Crosslight Celebrating 25 years of
No. 282 November 2017
Muslim women stand strong in the face of public attacks on them and their children
Is the uniting part over as far as churches go? We look at ecumenism today
Iraq veteran Gordon Traill tells how he discovered the healing power of art
Unroll your sleeping bags and settle down to look back on 40 years of UCA camping
Our cover image features Achala, a young Sri Lankan refugee who lives in a camp in Tamil Nadu, India, and her grandmother (and carer) Praveena. Diagnosed with leukaemia in 2015, for the next two years, Achala was in and out of hospital in Chennai for monthly chemotherapy treatments. The Organisation for Eelam Refugee’s Rehabilitation (OfERR) assisted Praveena with hospitalisation and travel expenses and OfERR health workers make regular home visits to her in the camp. OfERR, a partner of Act for Peace, has supported Sri Lankan refugees who fled to Tamil Nadu since 1984. Turn to page 7 to learn about how one Uniting Church supports Act for Peace through the annual Christmas Bowl appeal. Pic credit Richard Wainwright.
Rev Peter Burnham reflects on what ‘more time’ means for the terminally ill
Uniting AgeWell proves you can teach old dogs new tricks
Letters - 18 People - 19
Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 Moderator’s column - 26
Editorial One injustice too many
EVERY day as we engage in the world – be it through social media, over a coffee with a friend, listening to the radio in the car, pouring over a newspaper – we are
Communications & Media Services
UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: email@example.com ISSN 1037 826X
confronted by issues which speak to our humanity. Some – such as the outing of the Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein as a sex fiend – anger us. Others – the humanitarian crisis in poverty-stricken Bangladesh as the persecuted Rohingya people flee their homeland Myanmar, or a retired accountant becoming the largest mass murderer in modern US history – fill us with despair. Although shocking, often the ‘everyday’ nature of news means it has the potential to slide over us and leave us unmoved. It can become yet more white noise in a society overloaded with information, misinformation, ‘fake news’ and celebrity entertainment. However, each and every day individuals are impacting the world for the good – humanitarian organisations working with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh; people reaching out to their neighbours isolated by language and religion;
individuals visiting prisoners and detention centres; a schoolchild defending a fellow student being targeted by a bully. The October Crosslight featured one injustice that has already galvanised many – the story of Florence and Sheryil Allen (mother and sister of Synod employee Jackie Vanderholt). The Allens have been granted an eightweek extension to their deportation as Jackie recovers from major surgery. At the time of writing, 80-year-old Florence and her daughter Sheryil, will be forced to leave the security of their extended family by 30 November and return to India, where they have no familial support. Their application for permanent residency was denied because it was ruled Sheryil’s autism is a potential burden to the Australian taxpayer. However, government legislation acknowledges that compassion can still win out over economics. Section 351 of the Migration Act 1958 provides the Minister
for Immigration and Border Protection cause to intervene in circumstances which may result in irreparable harm and continuing hardship to an Australian citizen or family unit. The story of Florence and Sheryil and Jackie is not just white noise. Their extended family will be torn apart by this injustice. Each of us has a voice; we have a heart and soul. How do I use mine? Surely it is to bring light. “For the Lord your God… defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.” Deuteronomy 10:17-18 Please consider writing to your local federal MP and asking them to join the effort to keep Florence and Sheryil in Australia. You can find an appropriate letter template by clicking the link at the top of this online story: crosslight.org.au/2017/09/20/moderatorurges-minister-allow-sheryil-stay/
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).
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.
Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <crosslight.org.au>. Closing date for November – Friday 17 November 2017. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online: crosslight.org.au
Executive Editor - Penny Mulvey Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Graphic Artist - Mirna Leonita Design, Digital Illustration and Print Services - Garth Jones Communications Officer - Tim Lam Media Communications Officer - David Southwell Advertising Co-ordinator - Lynda Nel Communications Manager - Nigel Tapp Digital Technology Officer - Graham Holtshausen
News Gagebrook fights back after fire
able to accept support of cash donations rather than goods, which it had no capacity to store. “We will take a little time to have a comprehensive plan in place as to a way forward,” Mr Parker said. “However, when we get a better picture of what is most appropriate, we will propose an opportunity for people to share in the rebuilding process of this much-needed mission.’’ Investigations into the fire, which police believe was arson, are ongoing. People or congregations who would like to make a contribution to the work of the Bridgewater-Gagebrook Parish Mission, or to the op shop when it re-opens, can make donations to BSB: 067101 Acc. No: 10536785 or mail cheques to P.O. Box 174 Bridgewater 7030. Donations to the fire appeal should be marked with ‘donation for fire’ and a name provided for recording and receipting purposes.
NIGEL TAPP THE Bridgewater-Gagebrook Uniting Church centre has bounced back quickly from the devastating impact of a deliberately-lit fire. Less than a week after the 4 October fire caused more than $500,000 damage, community services arm Uniting’s local emergency relief operations, congregational mission work and a food relief service were re-established from a campervan near the site for three mornings a week. Sunday worship is currently being held in office space nearby donated by local state MP David Llewellyn. Church council chair Rev David Parker said it was important to restore services as quickly as possible given the great need within the local community. “We are working hard to be present within the community. We are touched by the response of the local community and they will be our focus in the weeks ahead,” he said. “It has been good to actually do, rather than just react.” Mr Parker said it was helpful for the congregation to meet as soon as possible after the fire for worship and the community deeply appreciated the expressions of support and prayers from many people throughout the synod. “People were able to share their distress which I believe has been very beneficial,” he said. “We are very humbled by the outpouring of support and prayers.’’ The community is working on plans to rebuild on the site and, at present, is only
Federal redress legislation PENNY MULVEY
THE federal government introduced legislation for a national redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse in institutions in Parliament late last month. Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter,
UCA child sex abuse figures revised THE child abuse Royal Commission has revealed a greatly reduced reported number of allegations of child sexual abuse within the Uniting Church than was indicated by previously released data. At the request of the commission, the six Uniting Church synods have analysed and reclassified data to come to a tally of 430 allegations made since union in 1977. This compares to the original figure of 2504 that the Church provided for public hearings, as reported in the April edition of Crosslight. The Crosslight report noted, “The Church NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
The Bridgewater-Gagebrook Uniting Church centre was significantly damaged by the deliberately-lit fire.
Volunteer Rick Riestell, Uniting Emergency Relief Manager Charlie Ryan, pastor Marion Bisset and Rev David Parker.
said the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017 aims to begin the task of alleviating the impact of past institutional child sexual abuse. The key elements of the proposed scheme are a redress payment of up to $150,000; access to psychological counselling and a direct personal response from the responsible institution, if requested by the survivor. The Commonwealth Redress Scheme is reliant on buy-in from all states and territories, churches and other nongovernment institutions. Most potential partners to the scheme are waiting to see
how the legislation will unfold. Concern has been expressed about people automatically excluded from accessing the scheme, including survivors jailed for a variety of offenses, as well as children who experience sexual abuse in detention centres. Church groups have expressed reservations about the lack of any real pastoral care in what could be described as a purely administrative scheme. The Catholic Church has stated it will not sign up to the Commonwealth scheme unless all the states and territories elect to be part of it. The chief executive of the Catholic Church's
Truth and Justice Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said he believed the Commonwealth had constitutional advice that unless the states opt in, then churches and institutions in those states can't participate. "In other words it's over to the states," Mr Sullivan said. Mr Porter said that, assuming the legislation is passed, applications for redress to the Scheme can be made from 1 July 2018. The Commonwealth has promised a dedicated telephone helpline and website will be available from March next year to provide information to survivors and their families.
would work with Royal Commission staff to clarify the data about the total number of incidents or allegations, and to give a clearer picture about whether they referred to allegations, inquiries or complaints as opposed to a finding or a report”. The Royal Commission has now accepted the work of the Uniting Church Royal Commission National Task Group and has posted correspondence and amended statistics on its website as part of Case Study 56, Uniting Church in Australia. The document, labelled UNI.018.001.0001, includes correspondence from National Task Group executive officer, Rev John Cox, to Ms Kate Temby, general manager, Special Projects Taskgroup for the Royal Commission, and a summary of the claims data. The summary report states: “Of these allegations, 102 resulted in claims of child
sexual abuse where the person making the allegation sought some form of redress through either a redress process or civil litigation. Of those 102 people, 83 received a settlement. The total amount of settlement monies paid was $12.35 million.” The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania identified the highest number of allegations (200). Most of these allegations were identified in accordance with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services incident reporting requirements, the document stated. In the Vic/Tas synod, the total amount of settlement monies paid was $2.18 million. The highest payment made to a claimant was $775,000, and the average payment was nearly $84,000. The Uniting Church in Australia has offered apologies to all children in the Church’s care who have suffered sexual abuse of any form, whether that abuse
happened after Church union in 1977 or before that, in predecessor churches. Mr Cox reiterated that, due to the work of the Royal Commission, the responsibility for Australian faith-based organisations to engage their staff and members about child safety has never been clearer. The Vic/Tas synod’s Keeping Children Safe policy and procedures are available for download at the Culture of Safety’s Keeping Children Safe website: ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe/ HELPLINES Victorian Department of Human Services Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78 Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services 1300 737 639 If a child is in immediate danger, call 000 Lifeline 13 11 14 3
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News Big questions on a sunny Sunday afternoon PENNY MULVEY
A PUBLIC forum held at Melbourne’s Centre for Theology and Ministry last month generated lively debate as people were urged to ask, “Why should there be a Church in the first place?” rather than “how can we be Church in new ways?” Rev Dr Geoff Thompson told the 50-plus participants that the first question was the one that occurred to the post-Christendom mindset of contemporary Australia. For the forum Dr Thompson (systematic theology teacher at Pilgrim Theological College) was joined by the Uniting Church’s president-elect Dr Deidre Palmer to present their views on where the Uniting Church is heading. An audience member suggested that both speakers were speaking theoretically about an issue that needed action. Dr Thompson responded that “theologians don’t work in theory, they work in imagination”.
Deidre Palmer, Sharon Hollis and Geoff Thompson
“Ministers need also to work in the space of imagination,” he added. Facilitated by Dr Jill Tabart, the forum was engaging, positive and thought-provoking. Dr Palmer described the Christian community as both ancient and ever-fresh. She outlined reasons to feel hopeful for the future of the Uniting Church and stressed that a regularly repeated narrative around limited resources and disappointed hopes “will limit our vision”. She urged people to engage in a narrative of God’s abundance. “As disciples of Jesus,” Dr Palmer said, “God invites us to receive God’s abundant grace and blessing in our lives to be God’s hopeful and compassionate people in the world.” Both speakers stressed the importance of
evangelism, but it was only during question time that Dr Thompson defined his understanding of the word. “Let’s avoid replicating a 20th century view of evangelism,” he told a room full of nodding heads, “humility and gentleness are important in any conversation. “Are we confident that we have something to say in the public space? Our voice has been weakened because the church is on the nose. Its confidence has been eroded.” The discussion weaved through the first 40 years of the Uniting Church and what might unfold into its next 40 years. The two speakers agreed that the Church would continue to focus on its Christological centre (as witnessed in Jesus Christ’s birth, death and resurrection and reinforced in para 3 of Basis of Union). Dr Thompson said the way the Church communicates needs to reflect the ‘post’ world in which we live: post-truth; postcolonial; post-secular; post-Christian and post-liberal. For example, people approach theological education expecting to be shuffled along a liberal-conservative spectrum. “No longer do we live in a world so easily divided,” Dr Thompson said. “We live in a world of intellectual pluralism – multiple conversations, not one single conversation – about God, about hope.”
Next Gen youth step up to leadership roles TIM LAM
MEMBERS of the South Sudanese community and the Samoan community gathered at separate UCA National Conferences hosted in Melbourne over the past month. The need to support the next generation of Uniting Church leaders was a theme that emerged from both events. The national conferences are an opportunity for CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities from different synods to come together in a spirit of fellowship. The first national conference of Tongan UC members was established in 1987, two years after the Uniting Church declared itself a multicultural church. Since then, it has expanded to 12 national conferences: Samoan, Fijian, Indonesian, Korean, Tamil, Chinese, South Sudanese, Filipino, Niuean, Vietnamese and Middle Eastern. Each conference varies in size and decides when and how often they meet. More than 200 people came together at St John’s Uniting Church in Essendon in October for the triennial Samoan National Conference. There was a strong youth presence with delegates from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. Rev Fie Marino, multicultural consultant of the NSW/ACT Synod, and Rev Faye Talatonu, minister at Indooroopilly Uniting Church, led the younger members of the conference in a session on the Church’s ethos and structure. Mr Marino encouraged the youth to find their own sense of identity and move beyond
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Samoan youth with President Stuart McMillan
South Sudanese youth lead opening worship
the traditional mindset of their parents. For many older Samoans, church and culture go hand-in-hand, but the majority of next generation Samoans have grown up in a different cultural landscape. “A lot of us are proud to be Australian and proud to be Samoan, but we’re stuck between the conflict and tension of these two things,” Mr Marino said. “We need to feel the sense that this is our church, this is where our future is. When are we going to stop being migrants and recognise that we are part of this place,
part of this church and step into the space of leadership? “In the end, we are the ones who need to step to the plate.” Interim Samoan National Conference chairperson Rev Sani Vaeluaga, who is also minster at Altona Meadows/Laverton and Lara Uniting Churches, said it was encouraging to see a large youth delegation at the conference. “I’m so glad that the youth have taken the opportunity to join us. The structure of our agenda and meeting allows our young
Dr Palmer outlined seven strengths and challenges for the Church. Her list included, as a strength, achieving equality between women and men. “Women are able to fully contribute to the life and mission of the church and reach their fullest humanity,” the president-elect said. She said this is particularly evident in the intergenerational community of the Church. Dr Palmer urged the gathering to encourage the full participation of people in their 20s, to honour their contributions now and into the future and not to patronise them. One person questioned Dr Palmer’s optimism around gender equality, pointing out that there had only been one previous female president of the UCA, and that person, Dr Tabart, was present in the room. Animated conversations continued as the forum drew to a close. Participants left the forum still grappling with questions such as: What makes us think we have something to offer the world? Why do we need to be in the world? How do Christians express their voice when they are becoming an increasing cultural oddity amongst their peers? How do we have conversations about God and address the issue of decline?
people to have their own time together to talk about their faith,” Mr Vaeluaga said. “We encourage our young people to be part of that sharing – it’s about building up that community in faith, in hope and in love.” After a period of discussion, the conference agreed that youth members should choose their own representatives to serve on the Samoan National Conference leadership team. Rev Fie Marino and Rev Faye Talatonu were elected and commissioned at a service. Rev Kiliona Mafaufau from Lidcombe Uniting Church will take over from Mr Vaeluaga as conference chairperson for the next three years. The conference thanked Mr Vaeluaga for stepping into the role after illness forced Rev Tino Scanlan to retire. The South Sudanese community gathered at Hoppers Crossing Uniting Church in late September for their national conference. More than 30 Uniting Church members from Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne gathered for a weekend of worship and reflection. A highlight of the conference was singing and dancing by young people from the South Sudanese Nuer Faith Community in Brisbane. Their trip was made possible through the fundraising efforts of the Queensland synod and the St David’s Uniting Church Coopers Plain congregation. Moses Leth, pastor of the Nuer Faith Community, said one of the congregation’s successes is bridging the gap between older and younger generations. “Young South Sudanese people are quick to adopt the culture of Australia. This often pushes the older and younger generations apart,” Mr Leth said. “At church, we come together. There is unity.” The conference discussed the need to support and grow young leaders both in the church and the wider community. Young people under 30 years of age were elected to three of six positions on the new South Sudanese National Conference executive.
News Muslim women stand strong in face of abuse TIM LAM
MUSLIM women were encouraged to share stories of resilience with the wider community at a forum organised by Uniting through Faiths in October. More than 75 people, including Uniting Church minsters, Uniting Connections social workers, community organisation representatives and Muslim high school students attended the Resilient Women in Casey forum. April Robinson from the synod’s Uniting through Faiths unit said the project started three year ago with a workshop in Footscray. Previous forums have been held in Hume, Dandenong and Darebin. “Through my work, I’ve had countless conversations with Muslim women who would walk down the streets and have people yell at them, spit at them and rip their hijabs,” Ms Robinson said. “We started putting together these forums to invite community women to share their stories and have a platform so their voices are hopefully heard.” One of the keynote speakers was schoolteacher Inaz Janif. She said some people in the community find it acceptable to attack Muslims, including children, in public. “Just recently, I was driving and at the lights this man in his car next to me was swearing at me for being Muslim while my six-year-old daughter was in the back seat,” Ms Janif said. “Even with our windows closed, we could still hear him. My daughter asked me, “momma, why is he so angry?’” Ms Janif said she decided to speak out to inspire others to do likewise.
Shabnam Ali Ahmadi, April Robinson, Mariam Issa, Maha Sukka and Inaz Janif
“These attacks don’t just begin out of nowhere – it starts with people normalising abuse,” she said. “It might start with exclusion. When I finished high school, the first job I applied for was making coffee. I was told I could have the job if I stopped wearing a hijab. “It is by sharing those stories that we can have change; it’s when people feel confident and courageous enough to speak of their experiences. There are a lot of people who are afraid to speak.” Another keynote speaker was Mariam Issa, who arrived in Australia in 1998 from Somalia with her husband and four children. Her family was displaced
for eight years before they were finally resettled in Australia. “We were totally out of place in the new community in Brighton,” Ms Issa said. “It was a very white, Anglo suburb and very affluent and we were very black and very poor, so we felt different in every way.” Ms Issa traced her journey through three phases: from victimhood to anger and finally to empowerment. Her desire to break down barriers inspired her to create a community garden in her backyard where people from all cultural backgrounds can forge connections. “I wanted to create trust. I wanted people to feel that we can do so much for each
other. It’s all about sharing our stories as a community,” Ms Issa said. “Within each and everyone of us is an incredible story. When we share these stories, we strengthen our communities. We create relations through our shared memories.” Senior constable Maha Sukka urged participants to report incidents of Islamophobic attacks to the police. Ms Sukka is the first Victoria Police officer to wear a hijab as part of her uniform. The day concluded with an interactive performance from the Melbourne Playback Theatre Company, facilitated by Fairfield Uniting Church minister Rev Alex Sangster.
CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
News Christmas Bowl is ‘part of our DNA’ JESS XAVIER
THE Christmas Bowl is the Christmas appeal of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia. It began on Christmas Day in 1949 when Rev Frank Byatt of Victoria brought an empty bowl to the dinner table and asked his guests to give a gift to bring relief and hope to refugees who had fled the horrors of World War II. Since then it has grown to become a much-loved ecumenical tradition. It unites thousands of churches across denominational boundaries every year to act together in response to Christ’s call to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and welcome the stranger. Last year, churches raised $2.1 million through the Christmas Bowl, providing food, shelter, medicine and healthcare to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The theme for this year’s Christmas Bowl is: When did I see you hungry? When did I see you sick? When did I see you a stranger? Saide Cameron of Brunswick Uniting Church spoke about what it means to take part in the Christmas Bowl. Can you tell us more about how the Brunswick Uniting Church came to support the Christmas Bowl appeal? SC: As a congregation, Brunswick Uniting Church is firmly committed to supporting social justice. As well as supporting our own local programs, we try to think about how we can attend to issues of justice beyond the church and our own community, which the Christmas Bowl allows us to do. We have been taking part in the Christmas Bowl appeal since two previous congregations came together in 2005. It allows us as Christians to respond to the needs of many, just as Jesus calls us to do.
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Every year, Brunswick Uniting holds FUNdraising stalls for the Christmas Bowl on two Sundays during Advent. Saide, far right, sells cookies that she bakes.
Why do you think it’s important to work ecumenically? SC: Jesus had no borders. And the Christmas Bowl has no borders. It takes us beyond where we are now and reminds us that the world is bigger than ourselves, our own space, and our own families. Christmas Bowl supports so many people across different countries. It’s not just about charity, but giving a gift that helps to empower people. We are living Jesus’ ministry, basically. Christians in Australia have been supporting the Christmas Bowl appeal since 1949. What does it mean to you to be continuing this tradition? SC: It’s part of our DNA, it’s part of what we do. And it means that we’re participating in something that connects Christians of all denominations all around Australia. We love the idea that we are connected to people in need throughout the world, working together to make a difference. The partnerships created by Act for Peace give us the assurance that what we are doing is worthwhile. Do you think that participating in the Christmas Bowl is an expression of God’s love and faith? SC: In terms of faith, I think that as Christians we are called to love and care for all people. We live such comfortable lives here
in Australia and sometimes the suffering of other people can feel so far away.
The Christmas Bowl is a way that we can make a difference to the lives of people that we will never meet, and who are experiencing difficulties that we can barely begin to imagine. What is the meaning of giving at Christmas time? SC: I think people are instinctively willing to be generous, but at Christmas this desire to be generous can be overwhelmed by the impact of our consumer culture. So within our church we give at Christmas to honour the gift that has been given to us. Do you have a final message? SC: Conflict and sadness affects the lives of so many people. By supporting the Christmas Bowl, we know that we are contributing to the work of Act for Peace, bringing hope and new life to people in need. It’s a simple act but one that we can all contribute to and be a part of. For more information go to: www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl.
News First principles of art “FOLLOWING Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation” – is the inspiration behind the latest project at Congress Tasmania’s Leprena community centre. The art exhibition featuring the work of 10 Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists –Telling story with our takila (heart) – was launched in Hobart during October. The artists ranged in age from three to 60. They include young Tasmanian Aborigine Grace Williams – who has been responsible for creating several eye catching murals telling the Leprena story – and students from the Riawunna Centre at the University of Tasmania. The launch event also showcased the work of Sheldon Thomas, who performed a traditional healing service, traditional dancer Harley Mansell and singersongwriter Dewayne Everettsmith. Leprena centre manager Allison Overeem stressed that the exhibition sought to be as inclusive as possible, featuring art expressions by First and Second Peoples. Ms Overeem said it was also important to create a safe space for people to tell their own story. “We wanted to create a story of who we are and to give the artists an opportunity to
Remote reading showcase those stories,” she said. “We also wanted to send the message that all First and Second Peoples are welcome in this space. “Because that is what Leprena is to the local community – a place to walk together and become immersed in each other’s culture.” Ms Overeem was initially surprised by how many people from outside the local Aboriginal community applied to contribute to the exhibition. Ms Overeem said Leprena would build on the event to create more opportunities for people to hone their artistic skills. “We hope this is just the beginning of giving people the time to create their own stories.” In opening the exhibition, Ms Williams thanked all the artists who contributed works.“This is a way of connecting and telling our stories with takila,” she said. Ms Williams said, for her, Leprena is a place of safety where she can use her art as a voice. Leprena also used the evening to unveil its new logo. Ms Overeem explained the logo – with intersecting ovals in the red, black and yellow Aboriginal colours and the phrase ‘Leprena. Connecting Stories’ – represents how First and Second Peoples and their stories are connected as one.
Artists Grace Williams and Wendy Pitchford, Leprena centre manager Alison Overeeem and Hobart North UC minister Rev Jeff Savage
An Indigenous student in Lajamanu reads from a book provided by the ALF
A NEW project is improving literacy for Indigenous children in some of the most remote parts of Australia. The Aboriginal Literacy Foundation’s (ALF) Northern Australian Books and Library project aims to support more than 120 rural schools in Northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and North Western Australia. A recent report from Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre revealed the alarming gap in educational outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children. An Indigenous child is 40 percent less likely to finish high school and 60 percent less likely to attend university compared to a non-Indigenous child. The Northern Territory has the widest gap in primary and secondary school attendance rates between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Only 35 percent of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory will go on to study at university. The Northern Australian Books and Library project launched in March this year and has so far reached 54 schools in remote areas in the Northern Territory. Transporting books can be difficult as some of the schools are inaccessible by road for five months of the year. Other schools
struggle under repeated vandalism attacks, or have as few as 16 books in their library. ALF sends boxes of books to participating schools and awards grants of up to $500 to rebuild library facilities. Kormilda College, a Uniting Church school in Darwin, was one of the schools that received a box of books and a library grant. ALF plans to extend the project to schools in remote Queensland and Western Australia in 2018. Another initiative from ALF is its Healthy Living series. This is a collection of early reading books written and designed for young Aboriginal children. Set in the Australian outback, the books feature Aboriginal characters who explore stories related to healthy and happy lifestyles. Each book features brightlycoloured illustrations from renowned Indigenous artist Bibi Barba. More than 20,000 copies of Healthy Living books have been distributed throughout Australia. UnitingCare Community agencies in Queensland recently received several boxes, which they will use for their programs. To find out more about Aboriginal Literacy Foundation, visit http://www.aboriginalliteracyfoundation.org/
CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
News Celebrating witness out west
The bluestone exterior of the historic Melton Uniting Church.
THE Melton Uniting Church is one of the oldest structures in Melton. When built in 1857 the original (and still functioning) building was built for all denominations to share. The Scottish designed bluestone building was opened 14 December 1867. A Sunday school building was constructed in 1938. This building, along with the original church, is listed as of historical significance for the City of Melton. A fellowship hall was constructed in 1982. In 1988 an extension to the original church was opened, a very distinctive design inspired by Australian woolsheds. In 2013, a new multi-purpose building was added to the church property. But Melton Uniting Church is much more than its buildings. For 150 years, the congregation has worked hard to become an integral part of the Melton community. The church is at mission through its involvement at Melton South with an op shop, which moved into a new facility in 2016, and through Fresh Expressions headed up by Rev John Rigby. The church was also instrumental in the establishment of the Combined Christian Caring Melton Food Bank. As the 150th year of mission and ministry dawns, the Melton Uniting Church is considering the development of a social enterprise model to enhance the outreach objectives of the congregation. The minister at Melton, Rev Paul C Blacker, said, â€œAs this Christian community celebrates a significant milestone, it is also looking forward to the challenging realities of being placed in a significant growth corridor. We will be using our past to motivate our future. The bold steps of those who have gone before us have provided inspiration as we pioneer new initiatives in communities being constructed around us right now.â€? To celebrate with Melton Uniting Church during the week of 3â€“10 December 2017 contact Elaine Radford on 0402 262 498.
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Profile Prophetic voice in Zimbabwe DAVID SOUTHWELL
SPEAKING up against oppression and injustice is not optional for a Christian, the head of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe says. “You cannot say you are preaching the Gospel if social justice is not part of your work,” Presiding Bishop Solomon Zwana said while in Melbourne last month. Dr Zwana led a delegation from the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe during a month-long visit to Australia that spanned the country, taking in Perth as well as Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The visitors met with senior Uniting Church and UnitingWorld representatives, including Vic/Tas synod moderator Sharon Hollis, who learnt that the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe faces the enviable challenge of rapid growth. “It is growing by leaps and bounds, every Sunday congregations are receiving new members who are joining. Even those who were not attending are coming back to be part of the church,” Dr Zwana said. This has led to a shortfall in trained clergy and strained the church’s resources, especially in reaching out to disadvantaged and remote areas. Among other projects, the church runs schools, is attempting to provide medical clinics in remote areas and ministers to street kids. Dr Zwana said economic hardship was making it difficult “to mobilise the necessary resources for the work of God to carry on”. Supermarket shelves are left unstocked as the country begins to experience the types of shortages it last suffered in 2008. “The economy is being affected by bad political decisions,” Dr Zwana said. “It is getting worse. Fuel is now an issue. There are now long queues because they can’t get foreign currency to buy fuel.” Foreign currency is often hoarded in Zimbabwe because of increasing concerns
Isabel Thomas Dobson, Dr Solomon Zwana, Wadzanayi Zwana and Sharon Hollis
over the local money and financial system. “People are no longer banking their money because it is difficult to get it out,” Dr Zwana said. “You can’t really go to a bank and get cash, it’s not really available. The system is being starved, people think it is too risky to bank anything.” Dr Zwana said the church had no choice but to speak out in a country that has been ruled either jointly or solely by the ZANU-PF since 1980. Party leader Robert Mugabe has been Zimbabwe’s president since 1987, and before that prime minister. “As a church we have expressed our concern on a number of issues with the government,” Dr Zwana said. “We are saying ‘it is not enough to talk about shortages of commodities’ but we are saying we have to go to the source. A lot of our problems are at the policy-making stage, a lot of our problems are caused by bad governance. “We have clearly stated we are not happy with the government’s issues. The corruption issue, human rights issues. We raise that openly, we are not timid about that.” Dr Zwana said government officials sometimes ignore what the church has to say, but at other times they used what he call ‘unorthodox’ methods. “You get strange phone calls coming to you,” Dr Zwana said.
However, the church was not easily deterred by the government. “The government is aware of the numbers the churches command. Most of the time they want to be in the good books with the churches, so they try to avoid antagonising the churches,” he said. “So they think twice before they do anything. So to some extent they do respect us. Some of them (government officials) remember they are products of our mission schools.” However, not all churches in Zimbabwe are likely to discomfort the government. Some new arrivals led by charismatic individuals have a much narrower and more materialistic focus. “We now have new religious outfits preaching the prosperity gospel, so they (the government) are now trying to take advantage of that,” Dr Zwana said. “Prosperity churches are saying just give your $10 and you will get back $1000. That is the new dimension that is coming in. “These new outfits are not even interested in social justice issues, so they are not interested in what you might call prophetic action. “They are easy to manipulate as far as the government is concerned. “They don’t have structures like ours. If I am to speak I am accountable to my church in whatever I say. For those places, where the leader owns the church, nobody can
really challenge them.” The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe’s ability to speak about social justice issues is also strengthened by its international partnerships, such as with the Uniting Church. “We do have a very strong relationship with the Uniting Church in Australia because they have also been supporting a number of initiatives and projects,” Dr Zwana said. “For example we have the Methodist Development and Relief agency in Zimbabwe that has been receiving funding for community-based programs in disadvantaged parts of the country. UnitingWorld has been supporting that program. “This synod has played a very key role through the coordination of Mark Edmonds. Mark Edmonds is an Australian who is very passionate about working at the Methodist Educators Homes. “A lot of the funding he has received, which he has channelled to the Methodist Educators Home, has been coming from the Uniting Church in Australia, particularly this district. So we are very grateful for that and do hope that this cooperation will continue to grow. We can even explore more areas we can work together.” During the visit Dr Zwana and his delegation also spent time visiting and fellowshipping with Zimbabwean Methodists and other expats now living in Australia.
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Profile War trauma and the art of healing DAVID SOUTHWELL WHEN Coming Home art exhibition organiser Gordon Traill returned to Australia from Iraq, he was unaware that he was yet to suffer the real toll of six months spent in an urban warzone. “When I came back I thought everything’s fine, of course,” Mr Traill said. “There’s nothing wrong with me.” Mr Traill comes from a family with strong military ties. He joined the army at age 19 and spent most of the next 30 years in uniform. In 2004, he was sent to Iraq where the US-led coalition administered a violence-wracked country after overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Mr Traill was part of Australia’s security detachment to protect embassy staff and contractors in the so-called Red Zone of Baghdad. The Red Zone was anywhere outside of the city’s theoretically safe Green Zone. Mr Traill said during his deployment, bombs would go off daily as well as frequent small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. “If the building wasn’t rocking you were OK,” he said. One explosion threw Mr Traill down a flight of stairs and left him with a headache for days. As a father, he was greatly impacted by seeing the carnage inflicted by a car bomb just outside the building he was working in; small children were among the casualties. However, as a long-time and well-trained soldier with “an A-type personality”, Mr Traill thought he took it all in his stride. “Things in that environment, with the training and everything like that, you go there and everything’s normal,” he said. “It’s not until you come back and show people some of the stuff, images or footage of what occurred over there, that you think ‘It’s not really normal at all’.” Once home, Mr Traill found that he was increasingly moody and tetchy with his kids. He attended a course run by military chaplains and realised he could tick all the boxes for the tell-tale signs of posttraumatic stress disorder. Twice he broke down in tears, once before
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Gordon Traill at the Coming Home art exhibiton
he was scheduled to talk to a Defence welfare group, forcing him to pull out, and another time talking to a mate. “It’s that feeling that overcomes you and you just don’t know where it came from. It comes from deep within your soul,” Mr Traill said. His wife grew increasingly concerned. “I started to have these real bad panic attacks. There are things I can’t remember that I did,” Mr Traill said. One such incident, that his wife told him of, was ‘freaking out’ in a Darwin supermarket and rushing out, unable to handle the feeling of being in a crowd. Mr Traill was in line for another tour of Iraq but a chronic neck injury and his mental turmoil convinced him he wasn’t fit to serve, a difficult thing for a professional soldier to admit. “It’s pretty hard to do, in front of a commanding officer and regimental sergeant major, to say ‘Hey there’s something NQR – not quite right’,” he said. Mr Traill was medically discharged from the army, which “felt like a divorce”. Adjusting to life outside the army has proved a long struggle.
“You wonder ‘why wasn’t I killed?’ You start to think ‘what is my purpose?’” Mr Traill said. “Seven years I was lost and then I became a Christian and I found that really helped me. It gave me some peace.” There was also another timely intervention from his wife, who told him to get out of the house and find a hobby. Mr Traill thought back to taking photos in Iraq and decided that fit the bill. “Once I started to do photography it got me out of bed,” he said. “It got me to focus because your head is like swiss cheese.” Mr Traill began winning awards and was invited to be lead photographer on Victoria Cross Australia Remembers, a fundraising coffee table book put out by a veterans’ support group. He also became involved in the Creative Ministries Network and volunteered at bereavement support service GriefWork Uniting. Early on Mr Traill realised his photography could intersect with grief counselling and that has led to the Coming Home exhibition. The exhibition will feature 25 artworks
by veterans, their families and artists who portray the trauma of war. The opening event will be at Armadale Uniting Church on 17 November and the works will be on general public display at the south-east Melbourne church from 18 to 26 November. Mr Traill’s photography will be featured along with poetry by his wife. The exhibition’s aim is to raise understanding of the mental struggles faced by veterans and demonstrate the cathartic and healing properties of artistic endeavour and expression. Mr Traill said he wanted to show veterans that: “You can live a semi-normal life through the arts.” He can personally attest to this. “I have a new identity. I am not a soldier anymore. I am an artist.” The exhibition is supported by CTM through a grant from the Kirk Robson Theology and Arts Memorial Fund. Mr Traill also wanted to note the support of Armadale minister Fiona Winn and council member Karrel Reus.
Reflection Time to decide
IN his recent book Die Wise, Stephen Jenkinson makes the point that, “Dying is not what happens to you, it is something that you do.” In other words, dying is an action, a process that calls forth our participation and considered decision-making. In the light of the proposed assisted dying legislation, which the Victorian state parliament will vote on before the end of the year, I would like to express a viewpoint that comes from my personal experience and hopefully provide some content for further discussion. I am a Uniting Church minister who has served as a school chaplain for over 35 years. During that time, I have sat with scores of parents, staff members and students who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer, many of them in palliative care facilities. I have witnessed them gasping for breath as, under sedation, they struggle to finish the last few days of their lives. In May 2016, my dear wife Catherine had a brain tumour operation after a Stage 4 GBM diagnosis. Following the excision of the tumour, she endured the standard treatment of six weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and then six months of chemotherapy. One can only marvel at the skill and commitment of surgeons and medical staff in these medical interventions.
Catherine is now into her 17th month of her journey of dying. The radiation burnt untold number of brain cells close to the tumour and chemo was accompanied by months of fatigue and nausea. Recently, Catherine has undergone a further brain operation to implant a shunt in her brain to relieve fluid pressure, which has been the cause of her lack of mobility on her left
painkillers. This is not to denigrate those professionals, but often it nurtures the view that death is something that happens to us rather than something that we do. In my last parish placement, I conducted over 50 funerals and I ask myself, what did I do apart from conducting the funeral and offering pastoral care to the family? What did I do to help those who were terminally ill to die wisely?
side and the loss of her short-term memory. Further to this operation, she had a bleed on the brain that has further exacerbated her deteriorating movement on her left side. She is currently in a rehab facility trying to regain some of her movement. Today we live in a death-phobic and griefilliterate society. We hand over our care to the medical and health professionals and dull our pain with anti-depressants and
Jenkinson writes: “Dying is not the collapse or the eclipse of wisdom. It is the sum of a soulful life. It dares and pleads with all professionals and volunteers and family members and neighbours to be partners and championing the great worthy project of dying wisely and well.” At some stage in the future, Catherine will be in palliative care and we will face the more focused issue of ‘more time’ and what that
means to a person who has a terminal illness. The medical and health professionals offer interventions designed to give the patient more time. But what does ‘more time’ mean for the patient and for their loved ones? Does it mean more time for medications to ease suffering and pain? Does it mean more time for further operations? Does it mean more time for family members to endure distress as they watch their loved one dying? And what does ‘more time’ mean for the patient? To languish longer in a hospital bed or a high care residential facility? Over the years I have heard ‘more time’ euphemistically referred to as, ‘live each day as it comes’, or ‘get your affairs in order’, or ‘try to enjoy life the best way you can’. It seems to me that ‘more time’ bears no resemblance to any aspect of life a person has experienced before. For a person with a terminal illness, ‘more time’ means more time to live into their dying. For Catherine, it does not mean more time to walk the dog, to see movies, to eat out, to enjoy travelling. And of course, there is the existential question of what meaning do we give to more time in these circumstances. I honestly do not know what I would do if and when Catherine’s condition reaches the parameters of the assisted dying legislation. I know that I would not want Catherine to have ‘more time’. Rev Peter J Burnham Ex-chaplain Wesley College
Art work by Garth Jones
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Feature THE Uniting Church in Australia is a denomination born of ecumenical engagement between the Congregationalists, Methodists and Presbyterians. The authors of the UCA’s founding document, the Basis of Union, clearly expected more denominations to enter the Uniting fold – as evidenced by the name ‘Uniting’ rather than ‘United’, the name adopted by other merged churches throughout the world. Yet today it would appear the UCA is less effectively engaged with other denominations than at the time of formation. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘ecumenism’ is “the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world’s Christian churches”. Ecumenism remains alive at the grassroots level in Australia, with several co-operating congregations and inter-church activities undertaken throughout the nation. But there appears to be significantly less ecumenical engagement at a higher organisational level; certainly not at the level envisaged when the UCA was established. Former assembly president, and active ecumenist, Rev Dr D’Arcy Wood, accepts that it could be argued that the Uniting Church has not fulfilled the ecumenical charter imagined by its founding fathers. “Three times within the 18 paragraphs of the Basis of Union it is clearly indicated that the Uniting Church would seek a wider union than just the three denominations. It (the joining of three) was not envisaged as the end but rather a stage in the process,” he said. “The Joint Commission on Church Union had delegates from the three joining denominations and observers from the Anglican and Churches of Christ who attended and contributed. “It was the sign of an open-ended process and the hope was that while they (the Anglicans and Churches of Christ) were not able to commit at that point in time... it was certainly envisaged others would join within 10 years and certainly within 20.’’ Does this mean the UCA has failed, or is falling short, in terms of its ecumenical endeavours? Rev Dr Sandy Yule was secretary of the assembly’s Christian Unity Working Group between 2004 and 2012. He stressed that the ‘corporate mergers’ model – or other denominations joining the Uniting Church – should not be seen as the determiner of ecumenical success. “In fact, the UCA understands ecumenism as seeking and living out the faith of the church with others,” he said. The Church maintains dialogue with the Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and The Salvation Army. This has led to some important ecumenical work such as the recently released Weaving a New Cloth report (received by both the Anglican General Synod in 2014 and the UCA Assembly in 2015), which provides a blueprint for future Anglican and UCA ecumenical co-operations at congregational level. A working group with members from both churches produced Weaving a New Cloth. However, with the completion of this document there is no longer a national Anglican-UCA dialogue at a national level. Meanwhile, a joint report on holiness and social justice undertaken with The Salvation Army is close to completion. Dr Wood said it was important to acknowledge that the ecumenical movement worldwide had slowed significantly over the last five decades, which needed to be considered when assessing the UCA’s ecumenical record. 14
“The ecumenical atmosphere of 50 years ago would have led to an expectation that more uniting was possible and the UCA could have entered into serious negotiations with other denominations,” he said. He said the framers of the Basis of Union probably overestimated their chances but were in the midst of an enthusiastic ecumenical atmosphere, where the tide of ecumenism was flowing strongly. “Over the last two decades, while there has been (ecumenical) activity, it does not seem that an unstoppable tide is coming,” he said. Dr Yule’s view is that to truly understand the UCA, it needs to be recognised that the Basis of Union was crafted as a response to the question: “What is the faith of the church?” “This is not a question that we can answer and move on,” Dr Yule said. “We need to keep asking this question in each new context of our collective life. “In so far as we are falling away from ecumenism as a church, it is because we have lost hold of this question and the resulting attention to what the Spirit of God might reveal to us.” His experience was that while important dialogue has been established, some denominations are far cooler towards engaging with the UCA. This coolness relates to the internal priorities and perceptions of those churches as much as it does to the public stance and internal practices of the UCA. Dr Wood said, generally, people outside the UCA saw it as being more liberal – or left wing – because of its commitment to a broad range of social justice questions. So was that an inhibitor to closer ecumenical relationships? “Quite possibly,” Dr Wood said. “That is the point where discussions become somewhat more difficult, because the Uniting Church is more in the habit of entertaining new theological ideas. “Paragraph 11 of the Basis of Union talks of engaging with contemporary thought so we see this engagement as a matter of principle.” Dr Yule also said he felt there had been a temptation within some sections of the Uniting Church towards triumphalism – that is ‘our way is the best way’ – and to sometimes adopt political positions ahead of respectful listening to other Christians. Assembly president Stuart McMillan offered a more positive assessment of ecumenism in the life of the Church today. He said the UCA’s maturity as a church, and its openness to others, meant it was acting more ecumenically now than at formation, albeit in a less formal and structured manner but in a way which followed “where the Holy Spirit is leading us”. “The way I see it our unity with other churches is abiding and grows deeper,’’ he said. “The more that God opens our eyes to the world around us, the greater our aspiration becomes to be truly a fellowship of reconciliation, the body of Christ in the world. “I’ve seen first-hand, and been deeply inspired by, the faithful work of our church partners across the Asia-Pacific, and in places like China and Lebanon where the Holy Spirit is doing amazing things.” Mr McMillan argued it was the Church’s identity and practice as a post-denominational church committed to ecumenism which made such relationships possible.
“At the assembly level, ecumenism is woven through pretty much everything we do,” he said. “It’s almost overwhelming and I wish we could convey the scale and scope of our work better. We have a lot to learn and to share with other churches and we are constantly collaborating. “With Congress, we’re exploring approaches to Indigenous justice and sovereignty with First Nations members of the United Church of Canada. “We’re active members and participants in the formal ecumenical councils – the World Council of Churches, the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA), the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) and others.
those who wear the same clothes. “When we talk about the one Catholic and Apostolic Church there is nothing separating us (from other denominations) in that. “Being ecumenical means that we should stop doing things just as the Uniting Church and seek to do more things with other churches.” Dr Yule said, on a positive note, the UCA had made ‘a good fist’ of forging together three distinct cultures, with the lead of the Holy Spirit. “The UCA way of responding to this vision of unity of Church as being an organic union is a good one,” he said. He said that over its life the UCA had made very positive contributions towards multilateral ecumenism.
“Our longstanding relationships with ecumenical partners through formal dialogues like the Lutheran/UCA dialogue and indeed less formal dialogues will always be a part of our work.” Maureen Postma is the former chair of the assembly’s National Christian Unity Working Group. She said the growing movement of receptive ecumenism – a Catholic construct which broadly encourages Christians to ask what their denomination can learn from engagement with others rather than what other traditions needed to learn from them – appeared to be passing the Uniting Church by. “The question is, do we think there is anything we can learn from other churches? I am not getting a sense that (UCA) people necessarily think there is anything we can learn from other churches,” she said. Murrumbeena Uniting Church youth and young adults’ pastor Kelly Skilton has been the driving force behind the rapidly growing ecumenical movement for young people called the Sonder Collective. Ms Skilton said the collective placed importance on learning about the traditions and theology of all participating denominations, something she felt from her experience did not always happen within the Uniting Church. “If it has not got a dove on it sometimes we don’t do it,” she said. “I feel we just don’t make the effort to learn about the whole Body of Christ. But everyone is our brother and sister in Christ… not only
Dr Yule argued that the adoption of the Uniting Church’s consensus decision-making model by both the WCC and the WCRC was a prime example of it sharing practices with the worldwide body of Christ. He said the UCA had been “as good as any Church in Australia” in providing money, energy and people to local and international ecumenical bodies and organisations. The most significant progress for organised ecumenism in Australia in the last 30 years has been the expansion of the previous Australian Council of Churches to form the National Council of Churches in Australia in 1994. This allowed the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church to join. The actual commitment required of each member church (based on what they have explicitly accepted) can be found in the National Council of Churches document, Australian Churches Covenanting Together. This was first adopted in 2004 and amended in 2012. It is a seminal document given the commitment by all NCCA member churches to common prayer, interceding and caring for each other, exploring Christian convictions and current applications and “to explore such further steps as will be necessary to make more clearly visible the unity of all Christians in Australia”. Only some churches have committed to support initiatives for sharing physical resources, explore issues and strategies for ministry, hold the sacraments in common and continue to work towards mutually recognised CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Feature ordained ministry. The UCA remains the only church committed to all these additional areas. The General Secretary of the Victorian Council of Churches, Rev Ian Smith, said from his experience the UCA has gone a long way to embody the principle of open and honest engagement with fellow travellers, not only on issues of faith but also social justice, equity and treatment of refugees. While Mr Smith acknowledged some in the Christian community regard the UCA as lacking in spiritual depth, he was of the view the church was focused on living out the text of the Bible rather than simply “circling the wagons and working out how to survive”. But, Rev Peter Weeks – the chair of the synod’s Ecumenical Relations Committee
(ERC) – said he became frustrated that while ecumenism was part of the UCA’s DNA he did not believe it was always being pursued with the appropriate amount of vigour. “In a lot of cases on our side we are more concerned with doing our own thing. It is supposed to be part of our being but we don’t seem to be pursuing it terribly strongly,” he said. However, he was also quick to point out that the UCA was not alone in being less willing to engage at an ecumenical level. “In a lot of cases I think that is across the board,” he said. “We (all churches) seem to be going back into more of a silo mentality. “Part of it might be that, as churches, we are struggling more (for numbers). Rather than seeing that as an opportunity to work together we are doing our own thing and building our own activities. “From what used to be quite strong enthusiasm for the sharing of ideas, we have now become more involved in just our own issues.” Mrs Postma agreed that the ecumenical movement today was very different to that operating when the UCA was formed. “Now, each church is NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
looking at its own missional strategies and it is at that point when ecumenism falls away,” she said. She welcomed the fact that the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania retained an ERC, stating that the UCA was one of few churches which had working groups in each state seeking to engage in ecumenical activities. She said such imprimatur is important if local communities are to remain engaged. “While there are people in local contexts committed to working ecumenically within their own community, they very much need support from the structures of their own church to know that their endeavours were supported and valued. “Activities at the local level will be known to be valued when supported by presbytery, acknowledged at synod and part of the vision of the assembly.” Mrs Postma expressed concern that recent staff changes at assembly level meant she was not sure if anyone had explicit responsibility for encouraging ecumenical work, as occurred under Dr Yule and Dr Chris Walker, who recently retired as the national consultant for Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship. It was also a concern expressed by several members who attended last month’s Christian Unity Working Group national conference in Melbourne. Mr McMillan said a commitment to engage constructively with ecumenical partners was a key part of the Assembly Strategic Plan 2017-2020. He said the strong relationships the Christian Unity Working Group had built through longstanding dialogue would be well supported within existing assembly personnel and resources. However, it remains unclear as to how that will occur. Dr Yule conceded that the UCA was in danger of losing its focus on ecumenism. “This slippage can be addressed in part by ensuring that our young leaders are properly supported in ecumenical formation, through, for example, participation in programs sponsored globally by the World Council of Churches , such as those at the Ecumenical Institute, Bossey, and in our own region, such as the Youth in Asia Training for Religious Amity (YATRA) program,” he said. “But these programs are not without significant cost and intentional action is needed.” He also stressed the importance of not seeing ecumenism as a project but rather a gift of the Spirit. “This is what God wants us to do and goes back to the original question of how we live out the faith of the Church.”
Sonder yonder A BELIEF that true ecumenism erupts from grass roots initiatives, coupled with the intervention of the Holy Spirit, certainly fits the experiences of the Sonder Collective, which started with little fanfare in Melbourne’s southeast. A germ of an idea and a willingness to take a risk have led to a multi-denominational youth and young peoples’ church network across Victoria. It began in rather unexceptional circumstances when Murrumbeena Uniting Church youth and young adults pastor Kelly Skilton looked around her Church a couple of years ago and noticed a small handful of young people and young adults worshipping among the congregation. Ms Skilton knew small groups of young people and young adults were also meeting in nearby Baptist, Uniting, Pentecostal, Anglican, Catholic and Church of Christ congregations. Individually, the groups had few members but, when amalgamated, they represented a solid number of youth and young adults keen to learn more about God. Ms Skilton created an environment where all the young people could meet regularly to worship, encourage each other and learn about the different denominational teachings and traditions. What seemed like a simple idea has evolved to the point where the collective not only operates at Murrumbeena, but also in Brighton, led by Alex Bolitho, from St Joan of Arc Catholic Parish. The Sonder Yonder group draws young adults from churches across four denominations. It has also been established at Shepparton, led by Uniting Church couple Cam and Jen Shields, and covers many locations throughout rural Victoria. Today more than 80 young people representing a broad range of denominations meet regularly as part of the whole collective and Ms Skilton is not finished there. Discussions have already begun to take the ecumenical initiative to Tasmania. Ms Skilton said that while Murrumbeena Uniting – located about 17km south-east of Melbourne – provides funds for the venture, it does not ‘own’ the initiative, preferring it to be seen as a truly ecumenical activity. “I am proud of how my church looked at the work being done and decided that if it was good for our young people to be involved then it was good for all young people (regardless of their denominational affiliation),” she said. “About 15 to 20 years ago, Murrumbeena Uniting came from an amalgamation of four churches, so that nature of being merged and becoming one is not obscure.” “When it came to bringing a group of young people from different denominations together it was not seen as strange. “Our church is beautiful because it is focused on the Spirit and when the Spirit moves, it moves.” Ms Skilton said the collective operated with three broad objectives – uplifting each attendee’s home church, uniting together and praising God. “While each region might run the group a little differently they are the general themes common across the group,” she said. The neutral name has no affiliations with any particular denomination and was chosen to build on the ecumenical nature of the initiative. In fact, the name draws its inspiration from a word created by US graphic designer, filmmaker and would-be poet John Koenig. He was inspired to create the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, to contain all the words he needed for his poetry, including emotions that had never been linguistically described. Koenig describes ‘sonder’ as “the realisation that each random passer-by is living a life as vivid and complex as your own – populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness – an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” Ms Skilton said the definition was apt for the way the collective’s members sought to engage with each other. The initiative is successful in encouraging a growing number of young people in their faith because of the buy-in received from supporting churches. She said it was not designed to present an opportunity for ‘sheep stealing’. “We all love our home church and all want to stay in our own community, but the love of Christ binds us together and that allows us to have conversations and learn from each other,” she said “During the day we might play in the same paddock but at night everyone goes home to their own church.” More information on the collective can be found at facebook.com/sondercollective Pictured: Sonder kids playing on the beach 15
Celebrating 40 years Campers enjoying water activities
UCA serving campers since formation
THE Uniting Church has been bringing hospitality with the promise of lifechanging experiences to thousands of campers each year since its formation 40 years ago. In 2016/17, approximately 20,000 people from more than 450 groups stayed at six campsites across three presbyteries in Victoria and Tasmania. UC Camping runs three sites at Halls Gap and three more are located at Creswick, Grantville and Merricks respectively. It also provides support to the one remaining presbyteryoperated site at Lake Tyers and has oversight of the Burnside Camp, at Anglesea, which is leased to the Baptist Union. As part of living out the ethos of the Church, UC Camping seeks out opportunities to host groups who are marginalised or in need and operates ethically and in ecologically responsible ways. Over the last 12 years, UC Camping has also engaged in several projects responding to families and communities following natural disasters. Since 2005 UC Camping has partnered with UnitingCare and other agencies to deliver more than 40 Take-a-Break respite camps to hundreds of families from the Wimmera and Mallee suffering the effects of ongoing drought. Take-a-Break camps have also supported families following floods and bushfires. Following the devastating 2009 Victorian Black Saturday bushfires, UC Camping was contracted to manage the three bushfirerecovery temporary accommodation villages at Kinglake, Marysville and Flowerdale. Families were able to live in a supportive environment while
transitioning to ongoing housing. Andrew McGuckian, who stepped down last month from the position of UC Camping director, said the connections UC Camping had with the Christian faith are sometimes explicit, but more often implicit. Most campers are young people and many would not have any interaction with a faith-based organisation if not for attending a campsite. He said in this regard UC Camping is similar to other instruments of the Uniting Church such as Uniting AgeWell, community services agency Uniting and Uniting Church schools. “We hope that having a positive experience of one aspect of the church at mission in the world may lead some to be more open to exploring their personal journey of faith formation,” he said. The philosophy of the church campsites was outlined in the 1995 Commission for Mission report on campsites and conference centres. Camps provided the Church and the wider community with “accommodation for leisure and learning, hospitality in the name of Jesus as in care of souls, links with creation and the environment and opportunities for spiritual development”. The Uniting Church – through its joining denominations the Methodists, Congregationalists and Presbyterians – has a long tradition of providing campsites and conference centres. Sites were established throughout the 1950s and ’60s, to cater for the high demand from church family groups. Significant changes within congregations (and the broader camping industry) through
the 1980s and early 1990s challenged the Church’s capacity to maintain viable centres. Increased competition from private enterprise camps, higher customer demands and reduced congregational usage led to confusion regarding the missional value of the camping experience. Many sites were offloaded during this this period including all three in Tasmania. The number of Victoria sites was cut by about half. Despite this Mr McGuckian said the UCA still had a significant influence in both the Christian and secular camping sectors in Victoria. Currently UC Camping employs about 20 permanent staff and more than 85 casual employees.
“The power of the camping experience to bring community connection, hope, family relationship building and closer connection to the natural environment is well understood and documented,’’ Mr McGuckian said. “The opportunity to share messages of hope, community and joy through the camping experience is a meaningful expression and one incarnation of the mission of God in a contemporary secular world. “Being part of a temporary community in natural settings, camping creates opportunities for individuals and groups to explore, discover and reconnect with themselves, each other, the environment and faith.”
After 19 years working for UC Camping, Andrew McGuckian is leaving his job as director to take up a new role as national head of camps with the Outdoor Education Group. Commission for Mission acting executive director Cheryl Lawrie paid tribute to Mr McGuckian at a farewell afternoon tea last month. Under his leadership UC Camping had been “propelled forward in the industry but also aligned with synod’s values”. “Clearly this is due to the inspiration and work and vision of Andrew and his team,” she said. She paid tribute to Andrew’s “sense of courage, curiosity and desire for the world to be bigger than we imagine”. Mr McGuckian said he had strived to make UC Camping a very inclusive environment. “It has been an absolute privilege the whole way,” he said.
Inspiration In The Heart Of Melbourne A unique space in the heart of the city, St Michael’s is more than a church. If you’re looking for a progressive church that will not tell you what to believe and will listen to what you’ve got to say, look no further than St Michael’s Uniting Church in the heart of the CBD. We are known for presenting thought-provoking seminars and lectures by renowned international speakers and academics; as well as world-class musicians in the architectural splendour of a heritage listed church. For a truly inspirational experience visit St Michael’s today.
St Michael’s Uniting Church 120 C O LLI N S S T M E LB O U R N E - W W W. S T M I C H A E L S . O R G . A U
Healthy Ageing Seminars Another year is almost over. Join Clinical Psychologist Julijana Chochovski as we take stock of the psychological insights and tools we have explored over 2017. The end of the year is a time for reflection. We all have ups and downs and the team at S.A.G.E. Healthy Ageing Seminars we have worked together all year to provide much-needed tools for coping with problems commonly associated with ageing. Reflect on your problem-solving achievements during your time at S.A.G.E. To celebrate the end of the year we will enjoy live music and festive treats. 11am, Friday 24 November Cost: $20 includes tea, coffee and sandwiches St Michael’s Hall, 120 Collins Street, behind the church Bookings: 03 9654 5120
CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Vision and Mission
Statements of Intent – sparking helpful conversation TOGETHER with other key components of the Synod’s Strategic Framework, the 10 Statements of Intent seek to spark helpful conversations within our gathered communities – conversations focused on our community life as participants in the mission of God. Our new Synod Standing Committee has begun to weave these Statements into their conversations. At the request of our moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis, a set of 10 postcards have been developed for regular use by the Standing Committee. Each postcard highlights a particular Statement of Intent. The cards are prompts to view the tasks before the Committee in the light of the various Statements. The Statements respond to issues discerned across the life of the Church and have been developed as a positive way forward. The conversations generated by the cards will inform decisions to strengthen our life and witness. The Standing Committee can use the cards in a variety of ways. Sometimes it may be appropriate to draw the Committee’s attention to one card that seems particularly relevant. At other times, cards may be randomly allocated to table groups that ask questions of the Committee’s current thinking, provoking fresh insights and encouraging other voices to be heard. For example, in their initial gathering last month as a new Committee, table groups were given the full set of 10 cards and asked: “Which Statement do you feel is the most important one for this Committee at this time? Which is the most challenging?” A range of responses generated a different sort of conversation, with members offering their reasoning and listening to one another. Congregations are also finding the Statements of Intent helpful in their missional conversations. During one of the breaks at the September Synod meeting, a ministry leader from Launceston told me how much the resource booklet Supporting Information
NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
on the Statements of Intent had helped their local conversations. They spoke with enthusiasm about how they had used the resource: Our Uniting Churches in [our area] have used the Statements of Intent supporting documentation in a variety of ways over the last two months. During worship over a series of weeks, we have explored each of the Statements using the scripture provided and our context to offer depth to the conversation as to where we as a church might be headed. I created a PowerPoint to assist the discussion. It has been used in worship in broader brush strokes in [other neighbouring congregations]. It has been used as the foundational document for exploring our vision and mission both in individual congregations but also collaboratively as we seek to discern the will of God for the Uniting Church in [our area] as a whole community. The Statements of Intent do not collectively offer a formula to apply. They are a means of provoking a discerning conversation; an aid for finding ways forward that ‘smooth the path of faithful pilgrimage’ (refer to resource booklet, page 4-5). The Statements are not about simplistic answers; they are about provoking life-giving questions and the conversations that flow from them. Like the Launceston congregations’ experiences, I hope that the 10 Statements of Intent can aid your local discernments in mission. I pray that, under the Spirit’s guiding presence, this conversational tool assists in strengthening and enriching your life and witness as a gathered community of God’s people. David Withers Strategic Framework Minister Copies of Framework resources are available online at: ucavictas.org.au/visionandmission/ Or they can be requested from the Strategic Review Implementation Team office by emailing strategic.reviewimplementation@ victas.uca.org.au
Letters Care for all I WAS saddened by the letter to the editor entitled ‘Chaplain Disappointment’ in the September Crosslight. As a hospital chaplain I feel it is a great privilege to care for patients, families and staff. However, I am aware that many patients do not receive a visit. Pastoral care is important to a patient’s sense of wellbeing. The best way to ensure that a chaplain or pastoral /spiritual carer visits is to let hospital staff know that you would like a visit. This can be done at the time of admission. Patients and families can contact the pastoral /spiritual care department directly or they can ask the nurse who is caring for the patient to ring pastoral care. You don’t need to have a ‘reason’ to request pastoral care. Lauren Mosso Senior Chaplain Epworth Richmond
Impact of abuse AFTER reading in Crosslight that some people are questioning the need for safe church training, I feel I need to share a little bit of what it was like being married to someone who sexually abused young boys. We were both Christians and the first situation that I became aware of was after I was engaged to him over 40 years ago. Unfortunately, nothing was out in the open then; he assured me it would not happen again and I believed him. I loved him and so we got married. But it did happen again. After about two years of marriage, I had the police knocking on the door looking for my husband. We were both involved in a church and I talked to our minister, who didn’t believe me. But there was a retired minister in the congregation who believed me as they had witnessed a similar situation in a previous church. I couldn’t live in that situation so I left my husband and returned to the full-time work that I was doing before I was married. After about six months we got back together and never talked about what had happened. I realised some years later it looked better for him if he was with his wife. Life was not terrific and after three years, I could not handle it any more so I left him never to return. Later on I divorced him and as far as I was concerned that was the end.
I became involved in another church, met a wonderful man and remarried. This marriage was terrific. We bought a house, decided not to have children, and life was good. Around 10 years later I received a phone call from the police, wanting to take a statement from me about the situation that had taken place in my first two years of marriage with my ex-husband. A statement was taken, a committal hearing was held but it never went to court and I thought that would be the end. The dreaded phone call came again just five years ago from the police wanting to take a statement about the situation that took place over 40 years ago when I was engaged to my ex-husband. Another statement, another committal hearing and four subpoenas later it still hasn’t gone to trial, but hopefully it will this time. Even though I wasn’t personally sexually abused by my ex-husband, it still affects me. I want justice and to put an end to those dreaded phone calls and police delivering subpoenas. I want church members to realise that just because people present a perfect Christian face to the world, it doesn’t mean they are who they say they are. Name withheld (Bethel Pastoral Centre is available to people who want to talk with someone confidentially about abuse and misuse of power within the church. Telephone 03 9859 8700; email firstname.lastname@example.org. If a child is in immediate danger, ring 000 and report the situation to the police. To report abuse, contact your state’s crisis line – Department of Human Services Child Protection (Victoria) 13 12 78 or Department of Health and Human Services (Tasmania) 1300 737 639.)
I wonder what God thinks of all this? IT is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify slavery, until enough brave people fought against it, but not without a struggle. It is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify racial segregation, until enough brave people fought against it, but not without a struggle. It is not that long ago that the Bible was used to justify capital punishment, until enough brave people
fought against it, but not without a struggle. Most enlightened and modern societies have now consigned those vestiges of our misguided past to the dustbin of history. And today, to my dismay, the Bible is being used to justify denying couples who love each other the right to marry. This is in direct contravention of the Declaration of Human Rights which we signed in December 1948 when the United Nations was first formed. Australia does not have a very good record in observing human rights, as evident in our treatment of asylum seekers. The Bible, all sixty-six books of it, is historically the most significant religious book ever published. All the more reason to use its teaching wisely. It seems that those Christians voting NO base their beliefs on the Old Testament teachings, as is their right, and those Christians voting YES base their beliefs on the New Testament teachings of Jesus, as is their right. In my view, if the Jesus of the New Testament did not stand for things like love, mercy, acceptance and inclusion, then he stood for nothing. If Jesus did not stand with the oppressed, marginalised, the excluded and outcast, then he stood alone. This plebiscite is all about love, respect, acceptance and inclusion, and has absolutely nothing to do with irrelevancies like sex education in schools and crossdressing. Far from being under threat, freedom of speech and freedom of religion are already guaranteed in law, as argued in The Age by Robyn Whitaker, who is the Bromby Lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity College, University of Divinity. Rewind this dreadful plebiscite 2000 years. I can just see the Scribes and the Pharisees fearfully exhorting their followers to vote NO and the followers of Jesus quietly, gently speaking words of love and acceptance to Gentiles and Jews alike. Nick Toovey Beaumaris, VIC
Peace pipe ONE memory of our dad stands out. Dad smoked a pipe. He spent time meticulously cleaning the bowl with his pocket knife and carefully poking pipe cleaners up the stem. His old pipe was important. Dad had been on the Western Front in WWI.
A sapper, whose role it was to dig trenches and dugouts, tunnelling under enemy positions. Working in small groups, he would dismantle enemy barbed wire across No Man’s Land at night before an advance. He experienced carnage, horror and suffering. Gassed and wounded in the leg by shrapnel, for the rest of his life he walked with a limp. Yet, on his return home, he still played football and tennis, and loved gardening. Like many WWI diggers, he could not go back to an office job. He tried farming and failed. At the outbreak of WWII he volunteered to serve again but was refused because of his age and physical condition. Dad still did his bit as a volunteer air raid warden, patrolling our streets at night, asking people to adjust their blackout curtains to shut out any chinks of light. In our backyard he dug an air raid shelter. His way of protecting us from some of what he had witnessed. His two sons joined up. One served in the Middle East, the other in New Guinea. Whenever the news was bad in those areas, he lit his pipe and went for a walk. His youngest brother served in Syria. Returning he was captured in Java. Dad lit his pipe and went for a walk. Later he heard his young brother was incarcerated in Changi, and sent to work as a slave labourer on the Burma Railway. Dad lit his pipe and went for a walk. Whenever the news was bad, on every occasion, he lit his pipe and went for a walk. Dad’s well maintained, often-lit pipe and long walking was his way of escape and coping. Sometimes he walked out into his beloved garden, lit up and looked far away. He never spoke to us about the horror of his experiences, and the recurring nightmares. On Remembrance Day we try to sum up everything to do with war in two-minute’s silence, and move on. Surely not enough. The next war will be started by the push of a button. That will mean PTSD for humankind who survive and terrible destruction for our precious planet. Perhaps my father’s lit pipe, its spiralling smoke, and his long walks in silence, were his prayer to heaven. Dad was never outwardly a religious man. He was a family dad, a community man. To me his pipe and his walking were his silent and personal pilgrimage for peace. Bill Pugh Sandringham VIC
Obituary Russell Rechner 15 June 1940 to 16 September 2017
RUSS Rechner passed away aged 77 in Toorak Victoria. He was a dedicated family man who enjoyed a distinguished career across retail and banking sectors and made a major contribution to the Presbyterian and later Uniting Church. Born in Adelaide in 1940, his father’s career as a bank manager for the Bank of Adelaide meant Russ spent his childhood and teens moving between Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and eventually back to Adelaide with his family. 18
Russ completed school at Adelaide High and went on to the University of Adelaide to study economics on a scholarship with BHP. After graduating he moved to Melbourne in 1962 and attended the College Presbyterian Church Parkville, where at age 24 he became their auditor. In February 1963, he and Alison Milne were married by Rev Dr Alan Watson at Alison’s church, Toorak Presbyterian. While Russ worked in the city, the young couple lived at International House, a residential college of The University of Melbourne, where Russ also tutored. Russ became a Fellow of International House and kept a close relationship with the college for the rest of his life. Russ and Alison were delighted to start a family in 1967 with the birth of Toby. Sue followed in 1970 and Josephine in 1972. The family moved to Malvern and all children were christened at Ewing Memorial Presbyterian Church. On the day of Jo’s christening Russ was made an elder of Ewing, an event that was reported in the Crosslight of its day. Before long, Russ became treasurer at Ewing. In 1975 the family moved to Burwood and joined St Margaret’s Burwood. The Uniting
Church was soon inaugurated and Russ became chair of the parish. By this time, he was an executive director and the head of finance at The Myer Emporium. He brought his wise, stoic and self‐controlled approach as well his kind and sensitive style, to his work for the church. In 1981 Russ joined the council of his daughters’ school (also Alison’s school), PLC, and later was asked to be chair at a time of significant change – the inauguration of the Uniting Church. This role tested his diplomacy skills and he was on the council for nine years and chair for five. After 21 years at Myer, Russ joined the National Mutual Royal Bank, which was subsequently taken over by ANZ. He stayed on with the bank until his retirement in 2000. Russ and Alison returned to Toorak, now Uniting, Church. He was privileged to be on the selection committee for the current minister, Rev Chris Page, which was the start of an enduring friendship. In retirement, Russ was chair of the ANZ Staff Super Fund for 12 years and chair of The Australian Payments Network for six years. He became involved with the Uniting Church synod. He was the inaugural chair of the Synod Risk Management Committee from
December 2007 to December 2014, was chair of the Synod Finance Committee from 2014 to 2017, and was a Member of the Synod Property Board from 2014 to 2017. At his memorial service, it was noted, “He played a pivotal role… in providing leadership, financial analysis and wise financial stewardship and guidance in decisionmaking to support the Church as a whole”. A former colleague and dear friend also commented at Russ’ memorial service that “what most mattered to Russ were other‐ worldly matters, beyond the material day‐to‐ day pursuits that consume us. His gaze was always on the horizon, listening deeply and gently influencing for the good… He heard the emotions behind the words and sensed what was being left unsaid. “As a leader, Russ had a deep understanding of the distinction between power and influence, and appreciated that the more influence we share, the more we have.” Russ was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather; a fine man with a strong faith, who contributed so much to so many. He is survived by Alison, his three children and eight grandchildren. He is greatly missed. Sue Boxer (Rechner) CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
People Four-legged retirees bring companionship
TWO retired greyhounds are spending their twilight years keeping residents company and easing their transition into aged care at Uniting AgeWell’s Strathglen and Lillian Martin communities in Tasmania. The idea to adopt a greyhound for the Strathglen site came from care manager Tracy Harvison, who was concerned about reports that so many greyhounds were euthanised at the end of their careers. Tracy felt adopting a greyhound at the site would be a win for all, given residents often have to give up their own animals
when they enter aged care. After gaining management approval, ex-racer Monty joined the community. “There are so many benefits to residents having animals around,” Ms Harvison said. “From a mental health perspective, the physical aspect of being able to touch, pat and cuddle an animal is really beneficial. “Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds are basically couch potatoes. “They don’t require a lot of exercise and are very docile, so they are a perfect fit for an aged care residence in that regard.” Over at Lillian Martin, Heston the greyhound has joined the community. Acting care manager, Frances Schroeter, who heads the Lillian Martin Pet Committee, said Heston is a great ambassador and drawcard for the site. “There have been people who, after meeting Heston on their tour of the site, have chosen to live here because of him,” Ms Schroeter said.
Long service chorister
IN 1946, the hugely popular George Logie Smith was director of music at The Geelong College and choirmaster at St David’s Presbyterian Church Geelong. Keen to add young people to the church choir, he invited some dayboys at the college to become choristers. He believed that when the boys joined the choir young girls would follow. He was right. Geoff Neilson (pictured below, second left) was one of the boys. Now 87 years old,
Heston with Lillian Martin resident Betty Belbin and daughter Hazel Parkinson
City mouse/ country mouse THIS month, Glen Waverley Uniting Church in the suburbs of Melbourne and the tiny Western District town of Beeac will celebrate 10 years of shared Sunday services. It was on 11 November 2007, that the 168km distance between the two congregations was traversed via the internet. The pioneering project uses technology to deliver the Christian message when clergy are unavailable. For the initial trials, telephone cables were laid 100 metres across the church paddock from the manse to make the internet connection. The concept and technology developed with Glen Waverley also enables connections with other country Victorian congregations. A strong bond has developed between the Beeac and Glen Waverley congregations, with dedicated support from the Glen
Waverley ministerial team. Although Beeac now receives pastoral oversight from the Corangamite-Otway Region of the Western Victorian Presbytery, the city-country linkage has been maintained and is highly valued. Midweek contact with the Glen Waverley worship team ensures that local prayer concerns are incorporated in the worship service. When the minister interacts with their congregation during worship, Beeac is able to text through their ideas and answers. Beeac Uniting Church has also been fortunate to host visits from the Glen Waverley Free Spirit Choir. Following worship, the visiting choir performed in Colac as a fundraiser for the Colac Schools Chaplaincy Appeal. Each October, Beeac contributes over 100 bags of sheep manure to the Glen Waverley Church Fete where it is quickly sold. Beeac members stay overnight for worship the following Sunday morning. The Glen Waverley connection and support has been instrumental in maintaining enthusiasm as well as a heightened awareness of the wider mission of the church. This month, Beeac and Glen Waverley Uniting Churches will celebrate 10 years of transmission (via the internet) of worship services in a special two-way broadcast on Sunday 12 November at 9.15am.
Rev Neil Peters sharing worship at Glen Waverley NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Geoff is still singing in the choir, as he has been for 71 years. Geoff learned to sight-read music while a student at Geelong College, savouring the music tuition provided by Logie Smith – from kindergarten to year 12. “What a privilege” he says. The choir has performed most of the great church repertoire: Messiah, The Crucifixion, Sleepers Wake and so on. The most recent was the 2016 Messiah at St David’s, with Brendon Lukin at the organ and Julie Seal conducting. At its peak in 1960, Sunday attendance was over 500, and Sunday school numbers 250. In common with many congregations, St David’s attendance numbers have fallen and ‘junior church’ is held only occasionally. However, the choir continues with Geoff, despite having suffered a stroke, still in the tenor line.
The St David’s Presbyterian Church Geelong choir
80 years in the Mallee MERLE POLE
ON Sunday 24 September, the Walpeup Uniting Church was filled to capacity for its 80th anniversary. Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis and presbytery minister Rev Gordon Bannon joined approximately 65 people in celebration at the town in the Mallee district, 130 miles (209km) south of Mildura. A Christian community existed at Walpeup long before the Methodist church was built in 1937. By February 1910, the construction of the branch line from Ouyen had reached Walpeup and the first of the pioneers began to arrive, clear the land and make homes for their families. Among the early pioneers were those who started to carry out the work of God. In June 1913, 18-year-old Abraham Ray
was one of six young English missionaries brought out to Australia for pioneering work in Victoria and Tasmania. After three days in Melbourne, Abraham was put on a train and sent to Underbool – there was no church, no building and a very small congregation. Overseeing a large circuit on horseback would have been a daunting task for the young Englishman, who had never ridden a horse before. In 1914, money was borrowed from the Methodist Church building fund of Victoria. About mid-1917 a meeting between the trustees was held and it was decided to build the Walpeup Methodist Church. Local folk worked hard to raise some of the funds and a loan of 100 pounds was obtained from the church building fund to be paid back over 10 years. Former congregation members, descendants of church pioneers and the son of early minister Rev Bill Higgins (1949-1956) attended the celebrations. The congregation sang Happy Birthday to the church, while Ms Hollis offered words of encouragement and cut a delightfully decorated 80th chocolate cake. Following the service attendees enjoyed a ‘Great Outback BBQ’, which raised funds for Frontier Services. This was a time for sharing memories and renewing past acquaintances.
Building the Methodist Church in Walpeup, 1937. George W. Wakefield, Rev Roy Wilson, Bill Mead, William Rose, Jack Mead, kneeling- visiting building supervisor.
Learning for life
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
REVIEW BY ROSLYN DENT
REVIEW BY LUCINDA MALGAS
BOOK | RICHARD NIXON: THE LIFE | JOHN A. FARRELL
BOOK | ON THE THIRD DAY, RELOOKING AT THE RESURRECTION | JOHN QUERIPEL
BOOK | EDUCATING FOR PURPOSEFUL LIVING IN A POSTTRADITIONAL AGE | PHILIP HUGHES
RICHARD Nixon remains a relevant political figure. Much of our present distrust of politicians, and culture wars between right and left, can be traced back to his era. His story reminds us that we need to keep a watchful eye on both what politicians do and why. Nixon was intriguing and perplexing, an introvert in an extrovert’s game. He once said that politics would be fine if one didn’t have to deal with people. As has been well documented (ironically), his social awkwardness and fear of confrontation created an insular, secretive culture in the White House, which eventually brought him down. It is tempting to compare Trump to Nixon, but Nixon was a more multifaceted, Shakespearean character. As a recent t-shirt slogan puts it, ‘Nixon is tragedy, Trump is farce’. But both cultivated the ‘silent majority’ (Nixon’s term) that elected them, resentment against those above and below them – liberal elites and the poor and minorities. They share ambition, which is not unusual for politicians, but many noticed Nixon’s amorality. Although he did more than most US presidents for the environment, race relations and, especially, the thawing of Cold War hostilities, these things seem to have been pursued not for their own sake, but for the sake of Nixon’s image, and to get ahead of real and imagined enemies. Of course, many darker things were done for the same reasons. John Farrell’s new biography aims to be the definitive biography, but there is no such thing, because of Nixon’s complexities, and the differing opinions he inspires. One journalist wrote at the time of Watergate that Nixon will be ‘forever a mystery’. But Farrell tells the story well, partly because he makes use of new material that, among other things, shows just how Machiavellian Nixon was.
JOHN Queripel suggests ways to look at the biblical account of Jesus’ resurrection with fresh eyes; he has us as the reader journey with him. His writing style is relatively informal and inclusive; he engages with the reader at a personal level. Before attending to the primary source – the Bible – the author starts his investigation with the “dying and rising gods of antiquity” – thus in Chapter 1 our journey begins. The Biblical references throughout On The Third Day are numerous. Queripel provides detailed reference points to the primary source; it encourages the reader to look at the original source and draw our own conclusions. There are good explanations of current theological ways of discussing issues; learning happens. Worthwhile references to secondary sources are included to examine others’ viewpoints and arguments. Queripel blatantly challenges some viewpoints with cogent arguments. He provides evidence to dismiss the psychiatric explanation that the resurrection was a mass-psychosis/wish. Another valuable exposition is the the central role of women within the patriarchal tradition. Queripel emphasises that the women’s testimony is at the very core of the resurrection witness. As the author leads us into the actuality of Jesus’ resurrection, close attention is paid to the five different resurrection accounts found in Acts, Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. There are signs serving to point to much deeper realities. In the postscript, Queripel outlines some of his personal viewpoints and how his thesis pertains to the current epoch. Queripel asks us to move past our preconceived ideas to open our minds and hearts to the sheer profundity of the Resurrection. His thesis is reiterated; it is in the incredible transformative power of the Resurrection that the strongest evidence can be found. It is the magnitude of that change which “transforms these understandably fearful followers of Jesus… into fearless proclaimers”, this transformation of lives, this existential change now, throughout history and at the actual historical time is the proof. A good read and a good book to revisit time and time again.
ONE of the fundamental pillars of wellbeing is the feeling that we matter, that our very existence and our contributions have made a positive difference in this world. In the field of positive psychology this is labelled as ‘positive purpose’. Philip Hughes explores this theme in his insightful book Educating for Purposeful Living in a PostTraditional Age. Hughes’ thought-provoking analysis highlights issues that need to be addressed in a Western post-traditional world. Purpose is no longer assigned by the community; nor is it dependent on gender or social class. Similarly, tradition and religion no longer define a person’s purpose. Hence, Hughes advocates for a new way of conceptualising notions of purposeful living for our youth. Based on years of research and experience, Hughes explores the notion of what purposeful living entails and its immense benefits not only for society but for the individual who contributes to something greater than themselves. Hughes also looks at the crucial need for purposeful living to be included explicitly into the school curriculum. The wellbeing of our youth and our communities depend on this. This is what makes this book such an important addition to any school, family or organisation seeking ways to provide meaning for our youth. While the book contains sound theoretical underpinnings, it also provides clear direction for schools in their attempts to formulate a curriculum for the education of purposeful living from Years 7 to 10. In an educational context, this is one of the book’s greatest strengths. Hughes forces us to question our current modes of operation in schools and in society-at-large while still offering practical suggestions and a sense of hope. His book is a bold and challenging work that should be widely read, discussed and implemented in our schools.
Brand power REVIEW BY GARTH JONES
Available from www.scribepublications.com.au RRP: $52.80
Available at: morningstarpublishing.net.au RRP: $29.75 20
Lucinda Malgas is a chaplain and teacher at Kingswood College. Available at: cra.org.au RRP: $38.00
BOOK | RECOVERY: FREEDOM FROM OUR ADDICTIONS | RUSSELL BRAND
THE seven deadly sins, according to Wikipedia, originated with desert father Evagrius Ponticus. Ponticus identified seven or eight evil thoughts or spirits humans strove to overcome. The concept was later transplanted to Europe by Ponticus’ student John Cassian, and became fundamental to the Catholic confessional. Today, we commonly understand these ‘sins’ – pride, lust, envy, greed, sloth, gluttony, wrath –as embodiments of negative habits and addictions that have plagued humanity since its inception. English comedian Russell Brand has publicly jousted with many demons since entering the public eye hosting the original UK version of Big Brother in the early 2000s. Brand – whose CV also includes author, activist and actor – has variously battled addiction to drugs, sex and the narcissistic trappings of global stardom. Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions is Brand’s fourth book. The author’s first two efforts were autobiographies exploring his childhood and ascent to fame. Both were florid, charmingly written insights into the pathologies behind Brand’s self-destructive lusts. His third book, REVOLution, focused on political activism during the lead up to the UK’s 2015 General Election, and is further illustrative of the author’s selfadmitted Messiah complex. Brand’s latest work offers us a relatively secular 21st century framework – adapted from the 12-step program used by Alcoholics Anonymous – for navigating addictions and anxieties. These range from food, smoking, gambling, sex and internet addiction to alcoholism and hard drug abuse. Writing in his familiar voice – a combination of cheeky Disney chimney sweep and latter day esoteric guru – Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions, walks us through Brand’s humanist self-help process. Charming and conversational, this approach encompasses mindfulness, meditation and a program of rigorous self-reflection. Brand weaves empathetic vignettes on his ongoing path to recovery throughout the program, including reflections on his path from junkie to first-time fatherhood. Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions is an approachable, useful guide for readers looking for an alternative toolkit to help them negotiate the traps and pitfalls of modern life. Available at: www.panmacmillan.com.au RRP: $24.50, kindle $24.78 CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Review Great expectations REVIEW BY NIGEL TAPP FILM | A FATHER’S DREAMS | WYN MORIARTY
To commit the story of your life thus far to print – the good and the bad – seems like a massive undertaking. How will those I know now, who did not know me then, react? Will they view me differently? How will my remaining family react? Would they rather I had remained silent? Will people who meet me now who have read the book judge me differently? Wyn Moriarty appears to have put those questions aside to write A Father’s Dream. The book tells the story of a daughter who failed to live up to her father’s expectations. Presbyterian minister Rev Ian Munro felt his own calling to become a missionary, but this never eventuated. According to the author, he then sought to live his unfulfilled ambition through his eldest child. Throughout the book, Dr Moriarty examines her difficult relationship with her mother, as well as her personal battle with bipolar disorder. Even though Dr Moriarty became a popular and successful teacher and gained a PhD in children’s spirituality, for much of her early life she struggled to live out the expectations of her father. She writes about experiencing her first call from God to become a missionary when, aged 15, she heard a voice say to her:
“Wyn, when you grow up will you go to China for me?” “I took the voice to be God calling me to become a missionary. From that time I set my path to follow that goal,” she writes. “In later years I realised the voice sounded just like my father.” Dr Moriarty discusses becoming a nurse even though she wanted to be a doctor – “They (her parents) did not want to spend scarce financial resources on university for a girl, when they might need it later for my brother’’ – and her subsequent challenges in a default career option, while dealing with an undiagnosed mental illness. She admits she found nursing stressful and difficult. “I was a dreamer, and temperamentally unsuited to nursing,” she admits. Dr Moriarty confesses some of her strange behaviour during the intervening years was attributable to her bipolar, which was not diagnosed until her 40s, with depression becoming a recurring theme in her life virtually until retirement. After studying at the Sydney Missionary and Bible College, known as Croydon, she applied and was rejected by the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. “My father was very angry... I can still hear
his voice ringing in my ears “Find out what is wrong and fix it”. “My reply was simple. ‘No, I believe their assessment is right.’ “I was puzzled over my father’s reaction to the rejection but in later years reflected it was caused by his deep love for God and desire to have another opportunity to fulfil his desire to be a missionary.” By the end, one gets the feeling Dr Moriarty is, at least, content with how her life has worked out even if – as it appears – she never heard the words ‘We are proud of you’ from her parents. She finishes with imagining her father’s thoughts on her life. “I no longer have an earth-bound vision, I do not begrudge my oldest daughter her scholarly success. In fact, I am proud of it.” And as for Dr Moriarty? In the words of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, which Dr Moriarty invokes: “I too have severed the ties with the Ground Control of your dreams for me, and Planet Earth is blue.”
MANY consider Ridley Scott’s 1982 Blade Runner a science fiction classic, but it didn’t really impress me when I first saw it on DVD as a teenager. As a millennial, the much-lauded visuals of the original Blade Runner seemed somewhat outdated compared to the CGI filmmaking that is now an industry standard. Fortunately, Blade Runner 2049 is an impressive standalone film matched with breathtaking cinematography. Newcomers to the Blade Runner universe can enter into the post-apocalyptic world of 2049 with little background knowledge of the 1982 film and its underlying mythology. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049 is set 30 years after the events of Scott’s Blade Runner. Replicants – androids that are virtually indistinguishable from humans – roam the Earth. A new range of Nexus 9 replicants created by Wallace (played by Jared Leto) are programmed to obey their human masters. Ryan Gosling plays K, an LAPD detective charged with the responsibility of hunting down rogue replicants. His journey leads him to a long-buried secret that may change the course of humanreplicant history. Fresh from his role rebooting Star Wars, Harrison Ford returns as the incurably jaded Deckard, the protagonist of the 1982 Blade Runner. While Ford does not receive
a tremendous amount of screen time, his character is central to the plot of 2049. A noteworthy addition to 2049 is the character of Joi, K’s artificial intelligence girlfriend, who is a combination of Apple’s Siri and Scarlett Johansson’s Samantha from Her (2013). With virtual companions becoming increasingly popular and intelligent, Joi touches on the question of whether machines can evolve to have souls. While the 1982 Blade Runner was focused on the nature of humanity, 2049 is interested in the timeless debate of predestination versus free will. Do we have freedom to choose our destiny, or is our future constrained by our creator’s design? Blade Runner was renowned for its iconic creation of a neo-noir Los Angeles and the rain-drenched, neon-glowing cityscape depicted in 2049 is equally impressive. Every shot is meticulously framed by veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins and matched with detailed production design to evoke a bleak, dystopian world. At 163 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 will test the patience of some viewers. It may be marketed as a blockbuster, but Villeneuve favours lingering, contemplative shots over fast-paced edits and he keeps the action sequences short and frenetic. Despite its bloated runtime, Blade Runner 2049 is unquestionably a visually stunning spectacle that will introduce the world of replicants to a new generation of viewers.
Available at www.amazon.com R.R.P. $20.00
Blade Runner for a new generation REVIEW BY TIM LAM FILM | MA | BLADE RUNNER 2049
NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
Uniting, horizons, and the surprising future
TRANSITION – any number of us may be rather pleased if we never hear that word again. Transition is change: change of structures to match the future of the church; change of budgets to match the size of the congregations and forms of ministry; change of cultural contexts that have different expectations of the social value and role of the church. For these reasons, transition is an exhausting and tension laden exercise. Yet, while the above reasons are significant causes of tension, they are not the most basic. Within theology, every structural question, every budgetary implication, everything that might be said and embodied in the local context, stems from the message: what is the good news that
the church is to live and express? All other questions flow from this one. Discussions concerning the shape and form of transition are discussions concerning the contemporary embodiment of the message. I recognise this might not relieve the anxiety associated with transitions, but it does help re-centre the question. Structure, necessary and good, is a secondary question. This observation is contained in the name of the church: we are not the ‘united’ church, but the ‘uniting’ church in Australia. D’Arcy Wood, in his exposition of paragraph 2 of the Basis of Union (BoU), notes how this name doesn’t intend “to separate us off as a distinctive church”. It points us, rather, “toward our fellow Christians in Australia and throughout the world”. To be uniting calls us to be active in seeking relationships. In Building of a Solid Basis, Dr Wood sets out three forms of relationship: those with other churches in our local area, with church bodies in our geographical region (for example Korea, Indonesia, Tonga), and with wider ecumenical bodies, such as the Christian Conference of Asia, the World Council of Churches, or the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Every relationship demands change. The Uniting Church seeks ecumenical relationships. Ecumenical relationships mean changes in form and structure. The Uniting Church seeks to be a just and socially engaged church. Justice and social action mean changes in form and structure. To be called into seeking relationship means that we are called into different
forms of embodying the gospel. But it is also true that the world has turned since the first publication of the BoU. Interreligious relationships have become a necessary and everyday part of life in plural secular liberal democracies such as Australia. The church has been mobilised to join with other faith traditions in opposing immigration policies that look backward rather than forward in this regard. The church does not occupy the same political or social role it did 50 years ago. This does not erode the truth of the gospel, or its expression as developed in paragraph 3 of the BoU, but it does demand attention to the message and the potential forms of its embodiment in the local Australian context. Some significant critique has also emerged of the formal ecumenical movement. This centres on colonialisation and its ongoing effects. To what extent do the processes, languages, and results of ecumenical discussion reflect particular cultural values and processes? How much does the idea of unity reflect a certain set of western values and expectations which locate unity in structures? In his essay World Christianity and the Early Church, historian Andrew Walls suggests the key ecumenical question today concerns not the institutional unification of western-derived church bodies, but how “African, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Hispanic, North American and East and West European expressions of Christian faith and life can live together and bring
mutual enrichment and correction.” The interpretation of cultural practices and sacred texts takes on a central significance in this form of ecumenical relationship building. It also demands mutual enrichment and correction – ‘mutual’ meaning that we (churches in the west) too will receive correction and will need to review our structures accordingly. All of this talk regarding global ecumenical relationships may well appear distant from the specific question of transition and restructuring we are currently experiencing within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. It is not. Every generation is called to come to a knowledge of the message (a discussion which demands generative theological discussion) and so to the question of embodying and structuring that message. That message is not something that we as a body possess. The good news is only understood in its being shared. This is why questions of structure should never be driven by the language of death and decline. The gospel points us beyond ourselves. This moving beyond ourselves and into the global ecumenical discussion lifts our horizons to where God is acting. Structure occurs in relation to this reality and its demands. This may sound ideal and that is because it is! Hallelujah. We would not be the Uniting Church if it were otherwise. John G Flett Coordinator of studies Pilgrim Theological College CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Remembrance Day The case for ADF chaplains
FORTY five ordained ministers are endorsed by the Assembly of the Uniting Church to serve as Australian Defence Force Chaplains. Eighteen are full-time and 27 are reservists across the three services – army, navy and air force. Two are preparing to deploy overseas and two have recently returned to Australia from operations. We take our Uniting Church place at the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) through Rev Dr Murray Earl, our assembly appointed RACS member who is himself a former RAAF Principal Chaplain.
ADF chaplaincy is a ministry of the Church through which God has called us, so we base our legitimacy on the Church’s ministry. This is a public ministry in a secular context, which the ADF recognises to be significant and valuable. We serve not because we are warmongers, but because we are being faithful to our calling to exercise ministry to and with women and men in uniform. The freedom of religious practice and the encouragement to practise and observe faith in all situations underpins the provision of chaplaincy for members of the ADF. The prophet declares: “… and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation; neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isaiah 2:4) When the day comes that we can disband the ADF and Australia can redeploy the defence budget to education, health care and overseas aid, I for one will be exceedingly glad.
Until that idyllic time, I believe we have a duty to provide the best possible ministrations to ADF members. Under government direction, Australian women and men who have volunteered and trained for the profession of arms sometimes find themselves in harm’s way. In those circumstances especially, they need the care and support of chaplains. The duties I perform as a serving army chaplain include: • providing religious and spiritual ministry to ADF members and their families, church parades, memorial services, commemorative events and referrals to other religious leaders as appropriate • delivering pastoral care to ADF members and their families • conducting character training instruction • advising commanders on religious and moral matters, welfare and morale • providing welfare assistance as part of the unit welfare team We are non-combatants in the Rules of Engagement as understood by the Geneva Convention. This means we are not engaged in the business of war fighting, but rather like doctors and nurses, we fulfil a speciality role which is clearly understood and well-defined. Working with the increasingly diverse and non-religious younger demographic of the ADF, spirituality is often presented by chaplains as an invisible weapon. The Psalmist phrased it with different wording but the concept remains the same. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
If spirituality is an invisible weapon, then we should not store it or safeguard it in a dusty shoebox in the garage or attic.We should carry it with us as a shield of defence and chaplains can be a vital means of helping ADF members appropriate that understanding. Defence Chaplaincy is sometimes lonely, raw, challenging, boring and stressful. Whether conducting a ramp ceremony for the latest casualty of war; performing a baptism for a new follower of Jesus; negotiating a compassionate return to Australia for a member whose mother has died; or waiting under a tree for transport after weeks of training in the bush, we do so under holy orders and only because our church has endorsed this vital ministry. I find it immensely fulfilling to maintain the rich and selfless century of tradition as a minister in uniform serving alongside others we identify with wearing a similar uniform. This practice of incarnational ministry inspires our duty and delight and we dare not drop the torch. Incidentally, it is also the most successful and longstanding ecumenical ministry endeavour Australia has ever seen and, as a committed ecumenist, I am deeply grateful for this dimension of ADF chaplaincy. In this season of remembrance, we honour the sacrifice of those who have gone before us, we abhor the tragedy of war and we faithfully work and serve alongside those who are entrusted by our government to protect Australia and its people. As chaplains, we rely on the keen and prayerful support of our church as we serve under our ultimate commander, the God who breathed life into our beings and who loves each one of those with whom we serve. Padre Mark Dunn Coordinator of Chaplain 4 Brigade HQ Simpson Barracks Macleod VIC
Forgetting the lessons of the past
THOSE who forget the dead will soon forget the living (Jürgen Moltmann). Photographs of the devastation in Gallipoli and France in the so-called Great War make clear why those who experienced the war – both as combatants and as grieving families – declared that this was the war to end all wars. As I have looked at the landscapes stripped of life, turned into potholes of mud, they bring an eerie similarity to the devastated city of Hiroshima, as if the loss of life in France prepared for the nuclear flash that burns cities in an instant. Again, that same devastation repeats the graphic prophetic descriptions of wardestroyed Jerusalem where all life has fled. (See Isaiah chapters 2 & 5, Lamentations 2, and Ezekiel chapters 6&7.) At the end of the century of global warfare, it seems there are some important points to remember. NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
The 1914-18 war transpired after imperial attitudes developed over centuries. Modern European powers (in spite of prevailing secular thought) claimed a unity of God, King and Empire. They engaged in an arms race that prepared for the mechanised warfare of machine gun and heavy artillery, as graphically described by Peter Mason in his book Blood and Iron (1984). As Immanuel Kant observed, the production of weapons is preparation for war. This is a salutary observation for us now, when Australian government ministers contract to build air fighters, submarines and frigates, seeking to make Australia into a chief weapons exporter. Kant’s essay Perpetual Peace, identified ‘articles’ necessary for peace. Written in 1795, it is eerily relevant today. These include Article 3 “Standing armies shall in time be totally abolished” because they are preparations for war which reveal bad faith, cause distrust, and result in an arms race. Article 6 states: “No state shall, during the war, permit such acts of hostility which would make mutual confidence in the subsequent peace impossible.” This includes assassins (terrorism); poisons (biochemical warfare); incitement to treason (subversion); and breaches of capitulation (killing or torturing prisoners).
These kinds of acts make peace impossible, and a war without the possibility of peace turns into a war of extermination. Church leaders were active in supporting the push for war, allying with the nation’s imperial war aims, actively encouraging the young to join the war effort. Not only humans but other creatures and the natural world itself are victims of war. The death of countless horses and other animals is often overlooked. This conversation could turn into cliché and over-simplification. But Christian scholars and theologians are revisiting the early centuries of the church and the strange allegiance of Christians to a figure executed by the Empire that, without irony, declared itself to be ‘Pax Romana’ – the Peace of Rome. In doing so, the early Christians faced the prospect of death at the hand of the same empire. The so-called Holy Roman Empire contained within it fragments of that imperial attitude in the form of a supposed ‘just war’. Pacifist movements in the church were largely rejected. Certainly, restrictions were placed on the participation of priests in warfare but (as Martin Luther endorsed) the State has a God-given role and the right to engage in warfare, albeit under certain conditions. Such is the background to the warfare of the 20th century.
Following militarist policy, modern warfare morphed (as described by 19th century German philosopher Carl von Clausewitz) into the aim of utterly destroying the enemy opponent. The battle of Passchendaele, as in the entire military campaign, was no longer based on winning territory. It sought to bleed the enemy dry. Hence the brutal, inhuman decisions to send troops from the trenches into the relentless machine gunning, the barbed wire and piled bodies in mud. How can the church endorse this destruction? How can the church appoint ministries to wear military uniform, providing pastoral justification in the practice of warfare? That is the pressing and unavoidable question Jesus puts to the whole church, for he declared blessing on peacemakers, that we might take up not weapons but the cross. Therefore, on the day of Remembrance, in the crucified One, we are confronted with the God who refuses to justify our violence, but enters the place of violation between ‘enemies’ to release us from murderous madness.
Rev Dr Wes Campbell Pax Christi 23
Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 25 OCTOBER 2017 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (*) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Sunraysia (UCOS) (0.5) (P) (C) Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Bright Alpine (0.5) (P) (C) Wangaratta (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Coburg (C) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Williamstown (St Stephens) (0.6) (C) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Cradle Coast (Burnie, Devonport, Penguin, Wynyard) (*) Derwent Cluster (Glenorchy and Claremont) (0.6) (*) Queenborough Rise Chaplain (0.7) (P) (C) Synod Liaison Minister (5 year term) (P) (C)
PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Grange Cluster (P) Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) Kaniva – Serviceton (*) PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton (C) Banyule Network (*) Canterbury (Balwyn Road) (C) Ringwood (C) SYNOD – MISSION & CAPACITY BUILDING UNIT Director Priorities, Focus and Advocacy (P) (C) Director Relationships and Connections (P) (C) NORTHERN SYNOD Casuarina (C) General Secretary (C) Nhulunbuy (0.7) (C) (C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an Expression of Interest. Enquiries and written Expressions of Interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email: email@example.com
MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Gospel Ralte (OD), Ulverstone – Sprent to commence 1 November 2017
Semisi Tauali’i (E), Mount Waverley St John’s to commence 1 November 2017
Alan Lockwood, Seymour Parish to retire on 31 December 2017
Han Song (OD), Korean Church of Melbourne to commence 1 November 2017
Kate Fraser, Loddon Mallee - Presbytery Minister, Mission and Education to retire on 31 December 2017
Paul Stephens, Highton (St Luke’s) to commence 1 April 2018
COMBINED CHARITIES CHRISTMAS CARD SHOP THURSDAY 9 NOVEMBER TO SATURDAY, 16 DECEMBER North Essendon Uniting Church, 132 Keilor Road, North Essendon. The Uniting Lentara Christmas Card Shop will open at the North Essendon Uniting Church from Thursday, 9 November, and will close on Saturday, 16 December. Opening times will be 9.30am to 4pm on Thursdays and Fridays and 9.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays. CHURCH SPRING FAIR – HIGHFIELD ROAD UNITING CHURCH 9AM – 1.30PM, SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER Highfield Road Uniting Church, 72 Highfield Road, Canterbury. Come and enjoy a wonderful spring fair featuring a massive plant stall, loads of ‘trash and treasure’, cakes, sausages, morning teas, children’s toys, and much more. For more information contact Barbara on P: (03) 9836 6560.
HILLTOP MARKET – HIGH STREET ROAD UNITING CHURCH 9AM – 2PM, SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER High Street Road Uniting Church, 482 High Street Road, Mount Waverley. High Street Road Uniting Church will once again hold their popular Hilltop Market. The market features a large array of stalls, hot and cold food, a number of competitions and a special Kidzone. FOLLOW THE STAR - COME IN AND LET THIS BABY CHANGE YOU - BURWOOD UNITING CHURCH MONDAY 4 TO SATURDAY 23 DECEMBER Burwood Uniting Church, cnr Warrigal Rd and Hyslop St, Glen Iris. The annual Follow the Star display will be open to the public daily (except Sunday), presenting the story of the first Christmas, with a Christmas Tree Forest decorated by local schools and organisations. you can donate nonperishable foods to the Gift Tree in support of Camcare and Hotham Mission food hamper. Opening times Mon, Tues & Thurs,12.30PM 3.00PM, Weds, 10AM - 3PM, Fri, 3PM - 5PM, Sat, 10AM - 12.30PM. Contact Felicity on M: 0449 751 402 or Anne M: 0487 750 442.
INTER SYNOD TRANSFERS Adam McIntosh, to transfer to the Synod of Queensland from 7 January 2018 RECOGNITION WITHDRAWN
CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT
Helen Johnson’s recognition withdrawn (Regulation 2.10.3(a)) from 18 February 2017
Steve Terrell concluded as Scotch Oakburn Chaplain on 13 October 2017
Samasoni Nafatli’s recognition withdrawn (Regulation 5.7.4(r)(vi)) from 8 October 2017
SOUL-FULL SPRING SPECIAL – COCOON CREATIVE ARTS THERAPIES 9.30AM – 5PM THURSDAY & FRIDAYS THROUGHOUT NOVEMBER SWell Centre, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Nourish your soul this spring with a series of art therapy sessions. Three 1.25 hour art therapy sessions for a total of $180 (usually $120 per session). Offer only available between 9.30-5pm on Thursdays and Fridays for the month of November. For bookings please call P: (03) 9819 2844 or M. 0409 946 994.
THE CHURCH IN SOCIETY COMMITTEE OF ST JOHN’S UC PRESENTS “ALZHEIMER’S AND SPIRITUALITY” 1.30PM TO 3PM, FRIDAY 10 NOVEMBER St John’s, 37 Virginia Street, Mt Waverley. UC minister Rev Brace Bateman will discuss Alzheimer’s and spirituality as part of a group seminar. Brace was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2016. He will consider what resources the Christian faith has to help with Alzheimer’s. Tea and coffee will be available. Please RSVP. A gold coin donation would be appreciated. For more information call St John’s UC Office on P: (03) 9888 2295, Margery on P: (03) 9807 4084 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
RETIREMENTS Rhonda Kissick, to retire on 31 October 2017
Michael Easton (Lay), Seymour Community Pastor, to commence midJanuary 2018
Ken Sumner concluded as State Director, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress Victoria on 8 September 2017
Paul Dau (E), Springvale to commence 1 November 2017
Andrew Delbridge, Alpine Regional Resource Ministry, to commence 1 January 2018
CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Notices CHRISTMAS MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM – 12 NOON, THURSDAY 7 DECEMBER Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Bring your family and friends. All ages welcome. All donations to help families in need in our community. For information and group bookings please call P: (03) 9560 3580. THE STONES CRY OUT FILM AT NORTH BALWYN UNITING CHURCH 5PM, SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER North Balwayn Uniting Church, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North. North Balwyn UC is screening this powerful film of life in the Holy Land produced by Palestinian Christians. This is your chance to hear a narrative not often heard. Entry by donation. Bring a plate to share afterwards. For enquiries P: (03) 9857 8412, Wednesdays to Fridays; or visit pien.org.au/stones/ WORKSHOP – WRITING HYMNS/SONGS FOR OUR TIME 9.30AM – 12PM, MUSIC/MELODIES; 1PM– 4PM, LYRICS, SATURDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2017 10.30AM SUNDAY 26 NOVEMBER MUSIC WORSHIP SERVICE WITH ROBIN MANN AND REV DAVID PARGETER St Kilda Uniting Church, 163 Chapel Street, St. Kilda. Be part of this exciting workshop to be led by the inspirational Robin Mann. Untap your theological imagination and faith-filled experiences and turn them into song. Australian songs for Australian expressions of faith. Workshops are free but donations appreciated. Refreshments provided. For further information or to register, contact: Desleigh Kent on E: email@example.com or M: 0413 158 855.
IMMANUEL SINGERS FUNDRAISER AT NORTH BALYWN UNITING CHURCH 2.30PM – 4PM, SUNDAY 12 NOVEMBER North Balwyn Uniting Church, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North. A concert of sacred and secular music, including a presentation about life in Palestine as witnessed by a human-rights monitor, with afternoon tea. Donations are invited to support the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel – eappi.org/en. For enquiries P: (03) 9857 8412 Wednesdays to Fridays. ALEXANDRA ST ANDREWS UNITING CHURCH 50TH ANNIVERSARY 10AM, SUNDAY 26 NOVEMBER Cnr Villeneuve & Downey Streets, Alexandra. St Andrews Uniting Church will celebrate 50 years of worship in our brick church. We would love to see many friends worshipping and sharing fellowship with us on that day. Nearly 150 years of Methodist and Presbyterian history is also displayed in the church. To help with catering please contact Gillian on P: (03) 5772 2285 or Margaret on P: (03) 5772 2416. ADVENT RETREAT – TAKE UP THE CALL TO ENGAGE IN AN ADVENT JOURNEY 10AM – 3PM, FRIDAY 1 DECEMBER Sacred Space, Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Listen to the prophets of old point toward a vision of a world where there is reconciliation, peace and freedom. This retreat provides you with resources to use daily throughout December on your Advent quest. Facilitator Joan Wright Howie. Cost is $50 – includes lunch. Enquiries M: 0424 670 093. Bookings: Habitat Office, P: (03) 9819 2844 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHILDREN’S NATIVITY DRESS-UP PHOTOS AT THE HUB 10AM – 12 NOON, MONDAY 27, TUESDAY 28, AND WEDNESDAY 29, NOVEMBER The Hub, Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Bring your children or grandchildren to dress up in nativity costumes, be a part of the Christmas story, and have their photos taken for free. Dress ups will be available to use. Photos ready for collection on Thursday, 7 December between 10am and 12 noon. For information and bookings please call P: (03) 9560 3580. OPEN GARDENS, INVERLOCH UNITING CHURCH 10AM – 4PM, SATURDAY 11 NOVEMBER Inverloch Uniting Church, Williams St, opposite the post office. Maps available from church. $10 including morning and afternoon tea. Enquiries phone Liz on M: 0401 472 669 or Bev M: 0408 502 707. 150TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS FOR MELTON UNITING CHURCH 10AM, SUNDAY 10 DECEMBER, AND 3 – 10 DECEMBER FOR WEEK’S ACTIVITIES Melton Uniting Church, Yuille Street, Melton. Join the Melton congregation for the celebration of this amazing milestone with a service of worship and thanksgiving on Sunday 10 December at 10am with guest preacher Rev Dr Allan Meyer. A shared lunch will be provided. We will be delighted to welcome old friends and new. For more information of activities for the week contact Rev Paul Blacker on M: 0407 553 495 or E: email@example.com EAST IVANHOE / HEIDELBERG ECUMENICAL ‘RICHARD MCKINNEY MEMORIAL ADVENT LECTURE SERIES 2017’ - CELEBRATE THE 500TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE REFORMATION LECTURE 1 8PM, TUESDAY 14 NOVEMBER Ivanhoe Uniting Church, 19 Seddon St, Ivanhoe. Rev Dr G O’Collins SJ, on ‘The Reformation: A Catholic and Personal Point of View.’ LECTURE 2 8PM, TUESDAY 21 NOVEMBER, St George’s Anglican Church, 46 Warncliffe Rd, East Ivanhoe. Rev G Pietsch, Bishop Emeritus Vic/ Tas District Lutheran Church of Australia, on ‘The Australian Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue’s The Ministry of Oversight – a worked example of Reformation differences moving to growth in mutual understanding’. LECTURE 3 8PM, TUESDAY 28 NOVEMBER, Mother of God Catholic Church, 63 Winifred St, East Ivanhoe. Rev Dr R Gribben, Professor Emeritus of Worship and Mission of the Uniting Church, ‘The Impact of the Reformation in England – and beyond to Nonconformity’. Refreshments and fellowship at 9.15pm after each lecture. Gold coin donation. Contact P: (03) 9497 1017 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. BOOK LAUNCH- RETURN TO MAJADDIN: A KIMBERLEY HOMECOMING 12PM, SUNDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2017 Following the 10.30am worship service St Kilda Uniting Church, 163 Chapel Street, St Kilda. This is the work of Ngarinyin Elder, Eddie Bear, sharing his family story with Rev Dr Robert Hoskin over a seven-year period, beginning with their first collaborative journey to Eddie’s traditional lands at Majaddin in the West Kimberley. The sharing of the story with the Australian public illustrates the importance of land to Aboriginal Australia, affirms the contribution Aboriginal families have made to WA, and shares the story of reconciliation from the perspective of Aboriginal people living and working in the Kimberley. BBQ to follow launch. All welcome. RSVP to Desleigh Kent on E: email@example.com or M. 0413 158 855. For more information: https://thekimberleyvoice.com.au or E: RobertHoskinreh1@iinet.com.au.
NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
HAPPY 100TH BECKETT, Veronica (Vera) Ruth We rejoice on the occasion of Vera’s 100th birthday (8 November, 2017). Born Veronica Phipps in Coburg and growing up in the Mallee in the 1920s, she and her family eventually made their home in Chelsea. In 1943, Vera married Ralph Beckett at Chelsea Methodist Church. This was the start of a shared ministry in the Methodist Church: at South Melbourne (Park St); Beeac; then in Tasmania at Derby and Queenstown; back in Victoria at Yallourn, Ballarat (Burnbank St) and Carnegie and finally the Uniting Church at Watsonia. Retirement in 1977 to their own home in Bentleigh, and the death of Ralph in 1982, has preceded a long, happy and healthy life. Vera is now resident at Bentleigh Manor Residential Aged Care, and regards herself as greatly blessed: ‘Lost in wonder, love and praise’ (Charles Wesley). David, Alison, John and Alan Beckett. Nov 2017.
CLASSIFIEDS CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 E: firstname.lastname@example.org. CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina M. 0401 177 775. LORNE : Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: 03 5289 2698. PIANO FOR SALE: ‘August Forster Lobau I/S’ beautiful panelled burr walnut, scrolled ormolu metal frame. Originally ‘M. Brash & Co Melbourne Sole Agents’, purchased from Channel 9, obviously kept in top notch condition. French polished, tuned to concert pitch. $3250. Contact Olive on M: 0407 412 222. 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. SOUTH GIPPSLAND WORSHIP: When visiting South Gippsland you are invited to join the Mirboo North Uniting Church congregation for worship at 10am each Sunday. Contact Lynne Oates on P: 03 5668 1621. VENUS BAY HOLIDAY HOUSE: Sleeps eight, two bathrooms, walking distance to beach and shops. Call Robyn M: 0407 113 376 or Johannes M: 0419 517 051. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second hand/ retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920. ROAD TRAUMA SUPPORT SERVICES VICTORIA – TIME FOR REMEMBERING 11.45AM FOR A 12:00PM START, SUNDAY 19 NOVEMBER QUEENS HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE, MELBOURNE To remember and acknowledge the impact of road trauma on our community. You are invited to bring a small framed photo of your loved one or other symbol of remembrance. RSVP Friday, 17 November to P: 1 300 367 797 or E: email@example.com. 25
A young Rohingya man carried his elderly parents more than 100 miles to escape the violence in Rakhine.
The nature of God
ONE night recently, as I was preparing to go to bed, I listened to the news. One of the news items was about the genocide currently taking place in Myanmar targeting the Rohingya people. The report told of the army moving into villages, shooting men in front of their loved ones, of women being sexually assaulted and babies being pulled from their mother’s arms and killed. The details were even more brutal than what I have written here. I didn’t sleep very well that night. I kept thinking about the mothers watching their children die.
How do these mothers keep going in the face of this experience? How do villages find the courage to regroup, to move on, to seek refuge in a neighbouring nation? Atrocities like this compel me to think about the nature of God. What does it mean to say God is love? What does it mean that I believe in a living, compassionate God who cares deeply about creation and all who inhabit the earth? How am I to be a follower of Christ in the face of such suffering? What am I to do? The Hebrew Scriptures bear witness to an ‘exodus God’ who hears the cry of her people and comes to their rescue. From slavery in Egypt and the suffering that came with enslavement the Israelites cried out to God. Rescue us, save us, take us away from here they cried. God heard their cry and sent them Moses and Aaron to bring them from slavery to freedom. This is a story of the liberation of a small, overlooked people from slavery. It is a story that reminds us that God is not unmoved by the suffering of the world. God hears when we cry out. God desires freedom and liberation for all and is at work in the world acting for the liberation of the enslaved. At the heart of the Christian story is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In his death on the cross, Jesus bears all the suffering of the world. Jesus bears all the evil of the world. Jesus bears all the injustice of the world. Through the cross, death enters into the life of God.
The death of Jesus shows us that God is not impassive, unmoved or untouched by suffering. Rather, God in Christ shows us the depths of God’s love for the world. Jesus chooses the way of suffering love rather than the way of violence and coercion. In the resurrection, God says ‘Yes’ to this way of Jesus. God vindicates Jesus’ suffering forbearance for the sake of love. God restores Jesus to life that he might be present in love in the world today. The resurrection of Jesus holds before us the hope that God is liberating the world and will liberate the world through love. Jesus’ suffering presence in the world doesn’t undo suffering. Nor does it magically resolve suffering or make it disappear. Rather it means that in the midst of suffering we have the hope that God is with us. God is enduring alongside the victims of injustice, suffering with those in distress, journeying with us through the darkness. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian jailed by the Nazis knew the power of the risen suffering one when he wrote from his prison cell: ‘Only a suffering God will do.’ The presence of Jesus alongside the broken-hearted and violated doesn’t mean that we don’t have to respond to the world. Suffering calls us to exercise our discipleship through prayer and service. In prayer, we join our distress, sorrow and worry to the prayer of Christ. In prayer, we fold ourselves into the life of God confident that God hears us and all who cry out in
despair and suffering. Acting with love because we are loved, we journey alongside people we know who are experiencing sorrow or suffering, hopeful that God walks with them and us, accompanying us in love. We advocate for a just resolution of conflict confident that God wills the liberation of the oppressed. We give of our resources in response to God’s self-giving in Jesus. Jesus’ dying and rising and God’s exodus action does not explain why there is suffering in the world. Nor does it remove suffering from the world or give us an escape from suffering with the world. Rather it points us to where God is; giving us hope that God has not left us alone but, rather, suffers in the world because love can do no other.
Sharon Hollis Moderator CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 17
Crossword This month in Crosslight
For the cluey reader
4. Incarnational ministry in the military, hospitals, jails and schools 5. Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian churches 7. Ruling political party in Zimbabwe 9. God is liberating the world and will liberate the world through love 10. Criticising or attacking cherished beliefs or institutions 11. Number of UCA National Conferences 15. Number of ministers endorsed by the UCA Assembly to serve as ADF chaplains 16. Former US President Richard Nixon was this 17. Advocates for a new way of conceptualising notions of purposeful living for youth 18. Statements of _, a means of provoking a discerning conversation 19. “Those who are called forth”
COMPILED BY LYNDA NEL
DOWN 1. Martyred German Lutheran theologian 2. Abraham _, one of six English missionaries brought to Australia for pioneering work 3. Dr _, head of the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe 4. Culturally and linguistically diverse 6. Tiny Western District town 8. Not engaged in the business of war fighting, fulfils speciality role 11. Change 12. Four-legged retirees bringing companionship 13. Historian, Andrew _ 14. Uniting bereavement support service
Giving is living
Gracious God, Thank you for enriching our lives with new experiences And for the gifts you have entrusted to us Grant us the courage to face challenges that we encounter To turn to you for strength during times of struggle And to walk with you as we share your Good News with the world Amen CONGREGATIONS in the Port Phillip West presbytery are exploring fresh ways to undertake outreach activities in their community. One of these ‘fresh expressions of church’ is the Playdate Cafe at Hoppers Crossing Uniting Church. The concept for the cafe came from Hoppers Crossing UC member Fiona Adams (pictured above right with landscape gardener Truly Welgemoed) after she attended a Mission Shaped Ministry course run by the presbytery. Fiona envisioned a cafe where parents with young children could relax in a safe and
supportive environment. It soon became apparent that the church would be the ideal location for a family-friendly community cafe. In addition to serving good coffee, the cafe offers volunteer work experience for people seeking employment, particularly mothers returning to the workforce. The synod’s Giving is Living program encourages congregations to engage with their community through initiatives like the Playdate Cafe. Monthly pew sheets documenting stories of hope and kindness can be downloaded and printed for congregational use. Visit https://www.victas.uca.org.au/givingisliving to access the pew sheets. ACROSS 4. Chaplaincy 5. Ecumenical 7. ZANU-PF 9. Resurrection 10. Iconoclastic 11. Twelve 15. Forty-five 16. Machiavellian 17. Hughes 18. Intent 19. Ecclesia
DOWN 1.Bonhoeffer 2.Ray 3.Zwana 4.CALD 6.Beeac 8. Non-combatants 11. Transition 12. Greyhounds 13. Walls 14. GriefWork
CROSSWORD ANSWERS NOVEMBER 17 - CROSSLIGHT
“DON’ T PACK UP YOUR CAMERA U N T I L Y O U ’ V E L E F T T H E L O C AT I O N .” — Joe McNally
The synod farewelled ministers benefit account officer Bernice Bond after 21 years of service.
A yarn art installation outside Chelsea Parish Uniting Church
Ted the terriercross attended Queenscliff Uniting Church’s blessing of the animals service with his human companion Anne Derbyshire.
Aitken College Year 8 students showcased the science, humanities and English projects they’ve been working on at their expo. They put together geology models, created an eBook of different writing styles and developed a campaign to save a rainforest.
Rosella Flavell, Jenny Chamberlain, David Proe and Rev Rob Gotch from Surrey Hills Uniting Church joined the fight against the proliferation of coal-mining in Australia.
Manningham Uniting Church members took part in a walkathon and raised more than $1300 for abandoned children in China.
Published on Oct 29, 2017
Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...