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Crosslight No. 290 August 2018

ꭁ낅냹 ꠁꐥ Fabric mending NextGen in Korea Page 22

President-elect’s

Full wrap of 15th Assembly

passionate plea Team effort

P13-16

P6

P3


05

20

Royal honour for missionaries and their families

How churches are taking turns to shelter the homeless

12

Regulars Finding family and hospitality in African refugee camps

Letters - 17 Moderator’s column - 19 Notices - 24 to 25

2 2-23

Reviews - 26

Cover Image by Tim Lam

Guest editorial Praying for peace ON this month’s Crosslight cover, prayer ribbons adorn the barbed wire fence of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. The ribbons carry messages of hope that the Korean War – which has separated families and divided a nation for nearly 70 years – will soon come to an end. The synod’s NextGen youth travelled to the DMZ during their contextual learning trip and wrote prayers for peace, which you can read below. They also met young people from the Presbyterian Church in Korea, visited cultural heritage sites and learnt about the history of Australian missionaries in Korea, which stretches back more than 120 years.

Anna, Grace and Kezia

Communications & Media Services

You can read about their journey on pages 22 to 23. In her moderator’s column this month (p. 19), new President-elect Sharon Hollis reflects on the contributions of the church’s culturally diverse young leaders at the 15th Assembly. Honouring the church’s diversity was a theme that emerged from the 15th Assembly as the national decision-making body came to a resolution on same-gender marriage (p. 3). Marriage was not the only item on the Assembly agenda and landmark statements on sovereignty, domestic violence and other resolutions are also covered in our 15th Assembly wrap (p.13-16).

Anna Harrison, Greensborough Living Faith Church

Grace Jung, Korean Church of Melbourne

Kezia Gitareja, St Andrew’s Gardiner Uniting Church

Father, we thank you for creating us in all our diversity; you are the God of many peoples, languages, histories, and cultures. But sometimes Lord our differences divide us, and we are sorry when we fail to love one another. Even though we are so diverse, through Jesus we are one. In you there is no more Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, north or south, east or west. Help us, Lord, to be reconciled to each other in you; to be your love, your light, your hands, and your feet in the World.

Loving and gracious Lord, Thank you for leading the South Korean nation to the path of salvation. Although the nation is divided into two, and people are still enduring the pain of separation. Lord, who knows our pains, we trust in you Lord that you will recover this nation. Lord, you will know 25 June is the anniversary of the Korean War. I pray that all the pains and sorrow be comforted by your warm touch. Many of your children, Lord, they are crying out to you. I believe you are listening to us. Lord I trust that you will comfort your children who are still suffering the pain of division of Korea.

Lord, Our Saviour full of mercy, we thank you for the peace that continuously thrives in this world. We thank you for the guidance you have given the leaders of North and South Korea to the path of togetherness, unity and love. As we remember the traumatic Korean War, we want to pray for our human family, specifically our brothers and sisters on the Korean peninsula, who have been painfully separated from one another, who are still yearning to be united once again. Lord we hope that the process of reunification of the people of Korea will run smoothly, and quickly. Help them Lord to go through this long and painful tension with faith and belief. Please, oh Lord, fulfil their wishes and dreams.

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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.

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Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <crosslight.org.au>. Closing date for September – Friday 17 August 2018. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online: crosslight.org.au

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News

UCA prepares to conduct

same-gender marriages

UNITING Church rites for same-gender marriage are being prepared for use from 29 September after the 15th Assembly decided to hold two equal but distinct statements of belief on marriage. At the Assembly meeting in Melbourne last month, members resolved to allow UCA ministers the freedom to conduct or to refuse to conduct same-sex marriages. In a pastoral letter sent to congregations and other ministries of the Church, Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer said the decision to hold two statements of belief on marriage honoured the diversity of Christian belief among Uniting Church members. “I want to reassure all members of the Uniting Church – your rights to follow your beliefs on marriage will be respected

and protected,” the letter read. “Church councils will have the right to determine whether marriage services take place on their premises.” The Uniting Church’s statement of belief that “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of a man and a woman to live together for life” has been retained. An additional statement of belief has been adopted. That statement reads “marriage for Christians is the freely given consent and commitment in public and before God of two people to live together for life.” At the Assembly meeting Dr Palmer said the decision to hold two views on marriage comes after 30 years of conversation by the Uniting Church.

“This decision follows many years of reflection, prayer and discernment, and I want to thank Assembly members for the way they have responded with grace to what is a difficult conversation for many people of faith,” Dr Palmer said. Dr Palmer also acknowledged the ministry and struggle of LGBTIQ people in the Uniting Church over many years. “I know that this conversation is painful and difficult for you,” said Dr Palmer, directly addressing LGBTIQ Church members. “We also acknowledge those who have not been able to support this change – and your pain and difficulty in this space.” In an interview with the ABC following the Assembly’s decision, Dr Palmer explained some of the next steps.

“We will be working with presbyteries and synods so we have pastoral care in place. For many congregations nothing will change because they will continue to uphold the views they have about marriage,” she said “As the president I am deeply concerned to hold together our unity in our diversity and I believe the Holy Spirit moved remarkably bringing us together.” A liturgy for same-gender marriage is being prepared for approval. It is anticipated the liturgy will be finalised by 21 September and ready for use later that month. For a full Assembly wrap including former UCA president Andrew Dutney’s reflection on the same-gender marriage decision go to pages 13-16.

Moderator and President-elect

Rev Sharon Hollis and Dr Deidre Palmer

REV Sharon Hollis has stepped into the role of UCA president-elect, with a passionate plea for the church community to be the conduit of God’s grace, as it has been for her in the darkest times of her life. Ms Hollis, the moderator of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, was announced as the president-elect of the Uniting Church at last month’s 15th Assembly. She is the third woman elected UCA National Assembly President and the first ordained woman. In an emotional address, Ms Hollis spoke of how God, the church and her family had been her source of strength after she lost her husband in 2004. “The Spirit of God is the one that brings us through death’s dark valley, that puts flesh on dead bones, that renews life and hope,” she said. AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

Ms Hollis thanked the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania “who called me to be moderator when my life was so broken, I didn’t know if I could be put back together”. “They saw in me the movement of the spirit and they trusted that spirit would bind me up and would equip me for what lay before me,” she said. “People had seen that life and hope – even before I could see it myself.” This was an example of the church’s calling to be “bearers of God’s fullness of life” Ms Hollis said. Ms Hollis read out the blessing Beloved Is Where We Begin by US devotional writer Jan Richardson. She said it contained a message she hoped to impart to the church. “I think we are in a hard place,” she said. “We need to find ways to see the giftedness and belovedness of each other

and this blessing speaks to that and my hopes for all of us. “To see in each other the belovedness of God and in that we will find fullness of life.” Ms Hollis expressed special gratitude to Rev Nicole Fleming, who first suggested she be nominated for president. “Never underestimate the power of calling out in someone else the gifts you see in them, you never know where it might lead them or you,” Ms Hollis said. Ms Hollis thanked a number of other people, including synod Congress leaders who “had kept teaching her what it means to be in Covenant relations”. She also thanked former Assembly president Rev Alistair Macrae, who is minister at Wesley Church Melbourne. “I’m not going to say if I took any advice

he gave me or not but we are still friends,” Ms Hollis said. Ms Hollis gave special thanks to her “brave and loving” daughters who encouraged her to put her name forward despite knowing it would be at a cost to their family life. “Some days in the last five years the only things that have got me out of bed are the knowledge that the God of suffering and love and life journeys with me, and the love of these two beautiful girls,” Ms Hollis said. President Dr Deidre Palmer hugged Ms Hollis and gave a prayer of thanks for her. Ms Hollis will begin her three-year term as president at the 16th Assembly in Queensland in 2021.

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News

Big move for Devonport congregation NIGEL TAPP LAST month the Devonport Uniting Church congregation farewelled the Steele Street church site that has hosted worship since 1889. The 45-strong congregation made the decision to move to a more viable building more than three years ago and for the immediate future will meet in a nearby hall. The Steele Street property has been sold to television chef Ben Milbourne. He and his wife, Sally, will transform the site into a base for their production company. The church building will be renamed ‘The Wesley’ to honour to its former name – the Wesleyan Methodist Church. More than 250 congregants from the across the north-west region of Tasmania, previous ministers as well as past and present church members gathered for the moving service of closure on 15 July. In his sermon, Rev Allan Thompson conceded that many attending the service would have mixed feelings knowing it was the last time the building was being used

for the purpose for which it was built. “But the purposes for which this sacred place was built can be fulfilled without this building. Indeed, the present congregation is committed to ensuring just that,’’ Mr Thompson said. “This is not the end of the Uniting Church in Devonport. This is not the closing of a congregation. The congregation continues to thrive, and it is committed to continuing its life from a property which is more userfriendly and low-maintenance than this old building has become.’’ Mr Thompson said when people invested a lot of themselves into a building they needed to be careful not to become worshippers of the bricks and mortar. “The social and religious context in which our faithful Devonport Methodists built this place is very different from the social and religious context of Devonport in 2018,’’ he said. “And our understanding of the life and mission to which God is calling us in 2018

Royal occasion for missionaries and families

Dancers welcome King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u

AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

is very different from the understanding of those who laboured to build this edifice in the 1930s. “Of course, that does not mean that back then our church leaders were misguided, or that what they did was inappropriate. It was no doubt right for their day, just as what is happening here today is right for our day.’’ The Methodists are intrinsically linked to Devonport district, as they were the first denomination to conduct services in the Mersey area.

Lay preachers ministered to the early settlements at the Tarleton coal mines and Cockers Creek, at Spreyton in the 1850s and 1860s. It was not until 1889 that the original Methodist church was built in Devonport on the land where the current hall is located. Basil Archer and Robert Stewart donated the land in two stages. The current church building was opened on March 1932, with the original church becoming the Sunday School.

Mission discovery

DAVID GREENALL

TONGAN King Tupou VI and Queen Nanasipau’u thanked former missionaries from Victoria for their work in Tonga during a reception in Melbourne in June. Their Majesties were welcomed by Synod of Victoria and Tasmania general secretary Rev Dr Mark Lawrence, who recounted the earliest connections between the Island kingdom and the British Methodist Church in the early 19th century. This was the basis of the strong links between the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga and Methodist Church in Australia and later the Uniting Church for over 140 years. The late missionaries, Rev Henry Greenwood, Rev Dr AH Wood, Rev George Harris, Rev AE McKay and Rev Ron Woodgate were represented by family members. Rev Howard and Mrs Janet Secomb, (daughter of Dr Wood) were the oldest exmissionaries present. The occasion was opened with a Tongan hymn composed in the 19th century by the well-known missionary to Tonga, Rev James Egan Moulton.

Rev Allan Thompson gives the final sermon

The rousing hymn speaks of the coming of the missionaries and the conversion of the King and chiefs and finally seeks protection for His Majesty. This was followed by a prayer by Rev Dr D’Arcy Wood, son of Rev Dr AH Wood who crowned the King at his coronation in 2015. King Tupou VI is particularly interested in education and showed a video of the work at Tupou College for boys, where several missionaries had worked. The video showed the colleges and their up-todate courses in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The guests sat at tables of seven and the King and Queen spent the afternoon graciously visiting each table and speaking with the guests. Rev John Connan moved a vote of thanks on behalf of those present. The event was organised by the Tongan Lord Chamberlain with the help of Rev Siupeli Taliai, Helen Taliai and Rev Feke Kamitoni.

A NEW set of resources is available to encourage conversations to help the Uniting Church community discern their part in God’s mission. The resources can be used by gathered communities as well as synod-based ministries and staff. The resource website describes a mission conversation as “a focused and facilitated conversation about what a community of people believe they are called to be or to do.” Five Mission Conversations resource sheets are available to download. They suggest useful questions to start a mission conversation, outline the background and vital threads of such conversations, describe how conversations fit into the Synod’s Strategic Framework and list additional resources. Strategic framework minister Rev David Withers said mission conversations are an ongoing process. “They should be seen as a way of life that involves creating regular and intentional spaces for such conversation,” he said. “For gathered communities, mission conversations will explore purpose, engage context, and discern signs of vibrant life. “The resources support our gathered communities in learning how to talk more reflectively together, and to seek outside assistance when needed.” Mr Withers said mission conversations are also vital to synod-based ministries. “Mission conversations invite staff into a deeper understanding of the purposes of the Uniting Church in general and the responsibilities of the synod in particular,” Mr Withers said. “They are needed as synod governance committees shape their decision-making processes and policy development. “They are needed by senior managers

as they shape the strategic directions and operational plans of their staff and teams, as they determine measures by which progress can be evaluated and goals can be reviewed. “They assist in deepening partnerships and strengthening accountability.” The new resources are designed to complement the discernment invited by the Synod’s Strategic Framework. “The Synod Framework is important because it articulates the effort of the whole synod to give focus and direction to the Church’s participation in God’s mission in our day,” Mr Withers said. “It is in mission conversations that the ‘hard yards’ of communal discernment may be fruitfully advanced.” Mr Withers, who will be finishing as strategic framework minister in September, said that the new resources are just a starting point. “I hope that further resources may emerge as we strengthen such leadership, and that we see increasing signs of vibrant worship, witness and service in our gathered communities and councils,” he said.

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News Helping hands DAVID SOUTHWELL EVERY Monday morning a dedicated crew gets to work mowing, raking and gathering produce at the North Ringwood Uniting Church Welcome Community Garden. The workers from Knoxbrooke Community tend to specialise in different tasks. For example, Jesse can normally be found busily shredding and aerating the compost as it moves through stages of preparation. “Jesse just loves working here – that’s his main job turning the soil, you wouldn’t keep him away,” Knoxbrooke disability educator Barry Turner said. Knoxbrooke Community provides community-based day-training support services to people with a disability. Mr Turner is a North Ringwood Uniting Church member. It was suggested to him that Knoxbrooke clients might like to participate in the community garden, which is located behind the church building and supplies produce to the North Ringwood Care foodbank program. For approximately 10 years Knoxbrooke gardening teams have been coming to North Ringwood to garden and currently there are six regular participants. The gardeners arrive at 10am, start off with morning tea and then do various

supervised tasks until 1pm. “They quite enjoy doing this and they are also doing something worthwhile for the community,” Mr Turner said. “Over the years we have had about 20 to 25 participants who have assisted in the garden centre. “Some of them like getting out in the outdoors, some like to just observe being out in the garden, a lot them also enjoy the community aspect of sitting around having morning tea. “This has been great collaboration between North Ringwood UC and Knoxbrooke.” The team also do some mowing and trimming in the neighbouring house over the back fence, which is owned by the church and occupied by asylum seekers. As chief custodian of the community garden, North Ringwood UC member Joy Harvey oversees each Monday work session. “It’s great to work with these guys, they are really good,” she said. Ms Harvey said there was plenty to do year-round, even during the colder months. “In the wintertime we’ve still got silverbeet, broccoli, cabbage cauliflower, spring onions and snow peas,” Ms Harvey said. “In the summertime our barrow is full once a week with vegetables – tomatoes, onions, potatoes, silver beet, lettuce and garlic. “In springtime we propagate our own

North Ringwood Community Garden volunteers and Knoxbrooke crew

vegetables, we grow from seed and we have our little greenhouse up here. “Sometimes when we have excess seedlings we sell them to the congregation or we often have little fetes or garage sales and we sell our produce there.” Regular Monday morning volunteer

Peter Moskovic is not a North Ringwood member but became involved with the garden three years ago through his wife who attends the church. “I think what they do here is fantastic, the outreach is fantastic so I am happy to come along half a day a week to help,” he said.

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CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


News Theology in reel-time DAVID SOUTHWELL

GOING to the movies is not often considered a deep theological experience, but a new course being taught at Pilgrim Theological College is set to challenge that. Later this month, Head of Pilgrim Theological College Dr Sean Winter and Associate Professor John Flett will teach the intensive unit ‘Watching for God: Theology, the Bible, and Film’. Mr Flett says theological meaning can be found in even the most escapist Hollywood fare. “One of the arguments of secularisation is that theology has nothing to do with everyday life,” Mr Flett said. “That’s, of course, completely false.

Silence and Saved which both have overtly Christian stories. “So for the first two weeks we’re going to give students those texts to help with the theological themes and how you might evaluate a film,” Mr Flett said. “And then the next two weeks we remove those supports and get the students to use the skills they have developed to come up with something themselves. “The students go from very clear theological themes to ones where you need to do a lot more thinking and a lot more working out what’s going on.” Mr Flett believes Christians should

Silence (2016)

“Theology is everywhere. So theology in film is about showing that secular Hollywood or popular movies have deep theological themes that come through all the time.” The course begins on 25 August with a full Saturday devoted to learning how to analyse film from a theological perspective. Throughout five weeks students will discover the theology in the films Silence, Saved, Babette’s Feast, Magnolia and Samson and Delilah. Mr Flett denied that the course was designed for book-shy students. “There will be reading attached, we have to learn how to analyse but all courses should be enjoyable” he said. Mr Flett said there has already been a lot of theological evaluation around

engage with popular culture. “It’s important to say that faith isn’t just something that happens on a Sunday morning,” he said. “If you don’t engage with popular culture then you have no voice in popular culture. There’s no leavening influence. The fact is that people who might be wary of it still participate in it. It’s impossible to avoid.” Mr Flett said a theological perspective helps understand and interpret trends in popular culture. He said one of the major theological themes that has emerged since the 9/11 attacks has been depictions of the apocalyptic. “There’s huge numbers of zombie movies, huge numbers of end-of-the-word catastrophe movies,” he said.

Mr Flett nominates the 2011 militaristic science fiction Battle: Los Angeles as an interesting example of this genre that displays a sense of paranoia for Western countries in an age of terror attacks that have come from both without and within. “There is asymmetrical warfare going on,” Mr Flett said. “That fits very easily into the binary view of black-and-white and that we’re getting invaded. It shows technologybased prowess being used by the attackers. “America is the land of plenty, green and lush, and people are coming to take from the native born. “These narratives playing out actually become xenophobic.” Mr Flett nominates Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War classic Apocalypse Now as a film with deep theological interpretations. Mr Flett argues the film, which is inspired by the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness, explores themes of nihilism and colonialism culminating in rogue US operative Colonel Kurtz’s (Marlon Brando) final journal entry: “Drop the bomb, exterminate them all!” “Apocalypse Now is exactly that inversion of life and death,” Mr Flett said. “We think we live in an ordered place but it’s actually built on a range of destructive appetites and when you get to the end there’s clarity and someone bringing ‘peace’ and resolution. “But the form of that peace and resolution is the nuclear weapon, wiping everyone out.” Thinking theologically about visual narratives also assists in interpreting how issues are presented in TV news reports and other media. Mr Flett said an example of this is the use of stock images of certain peoples as rocket-grenade-wielding terrorists. “Everything we see, everything we do has a theological theme attached to it,” he said. “People are going to use these images for a reason. There are tools to use and there’s theological insight to come from all of this. “The course aims to give students a larger lexicon of how they can read what’s going on around them and how they can understand what’s going on around them.”

SAFETY AROUND THE CHURCH CAMERON WALKER SYNOD SAFETY OFFICER Cameron will give you practical advice and assistance in maintaining a safe church environment. Contact Cameron for a copy of the latest Synod Safety Manual and Contractor/Tradesperson Handbook (Version 4 2016)

CONTRACTOR MANAGEMENT Have your contactors and tradespeople completed the online induction? Have you viewed their induction card? Cameron Walker P: 03 9251 5430 F: 03 9654 4179 M: 0429 474 091 E: cameron.walker@victas.uca.org.au

Working at heights is classed as ‘High Risk Work’ and QDPTHQDRRODBHjBG@Y@QC@MCQHRJBNMSQNKR 6NQJDQR UNKTMSDDQR and contractors must complete a ‘Safe Work Method Statement’ (SWMS) prior to starting any high risk work. Fall protection equipment may also be required to prevent falls from heights. A copy of the SWMS template can be found on the OH&S resource page.

NO INDUCTION CARD, NO ENTRY. Contractor and Tradesperson inductions are important to ensure the safety of all people who may be affected by maintenance/building works around the Church. The induction card can be obtained by completing an online session here: linksafe.com.au/uca/ Volunteers performing work around the church should also complete the volunteer online induction.

AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

WORKING AT HEIGHTS

Care must be taken when using ladders for tasks. Always inspect the ladder before accessing it to ensure it is safe to use.

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News

Focus on homelessness

FOR those living without regular shelter through the winter months, a hospital cafeteria can offer respite and hot chocolate. This is one of the very intimate details of what it is like to be young and homeless that can be observed at a photo exhibition being staged this month by Uniting Vic.Tas to mark Homelessness Week, which is from 6 to 12 August. The exhibition of photographs taken by homeless youth launches on 1 August at Port of Sale and is open to the public from 6 to 12 August at the Gippsland Centre. Samantha’s photos, which include the hospital cafeteria, are part of the exhibition. For couch surfers like Samantha, public cooking facilities in parks are also useful and free WiFi is important to be able to search for rental properties and find a regular home. Another exhibitor, 20-year-old Nicole, said she hopes her photos will show what life is like for people that don’t have help. She learnt that industrial bins were good to sleep in as they were quiet and secluded at night, while trolleys were a good way of keeping her personal items together. The photo exhibition is just one of several events being held throughout the state by Uniting Vic.Tas during homelessness week. Blanket Wyndham is inviting families to come to Station Place in Werribee on 9 August from 3pm to 5pm to enjoy free food and activities such as face-painting and

an animal nursery for the cost of a donated blanket. The Uniting team in Wimmera have asked local cafes to take part in the CafeSmart promotion and donate $1 from every coffee sold on 3 August to help fund local homelessness services. Uniting Vic.Tas is a part of the Wimmera and Grampians Accommodation Network (WAGAN) which will host breakfasts in Stawell and Horsham on Friday 10 August. The breakfasts for business leaders and community members highlight issues around homelessness and examine potential solutions. According to recently released figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, on any given night 24,000 Victorians are homeless. More than 83,000 people are on the Victorian public housing waiting list, including 25,000 children. Around 40 percent of homeless Victorians are under 25 and older women are experiencing rapidly increasing levels of homelessness. During this state election year, Uniting Vic.Tas is lobbying both sides of parliament for a number of key actions to combat homelessness.

NAIDOC week and beyond JULY was a busy month for Leprena, the Tasmanian home of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. The Leprena team was involved in several activities for NAIDOC week, which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples This year NAIDOC week was held from 8 to 15 July, coinciding with the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church. On 9 July Leprena representatives attended an indigenous flag-raising ceremony conducted by the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation at Fanny Cochrane Smith's Church in Cygnet. Methodist convert Fanny Cochrane Smith, who died in 1905, is the only recorded speaker of Tasmanian Indigenous language. Smith family Elders attended the ceremony, including 'Poppy' Stan Smith, 'Nanny' Bev Smith, Uncle Charlie Smith and Aunty Anne Smith. On 11 July the Leprena centre in Hobart hosted a NAIDOC community lunch in partnership with the Tasmanian Aboriginal Community Legal Service (TACLS). Approximately 40 people attended, with

a number of representative from local community organisations as well as high school students. “TACLS provided a beautiful BBQ lunch with salads and also decorated the building,” Leprena administration officer Tameeka Jamieson said. “We had Linton Burgess as our cultural dancer. There was plenty of sport for the kids including football and cricket. It was a great day.” The theme of this year’s NAIDOC week was “Because of her, we can” to honour the strength of Indigenous women. This tied in with Leprena’s work to encourage victims of domestic abuse to share their stories and ‘End the Silence in Violence’. In late June Leprena launched a DVD of story sharing at the Derwent Entertainment Centre in Glenorchy. There were cultural performances and Leprena manager Alison Overeem spoke about the healing power of stories. To celebrate the strengths and culture of Indigenous children Leprena also organised a family barbecue for 3 August.

Find the list of policies at www.vt.uniting.org. Read a Q&A with a volunteer from an innovative church shelter project on p 20.

‘Poppy’ Stan Smith, ‘Nanny’ Bev Smith, Nichola Overeem, Uncle Charlie Smith, Aunty Anne Smith, Tameeka, Pippa and Joshua Jamieson, Ayla and Grace Williams.

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CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


News

Trying one out for size

Business cycle WHEN it comes to restoring, selling and giving away bikes, Peter Daly means business. Mr Daly runs the ‘Recycle Bicycle’ program at St Stephen’s Uniting Church in Wodonga, which sells or gives away approximately 100 restored bikes a year. The Recycle Bicycle shop maintains a stock of 40 to 50 bikes that range in price from $30 to $60 for adults and $5 to $20 for kids. Mr Daly spends at least 10 to 20 hours a week restoring the bicycles, which range from balance bikes for young children to carbon fibre racers, which he sometimes sells to buyers in Melbourne or Canberra for up to $300. “I flog bikes to anybody who will buy one,” Mr Daly said. “This Christmas I am planning on going to the local Sunday market with bikes and trying to sell some there.”

Bikes are normally sold for half their market worth, with the proceeds going to the work of St Stephen’s. “I’m looking to make sure the church is getting best value for what I am doing but also have something we are doing in the community,” Mr Daly said. “If you ask me about bike 310 or 210, I could tell you what I put on the bike, how much I spent, how much the church made and if we gave it as a donation how much that donation was.” The most costly repair items are tubes and tyres. “My wife and I have maintained that cost personally, that’s our donation,” Mr Daly said. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of the stock is given away. While in the past the program relied on bikes donated mainly through the church’s

Peter Daly at work

op shop, Mr Daly has found a new source of supply. Through another charity organisation he arranged for the local police to deliver unclaimed bikes four times a year. “Some are ones that are just left somewhere and forgotten about, but quite a lot of them are from police raids on someone’s house,” Mr Daly said. “They are retrieved stolen goods but the people who had the goods stolen have claimed insurance, so they can’t claim the bikes.” The bike shop is open for donations or sales or by appointment, which means Mr Daly is constantly on call. “I spent two hours last night with three recently-arrived refugee Congolese families who came in and got bikes,” he said. Mr Daly provided three bikes to the agency supporting the family and also

offered his expertise. “We don’t just sell the bike to the people that come in, we try to fit them with a bike that’s suitable for them,” Mr Daly said. “When the kids come in, if it’s brightly coloured they want that bike irrespective if it’s too big or small for them.” Mr Daly, who is retired, said he has always had an interest in bikes. He used to ride up to 60km a day until he was fitted with a pace maker and told to ‘back off ’. He still rides a bit though, to test out his bicycle repair jobs. “I ride them all before they get sold except for the little ones I can’t get on,” he said. “I don’t say I know everything but I know my way around a bike.”

Inspiration In The Heart Of Melbourne A unique space in the heart of the city, St Michael’s is more than a church. If you’re looking for a progressive church that will not tell you what to believe and will listen to what you’ve got to say, look no further than St Michael’s Uniting Church in the heart of the CBD. We are known for presenting thought-provoking seminars and lectures by renowned international speakers and academics; as well as world-class musicians in the architectural splendour of a heritage listed church. For a truly inspirational experience visit St Michael’s today.

St Michael’s Uniting Church 1 2 0 C O L L I N S S T M E L B O U R N E - W W W. S T M I C H A E L S . O R G . A U

The Thinking Person’s Church

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Youth

Making

mentoring matter

BARRY GITTINS HANNAH* was a young girl in year six who needed encouragement. Every week of the school year she met for an hour with a Kids Hope Australia mentor, Sandra Savory from Crossroads Uniting Church. Sandra listened, advised, and helped Hannah prepare for life at high school. “I bumped into Hannah at the supermarket the next year,” Sandra said. “She ran up to me with shining eyes and gave me a big hug. She was doing really well and making good friends. “Hannah is half-way through year eight now, grown up and gorgeous and going beautifully; it’s lovely to see.” Following a format devised in the US, Kids Hope Australia (KHA) partners churches with local primary schools to find mentors for children. For 11 years Sandra Savory has been coordinating KHA’s partnership with Crossroads Uniting Church at Werribee Primary School, where she works as an integration aid and helps students with special needs. At the school Sandra met George* a quiet,

almost invisible boy who was not confident interacting with others. For three years George met with mentor Geoff and they played Uno, kicked a Sherrin around or just quietly chatted. Sandra was at an annual KHA celebration day when George, as a year six student, stood up, called everyone to attention, asked to speak and “gave a beautiful, heartfelt speech to thank all the mentors”. “He spoke so well, off his own bat,” Sandra said. “We all had tears in our eyes as George explained how much KHA meant to him. He mustered the courage to speak, and did it so eloquently.” George’s speech made a profound impression on Sandra. “He was an unassuming boy, one you just wouldn’t notice ... not naughty, but timid.” Laura*, a girl in year two, was withdrawn. She wouldn’t talk to adults or meet their eyes. Her mentor, Deb, helped gradually draw Laura out of her shell. “Laura was often late for school,” Sandra said.

“One day she arrived, saw me, and asked, ‘Has Deb come yet?’ I told her that Deb would be here soon and Laura ran like the wind to get to class in time to be able to welcome her mentor.” Sandra said it’s great fun being a mentor, if you’re right for the role. “We ensure that aspiring mentors understand the commitment they are making to develop and honour the trust that a child places in them,” she said. “Mentoring addresses social skills and kids that need that extra bit of support. We make craft, play basketball, do some cooking, go for a walk or just talk.” “It’s not what you do, it’s the time you spend talking and listening. Mentoring is giving yourself, and Christians can help their community practically and effectively.” Tim Smith, a manager at KHA, said that the schools devise the list of children needing mentors. “They never struggle to find kids for us – they always have more students who could benefit from mentoring than the churches can provide mentors,” Tim said. “We allocate mentors to kids as appropriately as possible, as mentors become available. “The majority of children in need of a mentor are boys. We are always looking for male mentors.” KHA assures schools, teachers and parents that mentors are trained. Mentors are required by the KHA code of conduct, to “respect the secular nature of education

Justice & International Mission Conference

[with] strict guidelines about using any religious content or materials used during the mentoring hour. The focus is purely on the social and emotional development of the child through the mentoring relationship.” School teachers generally make the decisions as to which kids could really use mentoring, and the recommendations are referred to parents for permission. Mentors are billed as adult friends “who will play games and do activities with them and encourage them in everything they do at school”. Tim Smith said if you can connect with children and are a good listener who likes to laugh, then you could volunteer to be a mentor for your church. “You need the ability to give love and hope to kids that may be feeling isolated, or a bit lonely,” he adds. “It’s pretty unique program, Kids Hope Australia, because we offer an opportunity for churches and schools to partner together in their local communities. “The one-to-one mentoring relationships are so powerful, which is why KHA has such a good success rate with helping kids.” * Names of mentored children have been changed to protect and respect their privacy. There are 25 Uniting Churches in Tasmania and Victoria that participate in Kids Hope. If your church would like more information, please contact Tim Smith, tim@kidshopeaus.org.au, 0488 991 215.

SPEAKERS INCLUDE: •

Zione Walker-Nthenda: Lawyer, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist

Rob Hulls: Director, Centre for Innovative Justice

Sean Winter: Head of Pilgrim Theological College

Wendy Austin: Family Violence Prevention Advocate, Consultant

PROPOSED WORKSHOPS COULD INCLUDE:

Growing Peaceful Communities Saturday 27 October, 2018

Centre for Theology and Ministry 29 College Crescent, Parkville 10

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Addressing the role of alcohol businesses in driving up family violence Addressing the role pokie venues play in driving up family violence How should the church respond to the problem of family violence? Privatised risk – ensuring the protection of people with disabilities in marketised support services Youth justice reform that works Responding to the Mass Murderer: Duterte in the Philippines What can be done to assist Rohingya refugees? Building Peaceful Communities in Victoria – what can we do about the intersection between marginalised communities and violence?

For more information contact Ann Byrne on (03) 9340 8815 or email: ann.byrne@victas.uca.org.au To register visit https://ucavt.goregister.com.au/jimconvention

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Family UNITING Church member Cath James believes marking life’s transitions for children and young people can be a vital part of keeping them involved in faith communities. “Rituals help us mark a time and enter into something that is often too big for us to comprehend in that moment,” Cath said. “The teenage years in particular are a time when young people might question their parents’ values and behaviours. “Teenagers may benefit from a deeper connection with their faith community as they start looking for other role models to help them navigate life.” Cath is developing resources on rites of passage and rituals that recognise times or events in a young person’s life when significant change and challenges may occur. She says a rite of passage creates a point of reference the young person can look back on as a milestone to mark their development spiritually, physically, intellectually and emotionally. The resources are being developed using studies from the Christian Research Association (CRA) and the World Health Organisation. From a series of interviews, the CRA found many young people do not strongly identify with a religious belief system or a philosophy. However, they identify a personal narrative about the essence of what life is all about – friends, family and fun. They also expressed strong desire

Rite connections for a peaceful world where there are opportunities for them to exercise freedom. The World Health Organisation has developed a chart to track adolescent development which will help families and faith communities determine when to offer rites of passage to young people. Cath said that traditional church rites may have to be adapted to recognise more

diverse expressions of faith. “This resource has been designed to be flexible, recognising that God’s people gather in a variety of intentional ways,” Cath said. “It may be that you choose one of your family’s regular rhythms to incorporate the rites of passage, for example attending church, small groups or camp.

“Or you may wish to create something new and intentional. Adapt them as you see fit and tailor them to your young people’s lives. “It is important that rites of passage happen intergenerationally. This means they encourage us to do life together; to share, learn, grow and serve in relationships marked by mutuality, reciprocity and equality.” Cath said parents can find periods of transition as challenging as their children. “Marking children and young people’s points of transition is also a way of marking transitions for parents,” Cath said. “It is a time for ‘elders’ to hand over the keys to the next generation. “ Cath argued that rites and rituals are important in a life of faith. “Consciously or unconsciously they help us be more present to God and the Holy Spirit in our lives and what is taking place,” she said. “Spiritual growth occurs when the young person reflects on their experiences and through this reflection continues to shape their inner lives. “God’s hope for us is wholeness. As people made in the image of God we are part of God’s good creation and part of the bigger story of renewal, reconciliation and hope. “Rituals are part of helping the young person also recognise they are part of this broader story.”

2018 is flying - high time to be a Safe Church! Are you commitmed to being a Safe Church? If so, are you keeping up to date with policies, information for church councils and the Reportable Conduct Scheme? Are you taking the necessary steps to be a Safe Church? Are you supporting safe leaders? Using Safe Places Safe Programme resources? Do leaders have their Working with Children Checks? Do you have a WWCC Contact Person? All details are available at https://ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe/

HAVE YOU HAD SAFE CHURCH TRAINING? Attending Safe Church Training will help all appointed leaders understand the importance of Keeping Children Safe and their own responsibilities. The training is offered by ministry agents and others trained to lead. Check our calendar for training events hosted by various congregations at ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe/events/ Or arranging Safe Church Training is as simple as completing a form at ucavictas.org.au/keepingchildrensafe/safe-church-training/ A local trainer/facilitator will be allocated to lead the training and resources will be available at the training event.

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Every person has a story to tell

Families’ reunion CHRIS MACHAR HAVE you ever made a necklace for a child by stringing together an assortment of odd buttons? You might end up with a jumble of buttons that is beautiful to the child and cannot be reproduced; it captures the whim of the child. Our family reunion in Uganda certainly did not go to plan, but looking back it is like the necklace – something that captured the passion of the moment and is radiant in the beauty of God intertwined with his people. The tale begins when I was just 10 years old in 1977. At that time Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was silencing all opposition to his brutal reign. The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Janan Luwum, was killed for his opposition to Amin’s government. Janan’s brother and family then fled to the small town of Pajok in Sudan. On the way they met with a young man who directed them to speak with the Africa Inland Church pastor, Andrew Lakana. Through this divinely directed meeting, a deep bond developed between the Luwum family and that of Pastor Andrew. When Amin was gone and Uganda normalised, the family returned, but the bond of Christian love that was forged in adversity endured. Pastor Andrew Lakana’s family also endured their share of suffering. Andrew died on the Juba road in the early 80s and the family fled to the refugee camps in Uganda. That is when I entered this story. When the Africa Inland Mission restarted its work in Sudan in 2002, I met the Lakana family in the camp at Bwoyali. Eight years later Tabitha, Pastor Andrew Lakana’s daugther, and I married. We have since been blessed with three children. Last April, we contemplated a family reunion in the refugee camps of Uganda. It had been seven years since my wife had seen her family and our two youngest children had never met the extended family. In the early planning my brother-in-law contacted James Luwum, the nephew of Janan, himself a pastor in the Church of Uganda. James insisted that he would drive us from Kampala to the camps. His influence proved very valuable. When we arrived at Entebbe airport with sick and tired children, we were whisked to the front of every queue. Within 10 minutes we were in the embrace of our extended family. Hope, our eldest, was four when we left so didn’t remember anyone. Faith was happy to be carried by her grandmother, who she had been asking to meet for the past year. And little Fred was passed from one uncle to the other. I rarely got to carry Fred for the remainder of our stay. We stayed for a couple of days at James’ house and he showed me his church. James said when he started the church he gathered a team of six to pray for the local residents, mostly underpaid police. The group went door-to-door telling the story of Jesus. Out of 2000 houses visited, more than 200 people made a commitment and started attending the church. On any Sunday the church runs seven services, as well as midweek meetings and they have to erect tents and a TV for those who won’t fit into the building.

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We then travelled to Bwoyale and the refugee camp that half the family call home. This was the place where I first met my wife and where Hope was born. The camp had grown with the recent influx of refugees and there was greater diversity of tribes, resulting in the increased use of Arabic as a common language. Life in the camp is more difficult than it was in 2002. Refugees still receive food or money to buy their own supplies, but fuel for cooking is not provided. In the past they were free to cut wood from the bush but now have to buy wood or charcoal for cooking, which is forcing some to return to South Sudan because they have no resources or relatives to help. We stayed with family in the camp in a mud brick house with corrugated roof. Mattresses with new sheets on the dirt floor and mosquito nets made it look like a real safari camp. The Africa Inland Church has a vision to reach out to South Sudanese and Ugandan diasporas. The services focus on choirs with men, women, youth, and children taking turns to present songs. The churches have very few trained pastors, so mature leaders take turns to preach and the licenced pastor presides over baptisms, child blessings, funerals and communion. I went with a message prepared knowing that visitors are given the honour of bringing the message. I was surprised by the number of people who still remembered me from South Sudan and my previous time in the camp. We also visited a new camp called Palabeck where the rest of the family live. This camp was less settled, with residents still working to establish their homes. Many shelters were little more than a UN tarp draped over poles. At Palabeck we visited Tabitha’s grandmothers and introduced the children to them and the family heads. Hope was dragged into sitting on her great grandmother’s knee and everyone laughed. The great grandmother gave her blessing over the children. This was what the trip was all about, that the children would know their extended family and be remembered in the land of their heritage. On the way back to Bwoyali we stopped at Mocwiny just outside Kitgum in Northern Uganda. There we were formally introduced to the extended family of the late Janan Luwum. The family head made a speech acknowledging that because of past hospitality in the name of Christ the two families had become one. This was followed by a meal together and a wellappreciated rest that night with the sound of rain gently falling. What power there is in Christian hospitality, especially in the midst of crisis, where every day of life is a blessing and, with just a little kindness, lifelong friendships are formed.

Airport reunion

Life in the camp with Tabitha (back) and her sister-in-law

Chris Machar is an Uniting Church pastor working in Geelong. Palabeck with the grandmothers, aunties, cousins and uncles at the formal speech time

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15th Assembly

Life in

abundance

WHILE the resolution on same-gender marriage dominated headlines, it was just one of many significant decisions and discussions during the 15th Assembly meeting held from 8 to 14 July. It was also a memorable week of worship, reflection, celebration and community for the more than 260 members of Assembly, visitors and support staff who travelled to Melbourne from around Australia and beyond. The 15th Assembly formally opened with the installation service of new President Dr Deidre Palmer at St Michael’s Uniting Church in Melbourne. In her installation sermon, Dr Palmer reflected on the Assembly theme of ‘Abundant grace, liberating hope’, relating it to the gospel reading of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well. “This woman’s witness, her willingness to engage, to dive deeply into this conversation with Jesus echoes over the centuries to be life-giving for us,” Dr Palmer said. “We have this countercultural narrative – of abundance and hope. “This hope liberates in us the strength to soar on the wind of the Spirit like eagles, to continue to walk and run the journey of faith. “In this week and in the coming years, I pray that we will be shaped and embraced by God’s abundant grace. I pray that we, like the woman of Samaria, will run to share God’s liberating hope with the whole world.”

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15th Assembly AS president, Dr Palmer led the seven-day meeting hosted by the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania at Box Hill Town Hall. Assembly members voiced a wide range of views from diverse biblical, theological and cultural perspectives. One of the first proposals adopted by the 15th Assembly was a strong statement committing the Uniting Church to repudiate all teaching and theologies that justify domestic violence. Standing Committee member Bethany Broadstock brought the resolution to tackle what she called “one of the most urgent and pressing social issues of the nation and time”. Assembly members heard testimony from some of those affected by violent acts. A number of members gave strong statements of affirmation that the Church needs to do more in this area. The Assembly Standing Committee was asked to create educational, theological and liturgical resources for distribution to the wider church. Assembly members also wore black on Thursday 12 July as part of the ‘Thursdays in Black’ campaign to stand in solidarity with all those affected by gender-based violence. The 15th Assembly continued the Uniting Church’s tradition of taking strong environmental action to address climate change. The document For the Whole Creation was presented to members by Assembly Associate General Secretary Rob Floyd and Zac Hatfield-Dodds. Mr Hatfield-Dodds noted the Uniting Church’s history of environmental action dated back to the 1977 Statement to the Nation, which urged “the protection of the environment and the wise use of energy.” For the Whole Creation will be developed into a discussion paper by the Assembly Resourcing Unit. Assembly also adopted a Statement of Access and Welcome to guide conversations about justice and equality for people living with disabilities. The Statement affirmed that people with disability are created in the image of God, and that Christ is most fully present when all those in his Body are unconditionally accepted

as people of worth. It encouraged the Church to embody theology and practices that are accessible to all people and advocate for justice and equality for people with disability in the wider community. The Assembly Standing Committee was asked to develop disability access guidelines for use at all national events and activities, and to encourage each Synod to develop similar guidelines. Several proposals, including one on Pastoral Support for Seasonal Workers, Powers of a Presbytery Standing Committee, and Recognition of UCA languages were referred to the Standing Committee for further consideration. The new Assembly Standing Committee meets for the first time in Sydney from 24-26 August. A proposal to have a national church consultation process on the issue of voluntary assisted dying was withdrawn after feedback. In between sessions, Assembly members were invited to forums on the new Assembly Circles of Interest. The seven circles of interest each represent a broad area of the Assembly’s mission and ministry: Walking together as First and Second Peoples, Being a Multicultural Church, Seeking Common Ground, Working for Justice, Discipling the Next Generations, Growing in Faith, and Transforming Worship. You can join a circle at uniting.church/circles Synods took turns to host morning worship and the sessions incorporated a ceremonial bowl at the centre of each table. Each morning, the bowl contained something symbolic to the worship theme and scripture reading. On Wednesday, the bowl contained red desert sand and animal bones to correspond to the vision of the Valley of the Bones in Ezekiel 37. From Monday to Friday a series of Bible studies, with a distinctly Pacific islands flavour, was led by Rev Seforosa Carroll and Rev James Bhagwan. The two ministers began each session sitting on a traditional woven mat and invited Assembly members to embrace the Pacific story-sharing practice of talanoa. The 16th Assembly will meet in Queensland in 2021.

First Peoples’ Sovereignty recognised THE Uniting Church has adopted a landmark statement affirming First Peoples as sovereign in Australia. Following consultation with working groups, the original proposal was amended to give an expanded definition of sovereignty as the “way in which First Peoples understand themselves to be the traditional owners and custodians” of the land. Referring to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the Assembly recognised Sovereignty as “a spiritual notion, reflecting the ancestral tie between the land and the First Peoples”. Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress members spoke from the floor

to support the proposal as a way to move forward in their Covenant with the Uniting Church. Rev Garry Dronfield, President of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), said the affirmation would further strengthen the spiritual bond between First and Second Peoples. “Sovereignty refers to who we are and how we relate,” Mr Dronfield said. “We speak with a passion, and we seek a continuation of the Covenant between the UCA and our members. “Let us all commit to make these words into actions.” In introducing the original proposal, former national president Stuart McMillan said recognising First People’s sovereignty will “give moral leadership to our nation”. Mr McMillan referred to the Uniting Church’s Constitutional Preamble, the Mabo and Wik Common Law rulings, the Uluru Statement of the Heart and US civil rights icon Martin Luther King to support the “self-evident” truth that First Peoples have equal right to sovereignty in Australia.

In his report as retiring president, Mr McMillan also challenged the Uniting Church to be a culturally diverse and reconciling community that journeys in Covenant with First Peoples. First Peoples continue to experience high rates of family separation and imprisonment, which Mr McMillan described as “blights on our common humanity”. “Our call is to continue to shine a light on those injustices,” Mr McMillan said. As Standing Committee member Bethany Broadstock presented a minute of appreciation for Mr McMillan’s tenure she said an enduring hallmark of his presidency has been seeking reconciliation with First Peoples. “He reminds us an authentically Australian Christian movement is to put First Peoples at the heart of its being,” she said. The Uniting Church will also observe a Day of Mourning to occur on the Sunday prior to 26 January every year. Congregations will be encouraged to hold worship services that reflect and lament the effects of colonisation on First Peoples.

Rev Garry Dronfield 14

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15th Assembly

International guests

UNITINGWORLD hosted a series of lunchtime seminars where Assembly members heard from partner churches in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. Rev Nyoman Augustinus explained how the Protestant Church in Bali undertakes community outreach ministry in a region where 98 per cent of people are Hindu. The church provides health care to families in need and kickstarts small business projects for women. “Despite our church being small, we believe that what we have we should share with the community,” he said. Speakers from Maluku in Indonesia and Lebanon offered stories of hope and peace

that have emerged in times of crisis. Rev Elifas Tomix Maspaitella spoke about the Maluku Islands sectarian conflict, which ignited tensions between Muslims and Christians. “We must invite our Muslim brothers and sisters to join in the peacemaking,” he said. “In 2008, after a long time of unrest, we became one with Muslim people. I was able to invite a Muslim preacher to preach at our church.

“Christian and Muslim women joined to together in economic development, making crafts together in an act of solidarity.” During the 15th Assembly, the Uniting Church pledged its support to the peace process on the Korean peninsula. Presbyterian Church of Korea general secretary Rev Chang Bae Byun thanked the Assembly for the resolution and joined with UCA president Deidre Palmer in a prayer for peace. Mr Byun was one of three international visitors invited to share their greetings and observations with the 15th Assembly. Chair of the Congregational Christian

Church in Samoa Rev Elder Tautiaga Senara and Rev Joshua Lian, ecumenical secretary to the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, also gave short addresses to Assembly members. Elder Senara said he was impressed by the Uniting Church process of consensus decision-making, which is a model he would like to take back to Samoa. He commended the Assembly on its courage, honesty and openness in addressing difficult issues. UnitingWorld national director Sureka Goringe said the international visitors offered a valuable outsider’s perspective on the Uniting Church. “They’ve urged us to bear with each other in the midst of our difference and hold unity,” Ms Goringe said. “They have thanked us for letting them watch as we wrestle with challenges that they see coming down the road for them. “They have challenged us to put more young people, and people of colour, into leadership.” The church partners also took time to visit Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Grovedale to listen and learn about the First Peoples of Australia. They dined with Congress members, who explained the significance of Dreaming stories, language and their ancestral connection to country. The overseas guests also shared stories of struggles that First Peoples experience in their home countries.

Youthful outlook YOUNG adults made up 10 percent of delegates to the 15th Assembly. In the lead up to Assembly opening day, young members were put through their paces on the floor of Box Hill Town Hall. Assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer, immediate past president Stuart McMillan and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress president Rev Garry Dronfield briefed the young leaders on Assembly procedures. During the orientation session, Cameron Shields from the Vic/Tas Synod ably filled the President’s chair. Young adult delegates also had an AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

opportunity during Assembly to chat with new President Dr Deidre Palmer, who hosted a dinner for the youthful members. As a former youth worker and Christian educator, Dr Palmer is passionate about empowering every member of the Uniting Church, whether they are lay or ordained. “A great strength of the Uniting Church is its focus on every-member ministry,” Dr Palmer said. “Young adults are leaders now, it’s not about being leaders in the future. “It’s about the church you are contributing to now.” When asked what she believed to be the

biggest barriers for the Uniting Church, Dr Palmer identified a reluctance to bear witness to the Gospel. She challenged the young adults to confidently live out the Gospel at a time when Christianity is seen as counter-cultural. “I think we need to have deep theological conversations so that we can grow in the confidence of what we are sharing,” Dr Palmer said. “Where are those liberated spaces where we can be authentic and test those ideas? How do we have those authentic in-depth conversations?” The young people shared with Dr Palmer

their thoughts on the challenges facing the church today, such as the decline in youth attendance. “For the longest time we’ve made it all about this institution that’s selling a product that needs more members to fill seats,” one young adult said. “When its not about Jesus it doesn’t work. “I think this is an exciting time for us as a Church because we really need to look hard at ourselves and what it means to be a Body of Christ.”

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15th Assembly

Restoring trust THE Royal Commission National Task Group told Assembly members that the church has lost the community’s trust and restoring it is a vital task. Rev John Cox, executive officer of the Royal Commission National Task Group, warned that addressing child sex abuse is not just a matter of ticking extra procedural boxes. The church’s social license is at risk. “The reality is that trust has been broken with the community at large,” Mr Cox said. “As a community with the unique character of being shaped by the gospel of Jesus Christ, called to tell the story of Jesus Christ, how do we tell that story if people cannot hear or will not hear, because they cannot trust? “Our pledge to survivors is that we will continue to implement the lessons of the Royal Commission, and pursue best practice for care, service and support of children.”

Rev John Cox

Assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer reiterated the pledge first made by previous UCA president Andrew Dutney that the Uniting Church would “say ‘sorry’ to anyone who was sexually abused when in our care”. “We will not hide from the truth, however painful that may be, and we will seek, with

compassion and humility, to address whatever issues and challenges may emerge for us,” Ms Geyer said. “We must be willing to examine our own motives and behaviour and be open to accept the close scrutiny of others.” Mr Cox explained the National Task Group’s two main areas of work. The first was to ensure the UCA engaged with the Royal Commission by responding appropriately and adopting lessons from it. The second was to lead the implementation of those lessons to the Church. Mr Cox reported that the church had collaborated very well in responding to the Royal Commission. “We really are uniting when it comes to our response to the Royal Commission,” Mr Cox said. One outcome of responding to the Royal

Commission is the UCA’s National Child Safe Policy Framework. The Task Group is consulting with synods to establish a Safe Church unit to carry on the work of engaging with the Commission’s findings and recommendations. Another area of ongoing work is establishing a set of Professional Standards for ministry agents, which would flow directly from the Code of Ethics. Mr Cox reported that, after extensive work and collaboration, the Uniting Church opted into the National Redress Scheme on 4 June 2018. President Dr Deidre Palmer led Assembly members in a prayer of lament and repentance for survivors.

A reflection on the

marriage decision "UNITING Church approves same-sex marriage." THE above headline from a Sydney newspaper conceals what actually happened in Melbourne last month. Without setting out to do so, the Uniting Church recovered its stated vocation of making visible unity in diversity. Of course, the 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia did indeed make decisions that will allow ministers to conduct same-gender marriages. But it also reinforced the rights of ministers and congregations who remain committed to the traditional understanding of marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. No minister will have to conduct samegender marriages if it conflicts with their beliefs. No congregation will have to make its property available for same-gender weddings if they don’t believe same-gender marriage is valid for Christians. In fact, it is very unlikely that many ministers and congregations will see any difference in the teaching and practices that they are used to. The intention of the initial proposal was that ministers who, in good conscience, are willing to conduct same-gender marriages should be allowed to do so. But it was also intended that this should not compromise the rights of those ministers who, in good conscience, cannot conduct same-gender marriages. They will continue to be able to teach their belief that marriage may only be between a man and a woman, and can continue to use a marriage liturgy that reflects that conviction. In other words, without disputing the biblical and theological validity of the traditional understanding of marriage – in fact the resolution reaffirms the Church’s policy statement originally adopted in 1997 – the Assembly has approved an additional statement on marriage for the Uniting Church, also biblically and theologically valid. The rationale to the proposal explained: “Within the diversity of our fellowship there 16

are ministers and congregations who believe that the change in our social context that allows same-gender marriage is consistent with the Gospel, and want to be able to celebrate same-gender marriages as well as opposite-gender marriages. “They are seeking the consent of the rest of the church to have this ability. “They are not asking the rest of the church to agree with them, but allow them to follow their conscience in this way. “The Working Group on Doctrine Report on Marriage and Same-Gender Relationships confirms the biblical and theological legitimacy of this request.” Two doctrines of Christian marriage? Two expressions of that in “the rites of the Uniting Church in Australia”? How does that work? Well, that’s the kind of thing that the Uniting Church was always supposed to be able to manage: unity in diversity. The union of the Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in 1977 wasn’t an amalgamation or a takeover. It wasn’t for the sake of efficiency. It was three historic, proud denominations choosing to set aside the things that divided them for the sake of something bigger: the visible unity of divided people as a foretaste, sign and instrument of the reconciliation of the world to God in Christ. In fact in its Basis of Union, the Uniting Church names the mission of God as “reconciliation and renewal for the whole creation”. And it says that “The Church’s call is to serve that end: to be a fellowship of reconciliation, a body within which the diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole, an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself ”. Making unity in diversity visible, is what the UCA was built for. So, in addition to bringing together three contrasting, divided forms of historic church polity, the UCA’s Basis of Union specifically acknowledged Calvinist Confessions of Faith alongside the Arminian sermons of John Wesley as witnesses the Uniting Church must listen to and which ministers

must study, even though Calvinist and Arminian doctrines of salvation are famously in conflict with each other. In the same way, from the beginning the Uniting Church has accepted a wide variety of views of the presence of Christ in Holy Communion, ranging from Zwinglian to Calvinist and Wesleyan, and assumes that some members and ministers lean more towards Lutheran or Catholic views. Much of the dividedness of Western Christianity involves conflict between these contrasting doctrines of the sacraments. Holding together two doctrines and practices of marriage within the one diverse Church is the kind of thing that the UCA was built for. Of course, by introducing an additional approach to marriage into the Uniting Church’s theology and practice the UCA is out of step with most other Christian churches in Australia. That’s something that would have given the Assembly pause for thought. From the beginning, the Uniting Church was intended to be an expression of what God was doing with the whole church. Anything that would make the UCA appear to be sectarian and anything which would unnecessarily “denominationalise” the UCA was to be avoided. What it seeks is to be Christian – in the broadest sense; an expression of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church. That doesn’t mean it can’t have policies and commitments that are different from other churches. For example the Uniting Church welcomes and celebrates the leadership of women in all parts of the church’s life, even though this is out of step with many – even most –

Christian churches. The Uniting Church marries divorced people and accepts the leadership of divorced people even though many Christian churches would condemn this. And other churches know what the UCA’s policies and commitments are in such matters without questioning the seriousness and authenticity of its desire to be Christian – as truly and deeply as it can in contemporary Australian society. Nonetheless, it is always something for the UCA to reflect on honestly. How will this decision affect our relationships with other churches? In my report to the 14th Assembly as the retiring President I said: “God is calling us to be a church which receives its diversity as the precious gift of the Holy Spirit that it is: a foretaste, sign and instrument of ‘that reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation.’ “Reconciliation doesn't mean everyone being the same. It doesn't mean one version of being human or being Christian replacing all the others. “It means people and groups that are different and divided from each other being brought together in Christ to respect, value, trust and serve one another – in all our annoying, embarrassing, frustrating, frightening diversity. “That's profoundly challenging. It's sharply counter-cultural. But it is the kind of church God is calling us to be.” That’s the kind of church the 15th Assembly had in mind when it decided to approve same-gender marriage. Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, is Professor of Theology, Flinders University and Past President of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Translated versions of the President’s pastoral letter are available at uniting.church/pastoralletter Liturgy resources from the 15th Assembly can be downloaded from the Uniting Church website - uniting.church/liturgy-resources-available/

CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


Letters Cruellest cuts THE Federal Government’s preoccupation with tax cuts is extremely worrying. Most Australians are well aware that our public schools, hospitals, aged care, mental health and addiction rehabilitation facilities all desperately need greater government funding. Many of the most vulnerable in our community are dependent on Newstart unemployment allowance and parenting payments are well below the poverty line. Taxes therefore need to be increased for there to be proper expenditure on essential services. I believe that those of us with ongoing, properly paid employment, along with the vast majority of businesses, corporations and multinationals, are in a position to pay additional tax and play our fair part in the building of a more caring society. Rev Robert Van Zetten Highton, VIC

Counter argument I SPENT my working life, some 47 years, in the employ of three of the four major Australian banking groups and it pains me to hear and read many of the matters currently before the banking Royal Commission (“Bank tellers”, July). However, it is unfortunate the two-word heading was used over the report relating to UCA Funds Management’s expressed concerns as shareholders to the CEOs of those banks. During my career I was a bank teller as part of progression through the ranks. In those days trust and honesty were the hallmarks of most bank employees who were part of local communities. Along with others, these employees contributed to the social fabric of the nation, holding positions with and participating in the activities of community organisations including the Christian church. They behaved in an ethical and moral way, gaining the respect of customers and those communities. Admittedly there were a relative few who erred and paid a very heavy price, usually dismissal and in some cases, a custodial sentence. The observation by UC minister John Bottomley as to whether bad behaviour in banks is “individualist in nature or reflecting unaddressed societal and perhaps even theological problems”, is interesting. However, it is worth observing that two institutions within our society, the church (in its broader context) and our financial institutions have both been subject to royal commissions. I make no excuse for the reported and disclosed behaviour of banks and individuals. However, it would be wise to let the Royal Commission run its course, await its recommendations, viewed against the actions both of the industry and its individual players. In the meantime, as members of the Uniting Church, we need to ensure that our concerns around the conduct of other societal institutions does

Letters to Crosslight are always welcome. Letters should be 400 words or less and include full name, address and contact number/email. Letters may be edited for space, style and clarity.

AUGUST 18 - CROSSLIGHT

not blind us from ensuring we too get our house in order. My career took me to many places – NSW country and metropolitan. Papua New Guinea, Tasmania and South Australia. All three employers provided training, equipping me to serve the community beyond the teller’s counter. It was early in my working life at the Barraba (NSW) branch of the Bank of New South Wales that I saw hanging in the manager’s office the framed sign “Old Bank Managers never die, they just lose interest”. I for one have not lost interest in ensuring honesty and trust is restored. Allan Gibson OAM Cherrybrook NSW (Disclosure: the writer hold shares in three listed financial institutions)

Decisive action THE last sentence in Greg James’ letter (July) is all that counts. We are all children of God as well as human beings and sinners and we wade through the detritus of life ever holding his hand and being guided by him in the path of grace he created for us. What Mr James is suggesting in his letter is exactly the same as the MSR Review which was so important a few years ago. The status quo then was declared unacceptable and what we got was a mishmash of all sorts of decisions that have led the church nowhere except to confirm that the status quo is up and running as before. To delay a conversation as Mr James is suggesting is to maintain this status quo in that nobody is prepared to make any changes without considerable delays for discernment. We need people who are prepared to make decisions NOW and not in three years time when there may be some letters between parties and no common decision reached. If your minister believes in one aspect of the report and he is standing by that decision then you should agree with him or her. If you don’t like it then move to another congregation who thinks like you do and worship there. Your worship is acceptable to God because it is offered freely and willingly. You don’t have to agree with what someone has told you because when you leave there will be another to come and to take your place and their worship will also be acceptable. Mr James has no right to attempt to postpone Assembly decisions. Just worship God, ‘who-is-all-there-is.’ Let all those others talk till the cows come home and you will still be worshipping the same God. Your God, the Father of your Saviour. What else matters? We just need to move out of this stagnant morass we are sinking in. Alexander Drysdale Lyndhurst, VIC

Fundamental truths NEIL Cameron in ‘Genesis of doubt’ (Crosslight, July), draws the conclusion that fundamentalist beliefs are the reason why our churches are empty. I believe that there are strong arguments for claiming that the opposite is true. The great revivals of the 19th and 20th centuries were the result of preachers proclaiming that God had spoken through the Scriptures, and that those Scriptures spelled out clearly God’s plan of

redemption for human kind. Churches were overflowing and many thousands of people’s lives were dramatically changed as a result. For the last 20 years in Crosslight, With Love to the World and from our pulpits, the Bible has often been doubted, downplayed, questioned and ignored. Fundamentalist beliefs have been decried and often the Scriptures have been denied or treated as irrelevant. If fundamentalism was the problem, how is it that many Uniting Churches have been decimated during this period? Surely by now our churches should be overflowing. Science is quoted as the reason for doubting the Bible. But surely, science is a work in progress. Its findings should be classified as provisional. When I was young, scientists thought that the atom was the smallest particle there was. But now, we find that there are large numbers of sub particles in every atom. And it would seem, there could well be more to discover. In almost every branch of science, new discoveries are regularly made which contradict or amend earlier ones. Do we really want to base our theology on science? And if the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus, the resurrection and the atonement are all eliminated from the Gospel, what is left? The Gospel according to human wisdom? Help! Noel Lodge Lilydale, VIC

Generation gaps WITHIN the Uniting Church, much effort is being put into assisting youth to understand the heritage of faith as found in the Gospel message that Jesus is the Christ, now as at the beginning. Special activities appealing to youth are offered not so much as an inducement, but to establish a sense of belonging. It might be said that the older members of a congregations have had time to appreciate and give thanks for grace and enlightenment. If only that was a reality, then that would be fine. Unfortunately, it is too easy to become a habitual Christian going through the motions of worship and even sharing in activities together. The gap between youth and the older members of a congregation is significant. However, maybe that which is overlooked are the middle group of people between the ages of 40 to 55 years of age. At this stage people are often in their employment enjoying the best years of their lives. Often both husband and wife are working and have teenagers to educate. Come weekends and both parents desire time out to recuperate. This is by far the biggest generational gap in any congregation. The question is: how do we restore balance between generations? To be a community of faith there is a need for unity. This doesn’t mean everybody being together at worship at the same time. Rather it is a matter of devoting a more equitable effort towards meeting the needs of all groups. In some ways too much emphasis can be put on the word ‘age’. We are all different with our own personalities and gifts. It is better that we learn to accept one another and not put labels on ourselves as if we

were goods for sale. The words “To love one another as I have loved you” need to be uppermost in our mind. Genuine friendship and hospitality need to take place. To speak of renewal is a challenge to all of us at every stage of life. Let us work together and break the deadlock of intergenerational differences. Faith can move mountains. Alan English Shepparton, VIC

Wrong confession I WAS recently given a copy of a church service to peruse. After reading it, I just felt complete dismay. This service, like all our weekly services, included a Prayer of Confession in which the congregation, was asked to confess things that were simply not true. What was written is opposite from the way I live, speak and act, and then at the end I am to ask for mercy. I would feel that the majority, if not all, who worship with me live their lives the best way they can and yet are constantly asked to ‘confess’ their sins in order to receive forgiveness. Like most people, any ‘sin’ I commit is not done deliberately but unknowingly. When I joined the Church over 70 years ago I did so because I believed there was a God who loved me unconditionally and accepted me as I was. I still believe that; yet every week I am made to feel guilty for what I’ve supposedly done. What does this practice do for people who feel inadequate or inferior? Certainly nothing to encourage them but would make them feel constantly under ‘God’s thumb’, and need to be kept in their place. This is not what the church should be about – it needs to encourage and proclaim God’s love that makes us feel of worth and is freely given without conditions such as confession that makes us feel like ‘naughty little kids’. The archaic Nicene Creed was also used in this service, and I ask why is it being recited at all? We are asked to love God with all our heart, mind and soul and strength and yet nowhere does it say to leave our intellect at the church door. This was an appropriate document when it was written and reflected people’s understanding of God at that time, but surely we’ve moved on. We now understand that the Bible is not a book of facts, we have accepted gay people, divorcees, and all people who care to join us. Our pews are devoid of younger people and part of that is because we’re living in the past with ancient creeds, dogmas and habits that are not even questioned. Even our hymn books have very few appropriate modern hymns, most of them do not portray an understanding of God suitable for our time. It’s about time we brought the Christian Church into this century, and ‘get with it’, so that thinking people will see Christianity for what it really is, and not stay stuck in the past. (Mrs) Kim Searle Burnie, TAS

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Pilgrim Reflection

Selection WE don’t very often tell the story of Australia’s role in establishing the United Nations. Perhaps it is not widely known that a delegation of 20 Australians at the San Francisco Conference on International Organisation from April to June 1945 helped shape the Charter of the UN in decisive ways. The 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights falls on 10 December this year. So it is timely to recall that it was an Australian president of the General Assembly of the UN who saw the document through the processes that gave those enduring phrases to the world. Remembering this story helps shape a more accurate memory of who we are as a national community. Who we remember, and how, has theological implications too. The names Jessie Street and Dr Herbert Evatt are two of many that deserve recognition for their contribution to international collaboration. Jessie Mary Street of Sydney, the only woman among the Australians in San Francisco, was an advocate of justice for workers locally and active in the network of international women’s groups (along with other Australian women since the 1890s). Street became an important voice on the drafting committee ultimately responsible for establishing the Human Rights Commission and also the more contentious Commission on the Status of Women. She was particularly proud of her role in drafting Article 8 of the Charter to ensure that there would be no restrictions on the equal eligibility or participation of men and women across the UN. Jessie Street led the Australian delegation through the heated debate on this matter that hinged on whether or not ‘women’

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needed to be named separately, pointing out that the representation of women in public life did not bear out the claim that ‘men’s rights’ included women. The leader of the Australian delegation, H V Evatt, is recognised as one of the architects of the United Nations. In 1945, the former barrister and Justice of the High Court was minister for external affairs and attorney-general in the Chifley Labor Government. He had a reputation for both hard work and brilliance. Evatt was on 20 committees at the San Francisco conference. He submitted 38 amendments to the UN Charter and saw most of those incorporated into the final document. Evatt warned against the decision that the ‘Big Powers’ would be able to veto resolutions in the Security Council, and chipped away on behalf of ‘small powers’ advocating a strong role for the General Assembly. Evatt’s role as one of the leading minds and personalities at the gathering was widely acknowledged in the press, perhaps because he exasperated some participants by not ‘taking sides’. His achievements established his status internationally and secured his place as president of the third General Assembly in 1948 where the Declaration on Human Rights was supported by 48 countries, with none voting against it. Both Street and Evatt have other reputations, perhaps more commonly recognised. Street was the wife of Sir Kenneth Street and mother of Sir Lawrence Street, both eminent jurists, and labelled ‘Red Jessie’ for her activism on behalf of Soviet Russia. ‘Doc’ Evatt was the unpredictable leader of the Opposition against the resurgent

Dr Herbert Evatt

government of Robert Menzies in the 1950s; leader of the ‘no’ campaign in the referendum to ban the Australian Communist Party and embroiled in the ALP split over Communist and Catholic influence in the trade unions. Both were also much more subtle personalities than these summaries suggest, as the good scholarly biographies of them show. Power is embedded in how we tell stories of individuals and of nation-states. Nigerian novelist Chimanda Ngozi Adichie warned of the danger of a ‘single story’ in a now-famous TED talk in 2009. A nickname (‘Red Jessie’, ‘Doc’) or a stereotype of a community (‘crime-ridden’, ‘sport-loving’) can negate complexity and nuance. Even if they might have some foundation in fact, the single story is essentially incomplete and potentially misleading. Fuller and more complex stories flow from greater economic and social power, from access to media, from time and space to recognise diverse experiences and to honour them. Christian theologian Miroslav Volf has drawn on his own memories of abusive interrogation to explore what it means to remember ‘rightly’. In his 2006 book The End of Memory, Volf offers the metaphor of patchwork to explore the place of remembered stories in healing. He argues that making decisions about the pattern of stories that help constitute our identity is part of being human; a process of individual design that “will depend greatly on how we sew our memories together”. What is also crucial is “how others – from those closest to us all the way to our culture as a whole – sew them together for us”.

Every human quilt of identity for individuals and for nations must include tattered and ugly memories, as well as bright and inspiring ones, if we are truthful and remember honestly. When we remember with all the complexity of patchwork, Volf argues, those memories can support hope for maturity and for reconciliation. Paying careful attention, moving beyond stereotypes and building complex accounts of reality is an urgent task for Australians in the face of the simplifying impulses of commercial media. It is an urgent task for researchers when funds flow selectively. When there is high public awareness of the Anzac tradition and unprecedented funding for war memorials, it is important to also weave memories such those of the organisers for peace and international cooperation into the tapestry of national life.

Katharine Massam is Academic Dean and Co-ordinator of Studies in Church History at Pilgrim Theological College

CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


Moderator’s column

Lessons in Assembly SHARON HOLLIS

I’M sure this month’s Crosslight has comprehensive coverage of Assembly and the key decisions made there. I want to focus on some of the aspects of Assembly not directly related to the decisions we made that I hope might encourage every council and committee to think about their life. I loved seeing Assembly members walking around with beautiful handknitted scarves and beanies. These beanies and scarves came from all over the Uniting Church in Tasmania and Victoria. The knitting began at the last Vic/Tas Synod meeting and continued right up until Assembly began. The beanies and scarves did so much more than ward off the cold of a Melbourne winter. They were an act of hospitality. They were a sign of the way the whole Uniting Church holds the Assembly meeting in prayer, constantly surrounding us in prayer as we met. Knitted into the beanies and scarves were the hopes and prayers of the church. I loved seeing the reminder of these hopes and prayers every day. Thank you to everyone who offered this gift of welcome; not one scarf or beanie remained at Assembly. And thank you to everyone who prayed for us over the week we met. The beanies reminded me that welcome and hospitality are an important part of any community of discernment and decision in the life of the church. What do we do in our meetings that makes all feel welcome? How do we signal that we need the presence and ideas of all who are appointed to any council or committee of the church? AUGUST 18 - CROSSLIGHT

How do we encourage the whole church to pray for those in the congregation/ presbytery/Synod/Assembly who exercise the ministry of governance? Every Assembly I’ve been to I’ve enjoyed the presence of the overseas visitors. They remind us that we are part of the worldwide church and that the voice of our regional neighbours is important. Our partner churches are doing excellent work in combating domestic violence, campaigning for action on climate change and sharing the message of Jesus in countries where the Christian faith is a tiny minority. One overseas delegate told me about the issues they contend with when they hold a meeting such as Assembly. Will the power work? Will the water be running? Will it be safe for delegates to come to the meeting hall? No doubt meeting in this environment would shape the business in ways I can barely begin to understand. This conversation reminded me of the privilege of travelling safely to a well-heated hall. We need the voices of our neighbours to remind us of the call to justice and to pray for our partner churches. How do councils and committee of the church listen to the voices of our neighbours and partners, particularly when they are challenging or uncomfortable? How do we sit with our neighbours and partners and explain our decisions when they don’t always understand or agree? I was impressed by the contribution of the young adult members of the Assembly. They led worship and community groups. They contributed to the debate and helped redraft proposals.

“The young adults share a strong bond. Even when the discernment was difficult and painful, even when they didn’t agree with each other, they supported each other. They sang together, they prayed together and they looked out for each other.”

The young adults at Assembly challenge us to listen to experience they bring from their culture, that is utterly post-Christian, with peers who have no contact or memory of the church. Some bring the distinctive voices of being born in Australia while belonging to the migrant culture of their parents and grandparents. They spoke of straddling diverse cultures and finding their faith in these in-between spaces. The young adults share a strong bond. Even when the discernment was difficult and painful, even when they didn’t agree with each other, they supported each other. They sang together, they prayed together and they looked out for each other. They modelled Christian community as a place of love, nurture, welcome and growth in

faith, even in the face of diverse opinions. How will councils and committees of the church listen to the voice of children, youth and young adults? How will we value their unique voice and contribution? How will we mentor and equip them to grow in faith? How will we support them so they don’t burn out? Each aspect of Assembly I’ve chosen to focus on was important for the meeting itself but also serves as an invitation for every council and committee of the church to consider how it might be welcoming, listen to neighbours and partners as well as value the voice of young people. I hope your council will take some time to discuss the questions I’ve posed and that the conversation enriches your life together. 19


People AHEAD of Homelessness Week, which runs from 6 to 12 August, we talked to Mee Sook Kim from Lilydale Uniting Church. Mee Sook volunteers with ecumenical homeless shelter program Stable One. Q: How does Stable One work? Over the coldest 13 weeks of winter, seven churches in the Lilydale area take turns once a week to host people experiencing homelessness. The venues are run by volunteers and provide an evening meal, a bed and breakfast as well as a warm welcome and a chance to connect with people who care. The beds are packed into a trailer each morning and taken to the next night’s host church. Each church has a project manager. There is also a Daytime Support Centre which is open each weekday afternoon and for an hour on Saturdays and Sundays. Jenny Willetts, Stable One’s managing director, started the program based on a similar model in the UK. Q: How does Lilydale Uniting Church contribute? Our current venue is not suitable to host guests, but through the sale of our previous church property we have helped fund a part-time worker to help Jenny. We also have other volunteers besides myself. One gentleman drives the mini-bus from the day centre to the host church, another lady does afternoon shifts at the day centre and another is covering evening or overnight shifts. Also my husband, Lilydale minister Rev David Kim, volunteers. Q: So Stable One needs a lot of community and church cooperation? It’s a big job. There are 186 volunteers from many different churches but also nonchurch backgrounds who fill the roster. For 186 people their circumstances and their home environment have to be supportive to run this project for three months every night. It’s not easy. We are very, very proud of our area.

Q: How do guests respond?

More than A PLACE to stay Q: How many guests does Stable One have? Where do they come from?

Q: Night shift sounds tough. How do you get through it?

This winter we have had an average of six guests per night. There is a maximum of 10. The guests are referred by police, hospitals, emergency relief agencies or word-of-mouth. We assess guests before inviting them to the shelter and take lowto medium-risk people who are between houses and have nowhere to go. Often they have left a relationship, an unsuitable boarding house or have been ‘couchsurfing’. They must be over 25 years of age, managing their mental health and able to abstain from drugs and alcohol whilst staying at the shelter.

Sometimes it is tough. Last Friday, because a colleague was sick, I had to work during the day from 6.30am until 3pm and then did the night shift. Normally I try to make sure I try to have a bit of rest for one or two hours before I go to the 10pm shift. If I don’t have any other work to do I can rest the next day.

Q: What do you do? On Fridays I alternate between afternoon or night shifts. There are two afternoon shifts at the day centre between 1-6 pm. We meet with guests who take advantage of the shower facilities and the other services in the town (doctor, pharmacy, library, laundry). In the evening there are four volunteers plus two cooks who prepare dinner. On overnight shifts I go to the host church from 10pm to 7am. There are always three volunteers on duty. At any time two must be awake while the third can have a two-hour rest. For the breakfast shift there are three volunteers.

Q: What is your main role? We just try to be supportive, caring and listen to the guests. It’s really important to listen them. When I was last on night shift one of the guests woke up at 1am and we had a good chat for over an hour. Recently one lady remembered me and my name. I just explained my name was Mee Sook and she was laughing at me. I shared a little of my story because I have a different background. We become friends very quickly.

The guests really appreciate a comfortable and safe environment to stay inside during the coldest part of winter. We all support each other. On one shift a 77-yearold volunteer was worried about their grandchild being sick. Other volunteers and even the guests supported them and gave them a big hug to comfort them. We become family and that’s what a lot of people are lacking. Q: Do you try to help guests get back on their feet? Stable One’s motto is that it is “more than a place to stay”. It’s not just a place to sleep and eat. The church coordinators keep in contact with the guests and try to introduce them to boarding houses and other accommodation and jobs. If they need any advice or help they come back to Jenny as well. We have seen one guest find work and reconnect with his children and family. Q: Do you have any training? We had two training days where the police came and gave us good advice on drug use. Other professionals talked to us to make sure we can create a safe environment. Q: Is it effective Christian outreach? Two of last year’s guests were baptised into a church. As a new thing this year we have prayer boxes where guests put in prayer requests. This has been well used. There have been lots of ‘spiritual’ conversations and prayers with guests this year. It’s also an outreach program when we sit together with volunteers we have never met and who are not Christian. Q: Is the Stable One concept growing? Stable One has supported churches in the City of Maroondah to start their own program and is currently talking to interested parties in Bendigo and Sunbury.

Stable One workers and volunteers Sharon Jacobs, Jenny Willetts, Kerryn Pell and David Kim

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CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


Opinion

Untold

children’s stories ALEX SANGSTER

“MOST of the refugees I spoke to on Manus had been drained of hope. They have a heaviness of spirit about them. Their struggle is existential: they are told that Australian public opinion is against them, detained, ignored, sent the message that they are somehow outside the scope of ordinary human kindness” – Tim Costello I LISTENED a few weeks ago to a deeply painful recording of sobbing obtained by activist Ginger Thompson. It is the sound of Central American children separated from their parents and detained in a US Customs and Border Protection facility in Texas. As Thompson writes: “It is excruciating listening. Many of the children sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe.” In recent months the world has watched two very different stories about children. In one, children fleeing danger in Central America became trapped and exposed to more violence in Mexico due to the evertighter and more callous United States border control policies. Medicines Sans Frontières documented this: “The violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador continued to force thousands of people to head north in search of refuge, even as the Trump administration was separating children, tiny little children, from their parents at the border.” The second story from Thailand gave us 12 boys and their ‘brave heart’ young coach, trapped for days in darkness. We

Children on Nauru

saw glimpses of them and imagined them waiting underground as the waters rose. Finally we celebrated as an international rescue effort succeeded. In both these stories the eyes of the world were watching, and because we watched we were moved to action. Even President Donald Trump eventually capitulated to enormous political pressure and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the US border. This did not just happen. Clergy across America, international media, and grandmothers on the streets, politicians and everyday folk demanded this horror stop. They stopped because good people from within and without America said to Trump and his regime ‘Enough’. Why is the same not being said to Peter Dutton and the Australian government? Perhaps it is because we cannot see the children on Nauru and because it has been going on for so long that we have given up hope. Unlike in the recording made by Ginger Thompson, we cannot hear the voices of the children. And because we cannot hear them (or see them thanks to a complete media blackout) our government can hope that we will forget that they are even there. The theologian David Lose writes: “The problem with the disciples is not that they were fearful; it was that they were paralysed by their fear and it is not that they didn’t

Board of Directors

have enough faith, it was that they didn’t have any faith...any faith that together, with each other, with Jesus and with the holy, hopeful spirit that they could sort out this paralysing moment together….” Could the same be said for us? For all of us in Australia who have stood in dumbstruck horror at what is happening to those most vulnerable? Being done in our name and on our watch? Perhaps. Moral/social psychologist Dan Crimston writes of the contrast between the outpouring of concern for the Thai boys and the children on the American border and our apparent indifference to the more than 200 children held in detention on Nauru and on the Australian mainland. He reflects that this might be because: “We simply aren’t permitted to view the plight of child refugees, and so we’re much

less likely to experience an empathic response if we can’t see them.” Groups like Grandmothers Against Children in Detention, Love Makes A Way and many others in the Refugee Action Collective continue to shine a light on this dark stain on our national soul. However, it will take more than a passionate minority to end this injustice and to set these children free. Do we have enough moral imagination that we can continue to fight for justice for our asylum seekers even though we can’t see their faces or hear their cries?

Rev Alex Sangster is minister at Fairfield Uniting Church and author and illustrator of the children’s book Mystic Bible. Turn to page 26 for a review of Mysic Bible.

Expression of Interest

Want to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice? There is currently an opportunity to join our diverse and skills-based Board of Directors. We are looking for demonstrated expertise in the areas of: • Uniting Church mission, theology and policy • Community service delivery such as disability • Marketing, media and fundraising • Finance and ICT • Risk and compliance. Uniting is the community services organisation of the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania. We’ve been supporting individuals, families and communities for over 100 years. Express your interest by 31 August Please provide by email a current overview of your board qualifications and experience, as well as a summary highlighting your credentials in relation to one or more of the above areas. Contact: Fiona Sear Executive Assistant to CEO and Board Vic.Tas Fiona.Sear@vt.uniting.org

AUGUST 18 - CROSSLIGHT

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Feature

Heart and Seoul

Looking out over Seoul

Last month, synod NextGen youth visited South Korea for a contextual learning trip. TIM LAM, who accompanied the group, reports on their journey.

A house divided THE seemingly tranquil surrounds of the Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) mask a dark history of death, separation and anguish. For the past 65 years, this deserted buffer zone has served as a symbol of a nation divided. The DMZ was the first destination on the NextGen youth’s 12-day contextual learning trip. As the young people made their way to the DMZ, they spotted signs of a country ready for war at a moment’s notice. Anti-tank barricades, ready to be collapsed onto the road with dynamite, lined the sides of the highway between Seoul and the DMZ. NextGen member Kezia Gitareja, who was a first-time visitor to Korea, said the DMZ offered a harrowing glimpse into the human cost of the Korean conflict. “The stories of parents and children, brothers and sisters being separated – you feel so sad for them because they can’t grow up and live with their loved ones,” Kezia said. “You yearn for reunification because you empathise with them.” As one of the last places in Korea largely free of human development, the DMZ has developed into an unlikely nature reserve, home to a thriving biodiversity. But beneath the lush green forests lies a sense of imminent danger. The DMZ is one of the most heavily fortified places in the world. “Entering the DMZ required really serious procedures,” Kezia said. “There was a sense of fear that something might happen to you if you do something wrong.” Visitors can only enter the DMZ via a military escort. At the heart of the DMZ is the Joint Security Area (JSA), where North and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. On this particular visit, no North Korean soldiers were visible. According to one

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United Nations Command (UNC) soldier, North Korean soldiers have maintained a light presence in the JSA following recent peace talks between North and South Korea. Inside the DMZ, UNC soldiers enforce a strict ban on photography. There are only two photographic opportunities and all photos must face the North Korean side. During the visit, the NextGen youth stepped onto North Korean soil by crossing the military demarcation line inside the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) house. For the past six decades, this invisible line has divided the MAC building – and the entire Korean peninsula – into two nations. Anna Harrison, from Living Faith Church in Greensborough, said it is important to embrace all Koreans as part of the global human family. “The conflict is not something that’s happened to a bunch of people who are far away from us; this is a part of the human family that’s really hurting,” Anna said. “It’s really different hearing a story from afar to being in a place. You get a real sense of the emotional trauma and how real and deep this goes for people.” For Grace Jung, a NextGen youth of Korean descent, the visit was an opportunity to witness the stories she heard so much about as a child. “I’ve learnt about Korean history through documentaries, but even that’s still quite distant,” Grace said. “But if you actually immerse yourself and physically see the DMZ, it becomes your anecdote too. “I see people in North Korea as my bloodrelated family. So we can personally get involved with our family business, which is why I think reunification is really important.” Although Grace has visited South Korea before, she is still surprised that most Koreans have normalised the state of threat on the peninsula. “Compared to how the media portrays how dangerous Korea is, people were just fine,” she said. “They are used to the tension. They are immune to it, which I find really sad.”

The long road to reunification DURING their trip, the NextGen youth visited the regional city of Suncheon in the southern part of the peninsula. Best known for its scenic parks and quiet wetlands, Suncheon seems a world away from the bustling metropolitan capital of Seoul. Suncheon Central Church minister Rev Dr In-Sik Hong, who spent his high school and university years in Paraguay, speaks with a noticeable Spanish accent. He served as a missionary in Argentina, Costa Rico, Mexico and Chile and also has a PhD in Latin American liberation theology. “Reunification of the Korean peninsula is a fundamental and basic task that God has given to the Korean church,” Dr Hong said. “But until now, the Korean church hasn’t realised that task.” Throughout South Korea, there is a renewed optimism that recent peace talks between North Korean President Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In will marshal in a new era of peace. For Dr Hong, reunification carries personal significance. “My family comes from North Korea, so I want to visit my father’s homeland in Pyongyang,” he said. “But I don’t know who my relatives in North Korea are because I have lost contact with them. My father and mother didn’t pass on any information about them to me before they died.” As well as providing support services for North Korean defectors, the South Korean church has actively campaigned for peace and reunification on the peninsula. Since 2010, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK) has spearheaded a movement to replace the 1953 Armistice Agreement with a permanent Peace Treaty. Their advocacy efforts are bearing fruit, with Kim Jong-Un and Moon Jae-In set to finalise a peace treaty by the end of the year. But Dr Hong believes many political obstacles will need to be overcome before the two countries can be reunified.

“Reunification is possible but not in the near future. Maybe after my death,” he said. “But I hope it is sooner because I want to visit my homeland.”

Growing pains OVER the past 50 years, the Korean church has experienced rapid growth. Nearly 30 percent of South Koreans are Christians and Seoul is home to more mega-churches than any other city in the world. But Dr Hong believes that as the Korean church grew in size, it gradually lost touch with the needs of society. “The Korean church considers itself a strong institution,” Dr Hong said. “However, during the past 40 years, Korean church was separating itself from society. “We are now in a ghetto, a very closed community. We don’t care about what happens in society. Our focus is salvation of the soul – to save souls. “The first challenge is that our church has to be one with society.” Friction between conservative and liberal branches have caused numerous schisms within the Korean Protestant church since 1953. While the majority of Korean churches have conservative leanings, some – like the PROK – are considered more progressive. The PROK was the first denomination in Korea to ordain women elders (1956), and later women ministers (1974). Anna, who recently undertook postgraduate studies at Pilgrim Theological College, was surprised by the theological diversity within the Korean church. “Prior to the trip, my only real idea of Christianity in Korea is that it was really prevalent,” she said. “I thought that theologically it would be a bit more homogenous. “So I was really surprised hearing stories from the young adults and ministers of how the church in Korea has its own diversity and its own issues that it’s working through. “Some of the young adults are struggling with the same things we are.” The NextGen youth also learnt about

CROSSLIGHT - AUGUST 18


Feature the history of Australian missionaries in Korea, who first set foot in Busan in 1889. Their legacy can be seen in the numerous hospitals and schools they have established throughout Korea. Many Korean churches, like the Busanjin Presbyterian Church, now send young people overseas on mission trips. According to Korea World Missions Association, South Korea sent out 27,436 missionaries last year, second only behind the United States. “The first missionaries were the people who planted the seeds of the gospel in Korea,” Grace said. “So it’s our turn to help and make sure the seeds are rooted well and blossom.”

Talking about youth DURING the contextual learning trip, the NextGen youth met young adults from Gwacheon Presbyterian Church in Seoul and Busanjin Presbyterian Church in Busan. Like Australia, the Korean church is grappling with the challenge of engaging young people who are growing increasingly distant from the church. “We’ve failed to reinterpret Christian language to teach or communicate to young people in a changing context,” Dr Hong said. “For example, in relation to homosexuality the context has completely changed. We do not know how to respond to the changing context.” Dr Hong said that for some Korean churches, just having a conversation about LGBTI topics is considered taboo. “If you talk about LGBTI with a little positive thinking, you can be expelled from the church, especially if you are a pastor,” Dr Hong said. “Even our PCK constitution says that anybody who speaks about LGBTI ‘positively’ cannot be employed as a church official. “I believe every LGBTI person is a human being and we have to consider the starting point from there. We have to be informed before taking a definitive decision.”

Seoul at night

Facing the North Korean side of the Joint Security Area.

Lessons from Korea BEFORE she embarked on the contextual learning trip, Kezia had a different understanding of Korean history and culture. “I was only focused on the bright and happy side of Korea back home,” she said. “So I wasn’t really focusing on the political conflicts happening in Korea. “I’ve also learnt to be more understanding and accepting of other people’s culture. In Australia we call our elders by their first names but in Korea, we have to use honorifics to address them.” Kezia wants her congregation to embrace a social enterprise concept she encountered at a church in Seoul. The Presbyterian Church of Korea runs a café that hires and trains North Korean refugees to help them acquire long-term employment skills. “I like that you get coffee for yourself and at the same time you’re helping others,” Kezia said. “I want to bring this to my congregation and adopt this concept because I think it’s really amazing.” Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities are home to some of the largest youth populations in the Uniting Church. But many of these young people seldom have opportunities to connect with UCA

AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

In-Sik Hong

youth outside their own congregations. “The highlight of the trip for me was definitely being with people from different backgrounds,” Grace said. “It’s very unlikely for me because I’m from a Korean church, so it’s hard to actually go on a trip with people from different cultures and congregations in the UCA.” For Anna, the trip revealed new ways of doing intercultural ministry that she wants to share with the rest of the church. “Sometimes in our church in Australia we think doing stuff together is enough,” she said. “We need to learn to allow people to bring their stories and culture and actually value, treasure and participate in it. “That’s a really important way of loving someone.” To view a short video of the NextGen visit to Korea, visit the Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pg/ucavictas/videos

NextGen youth have lunch with Suncheon Central Church leaders

Young adult service at Busanjin Presbyterian Church

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Notices COMING EVENTS ‘FREE SPIRIT’ IN CONCERT 2.30PM, SUNDAY 5 AUGUST Croydon Uniting Church, 6 Tallent Street, Croydon. Free Spirit will present a concert on behalf of the Outer Eastern Aslyum Seeker Support Network. All proceeds support the work of the Lentara Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre. Enjoy a wonderful and varied program from this well-established choral group. $20pp (concession available) including afternoon tea. More details from P: (03) 9753 3648. LET’S TALK ABOUT DEATH, DYING AND BEREAVEMENT 7PM – 9PM, WEDNESDAY 8 AUGUST Airport West Uniting Church, 72 Roberts Road, Airport West. Join us for coffee, cake and groupdirected conversation about all things death, dying and bereavement. This event will use D2KDay resources and offer an opportunity to light a candle on behalf of a loved one or express yourself on a ‘Before I Die’ glass wall. This is a registered D2KDay event: www.dyingtoknowday.org/events Enquiries to Rev Judy Rigby on M: 0402 473 976 or E: minister3042@gmail.com

MUFFIN MORNING AT THE HUB SUPPORTING RESEARCH INTO PARKINSON’S DISEASE 10AM – 12 NOON, WEDNESDAY 15 AUGUST Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Come along to The Hub and enjoy some delicious home-made muffins for morning tea and take home some of the recipes. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations go to research into Parkinson’s disease. Info and group bookings P: (03) 9560 3580. UNITING CHURCH HISTORICAL SOCIETY VIC/TAS 2PM, SUNDAY, 19 AUGUST Blackburn Uniting Church, The Avenue, Blackburn. Rev Dr Rowland Ward will speak about “The Reformation of the 16th C: How relevant is it today?” Contact Robert Renton on M: 0427 812 606 for information. BEER AND HYMNS 3PM – 5.30PM, SUNDAY 19 AUGUST Wesley Anne, 250 High Street, Northcote. An initiative of Chalice and Richmond UC, with musicians from Brunswick UC. Bring along a copy of TIS or AHB.

CHAPLAINCY NETWORKING MORNING TEA 9.30AM – 11.30AM, MONDAY, 20 AUGUST Level 2, 501 Swanston Street, Melbourne. Chaplains play a vital role in the Australian Defence Force by looking after the spiritual and emotional needs of Defence members. As a valued member of Melbourne’s religious community, Defence Force Recruiting would like to invite you to the Chaplaincy Networking Morning Tea. The event will begin with a warm welcome from Defence Force Recruiting’s specialist team followed by ADF chaplains from local military bases sharing insights of their time in the Navy, Army and Air Force. RSVP to E: cptvic@dfr.com.au with your name, email address and mobile number with ‘Chaplain Morning Tea’ in the subject line. DIALOGUE WITH OTHER VOICES with REV DR PAUL TONSON SEPT-NOV 2018 Heathmont Uniting Church, 89 Canterbury Rd, Heathmont. During his supply ministry, Rev Dr Paul Tonson will focus on engaging with voices of those other than Christian belief, beginning with Judaism and Islam and including Humanism. This will include guest conversations in some Sunday morning services at 10am. Dr Tonson aims to be biblical, evangelical and progressive in presenting the Christian faith in contemporary thought forms. For updated details, call the church on P: (03) 9729 4452.

‘FREE SPIRIT’ IN CONCERT 2.30PM, SUNDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2018 Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Kingsway & Bogong Avenue, Glen Waverley. Join us for an afternoon of contemporary, sacred & secular music, jazz & comedy, and some vibrant toe-tapping numbers. Afternoon tea included. Free Spirit is a choir of Glen Waverley Uniting Church that occasionally sings at other church services and fund-raising events around Victoria. All proceeds will support Glen Waverley UC’s programs and activities. Admission: $25 adult and $20 concession. Tickets are available from the church office on P: (03) 9560-3580, or from Vida on M: 0411 246 254. Enquiries to Vida. A CELEBRATION OF TALENTS – MONTROSE UNITING CHURCH 5, 6 and 7 OCTOBER Montrose Uniting Church, cnr Mt Dandenong & Gratten Roads, Montrose. Montrose UC will hold a Celebration of Talents on the 5, 6 and 7 October. Members of the church and the local community are invited to exhibit and sell their work or come and view the artworks on display. Refreshments will be provided. Further details will be available closer to the event.

Assembly of Confessing Congregations (within the Uniting Church in Australia)

2018 National Conference

Living & workinG within the faith and unity of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

17 – 19 September 2018 Wesley Church Wesley Mission Pitt Street, Sydney

Are you interested in learning skills to assist friends, family and co-workers who are experiencing mental health challenges?

Mental Health First Aid Course This course will enable participants to learn the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, and where to get help. After completing the course each participant will be eligible to be an accredited Mental Health First Aider.   

Date: 9am to 5pm, Monday 3 September and Tuesday 4 September Location: Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville Facilitator: Marcel Koper

Cost: Early bird rate of $185.00 per participant will apply until 27 August. Standard rate of $220.00 per participant will apply from 28 August to 1 September. Group bookings of five are also available at a rate of $185.00 per participant. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea will be provided on both days. To book a spot go to www.trybooking.com/WCDW

The ACC is a network of evangelical, reformed and orthodox congregations and members within the Uniting Church. For further information or to download a copy of our magazine see our website: www.confessingcongregations.com

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For further information please visit www.bethelcentre.com.au To make an appointment to see one our counsellors, please contact us on 03 9859 8700 or email support@bethelcentre.com.au

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Notices CLINICAL PASTORAL EDUCATION: PETER MACCALLUM CANCER CENTRE SUMMER PROGRAM 2018/2019 Unique Clinical Pastoral Education opportunity for people with a passion for spiritual care to participate in the Summer Unit conducted over 11 weeks, 12 November 2018 to 1 February 2019. Clinical placements will be at Peter Mac. Fee details, application materials or further information available from department administrator Paula Donnoli on P: (03) 855 95236 or E: paula.donnoli@petermac.org. Applications close on Friday, 7 September. COMMUNITY CHOIR FOR DIAMOND CREEK 1PM–3PM MONDAY AFTERNOONS Diamond Creek Uniting Church, 32 Wensley Street, Diamond Creek. A new community choir for all-comers. All are welcome to have a sing. Singing is good for you! You will never be asked to sing by yourself. The venue is accessible, welcoming and sessions are in the day time. You’ll even get afternoon tea. If you’ve never been in a choir before, don’t let that stop you. Come and enjoy friendly company. Cost is $10 per week or $70 for 10 sessions. Conducted by Graham Ford. For more information call M: 0419 361 487 or E: gford@bigpond.net.au.

TREK MUSICALS AVAILABLE FOR FUND-RAISING Trek Musicals is currently preparing a show to commemorate the centenary of World War I. A respectful look at the events of that time, it will start with some music-hall numbers and songs and poems from the period. There will be opportunity for singalong. Currently performances are planned at Diamond Creek UC, Seymour UC, Winchelsea UC, St Johns Anglican Church, Heidelberg UC and The Avenue UC in Blackburn. There are still some dates free in late October for other churches interested in hosting this on a profit-share basis.

GROUNDSWELL 7PM, FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Groundswell is a monthly inter-spiritual gathering. We draw upon our rich human history of spiritual journeys to experience the sacred together. We look at all spirituality in the light of the archetypal patterns in our lives and engage in practical transformative experiences. For more information, visit the Habitat website www.habitatforspirituality.org.au. Enquiries to Elizabeth Bethune on P: (03) 9818 2726.

CLASSIFIEDS

COME AND VISIT THE HUB 10AM – 2PM TUESDAYS & THURSDAYS 10AM – 12NOON, WEDNESDAYS Glen Waverley UC, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Avenue, Glen Waverley. The Hub is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people needing company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practise speaking English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Wednesday 10am - 12 noon. People of all ages are welcome. For information phone P: (03) 9560 3580.

FEED YOUR SOUL YOGA MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY – MORNING, MIDDAY & EVENING CLASSES Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Free your mind, body and spirit; strengthen your back and core muscles, and improve your overall wellbeing. Classes include yoga for beginners, yoga for seniors, yoga for men, yoga for menopause, yin yoga and hatha yoga. For more information please contact Angelika on M: 0401 607 716 or go to: www.feedyoursoulyoga.com.au.

LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698.

DANCE CLASSES FOR MATURE WOMEN 1PM-2PM, THURSDAYS Habitat Canterbury, cnr Mont Albert Rd and Burke Rd, Canterbury. Join this gentle, joyful space for movement and self-expression. For more information contact Susan on M: 0433 259 135.

19 AUGUST Sunday, 2PM

AUSTRALIAN HYMN BOOKS AVAILABLE: Portland Uniting Church has roughly 50 Australian Hymn Books (blue) to give away. Postage to be paid by recipient. More details from Jenny Roberts on P: (03) 5529 5314. CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. See www.summerhayscottage. com.au. Ring Doug or Ina, M: 0401 177 775.

SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: (03) 5628 5319. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, secondhand/retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920.

UNITING CHURCH HISTORICAL SOCIETY VIC/TAS

At Blackburn Uniting Church, The Avenue, Blackburn. Speaker is Rev Dr Rowland Ward on “The Reformation of the 16th C: How relevant is it today?” 0062

2018 WALKING TOUR OF WORSHIP IN EAST MELBOURNE You are invited to join a guided tour of three worship centres arranged by the Uniting Church Historical Society on TUESDAY 9 OCTOBER 2018. Assemble by 10 am outside the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation Synagogue, 488 Albert Street, East Melbourne, 3002. The tour will include St Peter’s Eastern Hill Anglican Church and conclude at Trinity German Lutheran Church. Lunch is self-catering. RSVP is essential. Contact Geoff on P: (03)9528 4293 or E: gkp@netspace.net.au by Sunday 30 September. Please indicate names of attendees, contact phone and email, and any special requirements.

Contact Robert Renton on M: 0427 812 606 for information.

Aitken College is a P-12 independent co-educational Uniting Church school in Greenvale.

COLLEGE CHAPLAIN The College Chaplain is responsible for providing opportunities to develop the religious and spiritual life of the College. The College Chaplain duties encompass Chapel Services, involvement in the Religion and Values Education Program, counselling, and contributing to the growth of the Faith Community and the Reach Out Community. The appointment date is negotiable, but to commence at the latest January 2019. Selection criteria include: • Ordained Minister (School Chaplaincy experience desirable) q "NTMRDKKHMF0T@KHjB@SHNMR • Willingness to work with young people and their families The Position Description is available from the College website at www.aitkencollege.edu.au under employment. Applications including a cover letter must be submitted online at www.aitkencollege.edu.au by 15 August 2018 0061

AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

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Review

Illustrated Bible

State of amnesia

Issues of belonging Present beliefs

REVIEW BY TYSON AND EVIE ROBINSON

REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE

REVIEW BY JOHN RICKARD

REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE

BOOK | THE LONG HANGOVER: PUTIN’S NEW RUSSIA AND THE GHOSTS OF THE PAST | SHAUN WALKER

BOOK | WHY INDIGENOUS SOVEREIGNTY SHOULD MATTER TO CHRISTIANS | CHRIS BUDDEN

BOOK | PAUL AND THE GIFT | JOHN M G BARCLAY

WHAT’S going on in Putin’s Russia? The Guardian’s Moscow correspondent, Shaun Walker, recently wrote that, while World Cup soccer fans realised Russia is not entirely alien, there remains a dark side. It is a nation of huge inequalities, human rights abuses and an alarming willingness to forget the past. Walker notes that it was evident during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics there was not much to celebrate in Russian culture beyond the end of the 19th century, besides the Olympics themselves. The last century saw millions of victims of collectivisation, deportations and political trials, quite aside from the victims of war. The collapse of the USSR didn’t necessarily improve the lot of ordinary Russians who, instead of freedom, received chaos, while gangsters and former party officials made themselves obscenely rich. Tellingly, Walker also finds in his conversations with Russians a loss of identity and purpose, which has led to nostalgia for the Soviet era. Russians don’t want to go back to communism, but Putin has tapped into widespread existential regret about the loss of Russia’s status as a first-rate global power. Putin has revived nationalism, via a cult of the celebration of victory in World War II, to steer through the mess of new materialism, left-over communist infrastructure and competing loyalties. But Walker argues, for this supposedly unifying historical point to take hold much history (as in the Soviet era) has been distorted. The majority of Russians are happy with this. In a way, who can blame them, considering the nation’s horrific history? All countries have degrees of historical amnesia and simplified national narratives – the West is not immune. But, says Walker, Putin’s Russia stands out because the Orwellian rewriting of history is “at a different level”.

CHRIS Budden is profoundly qualified to write this book that examines the issue of Indigenous sovereignty for the church. He has a passionate heart and a willingness to sit and listen to the concerns and desires of the First Peoples of this land. Chris understands the importance of sovereignty for Indigenous people and argues that a negotiated settlement or treaty is critical for the future of all Australians. In this country we usually understand sovereignty as belonging to a state, as “the exercise of absolute power by governments or parliaments over certain territories”. It is a “power over” sovereignty that protects property and land. First People have a different understanding of sovereignty; it is about identity, relationship with land, and belonging. This book also examines sovereignty theologically. How do we understand God’s sovereignty, and how does that affect the way we approach sovereignty exercised by the state? Here also, Chris is well qualified. He has the words to express what he hears and an ability to shape this retelling in a way that addresses the Christian community. He has the theology. Central to this theology is a God that Chris depicts as the “swirling, dancing life of the Trinity”. Chris develops the concept of the sovereignty of God, which he believes is relational. In the act of creation, God established sovereignty over the created order, offering an ongoing relationship of providential care. It is about creativity and sustenance rather than ownership or possession. In the coming of Jesus, God reasserted sovereignty in Jesus’ message of the Kingdom or reign of God. This message deeply challenged the authority and sovereignty of the then-state, the Roman Empire. This book is required reading for the church. But more than that we need to ensure our governments respond appropriately. The current Prime Minister’s response to the Uluru Statement of the Heart was shameful. Jesus’ message of the Kingdom and its challenge of empire just might be an important model for us.

THE main argument of this large, scholarly book is actually quite simple: if we are to understand what Paul says about salvation as a gift we need to understand what the concept of gift meant in the culture of the day. As such, this book makes a perspective-changing contribution to Pauline studies as significant as Tom Wright’s arguments about Paul’s understanding of covenant and James Dunn’s work on the oral culture of the early church. A gift in ancient cultures meant that something was expected in return. It was a means of strengthening community. The recipient’s status was also taken into account, as someone not able to return the favour was not worth giving to. In Second Temple Judaism there were competing ideas about God’s grace. Was it consistent? Universal? Conditional? The Israelites’ history of apostasy prompted questions about their worthiness. There was consensus that God gave generously, but how did that fit with divine justice? Paul’s surprising argument, in the light of his mission to the gentiles, is that God gives despite the unworthiness of the recipients, and that previous measures of worthiness, such as observance of Torah laws, are now irrelevant. This doesn’t rule out good works as a response, but it does rule them out as condition. Over millennia, the interpretation of God’s generosity ebbed and flowed with the tides of biblical scholarship. Barclay takes various theologians, from Augustine to Karl Barth, and points to which aspects of gift they prioritised. Different theological emphases explains much differing opinion over grace and works, law and gospel. The ongoing arguments may be clarified by heeding Barclay’s advice that the meaning of gift is not as simple as we might assume.

BOOK | MYSTIC BIBLE | ALEXANDRA SANGSTER

TYSON (aged 13): Mystic Bible, by Alexandra Sangster, is a children’s book about the story of Jesus. I got to experience this book firsthand and I am impressed. I was wowed at the beautiful drawings and found it really easy to understand thanks to the wording. Learning about the story of Jesus through this book was a valuable experience for me. The story goes through the birth and death of Jesus, from the shed at the back of the inn where he was born, to the crucifix on which he died. It also covered other people’s stories such as Mary’s and John the Baptist’s. The use of different fonts for different words was pretty creative and the size of the words being differentiated according to the importance of the sentence was also pretty neat. In short, Mystic Bible is a fantastic book for those who want to teach their kids about Jesus or need to catch up themselves. I give this book six out of five stars! EVIE (aged nine): The moment I read the first sentence I was hooked. I am in love with the illustrations. It was very beautiful. I liked how it went from before Jesus was born to after he died. Also I liked how the author used words from God and how it asked personal questions of the readers. I loved how the story of Jesus was covered in great detail but I’d like to hear more of Mary’s story. It was good how sometimes the words were big and sometimes they were small. Also I loved how it was easy to understand but was pretty long, so there is more to read about. If I could pick out any book from a bookstore, I would definitely buy this and read it to my kids. I would rate this 1000 out of 10 stars. Alexandra Sangster is minister at Fairfax Uniting Church. Mystic Bible is a progressive telling of the Gospel stories. Available from www.progressivechristianity. org/resources/the-mystic-bible/ RRP: $25

Available from www.oup.com.au RRP: $44.95

Available from www.eerdmans.com RRP: $55

Available from www.mediacom.org.au. RRP: $22.45

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Social media round-up IN our social media wrap-up this month, synod staff celebrate moderator Sharon Hollis’ birthday, Kelly Skilton shares a beautiful photo from Burwood Uniting Church and Airys Inlet Uniting Church received a visit from an AFL star. Tune into the new ‘Work Experience’ podcast from our intergenerational ministry youth worker Bradon French as he shares his ideas and library recommendations for youth ministry – player.whooshkaa.com/shows/work-experience Stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the Uniting Church by subscribing to our NewsBot. The NewsBot delivers updates straight to your Facebook Messenger inbox.

Subscribe to the NewsBot by following these three steps: Podcast: Work Experience

Facebook: Sharon Hollis’ birthday

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Visit the Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania Facebook page and click ‘send message’ to start a conversation with the NewsBot.

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Type or click ‘subscribe’. The NewsBot will ask if you want to subscribe to church updates. Click ‘yes’.

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Like us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/ucavictas Follow us on Twitter – www.twitter.com/ucavictas Instagram: Burwood UCA stained glass window by @kellyskilton

Facebook: Patrick Dangerfield at Airys Inlet UCA

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Pressing matters

Grape expectations DENNIS COUSENS

THE Uniting Church faith community at Gala Kirk Cranbrook, on the beautiful East Coast of Tasmania, celebrated the end of the grape picking season with a harvest festival service at the civilised time of 2pm on Sunday 29 April. Cranbrook is a small but charming town which harbours the old Gala Kirk church. The church remains almost as it was built. There is no electricity, no plumbing and pews big enough to seat entire families. Despite its advanced age the pedal organ beautifully plays hymns from Together in Song. The magnificent views would challenge most country churches and all city churches. On 29 April the church contained 32 people, some locals and some driftersin, an altar laden with grapes, red and white, locally grown potatoes, pumpkin by the arm-full, preserves of apricots and tomatoes in fowler ware, a loaf of bread and locally produced wine. We pressed our own grape juice for communion using the press provided by Stuart Macpherson. For the sacramental bread we used a loaf of damper baked by patrol minister Dennis Cousens. As we sang Bringing in the Sheaves young attendees brought freshly cut sheaves and placed them with the harvest gifts. Our prayers of thanksgiving were around AUGUST18 - CROSSLIGHT

Dennis Cousens and Stuart Macpherson

the gifts given in abundance with grapes, a sprig of lavender, a clutch of spinning gum branches and an empty cross all signifying the gifts of God. Stuart Macpherson preached on the ‘True Vine’, the lectionary gospel passage for the

day, and told us to be prepared to be used for the Glory of God. As we left, carved pumpkin pieces were given to everyone to grow the seeds for the future. It was a great celebration, we had some

fun and it was topped off by a wonderful afternoon tea at the conclusion of the service in the tiny Cranbrook schoolhouse. Thank you to Jennie Amos and Pat Greenhill for your dedication to the faith community of Gala Kirk. 27


Synod Snaps

UCA member Emily Evans shakes hands with Pope Francis at the World Council of Churches 70th anniversary celebrations in Geneva.

Singularity, a volunteer a capella choir, performed Iolanthe at Mooroolbark and Cowes Uniting Churches. The two congregations raised more than $1700 for Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA).

Springvale Uniting Church minister Rev Paul Aleu Dau and his wife Aja Atem celebrate the baptism of their two youngest children, Isaiah and David.

“WHICH OF MY PHOTOGRAPHS IS MY FAVOURITE? THE ONE I’M GOING TO —Imogen Cunningham TAKE TOMORROW.”

Leprena Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress hosted an ‘End the Silence in Violence’ event in Hobart to launch their Safe Families story sharing DVD.

BB-8, a Cyberman, a Jedi Padawan and a Stepford wife make an appearance at the ecumenical Church of the Latter Day Geeks service in Williamstown.

Rev Kharis Susilowati and Ben Abadani celebrate their wedding at Sale Uniting Church. The service was conducted by Rev Sue Stott and attended by many congregation members and ministers from Bairnsdale, Paynesville and the Gippsland presbytery.

Archivist Dr Jenny Bars organised a special morning tea to thank Synod Archive volunteers for their ongoing contributions.

Crosslight August 2018  
Crosslight August 2018  
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