Crosslight Publication of the year
No. 269 September N S t b 2016
“What’s in the fridge?” - a foster care family’s inspiring story.
Readers weigh in on the neglected west, school and military chaplains.
The Synod meeting fashion fight and other well-worn op shop tales.
Ben Hur is back in his chariot but do the wheels fall off this remake?
Melbourne’s Hosier Lane is a renowned location for street art but this week it was in the news as businesses shut off alcoves that were sheltering homeless people. Our front cover illustration is inspired by British street artist and activist Banksy. Image by Crosslight illustrator Garth Jones.
The time when the tongue begins to still and knowledge begins to pass.
Synod Snaps brings you images from throughout the Church and beyond.
Regulars People - 15 Letters - 16 and 17 Reviews - 18 to 19 Notices - 20 to 21 Moderator’s column - 23
Editorial Locked out even in laneway
PENNY MULVEY WHEN is an alcove a home? Sadly, it is more often than any of us would like to imagine as we enjoy the comfort of four walls and a cosy bed. Hosier Lane, which features on the Crosslight cover, is a famous Melbourne laneway. Tourists flock there to take selfies
Communications & Media Services
UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: email@example.com ISSN 1037 826X
among the colourful street art adorning the brick walls. It is also home to the Youth Projects Living Room drop-in centre, which provides free healthcare and support to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In late August the alcoves were being boarded up in preparation for some local building works, removing sleeping options for some of Melbourne’s homeless. As this was happening Crosslight spoke to Gary, who was visiting the Living Room to collect medication for his diabetes. “It’s just very, very hard for people in lowincome situations and who are genuinely trying,” Gary said of the difficulty of accessing housing. “They don’t go out and do crime and do drugs – the majority of us just try to get along day-by-day, step-by-step. It’s very hard.” A recent count of rough sleepers in Crosslight is a monthly newspaper produced by the Communications and Media Services unit of The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. It is published 11 times a year. Opinions expressed in Crosslight do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of The Uniting Church. Advertising: Crosslight accepts advertising in good faith. Acceptance of advertising does not imply endorsement. Advertising material is at the discretion of the publisher. Distribution: Crosslight is usually distributed the first Sunday of the month.
Melbourne reported that the number of people living on the street had doubled in the last two years. Churches are very familiar with this significant societal issue, and many seek to find creative ways to support these extremely vulnerable members of our community. It might be as simple as allowing homeless people to find shelter on church properties through to establishing breakfast clubs or looking for alternative accommodation options. Homelessness is one of the ‘wicked’ problems facing the globe. People end up homeless due to a multitude of factors, which can develop very quickly or compound over time. Visible homelessness accounts for only a fraction of a much deeper problem – people who couch surf, sleep in cars, are in refuges, short stay accommodation or a family of six sleeping in one room.
A letter to Crosslight this month outlines the growth in homelessness in the City of Wyndham. The author writes: “The area has the highest number of forced rental evictions in the state and two of the top eight postcodes for ‘mortgage delinquency’ in Victoria.” Walking past a beggar or a rough sleeper raises a range of emotions for all of us … helplessness, anger, embarrassment, fear, compassion, empathy. Pilgrim Theological College’s Katharine Massam draws attention to John Calvin’s writing on prayer in this issue of Crosslight (p 17) “… he prompts us to remember that prayer enables more than we can understand, in us and beyond us. We will always be surprised by what God can do. Prayer empowers a new imagination.” When we feel helpless and overwhelmed by the world’s wicked problems, remember that we are all called to prayer.
Circulation: 21,000 (publisher’s figure).
Deadlines: Advertising and editorial.
Executive Editor - Penny Mulvey Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Design, Digital Illustration and Print Services - Garth Jones Graphic Artist - Mirna Leonita Communications Manager - Nigel Tapp Online Content Coordinator - Emmet O’Cuana Communications Officer - Tim Lam Advertising Co-ordinator - Lynda Nel Senior Media Officer - Ros Marsden Media Communications Officer - David Southwell
Please check exact dates on our website <crosslight.org.au>. Closing date for October – Friday 16 September 2016. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat Visit Crosslight online: crosslight.org.au
News Spirit of embrace APPROXIMATELY 150 people from around Australia and overseas attended a conference on spirituality and disability organised by the Uniting Church in Melbourne last month. Rev Andy Calder, synod disability inclusion officer and convenor of the Exclusion and Embrace: Disability, Justice and Spirituality conference, said the feedback from the three-day event had been very positive. “I think there was a very strong sense that people see this as a very important intersection of life for many people who are marginalised by disability,” Mr Calder said. “People welcomed the opportunity to find kindred spirits and to be able to find voice where often they can’t find voice to effect some change and improve things. So from that point of view it was a terrific morale booster for many people.” The conference hosted internationally renowned keynote speakers. Professor David Tacey spoke on Australian spirituality, US expert Bill Gaventa talked about congregational supports, Hans Reinders from the Netherlands spoke on the gift of friendship while Adelaide academic Lorna Hallahan spoke on the NDIS and spirituality. There were also 40 electives and an art exhibition that Mr Calder said was “highly acclaimed.” “People could sense the relationship between the expression of their spirituality and their experience of disability,” Mr Calder said.
Susan Stork-Finlay, Hans Reinders, Andy Calder, Bill Gaventa, Shane Clifton
A follow-up exhibition is planned for the Centre for Theology and Mission in Parkville in September. Mr Calder picked out three themes he believed emerged from the conference as issues that needed to be further pursued. “I’d like to see congregations and agencies be proactive with conversations about how we can make this a place that is welcoming
SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
had adopted valuable documents around this subject, particularly one entitled The Gift of Being. Mr Calder said the conference also highlighted the need for a recognition of the importance of spirituality in the government planning of services for people with disability.
Historic Fiji partnership
New Uniting Church agency announces inaugural CEO EXPERIENCED public sector and community services professional Paul Linossier has been appointed the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the new Uniting Church community services organisation due to come into operation on 1 October. The new organisation will be formed from the merger of 20 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). It will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania. The network of UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate across metropolitan, regional and remote parts of Victoria and Tasmania, offering a broad range of services and advocacy to support thousands of vulnerable people. Mr Linossier, currently the CEO of WMV, has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people. Inaugural Board Chair designate Bronwyn Pike said she was delighted Mr Linossier had agreed to lead the new organisation given his broad experience. “Paul is highly regarded in the public and community services sectors with a significant background in Uniting Church and other community service agencies, as well as experience in state government,” she said.
to people who traditionally find it very difficult to be part of such communities,” he said. Mr Calder also pointed to the need for a greater awareness and education around disability and spirituality, with courses on this area now being introduced into theological study. He said the World Council of Churches
“He will bring to the organisation important skills in the areas of strategic planning and organisational review, which will be important as we seek to establish the new organisation.” Mr Linossier said he was both humbled and excited by the challenge of leading the new agency. “UnitingCare agencies have a long history of supporting vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians,” he said. “As one unified agency and ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, this vital support will now be expanded and strengthened. I am proud to be working together with our agency leaders, dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners to continue to serve and advocate alongside those most in need.”
UNITING Church President Stuart McMillan has signed a historic partnership agreement with the Methodist Church in Fiji at their annual conference in Suva, Fiji. The Methodist Church is the largest Christian denomination in Fiji, representing more than 36 per cent of the total population. The agreement affirms the two churches’ shared Methodist heritage and expresses their commitment to work together in life and mission. “Our past relationship together forms the foundation of the new journey that we are being called by God to take together,” Mr McMillan said to the conference delegates. “As our two churches grew, we built a relationship that was founded in Christ. We rejoice with the Methodist Church in Fiji on the signing of this historic agreement.” Mr McMillan said the two churches have much to learn from one another. In the past, the Methodist Church in Fiji looked to the Uniting Church in Australia as their “mother and father”, but Mr McMillan said the new agreement recognises the two churches as “brothers and sisters” in Christ. “We belong to each other, we are called to be one in love, in order that the great love of God may be known
Stuart McMillan and Tevita Banivanua
and experienced by the world,” he said. “We are called to unity in Christ and we journey as pilgrims assured of God’s love and presence, with and within us in the Holy Spirit.” The agreement was signed by Mr McMillan and Methodist Church in Fiji President Rev Dr Tevita Banivanua. “We are hopeful in our relationship, with this agreement, we can truly understand our way forward together,” Dr Banivanua said. The Methodist Church in Fiji has strong historical ties with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress that stretch back to when Fijian missionaries first travelled to Arnhem Land and Cape York. This connection with First Peoples is acknowledged in the new agreement. UnitingWorld will facilitate an exchange program for groups and ministers to visit the Methodist Church in Fiji. 3
Did you know your investment could be supporting the Synod? By investing with UCA Funds Management you will be supporting the community services, advocacy and mission-based activities of the Church. Through the support of investors, we have been able to grant more than $52 million to the Synod over the last 21 years*. We grow our business to ensure that each year we are giving back as much as we can, helping the Church to reach as far into the community as possible. > Ethical investment options for personal investors, congregations and charities. > Investments governed by an Ethical Investment Policy based on the ethos of the Uniting Church in Australia and Christian values. > Access to more than 30 years of ethical investment experience.
Be a part of something bigger > www.ucafunds.com.au * As at 31 December 2015 General advice disclaimer: This advertisement provides general information only and must not in any way be construed or relied upon as legal or financial advice. No consideration has been given or will be given to the individual investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. Before acquiring a UCA Funds Management product, you should read the disclosure document for the product and seek independent advice to ensure it is appropriate for your particular objectives, financial situation and needs. UCA Funds Management is a registered business name of UCA Funds Management Limited ABN 46 102 469 821 AFSL 294147. Neither UCA Funds Management nor the Portfolios/Funds are prudentially supervised by APRA. Contributions to the Portfolios/Funds do not obtain the benefit of the depositor protection provisions of the Banking Act 1959. The Portfolios/Funds are designed for investors who wish to promote charitable purposes and support the work of The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. Unit values reflect the market value of the assets of the Portfolios/Funds, and consequently may rise or fall in line with market variations. Past performance is no indication of future results. UCA Funds Management does not guarantee the return of capital or the performance of the Portfolios/Funds.
UCA Funds Management is a social enterprise of The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
News A Christian perspective on the future of work
Church response to Nauru Files THE Uniting Church has demanded the immediate closure of Australia’s offshore detention centres following the publication of leaked documents from the Nauru facility. More than 2000 reports detailing harrowing incidents of physical, sexual and psychological abuse were collated and published by the Guardian Australia last month. Over half of the documents involve incidents with children. “The revelations confirm again the criminal culture of abuse brought about by deliberately cruel policies which dehumanise asylum seekers, particularly the young and vulnerable,” Rev Elenie Poulos, national director of UnitingJustice Australia, said in responding to the publication. “The Nauru detention centre must be closed immediately. All people seeking asylum should be brought to Australia and given the best care and support we have to offer. “This has been the Uniting Church’s position since the beginning of offshore detention, and today’s evidence shows that it has never been more urgent that the
camps on Nauru and Manus are closed as soon as possible.” President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan added his voice to the growing number of advocates calling for a national summit on alternatives to Australia’s refugee policies. “The federal government should hold a summit to explore alternatives to the current policies which include the mandatory detention and offshore processing of people seeking asylum,” Mr McMillan said. “The recent accounts of abuse and mistreatment on Nauru are just the latest in a mountain of evidence of cruelty and abuse. People are not safe there and the only way to ensure their safety is to bring them to Australia. We must offer them the best available care while their claims for protection are processed.” UnitingJustice is calling on congregations to write to their local MP in response to the Nauru Files. They have a letter-writing guide to assist congregation members who wish to contact their MP. You can download it at this link: bit.ly/NauruAction
YOUTH WORKER - DEEPDENE UNITING CHURCH An initial 6 month part-time (0.4EFT) Youth Worker is sought to work with cross-cultural youth, mainly from English and Korean speaking backgrounds. Reporting to ministers, experience with young people is essential. Must have a Working with Children Check. Full details and a position description can be found at www.christianjobs.com.au. or P: 03 9817 4319. Email application to E: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE rapidly changing nature of work will be the focus of the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit’s annual convention this month. Held at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Parkville on Saturday 17 September, this year’s convention, ‘Making Working Lives Better’, will explore the intersection between social justice and the future of work. Employment has altered dramatically in Australia in the last 10 years. Technological advances (self-serve checkouts, internet access), economic realities (a rapidly shrinking manufacturing industry), as well as changing social norms (men increasingly involved in child-care) are just some of the changes that have impacted on the way we view and experience work. The convention will also consider the impact of climate change on existing work and future work, and the potential new ways in which exploitation occurs in workplaces in Australia and overseas. How do we respond to ensure our work reflects the society we want to live in? “Work, both paid and unpaid, is rapidly changing due to technological developments and changes in roles of women and men,” Dr Mark Zirnsak, director of the JIM unit, said.
“Our globalised world means more people are crossing borders to find work, often facing terrible exploitation. “The convention will also explore if robots and artificial intelligence will replace the need for people to work, and what this would mean for the distribution of both wealth and working hours.” Two key speakers at the convention will be Dr David Tuffley, senior lecturer in Applied Ethics and SocioTechnical Studies at Griffith University’s School of ICT and Dr Fiona McDonald, senior research fellow with the Centre for People, Organisations and Work at RMIT. Rev Loni Vaitohi, a first generation migrant and Uniting Church minister in Shepparton will also speak about the experience of migrant workers, contractors and farmers. David Kerin will discuss the Earthworker Co-operative and Rev Brendan Byrne, minister at Mountview Uniting Church, will offer a theological reflection on how the Christian faith views work. Interactive workshops on themes of work and social justice will include sessions on the right to work for people seeking asylum, the myth of economic growth and what a sustainable future requires, activist self-care for those who feel a bit burnt out, labour hire businesses in Australia and how they operate and exploitation in the Indian garment industry. To register for the convention call (03) 9251 5271, e-mail email@example.com or visit http://www.justact.org.au/jim_convention
Christmas Card Range 2016
2 Mary &
1 Peace, Joy, Hope
3 The Shepherds
Each pack of 10 cards is only $8.50
4 Peace Dove
Light of the World
All proceeds support the work of Share
*A mixed pack of 10 cards is also available. It will contain two of each design.
To order: Call 1800 668 426 For more information or to download the order form, visit www.shareappeal.org.au SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
Obituary A long life well lived
8 DECEMBER 1922 – 12 JUNE 2016
Be of service to seniors SENIORS Week, celebrated on 2-9 October in Victoria and 10-16 October in Tasmania, is a time to recognise the contributions the elderly have made to the Church and wider community. Uniting AgeWell has developed a Sunday Worship Resource guide to help congregations prepare for Seniors Week celebrations. It contains sample services, recommended scriptures and prayers that can be adapted to suit individual congregations. The resource also includes hymns about companionship and hope, including a seniors’ version of Jesus Loves Me. Ministers can draw inspiration from the sermons in the guide, which explores ageing from a biblical perspective. At the end of each reading are discussion questions that focus on topics such as death, grief, suffering and finding comfort in the steadfast love of God.
Seniors Week aims to stimulate conversations about how congregations can offer ‘senior-friendly’ services that meet the spiritual needs of the elderly. With more seniors staying in their own homes for longer, this presents an opportunity for local congregations to offer pastoral care for their elderly members. Problems such as mobility, hearing and sight loss can make it difficult for some seniors to attend church. Congregations can bring portable communion kits to the homes of seniors, print sermons in large font, or record church services.
For more ideas and inspiration, download the full AgeWell Sunday Worship Resource Guide at http://www.unitingagewell.org/ Pages/News/AgeWell-Sunday-WorshipResource.aspx
AT the age of 10, Beryl Bray was appointed as secretary for the Junior Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church in East Maryborough in 1932. At the end of 2012, Beryl resigned from the St Stephen’s Church Council in Wodonga saying “… I have enjoyed my association with all members of the committees I have served with, but at 90 years of age it’s time to withdraw.” Beryl was born in Maryborough, Victoria, on 8 December 1922 and died in Wodonga on 12 June 2016 aged 93. In her 80 years of involvement on church committees, Beryl contributed extensively at the congregational level as well as being active on presbytery committees. Beryl had been on the Sunday school auxiliary and a member of nearly every committee and board of the Presbyterian, and later Uniting, Church including selection committees for ministers, property and finance, business and strategy, reviews and consultations. At aged five she joined the Presbyterian Sunday School in East Maryborough, and at 16 became a choir member and joined the Presbyterian Girls’ Fellowship. After her marriage to Nelson and his return from war service, the couple moved to Wodonga in 1954 and she joined the local church. Up until the middle of 1966 the church was run by men, but then three women became members of the board of management. Beryl was one of them. Beryl was elected for three years and quickly
became secretary of the board. It was not until 1968 that the Victorian Assembly of the Presbyterian Church allowed women as elders and, in 1969, Beryl was nominated but didn’t feel confident enough to take on this role. After much encouragement from members of the session she agreed and, in 1971, became the first female elder (Presbyterian) in Wodonga, a position she carried into the Uniting Church. In 1973 Beryl became the first woman member of the North East Presbytery and was session clerk and presbytery clerk at different times. She was the only woman in Victoria to serve as session clerk prior to Union. After Union, Beryl continued to serve the Uniting Church. In Wodonga, Beryl has served as secretary of the parish elders and parish council, was an honorary lay preacher, secretary of parish property and finance committees, and fete treasurer for nearly 30 years. She was active in presbytery on selection committees, reviews and consultations. Beryl also represented the Wodonga Uniting Church on the Albury/Wodonga Development Corporation’s Church and Community Committee. In the wider community Beryl was involved in school mothers’ clubs, parents’ associations, tuckshop, toy library and the Rechabite Lodge. Beryl loved people and always made time to talk, listen and give advice when it was called upon. She was living in her own home and active until her death. Beryl’s husband, Nelson, children Tony and Sandra, and her grand-daughter have supported her always throughout her active life of volunteering in the community and the church. They will miss her. Beryl’s contribution to the church has been far-reaching and ground-breaking for women. Today many positions are held by women but this was not always the case and Beryl Bray was a fine example of discipleship and leadership to the generations that follow. Thanks be to God for a long life well lived. Adrienne Dyall Church Council Chairperson, St Stephen’s Uniting Church Wodonga
• • •
CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
News Fostering a sense of belonging DAVID SOUTHWELL
WITH three foster children, two adult offspring of her own still in residence, a husband and a multitude of drop-ins who stay for varying amounts of time, Maree Armitt might be excused for looking for a simpler life. What she is actually looking for is a bigger house. Ms Armitt has been a foster care parent with Wesley Mission Victoria since 2008 and estimates she has had at least 20 children staying with her for varying amounts of time. Currently she has three long-term placements – two young girls who have been with her for nearly four years and a 17-year-old girl – who share the house with Ms Armitt’s 22-year-old daughter, 24-yearold son and husband Gary. “We have a crazy house, there are just people everywhere all the time, coming, going, staying, sleeping – so yeah, my house is full,” Ms Armitt said. “I constantly get phone calls ‘can you take another one?’ and if I’ve got a bed empty, say if one of my children are away for the weekend, I’ll take one on. There are no ifs, buts or maybes. These children need a warm bed and a warm home and we can give both. “We’re in the process now of looking for a larger home because we know that there are more children out there that need the same as the three we’ve got now.” Even when the beds are taken Ms Armitt says there’s always an open door for those who have stayed with her.“I have foster children that pop in and just say ‘Hi Ree, what’s in the fridge?’”, she said. September is Foster Care Month and Wesley Mission Victoria group manager
Gary, Decland, Katelyn and Maree Armitt
Jerry Ham said the need for foster care households is growing. “The underlying thing is that people need to have at least a spare bedroom and capacity in their home environment, and their hearts, to accept another person into that mix,” Mr Ham said. “There’s a wide spectrum of roles, so people with different live-in situations, environments and lifestyles can still become a foster carer. “We need a little bit of everything to be able to suit the needs of children who get placed into foster care. That might be from short-term, overnights, respite through to longer-term placements. “We are keen, however, to attract and encourage people who may have the opportunity or capacity to offer something more permanent or long-term.” Mr Ham nominated the attributes a carer needed to have. “They’ve got to really love children and have strong empathy and a wellspring of patience,” he said. “They need to be prepared and understand
that the young people who come into foster care have had a difficult start in life, so it’s like looking after children-plus. “If people are up for that challenge, then the rewards are there as well.” Mr Ham had some advice for those who were weighing up whether they could be a carer. “Get in touch because we’ve got staff who are experts in the area and are able to help people work through any questions they may have in mind while deciding if it is the right thing for them,” he said. “If it is, what they then need to do is to take things to the next stage.” Ms Armitt described the process of becoming a foster carer as ‘fantastic’ because of the training offered and said that she still felt very well supported. “If I have a problem or a hiccup I just pick up the phone and there’s somebody on the other end understanding what I am saying and what needs to be done,” Ms Armitt said. “So the support is great and the training is fantastic, honestly. And the continued training, we’re always doing more training to help us along.”
Ms Armitt says the rewards of being a foster carer are in seeing the positive change in children. “I had one child that came into our house that had no feelings, didn’t cry, didn’t know what a hug was, didn’t know what that feeling of laughter was,” she said. “By the time he left us –we had him for three years – he knew what this happy warm feeling that bubbles up on the inside is, he knows what that is. “He’s one of the ones who just walks into my house and says ‘Have I got any mail?’ and ‘What’s in the fridge? I’m hungry’.” Wesley Mission Victoria supports foster carers across the southern and eastern regions of Melbourne. Find out more at wesley.org.au/children-youth-family/ or contact them on (03) 9794 3000.
For information on being a foster carer throughout Victoria see www.fosteringconnections.com.au. In Tasmania see www.fostercare.tas.gov.au
MIND BODY SPIRIT Service - North Balwyn UCA, Duggan St. North Balwyn (Mel. 46 F3) SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 5.30 - 7.30pm - Professor Hugh R Taylor AC President, the International Council of Ophthalmology, Melbourne Laureate Professor and Harold Mitchell Chair of Indigenous Eye Health, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne. Topic - “The Vision of Aboriginal people”
SUNDAY 30 OCTOBER 5.30 - 7.30pm - Jim Beggs AM and Justice of the Peace Jim spent 20 years as a Wharfie, 8 of which as the National president of the Waterside Workers Union. He was also the Co-founder of Prison Fellowship Topic - “Proud To Be A Wharfie”
Talks are followed by soup & Reflective Worship Further details: 9857 8412, firstname.lastname@example.org or www.nbuc.org.au
Director Legal Services The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, is seeking expressions of interest from suitably qualified and accomplished General Counsels/ Directors of Legal Services. As an imaginative and inspired leader, you are also regarded for your high levels of integrity and wise stewardship in the industry. Your preferred environment is exciting, complex and diversified, as you feel it is the best way to truly maximise the breadth of experience your impressive career holds. Legal Services representation is expectantly required of you across synod committees, boards and Property Trust activities. You will oversee a small team operating across a generalist platform. You will have had a successful and extensive legal career across commercial and charitable organisations, with appropriate qualifications. An astute and agile leader, you will be able to promote the UCA values of respect, social justice and wise stewardship as the pinnacle of our decision-making processes.
Have a question regarding UCA property? Call Property Services (03) 9251 5949 or Email Property@victas.uca.org.au SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
Obtain a position description and apply online by 11th September 2016: https://ucavictas.mercury.com.au For further information contact: People and Culture (03) 9251 5917 The UCA is proud to be an inclusive employer. The UCA is committed to keeping children safe. A willingness to work within the ethos of the Uniting Church in Australia is essential. 7
News Mission in their sites DAVID SOUTHWELL
Artist impression of potential Burgundy Street hub
FOCUSING on mission is helping congregations make decisions about church property to adapt to changing circumstances and manage a process that can be both exciting and daunting. Manningham Uniting Church and the Banyule Network of churches, both in Melbourne’s north-east, have reached important milestones as they participate in the Asset Strategy Program (ASP), which helps congregations with complex property configurations best utilise those properties. The Banyule Network, which consists of five congregations with a single church council, was the first body to embark on the ASP process. Earlier this year the synod’s Property Board approved its preferred option.
Banyule is turning its Burgundy Street, Heidelberg site into a community hub and is looking for a developer to partner in the project. The hub will include church and other community facilities, such as the longrunning café and shared office space, plus residential development. The network will also retain and upgrade sites in Ivanhoe and Heidelberg Heights. Two unused manses and the East Ivanhoe church and grounds will be sold, while decisions are being made as to the sale and development of a church site at Bellevue Avenue. Lisa Stalder is part of the Banyule Network’s Project Control Group which is responsible for overseeing the six-year plan
titled Building for Mission. “It’s all about looking at what we need to do for the Uniting Church to have a presence in the Banyule area in 20, 30 years,” Ms Stalder said. “From a missional perspective it is about understanding the groups in our community who we want to support and engage with and understanding how we can bring the word of God to the community in ways that are appropriate and effective. “It is absolutely also about ensuring that we have financial sustainability.” Ms Stalder said the capital works associated with the program will be funded by church asset sales, which also support pastoral care. “This process is a real balance of taking
the forward-looking, future excitement side of things but also thinking about how to support the people for whom this isn’t exciting but daunting,” Ms Stalder said. Manningham Uniting Church, which consists of a single church council formed out of four congregations in 2012, received Property Board approval for its preferred option in July. Under this plan the church is developing a community hub in Templestowe, while another site at Woodhouse Grove, Box Hill North will be redeveloped with a mix of church buildings and residential housing. Two other church sites and an extra manse will be sold in a staged process. Wendy Austin, chair of the Manningham Church Council, said the ASP “came at the right time” when the recently merged congregations were exploring their joint future together. “Basically the whole ASP path I felt was very well done because it started with and focussed on mission,” Ms Austin said. “We have been given the opportunity to choose to sell Uniting Church underutilised property assets and use some proceeds to build a welcoming hub and offer new and connected ways of being as Christians active in the community. “If we are able to create sustainability and income and also release funds back into other UC congregations that don’t have access to the same assets we had, that is a very positive outcome.” Other congregations participating in the ASP are Coburg, Grovedale, Boroondara in Victoria and South Esk in Launceston.
SAFETY IS NO ACCIDENT! Work safely and follow safety rules
Ear muffs / ear protection Wear hearing protection such as earplugs or ear muffs
Gloves Wear gloves that fit and are the right type for the job
Long pants Wear long pants to prevent hazards to uncovered skin
Safety glasses Wear impact resistant lenses, or consider a full face shield if necessary.
Dust masks Wear a dust mask to prevent inhalation of dust and other particles. Do not use when using chemicals, toxic gases or where there is an oxygen deficiency.
T HE C H
Safety boots Wear strong, steel-toed boots to prevent foot injuries
For help or more information contact Mark Porter, Synod Safety Officer on P:03 9251 5430 l M: 0408 870 472 l E: Mark.Porter@victas.uca.org.au or see the OH&S Resources at www.victas.uca.org.au 8
CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
News Emily Evans elected to WCC executive committee
Rev Marianne Brekken and Emily Evans
THE Uniting Church will be represented by a youthful voice at the World Council of Churches (WCC) with the election of Emily Evans to the WCC executive committee. The executive committee is the top governance body of the WCC and implements strategic objectives set by the central committee. It meets twice a year and oversees council finances, monitors ongoing program work and appoints leadership staff. Ms Evans was one of 11 new members elected to the executive committee at a meeting in Trondheim, Norway in June. She has worked with the synod’s Justice and International Mission unit and is a member of the WCC gender advisory group. She was elected to the central committee in 2013 and is on the WCC’s ECHOS Commission, which consists of 20 young Christians involved in the ecumenical movement.
During the week-long meeting, the central committee approved a range of reports and decisions. These included statements on the global refugee crisis, the human rights situation in West Papua and a call for prayer following the recent Brexit vote. As a relative newcomer to the international ecumenical movement, Ms Evans hopes to achieve greater understanding of the role and responsibility of the WCC. “This includes learning about the lives and lived experience of other member churches, gaining a deeper understanding of what true Christian unity means in the world today and bringing back to the UCA new learnings and insights,” she explained. “Under their quota system of membership, I tick multiple boxes – I am young, I am a woman, I am lay and from the ‘Asian region’. With this background I hope to bring a new and fresh insight to the life and processes of the WCC.” The WCC is a fellowship of 348 member churches that collectively represent more than half a billion Christians throughout the world. It brings together churches and denominations in more than 110 countries and territories. Ms Evans believes the Uniting Church has plenty to offer to the global Christian unity movement given it was born out of the union of three denominations. “The Uniting Church in Australia brings to the WCC practical and lived experience of what it means to be living out Christian unity,” she said. “Even though I was born post-Union and all I have known is the Uniting Church, I acknowledge the journey
that led us to Union,” she said. “The UCA lives out a practical desire for dialogue with other Christian denominations and traditions. Through UnitingWorld, we have active engagement and partnership with our partner churches around the world.” Despite being a relatively young church, the UCA has offered significant contributions to the WCC. In 2005, the WCC examined its decision-making process and former Uniting Church president Rev Dr D’Arcy Wood suggested the UCA consensus approach. The WCC agreed to adopt the consensus model and now uses orange and blue cards to facilitate decisions. The Uniting Church is also represented by members on the WCC commissions. Rev Dr Morag Logan is vice-moderator of the Faith and Order Commission while Rev Elenie Poulos is involved in the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. Ms Evans said the WCC provides a space for the UCA to speak up, support and challenge other churches throughout the world as they work towards unity. “As a member church of the fellowship, the UCA is called to the goal of visible unity in one faith and one Eucharistic fellowship,” she said. “This means promoting common witness in work for mission and evangelism, engaging in Christian service by serving human need, breaking down barriers between people, seeking justice and peace and upholding the integrity of creation.”
Join us for our next adventure on an incredible journey to Myanmar. Come and experience the mystery of the former Burma. Venture in to the before, during and after of a country breaking out of its shell of isolation, for a unique and ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience. If you’re up for adventure, mystery, spending time with locals, and making cross cultural friendships, join Sue and Ken Slater in October.
The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, is seeking an experienced general lawyer who has integrity and stewardship at their core. The Legal Services Unit consists of three portfolio teams: Property, Trusts and Ethical Standards. The portfolio includes: • Legal matters arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the management of risk, the safety of children and other vulnerable groups within the life of the Church. • Advising on a wide spectrum of property law matters with a view to managing risk and efficient client services. • Advising on the significant portfolio of trusts held for the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.
Commission for Mission
Dates: 22 Oct – 5 Nov 2016 Cost: Approximately $3500-$4000* Contact: Jim Wakelam: 0403 264 124 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitingjourneys/ Email: email@example.com Website: responsibletravel.org.au *Depending on the needs of the group
“After driving an old MG around the world TWICE, what do you do next? You lead a Uniting Journey to Myanmar, of course!”
- Ken and Sue Slater
SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
To be successful in this role the person will be able to combine their commercial capabilities, admission to practise as an Australian legal practitioner with a pastoral focus ensuring that the UCA values of respect, social justice and wise stewardship underpin all decision-making processes. Obtain a position description and apply online today at: https://ucavictas.mercury.com.au/ Applications close 11th September 2016 The UCA is proud to be an inclusive employer. The UCA is committed to keeping children safe. A willingness to work within the ethos of the Uniting Church in Australia is essential. 9
New moderator champions Share “Share has always been in the picture during my church life, as a vehicle for supporting local, on-the-ground communities that I live in – and love!”
These are passionate words, spoken by the Moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis. She has backed up her words with action by becoming an ongoing Share supporter. Share was officially established 36 years ago to raise support and create awareness of the multifaceted welfare work of the Uniting Church in Victoria. Share’s first appeal generated $350,000. This highlighted that UCA congregations truly cared about local community service work. When the Victoria and Tasmania Synods merged in 2002, our reach extended into Tasmania as well. Now, donations to Share have risen to nearly $3 million a year, with a significant portion of the proceeds given in grants to UnitingCare agencies. UnitingCare is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia and supports children, young people and families, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians, people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, asylum seekers, and other people in our society who are experiencing crisis or disadvantage. “Share assists marginalised and vulnerable people; the wrap-around services Share supports have always been creative and needed,” Ms Hollis said. “My early career was in public housing, so I am interested in methods to create better communities and places where it is safe and desirable to live. I also want my children to be generous and committed to caring about people who, for whatever reason, are experiencing temporary or permanent social challenges.” Since 1980, Share has helped thousands of people by supporting creative and vital programs to urban and regional communities. Programs like the Winter Breakfast Program at Prahran Mission, Bicycles Over Lunchtime (BOLT) - an early intervention program for at-risk young boys - at South Port UnitingCare, and the Emergency Relief Program at UnitingCare Tasmania. “We continue to be amazed and humbled by the support of Share donors,” Share Director Angela Goodwin said. “They come from all walks of life and are from regions all over Victoria and Tasmania and beyond. Share supporters really are the heartbeat of Share, making all of our work possible.” There are many ways in which supporters choose to get involved and also many ways in which to give - whether it’s making a one-off donation, giving online, monthly pledge giving, leaving a gift in a will, celebrating a special occasion with a gift from the Acts of Kindness gift catalogue, becoming a Share Project Partner or even re-directing some or all of the interest from a UCA Funds Management savings account. In fact, Ms Hollis recently switched to donating through Workplace Giving. “I have supported Share in a number of ways, but it gets to a point in your life when you are earning a regular income so it’s easier to do it through payroll and your good intentions are enacted. Trying to remember to make it happen is much harder when you’re busy, so for me a monthly workplace giving donation is a no-brainer,” she says, “and I’m really looking forward to learning more about Share’s work in my new role as moderator.”
Share is the fundraising arm of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. We raise funds to resource UnitingCare, one of the largest providers of community services in Victoria and Tasmania, as well as supporting vital Uniting Church community service programs and international disaster relief. You too can impact lives through supporting Share. To find out more about how you can get involved, please call 1800 668 426 or visit www.shareappeal.org.au
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SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
Feature Seconds out – How an op shop rivalry turned into a Synod duel THE Box Hil TH Hill illl Town Hall in June was the scene of a showdown betw between two Uniting Church ministers, one that had been building buildi for months. Rev R v Cynthia Page Re Pag (left) and Rev Claire Dawe (right) came to the Synod m meeting with their fashion fates in each other’s hands. A Facebook fashion rivalry resulted in the women wome picking outfits from their respective church op shops for the other to wear at the Synod meeting. “Th “ e rivalry between Claire and I has been going goi on for about six months, it’s great fun,” Cynthia says. says “At the Synod meeting we exchanged gifts from our op shops. I gave Claire a teaspoon from o tthee Bendigo e d go Sout South Bowling Club Club, a scarf and an Italian ian Milano heart. Claire gave me a very ery lair lairy ry artifi ficial cial flower, owe an equally lairy jacket acket and and nd a pink handba handbag with ruffles.” “Obviously, I w won the challenge,” laughed aughed Claire. Claire is the minister mi for the Chelsea ea Cynthia Page Parish, made up of Carrum, Edithvale and Chelsea Uniting Churches and Cynthia is the minister at Eaglehawk and Marong Uniting Churches, just outside of Bendigo. Earlier this year, Cynthia and volunteer Tam Hein started regularly posting op shop fashion ensembles on the Eaglehawk UC Facebook, only to find that Chelsea UC began posting, trying to o outdo their country cousins in the fashion stakes. The humble op shop is often the lifeblood of many Uniting Church urch Claire Dawe communities. Scattered throughout Victoria and Tasmania, the familiar dove logo can be seen on stores in strip shopping centres, church halls and even buses converted to mobile shops. Each week, hundreds of volunteers donate their time cleaning and sizing clothes, sorting homewares and arranging displays. As well as being the place to nab a bargain, each year op shops in Australia provide millions of dollars in goods to people experiencing disadvantage. And most of the income generated through op shops goes to support programs for people in need in the local community. Angela Goodwin, director of Share, said op shops play an important role in supporting the Church’s outreach work in the community. “They are incredibly generous, donating proceeds to Share for crisis programs which help make a difference to people in need,” Ms Goodwin said. Claire explained the Chelsea op shop, attached to the Carrum Uniting Church, is much more than just a place to hunt for bargains. “It is a hugely busy op shop and it’s become a bit of a community hub,” Claire said. “There were a lot of young mums and grandmas bringing kids they were caring for through the shop. We started chatting to them and we set up a playgroup and it’s very busy. “We’ve also got a messy church here that has come from the playgroup. It’s a bit organic; there’s also a morning coffee where people can come into the church porch area from the op shop and they can get a free cuppa. “That’s become a pastoral care ministry that happens with our church volunteers.” Volunteers are the backbone of any successful op shop, and Chelsea Parish is lucky to have as many as 40 people willing to donate their time. Claire said congregation member Mabel Arnold manages the op shop and coordinates volunteer shifts. Mabel Arnold “We receive some really good quality donations and turn over a lot of money each year. This is what keeps our parish afloat,” Claire said.
“We make over $100,000 a year and donate 30 per cent of all proceeds to the local community groups. Things like the SES, the CFA and a breakfast group that we run with the Church of Christ. “The op shop is a hub of activity where you can meet with people and chat with them, hear their stories. You’re building relationships. And that’s where church is based, isn’t it?” Like the Chelsea op shop, Eaglehawk UC’s shop is something of a community hub. “It’s part of a very tiny strip shopping centre and most of the stuff is donated by locals,” Cynthia said. Volunteers from Eaglehawk, Marong and Long Gully UCs also play a huge part in the success of the shop. One volunteer Cynthia wanted to mention particularly is 84-year-old Lorna Thomas. “Lorna is on the committee of management and spends hours sorting buttons and presenting them attractively on cards. Lorna is also in charge of books and magazines, p on Thursdayy mornings and then spends many hours doing the behindserves in the shop the-scenes stuff,” Ms Page said. “The funds raised are only used for mission. We have an outreach that is youth focussed to kids in the local area and local school. We also run a community playgroup and have a small mission group that does a lot of craft and they send what they make to Aboriginal communities and make baby packs for young mums. “There’s not the stigma there used to be to op shops. Our customers are mainly local people but we get people who might be up for a day trip from Kyneton or Castlemaine. “We’ve got mums who call in before they pick the kids up; we have public housing near us so some of them are regulars. “We also donate to people who come in who are clearly doing it tough.” Lorna
Part of the community KALKEE Op-Shop in Belmont began in the back gardens of Uniting AgeWell Kalkee Community 16 years ago and d has become a major contributor to the aged care facility. Volunteer coordinator Heather Burger said the op shop has made a significant contribution to community and renovation projects. “The op shop is an essential part of Kalkee,” she said. “Over the years it has contributed enough funds to purchase two mini-buses for community outings, harps for palliative care and numerous renovation projects at the residential Hazel Breguet, Marion Parfett and Jann Brearley sites and independent living units.” Staffed entirely by volunteers, the Kalkee Op-Shop has a fun family atmosphere with some long-term volunteers racking up more hours each week than your average office worker. Geelong woman Jann Brearley has volunteered five and a half days a week for the last nine years and oversees the day-to-day operations of the shop. Jann was recently recognised for her work with people undertaking community service and nominated for the Victorian Government Community Partnership Award. This award celebrates the diverse partnerships that Corrections Victoria has with the Victorian community. “We welcome volunteers from all walks of life – from professionals, seniors and jobseekers to those undertaking community service,” she said.
CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
Feature “Every day is different and there’s never a dull moment, with many volunteers staying even after they’ve completed their service period.” Jann said the Kalkee op shop was also a place for people in the community to come in and have a chat. “For many who come in, we are the only people they talk to the entire day, so we try to provide them with a bit of companionship,” she said. “We sell clothes, kitchenware and small furniture items as well as act as lay counsellors, listening and chatting to our customers. “The Kalkee Op-Shop is a paradise for treasure hunters, ethical shoppers and people wanting to find something different and save some money.”
On the road again THE winding, dirt roads of Tasmania’s Central Highlands are not a place you want to break down in the middle of winter. So it was a relief when UnitingCare Tasmania was able to replace its old, unreliable mobile op shop bus with a new van. Community services manager at UnitingCare Tasmania Lois Van Eimeren said the mobile op shop is back on the road thanks to a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund. “We are back delivering much needed goods and friendship to the Central Highlands communities,” Lois said. “It’s the biggest van we could get that can be driven by someone driving with a normal licence. We chose one with extra height so we can now still have people walking on to the bus. It’s got LED lighting and hanging racks and we have tarps that we set up on tables and people can also walk on the bus and look at what we have hanging.” The arrival of the bus has been particularly timely as communities are still struggling with the aftermath of the floods that hit the state in June this year. “Bendigo Bank had a big blanket and warm clothing drive for us, so that stock has gone on the bus,” Lois said. “Yesterday was our second trip up into the Central Highlands, so I was able to take a lot of warm blankets and warm clothing up. They’ve had a lot of heartache up there because they were quite severely impacted with the floods.” The mobile bus operates from the UnitingCare office in Hobart. Donations from local church communities are sorted by volunteers, sized and packed on the bus before it heads out to remote towns. he “We are not out to make a lot of money, we really do it to be out there in the “W community. We recently advertised at the local school at Oust that we would be co visiting, so when we arrived we had mums there with children. A lot of pyjamas, vi cardigans and blankets went,” Lois said. ca “It was also a day where they have a community luncheon for elderly folk, so they “I were able to come and have a look as well. We had nearly run out of books when one w
UnitingCare Tasmania CEO Lindy O’Neill and Lyn Mason from the Tasmanian Community Fund
of the ladies went home and brought us a box of books – all Danielle Steele, she obviously likes the romance.” The bus will travel to towns at least twice a week, often covering more than 200 kilometres each trip as they visit isolated communities. Lois said the op shop is as much about offering outreach as it is about selling goods. She said some people in Tasmania are particularly vulnerable, especially during winter. “A few weeks ago I spoke with a man who told me he was homeless,” Lois said. “He only had thin clothing on; I asked him if he had other clothes and he told me he only had what he was dressed in. So I gave him jeans and a jacket and some tops. He put his hand in his pocket and said ‘this is all I’ve got’. He had two dollars in his hand. I said ‘Put that in your pocket, we don’t want that’. “As he left he said, ‘I can give my brother back these clothes now’. “A lot of what we do is really just visit people and have a chat, let them know that we are there with them.” Is your church community running an op shop? Rev Claire Dawe would love to hear from you about joining a Uniting Church Op Shop page and adding to the fun. Contact Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org
TOP TIPS FOR THE OP SHOPPER
Whether you are furnishing your first home, want to be fashionable on a budget or need an outfit for a fancy dress party, local op shops are the place to go when you want to make your money stretch a bit further. Tips for donating: Make sure clothes are in reasonable condition. If you wouldn’t give it to a friend – don’t donate. Wash all clothes and fold neatly into a box or bag. Ensure all paired clothes remain together – tie laces of shoes. Tips for bargain hunting: • Know what you want Start by looking at your existing wardrobe. Be ruthless and donate any clothes you haven’t worn for at least a year. Think carefully about what you need to add and make a list.
SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
Dress to shop Wear clothes you can easily change in and out of in the changing rooms. Colour your shopping Many racks are ordered by colour - start with the colours you know that suit you and you’ll have a better chance of finding something that works. Go for quality High quality brands will fit better and last longer. They’re often priced higher for this reason, but are worth spending a little more on. Even if you don’t know the brand, look for high quality fabrics like wool, cashmere or 100 per cent cotton. Classic hits Op shops can be great for buying timeless pieces like leather belts, well cut jeans, wool coats, or trench coats. Take your time Put aside a few hours to peruse the bigger op shops, you’ll need to rummage. Most of all, enjoy the op shopping experience!
Time to love NICKIE GYOMBER
OK, so we’re born, live, and then we die. “There is a time for everything under the sun.” But I’m not sure that it always feels like that. How about that time in between – when you’ve not yet died, but you’re no longer able to live as the person you once knew yourself to be? That time the tongue begins to still and the knowledge begins to pass… You know, that time when you have your head injury, your stroke, or you develop dementia. Where is the time for that? As a neurological speech pathologist, it is in this time that I meet and journey with people. I see and hear individuals and families looking to our health system, popular culture and philosophers, wrestling with what it means to live with a cognitive impairment. Now we’re living longer, more people are looking for answers. September holds both ‘Fight Dementia’ month and ‘Stroke Week’. So we’re about to be bombarded with the statistics of cognitive impairment. More than 350,000 Australians live with dementia. Up to 20 per cent of people who have a stroke will live with chronic communication impairment. Millions of Australians care for people for whom the tongues are still and the knowledge passes. 14
Dementia has become a public health crisis; it’s the fourth greatest ‘burden of disease’ in Australia, with stroke coming in third. Researchers are scrambling to find treatments and understand causes. It is good to work towards improving lives. But how does it feel to be told you’ve become a statistical ‘burden of disease’. Does it feel like there’s a time for you? It takes, on average, three years from the time of onset of symptoms for someone to get a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Yet, earlier interventions have been shown to improve overall outcomes. It wasn’t until the Enlightenment that our thoughts came to be seen as defining our very existence. As Descartes famously declared: “I think, therefore I am”. So what happens, then, when you can no longer hold onto your thoughts? Do you no longer hold onto yourself? Our contemporary, the deeply rational and avowed atheist philosopher Prof Peter Singer, has added to this conversation. He writes that it is “entirely accurate” to describe someone with severe cognitive impairment as “an empty husk”, denying them the status of “personhood” because he/she lacks “rational awareness of existing, beyond the physical organism”. Indeed, without the capacity for clear thought, Prof Singer tells us there is a time to kill. That person’s ‘time’ has ended. Is that true? Once the tongues have stilled and the knowledge passed, is there nothing left but an empty husk? Have you seen the woman who will no
longer eat for anyone but her husband? The mother who holds and smiles into the face of the son she can no longer name? The young man who becomes enlivened when a dog races around his home? The family who confidently claim that their dad is completely fine and engaged with all activities, despite his being bed-bound and non-verbal? Without clear thought there is nothing left but an empty husk? Paul, who knew little if anything about stroke and dementia, knew what is left: it is not ‘nothing’, it is the greatest of all. It is love. Health research, popular culture, and philosophy can’t always touch the truth that as rational awareness passes, love persists. So where does this leave us, as a church? How do we make this a time to heal? As an organisation, the Uniting Church runs nursing homes and provides pastoral care within health environments. But, of course, a church is more than the services it provides. The church is you and me: it is about our narrative, the story we carry and share; the story of the universality of the love of God within and beyond us all. How this divine light is not bound by thought or speech. Christine Bryden, who was diagnosed with dementia at 46, said this: “I speak of where I stand as a Christian with dementia, and how I believe God relates to me and I to him. I speak too of your role in relating to people with dementia, in ministering to them, of how you can bring the Christ-light to us. Is cognition the only measure of our presence
amongst you as spiritual beings? I believe that I am much more than just my brain structure and function, which is declining daily. My creation in the divine image is as a soul capable of love, sacrifice and hope, not as a perfect human being, in mind or body. I want you to relate to me in that way, seeing me as God sees me. Don’t abandon me at any stage, for the Holy Spirit connects us. It links our souls, our spirits – not our minds or brains. I need you to minister to me, to sing with me, pray with me, to be my memory for me. The liturgy, familiar hymns and choruses, the Lord’s Prayer – these are ways in which you can help me join with you in our walk with God.” Dementia is just disease; stroke is just altered blood flow to the brain. They touch our brains and our minds but cannot harm the divine spark of love within. The effects can be devastating, but these things are not enough to separate us from God and should not be enough to separate us from one another. This is our story. We can find a time for this time. Where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. And now faith, hope, and love abide; and the greatest of these is love.
Nickie Gyomber is a lay preacher in training and gave this sermon – inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 – at St Andrews UC in Fairfield. CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
People Local church creates Commonwealth Games stars THE Penguin Uniting Church, located in a small North-West Tasmanian coastal town, will send 10,000 stars to the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Queensland’s Gold Coast. They will not be stars of the sporting kind but, rather, the woven kind. The eight-pointed stars will form part of the One Million Stars to End Violence project, which was begun by Maryann Talia Pau as a personal response to the tragic rape and murder of Jill Meagher, in the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, in 2012. They will be displayed in a Games arts installation which aims to highlight the scourge of violence in society. Penguin Uniting is one of 100 star-weave communities worldwide, and the only one in Tasmania. They have committed to produce 10,000 stars each by the middle of next year. “The Million Stars project is an opportunity for us to be light and hope in
the world and to make something beautiful and powerful together,” Ms Pau explained. “We know that domestic violence, violence on our streets, racism and harassment is happening right now and often it is difficult to know what to do to help those who are suffering and to help prevent it. “It’s an opportunity to remind each other that we can do something about it and not feel paralysed by all that is broken with humanity.” “The long-term goal is to be light and courage for each other and to not act violently with our words and actions, but with passion and generosity.” Church member Jeanne Koetsier said she was pleased the local Uniting Friends group had supported the project and had worked hard to spread the word as well as teaching others how to weave the stars. It has struck a real chord within the Tasmanian community with groups and individuals offering their support both financially and by a commitment to produce the stars. Mrs Koetsier said the project was also a valuable community building exercise. “We see people sitting around a table and just talking and that is a wonderful thing,” she said.
From UCA to CFA EARLIER this year the Bairnsdale Uniting Church donated a parcel of land located at Glenaladale, 300 kilometres east of Melbourne, to the Country Fire Authority. The land was once the site of the Glenaladale Presbyterian Church and, after ceasing services in 1990, the 1891 building was moved to Bairnsdale where it is used as an art workshop. Marilyn Cassidy, chairperson of Bairnsdale UC, said the church was pleased to support volunteers who provide a vital service to the local community. “The Bairnsdale Uniting Church has a strong reputation of community and wider church support, as demonstrated by the thousands of dollars donated each year
Working on stars are Penguin UC members From left to right (seated) Phyllis Plapp, Isobel Hazeldine, Jeanne Koetsier. (standing) Bev Jones and Christine Paske
Little green thumbs THE youngsters at Scots Early Learning Centre in Hobart put their green thumbs to the test as part of National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day in July. Activities were spread over a week rather than just one day and included planting a herb garden, extension of the existing vegetable garden, construction of a bug house, replenishing flower pots and creation of a succulent garden. The week ended with planting a mature Korean ornamental pear tree. A table was made especially for the centre by the men’s shed at Clarence. The names of many of the children who have attended the centre, along with their teachers, have been burnt into the table to act as an historical reference. Scots ELC educator Trish Foster – who sourced the plants and co-ordinated the events – said the aim of the activities was to offer the children an opportunity to learn more about sustainability and to learn to respect their environment by creating it themselves. National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day combine to make Australia’s biggest community tree-planting event. Co-ordinated by Planet Ark, National Tree Day started in 1996 and since then more than three million Australians have planted 23 million seedlings. SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
(L-R) CFA members: Rick O’Hare, Allan Rodgers; Rev Jeff Dart, Mitchell River Parish; Marilyn C Cassidy, Chairperson Bairnsdale UC
A bit of Scotland comes to Wodonga SUSANNE DRUMMOND
Scots Early Learning Centre attendee Lewis helps out as part of National Tree Day
through its opportunity shop/friendship shed,” Ms Cassidy said. “It seemed to be a natural development to donate the land to the CFA to complement their present building on an adjacent site, for use during the fire season in a region which has had its share of bushfires.” CFA District 11 acting operations manager Allan Rogers said the additional land would allow the brigade to expand the fire station when it outgrows the existing facility. “Glenaladale brigade may not be CFA’s busiest, but it’s a vital part of this tight-knit community,” Mr Rogers said. Glenaladale Uniting Church minister Jeff Dart was pleased his church could help the brigade. “We are delighted to be able to hand over this land, which we no longer need, and it’s great to hear the plans CFA have in store for the block in the future,” Mr Dart said.
AS a member of St Stephens Uniting Church, Wodonga, I recently welcomed Rev Dr Donald MacEwan to conduct a service. Dr MacEwan and his wife, Maia, were visiting Australia from Scotland, where he is the chaplain at St Andrews University in Fife, Scotland. The MacEwans had travelled to Australia to attend the International Association of Chaplains in Higher Education (IACHE) global conference held in Bendigo in July. We met while I was was on a one-year international teacher exchange in Fife. In his sermon Dr MacEwan spoke of his work at the University of St Andrews and the parallels with his parish work previously. He was conscious of God in activities beyond his core purpose of the church and understood that God’s spirit was at work in the many activities he undertakes - even if they were not inside a church. Dr MacEwan posed the idea that the ‘church is on the margins’ caring increasingly for ourselves alone, a narrowing group of faithful believers perhaps becoming isolated from society. He was delighted to see how St Stephens
cares for many people, whether or not they are regularly at worship – when they come for food, financial advice or counselling, or buy clothing, crockery or a fridge at an affordable price at the op shop. St Stephens is at the heart of society. Perhaps Christian ministry outside the building and constructions of the church is connected more closely with ‘where God’s spirit is at’?
Letters Keeping faith PAUL of Tarsus was a man with the courage of his own conviction and he lived out that conviction right to the very end. During his time he was a rebel with a cause; today he would be somewhat of a hero’s hero. He went on preaching and starting churches in faraway lands despite being imprisoned more than once, “thrice beaten with rods, once pelted with stones, thrice shipwrecked and once spent a whole night and day adrift at open sea...” (2 Corinthians 11:25). Talk about getting the right man for the job! When I see old and frail Christians making their way to church every Sunday, come rain or snow (I don’t think they will falter a step for hell-or-high-water either), I can see a reflection of that same unstinting spirit of conviction. Though they don’t have to face angry Jews or hostile Romans, they do have to contend with the daunting cold of Ballarat’s winter mornings and insubordinate bodies. In true grit fashion, they persevere. Grudging mobility, arthritic-ridden joints and dimming sight are but a mere inconvenience, never an excuse for not attending. In going to church, they know that they are acknowledging the primary purpose of why we are created – and fulfilling it: To worship God. Such are the folks that will share in Paul’s defining account of his life when he declared in 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Kimmy Fam Ballarat, VIC
Major challenge THERE has been some concern expressed about the introduction of a single board for the amalgamated UnitingCare agencies in that it may lead to a lessening of the local relationships that currently exist between individual UnitingCare agencies and their communities. But there is one major opportunity – and challenge – that will come about from the creation of a single board and management structure. That opportunity has been argued as one of the real benefits of the amalgamation process – to redress the unbalanced nature of the Uniting Church’s support for local communities between the eastern and western suburbs of Melbourne. By the best measures available, Wyndham should be a state priority for a homelessness response. Homelessness services have recorded a doubling of demand from Wyndham residents in the past three years and homelessness figures have quadrupled in the last two Censuses. The area has the highest number of forced rental evictions in the state and two of the top eight postcodes for ‘mortgage delinquency’ in Victoria. Wyndham has one of the highest numbers of family violence incidents in the state, and there are no local accommodation options within the shire for young people exiting the care of DHHS when orders are terminated on their 18th birthday. Wyndham has had a huge increase in rough sleepers over the last six months. In the past six weeks, there have been nine separate occurrences of individuals and couples sleeping in their cars in the
rear car park at UCWS&H including four single adults sleeping in swags under our verandas for protection from the elements. Similar stories have been reported from other local support agencies, the local football club and Werribee Equestrian Centre, and Wyndham Council’s local laws team say they’ve never seen this number of people sleeping rough previously. A recent article in the Herald Sun noted that many people sleeping rough in the Melbourne CBD come from the outer suburbs. It is understood that this is a result of a lack of resourcing in our local area. Even though Wyndham is the size of Geelong (and will soon grow to the size of Canberra), many services are out-reach from inner-metropolitan areas. It will be important to see how the newly appointed CEO and board of UnitingCare in Victoria addresses this terrible situation where the western suburbs’ needs have been largely ignored by governments both state and federal. Robert Renton Presbytery Minister (Administration) Presbytery of Port Phillip West
Wrong on Access I HAVE written a couple of letters to Crosslight concerning chaplains in Victorian Government schools, and following the 2016 Synod, I write another letter with a very deep concern for the attitude shown by the Uniting Church towards our students in government schools. How can a Uniting Church, with the emphasis on ‘uniting’, propose the resourcing of a chaplaincy program, when all we have to do is support the existing Access Ministries program? Sure, there may be aspects of Access that we do not agree with but it should be our aim to work with Access to make changes that improve the work of Access Ministries in our government schools. When I met with the Moderator in August 2015 he agreed with many of my points and I offered to be part of the committee looking at chaplaincy in schools but for some reason this offer was not taken up. One of the main reasons for the breakdown in the relationship between the Uniting Church and Access Ministries was due to the wrong people in our negotiating team. Look at the Synod proposal number 28 and consider the wording. At no stage is Access Ministries mentioned and to put this in context, 30 years ago the Uniting Church was one of, if not the main supporter of Access Ministries (then CCES). For the Uniting Church to have a website that states ‘Are you looking for a values based school?’ implying that government schools might not have decent values, and then to sever our connection with government schools (via Access Ministries) must have people wondering. We should also note that Access Ministries has 11 supporting churches and ask, why are we the ‘one so correct’? My opinion is that we are the one so wrong! We are a church with a great awareness of the needs in our society – how did we get this one so wrong! Geoff Scott Bendigo, VIC
Praise for church I AM troubled by the comments made by the Rev Dr Philip Hughes in the August edition of Crosslight. He criticises the present form of church worship and buildings as not connecting with most people. He apparently advocates a community living centre in which, “we offer a whole range of activities in which we say we are building community and pointing to the spiritual”. But is this worship? How does it differ from a spirituality class at our local U3A or Council of Adult Education? Surely if the figure of Christ does not emerge from the liturgy, it is not Christian liturgy? The writings of Geoffrey Wainwright in his book, Doxology: the praise of God in worship, doctrine and life as well as the works of the theologian Douglas Hall, supply an underpinning for the proper understanding of this topic. Most churches already provide for the nurture of members’ sense of the spiritual as Dr Hughes urges. There is now greater use of art and craft skills and drama in worship service. For example: liturgical banners, visuals on the church’s overhead screen, dramatic portrayal of Biblical stories or the revival of the devotional practice of writing icons. Music for church services can be as diverse as the congregation wishes; it need not be the communal singing which he deplores. Ancient Celtic practices like meditation, Taizé-style services or ‘messy church’ are seamlessly incorporated into worship without having a community living centre devoted to the cult of the spiritual. The yearning for the transcendent and authentic Christian worship can be satisfied within our present structures, practices and community. We only have to glance at the pages of Crosslight to see churches who have a variety of worship styles and who also engage with their communities. Alan Ray Mont Albert, VIC.
Chaplains JUST a quick email to say how nice it was to read your article in Crosslight this month. I am a 21-year service man from the army. One of my co-workers at Harrison said to me today ‘what is that helicopter on the front page of Crosslight?’ I hadn’t read the article at that stage but every soldier knows what that cross is and its location. I read the introduction where you write that padres in the military are sometimes met with disapproval. I found the same sort of greeting when I went to uni to get my diploma. Most of the lecturers didn’t approve of a soldier attending the social work course they were running. I think most of the lecturers were from the Vietnam activist era and most likely thought of me as a baby killer. The funny thing is I joined the military to protect people from any walk of life regardless of race or religion. I hate the way people assume because we wear a uniform we are something we are not and it still goes on today with people I meet. At Harrisons we have three ex-services members. I wouldn’t be in this job if it wasn’t for the army and wouldn’t be the person I am today without that uniform.
I had to leave the army due to injuries and chose social work. I was lucky enough to be noticed by Harrisons and offered a role here. I love the work, the humanitarians I work alongside and the massive mixture of people I get to help in their struggles. I always say to my clients who are struggling in life with employment, AOD, domestic violence “keep your chin up and keep fighting the good fight”. I have the fondest memories of all padres I have met in the army and no matter how tough it got for a Digger in the field there was always a padre who would drop in and have a chat, smoke, beer, coffee. Keep fighting the good fight. Mark Jones via email CONGRATULATIONS on your wonderful feature on army chaplains in the August Crosslight. It was my great privilege many years ago to work alongside such chaplains. Frank was a young Anglican priest when he enlisted in the army in 1940. From then on he was the padre sometimes in the vernacular known as ‘sky pilot’. The battalion was sent to the Middle East where they sustained heavy causalities. Frank served alongside his men, going out to help bring in the wounded and dying – sometimes only a body part. Thus he could then write to family to give them the peace of knowing their son, husband, father or brother had been given a Christian burial. The battalion was returning to Australia but was diverted and landed in Java. They were captured and Frank spent the next years as a POW on the Burma Railway. He was with his men – the uniform was gone – but the padre was there. He survived. He then donned the ‘uniform’ common to the clergy of the day – a suit and clerical collar. He was wounded in mind and spirit but his men still needed the padre. He well understood the challenges of returning to a ‘normal’ life. Frank spent the rest of his life at the repat hospital with the sick and the dying; quietly day after day giving what peace he could. In a peaceful war grave cemetery in France, one grave bares the simple inscription: “Think what a man should be, he is here.” The padre/chaplain is always there. Honour them. Marie Rowland Glen Iris, VIC I WRITE in response to Penny Mulvey’s excellent article, ‘Ministry of War’ in the August Crosslight. Now here’s a really dangerous idea. Instead of a Ministry of War, let’s have a Ministry for Peace. The Carter Centre in the US reports that the elimination of the world’s total social, health and environmental problems would cost less than one quarter of its spending on war. Our own government outlays many billions of dollars annually on the military and profits from selling arms overseas. The cynics and pessimists say it is unrealistic and naïve to rid the world of war, and yet it is the dream of almost everyone on the planet. Why then do we not have a Ministry for Peace? We spend vast amounts on defence and effectively
CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
Letters nothing on promoting that which is our greatest yearning. Perhaps the Uniting Church could be really radical and become a flag bearer in lobbying for such a ministry. If a multicultural country like Australia took such an initiative, it could be the beginning of a visionary journey to peace as people see the futility and obscenity of the arms race, and the hope of world order without arms. Ghandi stood for peaceful non-violence. Martin Luther King had a dream. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers.’ A Ministry for Peace! How foolish! Oh that we might have the foolishness to pursue such a dream. Bryan Long Balwyn, VIC THE significance of the day I write this is not lost on me. 50 years ago today (August 18) as the caption on page 2 (Crosslight, August) notes, the Battle of Long Tan was fought. It is against this background that Penny Mulvey’s timely piece (‘Ministry of war’, August) was important in so far as it brought to the fore the value of military chaplains and the role they fulfil in what
some see (it appears) as a conflict with their view of a Christian response to war. I am sure that during the Vietnam War, as in many other theatres, men and women of our armed services valued the presence of a military chaplain. For two years our congregation at Wesley Castle Hill NSW was blessed with a Uniting Church chaplain based at RAAF Richmond. His wife and daughter brought a new dimension to our understanding of armed conflict and the spiritual needs of our servicemen and women. He took services and they participated in the life of our fellowship. During his time with us he was deployed to the Middle East conflict. During his deployment his wife organised a card-making day to provide cards for all occasions for those service personnel to send back home. Additionally she enlisted the support of the congregation enabling sweets to be shipped to her husband that he could give to those he encountered in his day-to-day life in the field. As a broad church the Uniting Church brings together many and varied opinions. Whilst as a church we encourage peace, our people surely must recognise that as much as they abhor war as corporate citizens we also have a responsibility to support those who risk their lives in the service of
a chaplain. They play a vital role both at home and abroad. I had the pleasure of leading the service the day we farewelled our fellow congregant in his capacity both as a Minister of the Word and an officer (chaplain) in the RAAF. The occasion was also the opportunity for me to select as one of the hymns God is our strength and refuge, the Royal Airforce hymn to the tune of The Dam Buster’s March. Allan Gibson OAM Cherrybrook, NSW I REFER to the Ministry of War feature in the August 2016 issue of Crosslight. After reading it through I felt sick and ashamed of what had occurred at the meeting. It appears the Vietnam War still continues to this day in this country. The men came home from that war – a war which was not their fault – only to be rejected and betrayed by their own nation. They suffer PTSD and moral injury brought on by the conflict and the added trauma of rejection. Any who have suffered trauma or abuse whether severe or at a lesser level will certainly understand their pain.
I watched the ABC, ‘Australian Story’ of Little Pattie (22 Aug, 2016) telling her story. She felt Australians should hang their heads in shame for the way those who returned had been treated by some. The treatment of our Vietnam Vets is a very black mark on our recent Australian history. I cannot put all this aside and just continue on with my life. The pain is too great. The pain, not only for those who knew conflict in Vietnam but those men and women who, with the love of God in their hearts, go as chaplains to difficult areas of conflict just to be a support and help to others. They suffer too in their role. I attended the commemoration of the Long Tan battle on August 18 in Corryong. That small and simple but very moving service is something I will never forget. I know the veterans who were there - we live in the same district. Nobody wants war and conflict but it is a reality of life. Just consider the conflict in families, in communities... Conflict is all around us. I cannot be one of those who pass by on the other side. Connie Carlyle via email
Pilgrim Reflection What prayer brings to the table
KATHARINE MASSAM Prayer is… The 1656 painting Praying Always by the Dutch painter Nicholas Maes is an icon of the Reformation. It shows an old woman at her kitchen table, with a simple but symbolic meal set before her. The fish, the bread and wine, the key hanging on the rudimentary hook alongside the hourglass, the bell, the book, and even the devilish cat tugging at the cloth: all these echoed the Eucharist for the 17th-century viewers. The image underlines the priesthood of all believers and makes a central theological point: that all Christians, not just church specialists, are called to pray. …the ‘Work of God’ Earlier Christians would have referred to the woman’s pause in the midst of the everyday, as doing ‘the work of God’. The conviction that prayer is the work of God, and not our work, is based strongly on Scripture. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he responded with an example: “When you pray say, ‘Our Father…’.” Claiming an intimate relationship with God who made us, alongside Jesus’ own relationship with the Father, is at the heart of Christian SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
understanding of prayer. Similarly, Paul’s Letter to the Romans reminds us that we are not slaves but children of God, who cry out with the Spirit ‘Abba, Father’. Paul affirms that prayer is the work of the Spirit (Romans 8: 26-27). Prayer is God’s gift. …to ‘become something’ There is a popular perception that prayer means getting God to do things. It is certainly human to pray for what we need, and Jesus models exactly that in the Lord’s Prayer. But prayer is also more than this. Both scripture and tradition are clear that prayer is often about increased selfunderstanding and growth towards God. In his helpful book from 1991 on Reformed Spirituality, Howard Rice distinguishes prayer that aims to ‘get something’, from more deeply Christian prayer that aims to ‘become something’. Rather than being a duty or just an urgent cry for help, the second more mature type of prayer reflects a conviction about who God is, and about ourselves as God’s own. Above all prayer is a way of shaping us to become like God, to involve us in the life of God in and for the transformation of the world. …to shape us into God The woman in the portrait lived in a world where the most popular guide to faith was John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Perhaps in contrast to Calvin’s (undeservedly dour) reputation she would have found some expansive writing on prayer in that monumental work, including key ideas in Chapter XX of Book 3. There, in keeping with his overall emphasis on God’s initiative, Calvin stressed that prayer changes us. Calvin taught that Christians come to prayer empty-handed. There is no prerequisite for a confident faith, rather prayer deepens and strengthens faith. Calvin also noticed that bringing what he ‘wanted’ to God frequently changed his hopes. Self-knowledge is one of
the important risks of prayer. Prayer opens a different horizon. It raises awareness of God’s perspective and can open up a conversation where hope and suffering are in dialogue with a loving God. Suffering remains real but prayer connects suffering to the wider reality that Love triumphs. God knows how to give bread, as the Gospel story says, even when our requests are for stones or something less than bread. … for a new imagination The woman at the table bowed in prayer is an icon of these convictions. We live in a world with other images. Dylan Voller strapped to a mechanical chair in Darwin, Omran Daqneesh alone in an ambulance in Aleppo, and the tiny body of Alan Kurdi washed up on the beach. These images are iconic too. They call us to
respond to an overwhelming catalogue of need – for political will, for social justice, for compassion. Perhaps they even mock us with the apparent futility of prayer. Calvin interrupts and nuances this train of thought. He agrees our efforts are futile, but reminds us they are not ‘our’ efforts. Essentially he makes clear we are nothing without God. The negativity of his views is sometimes so countercultural we miss their honesty, their tough-minded self-awareness, and their capacity to trust in God’s love rather than in making excuses. When we cannot see beyond the images of abuse, he prompts us to remember that prayer enables more than we can understand, in us and beyond us. We will always be surprised by what Grace can do. Prayer empowers a new imagination.
Detail from Praying Always, Nicolaes Maes, c. 1656, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
Review Born to preach REVIEW BY GARTH JONES TELEVISION | PREACHER | MA
CRITIC Adam Marshall, writing for Christianity Today, characterises AMC Television’s adaptation of cult graphic novel Preacher as being part of the presently popular vanguard of superhero entertainment. Reflecting upon these stories as miracle narratives in which good reliably triumphs over cosmic evil, Marshall characterises Preacher protagonist Rev Jesse Custer as a type of super (natural) hero: “... only this time, he’s toting a Bible and sporting a clerical collar.” Set in the fictional Texas town of Annville, the series opens with Rev Custer (Dominic Cooper) experiencing a crisis of faith. Custer, a ‘doubting man’s pastor’, as Marshall puts it, tends to his errant flock but finds himself riddled with uncertainty. Annville is a petri dish in which many of humanity’s lesser angels have taken root – the small town is riven by violence, bigotry and economic despair. As the series progresses, Custer is imbued with a heavenly power known as the Genesis force, which grants him the power of “The Word”, ostensibly the ability to have people do his bidding. Tormented by a mysterious past (his late father was also a preacher) Custer resolves
Bigger than… perhaps, but not better than REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY FILM | BEN-HUR | M
It is a brave director who takes on the might of a movie so iconic for its size and excesses that it is part of our lexicon. The 1959 version of Ben-Hur won 11 Academy Awards, including best actor for Charlton Heston. It cost more than any movie in the history of Hollywood at the time and the massive arena which staged the dramatic chariot race took 12 months to build. Fifty-seven years later, a Ben-Hur remake, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, starring Jack Huston in the title role and Toby Kebbell as the jealous adopted brother, Messala, has hit the big screen in Australia. For those unfamiliar with the story (based on the 1880 Lew Wallace novel entitled Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ), Judah BenHur is a wealthy Jewish prince who lives in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus, with his mother, sister, adopted brother Messala and two servants. Messala is a Roman whose grandfather was crucified for treason. He believes he needs to redeem his 18
to use The Word in an effort to redeem his congregation and the town at large. This is where many of Preacher’s fascinating meditations on theological matters are engaged over the course of the show’s initial 10 episodes. Preacher’s debut season navigates the darker urges of Custer’s parishioners, and also illustrates the clergyman’s own very human hubris, leading him to a crucial juncture in his own faith struggle. With his congregants continually reminding him of their selfishness and nihilism, Custer is filled with questions about his own place in Creation and decides to seek answers from God himself. With a revelation coming late in the premiere season’s finale, Custer’s spiritual journey is physically manifested in a road trip. The preacher is joined by his resourceful ex-girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and the raucous Irish vampire Cassidy (Joe Gilgun) as he embarks on this literal quest to find God. Created by Northern Irish writer Garth Ennis and English illustrator Steve Dillon in the mid-1990s, Preacher wrestles with themes of faith, morality, gender, and myths of the American frontier. The spiritual successor to Bonnie & Clyde, Wild At Heart and True Romance, Ennis and Dillon’s Southern Gothic comic book oddity has been transplanted in spirit to the small screen by comedians Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (This Is The End), with assistance from Breaking Bad producer Sam Catlin. An enthusiastic, extremely contemporary genre mashup, Preacher is a subversive
black comedy equally at home with ribald humour and relationship drama as it is earnest contemplation of mankind’s role in the universe. As Christian Comic Book Society writer Daniel N. Gullotta points out in online journal Sequart (http://sequart.org/ magazine/442/the-god-of-preacher/) “in the end… Preacher takes these theological ideas to their extremes. They are not meant to be taken literally or seriously. [Preacher] presents a deeply captivating critique of some of the most commonly held and accepted religious doctrines and ideas.”
Preacher certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – if you’ve seen the work of Quentin Tarantino you might have a good idea of what to expect – but, if you’re in the mood for an energetic, unique television experience that wrestles with big theological issues, this show will fit the bill. It’s vulgar, it’s rude and it’s crude, but, at its heart, Preacher is about the quest for spiritual understanding and evolution in a cynical world. With a second season scheduled for 2017, our heroes’ journeys are just beginning – it will be fascinating to see where their inner quests lead them.
name so that he can be a more worthy son and prospective son-in-law to the family who has cared for him. This prompts him to betray Judah into captivity. The Jewish poor, in contrast to Judah BenHur and his family, suffer greatly at the hands of the Romans, drawing parallels with some Middle Eastern cities in the present. It is in this context of poverty and servility that Jesus is introduced to the audience. Working at his craft as carpenter, Jesus speaks words of love to Judah as he walks past. Later Jesus offers Judah water as he falls to the ground, bloodied and broken, on his way to the hard unrelenting life as a galley slave for the Roman conquerors. What about the chariot race? It is spectacular. It is violent. This reviewer found it hard to watch horses being apparently hurt and riders trampled to death. However, with the use of
CGI, it would match the original in drama, brutality and the crowd’s lust for blood. The new Ben-Hur attempts to replicate the epic qualities of its predecessor, but it doesn’t quite make it. There is little emotional connection with the two protagonists Judah and Messala. Also the women within the Ben-Hur compound, despite being central to the plot development, are poorly defined, meaning the audience is unmoved by their plight. In many ways, the producers and director of Ben-Hur are tackling the same issue on the big screen as Christian communities all around the world – how do we bring the story of Christian faith to a sophisticated society surrounded by choice? The challenge for filmmakers is to find ways of authentically engaging an unchurched contemporary audience, used to superheroes and complex action scenes, with the deeper message of grace. Unfortunately the message of
forgiveness feels tacked on the end of an extremely violent movie. The gift of redemption is life-changing, but somehow the sudden switch at the movie’s end from full throttle revenge to happily ever after seemed flippant and contrived. The 20 anonymous Jews who had been crucified because of Judah’s impulsive actions were somehow forgotten, a mere footnote to the storyline. In cinemas now.
©2016 Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures INC. All rights reserved.
CROSSLIGHT - SEPTEMBER 16
Reason to believe
Back to basis
Faith in science
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
REVIEW BY REV DR CRAIG THOMPSON
REVIEW BY GARTH JONES
REVIEW BY BOB FASER
BOOK | GOD IS NO THING: COHERENT CHRISTIANITY | RUPERT SHORTT
BOOK | MANIFESTO FOR RENEWAL | ANDREW DUTNEY
BOOK | CONFRONTING RELIGIOUS DENIAL OF SCIENCE: CHRISTIAN HUMANISM AND THE MORAL IMAGINATION | CATHERINE M. WALLACE
BOOK | DISTURBING MUCH, DISTURBING MANY: THEOLOGY PROVOKED BY THE BASIS OF UNION | GEOFF THOMPSON
THERE is a strain of English Christianity that sees faith as entirely reasonable and sensible, like packing an umbrella when the weather looks inclement. We see it in the theology of Alister McGrath and John Polkinghorne, who make arguments from natural theology, who explain how belief in God fits in with quantum mechanics and philosophy, who explain God as ‘ground of being’, necessary mover of the universe, and so on. To an extent, Rupert Shortt is of this school, arguing for a ‘coherent’ Christianity that can make a certain amount of sense to outsiders. And so this short book is an apologia for Christianity, arguing that it is compatible with modern science, and a summary of how clichéd, superficial and wrong-footed the thrusts of the New Atheists are. Shortt recruits McGrath and sympathetic writers of his ilk, as well as Thomas Aquinas, and gets into the nitty-gritty of theodicy, the historical Jesus, and evolutionary theory and belief-forming, all in a whirlwind tour of 100 pages. Like David Bentley Hart and Terry Eagleton, he has a way with words, perhaps without quite the same withering wit. At the same time, as writers such as Jacques Ellul point out, Christianity stands radically at odds with secular society, just as an English eccentricity exists alongside English sense. Therefore, Shortt may have an uphill battle convincing nonbelievers. As Saint Paul says, Christianity is “foolishness to the Greeks”, so the convincing must occur through lifestyle, not merely argument. This is the clincher that Shortt wisely recognises, giving the book balance, much as Saint Paul both argued philosophically and encouraged life in the Spirit. Shortt notes that we come to faith largely through living it. Christianity makes sense from the inside, through worship, family life, sharing bread and confronting injustice, not just in thinking about the origins of the universe.
A GOOD history is informative, sobering and inspiring. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney’s 2016 revised and expanded edition of his 1986 Manifesto for Renewal is such a history. Manifesto tracks the progress of the parent denominations of the Uniting Church towards Union, with particular attention to the development of the Basis of Union. This book is informative in the detail it provides of the content, and of the ecumenical and political context, of the work of the Joint Commission on Church Union and the individual denominations. It helpfully illuminates the purpose and content of the Basis by providing insight into the particular polemic in which the Basis is engaged: what it was to which it was saying No and Yes at that time. Without this sense of what the Basis might have been, we have less understanding of what it actually is. Dutney’s account of the historical context is sobering for two reasons. First are the resonances between then and now – for all of the remarkable theological work done at that time, not much has changed. Not least is the continuing need to answer the questions asked at the beginning of the process towards Union: “What is the Church’s faith? Where is it to be found?” Second is that, for all our need to continue to work on such questions, our parent churches demonstrated a broad-based capacity for engaging theologically with such questions which is much less evident today. Finally, this is an inspiring book because its subject matter – the Basis itself – is inspiring. Dutney reveals the Basis as a living document from which the contemporary church still has much to hear. We are blessed to have it. Accompanying Dutney’s revised volume is a re-issue of a slim commentary on the Basis by Davis McCaughey. This is a pre-Union commentary and Dutney’s introduction gives an account of McCaughey’s personal contribution to the formulation of the Basis. Both these books are worth attention in the lead up to the 40th anniversary of Union next year.
IN last June’s Crosslight, I reviewed Prof David Tacey’s Beyond Literal Belief: Religion As Metaphor. Tacey’s book characterised the Bible as ‘a tapestry of stories designed to challenge and enhance life’s meaning’. Tacey acknowledged the work of ‘fundamentalist atheists’ like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as misapprehending the symbolic nature of faith in favour of literalism. The latest in cultural historian Catherine M. Wallace’s Confronting Fundamentalism series, Confronting Religious Denial of Science explores similar notions of metaphor and symbolism in an attempt to reconcile the opposition between science and religion, which dates back to the Enlightenment. As informed by the work of natural philosopher Isaac Newton, the Enlightenment framed God as the Engineer Almighty, orchestrating all earthly events. Wallace suggests that, when Frederich Neitzsche famously declared “God is dead”, he was actually referring to the death of moral absolutes as evolving scientific thinking rendered the Engineer Almighty concept redundant. Citing anthropologist Clifford Geertz’s concept of religion as ‘an evolved disposition to create symbolic structures that motivate pro-social behaviours’, Wallace examines the ways in which this approach can help rationalise the contradictions between science and belief. Championing an evolving, dynamic approach to scriptural engagement, Wallace suggests a humanist paradigm in which Christianity is eternally evolving “source code”, with the notion of “God as love” at its core. This approach allows science and religion to cohabit, while also trusting that logic would finally consign the regressive contradictory dogma of fundamentalist and far right biblical literalist thinking to the past. This book is a slim tome, a series of vignettes designed to encourage further investigation and scholarship. Steeped in approachable language, Wallace includes personal anecdotes to illustrate her thesis. The author has a frustrating tendency, however, to reference as-yet unpublished volumes, giving the impression of an incomplete work. Passionately advocating for an embrace of humanism as Christianity’s primary ethos, Confronting Religious Denial of Science is a thought-provoking work which will increase in value as subsequent volumes are released.
SINCE 1977, there have been numerous studies of the Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia. Nevertheless, this recent volume by Rev Dr Geoff Thompson (coordinator of Studies in Systematic Theology, Pilgrim Theological College) breaks new ground. At the beginning of this book, Thompson indicates that the intentions of those who framed the Basis of Union were not to cobble together a church structure that could accommodate three denominational traditions, along with a variety of different emphases of belief and practice. Rather, in the words of the first report of the Joint Commission on Church Union, The Faith of the Church, the task of the Basis of Union would be no less than “a fresh confession of the faith of the Church”, with the knowledge that such fresh confession would “disturb much and disturb many”. This book explores the ways in which such a “fresh confession of the faith of the Church” impacts on the issues confronting the UCA today, including relationships with Indigenous Australians (both inside and outside the Church) and the inclusion of LGBTIQ Christians within the church. The chapter on theological relativism is particularly useful. I personally cheered when I read Thompson’s call for the UCA to formally affirm the existing practice of most UCA congregations to celebrate Holy Communion with an “open table”. I’m sure that, like the Basis of Union itself, Thompson’s study will “disturb many”. If you cannot deal with a church which affirms critical biblical scholarship and which welcomes the ministry of LGBTIQ people, be prepared to be disturbed. If you believe such historic Christian affirmations as the Incarnation and the Trinity are artefacts of the past rather than a source of liberating possibilities in the present and the future, be prepared to be disturbed. If you believe that the UCA, like Ms Mary Poppins, is already “practically perfect in every way” (particularly in your own congregation) rather than a work in progress, be prepared to be disturbed. In any event, enjoy the disturbance.
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Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 19 AUGUST 2016 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Mitchell River – Paynesville (0.6) Traralgon District PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Dunolly (0.5) (P) Sunraysia (UCOS) (0.5)** Tyrell PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Mansfield (0.3) Rutherglen (Rutherglen/Chiltern-CorowaHowlong) (0.5) Upper Murray (Corryong, Walwa) (0.5) Wodonga (St Stephens) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Oakleigh (St David’s), Balkara Parish (0.5) Beaumaris (0.6) Bentleigh Brighton (Trinity) Frankston (High St) (0.5) – Monash University Peninsula Campus Chaplain (0.5) Narre Warren North (0.7) (P) Presbytery Minister – Mission and Education (2 years) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Altona Meadows – Laverton (0.4) Belmont (0.6) Lara (0.6)** St Albans/Caroline Springs - Sydenham Sunbury (0.8)** PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Nil PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Nil PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Croydon North – Gifford Village (0.5) East Kew** Eltham – Montmorency (0.5) (3 year term) Melbourne (St Michaels) Tecoma (0.6) SYNOD Ethical Standards Officer Hopkins Region Prisons and MRC Chaplain (0.6) (P) New Agency – Director of Mission Strategic Review Implementation – Strategic Framework Officer ** These placements have not yet lodged a profile with the Placements Committee, therefore they are not yet in conversation with any minister. There is no guarantee that the placement will be listed within the next month. (P) These placements are listed as also being suitable for a Pastor under Regulations 2.3.3 (a) (ii). A person may offer to serve the church in an approved placement through a written application to the Synod. Further information on these vacancies may be obtained from the Secretary of the Placements Committee: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson. Email: placements. email@example.com Formal expressions of interest should be put in writing to Isabel.
MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Judy Rigby (Lay), Glenroy – Pascoe Vale (0.5) commenced 1 August 2016 Brian Morgan, Mobile Ministry, to commence 1 November 2016 Rajitha Perera (Deacon), Noble Park (St Columbas) (0.5), to commence 15 October 2016 David Pargeter, St Kilda Parish Mission, to commence 7 November 2016 Raja Rajakulendran, Tecoma (0.6), commenced 1 August 2016 INTER SYNOD TRANSFERS Joan Frances, to transfer to the Synod of New South Wales and ACT from 30 September 2016. RETIREMENTS Colin Gurteen, Kingston, to retire on 30 June 2017 Carol Bennett, Synod Liaison Minister (Tas), to retire on 30 June 2017
COMING EVENTS RETREAT DAY – LOVE AND FEAR 9.30AM - 3.30PM, FRIDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER Cottles Bridge, Victoria. Aware of the prevalence of violence in our society, this retreat day creates sacred space for exploring the interplay of fear and love. Attend to your own fears amidst the beauty of Christine’s Garden; discover space for love, strength and clarity within you as a sign of hope for peace in our world. Facilitated by Joan Wright Howie and Christine Wright. Cost: $50 includes lunch. For more information contact Joan on M: 0424 670 093. STRENGTHEN YOUR RELATIONSHIP AT A WINE AND CHEESE EVENING 7.00PM - 9:30PM, SATURDAY, 3 SEPTEMBER 6.30PM - 9.00PM, THURSDAY, 8 SEPTEMBER Sacred Space – Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Developing healthy relationships involves asking questions: Why do I do what I do? Are there personality traits that irritate me? Am I a person who: avoids conflict, withdraws, lashes out, or just gives in? These are learned behaviours. With awareness and understanding you can learn to respond positively without just reacting. You will be introduced to the Enneagram personality system. For more information contact Margaret Loftus on M: 0418 375 229. CONTEMPLATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY NETWORK 2.00PM – 4.00PM, 1st Saturday of the month Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Cres, Parkville. Are you interested in photography/videography as a spiritual practice? The network gatherings will offer a time of reflection, a place to enhance technical skills (whether newly acquired or well-seasoned), and a forum for discussion, support and encouragement. RSVP essential at E: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rev Deacon Peter Batten on M: 0419 255 585. FREE SPIRIT CHOIR CONCERT 2.30PM, SUNDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue & Kingsway. Music to suit all tastes. Afternoon tea to follow. Proceeds to assist the outreach work of GWUC. For further information call Vida on M: 0411 246 254.
NINE FACES OF THE SOUL 10.00AM – 3.00PM, MONDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER Sacred Space – Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. At the core of the desire to heal, grow and deepen our faith is the yearning to experience God’s presence and discover our divine nature, our true self. This workshop will lead you to a deeper understanding of yourself and others, and start the process of integrating your personality. With more awareness of why you do what you do, there is an opportunity to experience more of the nature of God. For more information contact Margaret Loftus on M: 0418 375 229. KYNETON UC BOOKS & BITES EVENT @ KYNETON DAFFODIL & ARTS FESTIVAL 2016 9.00AM – 3.30PM, SATURDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER Kyneton Uniting Church Hall, 54 Ebden Street, Kyneton. Books for sale to suit every taste and all age groups, from toddlers’ picture books to the classical tomes and coffee table treasures. Browse and then enjoy a delicious slice with tea or coffee. There will also be a Frontier Services BBQ fundraiser to assist people in Australia’s remote regions. Festival information at www.kynetondaffodilarts.org.au. For event specific information contact Joan Mills on P: 03 5423 9141. KYNETON UC OPPORTUNITY SHOP SUPER SUNDAY SALE 9.00AM – 4.00PM, SUNDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER Kyneton Uniting Church Opportunity Shop, 22 Market St, Kyneton. Proceeds from this Sunday Sale will be donated to the Choir of Hard Knocks. In association with the Kyneton Daffodil & Arts Festival www.kynetondaffodilarts.org.au. The contact for this event is Flo Watson on P: 03 5422 2296. CONCERT AT SURREY HILLS UNITING CHURCH 2.30PM, SUNDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER Surrey Hills Uniting Church, cnr Canterbury Rd and Valonia Av. The Immanuel Singers will provide a program of spiritual and inspirational music at the Surrey Hills Uniting Church. Entry is by donation and afternoon tea will be provided. Funds raised will go to SOSK (Skills, Opportunity, Survival in Kenya), a not-for-profit organisation which supports educational and training programs for children and destitute women in Kenya. INVITATION TO SRI LANKAN ECUMENICAL SERVICE 4.00PM, SATURDAY, 17 SEPTEMBER Korean Church Melbourne, 23-27 Glendearg Grove, Malvern. Music and singing led by The ConChord Choir. Please RSVP (for catering purposes) by 4 September to Dev on P: 03 9504 3077 or E: email@example.com, Maheshini on P: 03 9801 4349 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org, or Noel on M: 0415 486 009 or E: email@example.com. REUNION SERVICE FOR BELLEVUE AVENUE ROSANNA UNITING CHURCH 2.00PM, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER Arden Crescent Uniting Church, Rosanna. Congregational members of the Bellevue Avenue Rosanna Uniting Church (which closed in February 2012) are having a reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the ‘new’ church on 18 September 1966. Anyone with Bellevue connections is invited to attend. The preacher will be Rev David Leach (Bellevue minister in the early 80’s). The congregation dates from February 1948, and the updated Memorial Book will be re-dedicated. Afternoon tea will be served. Enquiries can be directed to Pauline Atkins on P: 03 9459 9812 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF GRESSWELL UNITING CHURCH’S BUNDOORA WORSHIP CENTRE 10.30AM, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER Gresswell Uniting Church, 74-76 Greenwood Drive, Bundoora. Thanksgiving Service, followed by a light luncheon and a pleasant afternoon’s entertainment. All past members and clergy are warmly invited to attend. RSVP to Allan Burfitt, Co-ordinator on E: email@example.com or M: 0419 597 648. GEELONG WELSH LADIES CHOIR CONCERT AT TORQUAY UNITING CHURCH 2.00PM, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER Torquay Uniting Church, 27 Anderson Street, Torquay. Come and enjoy a wonderful musical afternoon and afternoon tea as Torquay Uniting Church present the Geelong Welsh Ladies Choir in Concert. Tickets $20, available at the door. BIBLE AND ECOLOGY: READING SCRIPTURE THROUGH ECOLOGICAL EYES 10.30AM – 5.30PM, MONDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville. In this full-day webinar, we will hear from scholars around the country about reading the Bible through “ecological eyes”, and will practise applying such lenses to scripture. Brought to you by Uniting Earth Ministry, in collaboration with theological colleges across the country. Cost: Donation. Morning tea and afternoon tea provided. BYO lunch. Registrations: More information and register your attendance at http://unitingearthweb.org.au/events. AMERICAN CEYLON MISSION BICENTENNIAL THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION 4.30PM, SATURDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER Koornang Uniting Church, Murrumbeena A service of thanksgiving and celebratory dinner will be held to mark the bicentenary of the American Ceylon Mission (ACM). ACM was started by the missionaries sent by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) of the Congregational Church in America. For event tickets and information contact Rev Dev Anandarajan on M: 0414 721 015 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org. TRANSFORM YOUNG UCA ADULTS GATHERING 5.00PM, SATURDAY, 8 OCTOBER Brunswick Uniting Church, Sydney Rd, Melbourne. The next Transform young UCA adults gathering will be on the theme ‘What is the church for?’ Leading our conversation will be John Flett, lecturer in mission studies at Pilgrim Theological College. For more information see www.transformgatherings.com. SERVICE OF THANKSGIVING – MONTMORENCY UNITING CHURCH (Formerly St. Andrews Presbyterian) 9.30AM, SUNDAY, 9 OCTOBER Montmorency Uniting Church, cnr Rattray and Mountain View Roads, Montmorency. The Sunday church service will be a Service of Thanksgiving, as well as the celebration of 102 years of service to the community of Montmorency and surrounds, before the closure of the church, and will be followed by refreshments. Future services for the Eltham Montmorency Uniting Church will be held at 1 John Street, Eltham. For more information contact: Fiona Bruinsma on M: 0417 164 503 or E: email@example.com.
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Notices GRAND FETE, GLEN WAVERLEY 8.30AM - 2.00PM, SATURDAY, 15 OCTOBER Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, Glen Waverley. Lots of stalls, food, entertainment, a huge trash ‘n treasure stall, pre-loved books, pre-loved clothes, craft, cakes, plants, and a silent auction. Your donations of goods for the stalls are most welcome. (Please do not bring to the church until the week of the fete). All proceeds from the fete support our Church’s outreach projects. For further information, please contact the Church Office on P: 03 9560 3580. ANNUAL HISTORIC ORGANS ON RICHMOND HILL CONCERT 3.00PM, SUNDAY, 16 OCTOBER This ecumenical progressive organ concert begins at St Stephen’s Anglican Church (360 Church St), moves to St Ignatius’ Catholic Church (326 Church St), and concludes at Richmond Uniting Church (304 Church St), followed by refreshments. Everyone is welcome. All venues are wheelchair accessible. Entry is by donation (gold coin or a non-perishable food item) at the door. All funds raised go to the Richmond Churches Food Centre, which provides food security to hundreds of households each week. FRIENDS OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA AND THE SOLOMON ISLANDS 12.00PM - 4.30PM, SATURDAY, 22 OCTOBER St Andrews Uniting Church, cnr Malvern & Burke Roads, Gardiner. (Melways: P.59, H7). This group brings together people who have lived or worked in these countries to share common interests, update on current developments, and provide practical support. For more information: Margaret White P: 03 9889 7345 or Don Cracknell P: 03 5623 6058.
IMMANUEL SINGERS SUPPORTING AFRICAN ENTERPRISE 7.30PM, SATURDAY, 22 OCTOBER Burwood Uniting Church, 1 Hyslop Street, Glen Iris. An evening of song with supper to follow. Hear the latest developments in spreading God’s Word in Africa and in support of African Enterprise, a mission in Africa, run by Africans for Africans. Entry: Donation to African Enterprise. For more information P: 03 9808 5993. SENIORS’ MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM – 12.00PM, THURSDAY, 27 OCTOBER Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, Glen Waverley. Bring your family and friends. All donations to research into motor neurone disease. For information and group bookings P: 03 9560 3580. OPEN GARDENS DAY, INVERLOCH 10.00AM – 4.00PM, SATURDAY, 5 NOVEMBER Inverloch Uniting Church, Williams Street, Inverloch. Maps will be available from the Church opposite the post office in Williams Street. Cost is $10 per person, which includes morning or afternoon tea. For more information, contact Liz on P: 03 5674 1969 or M: 0401 472 669 or Bev on M: 0408 502 707. AWESOME FOURSOME ART EXHIBITION OPENING DAY SATURDAY, 12 NOVEMBER, continuing to WEDNESDAY, 26 NOVEMBER Gallery 314, Richmond Uniting Church, 314 Church Street, Richmond. Art exhibition of works by the ‘Awesome Foursome’. For more information P: 03 9427 1282.
Ministry Placement Geraldton (Midwest Coast of Western Australia) Applications are invited for a Minister of the Word to fill a vacant placement at Lighthouse, Geraldton. Lighthouse Uniting Church is a multi-generational, multicultural congregation. More than 200 people attend activities in the Church throughout the week. It has a strong emphasis on building relations within and beyond the Church, with service in mission, discipleship, children and family ministry and small groups for all ages. A strong sense of unity is evident between congregations of all Geraldton churches. This single ministry placement is supported by a willing team of lay leaders, lay preachers and committed congregations in each centre (Lighthouse supports two neighbouring rural congregations). The Church office has an office assistant and an operations manager. The Church council oversees the provision for ministry and works with the minister to ensure leadership within the ministry areas. The successful applicant will: • Support a biblical world view. • Have a compassionate heart for pastoral care. • Be enthusiastic about working with the congregation and community, leading outreach ministry. • Support our current mission focus. • Possess the skills and passion to train and mentor leaders to build on the small group program within the church, and • Focus on children and family ministry. Geraldton is a large coastal, rural city with many facilities. Located 420km north of Perth, please visit www.lighthousegeraldton.com and www.cgg.wa.gov.au for further details. Alternative housing options are available including the provision of a housing allowance or coverage of rental cost. If interested, please send your ministerial profile with cover letter through to Rev John Barendrecht, Manager of the Pastoral and Placements Unit at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Closing Date: 30 September 2016.
SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
COME AND VISIT THE HUB 10.00AM – 2.00PM, TUESDAYS and THURSDAYS, and 10.00AM – 12 NOON, WEDNESDAYS The Hub at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people to enjoy some company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practice speaking in English in an informal setting. People of all ages are welcome. For information P: 03 9560 3580.
CLASSIFIEDS CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 E: email@example.com. CAPE WOOLAMAI: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina P: 0403 133 710. FAMILY SEEKING STUDENT NANNY: to collect primary school boy from school (Surrey Hills) and take home (Canterbury). Requirement approximately 2 hours, Tuesdays. Contact Jill Rossouw on M: 0418 506 082 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am. LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: 03 5289 2698. PSYCHOLOGIST: Sue Tansey, BA (Hons), MPsych (Counselling) MAPS. Individual and relationship counselling. Bulk billing for clients who have a referral from their GP and have a low income. St Kilda. P: 0418 537 342 or E: email@example.com. QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN PAINTER: handyman, interior/exterior work, available outer eastern suburbs. P: 03 9725 6417. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: 03 5628 5319. TWO BEDROOM INDEPENDENT LIVING UNITS (OVER 55’S): St Andrew’s Close, Stratford. www.ucgipps.org.au. P: 03 5144 7777. 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.
Ministry Placement Albany Region (South Coast of Western Australia) Applications are invited for a MOW/Deacon to fill a vacant placement with the Albany Regional Congregations, comprising Albany, Lockyer (suburban Albany), Denmark and Mt Barker. All congregations are within a 55 kilometre distance of Albany and each has weekly worship. In addition, Lockyer congregation has messy church once a month. This single-ministry agent placement is supported by a willing team of lay leaders, lay preachers and committed congregations in each centre. A Church office has a part-time paid office assistant. The joint Regional Church Council oversees the provision for ministry and works with the minister to ensure leadership of worship across the congregations. Each congregation reaches out to the community in a variety of ways. A number of new mission initiatives across the region are envisaged and the congregations are seeking leadership and support to assist moving these forward. The successful applicant will meet the following criteria: • An acceptance of a broad expression of theological viewpoints. • Focus on supporting, caring for and encouraging active lay leadership teams. • Conducting worship in conjunction with a team of lay preachers and leaders across the congregations. • Being involved in assisting the congregations to develop future mission within their communities. Situated 400km south of Perth, the town of Albany has a population of approximately 35,000 and is a regional centre for tourism, arts and crafts, and agriculture. Alternative housing options are available including the existing manse, the purchase of a new manse, or the provision of a housing allowance. If interested, please send your ministerial profile with cover letter to Rev John Barendrecht, Manager of the Pastoral and Placements Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrate Compassion at
ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR: ST MICHAEL’S WEEK SUNDAY 18 SEPTEMBER — SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER You are invited to join us as we celebrate Compassion during St Michael’s Week 2016. One of the greatest enhancers of inner wellbeing comes from the development of compassion. The old expression, The Golden Rule embodies the principle of Compassion: Do to others what you would have them do to you. During St Michael’s Week we ask everyone to consider how they can bring more compassion to the world. Some of the inspirational events taking place during St Michael’s Week are: Free Music Salon Each day of St Michael’s Week:, 1pm :- 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 September. Experience the rich acoustics and breathtaking ambiance of St Michael’s on Collins while enjoying this inspirational series of free concerts. Healthy Ageing Seminar - S.A.G.E. 10am, Friday 23 September. “How we value each other” Presented by Dr Francis Macnab and Julijana Chochovski. For more information about all of our St Michael’s Week event visit: www.stmichaels.org.au.
Moderator’s column Safety lesson is one we need to learn OVER the last few weeks I have spent considerable time thinking about safety, security and what it means for us to become a safer church. Some of this thinking has arisen from meeting with survivors of abuse. Their courage in telling their stories and holding us accountable for what they suffered demands that we work as hard as we can as a church to both offer redress to survivors and to prevent abuse. I have also had the pleasure of presenting Safe Church certificates and seeing churches actively and positively work to be communities where people can be confident that the congregation takes their safety seriously. As a church we are called to confess our sin and to be open to the need to renew and reform our life. The current Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Victorian joint parliamentary report Betrayal of Trust both reveal the many ways we as a church have failed to protect children from abuse. This abuse calls us to repent of our wrongdoing, our failing and our negligence as a church. Repentance also requires that we change our lives in order to show that we have learnt from our failings and desire to do better in the future. One way we do this is to implement the
Safe Church guidelines. The Basis of Union (Para 11) makes it clear that a relationship with contemporary society is vital for understanding ourselves and our mission. If we want to engage in ministry and mission in ways that heed what contemporary society is telling us, we need to take seriously the processes, policies and procedures that ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. Our willingness to create a culture that fosters safety is both a sign that we are
learning from contemporary society and a witness to our desire to provide as safe a space as possible within our communities. I know that the processes of becoming a Safe Church can seem like an intrusion. Some of you feel that you are not trusted because you are asked to get a criminal history check or a Working with Children Check or a Working with Vulnerable People Registration. The forms can seem cumbersome and the process inhibiting. Compared to the risks of not attending to
processes of becoming a safer community these are small requirements we need to be willing to surrender to for the sake of valuing the children and vulnerable adults in our midst. As Christians our safety comes from knowing that underneath us are the everlasting arms of God and that nothing in life or death can separate us from God. Jesus gathers children into his arms and into the safety of God’s love and God’s reign. Our efforts to become safe communities are grounded in this sense of being held safe in God’s goodness and remind us that the Spirit moves through the community standards we seek to respond to. The paradox of seeking safety is that it enables us to engage in the risky task of living as disciples of Jesus Christ. In seeking emotional, spiritual and physical safety for all, but especially the most vulnerable, we nourish communities that enable people to step out in faith, to explore what it means to be a follower of Christ and to be courageous in serving the reign of God.
Sharon Hollis Moderator
Giving is living Interfaith spirit in Bendigo TIM LAM THE regional city of Bendigo has been a hotspot for anti-Islam tensions in recent years. In 2014, the Greater Bendigo City Council approved the construction of the city’s first-ever mosque. A small but vocal group of anti-mosque protestors campaigned against the decision and some tied black balloons outside a councillor’s house. In response, the Uniting Church organised an event where a group of mosque supporters flew colourful balloons in celebration of the city’s diversity. Tags with the words ‘racism has no place in Bendigo’ were attached to the balloons. A number of community, political and faith leaders attended the event in a show of solidarity. Rev Cynthia Page, minister at Eaglehawk and Marong Uniting Church, was one of the event organisers. “I strongly believe in interfaith solidarity, in celebrating diversity and affirming the blessings in different faiths,” she said. “Muslims and Christians, along with Jews, all believe in God and we share stories of faith and life. I have many friends and neighbours who are Muslim and they enrich my life and faith as I, hopefully, enrich theirs.” Approximately 300 Muslims live in Bendigo and they worship in a small prayer room at the local La Trobe University campus. The nearest mosque is more than 90 minutes away in Shepparton.
SEPTEMBER 16 - CROSSLIGHT
LIVING The long-running saga reached a conclusion in June this year when the High Court rejected a final appeal against the mosque, paving the way for its construction. “Harmony has returned to Bendigo and I believe the majority of Bendigodians support a community that values unity amidst diversity,” Ms Page said. “I think there has been a definite increase in tolerance and understanding.” The successful balloon event has
galvanised the Bendigo community into finding new ways to embrace its multifaith identity. The Believe in Bendigo campaign emerged in 2015 to celebrate the town’s cultural diversity and make a firm stand against racism. Ms Page also helped establish the Bendigo Interfaith Council, which seeks to promote tolerance and inclusiveness in the community. “Jesus came to show us God who is love, only love, and that love is inclusive and
embracing of all,” Ms Page said. “Jesus transcended cultural boundaries regarding intolerance and non-inclusiveness and calls us to work with him and the Spirit to do the same.” The Uniting Church celebrates Interfaith September every year. Visit https://assembly. uca.org.au/interfaithseptember2016 for worship resources.
“The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” - Dorothea Lange
A History of the Surrey Hills Uniting Church launched in August on a day of celebration. The colourful record, spanning 130 years, was produced by Graham Beanland (holding pen) and launched by Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison (second from left). Melanie Garriock and her sons, Gabriel and Raphael, wait for their copy.
Camberwell Asylum Seeker Support Group (CASS) and Oxfam Australia Canterbury Group hosted a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon fundraiser at Camberwell Uniting Church. It featured music from around the world and a high tea.
It was standing room only at the Ewing Memorial Afternoon Fellowship UCAF Group in Malvern East as Rev Dr Rob Gallacher OAM spoke about icons and icon writing.
Congregation members at Emerald Uniting Church donated a carload of food and toiletries for UnitingCare Harrison’s homeless clients. They also donated $10,050 to support the agency.
Wendouree Uniting Church held a messy church on 31 July, where blankets were made for people in need. The theme for the day was ‘Bind us together’.
Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church farewells Rev Wendy Snook following nine years of service. The colourful attire was part of a Cook Island farewell presentation by church elder Ta Tunoa. Ms Snook will commence her placement at Berwick Uniting Church in September.
Published on Aug 30, 2016
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...