we are presently pursuing as Church are meaningful only insofar as we fellowship with the Holy Spirit. This is pivotally true for the gathered communities of our Church that are called to worship, witness and serve ‘as a fellowship of the Spirit in Christ’ (Basis of Union #15a). What does this mean in practice? In one sense, this is a lifelong question. It involves us in both personal and communal practices that open and orientate our lives towards God. By such practices, we open ourselves to what God is saying through the Holy Spirit and we are helped to follow in the way of Jesus Christ. The Assembly Doc-byte on Living the Christian Life (downloadable from assembly.uca.org.au/doctrine/item/856-docbytes) lists the disciplines counted as basic and essential for the healthy Christian life. The communal, personal and social disciplines are worth exploring. Back in late March, I helped facilitate a day where various representatives from across the Church gathered to talk about living as a church that discerns the Spirit’s call. In part, the day asked: How might we be a diversity of gathered communities that seek to be a fellowship of the Holy Spirit? It was another attempt to explore this very important focus. One outcome of the day was a video of various people expressing their hopes for the Church in the coming years. They describe a fellowship of the Spirit that is continuing to
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
honour that divine invitation. The video is well worth a look and could be used as a great discussion starter in your own community or group. You can find the video on the Synod website at http://ucavictas.org.au/visionandmission/videos/. In fellowship with the Holy Spirit, may you be blessed in … following Christ walking together as First and Second Peoples seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation.
David Withers Strategic Framework Minister
People Funds for South Sudan THE East Gippsland town of Orbost may only have a population of 2000 people but that did not stop the congregation at St Andrew’s Uniting Church from filling their church hall with visitors at a recent fundraising dinner. More than 140 people attended the Sudanese Famine Dinner on 6 May, including 20 Sudanese visitors from Melbourne. A famine is currently ravaging South Sudan with nearly five million people – 40 per cent of the country’s population – in urgent need of food. Janette Osborne, an elder at St Andrew’s Orbost, coordinated the dinner and said the congregation was delighted with the turnout. “The hall was decorated in African fabrics, basketware and jewellery kindly loaned for the night by Orbost Rotarians, Lorraine and Peter Van den Oever, who lived in Africa for some years,” Ms Osborne said. “These handcrafts set the atmosphere as
well as our Sudanese visitors wearing their traditional colourful dress.” The guests enjoyed a two-course meal which included beef kebabs, couscous, vegetable curry and African citrus milk tart. The money raised from the night supported the Containers of Hope project, which sends clothes, food, stationary, computers and wheelchairs to those in need in South Sudan. The Orbost church council learnt about Containers of Hope from their minister Rev Nathaniel Atem, who was a refugee from South Sudan. Mr Atem’s colleague, Rev Amel Manyon from the Northern Suburbs Uniting Church in Adelaide, initiated Containers of Hope to assist displaced refugees in South Sudan. “The proceeds from the dinner, and the very generous donations from people who could not attend on the night, meant St Andrew’s Orbost will contribute approximately $3500 to this worthy cause,” Ms Osborne said. “We are very thankful for the support we received and trust this small contribution will go to help the devastation in South Sudan.”
160 years at St Andrew’s Berwick LORRAINE BAXTER MORE than 140 past and present members gathered at St Andrew’s Uniting Church in Berwick last month to celebrate 160 years of worship. Rev Wendy Snook particularly welcomed descendants of the early pioneers of the church and acknowledged the pioneers managed to establish the church through challenging and difficult times. Ms Snook spoke of the early history of white settlement, when the local Bunurong people helped the new arrivals to find food when they were faced with starvation. Problems later emerged when the Indigenous population realised the settlers’ sheep were easier to catch than kangaroos. Rev Alexander Duff from Northern Ireland conducted the first Presbyterian service in 1857 in a wattle and daub hut. It was a time when the dirt roads were widened for bullock drays to cart red gum logs from the area to Melbourne for building works.
A small wooden church building was erected in 1861 when Rev Duff was granted land for the purposes of the Presbyterian Church. The cost of the wooden building was 340 pounds. As the Anglicans needed a place to hold church services, they were invited to jointly use the building with the Presbyterians. This shared arrangement proceeded for nearly 30 years. Ms Snook reminded the gathering of the sacrifice made by early members of the church, and suggested they were great role models for people today. She thanked everyone for joining in the celebration and thanked all who had assisted in preparing for the day. The two morning church services were followed by a luncheon served by the ladies of the church and was a time of shared memories and renewed past acquaintances.
Sudanese visitors at St Andrew’s Uniting Church
Fighting poverty by the book RHONDA MATHESON-BROWNE BOOKWORMS can purchase newly released books and raise funds for a worthwhile cause when Ocean Grove Uniting Church hosts a biannual book sale. For the past four decades, a group of Ocean Grove locals have driven fundraising efforts to alleviate poverty in overseas communities. Ocean Grove Uniting Church members Lyn Mulligan, Joan Calcutt, Barry Calcutt and Pat Reed are part of the local Oxfam group, which has raised a total of $132,000 from sales of the books over the 20 years to combat famine, malnutrition and injustice. The Ocean Grove Oxfam group will continue this tradition at the local Uniting Church on Saturday 24 June when they host their book sale at the church hall from 9am–1pm. All books are new and will be sold at one
third of the recommended retail price. As Mrs Mulligan explained, the four friends are also members of the church’s Justice and International Mission group, so their involvement with the sale enables them to wear two hats. “For 25 years we have been holding this book sale on the last Saturday of June and again on the last Saturday of November,” Mrs Mulligan said. “The literary editors of major Victorian newspapers have been Oxfam supporters and have donated books reviewed by them to the Oxfam Ocean Grove group.” The Ocean Grove church hall is located on the corner of Eggleston Street and the Parade. For more information about the book sale, contact Lyn Mulligan on 52552638.
Ocean Grove Uniting Church members Pat Reed, Lyn Mulligan, Joan Calcutt and Barry Calcutt
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
The St Andrew’s congregation celebrates the church’s 160th birthday.
Deloraine UC holds its last service AFTER 160 years of serving the spiritual needs of parishioners in the Meander Valley, the St Andrew’s Uniting Church at Deloraine officially closed its doors with a final service last month. The first Methodist Church in Deloraine was built in 1857, with the Methodists and Presbyterians joining on the Methodist site 40 years ago, when the Uniting Church was established. Congregation chair John Phelps said the congregation had diminished in size in recent years and members had decided to close the church. Mr Phelps said some worshippers would attend other churches in the town and some would join other Uniting Church congregations.
Pic couresy The Examiner
Meanwhile, the Church’s newly-established South Esk Cluster – made up of the Evandale, Hadspen and Launceston South congregations – in northern Tasmania is on the look out for a new home. The Cluster has decided to sell two Launceston church properties – located at Balfour St and Chant St, East Launceston – to fund a move to a new building which will be designed to meet their future missional plans. Acting synod liaison minister Michelle Cook said the new home would be within the environs of Launceston. As part of the planned Balfour St sale the Uniting Church’s presbytery office, in the manse on Margaret St, will be relocated to a new site within Launceston.
St Andrew’s Uniting Church members Anne Le Fevre, Lexie Young, John Phelps
Believe it or not
Finding forgiveness Open invitation
REVIEW BY TIM LAM REVIEW BY MATTHEW JULIUS
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
BOOK | DISBELIEVING DISBELIEF: HOW THE NEW ATHEISTS MAKE ATHEISM UNBELIEVABLE | PHILLIP BROWN (ED.)
BOOK | FROM GENOCIDE TO GENEROSITY | JOHN STEWARD
DISBELIEVING Disbelief collects essays written in response to the New Atheist convention held in 2012. New Atheism grew in part as a reaction to September 11, 2001 and the editor frames the collection with this reference. (Phillip Brown mistakenly suggests that the related war in Afghanistan began after 2004; the US declared war in 2001, joined by NATO in 2003. Editorial mistakes, unfortunately, run through most of the essays.) Today the rise of the populist right, and Donald Trump, add to the ongoing crisis of Islamic terrorism. Trump is buoyed by conservative evangelical support and New Atheism has all but faded. Do these essays speak in our new situation? The essays raise several problems, in terms of lasting value: First, the texts are at a popular level, this makes them readable but limited, as Chris Mulherin notes in his essay. Second, many of the essays seem to be simply reactionary in light of the fading of New Atheism. I hadn’t read many of the key books referenced since high school. Third, while the authors oppose the New Atheists, they accept the latter’s terms of reference: the Bible must be chiefly literalhistorical or else untrue (Brown’s first, and Robert Martin’s second essay); science and history are the measure of all truth (Tim Patrick, and Mulherin’s essays). There is a lack here of theological reflection. Simon Angus’ essay about worldviews fails to mention the movement from a Jewish to a Gentile worldview (a main theme of the New Testament) at all. Gordon Preece, Justin Denholm, and Greg Restall resist the above tendencies. Preece’s reflection on the “disbelieving” Nick Cave and Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the most constructive attempt to bridge faith and disbelief. Restall heeds the critique of religion to recall us to Christ-likeness. Justin Denholm’s essay errs toward absolutism, but his suggestion of seeking collaboration is well taken. Today Christians seem complicit in worrying political trends, our capacity to listen, partner, and reflect theologically is needed more and more. The collaborative, rather than combative, tone of Preece, Denholm, and Restall is required. These three essays comprise the lasting value of Disbelieving Disbelief.
AT the time of the Rwandan genocide, it was said that there were no more devils in Hell because they were all in Rwanda. In 1994, almost one million people were killed by the systematic interethnic violence. When the massacre stopped, refugees returned to Rwanda, fuelling reprisals and disputes over land. This unimaginable catastrophe created a mental health crisis, with few citizens unaffected. But Rwanda also experienced a time of healing. Group counselling sessions encouraged people to tell the truth, face emotions and look beyond longentrenched hatreds. Eventually the unthinkable happened: a widow cooked food for her husband’s killer in jail, a mother grieving her murdered son welcomed the murderer into her family, a victim who had been wounded and left for dead became the groomsman at his attacker’s wedding. John Steward’s book is filled with stories of individuals traumatised but then transformed by reconciliation. If the relentless nature of these tales becomes an emotional barrage, one can sympathise with some of those running the sessions, who heard them first-hand. Not all Rwandans were open. Some refused to forgive; some rejected family members who committed crimes. But the reconciliation process, unprecedented in its widespread effectiveness, is a testament to the way forgiveness frees both victims and perpetrators from the past. Steward points out that the book is more than simply ‘voyeurism’ of Rwanda’s good and bad. Rwanda’s trauma, recovery and bright present put our own petty grievances into perspective. But, additionally, all of us at times need to recognise the need for forgiving or asking for forgiveness. The experience of Rwanda shows how injustices, left to simmer, can explode into insanity. But it also shows how bravely embracing reconciliation can heal the deepest of wounds.
Available at: morningstarpublishing.net.au RRP: $24.95 20
Available at: www.langhamcatalogue.org/ RRP: $19.95
BOOK | THEOLOGY OF THE OPEN TABLE | EOJIN LEE
REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY MOVIE | DON’T TELL | M
THE Eucharist is one of the most significant sacraments in Christianity. But the question of who is welcome to receive the Body of Christ has generated much debate amongst theologians and biblical scholars over the centuries. While some churches such as the Uniting Church practice an ‘open-table’ policy, others, like the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK), retain a ‘closed-table’ model where only baptised members over the age of 15 can receive communion. In Theology of the Open Table, Eojin Lee advocates for an open table approach to the Holy Communion. He traces the history of Eucharistic practices from the early Christian communities and challenges the traditional belief that the Eucharist originated from the Last Supper. Drawing from a range of historical and biblical sources, Lee calls on the Church to instead focus on the Eucharistic significance of other meals Jesus shared during his ministry. Jesus dined with sinners, tax collectors and prostitutes; everyone had a seat at the table of God. This book is accessible to people unfamiliar with the open table debate. Lee introduces readers to the biblical basis for the Eucharist without resorting to excessive theological jargon. The cross-cultural approach adopted by Lee presents an opportunity for readers to glimpse the Eucharistic practices of other churches. Lee’s chapter on the development of the Eucharist in the Presbyterian Church of Korea may be particularly insightful for UCA readers. He explores the historical roots of the PCK to explain how Confucian values influenced a church culture that is inherently hierarchical and resistant to change. Rather than dismantling traditional understandings of the Eucharist, Lee argues that an open-table approach reinterprets the Eucharist to broaden the Church’s understanding of the grace of God. Using the example of the UCA, he explores how churches can still preserve their traditional understanding of the Eucharist while opening the sacrament to unbaptised people. Theology of the Open Table is an invitation to extend the blessed sacrament to those who are unbaptised and a challenge for the church to invite all people to the table of God.
THE unspoken grief and brokenness of a father – a secondary victim of the destructive effects of sex abuse – ripples through a new Australian movie, Don’t Tell, a compelling true story about one young life deeply scarred by a teacher’s callous disregard for the sanctity of a child’s body. Don’t Tell is based on the civil court case in Toowoomba in 2001, brought by Lyndal, a young woman who had been sexually abused by a teacher a decade earlier, seeking damages against the Anglican Church and the Toowoomba Preparatory School. Lyndal wants her day in court. No one – not the school, not the Anglican Church, not the Archbishop (Peter Hollingworth, who later resigned as Governor General, in part because of his response to this case) – has listened. Her schoolgirl voice dismissed against the gravitas of an allegedly beloved teacher. A young girl who showed so much promise that her parents elected to send her to a private boarding school ended up a runaway, drinking heavily and prostituting herself. An angry young woman, whose relationship with her parents was in tatters, decided enough was enough and her counsellor introduced her to a sympathetic lawyer. Director Tori Garrett has created a visually beautiful film with a stellar Australian cast. Garrett effectively uses drama, tension and intrigue to explore a topic that makes most of us squirm with discomfort. The cast includes Sara West as Lyndal, Jack Thompson, Aden Young, Susie Porter, Martin Sacks (Lyndal’s father), Jacqueline McKenzie and Rachel Griffiths. If you are still uncertain about why churches are being expected to introduce stringent child safe policies, then remember this is just one story among thousands. Each of those thousands of children has had their childhood stolen and the damage that has wrought on our society is without measure. Eight people were in the cinema when Don’t Tell screened. This is a story we should all see – lest we forget.
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Review Age old story REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY PLAY | MINNIE & LIRAZ
Virginia Gay as Rachel, Nancye Hayes as Minnie Cohen and Sue Jones as Liraz Weinberg
MY mother, quoting my grandmother, regularly reminds her three daughters that ‘ageing is not for wimps’. The latest production from the Melbourne Theatre Company bears this out. Minnie & Liraz by Melbourne playwright Lally Katz puts paid to the myth that as people age they become meek sweet little old ladies and gentlemen. Katz’s elderly citizens of the Autumn Road Retirement Village in Caulfield are feisty, catty, opinionated, manipulative and laugh-outloud funny. The play opens with a ‘Celebration of Life’ ceremony, as care worker Norma (Georgina Naidu) leads the gathering of residents in a remembrance of one of their former colleagues who had unexpectedly
Pope fiction REVIEW BY TIM LAM TV | THE YOUNG POPE | M
IN the 2000-year history of the Roman Catholic Church, there has never been a Pope quite like Pius XIII, the fictional pontiff played by Jude Law in the new HBO series The Young Pope. Born Lenny Belardo, Pius XIII is the first American Pope and the youngest cardinal to inherit the papacy at just 47 years of age. The little-known Pontiff was supposed to be a meek and malleable puppet but he quickly proves himself to be an uncompromising and ruthless operator and a formidable adversary to the cardinals who seek to undermine him. The Holy Father depicted in this 10part television series is a chain-smoking narcissist with a fondness for Cherry Coke Zero. He demonstrates flippant disregard for diplomacy and protocols and an uncanny talent for humiliating his enemies. This reclusive Pope, who refuses to be photographed and delivers his first public address from St Peter’s Square in silhouette, is almost the antithesis of the mediasavvy Pope Francis. His ultra conservative
JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
died. Naidu captures perfectly that slightly patronising, overly-cheerful optimism replicated at nursing homes and retirement villages across the country. The departed resident was a bridge player, and her bridge partner, Liraz Weinberg (Sue Jones) is looking to recruit a new partner. She has her sights set on the National Seniors Bridge Championship Cup. Liraz is someone who might be described as ‘rough around the edges’. She is loud and vulgar, wears garish matching tracksuit outfits, drives around in her mobility scooter showing no respect for anyone else and is highly competitive. Minnie Cohen, played by the redoubtable Nancye Hayes, is a consummate bridge
player. She also recently lost her bridge partner of over 40 years, and Liraz seeks her out. Minnie is elegant and charming, but also brutal and dismissive and not too keen on Liraz, and her husband Morris (Rhys McConnochie) even less so. Minnie is consumed by her legacy or, more correctly, lack of a legacy. Their only grandchild Rachel is now in her late 30s, single increasingly likely to remain that way. And so a deal is hatched – secret matchmaking with Liraz’s grandson Ichabod (Peter Paltos) in return for a bridge partnership. Katz has great respect for elderly people. Her last play, Neighbourhood Watch, was based around a former neighbour. Her
theology is a throwback to medieval times and his exclusionary beliefs threaten to alienate the Vatican from its one billion Catholic constituents. But perhaps the most shocking revelation is that this Pope may not actually believe in God. Abandoned by his parents at a young age, Pius struggles to understand how a benevolent and loving God could take away his mother and father. Jude Law gives a captivating performance as the enigmatic Pius. He is a man of contradictions – a young Pope with old ideas, a miracle worker who doubts God’s existence. Diane Keaton plays his childhood mentor Sister Mary, while veteran Italian actor Silvio Orlando is superb as the scheming Cardinal Angelo Voiello. Voiello is the consummate politician – a master manipulator who works in the shadows to save his beloved Church, a contrast to the outspoken and somewhat socially inept Pius. Directed by Academy Award-winning director Paolo Sorrentino, The Young Pope is packed with the sweeping cinematography and slick production values you come to expect from HBO. Sorrentino’s surreal filmmaking style is evident in The Young Pope, which occasionally ventures into the realm of the bizarre with its pseudo-realistic imagery and unexplained mysteries. Pope Pius’ motivations are often
ambiguous and he seems to revel in keeping the cardinals, and the audience, guessing. Is he a visionary or a madman? Is he a reluctant antihero or a sociopathic monster who will destroy the Church? At times, Pius treats his role as the spiritual shepherd of the Catholic Church almost with disdain as he seeks to ‘revolutionise’ the Church by ostracising all who do not share in his radical vision. But we also get glimpses of his humanity through his encounter with an infertile young woman and flashbacks to his more idyllic childhood. The Young Pope has been described as House of Cards meets the Vatican. There is certainly plenty of political intrigue as Voiello and his fellow cardinals plot against the newly appointed Pontiff. But at its core, The Young Pope is not about politics. It is about universal human experiences of loneliness, grief, redemption and the search for God amidst unexplainable suffering. What starts out as a political drama/black comedy in the first few episodes evolves into a contemplative meditation on the nature of faith and the relevance of God in a broken world. At first glance, The Young Pope may seem like a sacrilegious piece of art designed to shock and scandalise audiences. But far from being anti-Christian, it is a deeply spiritual
interest in bridge as a storytelling tool came from her grandmother’s passion for the game of strategy. In an interview with MTC’s Scenes, Katz spoke of the richness found in the lives of of older people. “Elderly characters have such a wealth of experience and stories behind them. They’ve been through wars, lost loved ones,” Katz said. “They’ve seen a world that a lot of us have only heard about.” However, as that world is receding, the reality of a life that has not been all that had been hoped for is also captured by Katz. A marriage that has been somewhat onesided as a husband has valued whatever affection that might have been left for him. A wife left bemused by a son who has escaped to the other side of the world and has stopped all contact with his mother. A granddaughter who doggedly visits her grandparents, despite the undermining of her achievements and constant pressure to produce offspring. A grandson who allows himself to be manipulated by a needy grandmother desperate for love and validation. The play works because the characters are so relatable. Virginia Gay’s Rachel is achingly convincing as the granddaughter, who visibly winces as Minnie’s words lash like a sword. But Minnie herself is broken and confused by a world that has not played out in quite the way she had hoped. Full of pathos and black humour, Minnie & Liraz is a great night out. Showing at the Arts Centre Melbourne, Fairfax Studio, until 24 June.
experience that captures how beautiful and challenging it is to believe in a God who does not always answer our prayers in the way we expect. The Young Pope is now showing on SBS On Demand.
Letters Ascension Day hymns What does Ascension Day mean to us in 21st century Australia? We have often seen classical paintings of this scene where Christ is rising to heaven watched by anxious or adoring disciples. Some even show just his feet at the top of the picture frame surrounded by clouds. Together in Song has several entries by Charles Wesley [TIS 369, 371, 374] on this church festival. Each of these employs rather florid 18th century language of a three-tier universe with earth in the middle and heaven and hell on either side. Described are physical thrones above the skies with Christ rising with a triumphant noise, while clarions of the sky proclaim the angelic joys. This trope is continued in lines such as: “High on his holy seat, he bears his righteous sway; his foes beneath his feet shall sink and die away.” Or this? “Before the throne my Saviour stands, my friend and advocate appears; my name is graven on his hands.” This literal, dramatic imagery may no longer be appropriate for some worshippers. Indeed, Ascension Sunday is often not observed at all, perhaps for this reason. A contemporary hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, an American Presbyterian minister, entitled O Christ, when you ascended, blends the lectionary [Acts1:111, Psalm 47 & Ephesians1:15-23] with an application to today’s world. Verses 2 & 3 will illustrate this point. We look at earthly rulers and see what they command: We note their years of power, the borders of their land. Yet, Lord, you are not bounded by things like time and space; Your reign is never-ending, you rule in every place. ~ We’re tempted, Lord, to leave you in stories nicely told; Sometimes we don’t believe you and say your ways are old. Sometimes we feel so lonely and live in doubt and fear But your ascension means, Lord, you’re present with us here. I believe that this language may reclaim the power and relevance of the Biblical texts and give fresh expression to the doctrine of the Ascension for 21st century congregations. Alan Ray Mont Albert, VIC
Letters to Crosslight are always welcome. Letters should be 300 words or less and include full name, address and contact number/email. Letters may be edited for space, style and clarity.
Has the Uniting Church lost its “raison d’etre”? ARE we victims of the opposition? Surely fear and love are opposites and the recent insistence by the church that anyone with any responsibility at all in the church should have a ‘working with children’ check is fear based. Aren’t we here to save the lost, to bring stray sheep into the fold, to love with a transformative love? Have we forgotten who we are called to be? And what would we do with a person who came up with some “bad history” through doing the check? (Or are we sending needy people away from the church and forbidding them entry by asking them to have the check done?) I have seen troubled people’s lives totally changed through their involvement with people from the church who were not afraid of them, and who shared the love of Christ. And it was through my involving these people in the life of the church (helping them to share responsibilities) that they grew as people who God loved, and as followers of Christ. Isn’t that what Jesus told us and showed us through his calling of his disciples? If someone has been in prison, or in trouble with the police does that exclude them from reading the Bible in church? Or playing a musical instrument? Or giving out the hymn books? Or even attending church? Come on Uniting Church! Fear is killing our church. Real Christ-centred love casts out fear and changes lives. Let’s get with it! Rev Adelene Mills BD BA Dip Ed WE in the synod’s Culture of Safety Unit are grateful to Ms Mills for the opportunity to speak to this important issue. As the people of God, we do not want to live in a place of fear. Rather, we are called to a place of both love and justice – and must offer love and justice both to adults and to children who might wish to be part of the church. For this reason, everyone is welcome in the Uniting Church – no matter what their past. But not everyone can be an appointed leader. All appointed leaders are required to have a Working With Children Check (Vic/NSW) or Registration (Tas). The WWCC/R process screens applicants for offences relevant to the safety of children, such as serious sexual, violent or drug crimes. We need to know that we have done all we can to ensure children in our church are safe. If a child wants to sit with the organist or the person running the sound system or emulate the lay liturgist or Bible reader, we need to know that those appointed leaders have been screen appropriately and are safe people. The Working with Children Check/ Registration may be an imperfect system and it may be improved over time. But as we all learn more about the horrible crimes that have been committed against children in churches and community groups, we must use the tools we have to keep our children safe. That is the only way to treat them with love and justice.
Unanswered questions IT is disappointing to learn from the current issue of Crosslight that a correspondent, Mr Alan Ray of Mont Albert, has still not received a comprehensive reply to his letter published in Crosslight October 2015 (repeated in part in the latest issue). These are perfectly reasonable questions for a concerned member of the Church to ask. Part of the answer that he did receive refers to the Major Strategic Review however to date there is no visible sign of this important document being or becoming available. In a letter dated 30 March 2017 which was distributed widely by Dr Lawrence we are advised of progress relating to the implementation of various related synod matters but not the plan itself. In time, it will be interesting to see just what shape the Strategy Plan takes. The strategy plan is critically important and an urgent necessity as it will guide all future decisions. Graham Beanland Balwyn
Unfair to compare In May Crosslight, Alan Ray, queries “duplication and overlap of administrative functions” within the Victorian synod. The answer is the same for all large organisations, that is, there are continual ongoing reviews to improve administrative efficiencies, including preventing where possible any overlap. Alan Ray goes further and requests, “the comparative costs per church member of running UCA bureaucracies in the various states”. How do you determine number of church members? Do you include adherents? How do you take to account different services provided in each state? How do you evaluate the value of volunteers involved? It would be like attempting to compare services of providers of communication, energy, finance, etc. However, there are some key factors to watch for. One factor is the quality of the people involved. David Stannard Chartered Accountant Brighton, VIC.
Beyond buildings There is no argument to be made about the safety of children and adults in all, or any, of our church buildings. As the moderator reminds us in Penny Mulvey’s article in the May edition of Crosslight, all congregations must provide a safe, inclusive environment for all people who come inside our doors. The article points out that the church is about people, then makes the staggering statement: “If people do not enter the doors of the church, it will cease to exist.” What sort of dreadful ecclesiology is that? The church does not now, and never has, depended on buildings of any sort for its existence! The church was begun without buildings and may well need to do so again in the future. That such a statement should pass unchecked in Crosslight is very puzzling. Even our children sing with enthusiasm the hymn by Avery and Marsh: “The church is not a building... All who follow Jesus all around the world, we’re the church together.” Hopefully there will be some sort of clarifying statement by Penny Mulvey in a future edition. Dorothy Gordon Kilsyth, VIC
The value of hope In Ray Higgs’ letter (May) the point is rightly made that the $100 billion (in today’s terms) spent on the Apollo program would have better served justice in the world “to eradicate world poverty...in this decade”(1960s). Right here Bob Hawke envisaged just such a utopian ideal for Australia during a time of great hope in future progress. Most of that hope seems to have evaporated in times of decreasing overseas aid budgets. Go back two millennia and a man named Jesus told his disciples “the poor you will always have with you”. I would put to you that this was not so much exercising his glorious ability to foresee future events. Without doubt he was well able to see into the unknown past, like the life of the woman at the well, or into the future as he prophesied the destruction of the temple. More it was just expressing one inevitable result of the sin nature of every man on Earth (beside himself) being productive. Coming as it did at the end of a story where very valuable perfumes were poured over Jesus’ head, to the horror of the disciples present, we would do well to take a long hard look at both stories together, to see what we can learn, before jumping to a conclusion that could well leave us sorely disillusioned down the track. I for one would dearly like to see readers submitting their view as to what they learn from meditating upon the two stories sideby-side. Marc Hudson Heidelberg Heights, VIC
Rev Sue Clarkson Ethical Standards Officer – Culture of Safety Unit CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Reflection What women hear CATHERINE HOFFMAN
OVER the past month, Christian women have flocked to Twitter to share their experiences of #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear. The conversation started on 19 April with a tweet from Christian author Sarah Bessey and quickly snowballed as women eagerly unburdened themselves. The tweets addressed issues such as modesty and objectification, abuse and rape in the church, racism, and perhaps most predominantly, the role and identity of women. Women shared stories of church communities where they are not allowed to lead – or in certain situations, are not even allowed to speak. They wrote about people questioning their leadership abilities and ambition, often urging them to focus on helping out with children or becoming a wife and mother. Together, these stories paint a vivid picture of the discrimination and oppression many women continue to face within church communities. The Uniting Church has a history of supporting women’s leadership. Each of the denominations that unified to form the Uniting Church in 1977 had previously decided to ordain women. The Congregational Church was the first to do so with the ordination of Rev Winifred Kiek in Adelaide on 13 June 1927. She had, at that time, already been leading her congregation for a year. In December 1936, Rev Isabelle Merry was the first woman to be ordained as a minister in any denomination in Victoria. She later served as chaplain at the Queen Victoria Hospital – the first full-time chaplain of a public hospital. Rev Dr Coralie Ling, a deaconess, became the first woman to be ordained in the Methodist Church in 1969, and Rev Marlene Thalheimer was inducted as the first female minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1974. The three churches continued to support women’s ordination and leadership upon their union in 1977. While some of these dates may sound remarkably recent in the scheme of things, the Uniting Church could easily JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
“‘The ultimate healing would be if you two were married’ -- said by the mum of my rapist.” –Tracy “Women can be on the church board, but never the majority” –Lisa Swain “You’re a pastor? You mean a women’s pastor?” –Kelly Ladd Bishop “Your clothes can cause boys to sin.” –Amber Wingfield “You are an amazing leader! You’d make an excellent pastor’s wife someday!” –Sarah Bessey “You’re egalitarian? … Umm, are you still a Christian?” –V. Higgins “I affirm your spiritual gift of teaching!... to women and children.” –Derek Caldwell “You have tremendous leadership gifts... it's too bad you weren't born male.” –Bekah Evans "Maybe people will listen to you if you stop sounding so angry.” –Sarahbeth Caplin “I know women who have heard this ‘Do you think not doing your 'wifely duties' enough caused him to cheat?’” –Shaun Jex
be considered early adopters of women’s ordination. This does not mean that the Uniting Church has always been a beacon of gender equality. Women continued to be under-represented on Uniting Church committees and boards, as well as within church communities, for many years. This problem continues to a lesser extent today. While women hold many of the senior leadership positions within the Uniting Church synods and the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, there is still unequal representation in many areas of the church. For this reason, some women within the Uniting Church will find something to identify with in the #ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear hashtag. Women who come from different denominations or backgrounds may also find the stories familiar. For others, they
will seem completely alien. But the opportunity is the same for everyone. The hashtag provides an avenue to truly hear the experiences of our Christian sisters and to speak out positively about why the Uniting Church feels women are called to lead. In 1990, the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Standing Committee adopted Resolution 90.32.3-9 titled “Why does the Uniting Church in Australia ordain women to the Ministry of the Word?” The resolution affirms the ordination and calling of men and women, acknowledges that this decision is a departure from most church practice and reminds members of their responsibility to see women ordained. Importantly, the Church also resolved to “invite other denominations to consider the theological position of the Uniting Church in Australia on the ordination of women.”
#ThingsOnlyChristianWomenHear may act as a reminder of this responsibility. While there are many ways men and women in the Uniting Church might share their own experiences and thoughts on this issue, perhaps the greatest opportunity lies in continuing to encourage and promote women in leadership in our own communities. This is something that American leader and author Nancy Beach has often spoken about and will share more on at Uniting Leaders 2017, a Uniting Church leadership conference and the second National President’s Ministers Conference. “As one woman leader at a time steps into whatever leadership opportunities do exist, and leads with character, skill, and grace, I believe her example will help open other doors,” says Nancy. Nancy has been providing one such example over the past three decades, particularly during her 20 years as programming director of Willow Creek Community Church. She has spent much of this time encouraging and mentoring other women. “It’s about coming alongside a woman and being available, modelling as best you can a surrendered life, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and sharing some of your own mistakes,” she explains. At Uniting Leaders, Nancy will share some of her experiences while presenting on healthy church culture, leadership gifts, church for the unchurched, seasons of the soul, and navigating times of transition. She will be joined by fellow keynote speaker Mark Conner, the former pastor of CityLife Church in Melbourne. Catherine Hoffman is the editor of New Times, the UCA publication for the SA synod.
Uniting Leaders 2017 will be held at Hope Valley Uniting Church in Adelaide from Tuesday 22 to Thursday 24 August. For more information or to register, please visit unitingleaders.org.au or email email@example.com 23
Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 22 MAY 2017 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND The Lakes Parish** PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish** Sunraysia (UCOS) (0.5) (P) Tyrrell Parish (0.6) (P) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Alpine Regional Resource Ministry (P) Seymour Community Pastor (P) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) Frankston (High St)** Mount Waverley (St John’s) Springvale** PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Aitken College Chaplaincy (P) Coburg** Geelong (Wesley) Highton (St Luke’s)** PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA South Esk (P) Synod Liaison Minister (5 year term) (P) Ulverstone – Sprent (3 year term) (P) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region** PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton Burwood** Canterbury (Balwyn Road)** Croydon North – Gifford Village (0.5) (P) Ringwood** SYNOD Uniting – Mission and Ethos Partner (P)
** These placements have not yet lodged a profile with the Placements Committee, therefore they are not yet in conversation with any minister. There is no guarantee that the placement will be listed within the next month. (P) These placements are listed as also being suitable for a Pastor. A person may offer to serve the church in an approved placement through a written application to the Synod. Further information on these vacancies may be obtained from the Secretary of the Placements Committee: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Formal expressions of interest should be put in writing to Isabel.
MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Youn Sang Kim, Quambatook Cooperating Parish linked with Swan Hill, commenced 1 May 2017 Taelata ‘Bill’ Pohahau (Lay), Barham – Wakool – Moulamein commenced 1 June 2017 Tim Matton-Johnson, Chairperson/Minister (UAICC Tasmania) to commence 1 July 2017 CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT Rhonda Kissick to conclude at Tallangatta on 31 July 3017 Andrew Gall to conclude at Central Mallee Parish on 30 June 2017
Notices COMING EVENTS DECLUTTERING WORKSHOP 10AM - 12:30PM, THURSDAY 8 JUNE 2017 Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Learn what household items are essentials or unnecessary. Gain resourceful and innovative ideas for storage systems and skills for running your household. Further enquiries contact Julie on E: email@example.com. Bookings essential on P: 03 9819 2844 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. THE MERRY WIDOW, ACAPELLA CHOIR PERFORMANCE 2PM, SATURDAY 10 JUNE 2017 St John’s Uniting Church, 86 Chapel St, Cowes. Well known acapella choir Singularity will perform this classic musical in costume at St John’s UC on Saturday, 10 June at 2pm. Tickets at the door are $10 adult or $5 child. Proceeds will go to the Rubaga Youth Development Association, Uganda. Contact Ian on P: 03 5952 2083 for more information. PUBLIC FORUM: A PEOPLE OF GOD ON THE WAY 2.00PM – 5.00PM, 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? Join President-Elect Deidre Palmer and Geoff Thompson of 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 https://ucavt.goregister.com.au/ ucapathways2017/. For more information contact E: email@example.com.
BOOK SALE FOR FRONTIER SERVICES QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY WEEKEND 10AM – 4PM, SATURDAY 10 JUNE and 11AM – 4PM, SUNDAY 11 JUNE 2017 St Andrew’s Uniting Church, Bacchus Marsh. Collectibles, old books, new books, children’s books, annuals, novels, science fiction and fantasy. For more information P: 03 5367 3023 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. ART & CRAFT EXHIBITION 10AM – 5PM, FRIDAY 16 JUNE and 10AM – 4PM, SATURDAY 17 JUNE 2017 Scots Uniting Church, 187 Burgundy St, Heidelberg. An invitation to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Uniting Church with the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches. Contact P: 03 9458 1984 or E: email@example.com for more information. THANKSGIVING SERVICE AND BIRTHDAY PARTY GLEN IRIS ROAD UC COMMUNITY 10AM, SUNDAY 15 JUNE 2017 Glen Iris Road Uniting Church and Community Centre, 200 Glen Iris Road, Glen Iris. Celebrate the 10th birthday of the Glen Iris Road Uniting Church community and the 40th birthday of the UCA with a thanksgiving service and birthday party, including party food and fun activities. All are welcome. 130th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF HIGH STREET ROAD UNITING CHURCH 9.30AM, SUNDAY 18 JUNE 2017 482 High Street Road, cnr Stewart Street, Mount Waverley. High Street Road UC will be celebrating 130 years of worshipping on the hilltop. The service will be followed by a light lunch. Further information from the Church office on P: 03 9887 8239 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Notices UNITING IN SONG – 40TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION 2PM – 5PM, SUNDAY 25 JUNE 2017 Wesley Uniting Church, 148 Lonsdale St. Join the Wesley and Brunswick Uniting Churches for a 40th anniversary celebration through hymn and song. Refreshments included. SERVICE OF CLOSURE - WATSONIA WORSHIP CENTRE 2 PM, SUNDAY 18 JUNE 2017 69-71 Devonshire Road, Watsonia. Rev Ian Brown will lead a final UCA Service of Closure at Watsonia assisted by Rev Sandy Brodine. Afternoon tea will follow. Enquiries and RSVP for catering purposes to either: David Peach P: 03 9434 4168 or E: email@example.com, or Peter Kirby P: 03 9717 6286 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘THOSE WHO HAVE LESS’ FORUM, HOSTED BY GISBORNE UC ADULT FELLOWSHIP AND GISBORNE BRANCH OF OXFAM 1.30PM, MONDAY 19 JUNE 2017 Gisborn Uniting Church, 23 Brantome Street, Gisborne. The Gisborne branch of Oxfam, in conjunction with the Adult Fellowship of the Gisborne Uniting Church invite you to a forum entitled ‘Those who have less’. Speakers are Mohammed from Lentara Refugee Centre, Broadmeadows; Jam McColl, speaking about Oeccusi, TimorLeste and Pauline Brown from the Macedon Rural Australians for Refugees. They will relate their first-hand experiences of helping ‘those who have less’ with a discussion to follow. Afternoon tea provided. Enquires from P: 03 5428 8574.
WINTERWARMING LABYRINTH WALK 2017 7.30PM, SATURDAY 24 JUNE Northcote Uniting Church – Chalice, 251 High Street, Northcote. With storytelling, dance by TravelArt Dance and a midwinter labyrinth-walk with live music by Sangara. Raising funds for women escaping family violence. Tickets at the door $20/$15 concession (open 7pm). For enquiries E: email@example.com. UNDERSTANDING YOUR TEENAGER – ENNEAGRAM WORKSHOP 9:30AM – 12NOON, FRIDAY, 23 JUNE 2017 Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. The Enneagram is an ancient spiritual tool for understanding oneself and others and is the study of nine basic types of people. Join this workshop and explore how your personality affects your parenting style; learn how you can unlock your teenager’s potential; and help them build a life of confidence, courage and compassion. Cost: $50 (bring a friend for free). Bookings essential through the Habitat Office on P: 03 9819 2844 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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. Enquiries and RSVP to Alice Mills on P: 03 5145 5219, or Jessie Walker on M: 0427 455 203.
WORKSHOP: THE WAY OF THE SYMBOL SATURDAY, 19 - 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. This is a rare opportunity to experience Uranio’s unique and highly experiential approach to psycho-spiritual transformational Enneagram work. For more information, contact the Habitat Office on P: 03 9819 2844. Bookings essential: www.trybooking.com/PZOH
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. Comprising sitting meditation, a reflective reading and an opportunity to connect. Open to people of faith, no faith or seeking a contemplative lifestyle. See www.chalice.org.au or P: 03 9482 2884 for more information.
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, seniors, men, 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.
UCA FUNDS MANAGEMENT INVESTOR BRIEFING MOVED TO 8 AUGUST 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 and 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.
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. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: 03 5628 5319. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second hand/ retro furniture, bric a brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920.
MINISTERIAL PLACEMENT VACANCY – MORNINGTON ISLAND UNITING CHURCH Calvary Presbytery and the Mornington Island Uniting Church congregation are seeking expressions of interest for a suitably qualified person to fill the ministerial placement of the Mornington Island Uniting Church congregation. Both lay and ordained applicants will be considered. Mornington Island is a Queensland Indigenous community in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Originally a Presbyterian Mission established in 1914, the community has been under local government administration since 1978. The Uniting Church is the main church for the community. We are looking for someone who can minister to the whole community, has good intercultural communication skills, is willing to be engage with community issues and can actively support youth and children’s ministry. Further information may be obtained from: Rev Dennis Corowa, Chairperson Calvary Presbytery, firstname.lastname@example.org, P: 0408 871 354 Rev John Adams, Presbytery Minister, Calvary Presbytery, email@example.com, P: 0457 707 103 Applicants are to address their applications to: Mornington Island Uniting Church JNC C/- Secretary of Synod Placements Committee Uniting Church in Australia (Qld Synod) GPO Box 674 BRISBANE QLD 4001 E: firstname.lastname@example.org JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Moderator’s column Change is in the nature of our union WHEN I look at the photos of the inauguration, I barely recognise the current Uniting Church. In the photos, the Church is represented largely by a group of older white men. The only person of colour on the stage was a guest of the World Council of Churches. The majority of female faces are schoolgirls in a choir. While we are a long way from representing the richness and diversity that is in our Church in leadership, contemporary photos reveal we are much more culturally, gender and age diverse. Those who worked for union, those on the stage that night 40 years ago, would not be surprised at these changes. Those who laboured for union laid the foundations for change. They were planted into the Basis of Union and into the heart of what it means to be the Uniting Church. What strikes me every time I read the Basis of Union, or read something written by those who gave leadership to the journey of union, is that they were acting out of a deep sense that this was what the gospel of Jesus Christ demanded. Their participation in union was an act of obedience and the way they lived out their loyalty to the way of Jesus Christ
in that particular time and place. So at the heart of the Basis of Union is the centrality of Christ and the absolute need to be obedient to Christ’s will for the church. This means in our time and place a commitment to living out in an even fuller way the good news that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Romans 3:28). Our obedience to Christ means we welcome the gifts of people different to ourselves knowing they are given by the same Holy Spirit. It means working hard to make our congregations and councils places that welcome a diversity of ways of worshipping, of meeting and evangelising. The Basis of Union is also committed to constant reformation. The writers of the Basis of Union and those who helped birth the Uniting Church knew that while this was their best effort to be faithful to the call of Christ, it was not perfect. They also knew that each new age would need to change to be faithful to the context in which they were living. We have not been perfect in our living out the gospel. The addition of the preamble
to the Constitution acknowledges that our relationship with the First Peoples of this land did not respect their culture or the presence of the Spirit in their law and customs. The declaration of the Uniting Church as a multicultural church is an acknowledgement of the ways we have failed to be so and an expression of our desire to be more so. We have failed to find worship, faith formation practices and meeting styles that nourish and include the current generation of young adults fully. We confess our sin and seek the renewing gift of the Holy Spirit. To be a church that trusts that we are constantly being renewed means we welcome the correction of the Holy Spirit. We do not look away from our shortcomings but see in them an invitation to turn back to Christ and live more faithfully as disciples of Jesus. It will, at times, be painful. It will mean giving up cherished ways of doing things, just as union did 40 years ago. It will mean welcoming the gifts of all God’s people and
allowing them to change us. It will mean confession. It will mean taking risks to follow the prompting of the Spirit. It will mean some failures along the way. It will mean leaps of faith. But we can do this because in all of this we are accompanied by the Spirit of Christ. I am sure that in 40 years we will look back on the Church of today and be amazed at how the Spirit of God has been at work, renewing it so that it might be faithful to Jesus Christ in its time and place. I hope that we will continue to seek the will and way of Christ for the Church. I pray that we might remain open to the movement of the Spirit calling us forward, making us new again in love.
Sharon Hollis Moderator
A GOOD friend of mine died recently. We hadn’t seen each other for more than five years. But there are people that you meet in life whose wisdom you come to value and to rely on, irrespective of whether you actually get to spend much time together. In the final days of Alan’s illness, I was able to honour him by reading his important and final book, on the early church and its mission. It is a provocative read, not just for the historical story that it tells, but for the probing questions that the history leaves for us to consider in our own time. The book asks a deceptively simple question: how do we explain the growth of the early church? Christian faith and Christian communities appeared on the scene as a deeply strange and novel form of religious 26
expression. There were no obvious reasons for anyone to become Christian. The attitude of wider society and culture ran along a spectrum from indifference to hostility. Christian faith then, as increasingly now, just didn’t make any sense to the vast majority of the population. How did the early Christians respond to the challenge of living in a situation where they were in a minority, with barely any power or influence? How did they understand their mission? What kind of evangelistic strategy did they pursue? What stories and practices kept them faithful? Of the many possible answers to those questions, my friend, after many years of study and reflection, came to the conclusion that early Christians knew how to be patient. The story and teachings of Jesus reminded them that it wasn’t their task to change the world. Instead they were to learn to trust the God who is revealed in Jesus, and to allow their lives to bear witness to the good news and alternative hope that Jesus proclaimed. The earliest Christians weren’t too interested in securing influence, or taking control. They sensed that attempts to coerce other
people into seeing things the same way, or the desire to compel the rest of society to live by the same values, would be to fail to understand the character of God; a God whose patience with us is revealed in Jesus Christ. They cultivated this patience by focusing on the things that matter: worship in genuine communities of mutual support, care for the poor, honesty in work and business, immersion in the reading and interpretation of scripture, refusing to participate in behaviour that diminished life, or destroyed relationship. All of this was made possible by the deep and vibrant hope that they had in God’s presence and God’s promises. The early Christians knew that such things would not occur naturally, and that they needed explicit and long-term nurturing over time. The early practice of providing significant instruction (known as catechesis) prior to baptism was crucial, with recommendations that people needed to spend up to three years in this process, so they could fully grasp the significance of the promises they made when being baptised. Worship formed identity, and possessed a sincerity and a mystery that was enticing to others. In short, these early believers developed a culture of patience, and that patience became deeply attractive to those who had grown tired of, or been damaged by, the impatient forces of empire, hierarchy and false promise. Of course, this probably oversimplifies a complex historical picture (the early Christians were also given to forms of impatience and, in time, rather embraced the need to coerce belief and conformity). But, as Alan wrote, an understanding of those early generations perhaps helps us remember to refuse the temptation to deal with the challenges of our own time through ‘facile generalisations … or howto formulas.’ We live in impatient times, and have been
taught to think that with the right planning, hard work, and clear implementation, we can adjust our lives to ensure a good outcome. We would rather live with a clear idea about where the next steps should be, and how to take them. But there is always the danger of thinking that we can manage our way to a new future, that the manipulation of structures or reallocation of resources will secure the way ahead. And when things don’t work out, or we feel like we are losing control, or we don’t like the look of the path in front of us, we can easily succumb to impatience. At its heart, the question of the church’s place in the world is answered by thinking about the focus of our witness. To what or to whom does all that we do point? What kind of God is reflected in our common life and our well-intended search for relevance and effective forms of service? In the end, we are looking for renewal, and that comes from God and so cannot be controlled. We can work for it, position ourselves better to receive it, and pray for it. But we must be patient, because this is the work of God.
Sean Winter Academic Dean and Associate Professor of New Testament Pilgrim Theological College. The book referred to in this article is Alan Kreider’s The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire (Baker Academic Press, 2016). CROSSLIGHT - JUNE 17
Crossword This month in Crosslight For the cluey This reader month in Crosslight COMPILED BY LYNDA NEL
Compiled by Lynda Nel
2. Museum that uses art as a medium to raise difficult and challenging questions 7. A delegation of five visited the synod office from here 10. A virtue of early Christians 13. Sharing life together 14. The UCA agency working with people in Asia, Africa and the Pacific to end poverty 16. The opposite of a ‘charitable’ handout 19. German theologian, Jurgen _ 20. One of the most significant sacraments in Christianity 22. A disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods 23. Multimedia light installation, part of Dark Mofo
1. A person living in solitude, sometimes as a religious discipline 3. Conference of young adult leaders of the UCA 4. The day Christ rose to heaven 5. To be transformed after trauma 6. Artists are incredibly important to the life of _ 8. Prophet who instructed the people of Israel while in exile in Babylon 9. Minister of GKI Perth congregation, Rev _ 11. Avid readers 12. Crossing of land found in almost all spiritual traditions 15. Australia refuses to recognise this border of offshore oil and gas reserves with Timor-Leste 17. A grain eaten in Sudan 18. First of its kind in Melbourne, in Wesley UC 21. First women to be ordained as a minister in any denomination in Victoria, Rev Isabelle _
16 17 18
2 7 10 13 14 16 19 20 22 23
Across Museum that uses art as a medium to raise difficult and challenging questions A delegation of five visited from here A virtue of early Christians Sharing life together The UCA agency working with people in Asia, Africa and the Pacific to end poverty The opposite of a 'charitable' handout German theologian, Jurgen _ One of the most significant sacraments in Christianity A disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods Multimedia light installation, part of Dark Mofo
1 3 4 5 6 8 9 11 12 15 17 18 21
Down A person living in solitude, usually as a religious discipline Conference of young adult leaders of the UCA Day Christ rose to heaven To be transformed after trauma Artists are incredibly important to the life of _ Prophet who instructed the people of Israel while in exile in Babylon Minister of GKI Perth congregation, Rev _ Avid readers Crossing of land found in almost all spiritual traditions Australia refuses to recognise this border of offshore oil and gas reserves A grain eaten in Sudan First of its kind in Melbourne, in Wesley UC First women to be ordained as a minister in any denomination in Victoria, Rev Isabelle _
Giving is living Eternal God, We remember those who are lonely this winter Who go to bed hungry every night And who live without hope. In the midst of life’s uncertainties Let us take comfort in your undying love for us May you heal hearts that are broken And bring peace to those who are suffering.
WINTER is fast approaching and while many of us will snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa, thousands of Australians will shiver their way through long nights without shelter or secure accommodation. Every year, the Share Winter Appeal raises funds to provide food, clothing and emergency relief for vulnerable families. Ocean Grove Uniting Church Adult Fellowship held a fashion show in 2015 which raised close to $1500 for the appeal. Volunteers such as Shona Reidy (pictured here with her son, Tyson) took to the runway to
encourage attendees to buy pre-loved clothing from The Dove, the church’s op shop. The Dove has operated in Ocean Grove since 2011 and is assisted by a team of hardworking volunteers who sort garments, arrange displays and size pre-owned clothing. 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 2. MONA 7. Timor-Leste 10. Patience 13. Communion 14. UnitingWorld 16. Solidarity 19. Moltmann 20. Eucharist 22. Atheism 23. Crossing
DOWN 1. Hermit 3. NYALC 4. Ascension 5. Reconciliation 6. Faith 8. Jeremiah 9. Sapangi 11. Bookworms 12. Pilgrimage 15. Maritime 17. Couscous 18. Organ 21. Merry
CROSSWORD ANSWERS JUNE 17 - CROSSLIGHT
“Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.” - Ansel Adams
Wendouree Uniting Church congregation blossomed the cross as part of their Easter Sunday service.
The Sacred Edge festival took place over the weekend of 5-7 May. The opening night featured Julie McCrossin, Richard Frankland, Shafiq Monis, Caz Coleman, Trish Watts and Nur Warsame.
Chloe and Jorja from St Margaret’s, Mooroolbark show their support for Rubaga Youth Development Association in Uganda. Church members donate toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, toothbrush packaging and other cosmetic item packaging. When the cartons are full the material is delivered to Terracycle which pays 1 cent for each item as a donation to the collector’s chosen charity.
Monash Uniting Church welcomed new members to their congregation on 30 April. The new members received were from Burma, Malaysia, Ghana, Indonesia and Australia (along with Darcy the dog).
St Kilda Uniting Church celebrated 140 years of worship.
Rev Ann Scull took this photo of 5-year-old Aaliyah Wong and 89-year-old Anne Macrae just before a service at Boronia Park Uniting Church. Aaliyah and Anne danced together while Aaliyah’s mum played the piano.
Narana recently welcomed two new joeys to their family. These two little eastern grey roo sisters will be right at home at Narana’s Curragundi native garden.