Crosslight No. 289 July 2018
Christian relationships and dating Page 22
Stories from the
Holy land P 13
Scavenger iron man
under wraps for Assembly
05 UCA people featured prominently in the Queen’s Birthday Honours
Robyn Whitaker explains why public theology can be evangelism
Bringing social housing to where it is needed – on a truck
Letters - 16 Moderator’s column - 19 Notices - 24 to 25 Reviews - 26
Cover Image by Joshua Chan
Guest editorial THE SIMPLE THINGS COUNT
Communications & Media Services
This month’s editorial is by King Island Uniting Church member Beth Vellekoop.
IN May the King Island Uniting Church had this crazy idea to ask for extra copies of the out-of-print Together in Song. Our congregation had grown, and we just didn’t have enough books. Our ‘anguished’ photo for Crosslight of our congregation sharing a single book took stern control to stop giggles and smiles. Our bunch of quiet achievers struggled to show ‘anguished’, because God blesses us in so many ways. We live in a beautiful place, a safe and friendly community, with a great bunch of committed Christians who nearly all get ‘volunteered’ into some role in our church. Some worried we were less deserving than others and shouldn’t ask for help; some didn’t want to be a bother. Should God’s people really ask for help? What happened next was truly amazing. We were contacted by eight different churches. Some were willing to meet our need through excess supplies, some were willing to share scarce supplies and some proposed alternative options. Each week
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I reported to the congregation on the emails I received. King Island was stunned by the willingness of total strangers to help our remote community. Leighmoor Uniting Church kindly donated books, some with extra-large print. They even delivered them to the airline for freighting. This left us feeling humble, amazed, grateful, thankful and a teeny bit embarrassed. Why embarrassed? Because we are used to being the ones helping others. We are the ones who represent our community in local council, in health and welfare, in teaching, in business, growing food and working in local community organisations. When the community needs help, someone in our group is somewhere in the background. Nobody thinks anything of it – it is just something that we do. We share God’s love that way. There is plenty of love in this month’s edition of Crosslight. The cover story on pages 22 and 23 explores relationships
and dating for young Christians. On page 17, Robin Purdey movingly looks back on her lifetime love story. UCA minister Ann Scull writes of a different type of love, for a place and a people, in ‘Letters from the Holy Land’ on pages 13 to 15. Finally, you can see the before and after photos of our hymn book request on page 27. As Christians, we can share our gifts, talents and generosity. The simple little things we do every day will count for someone else. We may never know who that is, but God will know.
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Beth Vellekoop Treasurer and member of church council King Island Uniting Church
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Warm welcome for Assembly members DAVID SOUTHWELL
EVEN if not wild, this month’s Assembly meeting will certainly be woolly. VicTas moderator Sharon Hollis will take along suitcases full of hundreds of specially knitted scarves, beanies and mittens to hand out to Assembly members needing to rug up for the Melbourne winter. Ms Hollis made the request for people to knit the winter wear at last year’s Synod meeting after gathering a collection of woollen wear knitted to donate to a congregational mental health outreach program. “People went back from Synod and just kept knitting,” Ms Hollis said. “It’s of one of those things that got a life of its own.” Ms Hollis said she had attended previous mid-year Assembly gatherings where people from warmer climes, such as northern Australia and the Pacific Islands, had complained about the cold, even during the meeting held in Brisbane. “I thought rather than moan about Melbourne’s weather let’s make a positive feature of it and rug up,” Ms Hollis said. “I will bring the suitcases of scarves to the pre-gatherings and people can take what they need. They can wear a different scarf everyday if they want. “Then they can take them home as a gift. If there are any left over we will give them to a worthy cause.”
Ms Hollis already has a scarf picked out for President-elect Dr Deidre Palmer, one that is Deidre’s favourite colour of purple. “I’ll be popping one on her table at the beginning so she is good to go,” Ms Hollis said. Ms Hollis has been collecting the knitted wear on her travels around synod. From Tasmania she picked up a scarf knitted by a woman who followed instructions from a YouTube video. Another Tasmanian scarf came from a dementia sufferer who has lost most other memories but is still a skilled knitter. Ms Hollis said she hadn’t expected such a generous response. “I’ve just been amazed by people’s enthusiasm,” she said. “It’s a sign of people wishing Assembly well and wanting to be a part of it. “I feel like perhaps they have knitted their hopes and prayers for Assembly into a scarf.” Dr Palmer will be installed as National President at the opening service for Assembly, held from 7.30pm on Sunday 8 July at St Michael’s Uniting Church on the corner of Russell and Collins St in Melbourne city. Assembly meetings and events will continue at Box Hill Town Hall from 9 to 14 July and are open to observers and visitors. Find out what’s going on by visiting assembly.uca.org.au. Assembly is keeping moderator Sharon Hollis in stitches
Treaty Bill welcomed by UCA
Leprena manager Alison Overeen
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THE Uniting Church has welcomed Victoria’s landmark step towards negotiating a treaty with the First Peoples and urged that the process continue. Late last month the Victorian parliament passed the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018. It is the first time an Australian parliament has approved a framework to negotiate a treaty or treaties with the First Peoples. Moderator Sharon Hollis said it was an important moment but there is much more to be done. “The Uniting Church welcomes the passing of the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 as a significant step towards recognising the sovereignty of the First Peoples of Victoria,” she said. “We commend the work of many Aboriginal people and organisations and the Treaty Commissioner in working towards this day. We will continue to work and pray for justice for First Peoples.” Australia is the only Commonwealth country not to have signed a treaty with its indigenous peoples. This is despite a promise to do so by former prime minister Bob Hawke more
than 30 years ago. In his final national message as his three-year term winds up, UCA President Stuart McMillan said that recognition of sovereignty and Treaty for First Peoples was “unfinished business”. “I continue to invite Church members to consider what it would mean for the practices of our Church to honour First Peoples as sovereign in this land and what it means to stand with them in their pursuit of just terms treaties,” he said. “The conversation continues and the movement for Treaty is stirring again.” NAIDOC week, which celebrates the history, culure and achievements of the First Peoples begins on 8 July. The theme of this year’s event is “Because of her, we can” which celebrates the essential role that women play in First Peoples communities. This theme aligns with a campaign being promoted by the Leprena centre, the Hobart base for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, to end the silence around domestic violence. The Leprena centre will be having a NAIDOC week community lunch on Wednesday 11 July.
You are invited to attend our Annual Investor Briefing “Investing for Impact”. In this session, learn how:
Location: Rydges Melbourne, Broadway Room 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
> Your investment is creating better investments through company engagement and investing in positive companies
Date and time: Thursday 9 August 11.00 a.m. - 12.15 p.m. (check in from 10.30 a.m.)
> Your investment is contributing to a better world through advocacy programs and community support The session will also include a guest speaker presentation, question time, and a meet and greet with the UCA Funds Management team.
Discount parking available on-site
Includes lunch, tea and coffee Who should attend: > > > >
Personal investors > Board members Congregation members and directors Treasurers > Personal financial Synod employees advisors or key influencers
Limited places available. Register your place today
UCA Funds Management is the registered business name of UCA Funds Management Limited ABN 46 102 469 821, AFSL 294147, and is a social enterprise of The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The information provided is general information only. It does not constitute financial, tax or legal advice or an offer or solicitation to subscribe for units in any fund of which UCA Funds Management is the Manager, Administrator, Issuer, Trustee or Responsible Entity (UCAFM Funds). This information has been prepared without taking account of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information or deciding whether to acquire or hold a product, you should consider the appropriateness of the information based on your own objectives, financial situation or needs or consult a professional adviser. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) or Offer Document which can be found on our website www.ucafunds.com.au or by calling us on 1800 996 888. UCA Funds Management may receive management costs from the UCAFM Funds, see the current PDS or Offer Document. UCA Funds Management, their affiliates and associates accept no liability for any inaccurate, incomplete or omitted information of any kind or any losses caused by using this information. All investments carry risks. There can be no assurance that any UCAFM Fund will achieve its targeted rate of return and no guarantee against loss resulting from an investment in any UCAFM Fund. Past UCAFM Fund performance is not indicative of future performance. The UCAFM Funds are not prudentially supervised by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). Therefore, an investor in the UCAFM Funds will not receive the benefit of the financial claims scheme or the depositor protection provisions in the Banking Act 1959. The UCAFM Funds are listed as religious charitable development funds in APRA’s Banking Exemption. Investments in the UCAFM Funds are used to support the charitable purposes of the UCAFM Funds.
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Birthday honours for UCA people FORMER Uniting AgeWell chair Janet Wood has been honoured with a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours list. Ms Wood, a current member of Uniting AgeWell’s Community Advisory Committee, was recognised for significant services to aged welfare, human rights and health advocacy. She became the inaugural chair of Uniting AgeWell (then Uniting Aged Care Victoria and Tasmania) in 2002 and later served as president of the Council on the Ageing Victoria from 2009 to 2014. During the 1980s, Ms Wood was a member of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission as well as convenor of Australian Council of Churches’ Refugee and Migrant Services. The former Gisborne Uniting Church council chair was also a member of the Assembly Social Justice Committee (1988-1991) and chair of the National Commission for Mission (1991-1997). Former Geelong mayor and Wesley Uniting Church Geelong chair Keith Fagg has received a medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his extensive contribution to the Geelong community. Mr Fagg was the first directly elected mayor of Geelong, serving in office between 2012-2013. He was actively involved in a number of remote ministry initiatives, establishing the John Flynn Foundation in 2002 and serving as a board member of Frontier
Services from 1986 to 2010. Ocean Grove Uniting Church member Lyn Mulligan has also been honoured with an OAM. Ms Mulligan is an active member of Oxfam Ocean Grove, Rural Australians for Refugees, Bikes for Humanity, Bellarine Community Health and Girl Guides. The Geelong Advertiser reported that an Afghan refugee and devout Muslim who Lyn helped settle with his family in Ocean Grove has been taking her to church every Sunday as a mark of his gratitude. In Tasmania, Deloraine Uniting Church member Merrilyn Young received an OAM for services to the Deloraine community while retired Scotch Oakburn College teacher Jennifer Fraser was recognised for her work with young people through public speaking organisations. Other Uniting Church members recognised this year include: Numurkah Uniting Church member Isobel Hodge for services to the community of Numurkah; Corner Inlet Parish chair Margaret Haycroft for services to the community of South Gippsland; Burwood Heights Uniting Church member Philip Bock for services to geology, marine biology, and to the community; Pakenham Uniting Church member Olive Elston for services to youth and the community; former St Leonard’s elder Ian Mence for services to Brighton and former Uniting Wyndham chief executive Carol Muir for services to social welfare through advocacy roles.
UCA Funds Management wrote letters expressing its concerns as shareholders to the CEOs of the four big banks following revelations from the Royal Commission into the Banking and Financial Services Sector. Those attending last month’s UCA Funds Management’s Ethical Consulting Group (ECG) forum were told this strategy of engaging with the big banks led two financial giants to respond quickly to ethical investor concerns. Westpac and CBA both replied within a week and set up meetings between their heads of investor relations and UCA Funds Management staff. Speaking at the forum, UCA Funds Management CEO Mathew Browning said news reports of bad behaviour within the banking sector meant ethical investors can “punch above their weight” when engaging with the banks on key issues. “They know that we’re active advocates and that the voice of the church has an influence in the marketplace and they don’t want any more negative press,” Mr Browning said. “They do take it seriously. They respond to our requests for meetings to discuss the actions they’re taking to fix the problems and acknowledge that our voice, added to others, is important to their social licence to operate.” UCA Funds Management investors and other interested parties attended the ECG forum, held at St Michael’s Uniting Church offices, to discuss what had come out of the royal commission into banking and how to respond. The big four banks, especially with their implicit government guarantee, are facing a new environment of regulation and scrutiny, the group heard. “The purpose of this royal commission is to reset the table,” UCA Funds Management development manager David Patterson said. ”Our part in that conversation will be about engaging with the banks. That involves creating a robust framework to make sure that takes place. “We take our ethical portfolio very seriously. It is the moral obligation of someone in ethical investment to reconsider their relationship with the big four banks.” UCA Funds Management senior investment analyst Jon Fernie said the banks have been placed on a watchlist, which means their ethical behaviour will be continually monitored. “All the major banks and AMP have been implicated in some sort of unethical behaviour to varying extents,” he said. “We believe that engaging with them and trying to track their progress around key issues will drive better outcomes.” UCA Funds Management has decided against excluding any particular bank from its portfolios for a number of reasons. “As all the banks are implicated to a certain extent it is difficult to target just one or two,” Mr Fernie said. He said the focus was now fixing problems and the watchlist means that UCA Funds Management can stringently assess what banks are doing. “We are looking for specific examples and metrics on how they are going to improve their practices and behaviour. We just don’t want to hear motherhood statements,” he said. UCA Funds Management has raised a number of issues with the banks. These include poor financial advice, loan practices, dysfunctional incentive structures, the need for improvement in management board oversight, how compensation for misconduct is handled and, more broadly, bank culture. The forum also heard from Joanna Leece, executive officer at Uniting Kildonan, which provides financial counselling to people in vulnerable situations. As well as offering counselling services, Ms Leece said Uniting develops enterprise partnerships with corporations, such as utility providers, to change their systems and train staff in how to better respond to people in financial distress. Uniting Church minister John Bottomley discussed whether bad behaviour in banks was individualistic in nature or reflected unaddressed societal and perhaps even theological problems. “The policing regimes are simply a fence put around bad behaviour and nothing is done to change the heart,” he said.
UCA signs up to redress scheme THE Uniting Church has opted in to the Federal Government’s National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse. UCA National President Stuart McMillan announced the move last month. “We acknowledge the impact of child sexual abuse in the lives of those who have been abused in our institutions or those of our predecessor churches. To each survivor and all of their families, I am truly sorry,” Mr McMillan said. “It is our sincere hope that this National Redress Scheme will allow survivors of
JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
institutional child sexual abuse to access support to help them in their lives.” All seven Uniting Church Standing Committees resolved to opt in to the National Scheme. The WA Synod’s entry was conditional on the WA Government also opting in. The Uniting Church is working to establish a single legal entity to engage with the National Scheme. “There is more work to do, and we are acting in good faith, staying true to the Church’s public commitments to survivors,” Mr McMillan said.
“Our motivation in joining the National Redress Scheme is so that more survivors across all institutions might have equitable and consistent levels of support. “I want to specifically acknowledge the pain and the courage of survivors who retell and relive their experience whenever there are changes to redress schemes or public discussion on child sexual abuse. “I emphasise the public pledge I made to the Royal Commission in 2017 – that the Uniting Church will apply the lessons of the Royal Commission, and remain open to the insights of survivors and professionals.
“We will keep listening to survivors, and we will work constructively with the Federal Government and other Scheme members to try to make sure this Scheme works for survivors.” If you or someone you know needs help, please call: 1800 RESPECT on 1 800 737 732 Lifeline on 13 11 14 Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800 MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
Interfaith Iftar at Church of All Nations
Fellowship of the faiths during Ramadan IT was a historic occasion at Scots Memorial Uniting Church as the congregation became the first church in Tasmania to host an Iftar dinner last month. Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis was a special guest and encouraged Christians and Muslims to learn from one another’s faith traditions. During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims break their daily fast at sunset with an Iftar dinner. It typically begins with a call to prayer and eating of dates, followed by a shared meal. The Scots Memorial congregation prepared the Iftar meal, with Tasmanian Muslim Association vice president Kazi Sabbir offering guidance on halal requirements.
Craigieburn and Carlton Church of All Nations also welcomed in their Muslim neighbours as they each hosted an Iftar dinner during Ramadan, which ran this year from 15 May to 14 June. Close to 100 people gathered at Church of All Nations at an event organised by the Islamic Council of Victoria and the Victorian Council of Churches. Leaders from the faith traditions explained the significance of Ramadan and Pentecost as attendees were invited to light a candle as a symbol of interfaith solidarity. Former Uniting Church president and Tasmanian moderator Dr Jill Tabart led Pentecost prayers while the Muslim guests prayed in the upstairs church hall. “Faith with understanding is a phrase that gets thrown around a bit,” Dr Tabart said. “Often we think of it within our own faith traditions so we can be more faithful in our following. “But in today’s world, with a number of faiths in our community, the importance
of understanding why people believe what they believe means it’s imperative that we understand what it is that drives people and how we can learn from each other.” Islamic Council Victoria general manager Ayman Islam said the Iftar dinner was a great demonstration of interfaith friendship. “It’s important for us to show, particularly from a faith tradition, that Christians are very close to Muslims and that they’ve been very supportive of us throughout our journey,” Mr Islam said. “It’s great to be hosted in a church and great for the Muslim community to come in and experience that warmth and welcome. “It’s important to have these kind of events because it really breaks down stereotypes and barriers – there’s really nothing like food to bring out conversations.”
“When we live as friends we both learn more about ourselves and the other without needing to gloss over the disagreements or pretend we don’t have differences as well as shared values,” Ms Hollis said. “We will discover that we view fasting in both different and similar ways, that prayer is important to both faiths while practiced differently, that worship shapes each person of faith but the nature of that shaping has distinct contours. “When this is done in a spirit of respect and friendship we enhance each other’s understanding of our faith and the other’s faith, contribute to the wellbeing of society and make peace possible.” St Thomas Uniting Church in Iftar dinner at Scots Memorial UC
Ashy aflame on Pentecost Sunday STEPHEN CAUCHI ASHBURTON Uniting Church was ablaze with red and yellow for Pentecost. The band, congregation and Rev Lavingi Tupou all dressed for the occasion and brightly coloured decorations adorned the church interior. Along with the loud clothing, bright banners and flaming headwear came some deep reflection on one of the more important days in the Christian calendar.
Ms Tupou preached on the first Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit brought the gift of tongues to the early Church. In recognition of that, she opened the service in her native Tongan. She also had a very animated conversation about Pentecost with Ralf the puppet, who brought his wrangler Andrew Wilkinson up on stage as well. Ralf entertained the congregation during
Lavingi Tupou and Andrew Wilkinson with Ralf the puppet
the children’s service with his efforts to gain the Holy Spirit. Andrew, following on from his “prayer machine” at Messy Church, once again excelled in the props department by using his science teacher expertise to build a Holy Spirit device, which emitted smoke, fire and gave a great rattling sound. The band and singers led the congregation in stirring renditions of hymns and worship songs. Ms Tupou’s sermon on Pentecost noted that the day was not, as some believe, a reversal of God’s actions during the Tower of Babel account in Genesis. God did not restore a universal language on Pentecost, Ms Tupou said, but instead made all languages holy.
It would not be a true Ashy Uniting service without a lively morning tea. Well done to Maurie and Doreen for the coffee, tea and biscuits and the catering team for a truly excellent lunch. Ashburton Uniting in southeast Melbourne has emerged from a difficult two-year period where we didn’t have a minister. “This Pentecost service proves that the Ashy members are on fire to get going again,” Ms Tupou, who began ministry at the church in March, said. As a congregation we give our deep thanks to God for a successful service and time of fellowship. Stephen Cauchi is a member of Ashburton Uniting Church.
Pentecost at Ashburton Uniting Church 6
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Ship shape THE Presbytery of Western Victoria might not be known for its ocean views but the standing committee found a novel nautical way to get everyone on board while charting a new course. All presbytery members were invited to go on a two-day “cruise” to consider proposed changes and the bigger picture of the presbytery’s future. “There is so much change, so many demands on small rural congregations whose energies are being sorely strained in survival mode let alone finding the energy and interest in looking at bigger pictures,” secretary of the presbytery Rev Dr Graeme Sutton said. “We saw that in going away on a cruise we could get away from distractions, explore without needing to carry our baggage, and embark in one port but disembark in a completely different place. “Naturally however, neither time nor the judicious use of presbytery financial resources permitted this delightful possibility.” So as a landlocked substitute, The
By consensus a recommendation was crafted to put to the general presbytery meeting for standing committee to start work on office-holder profiles and job descriptions. The event concluded with a shared lunch and 1pm departure. “The cruisers disembarked knowing
Presbytery Cruise Workshop and Retreat was launched. It was facilitated by Rev Fran Barber from equipping Leadership for Ministry (eLM) and held in early May at Dunkeld Community Centre on the southern tip of the Grampians. On the opening day 23 ‘cruisers’ gathered for lunch. They then broke into small groups armed with appropriate “tour documentation” in the form of table group responses, material from eLM and detail about proposed changes for the role of presbytery chairperson. That evening, after enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, cruisers got down to serious work, refining a new scenario for the presbytery. On the second day, ship “captain” committee chairperson Majorie Crothers called for an early rise to attend breakfast and communion, which helped prepare cruisers for the critical morning follow-up session. The previous night’s analysis was used to shape a vision for the presbytery’s future. Fran Barber
Modular houses at the Melton factory
Social housing is going places UNITING Housing Victoria will soon be in need of a very big truck. Five modular townhouses are currently being built in a factory in Melbourne’s west to be carried by road to Mt Pleasant in Ballarat where they will be installed on a church site as social housing for vulnerable youth. The innovative approach is the idea of Uniting Housing Victoria CEO Ian Brain, and the scheme allows church properties to host social housing without having to construct buildings on site. “The houses go in on a truck and they can go out on a truck,” Mr Brain said. “We don’t have to acquire title for a permanent building and take that away from a commonwealth of the church. In that way we protect the wealth of the church. JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
that we had made important progress but knowing there was still work to do,” Dr Sutton said. “The opportunity is still open for us to cruise again.”
“If McDonald’s comes along and wants to buy the land we can remove the townhouses. We keep both the value of the land and the value of the building intact.” Two transportable townhouses have already been successfully placed in Ararat. Mr Brain said the steel-framed units look and feel like permanent housing, which is what first sold him on the idea. “I didn’t want them to look like a caravan park,” he said. “When I saw the equivalent of a contemporary townhouse as a modular unit, then the penny dropped. “Our client tenants are very, very positive. The design fits in with the neighbourhood landscape and, from what the local community has said, they don’t see a distinction between the nature of that building and a contemporary townhouse.”
While the modular units were not ‘ultracheap’, Mr Brain said building them in a factory provides a price advantage. As well as less labour time, it also reduces environmental concerns as there is very little wastage on the housing site. The units can be customised to suit tenants with physical disabilities and will have solar power. Another advantage is that council permissions should be easy to obtain because Uniting Housing can point to examples where very similar modular units have been installed. “The plans have been through that process for another site so it’s a matter of a minor adaptation,” Mr Brain said. The townhouses being built at the Modular Spaces Factory in Melton will be completed in the next few weeks. The Mt Pleasant site is also being prepared as amenities are put in place to connect once the townhouses are placed on their stumps.
Weather permitting, the plan is to transport the houses in one day and then set them up in a couple of weeks. Mr Brain said the quality of the houses was vital to making sure they would cope with being transported, installed and possibly later removed. “If they need the option to relocate we can do that with confidence,” he said. The Mt Pleasant townhouses will be occupied by vulnerable young people who need somewhere safe and secure to temporarily stay because of situations such as domestic violence. “The intention is to give them six months to settle their lives, return home if that is appropriate or set themselves up independently,” Mr Brain said. Uniting Housing has developed a model with synod Property Trust where churches, as the beneficial users of the land title, receive 5 percent of the rental income the townhouses generate. This money can be used for other missional purposes or general expenditures. Leaving land title with synod also removes the risk of the property being handed over to some other social housing provider if Uniting Housing Victoria fails financially. “Modular housing is ideal for many of the opportunities that might be emerging from congregations with smaller parcels of land, old tennis courts or spaces out the back of the church,” Mr Brain said. “There is no reason the module can’t be created for other purposes as well, these could be turned into a kindergarten, so it’s a good model for congregations to see what they may want to do in their area. “We’re simply endeavouring to put up a workable mechanism where congregations can fulfil mission by housing provision.” 7
Judy gets inspired
Papuan children receive backpacks from the Mission Liaison Group
its faithful workers in 2017. Early in 2018, a volunteer who was with MLG for more than 20 years died unexpectedly. Between those losses and the lack of funds the future looked grim. As MLG convener I would need to report to the AGM that we better begin estate planning. Then two new workers joined. And we received two substantial donations that we didn’t expect. We were able to send the container stranded on the dock in late February this year and it was off the wharf in Port Moresby by early April. MLG knows its work in the past has been well appreciated by the receiving churches – and will be into the conceivable future. The need is still there. If we’re to keep going, we need donations large and small. To send one shipping container costs between $5000 and $7500, depending on where it’s going. That is about $45,000 a year. Without the funds the donated goods just keep stacking up as we wait for the money for shipping. We also still welcome anyone who can give two-and-a-half hours to sort and pack on Tuesday and/or Thursdays mornings between 8 and 10.30am for whatever time they can commit. So please come and join us. We’re a happy bunch feeling we’re doing something that’s worthwhile.
JOHN CONNAN ALL organisations go through periods of doubts and recently the 52-year-old Mission Liaison Group (MLG) wondered just what God was saying. Uniting Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) groups have always been strong supporters of MLG but UCAF membership has been ageing and fund-raising has declined. Old age, illness and death have taken their toll on MLG volunteers. It began to look as though the end was in sight. The need remained, but the reduction of workers and financial support made it look as though MLG would no longer be able to do its good work.
Since it was started by Methodist Bruce Walker in 1966, MLG has encouraged lay people to assist in overseas missions. This has evolved into sending donated, usually second-hand, goods to Pacific partner churches, which gave rise to the MLG being known as Second Life Pasifika. Congregations, schools, retirement homes, op shops and medical practices are among the groups that donated used goods ranging from clothes and foodstuffs to bicycles, wheelchairs and an operating X-ray machine. For a number of years these goods arrived at The Shed, which is located on the Keysborough Uniting Church site where
MLG volunteers sorted and packed them into shipping containers. Every year the aim is to send at least one container to each Pacific partner church: Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tonga, Samoa and Kiribati. In addition MLG attempts to respond with the appropriate emergency relief in the case of a natural disaster. That has meant sending up to nine containers in a twelve-month period. Late last year MLG faced the fact that there were no funds to send a shipping container packed and sealed in mid-December. Also, due to ill-health the group lost two of A playground built with support from MLG
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CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Monastic fantastic A group of Uniting Church members and theological students recently had the opportunity to experience the rigours and rewards of monastic life as part of a pilot program being run by Pilgrim Theological College and the Banyule Network of churches in Melbourne’s north-east. The Banyule Network is home to a ‘learning hub’ where students study online at Pilgrim Theological College and meet in their local area with minister Rev Sandy Brodine for tutorial discussion over dinner and also to hear from guest lecturers. In April, students as well as members of Banyule’s SPACE Contemplative Community along with Pilgrim course convenor Dr Katharine Massam and Ms Brodine took part in a retreat at the Tarrawarra Abbey run by Cistercian monks in the Yarra Valley. The retreat was offered in conjunction with the learning hub subject ‘Fullness of Life: Traditions of Christian Spirituality’.
“Some of us came for an evening, others stayed one or two nights,” Ms Brodine said. “We experienced the hospitality of the Abbey guesthouse, worshipped with the monks and spent time walking, reading and enjoying community life together. “It was a wonderful opportunity to experience this ancient religious way of life. We were also blessed with the opportunity to hear Fr Michael Casey on the theme of ‘Cowl, Cloister and Procession’.” The monks at Tarrawarra live a rigorous life of prayer and work, conducted according to the 6th century book of precepts The Rule of St Benedict. They begin their day of prayer at 4am with vigils. They then gather for the Office of Lauds and mass at 6am. This is followed by three services - Terce at 8am, Sext at 11:15, and None at 1:40pm after lunch. At each service the monks and visitors pray, sing or chant the Psalms, as well as other readings and prayers.
When not at prayer, the monks work at many and varied activities, including running the monastery’s beef cattle farm, the guesthouse, conducting spiritual activities, doing administration and study. After work, they meet for Vespers at 6pm and finish the day at 8pm. “We were moved by the simple and peaceful life of the monastery, and by the warm welcome we received from the Guest Master of the guesthouse,” Ms Brodine said. “It helped us to reflect on our own contemplative worship practices within the SPACE Community. We were able to think about our own faith and prayer practices and our relationships with God.” Kristen Barnett, one of the UCA students, agreed that the retreat had shown her how to “actively use the quiet and contemplative times to draw closer to God”. “It was about taking the time to separate myself from the normal things that happen in life that distract me from God, and actively focus on listening for that still small voice,” she said. The Banyule learning hub has operated for three semesters and units have so far covered a foundation subject of church history followed by Reformation history and theology.
The Banyule learning hub students
The recently completed third semester was devoted to “Fullness of Life: Traditions of Christian Spirituality”, which considered the ways faith has been lived out over the centuries. “By looking at three interwoven spiritual traditions – of the desert, the cloister, and the marketplace – students traced the interconnections between these three elements of personal encounter with God, the role of the trusted community and the significance of engagement in the wider context,” Dr Massam said. “Examples such as the hermits of 4th century Egypt, the monastics of the 12th century Cistercian reform, and the Quaker communities of the mid-20th century have shown how these styles intersect, sometimes surprisingly.” For the next semester, the Banyule/Pilgrim College hub will be studying “Earliest Christianity – An Introduction to the New Testament”. Completed subjects can be credit towards any of the postgraduate or undergraduate awards offered by the University of Divinity. Some hub students have already completed the Graduate Certificate in Divinity, while others are pursuing the Graduate Diploma in Theology. For further information about studying at Pilgrim contact the registrar Erlinda Loverseed (03 9340 8800). If you are in the Horsham area where a new hub is beginning, you can contact Rev Linley Liersch (03 5382 6378). SPACE Contemplative Community meets on Thursday nights at 7:30pm for coffee followed by worship at 8pm in Scots Heidelberg Uniting Church, Heidelberg. The community engages in Taizé style worship on the first Thursday of each month while other weeks include contemplative meditation and practice. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Inside Tarrawarra Abbey
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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fun in store for youth group BARRY GITTINS LATER this year, one lucky Ikea store will be inundated with up to 30 youth. They will scatter around the vast Nordic labyrinth in groups of three or four to fulfil an epic quest – a photo scavenger hunt. Alanee Hearnshaw is the youth and young adults’ pastor at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church. She said the youth group has run the scavenger hunt three times before, and the young people love it. “It’s a dorky idea that works really well,” she said. “Our youth group creates an environment where participants can belong, be themselves, and be a bit silly. “With the hunt, they have to find and photograph obscure products with random names – ‘Go find me a Helsinki/Argang!’ “We go from 7pm until 8.30pm and then we feast on Ikea ice creams, hotdogs and meatballs.” The younger and older youth vie for bragging rights and the coveted prize of Ikea chocolates. Previously there has also been a booby prize of having to actually put together an Ikea product for one of the youth leaders. Alanee has a lively bunch of around 30
youth and young adults, aged from 13-18 in the group. “They’ve kept me here at Glen Waverley for 12-and-a-half years, with 12 of those years have been spent as youth and young adults’ pastor,” Alanee says. “At the end of 2013, my role grew to include other aspects, such as working with families and outreach. “I’m 39, and I keep waiting for when I’m ‘too old’ to keep up; to do the dance moves, or summon the emotional energy.” Alannee said the best ideas for youth ministry come from young people. “Our successes have come from listening to our young people, and following the ‘ant trails’ and a wonderful group of dedicated youth leaders,” Alanee said. “I went with one uni student back to her high school, Glen Waverley Secondary College, and we asked what we could do to help at the school. “We began putting on pancake breakfasts there and they now feed about 250-300 students every Thursday morning. The school social worker and chaplain also attend and sit down informally to talk with youth.
The Glen Waverley youth group
“Want to keep faith with teenagers? Listen to them, let them be themselves, give them space to be authentic and empower them.” “The breakfast volunteers from our church are aged from 18 to 80. We don’t always worship well together, as generations, but we can really work well together.” Glen Waverley aims to be a happy, safe place for youth. “Youth in our area face a lot of study pressure, and with that comes anxiety, which can lead to depression,” Alanee said. “They’re teenagers. They want to fit in; they don’t want to stand out. But they also want to achieve, and make the right decisions. “It gets to the point where they can be overwhelmed about making little, simple decisions. Our youth are swamped by social media and a vast number of choices. And they run the risk of being exhausted and over-engaged.” That’s where Alanee and the church come into play. Alanee’s youth ministry has found meaning in building their youth up, listening to them and honouring their lives. “Teenagers are looking for church to give them somewhere to meaningfully belong – honestly, not prescriptively, where people will help them explore purpose for their lives,” Alanee says. “Want to keep faith with teenagers? Listen to them, let them be themselves, give them space to be authentic and empower them. “The young people here love our annual retreats. We hope they know that they are loved and supported.” Alanee believes that when you treat kids as you want to be treated yourself, you will connect. “Church runs the risk of being boring or irrelevant to teenagers, and it’s hard when church is also struggling to meet needs in worship for their parents,” she said. “It’s when you spend time, have a
milkshake, or a green tea, or whatever with young people, and listen to what they think and feel, find out what they are going through; that’s when you gain the right to speak into their lives.” Asked if the wider church is keeping teenagers interested, Alanee’s honest answer is “I don’t think we are”. “I think we fall into patterns, into what we did before,” she said. “If we are not careful we can be tokenistic; we have to work out how to productively and meaningfully engage with youth. “The time when the church had the automatic right to talk into the lives of youth, or talk down to them, is long past. “The church needs to learn to value young people and invest in real relationships with them. That’s a win-win for everyone.”
Matthew Boldiston 10
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A Youthful assembly TIM LAM
“I’d like to see the young adults and their contributions treated as equal by all members of the church, instead of just put in the ‘young people’ box” SPEAKING up in a room with 300 people can be a daunting prospect. For young people attending Assembly for the first time, it can be a particularly nerve-racking experience. At this year’s Assembly at Box Hill Town Hall, one in 10 members will be under the age of 30. For some, such as Murrumbeena Uniting Church member Steph Robinson, this will be their first Assembly. “Young people provide a different voice and a different perspective, which is important for others to hear,” Steph said. “I also think that it shows that the church is interested in the next generation of church leaders and wants them to help guide the church in its decisions.” The youth quota was introduced nearly 40 years ago at the second Assembly in 1979. The Assembly passed a resolution amending the Uniting Church Regulations so that one-in-five Assembly members “could reasonably be regarded as of youthful age”. President-elect Dr Deidre Palmer was involved in youth ministry at the time. She recalls the excitement young people felt at the birth and formative years of the Uniting Church in Australia. “As a 23-year-old, I was caught up in this new movement of the Spirit, the Uniting Church in Australia,” Deidre said. “So I didn’t see this inclusion of young people as progressive but rather part of our identity, of who we are. “We are a church which includes all ages, who sees children, young and older people as followers of Jesus, belonging,
and offering our gifts to the whole Body of Christ.” Steph hopes older Assembly members will value the voices of young people. “I’d like to see the young adults and their contributions treated as equal by all members of the church, instead of just put in the ‘young people’ box,” she said. “Apart from the old adage of listening more, the church can increase ways in which young adults can contribute, especially as there are likely to be those who just cannot commit to such events like Assembly.” Steph said Murrumbeena Uniting Church’s strong focus on youth ministry has made it easier for her to speak up and take an active role in her church community. However, she acknowledged that her experience is not shared by all young people across the church. “Both congregations that I have been a member of since middle school have been with my mother’s ministry,” she said. “In my ‘non-standard experience’, both congregations have been open to listening and involving young adults and their opinions when there have been young adults who wish to contribute and involve themselves. “But I recognise that, as the daughter of a minister with a young-adult focus, my experience may not reflect the norm.” Prior to the Assembly opening day on Sunday 8 July, young Assembly members will gather at Box Hill Town Hall for a weekend orientation program. Dr Deidre Palmer and Assembly general secretary Colleen Geyer will welcome the
youth members and provide an overview of Assembly processes. They will also look at significant proposals such as same-sex marriage, sovereignty and treaty as well as voluntary assisted dying. Kelly Skilton is one of the organisers of the youth program, which takes place on the weekend that Assembly opens. “When you come into a room with 300 people, it’s an overwhelming space so to be able to know a smaller group of people who you can build friendships with becomes a good time together,” Kelly said. The plenary inside Box Hill Town Hall will be set up so the youth members can familiarise themselves with the auditorium,
the microphones and how to introduce themselves from the floor. “Speaking up at Assembly is scary, not from a fearful point of view, but a reverence point of view,” Kelly said. “So many young people across the UCA know our church and love our church, so we don’t want to let our church down. That’s why we get nervous – we want to make sure we do it well.”
VicTas youth at Yurora NCYC earlier this year JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
Q &A with Holly Allen interactive opportunities are needed for the generations to bless one another. Another caveat is that hosting two or three intergenerational events every year (though this too is a start) does not really constitute a congregation that is characterised as intergenerational. One last point—and a positive one—is that bringing even two generations together for an intentionally spiritually formative activity can be truly intergenerational. One common misunderstanding is that becoming intergenerational means jettisoning all age, or stage-related programs; this is not true. There will continue to be important social, practical, and spiritual reasons for those in the same life stage to meet and support one another.
What are the benefits of intergenerational ministry?
DR Holly Catterton Allen is a leading academic researcher, author and teacher in the field of intergenerational ministry. This month, Holly will travel from Nashville, Tennessee, to run a two-day Embracing Intergenerational Ministry workshop at the Centre of Theology and Ministry.
Can you offer a definition of what intergenerational ministry is and isn’t?
My co-author Christine Ross and I describe intergenerational ministry in Intergenerational Christian Formation as “ministry that occurs when a congregation intentionally combines the generations together in mutual serving, sharing, or learning within the core activities of the church in order to live out being the body of Christ to each other and the greater community.” Key words are intentional and mutual. One caveat would be that intergenerational ministry entails more than simply gathering various generations under one roof (though this is a good place to start); mutuality and
Among the many benefits for children, teens, young adults, middle adults, and older adults are a sense of belonging, support for troubled families, character growth, and opportunities for sharing each other’s spiritual journeys. Perhaps one of the great benefits of intergenerational practices is that children, teens, and young, middle, and older adults get to know each other, so that when their life falls down, they know others further ahead on the journey to go to for comfort, advice, insight, care, and for spiritual sustenance. There are multiple opportunities to be both mentors and mentees.
Why do you think age segregation happens in churches?
Churches typically divide by age because it is the paradigm most leaders are familiar with; it is the way medium-sized and larger churches have organised education, ministry, fellowship, even worship gatherings for several decades. Originally, churches began separating by age in the 1970s and 80s primarily to
better meet unique developmental needs of youth. At the time, we thought that addressing the distinctive cognitive and psychosocial developmental needs of children and adolescents (and other age groups) would better meet their spiritual needs. We have since realised that spiritual development and cognitive development are not synonymous. In fact, they are quite different.
taught us that children under 11 years old are not very capable of engaging in abstract thought. Christian educators have sometimes taken that to mean children are not able to engage spiritually. However, children are quite capable of entering into a conversation with God, listening to God, imagining themselves in the boat with Jesus, writing letters to God, etc.
Can you give some general advice on how a church can start to break down those barriers?
Some leaders take a teach-and-do approach: Lead the congregation through biblical, theological, theoretical, sociological, and empirical support for bringing the generations back together. They offer a few intergenerational experiences, followed with some good debriefing discussions. Others take a do-then-teach approach. They jump in with a well-planned and engaging intergenerational event, then debrief it in small groups.
What do you think are the misconceptions around children’s spirituality?
A common understanding has been that teaching children Bible stories is the essence of faith development. Teaching Bible stories is important. But nurturing children spiritually is primarily about fostering the God-child relationship along with the child-child and child-others relationships. We want children to know God, not just about God. Of course, to know God, children must know who this God is, what God has done, what God is doing in the world; thus, learning the Master Story is part of coming to know God. But knowing the Bible is not synonymous with knowing God. Another misconception some believe is that young children cannot really know God. Developmental psychology has
What led to you developing a passion for family ministry?
For four years my family worshipped with a non-denominational church that was intentionally intergenerational. Every Sunday evening we met in homes in crossgenerational small groups. On a weekly basis, I participated in small intimate settings in which children, teens, college students, young families, middle adults, and older adults sang, prayed, listened, laughed, shared, played, cried, ate, and hoped together—and blessed one another. My experiences in those intergenerational groups changed my understanding of children and my understanding of Christian spiritual formation for children and adults. Ultimately these new understandings led me to change my career. The work I do now has grown out of those life-changing intergenerational small groups and is the work that I believe God has called me to do in this season of my life. The Embracing Intergenerational Ministry workshop will be held on 27 and 28 July at the Centre of Theology and Ministry. For more information and to make reservations contact Ann Byrne on E: email@example.com,au or P: 03 9340 8815
Woodbridge’s stirring anniversary THE Channel Uniting Church Rwandan Coffee Club has a special reason to enjoy a brew on Sunday 8 July. The church community will celebrate 120 years of continuous worship in the Woodbridge Uniting Church building, located in the town of Woodbridge 38 kilometres south of Hobart. “All are welcome to share in this celebration, especially those who have had a connection with the Woodbridge church,” Channel Uniting Church ministry coordinator Victor Malham said. The Channel Uniting Church community meets both at Woodbridge and at the Kettering Church, where ecumenical services are held in conjunction with the Anglicans. 12
The Woodbridge church building was born out of fire and later only narrowly escaped the flames. The building was opened on 17 July 1898 after the devastating 1897 ‘Black Friday’ bushfire destroyed the predecessor Union Chapel, which was used by the Methodists and other protestant denominations. Over the years the site of the new Methodist church grew to contain a parsonage and schoolroom. In a 1967 bushfire burnt down the parsonage, and almost consumed the other buildings. While the anniversary will honour the church’s history, Mr Malham said it is also a chance to celebrate recent church initiatives.
He said the UCA community is very active and committed. They have for many years helped fund the area’s school chaplain and had recently restarted their youth group. On the 120th anniversary Sunday, he hopes a few honorary members will join the Rwandan Coffee Club regulars who meet after services. The Rwandan Coffee Club is the fundraising vehicle of a group that formed in Tasmania in 1994 to support two refugee Tutsi families that were living in Hobart. To support refugees but also to fund agricultural, educational and health projects in Rwanda, the Coffee Club sells beverage products from the African nation or other fair trade sources.
The club’s coffee and tea can now be purchased from Woolworths and other outlets in Hobart. On Sunday mornings at Woodbridge Uniting, caffeine lovers pay 50 cents for their after-church cuppa and the money goes towards helping Rwandan farmers buy cattle. Over its lifespan, the club has raised more than $3000 allowing for Rwandan families to buy over 20 cows. “We may be a long way from Rwanda in Southern Tasmania but we know God has called us to serve him the Channel area and beyond,” Mr Malham said. The special anniversary service begins at 9.30 on 8 July. Turn to the Synod Snaps to see the Rwanadan Coffee Club in action. CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Holy Land Uniting Church minister Ann Scull and her husband Joe have just returned to Australia after spending five weeks living in Bethlehem. They went there to help as volunteers before and during the Bethlehem Bible College’s biannual Christ at the Checkpoint conference. The couple have visited the Holy Land before for the conference and on other occasions, forming strong connections with the people. These are excerpts of Ann’s letters back home during her recent stay that she agreed to share with Crosslight readers.
G’day all, NOW to house camping: The Israelis only let water into Palestine every few weeks for a few hours. Everyone has little tanks on their roof; the lucky ones have a house with a well in the lowest room. Aniyah, who we are staying with, ran out of water because of some malfunction in the system. Consequently we had no water at all. Not a drop. We always buy drinking water in this part of the Old City because the pipes and tanks are so old but now we have the whole neighbourhood supplying us with bottled water for showering and the toilet. Thank goodness Joe and I know how to get two showers out of one bucket! Then Ibrahim, our Muslim neighbour, heard about our plight and came to the rescue with water from his well. Now our problem is disposing of stacks of empty water bottles. People we love spending time with:
G’day all, The shuttle bus into Jerusalem was its usual erratic best. It ran a few errands along the way, drove at breakneck speed, braked almost too late, threw our luggage around with gay abandon and dropped us oﬀ short of our destination. The hotel was a welcome respite after 31 hours of travelling and our room, although a little shabby and small, had a huge private balcony. We got to bed after being continually awake for 44 hours. What a delight to be back in Bethlehem. We live between the Omar Mosque and the Church of the Nativity just behind the side of Manger Square. I just love listening to the call to prayer and the bells of the three Nativity Church Spires. Between them all there is always something to listen to and any quietness between is ﬁlled with car horns and ﬁreworks (it’s the wedding season) or the rumble of helicopter gunships and army drones. Grace and Peace, and heaps of love and laughter Ann n Joe
The little kids in Manger Square and in the back streets: still eating ice creams at 10pm and shyly trying out their English on us in front of their proud parents. Palestinian women: There is a nook in the buildings near us where men hang out for their smoko or to talk on phones. A bloke went right oﬀ on his phone the other day – yelling and screaming and waving his hands about. Kdhera yelled at him from her window to cut out the abusive language and women from all the houses joined in and really got stuck into him. Thoroughly chastened he slunk oﬀ. Women rule here – despite outward appearances! The amazing Israeli Jewish lady who came into the gift shop and shared her story with us: She is a religious and political Zionist, member of a conservative Jewish community, single mother of six, with a voice like a feather, and a heart transplant recipient with the heart of a Palestinian! This momentous event in her life has led her on a journey of a lifetime as she tries to get in touch with her Palestinian heart. The college’s ﬁrst-year tourism students have an exam where they have to take a group of tourists through the Old Town, so Issa, their main teacher, asked us if we would go as pretend tourists and their other teacher, Christy, asked us to help with the assessments. It was great fun. It was a 5km walk wending around and about Star Street which is probably our favourite street in all of Bethlehem. It is not only quaint, old and beautiful but it is also the way into Bethlehem which Joseph and Mary would have used. We learnt heaps – particularly about the architecture and about Christian traditions (the Muslim students got those spots) and Muslim traditions (the Christians got those spots). I did not realise that for many years Christians shared the church of the Nativity with their Muslim neighbours. When the Muslims really hankered after a mosque of their own, the Greek Orthodox church in the Church of the Nativity donated the land on which the Omar mosque is built – the mosque and the Church of the Nativity face each other across Manger Square. Grace and peace, love and laughter Ann n Joe
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RAMADAN is in full swing now so there are no shops open until about noon because everyone has spent the night hours breaking the fast, letting off firecrackers and catching up with friends. During Ramadan most of the shop proprietors are sound asleep on chairs outside their shops. You have to cough loudly if you want to buy anything and there are no coffees offered either because fasting involves no drinking in the daylight as well as no eating. The last call to prayer has a sermon attached and, now and again, a choir as well. There are so many mosques the sound comes at you from all points of the compass, which is almost as confusing as the church bells when they all start up. Because it is hot, everybody sits outside in the evening, so going for a walk after dinner is lots of fun. The streets and mosques are decorated with thousands of lights. Arabic lessons abound and there are kids everywhere. Manger Square is a hub of activity all night because of Ramadan. We use the Omar Mosque shop, open all night, for our food supplies – the owner is teaching us how to count in Arabic. He says how much something is in Arabic and then waits for us to work it out. Tonight, evening call to prayer meant half the square was full of praying men. Much business is also done there during Ramadan. At midnight earlier this week we took delivery in the square of a load of leather journals made for the conference. The leather workers work at night because of Ramadan and the heat. Grace and peace, love and laughter Ann n Joe
G’day all, Jerusalem Day: May 13
WE went to church in Jerusalem but did not stay long. Jerusalem on Jerusalem Day means watching bussed-in young Jewish settlers wearing offensive T-shirts running through the Old City tipping over Palestinian shopkeepers’ tables. Much nicer to be in Bethlehem where we celebrated Mother’s Day at a lovely Arabic restaurant with the strange name of Blueberry. Israeli Independence Day: May 14 THIS has turned into ‘Trump’ day. If you watch the international news you will know that it turned into a disaster for Gazans who stood about 200 metres back from the fence to protest their captivity and the new American embassy. Drones firing multiple tear gas canisters are an abomination! At the college the usual demonstration out in the street occurred but it was much quieter than we have seen on other visits and the Israelis were far more contained. A few tear canisters and a few hours later some sound bombs but that was all. It might have been because the wind was blowing the wrong way and so gas was slightly ineffective against the intended targets. After we finished up at the college, there was little traffic on the road so we cut through Aza Refugee camp to get to Manger Street to catch a serveece (similar to a taxi but shared and crammed full with a fixed very low fee). The camp is a warren of small alleys and it was easy to smell the tear gas. We were escorted through by Mamoud – the boy who often sells us coffee with his dad. He is a foot taller than two years ago and couldn’t stop smiling and shaking our hands. Nabka Day: May 15 THIS ended up being a very sad day because of the number of Gazans who died. There was a general strike. Nobody in the West Bank went to work, no shops or tourist attractions were open. We joined the people from our street for coffee. At noon all the air raid sirens went off and then all the church bells tolled and everybody stayed silent for a minute as we do in Australia on 11 November.
THINGS are still fun here although the water situation is a bit grim. Last night Joe and I shifted back into the college where they have a well. Our room is at the front of the building and smelled faintly of tear gas until we aired it out. Nights at the college are as noisy as they are up in the Old City. Iftar meals are great family gatherings full of music, eating, and laughter – we have been invited to one but may not be able to go because of our conference responsibilities. We have had a few projects on the go for the conference. Probably the messiest is preparing (‘cooking’) tear gas canisters to turn them into Christmas tree decorations. They have to be put in water and then caustic soda (or something) is dropped in and the water boils and puts off an amazing odour – we have to wear scarves. It is very potent but it cleans them. Heaps of love, Ann n Joe.
Heaps of love, Ann n Joe.
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WELL the conference has been and gone. It was a great success, although a huge amount of work for the those us in the gift shop because it meant moving the shop from the college to the Orient Palace Hotel foyer and then back again to the college at the end of the conference. Joe and I are now happily ensconced in a room slightly larger than a bed in what was once the home of an 15th century Venetian painter called Canaletto. Now to fill you in on stuff we couldn’t say while we were living on the West Bank – we were pretty much grilled by security this morning as we left as it was. When we arrived we discovered, as we did last time, that the house we were staying in (which is well and truly in ‘A’ area, so out of bounds to Israeli soldiers) had been attacked during the night by Israeli soldiers. They poked the security camera in the street so it pointed directly at the sky and they used a hydraulic ram to smash open the doors. They did this to three other homes in the street although, having arrested the boy they were after twice before, they knew exactly where he lived. When they finally got to his house they beat him to a pulp, took him away and smashed up all his mum’s furniture. His dad died only six months ago, so with a husband dead and her only son in prison, his mother has no income. She sleeps in the broken bed and has no electricity. The neighbours have joined together to help. The poor boy arrested is now in a prison in the Negev. He is regarded in the neighbourhood and by friends of his who we know as a quiet, polite boy whose job it is to light the chicken and bakery fires early each morning. People wonder if he uses Facebook to air his grievances. Joe spent much of his first week repairing neighbourhood doors and other damage and resurrecting the locks. There have been more gunships and drones and fighter planes overhead this time. Sometimes the fighter planes have huge spotlights following them across the sky at night – practise at locking onto an enemy we suppose. Fighting between Israeli soldiers and the kids in the street only happened once this time but the Israelis use a much stronger tear gas these days and many more sound bombs. Aida refugee camp behind the college is the most tear-gassed place on earth. Aza Refugee camp, in front of the college, is probably the second most and bore the brunt of this particular assault because of the way the wind was blowing. An international Christian we know visits Gaza from time to time. Not only does the college have a campus there, there are also a church-run school and a hospital. The hospital usually manages as a midwifery hospital but currently has two wards full to bursting with people with horrific leg wounds. The Israeli snipers are using bullets that explode on impact and leave absolutely enormous gaping exit wounds, which often lead to amputations. The international Christian took a stroll down to the fence to check out what was really happening and to see if the demonstrations were as peaceful and non-violent as people claim. He said apart from one or two stone throwers and tyre burners (neither weapons have any way of reaching the Israelis) the demonstration was peaceful with people picnicking and sitting around on the ground talking. Nevertheless, while he was there, the Israelis fired a load of tear gas across the divide right amongst the picnickers – and him. He ran for clearer air and was surprised when a small boy popped up in front of him and sprayed a solution of water and either lemon juice, vinegar or carb soda onto his face giving him immediate relief. There are a number of these small Gazans, always at the ready. We visited the village of Nabi Seleh, home of the Tamimi family, whose daughter Ahed is serving eight months jail for slapping an Israeli soldier who shot her cousin at point blank range with a rubber bullet. The Israeli soldier also got eight months jail and the little cousin has brain damage. The Tamimis and most of the village have been nonviolently protesting the loss of a spring that feeds their village. It has been taken by Israeli settlers. We could see the spring but we could not go near it or we too would have been shot. Most of the villagers have spent time in jail. Ahed’s mum is also in jail. Walking beside the wall on Saturday we found four lovely young Muslim women painting a memorial to the nurse killed by a sniper while tending the wounded in Gaza this week. It turns out the four painters are all doctors and shattered about the nurse in Gaza. They work at a local hospital where the worst cases in Gaza are sometimes allowed to be sent. Currently they are trying to save the leg of an 11-year-old Gazan boy who has already lost his other leg (those exploding bullets again) but they were not all that hopeful. I said I would pray for them, and they hugged me. Sadly this time, Ann and Joe
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HEATHER and Bill Mathew are 100 percent correct about Israel’s crimes against humanity. They must be absolutely condemned. In the eloquent words of former Australian of the Year, General David Morrison: “The standard we walk by is the standard we accept.”
I agree that we need to discuss the issue of Christian marriage now that civil marriage law has changed. I offer no preferred position on marriage in this letter. However, as a uniting church I believe we should aim for a consensus decision on marriage rather than a variety of marriage practices. We must make sure that all people know they are valued children of God whatever decision we make.
Ian Cunliffe Moonee Ponds, VIC
Greg James Launceston, TAS
Too soon to decide I ASK the July 2018 Assembly to commit to making a decision on marriage in 2021 rather than during the 2018 Assembly. I believe that two months between the release of the Standing Committee report and the July 2018 Assembly is too short a timeframe to fully understand the Godly reasons for and against each of the presented options, or indeed to consider other viable options. I don’t believe that we have given all Uniting Church members (who want to) a chance to participate in this conversation whereas we could design some lead-up processes to allow this participation if the decision was made in 2021. The decision about Christian marriage that we are considering is truly historic. We might possibly change something that has been present in 2000 years of Christian history plus another few thousand years of the history of God’s people before that.
A good proposal WITH the National Assembly about to begin I would like to state my strong support for the Standing Committee’s recommendation that same-gender marriages go ahead. The Uniting Church in Australia is the only church which offers full membership and leadership to gay and lesbian people. The celebration of same-gender weddings would be a boon to the gay community. At last our love would have God’s official blessing. And the Uniting Church would earn the respect of the whole society. Michael E East Camberwell, VIC
created exactly as we now see it. Along came the geologists showing that English landscapes were formed from layered sediments. Sedimentary strata in the Australian Kimberly are 2-3 million years old. Then Charles Darwin showed that species are not immutable, but that evolution is a continuing process. These and many other scientific findings challenged a literal reading of the Genesis creation story. In response, a late 19th century group of Protestants declared the Bible to be the inerrant word of God; accordingly its first chapter has the Earth created stepwise over six days – once dry land had been made by the separation of the waters. God created successively seed-bearing plants, birds, fishes and finally Man (in Hebrew adama). They were so fixated upon the story and that it was fundamental to Christian belief that they ignore the second story which has the creative steps in reverse order. Other fundamentalist beliefs stemming from the ‘unerring’ Word of God are the virgin birth, the miracles of Jesus as literal fact, his bodily resurrection and the satisfaction theory of atonement. It is no wonder that thinking people turn their backs upon the church when seeking answers for violence in the world.
for the Khmer volunteers at ‘Hard Places’ in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. ‘Hard Places’ rescues young girls and some boys too, from the clutches of paedophiles and pimps who operate in the streets and poverty of Phnom Penh. After visiting the volunteer centre during a month-long teaching stint in Phnom Pehn, I was struck by the compassion, commitment and courage of the Khmer volunteers and manager, Panha Yin, as well as the American foundation director, Alli Mellon, who set up this centre 12 years ago. Groups of young Khmer HPC volunteers gather at strategic points around the teeming capital each afternoon to provide a safe haven of companionship, games, food, drinks and protection for primary school age children, mainly girls, who have come from the neighbouring streets. It is heartbreaking and chilling to think that, within a few metres from where we stood, predators lurked, waiting for their prey of vulnerable and innocent young kids. It’s at times like these that I feel ashamed at my white adult maleness, appalled that anyone in their right mind would want to harm these children, any child, for their own perverted and depraved pleasure. Nick Toovey Beaumaris, VIC
Neil Gordon Cameron Meredith VIC
Genesis of doubt
WHY are our churches empty and so many in need are deprived of the gospel? It used to be thought that the world was
WITH the recent arrest and charging of Australian Peter Scully for child sexual assault in the Philippines, spare a thought
Letters to Crosslight are always welcome. Letters should be 300 words or less and include full name, address and contact number/email. Letters may be edited for space, style and clarity.
Check your Working with Children Check! Are all your details correct on your Working With Children Check? It is a regulatory requirement that appointed leaders in the UCA need to link their WWCC to the Vic/Tas Synod as well as to their congregation and other community groups. You can check and update yours easily on-line, or get help from your congregation’s WWCC contact person.
Here are the steps for linking your WWCC with the Synod of Vic/Tas:
STEP 1 VICTORIA Log on to http://www.workingwithchildren .vic.gov.au/home/
U Update card details d
Your Name Here Congregation Name Here 130 Little Collins Street Melbourne, 3000
STEP 1 TASMANIA
STEP 2 TASMANIA
Log on to https://wwcforms.justice. tas.gov.au/RegistrationSearch.aspx using card number and name
Include UCA Synod of Victoria & Tasmania (available in drop down list) in “Existing Employment & Volunteering Details” (if not already listed)
STEP 2 VICTORIA Take your WWCC card to your Congregation’s WWCC Contact Person
Synod then receives a letter from the Department of Justice conﬁrming details
WWCC Contact Person will update register accordingly
STEP 3 TASMANIA Conﬁrm card details with congregation if not already done so
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Every person has a story to tell
Blind date ROBIN PURDEY
IT was a blind date that first time we met; a Saturday night dance at the Palais, arranged by my sister’s boyfriend for me to meet his accounta ncy teacher; friends then, brothers-in-law to be. We danced the night awa – foxtrots, Pride of Erin, evening three-step, modern waltz and barn dance – all to the rhythm of saxophone, piano and drums. On this warm, black, February night he kissed me goodnight on the front porch. In June we were engaged and the following January we married. With only a couple of years experience as a dietitian and no educational qualifications, I was given a teaching position in the nutrition department at The Gordon (now a TAFE) where he taught accounting. I was not more than five years older than my students. It was 1962. We had our own small home, honeymooners curled up watching black-and-white westerns on TV, preparing lectures and marking exam papers, cutting grass and cooking at the weekend, bottling apricots and apples from the trees in our big backyard, painting walls and laying new vinyl on our kitchen floor. Pregnant 18 months later, I resigned as was required of female teachers. To my intense grief, that pregnancy lasted only 20 weeks. I was out of work not quite knowing the next step. We had planned a family and had bought a block of land to build our family home. I only saw him cry once. He’d gone to the optician for an eye test, not seeing those columns of figures clearly, the blackboard a bit blurry, probably needing glasses. But the news was shocking. Retinal myopathy caused by diabetes. He was going blind. Nothing in life balanced. Impossible to reconcile. For both of us, a future in teaching was problematic. Instead we bought a house used for public receptions, a beautiful old home built in 1894 by Charles Shannon, a wool pioneer in Geelong. In the mid1950s it had been converted to cater for weddings, dinners and parties. We began our new life there in late 1964. I managed the kitchen, he managed the business, together a team. Our honeymoon continued, albeit with late nights and 80hour weeks. Sunday was our day of rest, thankfully years before Sunday shopping and Sunday weddings became the norm. We extended the dining room and rebuilt the kitchen and at the same time grew our family. Our eldest son was born in 1966 and a baby girl two years later on the 4 July, a day of celebration in some parts of the world. I left her in her high chair to blow out the candle on her first birthday cake with two grandmothers and her three-year-old brother. Her father was in hospital, his diabetes out of control. The doctor called me in. “His kidneys are in as bad a state as his eyes. He will not live for more than a few years.” I returned home and we sang Happy Birthday. In 1969, five years after taking over the
JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
business, we sold it. We retired to an old weatherboard beach-house on the riverfront at Barwon Heads – verandah, sleep-outs on the side, chip heater in the bathroom, open jars of marmalade and vegemite in the kitchen cupboard, tablecloths in a drawer. A renovator’s dream, perfect. So much to learn. Live-in tuition for a couple of weeks for my husband to learn to walk with a cane. Then side-to-side, side-to-side, side-toside along the path to the Bluff with a grown-up little son as his guide. The beach and riverside were ideal for playing and walking, a respite and thinking place. Never a swearer, the nightmares showed when he began talking in his sleep “I’ll get through that bloodyy gate.” Learning d braille on embossed cardboard cards: “I can run, I can jump..” Then our next little boy was born. Frail By the river, from the start, at nine months he was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Learning to thump a tiny chest to free mucous from fragile, vulnerable lungs. Learning to read Dr Suess books on a green bookcase. Learning colours, “Look at all those pink cows”, (black Angus)! Two grandmothers came to the rescue. ‘Old Nana’ lived with us, affected by a stroke suffered many years earlier. My mother helped out when father and littlest son had bouts in hospital, sometimes at the same time, sometimes separately; sometimes a desperately sick baby on the car seat beside me, sometimes an ambulance. uring hospital One night, during visiting hours these words were spoken to our brotherin-law, the student and friend who had arranged for o my husband to d go on that blind ais date at the Palais over 10 years ago: “Tomorrow I will be born again.” Tomorrow he died. It wass y. Christmas Day.
With Nana, 1969
Father and baby so Barwon Heads, 1969
f er sale o ft a y a d li nd ho , 1969 Queensla business
We invite readers to send through reflections in the form of poems, threaded tweets, comics, creative writing or images of artwork such as kids’ drawings, culinary art, graphic design, photography, digital illustration, sculptures, pottery, paintings and sketches. If English isn’t your first language, or you are unsure of how to start, please contact us at Crosslight for a chat. Email submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Off to the B
Baptist Sunday morning worship in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma
WE are living in a period of significant turmoil. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed by the current political climate. It is often difficult to know how to react to issues such as mass migration and religious pluralism, the numerous ongoing geopolitical conflicts, the large social issues including gun violence, marriage equality, #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, the developing ecological crises, as well as recent high-profile suicides. Perhaps one common response is to feel powerless. We may feel we lack resources, that the church is itself struggling for its own existence and identity, perhaps even that the church’s historic beliefs no longer speak in any meaningful way to this tumultuous world that God loves. What hope do we really have? On one of my trips to the Democratic Republic of Congo, we arrived when the M23 rebels had taken control of Goma, the major city on the DRC’s eastern border. A colleague and myself were invited to meet with an ecumenical gathering of church leaders. These leaders, from a wide theological and denominational spectrum, asked us a simple question: what is hope? They talked of planting new shoots and every few months a force would come through and destroy all that they had planted. Did God not promise to protect God’s people? Had they not prayed enough? These were real questions demanding real theological answers. Yet, it would be the height of foolishness for me to pretend to speak to this context. First, the question of hope is not an easy one, and second, it is an immediate question, one which attaches to community and political contexts. Hope is something which informs our lives now. 18
Joy What hope do we have in this world of turmoil – a hope which is not simply wishful thinking that things might be different, but one with some form of present reality, a hope which lives? One consequence of the terrorist attacks of September 11 is a focus on the eschatological and the apocalyptic, on an idea of the ‘End Times’. This is a reoccurring theme in theological treaties, in the geopolitical rhetoric of the US and ISIS, and in popular culture. As one example, zombie movies and television shows, such as The Walking Dead, speak to living in a world destroyed. In this world, there is no hope for a new world. Survival is the driving motivation. This paradigm informs how we relate to other human beings we encounter: we distrust them and build walls around ourselves to protect what resources we have to survive (food, water, weapons). Our imagination is being shaped by this idea of living in the end of all things. Interpreting Christian eschatology in
these terms creates a problem because no account of hope is sufficient for a context which lies beyond hope. German theologian Jürgen Moltmann questions this link between eschatology and end. For Moltmann, Christian eschatology focuses not on “the end: the end of life, the end of history, or the end of the world. Instead, the focus of truly Christian eschatology is the beginning: the beginning of true life, the beginning of the kingdom of God and the beginning of the new creation of all things.” The eschatological begins in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the ground of Christian hope. It is a hope which looks not to an unknown future, but the present “recollecting and making-present of the crucified and risen Christ. Because the eschatological is the beginning of a new life – of life in the resurrection – hope rests within the community, even under the conditions set by the ‘principalities and powers’. As to the physical form hope takes, we
need go no further than joy. Joy is the embodiment of hope. It is that astonishment of living in that new beginning. It is to rejoice and so engage in the worship of the living God. It is to move beyond yourself in sharing this joy with others. How might we, as a community, respond to this time of turmoil? We live in the hope of the new beginning and so lives of joy, of celebration and of moving towards the other in love, peace, patience and kindness. In the words of Nehemiah 8:10: “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” Our hope is being hospitable in the joy of the Lord. This is the calling of our community. We live in a time of turmoil, but not one without hope and joy.
John G. Flett Coordinator of intercultural theology and missiology, Pilgrim Theological College CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Meeting expectations SHARON HOLLIS SEVERAL years ago, I overheard my young daughter’s Barbie dolls having the following conversation: Barbie 1: ”What are you doing today?” Barbie 2: “I’m going to a boring meeting.” It was a salutary moment for me as I realised I had used that exact phrase – “I’m going to a boring meeting”– to describe a lot of my church activities to my young daughter. In my defence, I often phrased it this way to discourage my daughter wanting to come with me to meetings wellpast her bedtime. If you are active in the life of the Uniting Church you’ve probably been to a meeting or two. You’ve probably also been to a couple of boring meetings. Hopefully you’ve also been to many life-giving, faith-growing, gospel-focused meetings. I’m sorry I gave my daughter the message that meetings were boring because I think meetings, when purposeful and well-run, are an important part of the life of the church. Why do I say this? Meetings are one key way we gather as a community of discernment. As Christians we meet to seek the will of God for our community and in our engagement with the world. God is known in the concrete, physical realities of our lives. We know God through the decisions we make, how we make them and what they lead to. Our
discipleship is not an abstract concept, it is real actions and ways of being in the world. We meet because we believe most decisions that relate to the life of a faith community are best made together, through prayer, discussion, debate and decision. It is by meeting to listen, to pray and to reflect that we will be wiser. We hear more diverse ways of understanding God’s presence together. What are some of the things that can help us do the work of discernment in meetings? As a community of discernment, we should seek to reflect on Scripture together. We should be willing to listen carefully, to hear from contemporary scholarship and ask how Scripture is addressing us and our context. Prayer is important to begin a meeting, but it should not start and end there. As we prepare for a meeting each member can pray for those connected to discussions and decisions. Prayer should then weave its way through the meeting with pauses to pray anew. As the meeting ends we give thanks and commit the next steps to God. We pray to
open ourselves to God, and God’s desire for the world. As we get to know the people we meet with, we are often better able to appreciate their point of view, the circumstances that have shaped their worldview, the joys and challenges of their daily life that impact on their behaviour in meetings. The need to know each other and be a community of prayer and reflection is why the Manual for Meetings advises devoting generous amounts of time to worship and community building. Discernment is helped when we are active, generous and curious listeners. This means we listen carefully, fully present, paying attention to the speaker, listening to the silences. We are generous and curious about why people say what they say, especially when we disagree with the speaker. When we listen with curiosity we ask questions about how and why people hold a particular point of view rather than rushing to judge their understanding. When we speak in meetings we should aim for speech that is on topic, truthful and
“As Christians we meet to seek the will of God for our community and in our engagement with the world”
generous, particularly towards those who don’t agree with us. There will often be voices missing from a meeting that are vital to the discussion or decision. Discernment can be aided by noticing those absent voices and finding ways to hear from them. Finally, it is crucial in discernment to trust that the Holy Spirit is present, seeking to guide us and open up to us God’s strange ways in the world. Meeting together as Christians to discern God’s will requires us to be active listens for the Spirit and willing followers of the Spirit’s leading.
The Synod 2017 achieves consensus JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
Robyn on the
f ly BARRY GITTINS
“Evangelism is a bit of a dirty word these days in the Uniting Church, but actually, it’s about putting a compassionate and, hopefully, articulate face on Christianity” REVEREND Dr Robyn Whitaker is walking briskly in pursuit of a Melbourne tram, in transit from lecture to appointment, as she fields queries from Crosslight on her mobile. There is no falter in either the pace of her stride or the clarity of her answers. Robyn currently is the Bromby Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies and the Academic Dean at Trinity College Theological School, but this month commences at Pilgrim Theological College as the Coordinator of New Testament Studies. Although she is perhaps best known as a public theologian willing to venture into current societal debates, Robyn says that teaching is a foundational part of her work. “The more I study the Bible, the more fascinating I find it and the more mysteries there are,” she says. “It keeps me coming back; it keeps me interested, and I like to foster that in others – the interest and passion. “At a more vocational level, reading and interpreting the Bible is absolutely central to the Christian life. So to be involved in helping people develop the tools and skill to do that is an enormous privilege, and central to my calling.” As a biblical scholar, Robyn has a particular interest in the use and misuse of the Bible in debates about issues such as sexuality, gender and ethics. She draws awareness to the Greco-Roman world and the culture that the church was born into, as the context into which the content of scriptures was poured out when the Apostles spread the nascent faith in Jesus Christ. Robyn says that trying to examine biblical texts in isolation from their context leads us down theological cul-de-sacs. 20
“One of my guiding principles in the classroom is that context is everything,” Robyn says. “The language changes; we can’t just simply look at one word from 2000 years ago and think it means exactly the same thing that we mean when we use that word today. “We also can’t assume that the worldview that informed the use of a word, the context that we come from as readers, and the context in which it was written, are constant – there can be massive differences and a plausible range of meanings.” Robyn has written that the Bible’s major thematic preoccupations concern justice, economic equality and the fair treatment of foreigners and strangers, rather than the perennial hot button issues, such as those around sexuality, with which the church as a whole is often associated. She says she feels some responsibility to contribute to the marketplace of ideas, in the ways that the early Apostles such as Paul did. “For me, it’s a form of evangelism,’ Robyn says. “Evangelism is a bit of a dirty word these days in the Uniting Church, but actually, it’s about putting a compassionate and, hopefully, articulate face on Christianity. It’s saying, ‘We have a message about God’s love shown in Jesus Christ, we have something to contribute to society, and we need to be in the conversation.’ “Religion of any kind is deeply important to people’s lives, cultures and communities. So I am motivated by a little bit of apologetics, and a little bit of evangelism, with a sense of responsibility. “I’ve been given an awful lot of opportunities and I need to contribute
Robyn presenting at the University of Divinity Research Day
where I can, to church and to the world. This is one way that I can do it. “As an academic, I’m probably not going to be the best person to rally the troops on a march; I’ll go on marches, but everyone has their own calling. “This feels like mine right now.” However, Robyn believes that abstract arguments are unlikely to change people’s point of view. “Facts and rational arguments don’t change minds… people do,” she said. She is delighted that Pilgrim Theological
College works to push its students to engage with both academic disciplines and communities, with the human “give and take” of ideas and discussion. “We also need to listen to the experiences of each other.”
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Kim Jong-un meets with Donald Trump for a historic US-North Korea summit
Korean barriers finally falling SILVIA YANG LAST October, when the situation on the Korean Peninsula was on a knife’s edge, I had an opportunity to visit Germany. I had wanted to explore this unified country for 28 years and to learn some meaningful lessons from the Berlin Wall. The concrete barrier that physically separated the ideologically divided city of Berlin for almost three decades and symbolised the Cold War can now be found only as segments in museums. I was able to touch some remaining sections which had been turned into a historical installation of an important landmark, the former border crossing Checkpoint Charlie. Even though the Cold War seems to have ended in most parts of the world, the Korean Peninsula remains a significant site of ongoing tension. However, after 65 years of hostile separation, on April 27 of this year an inter-Korean summit was held at Panmunjeom. This promised to be a historic milestone in ending the world’s last remaining Cold War conflict. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared on TV screens walking towards South Korean territory, finally crossing the military demarcation line. When the South Korean president was shown shaking hands with Kim JongJULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
un, South Koreans across the nation and throughout the world shouted and applauded. It took less than two minutes for a North Korean leader to step onto South Korean territory for the first time since the Korean War armistice agreement in 1953. The most emotional aspect of this historical summit of two Koreas was that there was no need for interpreters. Not surprisingly, both leaders spoke the same language. Moreover, they signed the Panmunjom
summit would lay the foundation for a peaceful unification. At a minimum, they hoped for a declaration to end the Korean War. Indeed, this historical summit has been a momentous beginning for a process of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, heading towards a path of permanent peace. However, there are many pending political issues to be resolved. It appears Kim Jong-un values the urgency of denuclearisation and will immediately proceed with steps toward
“The most emotional aspect of this historical summit of two Koreas was that there was no need for interpreters” Declaration scripted in Korean language, reflecting the enduring aspiration of the Korean people for peace, prosperity and unification on the Korean Peninsula. The declaration of two fraternal leaders that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula surely propelled the North Korea and US summit: the so-called ‘deal of the century’. The 80 million Koreans in the Korean Peninsula, together with the Korean diaspora throughout the world, hoped this
the establishment of a peace treaty and ultimately the unification of two countries. He is no longer a ‘rocket man’, rather a ‘talented leader of negotiation’, as US President Donald Trump tweeted. This young leader apparently knows what he should do for the 28 million North Koreans he has inherited to rule from his father and grandfather. No doubt, a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula has begun. It does not matter that it may take a long time to
achieve one Korea. We Koreans happily wait to see how a newly established relationship between North Korea and the US will proceed to officially end the Korean War and establish a peace treaty. If Trump deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for this, may the prize be granted to him, and peace to the Koreans. This year will mark the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice agreement. Is it too much to dream of the South and North Koreas and the US signing a peace treaty on 27 July 2018, exactly 65 years to the date when the armistice was signed by United Nations, North Korea, and China? The UCA’s 2018 Contextual learning trip for Next-Gen will visit South Korea this month. They will visit Panmumjeom and the Korean Demilitarised Zone, a border barrier that divides the Korean Peninsula roughly in half. Who knows if this buffer zone will one day soon become the next Berlin Wall, an historical relic in a reunited nation? Silvia Yang is a member of the Korean Church of Melbourne.
Marcella Purnama and Tjokro Aminoto. Photo by Joshua Chan
MARCELLA Purnama remembers a piece of advice she received at her sister’s wedding eight years ago. “My uncle said, ‘don’t get married too early. Go and enjoy single life more’,” Marcella said. “Obviously the advice didn’t stick because, three months later, I started a relationship.” It was during a group dinner at a Thai restaurant in Richmond that Marcella met Tjokro. The dinner was originally set up to matchmake Marcella’s sister, Jess, with Tjok’s friend, Pohan. “Tjok stayed at the table until the very end, opening and holding the door until everyone was out, so I was very impressed,” Marcella said. “We had more group dinners which we both tagged along to, and we eventually fell for each other.” It wasn’t just Tjok’s chivalrous gestures that caught Marcella’s eye. Like Marcella, Tjok is a Christian of Indonesian-Chinese descent. Marcella said 22
it is “very important” that her partner is someone from the same faith background. “I want us to have the same values, especially when we have kids,” Marcella said. “I suppose in a way I’m minimising the risk of marrying a guy who’s not going to be committed with me in the long run. “Of course, men of faith are not 100 percent guaranteed to be a good match, but as long as both of us are depending 100 percent on Jesus, we’ll be able to face anything.” Kelly Skilton is a youth and young adults pastor at Murrumbeena Uniting Church and a Monash University chaplain. She is also director of Sonder Collective, an ecumenical initiative for young adults in Victoria. Kelly’s experiences help inform how she advises young Christians navigating the challenges of dating in an increasingly pluralistic world. In 2010, Kelly met Stewart*. At the time, Kelly was studying a Bachelor of Theology while Stewart was agnostic.
“He wasn’t Christian but that didn’t bother me,” Kelly said. “He came to church with me, he supported my faith, he encouraged me to go on camps – he knew that I love God and that this was what I was passionate about.” For Kelly, finding the right partner was never about dating a person with the same religious beliefs. However, what is important is sharing her life with someone who respects her faith. “We live in a multi-faith and multicultural society. We’re in a space where we have 130 active faith communities in Australia,” Kelly said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that someone from a different faith has a different morality from us. “They can still strengthen who we are as a person of faith.” Even a couple that share the Christian faith can have different interpretations of Scripture. Andy Hughes and Kath Locock have spent many hours debating passages from the New Testament.
“An issue we prayed a lot around last year was around how to vote in the same-sex marriage poll,” Andy said. “We’ve also looked at issues like instructions from the church later in the New Testament about men and women having different roles. “I think it’s really helpful to talk these things through and not ignore them and neglect them.” Kath said these conversations can be an opportunity to learn from each other’s faith perspectives and grow together as a couple. “I don’t think we’ve ever disagreed on core values – we definitely have those in common – but it’s more the peripheral issues that come up that we might have a debate over,” Kath said. “It’s quite an enjoyable process because it really tests our understanding and help us articulate what our beliefs are and why.” Neither Andy nor Kath were active church members when they first met and finding a partner of the same faith was not a priority for either of them. CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Feature re “At the time we met, our faith wasn’t something we valued super strongly,” Andy said. “But over the years it has become a really key factor in our relationship. “Having a partner who is also following Jesus and interested in the same faith – the encouragement and strength you get from each other – is very valuable.” When Kath was offered a job in Melbourne, it marked a turning point in their relationship. After moving to Melbourne, the couple became engaged and it was during this time that they experienced a renewal of their faith. “When I met Andy, I was having a bit of a crisis of faith so having a Christian partner wasn’t really a factor I was looking for,” Kath said. “But learning that Andy was a Christian afterwards has actually helped me grow back into faith. "Now, my faith is probably stronger than it ever has been because of the influence of having him in my life.” While Andy and Kath’s faith was strengthened by each other, Kelly had a contrasting experience with Stewart. A fight over faith ultimately ended their three-year relationship. “He turned around and said – I still remember this vividly even though it was five years ago – ‘what good is it if your faith doesn’t mean anything to me?’” Kelly recalled. “Faith isn’t a hobby – so why would we end up with someone who wouldn’t strengthen our faith?” However, Kelly does not believe a couple’s compatibility is determined by religious affiliation alone. “Just because someone’s Christian doesn’t
mean they’re going to be the perfect life partner,” she said. “To find someone who has the same theology as you is near impossible. Even if we worship the same God, we will have different expressions of that.” The rise of online dating apps such as Tinder has also changed how young people find partners. “How we meet people today is a lot different to how it was before,” Kelly said. “I know a lot of people who have done online dating and are married. In our ce to world, social media is just another space meet people. hip “How you then navigate a relationship in there requires a different response - the world is a different place compared to our parents’ generation.” mes Generational friction can sometimes put children on a urse with collision course ts when their parents choosing a partner. For some young Chinese-Indonesians, this means managing their parents’ traditional views about marriage while remaining true to their own values and life goals. “As a ChineseIndonesian, there’s this expectation of marrying someone within the same culture or race,” Marcella said. “I guess it’s down to the individual and their parents. – some parents might resist at first when their child goes out with someone from a different background, and become more accepting later on. “Others might say ‘no’ to the very end.” Dating someone from a different race, religion or socio-economic background can be seen as bringing ‘shame’ to the family. “Sometimes so many people try to meddle in your relationship. People might
“There are so many expectations sometimes on ﬁnding that godly, Christian partner we can spend the rest of our lives with”
Kath Locock with Andy Hughes and baby Charlie
JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
have good intentions, asking whether the man is the ‘leader’ type and so on and so forth, but I do find it’s a bit too much sometimes,” Marcella said. “There are so many expectations sometimes on finding that godly, Christian partner we can spend the rest of our lives with.” People from the church community can also exert pressure on young people to find a partner who conforms to a checklist of characteristics. “You’re more encouraged to find that perfect person instead of working on your imperfect relationships,” Marcella said. “I actually see this trend most in churches. From my experience, some church leaders encourage young women to be with the ‘perfect’ man. But I believe that we young people should learn by ourselves.” The division of household and parental responsibilities has also evolved as gender roles become increasingly flexible. Last year, Kath and Andy welcomed their first child, Charlie, into the world. For Kath, a research scientist at CSIRO, her career is something that she has worked extremely hard on. With the support of Andy, she was determined to maintain her career aspirations while juggling the demands of motherhood. “My mum stayed at home while I was growing up and Dad went to work every day,” Kath said. “But Andy and I have a much more equal role in the household and our responsibilities looking after Charlie.” Another changing social trend is that Australians are getting married later in life. In 1966, the median marriage age for women in Australia was 24 years and 27.1 years for men. According to the 2016 Census, the median marriage age for women was 29.9 years and 31.9 for men. “People of an older generation sometimes have an expectation that you should be married by now or that there should be a time when marriage is set,” Kelly said. “It’s that idea that you have to have a family and children.” For young Christians still searching for a partner, it can be disheartening when they see most of their friends entering into
antic relationships while they th remain romantic single. l advises Kelly, who is currently single, them to draw inspiration from Psalm 46:10 – be still and know that I am God. “It’s that idea to be still and just resting in God in that space,” she said. “That means being content with who I am and enjoying the small things. “At one point I won’t be able to enjoy having a coffee by myself, being in a bed by myself, cooking a meal for one. “People think that being single is the absence of another person – but being single is how you were created. You and your relationship with God was first.” Andy advises other young Christians to not idealise marriage. “There are probably some young people in the church who at times look at marriage and think that once they get married all their problems will be solved,” he said. “But I think that’s a big misconception – they might already have this idea that God is a big matchmaker and that there’s Mr Right and Mrs Right and it’s all set and done. “Marriage itself doesn’t mean there are no problems – it just means you have new problems!” Last September, eight years after her sister’s wedding, it was Marcella’s turn to get married. She and Tjok tied the knot at a ceremony in Melbourne attended by family and friends from Australia and overseas. “Like most things in life, relationships take time,” she said. “My advice for other young couples is to learn to communicate well, and most of all, to be less selfish with one another. “This means forgiving each other – and learning to love your partner’s favourite food, even when you don’t feel like it.” *Name has been changed.
Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT JUNE 21 2018 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (P) (C) Presbytery Minister – Mission and Resourcing (*) Presbytery Minister – Pastoral Care and Resourcing (C)(P) Trafalgar (*) Yallourn/Morwell/Newborough (*) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Castlemaine Parish (*) Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (C)(P) Presbytery Minister – Administration (*) Presbytery Minister - Generalist – 2 placements (*) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Presbytery Minister, Administration and Strategy (C)(P) Presbytery Minister, Pastoral Care and Mission (C)(P) Presbytery Minister (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Burnley (St George’s) (*) Chelsea, Carrum and Edithvale (C) Hampton Park (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Ascot Vale (0.6)(*) Bacchus Marsh (0.8) (C) Essendon North (0.5 – 0.7) (P) (C) Presbytery Minister – 2 placements (C)(P) Surf Coast (P) (C)
PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Derwent Cluster (Glenorchy and Claremont) (0.6) (*) Hobart Cheil (0.6) (C) Hobart (Wesley) IIM (*) West Coast Patrol (*) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (C)(P) Lake Bolac Cluster (*) PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Banyule Network – Ministry Team Leader (C) Banyule Network – Pastoral Care and Discipleship (C) Glen Iris Road (*) Heathmont (*) Melbourne (St Michaels) Presbytery Minister (*) Ringwood (C) NORTHERN SYNOD Nungalinya College Principal (C)(P) (C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an Expression of Interest. Enquiries and written Expressions of Interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email: email@example.com. org.au
Notices COMING EVENTS SOCIAL JUSTICE LUNCH: REFUGEE RIGHTS 12PM FOR 12.30PM START, 18 JULY St John’s Uniting Church Elsternwick, 567 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick Refugee Legal’s David Manne will update us on recent policy changes, their impact on asylum seekers, and what is being done to support refugees. Tickets: $25 – all proceeds go to Refugee Legal. BYO wine; soft drink provided. Info stjohns.elsternwick@ucappepnet. Book via www.trybooking.com/VWDJ. MINDFULNESS AND MEDITATION WORKSHOP 7PM, WEDNESDAY 18 JULY Williamstown Community Centre, 14 Thompson Street, Williamstown A free, on- hour workshop hosted by Amanda and Suzanne from Present Mindfulness Academy. Teaching useful meditation guides and practice to reduce stress and improve emotional intelligence and well-being. Book your spot by contacting E: firstname.lastname@example.org or P: (03) 9391 6678. MID-WINTER RETREAT 10AM – 1PM, THURSDAY, 19 JULY Airport West Uniting Church, 72 Roberts Road, Airport West Winter is the season of waiting, a time to withdraw and restore. This will be a day of silence and reflection on the wisdom of winter and its relationship to our interior life using sacred text, poems, prayers, music and art. BYO lunch and stay afterwards (optional). Enquiries: Rev Judy Rigby on M: 0402 473 976 or E: email@example.com
JUSTICE WITH OR WITHOUT GOD: THE PRIORITIES OF PROGRESSIVE THEOLOGY 7PM FRIDAY, 20 JULY AND 10AM – 4PM SATURDAY, 21 JULY Ewing Memorial Centre, cnr Burke Rd and Coppin St, East Malvern The Progressive Christian Network of Victoria, in collaboration with Common Dreams on the Road, presents a lecture series by distinguished US theologian and writer, Professor Joe Bessler. An introductory address (Friday evening) and four lectures (with a light lunch and morning and afternoon refreshments on Saturday) consider how creative shifts in biblical studies, philosophy and Christian thought have launched a new age of progressive theologies through which to reimagine the contours of faith and faithful practice. Registration essential at www.joebessler.eventbrite.com.au POETRY WORKSHOP WITH POETICA CHRISTI PRESS 2PM – 4PM, SATURDAY, 21 JULY Armadale Uniting Church, cnr Kooyong Rd & Clarendon St, Armadale ‘Poetry is a little incarnation that gives a body to what beforehand had been invisible and inaudible’ – C.S. Lewis. This workshop aims to provide practice and encouragement for those who write poetry and others interested to learn more of this craft. The workshop will be led by Janet Fernando, poet and managing editor of the Poetica Christi Press. For bookings contact P: (03) 9822 7703. Registration fee is $10.
MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Liz McMillan, to commence a Yarra Yarra Presbytery Minister on 14 August 2018. Peter Mallen (E), to commence the Croydon and Croydon North Shared Continuing Ministry on 1 September 2018
RETIREMENTS Gay Loftus, Northern Rivers Parish to retire on 30 September 2018 Kate Tierney, Ballarat Central to retire on 30 September 2018 Mike Lewis, Werribee to retire on 31 December 2018
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 from 1 July to 30 July. Standard rate of $220.00 per participant will apply from 1 August to 31 August. 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.try.booking.com/WCDW and for further enquiries contact us on P: 03 9859 8700 or E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com 24
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Notices DIAMOND CREEK SATURDAY AFTERNOON CONCERT SERIES 2PM, SATURDAY 21 JULY Diamond Creek Uniting Church, 32 Wensley St, Diamond Creek The Linus Ensemble featuring works by Bernhard Krol, Katherine Rawlings, Frederic Duvernoy, Mary Broughton and Evelyn Glennie, with violin, horn, marimba and cello. Tickets are $20 / $15 concession. Visit linusensemble.com/concerts for full program details. FREE SPIRIT CHOIR IN CONCERT 2PM, SUNDAY 22 JULY 2018 Burwood Heights Uniting Church, cnr Burwood Highway and Blackburn Road, Burwood East Join us for an afternoon of contemporary, sacred and secular music, jazz and comedy, with some vibrant toe-tapping numbers! Afternoon tea to follow. Free Spirit is the regular choir of Glen Waverley Uniting Church, which also occasionally sings at other church services and fund-raising events around Victoria. Admission is by donation. All proceeds will go towards the work of Possible Dreams International (PDI) in Swaziland. For details of PDI see: http://www.possibledreams.org/ RECOGNITION AS LAY PREACHER – MANSFIELD UNITING CHURCH 9.30AM, SUNDAY 29 JULY Mansfield Uniting Church, 64 Highett Street, Mansfield Helen Pettifer will be formally recognised as a lay preacher during worship at Mansfield UCA commencing at 9:30am. All are welcome. ‘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. Come along and 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.
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. 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. COME AND VISIT THE HUB 10AM – 2PM TUESDAYS / THURSDAYS 10AM – 12 NOON, 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. NEW COMMUNITY CHOIR FOR DIAMOND CREEK 1PM – 3PM MONDAY AFTERNOONS, COMMENCING 16 JULY 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 during 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLASSIFIEDS CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775. LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. 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 M: 0408 969 920.
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 musical hall numbers and songs and poems from the period. There will be opportunities for sing-along. Currently performances are planned at Diamond Creek UC, Seymour UC, Winchelsea UC, St Johns Anglican Church, Heidelberg UC and The Avenue UC in Blackburn. Some dates free in late October for other churches interested in hosting this on a profit-share basis.
Upcoming events of interest Annual Investor Briefing Thursday 9 August 2018 11.00 a.m. – 12.15 p.m. (check in from 10.30 a.m.) Rydges Melbourne, Exhibition Street (Discount parking available on site) You are invited to attend our Annual Investor Briefing “Investing for Impact”. The session will include a guest speaker, a short presentation and question time. Includes lunch, tea and coffee Registrations essential!
To register or for more information > www.ucafunds.com.au/AIBLunch > 1800 996 888
UCA Funds Management Limited ABN 46 102 469 821, AFSL 294 147
JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
REVIEW BY BELINDA CLEAR
BOOK | COLLECTED SHORT FICTION | GERALD MURNANE
ALBUM | FINDING FAITH | ANDREW TIERNEY AND TIMOTHY DUNFIELD
THE fiction of Gerald Murnane, one of our finest writers, is a strange kind of fiction. It reads more like nonfiction and, as such, rather than standing out from the pack of contemporary writers, he is simply in a class of his own. He was recently shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award for his last novel Border Districts. There is a formality and neatness about Murnane’s writing. He has little desire to shock and avoids character names, referring instead to ‘the chief character in this story’, which deliberately draws attention to the writing process. There is no dialogue to speak of. The prose flows, but there is a sense of carefully getting the facts straight, as might occur in a police interrogation, although he deals with subject matter that would otherwise seem mundane. Lest this sound off-putting, there is intriguing tension between form and content, as if someone articulate but reserved is letting you in on the details of their life. Murnane draws from his own life – from his Catholic background, teaching career and interest in horseracing. References to Melbourne’s northern suburbs, Bendigo and the Western District might resonate with Victorian readers. In this heavy use of his own biography he again blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction while alerting us to the oddness of fiction’s attempt to represent the world. Murnane’s fiction asserts the importance of memory, the sense of past events crowding at our backs and pushing us forward. As with memory, there are odd choices in his fiction as to which particulars are left in and which are left out. But this seemingly arbitrary and sometimes pedantic choosing is deliberate. It reminds us of the richness and uniqueness of supposedly ordinary lives. Giramondo Publishing Available at giramondopublishing.com/ product/collected-short-fiction/ RRP 34.95
THIS contemporary Christian album features songs written by Andrew Tierney of Human Nature fame and Timothy Dunfield, a worship pastor from Canada. It is an album that will appeal to those familiar with contemporary Christian music and those who are just beginning to engage with this style. The album is suitable for listeners at any stage in their faith journey. Finding Faith contains a good variety of original songs, ranging from quite boppy to a more gospel style that are very easy to listen to. There is a definite hint of ‘Human Nature’ style throughout the album. The theme of each song centres around the love you gain when you find faith. The songs are easy to learn and I found myself singing along, a mark of an album I will listen to again. As well as being an album you can listen to in the car, songs from Finding Faith would be ideal as reflective pieces during worship. As with most contemporary Christian music, the language is individualistic, however I found the themes engaging. I particularly enjoyed If I Ever Needed Someone, Bring Down the Heavens, Overflow and Great Day. These songs remind me of the constant reliance we have on God and that God is with us throughout our lives; as well as God’s hope of absolute love for the world that each of us has a part in. At times, the theological perspective is a bit conservative; a couple of songs contain themes of sacrificial atonement, an interventionist God and gendered language for God. But, overall, mine was a positive response to the album. Finding Faith is available from Sony Music, RRP $9.95
REVIEW BY BOB FASER
BOOK | WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? | MARILYNNE ROBINSON
BOOK | A GENUINELY THEOLOGICAL CHURCH: MINISTRY, THEOLOGY AND THE UNITING CHURCH | GEOFF THOMPSON AT the very least, Dr Thompson has given us a book with a provocative title. In some UCA circles, whenever the T-word (theology) is mentioned, people look rather tense, as if they assume an all-in brawl will soon follow. Considering the theological brawls our church has experienced over the decades since Union, particularly over “the Four Bs” (Baptism, Bishops, Biblical Interpretation, and Bedroom Ethics), this tension is understandable. This book had its genesis in some recent changes in the education, training, and formation for the UCA’s specified ministries (ordained and otherwise). This has happened to the extent where some synods are now operating according to significantly different models of ministry formation than others. In examining this situation, Dr Thompson has broken two persistent taboos within the UCA that have long needed to be broken. The first is the taboo against admitting that the ethos of the UCA varies according to the region of Australia in which it happens to be located. The second is the taboo against admitting that whichever of the UCA’s parent churches with which we identify still has a profound impact on our understanding of the UCA (and of the Christian faith more generally). By breaking these taboos, Geoff Thompson has done us all a service. Dr Thompson continues with an exploration of the theological vocation of the UCA in a cultural context he describes as “post-secular”, “post-liberal”, “postcolonial”, and (drawing on contemporary politics) “post-truth”. He concludes with a consideration of ministry education in a “post-Christendom” age. This is a brief book, but an important one. Published by Reservoir: Uniting Academic Press RRP: $19.99
REVIEW BY NICK MATTISKE
American novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson is particularly interested in rehabilitating the Puritan founders of the US in this work. Although they have a reputation for dour strictness, they were, she argues, relatively tolerant for their time and their legacy is liberty not prohibition. According to Robinson, democracy can be traced not from the Enlightenment, but to unfashionable Calvinists and Cromwell, people who insisted on freedom of conscience and education because they saw human minds as images of God. As in her other books of essays, Robinson upholds the concepts of self and mind, and contrasts this view with modern reductionism, particularly in anthropology, which sees us as simply bundles of Darwinian reflexes. As well as being dubious scientifically – other areas of science are constantly turning up evidence of astounding complexity – this reductionism impoverishes our view of human capabilities. If you repeatedly tell people they are merely self-interested, then that is what they will be. It is no coincidence, Robinson says, that this mindset accompanies the currently fashionable utilitarian impulse in our universities. The shift from education to training reinforces capitalist ideas of competition and survival. Yet in the religious roots of our universities is the idea that a broad education is linked to the full flourishing of human beings and an enrichment of our whole society. Robinson readily admits she is not hip. She rejects fashionable intellectual paradigms and is a champion of neglected historical figures and movements. Her interest in what is written out of history makes these essays of interest. At the very least, she exemplifies the broad type of education, inherited from the religious outlook, that should stop us using the word ‘puritan’ as insult. Available from Hachette Australia, RRP for hardback $45 www.hachette.com.au/marilynne-robinson/ what-are-we-doing-here
CROSSLIGHT - JULY 18
Social media round-up THERE was plenty of interfaith spirit during the month of Ramadan as our congregations extended hospitality to their Muslim neighbours. You can watch a video of Christians and Muslims sharing an Iftar meal together at Carlton Church of All Nations on our Facebook video page – www.facebook.com/ucavictas/videos/. With Assembly taking place this month, be sure to stay up-to-date with breaking news as it emerges from Box Hill Town Hall by subscribing to our friendly Facebook NewsBot. The NewsBot will deliver updates about marriage, sovereignty and other key issues straight to your Facebook Messenger inbox.
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sing about After King Island Uniting Church made a plea in the May edition of Crosslight for extra Together in Song books. As can be seen from these before and after shots, their request has been well answered. Read more about it and the remote church community in this month’s guest editorial by King Island UC member Beth Vellekoop.
JULY 18 - CROSSLIGHT
“THERE IS ONLY YOU AND YOUR CAMERA. THE LIMITATIONS IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY ARE IN YOURSELF, FOR WHAT WE SEE IS WHAT WE ARE. ” — Ernst Haas
Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School hosted a Smoking Ceremony for the first time. Wurundjeri elder Uncle Bill Nicholson conducted the ceremony as part of National Reconciliation Week.
Woodbridge Uniting Church attendees and dedicated members of the Rwandan Coffee Club raise a cup ahead of the 8 July celebration of 120 years of continuous worship in their building. Read more about them on page 12.
Hannah and Abigail Nazir explore Messy Science at Messy Church Heidelberg. The Banyule Network has a number of science professors and professionals who help plan Messy Science for their two Messy Churches in Ivanhoe and Heidelberg.
Approximately 100 people attended the Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea at Glen Waverley UC, raising more than $1535 for Cancer Council Victoria. Participants wrote the names of people who have been affected by cancer on cut out figures.
St Andrew’s Mirboo North paid tribute to Margaret and Peter Stollery after many years of faithful service as the congregation’s treasurers.
The Pastoral Connections Ministry Team at St Luke’s UC Highton established a shawl ministry last year. The shawls are distributed to people in hospital, the sick, bereaved, and those in aged care homes. Each shawl is accompanied by a card explaining that the shawl is a reminder of God’s presence and love.