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No. 285 March 2018



Crosslight editor Deb Bennett signs off after 10 years with a bit of Bowie

Coming clean on why Messy Church isn’t just for the kids



A refugee tells his amazing story of survival and standing up for others

Readers share their reflections in verse, image and a life-or-death story

Kathryn Stoel-Cousineau, Sarah Tomilson (Diya Lakai Havea) and Viola Leung were part of a group of Uniting Church candidates and Pilgrim faculty who attended a their threeday commencement camp in Halls Gap in February. Rev Sue Withers reflects on lessons learned at the camp on page 22.


Julie Perrin gives some tips to combat cyberbullying and screen addiction



Avril Hannah-Jones on why #MeToo reflects the standard of the Lord

Letters - 17 Moderator’s column - 19 Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 People - 26

Editorial THIS year Crosslight will invite a variety of people from throughout the church to speak with our readers through the editorial. Our aim is to represent a diversity of opinions and feature the voices of people who are passionate about the Church’s life and witness. This month Crosslight welcomes Rev Claire Dawe, minister at Chelsea Parish (Edithvale, Chelsea and Carrum).

God’s grace in all contexts I SPENT an encouraging weekend at the Australasian Messy Church Conference in Parkville last month.What a fantastic time with 170 delegates engaged in fresh expressions of church under the ‘Messy’ banner. So many people in ministry working out how to encourage discipleship within different contexts; how to be intentionally missional with our faith stories, and how to sustain specifically this different way of being church. Some people assume there is antagonism between our different forms of church, but most are just getting on with the job of sharing the Good News founded upon robust theology and inspired by the Spirit.

Communications & Media Services

Delegates left the conference with a renewed energy to continue in their Messy Church planting. The conference was an encouraging reminder of why people are engaged in these fresh expressions of faith – the sharing of the Good News is our aim, Messy Church is one vehicle. You can read more about the conference in Crosslight’s feature this month. Intergenerational communities of faith are alive and developing around Vic/Tas. This month Crosslight also highlights the intergenerational ministry at Ocean Grove-Barwon Heads UC and speaks with Pilgrim’s Beth Barnett. Beth teaches a unit of the Graduate Certificate in Children and Families Ministry. This certificate is taught through Stirling and Pilgrim and explores what family and children’s ministry means in 2018. Read

Crosslight is a monthly newspaper produced by the Communications and Media Services unit of The Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. It is published 11 times a year. Opinions expressed in Crosslight do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of The Uniting Church.

UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email:

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Distribution: Crosslight is usually distributed the first Sunday of the month.

more about Beth’s inventive teaching on page 18. Life is complex for today’s families, and our faith communities continue to struggle with the seductive world of cyberspace in which some of our young people find themselves trapped and overwhelmed. Thanks to Julie Perrin for helping us to navigate through the very real issue of cyberbullying. It is only when we understand the issues that we can offer support to our young people. Feeling safe is a fundamental human right but Australia continues to struggle with how to respond to those seeking asylum on our shores. Para Paheer is from Sri Lanka and has written a book The Power of Good People about those who helped him when he arrived by boat, fleeing from the war in his home nation. And on the tenth anniversary

of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations in Parliament, UCA President Stuart McMillan reminds us that we are nowhere near the goals of Closing the Gap. Who is safe on our shores? Our motivation in ministry is to witness to God’s love for all peoples, regardless of the human labels we apply. Whatever expression of church is your context, my prayer is that you will truly reflect the grace of God and be encouraged by the Spirit to share the Good News.

Circulation: 19,000 (publisher’s figure).


Deadlines: Advertising and editorial. Please check exact dates on our website <>. Closing date for April – Friday 16 March 2018. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat (Fairfax Media) Visit Crosslight online:



Rev Claire Dawe Chelsea Parish (Edithvale, Chelsea and Carrum)

Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Graphic Designer - Mirna Leonita Communications Officer - Tim Lam Media Communications Officer - David Southwell Advertising Co-ordinator - Lynda Nel Graphic Designer and Print Services - Carl Rainer Digital Technology Officer - Graham Holtshausen

News Donation laws threaten to reach inside church walls DAVID SOUTHWELL

CHURCH groups fear proposed new laws will designate congregational sermons and conversations as political while strictly regulating how they can be funded under the threat of jail terms. The Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill are part of a package of legislation introduced to federal parliament. The legislation is currently being considered by inquiries. Uniting Church social justice advocate Dr Mark Zirnsak said the proposed laws could make statements of societal values, including those based on Christian beliefs, designated as politically partisan with a raft of potentially prohibitive regulations attached. “This proposed legislation says that speaking on any issue publicly is the same as campaigning for a political party or candidate,” he said.

“This is not just about speaking up on issues like people seeking asylum or justice for Australia’s First Peoples. Conversations within the churches about the role of churches in society will be treated as political conversations that need to be regulated.” Combined with new rules, purportedly designed to limit the influence of foreign donors, funding for ministry could potentially be drawn into a draconian set of registry requirements. “Only Australian citizens and residents will be allowed to make donations to fund ministry and mission of the church,” Dr Zirnsak said. “Each church member will be required to provide a statutory declaration that they are an Australian citizen or Australian resident before their giving can be used for mission or ministry. “Donations from non-citizens or people who do not provide a statutory declaration

will be required to be kept separate and only spent on things that do not involve ministry or mission, such as property. “Breaking these rules could see the person in charge of the church’s financial arrangements sent to prison for up to 10 years.” Dr Zirnsak said the legislation threatens to stifle advocacy and debate. “Similar legislation by conservative governments in the UK and Canada was used to shut down the voices of community groups in conversations about how to create a better society in those countries,” he said. The president of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, said the proposed new electoral funding laws will “potentially damage the democratic process”. Mr McMillan has called on the legalisation to be redrafted. “Churches and other organisations advocating for the common good should

not be impeded in exercising our prophetic voice,” he said. “These changes will make it harder to make heard the voices, issues and concerns of people in the communities we serve.” Church community services arm UnitingCare Australia said a requirement to verify and record the residency status of anyone who donated more than $250 per year would drastically affect their work. “This would clearly mean a significant reduction in the fundraising capacity of ourselves and service agencies, therefore reducing vital services to those most in need,’’ Uniting Care national director Claerwen Little said.

A moment of healing – 10th anniversary of the Apology

“This was a moment of healing in our nation’s history,” Mr Dronfield said. “It also sent a message of hope for the future as we work towards treaty and sovereignty. “We must not forget that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the members of our Stolen Generations and their families, continue to feel the pain of the past. “This anniversary of the Apology should remind us all of the journey that we are on together. As the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, we see the hope of a positive future under God’s direction with the guidance, support and commitment of all our communities.” The Uniting Church made its formal apology to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 1994, following the release of the landmark Bringing Them Home report by Mick Dodson and former UCA president Sir Ronald Wilson. Current UCA president Stuart McMillan

has apologised again for the Uniting Church and its predecessors’ part in that pain. He acknowledged the continuing hurt experienced by First Peoples and members of the Stolen Generations. “At the recent Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress National Conference we heard stories told through showers of tears about the painful memories of the past,” Mr McMillan said. “There is still so much more we have to do to truly correct the wrongs which former prime minister Kevin Rudd acknowledged, and to give hope for healing. “The National Apology included commitments about ensuring this never happens again and a commitment to closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. “The latest Closing the Gap reports have shown that we are not on track in lifeexpectancy, literacy and numeracy, school attendance and employment. “I believe we need a comprehensive

education plan which addresses all the shortcomings and fragmentation that exists in Indigenous education. “That plan should provide access to secondary education in remote communities and appropriately funded Indigenous boarding places which are able to address the complex needs of students.” Mr McMillan reminded Uniting Church members of the special Covenanting relationship between their church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, forged at the time of the Church apology in 1994. “In the words of the original Covenant, we must recommit ourselves to building understanding between First and Second Peoples in every locality and to build relationships which respect the rights of First Peoples to self-determination,” Mr McMillan said. “In this our fellowship will be a witness to God’s love for all.”

FIRST and Second Peoples in the Uniting Church marked the 10th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations by calling for urgent action on sovereignty, treaty and Indigenous education. Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress president Rev Garry Dronfield said the Apology showed that Australia can address past and present injustices. MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT

For more information and letter-writing resources to help campaign against the new laws go to:


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Preventing child abuse is an individual and collective responsibility of the Uniting Church and all who engage with it. This year the Victorian Parliament passed legislation to establish the Reportable Conduct Scheme, overseen by the Commission for Children and Young People. This legislation only applies to Victoria. The Reportable Conduct Scheme aims to improve organisational responses to suspected child abuse by employees/volunteers and to identify people who pose a risk of harm to children. We applaud these initiatives which are in line with our Keeping Children Safe Policy commitments to zero tolerance of all forms of abuse and ensuring children are protected and safe. The Reportable Conduct Scheme commenced in Victoria on 1 July 2017. From 1 January 2018, all religious organisations must report allegations of reportable conduct against employees and volunteers to the Commission for Children and Young People. What does this mean for us? A reportable conduct allegation can be made about any employee/ volunteer over 18 years of age and/or any appointed leader of Uniting Church in Victoria. 3GDQD@QDjUDSXODRNEQDONQS@AKDBNMCTBS â&#x20AC;˘ a sexual offence committed against, with, or in the presence of a child, whether or not a criminal proceeding in relation to the offence has been commenced or concluded â&#x20AC;˘ sexual misconduct committed against, with, or in the presence of a child â&#x20AC;˘ physical violence committed against, with, or in the presence of a child â&#x20AC;˘ @MXADG@UHNTQSG@SB@TRDRRHFMHjB@MSDLNSHNM@KNQORXBGNKNFHB@KG@QL to a child â&#x20AC;˘ RHFMHjB@MSMDFKDBSNE@BGHKC

This means that if you have a reasonable belief that reportable conduct against an employee or volunteer and/or any appointed leader has occurred, you must report this to us by contacting us at $ for more information. .QXNTB@M@KRNQDONQSCHQDBSKXSNSGD

"NLLHRRHNMENQ"GHKCQDM@MC8NTMF/DNOKD / $ If you would like further information on the scheme please refer SNSGD"NLLHRRHNMENQ"GHKCQDM@MC8NTMF/DNOKDVDARHSD

News All together now

Moderator Rev Sharon Hollis cuts the ribbon to open to new office flanked by (from left) Pilgrim Uniting Church minister Rev Rod Peppiatt, acting synod liaison minister Rev Michelle Cook, Uniting’s state family services manager Sally Ryan and associate general secretary Isabel Thomas Dobson

THE Presbytery of Tasmania’s new office, on the top floor of the Pilgrim Uniting Church building in Launceston’s central business district, was officially opened by moderator Rev Sharon Hollis last month. The Paterson St site is now home to a strong Uniting Church presence including the Pilgrim congregation, a child care service and the Northern Tasmanian office of community services agency Uniting. All are now co-located just one block behind the city’s Brisbane St Mall. Ms Hollis said she was excited that the church’s engagement with the city would be undertaken from one site. “Each has their own part to play in the life of the Church, but as a result of the presbytery move all will be able to contribute in their own way but from the same place,” she said. Pilgrim Uniting Church minister Rev Rod Peppiatt used Romans 12: 4-5 to highlight that, while the Church has one body, it has many members with different functions.

He said this is evidenced by the broad range of activities and services offered from the one place. The presbytery office moved from the former Margaret St manse of the Launceston South Uniting Church late last year after the site was sold. Speaking after the opening Mr Peppiatt said the presbytery’s office move presented opportunities for the Pilgrim congregation. “One of the significant things about it relocating here, from Pilgrim’s point of view, is that it opens up a new perspective on the different ways it is possible for the Church to work together. We are beginning to see some of the richness in that,” he said. He said he hoped the relocation of the presbytery office would encourage people to use Pilgrim’s Ida Birchall Library, which houses an impressive collection of scholarly books. “I am hoping in time people visiting the presbytery will come earlier or stay afterwards and take the opportunity to visit the library.”

materials such as the studies, should help prompt new ways of thinking. “It’s about having those conversations, asking questions and being open to hearing the answers,” he said. “We have to be able to see signs of what is already present, nurturing those signs of life that are already among us.” Mr Withers said a recent conversation with a young woman at a presbytery gathering was a good example of the importance of encouraging new formsof ministry. The woman said although she wasn’t comfortable in the traditional Sunday morning church service, she was keen to organise outdoor faith gatherings of young families.

The new study booklets will be available to download from the synod website in April and there will also be a limited number printed which can be requested. Three new videos have also been added to the Vision and Mission Principles resources. The videos highlight how the Deepdene Uniting Church, which worships and conducts church meetings in Korean and English, reflects the synod’s three Strategic Priorities in its expression of Christian life.

Depth of perception in Vision A SERIES of studies being released next month will invite people to explore how they can apply the Synod’s Vision Statement to their own lives and faith community. Strategic framework minister Rev David Withers has compiled and edited the six stand-alone studies intended for use by small groups. They can be used in or out of sequence and should take approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete. Each study is the work of different authors who have been drawn from various locations and ministries across the synod, with Assembly materials used for the ‘Walking together as First and Second Peoples’ study. The fourth study ‘Seeking compassion’ was

prepared by Uniting Vic/Tas director of mission Rev John Clarke. The sixth study ‘For all creation’ is a collaborative effort of ministers, synod staff and a team from Castlemaine District Uniting Church and Presbytery of Loddon Mallee. It employs a creative approach that varies from the format of the other five. Mr Withers said the Synod’s Vision Statement, Mission Principles and Strategic Priorities are not intended as directives but rather as a supporting framework to enhance contemporary Christian life and community. “We are in unchartered territory,” he said. “There’s no map but there are some signposts.” He said the framework, and the supporting

You can view the videos at https://ucavictas.

SAFETY AROUND THE CHURCH Cameron Walker :`UVK:HML[`6ɉJLY Cameron will give you practical advice and assistance in maintaining a safe church environment.


Some of the areas Cameron can help with include:  ࡟ ,TLYNLUJ`L]HJ\H[PVUHUKTHUHNLTLU[  ࡟ (ZILZ[VZPUMVYTH[PVU  ࡟ :SPWZ[YPWZHUKMHSSZ  ࡟ *  VU[YHJ[VYHUK[YHKLZWLYZVUZHML[`THUHNLTLU[ and inductions. Contact Cameron for a copy of the latest Synod Safety 4HU\HSHUK*VU[YHJ[VY;YHKLZWLYZVU/HUKIVVR (Version 4 2016) *HTLYVU>HSRLY Phone: 03 9251 5430 4VIPSL!0429 474 091 Fax: 03 9654 4179 ,THPS!JHTLYVU^HSRLY']PJ[HZ\JHVYNH\




News Learning together with a digital generation TIM LAM

THE average age of the Ocean Grove Uniting Church congregation may be 74 years old, but that hasn’t stopped them from experimenting with new ways to make worship more accessible for younger generations. Last year, the congregations at Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads trialled a monthly intergenerational service called 4R Thrive Together. Instead of a traditional contemplative service, the congregation listened to Coldplay songs, watched films such as Bruce Almighty and recreated biblical themes using play-dough. Thrive Together is based on the 4R learning movement created by Ocean GroveBarwon Heads minister Rev Dr Jong Soo Park. The 4R’s stand for reflection, reinterpretation, re-formation, and re-creation. While 4R shares similarities with Messy Church, it is different in terms of its theoretical origins and format. Each Thrive Together gathering begins

with a ‘reflection’ on the theme of the day. The community will then ‘reinterpret’ the topic from different angles before identifying the biblical links to the topic during the ‘re-formation’ stage. In the final phase – ‘re-creation’ –participants reconstruct the lessons from the day through hands-on, co-operative activities. Dr Park developed 4R as part of a new curriculum model called ‘curriculum as software’, designed to cater to young Christians in a multicultural and digital society. “Today’s young people are digital,” Dr Park said. “Digital generations not only consume information; they try to construct their own knowledge by critically evaluating the credibility of collected data online and offline, and integrating verified information.” Since the late 18th century, Sunday schools have been the primary way for children to learn about God. But Dr Park believes the Sunday school model often overemphasised the intellectual aspects of faith at the expense of the personal, spiritual and participatory dimensions. It also split churches into two separate ministries: adult and youth ministry. Dr Park believes an intergenerational approach to ministry strengthens the resilience and sustainability of congregations. “Intergenerational ministry and mission can be a great way to recover the church as an educational community in which all age groups can learn, share, influence, and grow together,” he said. Towards the end of last year, the two congregations reviewed the 4R trial and


discussed their plans for 2018. At Ocean Grove UC, 61 percent preferred traditional music and worship. The Barwon Heads congregation is slightly younger, with six families with children. The Ocean Grove congregation decided to move away from 4R’s small-group worship style, but will keep experimenting with fresh expressions for all generations. The Barwon Heads congregation elected to keep developing 4R worship, and are keen to expand the concept to family homes. Dr Park said changing the format of the service can be a challenge for traditional

congregation members, but he was pleased that even those who expressed doubts were willing to try new things. “They have willingly taken a risk to leave their comfort zone to make a welcoming space for younger generations,” he said. “I appreciate this amazing support and sacrifice, which is one of the best fruits we got from the experiment. “Through this, we realised we are congregations open to new directions rather than sticking to our comfort zone and fearing change.”


And you are invited to help us celebrate


Friday 4 May 2018

The Wyselaskie Auditorium, Centre for Theology and Ministry Come join us to enjoy a spit roast. Tim Dyer is among our guest speakers and our silent auction of art works and photographs should not be missed. If you have a photograph you would like to donate to the silent auction you can call Jo Gaskin at the Bethel Centre on 03 9859 8700. Tickets: $45



News Church says no to discrimination

THE Uniting Church has affirmed its opposition to all forms of discrimination at a federal government hearing on religious freedom. Last month, UnitingCare Australia national director Claerwen Little participated in an expert panel review into Australiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s religious freedom laws. The panel asked representatives from faith-based agencies how changes to the Marriage Act might impact the way they perform their services. Ms Little said UnitingCare Australia took a different view to a number of other faithbased agencies on religious protections. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our agencies are open to all regardless of their race, religion or sexual preference,â&#x20AC;? Ms Little told the panel. â&#x20AC;&#x153;In aged care services like Uniting in NSW and the ACT we are actively engaging to make sure that we have special accommodations for people who are in same-sex relationships. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As an Assembly agency and as the Church, we donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t discriminate in the way we employ our staff, or recruit our carers or with what we do in service.â&#x20AC;? In November last year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull appointed an expert panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects religious freedom.The panel received more than 16,500 submissions. The Uniting Church Assembly argued for a careful balance between the right

to practice religion and freedom from discrimination in its submission. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Assembly wishes to reiterate the Uniting Churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s commitment to the right of every person to a robust freedom of religion as described in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,â&#x20AC;? the submission said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We believe however that these protections should be set within a broad commitment to the upholding of all human rights, preferably enshrined in the development of a comprehensive Human Rights Act.â&#x20AC;? The Uniting Churchâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s LGBTIQ Network also made a submission to the panel. Uniting Network national secretary Warren Talbot said the change to the Marriage Act has not reduced religious freedom. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is no threat to religious freedom in Australiaâ&#x20AC;?, Mr Talbot said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Religions remain free to marry, or not marry, couples in accordance with the policy of the religion.â&#x20AC;? Mr Talbot argued there are no grounds for further discrimination against LGBTIQ people. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Faith-based education and community services receive far too many exemptions from anti-discrimination laws,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This allows many faith groups to deny basic health, education and community services to LGBTIQ individuals and couples, even when those services are funded by the taxpayer for the common good.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Uniting Church has a proud record in defending human rights. All people are the children of God â&#x20AC;&#x201C; regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status.â&#x20AC;? Meanwhile, a number of churches have called for stronger laws to give church-run organisations the right to hire and fire staff based on religious values. The Freedom for Faith think-tank is endorsed by a number of conservative and evangelical church groups, including the UCAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Assembly of Confessing Congregations, the Presbyterian Church of Australia, Hillsong and the Anglican diocese of Sydney. They called for the establishment of a Religious Freedom Act to codify and expand exemptions to anti-discrimination laws in their submission. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If Christian welfare organisations and aged care and health providers are not permitted to make adherence to the faith selection requirement at any level of the organisation, they will quickly lose their character as faith-based organisations,â&#x20AC;? their submission said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If pastors of churches cannot insist upon their personal assistants or administrative staff being adherents to the faith, that could compromise the work of the Church.â&#x20AC;? The expert panel will report its findings to the prime minister by 31 March.


Posters in many languages

Booklets exploring the Synodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focus and priorities

A coming in April: And Six sstudy series for small groups






Find these resources and more at And if websites misbehave where you live, write to[VĂ&#x201E;UKV\[^OH[PZH]HPSHISLPUWYPU[MVYT[VHZZPZ[`V\YJVU]LYZH[PVUZ



Walking S


Following Christ, walking together as First and Second Peoples, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation


News Hello to CEO


THE new UCA Funds Management CEO, Mathew Browning, says he likes going to work every day but doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to spend time in his office. Mr Browning has ventured out of the glass walls of the executive office to situate himself at an ordinary work station. He believes having line-of-sight accessibility for all staff makes for a more collegiate, transparent and innovative organisation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It allows you to feel the energy in the office,â&#x20AC;? Mr Browning said. That energy will be called for because since taking over from the retiring Michael Walsh in mid-February Mr Browning has been set a formidable challenge by the ethical investment companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s board. He has been asked to double the grant from the operating surplus that UCA Funds Management donates to synod and affiliated organisations. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an ambitious target,â&#x20AC;? Mr Browning said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The challenge is to build a strategy to achieve that outcome.â&#x20AC;? That strategy will require growing funds under management from external investors, with 94 per cent of the

money that UCA Funds Management currently oversees coming from synodrelated sources. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We recognise we have a fantastic cornerstone client in synod and churchaffiliated organisations,â&#x20AC;? Mr Browning said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We must continue to love our existing clients and then leverage that to take it to the next level.â&#x20AC;? He believes that UCA Funds Management can appeal to outside investors because of its values-based nature. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The uniqueness of the offer comes from the ethical authenticity of our investment products. That authenticity is very saleable,â&#x20AC;? Mr Browning said. It was the for-purpose nature of UCA Funds Management that attracted Mr Browning to the role after 10 years in senior roles at the Myer Family Company. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think purpose is important,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been something thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inherent to the organisations Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve worked for.â&#x20AC;? Mr Browning has already distilled his vision of UCA Funds Managementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission as striving for â&#x20AC;&#x153;better companies, better returns and a better worldâ&#x20AC;?.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.â&#x20AC;? - Anatole France (1844 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 1921)

And many have used this period to take a breath and consider other opportunities. For me, this means a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;tree changeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; as my extended family moves to centralVictoria for a complete lifestyle change. It is scary, exciting and slightly ridiculous that someone who knows nothing about wine-making (and is not keen on bed-making!) will be running a B&B/ boutique winery. When then-director of communications Kim Cain hired me a decade ago, I knew very little about the Uniting Church in Australia. Since that time it has been my pleasure and privilege to share the joy, hope, sadness, fear, humour and faith of the unique community that makes up the UCA. Just as I was never left in any doubt when we â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;got things wrongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; (thank you for the letters, phone calls, social media posts!), readers were equally generous when we

AFTER 10 years working in one of the most fulfilling (and fun) jobs I have ever had, I have decided that the time is right for me to leave my role as editor of Crosslight. As many of our readers know, synod operations has been going through a period of structural change as it responds to the findings of the Major Strategic Review and the challenges facing the church in the 21st century. This has been a difficult time for many within the synod building, both those implementing the change and those directly impacted.

Mathew Browning

got things right â&#x20AC;&#x201C; thank you for your support. Although the team I have worked with has changed over time, one constant has been the professional and personal support that has made coming to work such a joy. So, just as 10 years ago I took a leap of faith and it turned out OK, with the words of David Bowie (below) earworming in my head, I hope in 10 yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; time I will look back and be glad I took a chance in a world I know nothing about.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-Changesâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; David Bowie (1947 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 2016)


/PNOĂ&#x201E;LSK9K Uniting Church

Enquiries welcome. Please direct your inquiry, or application (including resume and cover letter), to Rev. Ross Pearce at



Reflection Shepparton’s long journey to joy and song JOAN MCRAE

Pic credit: John Teague

IT’S 4 February 2018 and 500 worshippers crowd into the splendid new worship space and gathering area at Shepparton Uniting Church. Long before worship begins at 4pm, seats in the worship space and a couple of hundred more in the narthex have filled. And still they come! Worship begins with the exuberant ululation of Congolese members as they dance towards the sanctuary, singing This is the day in Swahili, joined by the congregation as excitement mounts. Meanwhile the holy things are brought forward – Word, Water, Bread and Wine – and the church registers, followed by the ministers, Rev Rosalie Rayment-Hewitt and Rev Loni Vaitohi and the moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis. Uncle Lance James, a Yorta Yorta man with long links to the Shepparton Methodist and Uniting Churches, welcomes us to country. As chairperson of the congregation, I welcome the congregation and ministers to their new home, as well as the many visitors – neighbouring congregations, from presbytery, synod, former ministers and members, other Shepparton churches, people of other faiths and those who transformed the congregation’s vision into reality – drawers of plans, builders and tradespeople, craftsmen all. It’s worship-as-usual, with a heightened

sense of joy. The children explore the sanctuary with the moderator. How great thou art is sung in English, Swahili and Tongan. The moderator inspires and challenges as she breaks open the Word. Ministers and the congregation dedicate the redevelopment. During the communion, the Lord’s Prayer is sung in Tongan by Tongan members of the congregation, joined by 50 from Bowen Uniting Church, currently picking fruit at Merrigum and sharing Loni’s ministry there. The new font bowl, crafted by liturgical artist Rhonda Kissick, and the new Lectern Bible are dedicated, along with items from the previous churches. It was Uniting Church worship at its best. The worship space itself welcomes. The octagonal space with pyramidal ceiling rising to its glass apex is light and airy, with large windows overlooking a garden. It brilliantly encapsulates the vision of the congregation. It was worth waiting for – and working for! Why did it take eight years, with changes in the membership of the Property Planning Task Group and three chairpersons, as well as three presbytery representatives? Following Union, there were four Uniting Church congregations in Shepparton. The two large ones in the CBD were less than two blocks apart.

Builder Tony Villani, Rev Loni Vaitohi, Presbytery rep Barbara Chapman, treasurer Zane Streeter, congregation chairperson Joan McRae and Cam Shields from the Property Planning Task Group.

Shepparton coordinating committee worked to link the congregations, but it took the ministry of Rosalie RaymentHewitt to complete the task. In November 2009 Scots’, Wesley, St David’s and St Andrew’s churches were closed and on Advent Sunday, Shepparton Uniting Church was born. Decisions about a home for this new congregation were resolved prayerfully. The more spacious Fryers Street site, opposite TAFE and the university, offered exciting prospects for new ministry to the community. Plans to build the new worship space on a street frontage had to be rethought because of heritage restrictions. The back rooms of the hall and church were demolished and the two buildings joined by an extensive narthex and gathering area opening to the worship space. Fifty-two metres of Uniting Church doves line the glass round the open, welcoming areas which people immediately find extremely attractive. Much of the planning had to be repeated to satisfy Property Services’ changing requirements. The Property Planning Task Group was frustrated by the additional costs in time and money and use of experts from Melbourne. We asked the general secretary for assistance. In October 2014, Dr Mark Lawrence and

Pauline McGillivray listened carefully to our case and offered changes, from which churches in other regional centres benefit. We could use local experts, and were freed from the monthly visits of the Property Services Consultant, allowing us flexibility and greater ownership of the project. We cannot thank Pauline sufficiently! When 2D plans were submitted, it became necessary to have them transferred to autoCAD to allow accurate costing and solving of hidden construction problems. We suggested that Property Services’ initial directions indicate this need for autoCAD. The op shop’s self-funded extension and refurbishment had to become part of the redevelopment – at double the cost. Four years later, work is expected to start shortly on this. Construction on the main church complex began on April 18, 2017 with a blessing liturgy on site. Our appreciation of the builders’ expertise and love of perfection in every aspect of the build also began then. A detailed photographic record kept the congregation informed as did the Skype virtual tours. Our landscape team worked wonders in the secure turfed playground and on the two street frontages. So we rejoice: our constant prayer is ‘Thanks be to God!’

POSITIONS VACANT AT BRUNSWICK UNITING CHURCH Brunswick Uniting is an outward looking Christian community in the heart of Melbourne’s inner north. We strive to be an inclusive community, ever growing in faith, and working for justice, peace @MCQDBNMBHKH@SHNM 6D@QDKNNJHMFSNjKKSGQDDQNKDR Children and Families Worker, Youth Worker and Student Support Worker. These positions can either be performed as two part time roles, or one combined position. The successful candidate/s will have experience in ministering with children, teenagers and their families, and young adults. The Children and Families Worker position will focus on the theological nourishment of our younger members through direct leadership, volunteer co-ordination, pastoral care and broader community engagement, the Youth Worker will co-ordinate youth groups (junior and senior high school), and Student Support Worker will facilitate the Brunswick Uniting Student House Community. For more information visit our website, and contact Minister of the Word Rev. Ian Ferguson (0438 547 842, or Children & Youth Committee Chair, Anita Brown-Major (0424 034 096). MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Profile Allan Thompson celebrates 50 years of very active ministry NIGEL TAPP

Rev Allan Thompson

FAMILY folklore has it that the first time Rev Allan Thompson’s paternal grandmother held him in her arms she boldly declared that the little fellow would become a moderator of the Presbyterian Church. “That did not quite happen…but I came close,” Allan laughed. In 1986-87, at the age of 43, Allan served us moderator of the Victorian Synod of the Uniting Church. He celebrated his 50th year since ordination at Launceston’s Pilgrim Uniting Church last month. While Allan is far from alone in achieving the milestone, his five decades have been remarkably active and noteable. Allan stepped down at the end of January after nine years on the Uniting AgeWell board, the last three as chair. He is also a member of the board of community

services agency Uniting and chair of the Presbytery of Tasmania’s pastoral relations committee. During his career Allan has served across all facets of church life. Beginning as a congregational minister, he worked in administration with a UnitingCare agency, as a presbytery minister and synod senior executive. He also served for more than a decade as a member of the Assembly Standing Committee. Allan said it was his work as a congregational minister that he looks back on most fondly. “I sometimes get a bit wistful for congregational ministry, particularly on Christmas Day and Easter Day,” he said. “My primary vocation was being a parish minister and that is one of the reasons I have been quite happy to accept a limited number of preaching appointments up until the present day.” Since his 2008 retirement as the synod’s associate general secretary, based in Tasmania, Allan has served as the assembly’s executive officer for the National Response Task Group on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Allan said it was a time of significant learning for the Church as it examined its responsibility for past practices among the three predecessor denominations. “There has certainly been evidence where the claims of victims were either not taken seriously by the Church or were swept under the carpet,” he said. Allan said that as a result of the Royal Commission, the Church had better processes for ensuring the safety of children. “I believe we have also come to appreciate – as not all of us had appreciated before –the depth of the problem and the lifelong mental scars those who have been abused have suffered.” He said these lessons made it obvious that the ‘just get over it’ response of the past had been totally inadequate. Although Allan was ordained at the young age of 24, he does think there is any perfect age to enter ministry. “It is a matter for the individual, but it is a great pity we have so few younger ministers. Those who are younger have more energy, a willingness to take risks,

be adventurous and are open to new ways of doing things,” he said. “But those who are coming into ministry as their second and third careers often bring a lot of life experiences which are beneficial in pastoral connections with a wide range of people. “So there is not a right or wrong. We need younger and older just as we need both men and women.” Allan believes that in a time of great change in the nation over the last 50 years the role of the church within Australian society has also changed. “In an ever-changing society it is necessary that there is an everchanging church,” Allan said. “But it is important in the midst of all those inevitable changes that there remains continuity in the things that are really important to the church. Continuity in the proclamation of the Lordship of Christ; continuity in receiving the sacraments, particularly gathering around the Lord’s table; continuity in teaching the faith; and continuity in serving the world. “So it is a key challenge for all in the church, particularly those in positions of leadership, to balance those two – continuity and change. “Our forms of church life will continually evolve – and I readily identify with the Basis of Union’s call for expressing the faith in ‘fresh words and deeds’ (paragraph 11). “We have to engage with social issues even if society, as a whole, no longer looks to the church for guidance on moral, social and political issues. “But I’m more concerned that the church does not end up being bound by its established ways of doing things – such as the nature of our services, our music, whether we should sit in pews. “There is certainly plenty of scope for a whole variety of ways we can do worship.” Allan said he was comfortable to now sit back a little. “I am well aware of the significance of ordination-for-life but that does not mean you can never retire,” he said. “I am enjoying the slower pace of life and enjoying the opportunity to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. Retirement offers both freedom and opportunity.”

St Michael’s Uniting Church 120 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 ph: 03 9654 5120 120 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 ph: 03 9654 5120

Easter Services

All services conducted by Rev Ric Holland and supported by glorious music Sunday 25 March 2018, Palm Sunday 10am Service - “A Not So Heroic Parade” Friday 30 March 2018, Good Friday 10am - The Way of the Cross; an ecumenical city walk beginning at St Francis Church 11am - St Michael’s open for music and quiet reflection 5pm Service - “A Tragic Hero” A service of remembrance with lights and lessons


Sunday 1 April 2018, Easter Sunday 10am Service - “An Heroic Call to Adventure”

The Thinking Person’s Church St Michael’s Gumnut Creche is open on Sunday mornings from 9.30am to 11.30am, for children ages 0-6 years.


Profile The power of good people like Para CAROLYN TATE PARA Paheer is a Sri Lankan man who has always stood up for what he thinks is right. Now living in Victoria, he’s standing up for fellow refugees who don’t have a voice. As a university student, Para became involved in student protests against the Sri Lankan government. “We students believed that large-scale protests against the government would be noticed throughout the world, and that it was safer if many of us were involved,” he explained. But the military and police focused on students and some of Para’s friends were killed. “As the leader of the student union, I was targeted and beaten badly,” he said. Para eventually realised Sri Lanka was no longer safe for him. With his wife Jayantha and baby son Abi, he fled to India, but the young family lived in constant fear of being returned to Sri Lanka. Para was so desperate to escape and make a life for his family that he fled in an unseaworthy boat. His plan was to reach safety in Australia, and then send for his wife and son. “I am a typical asylum seeker,” Para said. “I had to leave to avoid being killed. I had already been terribly tortured. “With me were teachers, doctors, engineers, IT experts – all good men whose only ‘crime’ was being Tamil. The boat was terrible – but the alternative was worse. “Another boat that left at the same time as ours was shelled by the Sri Lankan navy, with no survivors.” After 30 days at sea, Para’s boat sank in the Indian Ocean. He survived 22 hours in freezing water before being rescued by a gas tanker. It was 2 November 2009 – Para’s 31st birthday. Para was then sent to Christmas Island, where he was detained for two years. “This was a terrible time,” Para said.

“Of course, I was thankful and happy to be saved from drowning, but I could not understand why I was kept in detention, unable to work, hardly able to even speak to my wife. “It was such a waste of time and money. We were all fit, young men, wanting to work, but kept in prison for no crime.” Para said the way the Australian government processes refugees is inhumane. “This government calls people who come seeking asylum ‘illegal maritime arrivals’ and imprisons them offshore or in remote detention centres with terrible living conditions and new cruelties every day,” he said. “It is even worse now for refugees. Since July 2013 they have been sent straight to Nauru or Manus [Island], where the conditions are really terrible. For years they have been left there with no processing of their cases. They can see no end to their suffering.” Para’s life changed in Australia when he was released into the community and into the home of Alison Corke. Alison began writing to Para while he was on Christmas Island, as part of the Rural Australians for Refugees program. They formed a solid friendship and, when Alison learned Para could qualify for community release, she immediately offered her home. When Para moved in with Alison and her family, his new life began. He worked on his English and found a job cleaning factories and hotels. He also started the arduous process of applying to bring Jayantha and Abi to Australia. During this time, Para accepted a role in the Nauru Detention Centre as a cultural adviser assisting Tamil detainees. Para then returned to Australia and began working as a ward assistant at Geelong University Hospital. All the while he worked to bring Jayantha and Abi to live with him, battling challenge after challenge, until eventually they were reunited after almost eight years apart. “How can refugees deal with the bureaucracy of the Australian government?” he asked. “Our family is complete and we are so happy to be reunited. But the years of separation and constant fear have left us feeling damaged.” Despite the challenges, Para’s family is

Para, Abi and Jayantha reunited after eight years apart

thriving in Australia and, after such a long time apart, he loves having them here. “I am able to enjoy simple things, like taking Abi to school, meeting his teachers and helping him with his homework,” Para said. “My wife is learning English. We have many friends and we feel safe and supported. We do not have to worry about bombs, kidnapping, arrests, war, arbitrary shootings. “It is really wonderful to feel so safe.” To show his gratitude to those who had helped him and his family, Para wrote a book called The Power of Good People. But Para said it can be hard to truly enjoy this freedom when he feels the Australian government is doing so little to help others. “Our challenge is this: how can we enjoy this life when we know there are so many innocent people still suffering torture, in prison in their own countries, or in detention here?” he asked. Para believes refugees have much to offer the Australian community, and a change to inhumane offshore processing is the answer. “The process could easily be changed to check the refugees’ backgrounds, release them into the community so they can work and support themselves and then, in time, allow their wives and children to join

them,” he said. “I wish people could understand how much we miss our homes. I am a refugee, not because I wanted to live somewhere else, but because circumstances have made it impossible for me to remain in my home country. “My heart goes out to people fleeing other places – Myanmar, Syria, Iran, Sudan… all countries affected by war or suppressive governments. We all loved our homes but we have been forced to move.” Para wants people to understand just how easily life can change for anyone. “Wars happen, and are usually caused by powerful nations. People can become refugees almost overnight. It is a matter of chance, so please help refugees and support them. One day it could be you.” Para Paheer and Alison Corke will share their story at the SacredEdge festival held at the Uniting Church in Queenscliff from 4 to 6 May. For more information go to: The Power of Good People is available at:

This month at Pilgrim Two Intensive Courses in March and April Sex, Gender & Christian Doctrine (2-4 March and 27-28 April)

Reading & Interpreting Isaiah (16, 17, 18 March and 13-14 April)

This course could not be more topical as the church continues to explore questions of sex, sexuality and gender. Where do Christian understandings of sex, sexuality and gender come from? We will examine how the traditional doctrines relate to different ways of reading and interpreting the Bible through intentional dialogue, often neglected in ecclesial discussions of these issues, between biblical exegesis, hermeneutics and doctrine.

Explore Isaiah the prophet, the cultural and historical settings of the various parts of Isaiah, the book as a whole, and its theology. Learn about the diverse genres of literature within the book, its theological themes, and its interpretation by engaging in exegesis and critical analysis of select texts from the three parts of Isaiah.

Study topical questions about sex and a deeper understanding of Isaiah

Visit PILGRIM.EDU.AU and discover more about these courses plus many others. And if you’re not sure what to choose or if you haven’t considered study for a while, call us today! We will help you choose a course you enjoy.

29 College Crescent, Parkville VIC P: 9340 8800 l E:



News The seduction of cyberspace

Cyberbullying can take many forms [AIFS]


• • •

WHETHER it is the fear of cyberbullying or concern for the addictive allure of online gaming, many parents and grandparents can find themselves in unchartered waters as they strive to guide their children safely through the online world. For many people, cyberbullying is a new and alarming phenomenon; for others it is all too familiar. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AFIS) describes cyberbullying as “using technology such as mobile phones or the internet to bully or harass another person”. According to Reach Out (an online mental health resource for young people), one in five young Australians report being cyberbullied. One piece of easily overlooked advice from cybercrime experts is: Make sure you explicitly ask the person to stop. For parents and grandparents of young people, it can be too easy to feel outwitted or overwhelmed by the task of oversight and care of children and grandchildren who want increasing amounts of screen time. Add to this the unease that bad things can happen as a result and you can be set for a stand-off. Uniting Church member and parent of two teenagers, Meg Moorhouse, decided to take action in her role on the committee of University High School Families. Parents and students were invited to come together to see the film Screenagers followed by a panel discussion. Ms Moorhouse said the strong turnout for the screening reflected the level of concern in the community. “People said that there were more arguments in their households about IT use than anything else,” Ms Moorhouse said. The scope of the night was broader than

• • • Left to right: Oskar, Fergus, Charlie. Centre: Ethan

cyberbullying. Questions included issues of digital citizenship and responsibilities for parents in both informing themselves and negotiating boundaries of screen use with young people. The seduction of playing computer games was also a focus. Ms Moorhouse said she was pleased the young people were present, because the impact on the brain of addictive game design was clearly shown in the Screenagers film. In the process of researching resources Ms Moorhouse, who has a background in social work, came up with a treasure trove of information (see ‘resources’ below). As well as extensive online help there was practical advice for friends and families which both celebrates the usefulness of online games while clearly facing the need to limit screen time. Ms Moorhouse said she came away from the information night with greater confidence in the legitimacy of her role as a parent to help her teenagers manage screen use. “I understand that it is their number-one interest, but it’s my job as a parent to bring a limitation and a balance,” she said. In the discussion, families described new habits where they would all bring their phones to the table and place them in a pile. The first person to touch their phone would be on dishes duty! The free online book Parents Guide

to Gaming encourages parents and grandparents to familiarise themselves with terms and games and preview them on YouTube. Because the children are excited and stimulated in the games, there is often a sense of letdown at having to leave it. It is vital that there is a repertoire of things to do in the real world that offer play and pleasure and interest. Grandparents are in a key position to offer hands on alternative activities. The Reach Out foundation is a leading Australian online mental health organisation. For more than 20 years Reach Out has provided tools and tips for young people and their parents. The extensive

Mean messages or threats Rumours online or through texts Hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites and webpages Stealing account information to break in and send damaging messages Pretending to be someone else in order to hurt another person Taking unflattering photos and spreading them online Sending sexually suggestive pictures or messages about another person

From: publications/children-whobully-school/export

site houses multiple short videos, and includes advice from young people who have been bullied to assist people currently experiencing bullying. Their three main messages are: there is an end – there is a light; don’t let yourself be isolated; get to know yourself so you can stand your own ground. Christians will notice a resonance in the reassurances of the young people on the Reach Out website – Jesus also refused to collude with the cultural shaming of people who were marginalised. As Ms Moorhouse maintains, “We need to keep reminding our kids – ‘Your life isn’t all online. You’ve got a wider belief and a bigger support network.’” Ms Moorhouse said the issue is part of a larger family conversation. “It is not just about addressing cyberbullying, it’s about parents and kids working together on the task of becoming good citizens – online and off.”

Meg Moorhouse

Resources The supportive bystander While aware there is ‘no one-size-fits-all approach’, The Australian Human Rights Commission has advice for being a supportive bystander. • Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behaviour. • Do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others; this includes on social networking sites. • Never forward or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting. • Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help. • Report it to someone in authority or someone you trust e.g. at school to a teacher, or a school counsellor; at work to a manager; if the bullying is serious, report it to the police; if the bullying occurs on Facebook, report it to Facebook. – free download ‘Parent’s Guide to Gaming’ (booklet produced by Manningham YMCA) – Reach Out offers excellent short videos, resources for young people and parents reviews of movies – be informed – Movie trailer for Screenagers - extensive section on media and technology including resources, reviews, Australian content for different age groups, and local experts. – Vic Police cyber safety program – terrific fact sheets including aspects of social media, internet contracts, sections for kids and parents. – Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network Police – ask for Cyber Crime or a Youth Liaison Officer




Mess with us by TIM LAM

Participants at Heidelberg Messy Church created ‘lost sheep’ during one of their craft sessions. MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Feature WHEN Lucy Moore established the first Messy Church in 2004, she never imagined it would grow into a worldwide phenomenon. The seeds of the Messy Church movement were planted in a small Anglican parish in a village north of Portsmouth. Fourteen years later, it has spread to more than 35 countries, including Australia, United States, South Africa, Germany, Mauritius and Mongolia. There are now approximately 4000 Messy Churches throughout the world. Ms Moore was recently in Melbourne for the Australasian Messy Church Conference. More than 170 Messy Church practitioners from Australia and New Zealand gathered in Parkville to network and share stories of faith and discipleship. Ms Moore developed the concept of Messy Church because her church’s traditional Sunday service was not meeting the needs of local families. “There were fewer and fewer families coming to our inherited – or ‘normal’ – church service on a Sunday,” Ms Moore said. “When we tried inviting people who weren’t already members of that church to come too, we found it really hard to think why they might come. “We have a really strong sense of a need to pass on the message of God’s good news to the next generation and we felt we weren’t doing that in our little parish.” Ms Moore and a group of friends from her parish explored different ways to connect with children. They concluded that instead of sending all the children away into a separate group, they should include all families together in worship. “There’s a lot of research that shows that’s how faith sticks, by being with people from other generations,” she said.

and they are worshipping God, not just being taught about him.” Ms Moore insists Messy Church is not trying to replace traditional church. It should instead be seen as a separate congregation working in synergy within the same church. “The Messy Church brings new life and new hope and new opportunities to serve God and develop new leaders,” she said. “It’s a fresh expression of the same truth. We’re not saying this is a better way of being church, we’re just saying there are different ways of being church.” The language familiar to many Christians – such as the body and blood of Christ – can be uncomfortable for children with no prior exposure to Christianity. Mr Ross said this presents a challenge – but also an opportunity – for congregations to share the Gospel in fresh ways. “Messy Churches are attracting more than half of their membership from people who have little or no exposure to Christianity,” Mr Ross said. “Teams running Messy Churches must never assume that prayers, music and sacramental life that shaped their faith have ever been experienced by the majority of people who attend their Messy Church.” But because Messy Church is built on a solid theological foundation, it retains its focus on Christ. All Messy Churches share five key values: Christ-centred, all-age, creativity, hospitality and celebration. “If we’re not about introducing people to the mystery of the risen Christ, we’re just another

Messy misconceptions

A common misconception of Messy Church is that it is a children’s program. Since its inception, Messy Church was designed to be an intergenerational church for people of all ages. “It’s very hard for people in traditional churches to get their heads around that because we’ve always done things by sending children out,” Ms Moore said. “Bringing people together is a huge mental leap to make.” A typical Messy Church meets monthly and begins with Bible-themed activities, such as crafts and games. This is usually accompanied with a short worship using story, music and prayers. Most Messy Churches end with a sit-down meal. Ms Moore said the meal is an integral part of Messy Church as it is an expression of God’s hospitality. “In the UK, there are so many broken bits of families that aren’t functioning and parts of the community that are isolated from each other,” she said. “I think the meal is an expression of togetherness, of sitting around a table talking with people and giving a listening ear that they might not have anywhere else. “There’s something really wonderful that happens at the meal, because you build up to it. It’s not a meal between strangers; you’ve had an hour and a half of having fun together and laughing together and maybe sharing some quite vulnerable stuff.” Rev Greg Ross is a Uniting Church minister and member of the National Messy Church Team. He initiated the second Messy Church in Australia eight years ago in Bunbury, Western Australia. “Many who grew up in the inherited forms of church are unable to see why people are attracted to what we’re doing,” Mr Ross said. “But people who come to Messy Church will tell you again and again this is where they feel comfortable.”

Church – but not as you know it

Messy Church was designed to be accessible for families who do not normally attend traditional church services. For many of these people, Messy Church is their church community. Ms Moore believes this is why Messy Church should be seen as a congregation in its own right, rather than a stepping-stone to Sunday services. “Some people think Messy Church is failing because we haven’t got anybody new coming to church at half-past-10 on a Sunday sitting in a pew or doing a liturgy,” she said. “But when those families are coming to a Messy Church, they are coming to church. They are meeting God and learning the Trinitarian God; they’re studying the Bible through hands-on fellowship. “Some are having the sacrament of Holy Communion, they are breaking bread together,



Feature kids’ club,” Mr Ross said. “There is a liturgical movement to what we do in Messy Church. The liturgical part of the meal is like the Eucharist.” Mr Ross believes churches need to recognise Messy Church as a congregation, rather than a church program. He challenged Messy Church leaders to invite their church council so they can see their community in action. “We need to say to the church council that this is about incorporating people into the life of the church,” he said. “Once they come and experience what’s happening there, they too will get a touch of this magical, wonderful dancing of the spirit in people’s lives.”

Developing leaders

THERE are now 220 registered Messy Churches in Australia. Approximately 40 per cent are Uniting Church and 40 per cent are Anglican. Synod intergenerational ministry (children and families) coordinator Chris Barnett attributed the growth of Messy Church in the Uniting Church to the enthusiasm and foresight of leaders. “Messy Church grows where people are passionate about it,” Mr Barnett said. “In the Uniting Church, there have been a number of people who are passionate and see the value of it.” Messy Churches do not work in every congregation; they must be appropriate to the denomination and needs of the local community. While rare in evangelical or more conservative churches, Mr Barnett believes they are a perfect fit for the Uniting Church. “The idea of Messy Church being something that’s open and hospitable and creative is an excellent match for the Uniting Church and our ethos,” he explained. “It’s not as if you’re buying into a franchise. The beauty of Messy Church is that you can be uniquely Uniting Church and still be Messy Church. You take on the values but you express them in the way you do things in your theological tradition.” The Messy Church movement has also given opportunities for members sitting in the pews to take up leadership roles. Many Messy Churches have been initiated and organised by lay people who want to share the Gospel in a more relaxed and flexible setting. “One of the strengths of Messy Church is empowering women in leadership,” Mr Barnett said. “You find women exercise leadership who would otherwise not have a chance because of their church structure.” Karen Morgan is children and families coordinator at Western Heights Uniting Church. With the support of her presbytery, she has helped train two Messy Churches at Lara and Hoppers Crossing Uniting Church. “The Presbytery of Port Phillip West has offered coaching for anyone in the presbytery

Delegates at the 2018 Australasian Messy Church conference


Lucy Moore

interested in Messy Church,” Ms Morgan said. “It’s a great opportunity to mentor a team and develop them in their Messy Church journey.” Ms Morgan said each Messy Church has its own challenges. Most require a dedicated team of at least three to four people to keep it running every month. “Each Messy Church struggles with different things,” she said. “I think resourcing the team is a big one and also maintaining your enthusiasm. It’s quite labour intensive to run. “Because it’s every month we have to work really hard to connect with people in Messy Churches in between services.” But while Messy Church demands plenty of preparation and hard work, it can also be extremely rewarding for all involved. “We had one little girl come along and she said to her mum ‘I just love Messy Church, it’s so much fun’. The mother said to me ‘I never thought I’d hear my child say church and fun in the same sentence’,” Ms Morgan said. “So I think connecting with God and learning that faith formation in a fun, creative, Christ-filled environment is fabulous.”

The future of Messy Church

A national survey conducted last year found that many Messy Churches want training on how to connect with teenagers and young adults. Ms Morgan said her Messy Church tries to nurture the leadership qualities of youth members by encouraging them to join the musical band. “We also develope their faith formation using technology and things that they’re interested in,” she said. “This year we’ll hopefully include them in some leadership activities too.” Another priority for Messy Church is to encourage fathers to attend. Mr Ross’ Messy Church specifically organises activities to engage men. “A lot are more comfortable doing something other than just hanging around,” he said. “We very specifically engage men in doing some of the woodcrafts. We also have men who love to barbecue and cook. “We don’t separate people from their kids, so they sit with their kids, do craft with their kids, eat with their kids – all those things that dads value.” Following her trip to Australia, Ms Moore will travel to Wellington for the New Zealand Messy Church conference. Ms Moore said she is constantly amazed at how a simple grassroots initiative has spread to all corners of the world. “I’m glad we didn’t know in the early days that it was going to get this big because we wouldn’t have Messy Church facts started,” she said. “We wouldn’t have dared because we • The first Messy Church in would have been insisting on getting Australia was established in it right before we started anything.” 2010 at Sherwood Anglican Ms Moore’s hope is that other Church in Queensland. churches will be inspired by the • 67 percent of Messy hospitality and creativity at Messy Churches meet monthly. Church as they reach out to people • 45 percent meet on a in their community. Sunday afternoon/evening. “I would love it to impact not just • Typical attendance at a on Messy Churches but the whole Messy Church is 20 to 49 of each denomination, so that we people. manage to take those good things • 21 percent reported an we’re learning and help us to shape increase in Messy Church all sorts of church,” Ms Moore said. numbers over the past year. “The faith moving on from • 35 percent of Messy generation to generation will be Churches have a Facebook strengthened and that chain will page. get stronger and stronger and the • 89 percent say they will kingdom will grow.” continue with Messy Church in 2018.


Reflection Every person has a story to tell A NEW WAY That I may strive to find a way, to walk my path with peace. To feel at one with those I meet and have the grace to greet. To try to walk my path with joy, and when the way is steep, to know your hand is there to hold, lest I should lose my feet. I only hope the gifts I have, may prosper those who seek, to know a world that knows a God, who comforts those who weep. MARGARET GAMBOLD Pic credit: Margaret Gambold

AT Crosslight, we know that many of our readers encounter faith and spirituality in the everyday. It could be something as simple as the joy of walking your dog in the evenings, or something as profound as holding your first grandchild in your arms. It might be a moment when you experienced faith in a different way or questioned your beliefs. In each edition, we invite readers to send through reflections. They can be 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, paintings, sketches or other artwork. If English isn’t your first language, or you are unsure of how to start, please contact us at Crosslight for a chat. This month, Margaret Gambold shares her faith through verse and image, and Chris Ward reflects on the power of prayer in a life-and-death moment.

Miracle at Mallacoota Beach Mission

to find it. As he ran through the caravan park, someone saw him and, without knowing what was happening, informed him that there was an emergency nurse at site 171. Amazing! I was still pumping. An uncle turned up and gave some breaths. I was counting the minutes. One, two, three. Nothing. Four, five, six. Praying. Seven, eight, nine. After 10 minutes, the child’s solar plexus convulsed and he took a breath, just as the nurse and the ambulance turned up. I stood back and let the professionals take over. The police had arrived and it was an emotional place. The child was taken to the Mallacoota airstrip and kept alive for an hour before being flown to Canberra and intensive care. All signs were seemingly hopeless. The family was Christian and they contacted their churches. Our campsite at the Beach Mission did the same. A huge network of prayer started all over Victoria thanks to social media. The police took statements from me and Lachlan; they were preparing for a coroner’s report. In Canberra, the staff had little hope. From 10pm till 5am, the little boy laid


It was 6.30pm on New Year’s Eve. I was walking with my son Lachlan along the estuary by the boats at Mallacoota in the huge caravan park. It was a beautiful evening and my cooking duties at our Beach Mission were over for the day. The water was clear and I could see the bottom, the fish and the seaweed. I saw a large child’s doll floating face down in the water; I commented to Lachlan. I could have passed by, but I bent down and lifted it out. It was no doll. It was a two-year-old child and, for all appearance, this child was dead. Whitish-blue skin, eyes open and pupils completely dilated. It is an image which will stay with me forever, a huge shock. I placed the child on the ground, head down the slope and fingers in his mouth to clear the airways and started CPR. I was praying all the time… “Jesus, let this kid live”. All hell broke loose around me. Brothers and sisters turned up screaming. His mother knelt by his side and cried, “Don’t leave us!” He was just so tiny, I was seriously breaking ribs… or so I thought. Lachlan called an ambulance and went

unconscious, showing no signs of anything beyond breathing. People prayed. At 5am he groaned and opened his eyes and said, “I am hungry”. The hospital staff were amazed. They used the world miracle; they said kids in that state usually take a week to open their eyes and then are severely compromised, with significant brain damage. Twenty-four hours later the boy was playing in the ward, and in 48 hours he was discharged to return with a grateful family to Mallacoota. I was able to pray with them and talk about their terrible experience, one which became a miracle of faith and the healing of a young child in the dark hours before dawn. So, remember to value the life of your children, especially near water, and never doubt that God is listening when times are the toughest.

Chris Ward is the director of chaplaincy and student services at Aitken College, Greenvale Melbourne.

Pic credit: Graham Holtshausen 16


Letters Uniting friends I vaguely remembering seeing a story about the Allens, however, little did I know then that by the end of 2017 I would have a sense of connectedness with them (‘Florence and Sheryil Allen avoid deportation’, February). It was late November when I received an email, in my capacity as secretary to the church council at Wesley Castle Hill, from a newly elected church councillor. Bev said she had been contacted via LinkedIn by Jacqueline, an employee in the Victoria and Tasmania synod offices. Jacqueline was desperate – her mother and sister were under threat of deportation and she sought Bev’s assistance in making representations to the local federal member. Why was someone wanting Bev to approach a politician in another state? However, the local member was also the then assistant minister for immigration and border protection. After a few email exchanges we agreed the church council should be asked to make representations. We took it to council who agreed and an email was sent. It was then my personal connectedness with the family began. I contacted Jacqueline, advising we had made representations. I subsequently contacted my local federal member requesting he make representations to his colleague on my behalf. I had never written to a senator, however, I did just that, contacting a NSW senator. The ensuing days brought forth emails and phone calls to her office. Unfortunately, this approach did not have a satisfactory outcome, the department closing the door on a further review of the Allen’s case. Over Christmas/New Year I made regular contact with Jacqueline. It is pleasing the family now have some reprieve from the immediate threat of deportation. In all this my representations to my local member remain current.

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.

The Uniting Church is a broad and diverse church. Despite geographical boundaries, its members have one thing in common – the Gospel of Christ. It is this Gospel that binds us together. Supporting one another, often beyond our own congregation, is a unique gift of the spirit available to each of us. In an era of social media, being ‘connected’ to, or ‘friends’ with people we have never met can have surprising benefits in uniting us with one another. I will continue to follow Florence and Sheryil’s journey with a sense of prayerful hope. Allan Gibson OAM Cherrybrook NSW

Ecumenical Relations Committee needs members The development and retention of good ecumenical relationships with other Christians is known to be ‘in the DNA’ of the Uniting Church. The best way in which this happens is by the actions of individual congregations and members with the Christian friends they develop in their own community. It is also part of the responsibility of presbyteries to assist their congregations and members in this task. The synod has a committee whose task is to foster those actions and to maintain connections with similar bodies in other churches and with the assembly. The Ecumenical Relations Committee currently has six members who meet bimonthly from 1pm to 3pm on the third Tuesday of the even numbered months in the synod office. Simply put, we would like to find people who will be willing to assist us in our task. Interested people can contact Ian Cayzer at for more information. Rev Ian Cayzer Secretary Frankston, VIC

From where? EVERY month I look forward to a new Crosslight. However when I open up the ‘Letters’ page and see that some people still live in a place called ‘via email’ I get cross! All letters are sent by people who live somewhere. Whether mail arrives by Australia Post, fax, email, Facebook, or pigeon post is not really important. Please correct this anomaly – it is ridiculous in an organisation such as the Uniting Church. Very occasionally there is a good reason for not including a writer’s address and/or name. In all other cases, if people want to remain completely anonymous, their letters should not be published. Helen Cole Aspendale Gardens, VIC

Lack of trust FIRSTLY let me say how disappointed I am that Penny Mulvey is no longer the Crosslight editor. She has done an outstanding job and it is a pity that she has been replaced by yet more ‘chiefs’. Secondly, congratulations to Rutherglen Uniting Church for expressing what most other (probably all) UC congregations are feeling – the Vic/Tas Synod is an example of bureaucracy gone mad. Filling in forms and being treated as though we can’t be trusted is killing local congregations. Why should mothers and grandmothers need police checks and WWCCs (Working With Children Check)? The community believes that they are not worth the paper they are written on. Where is faith, hope and love in all this paperwork? I fear for the future of society where fear is being engendered in every facet of life, and has replaced trust. Who do you trust now? Certainly not the government but hopefully still your neighbours, friends and colleagues. What is trust? It is the confident expectation of something i.e. HOPE; it is the reliance on the integrity, justice etc. of a person (Macquarie Dictionary). Lack of trust destroys hope, and where is society without that? What will take its place? I believe

the result will be an increase in anxiety and depression, and that the void will be a space where undesirable behaviour such as bullying will flourish. The one bastion of trust which has remained until now has been the church. With its acceptance of the dictates of government, there is now no organisation which is standing up against the culture of fear and mistrust. Shame on the church for not following its core tenets of faith, hope and love for all. Jenny Monger Benalla, VIC

‘Never Again’? Facing mounting and condemning evidence of genocidal mass killings of Rohingya people, including women and children, in the most horrific of circumstances last August, the international community must act. Tragically the international community failed the minority Tutsi people in Rwanda in 1994. Genocidal ideology is the tool of a government that believes it can get away with murder – literally. We also saw it in Nazi Germany, Serbia under Milosevic, Pol Pot in Cambodia and now Myanmar. When will ‘never again’ actually mean anything? International pressure of the kind that saw Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest must be mounted immediately. The Myanmar generals cannot act in this barbaric way with impunity. Let the thousands of mutilated and disfigured victims now being uncovered from mass graves speak from the grave. Theirs’ is a horrific story. The Rohingya people might be Muslim in a Buddhist country, but that cannot justify their wholesale slaughter in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing’. Myanmar will never cleanse itself of the stain of these events unless those responsible are brought to justice immediately. Justice delayed is justice denied. Nick Toovey Beaumaris, VIC

Equipping Leadership for Mission (eLM)

Synod Ethics hics C Committee – Expressions of Interest Inte Expressions of interest are invited for membership of the newly-formed Synod Ethics Committee. The Committee’s purpose is to provide a means by which the Church can address contemporary ethical issues from the perspective of faith and theology. Its responsibilities include: - identifying priority issues that need addressing at any particular time in the life of the Church; - SPHPZPUN^P[O[OL:`UVK»Z:VJPHS1\Z[PJLZ[Hќ[VLUZ\YLJVVYKPUH[PVUPU addressing current ethical issues; and - advising the Moderator and Synod Standing Committee regarding ethics matters with which the Church is involved. Contact Clare Boyd-Macrae P: 03 9251 5210 or E: for the Committee’s Terms of Reference and further information.

POSITION VACANT: UCA RESOURCES & ADMINISTRATION OFFICER An exciting opportunity is available for someone who has great people and administration skills, likes variety and a challenge. This role is part of the Marketing, Functions and Administration Team which supports the Church’s new strategy through a range of support services. These services include marketing, events management, advertising/sales, functions and administration. Located in Parkville, the UCA Resources & Administration Officer will provide excellent reception and administration services, administer UCA online resources and provide support to the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship Network. This varied role also provides conference support, and assists with room set up and the maintenance of a professional educational facility. For information contact Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes on P: 03 9251 5267. For a Position Description please see: Send application to People & Culture, on E:

Expressions of interest close Friday 6 April 2018.


Applications close on 19 March 2018.


Family / Youth Theology out of the classroom DAVID SOUTHWELL

PILGRIM Theological College adjunct lecturer Beth Barnett practises what she teaches, which is why you might find her students entering a church building on their hands and knees to view the surrounds from a child’s height. This is one of the observational tasks included in the intensive unit ‘Children and Families Ministry: Core issues in diverse contexts’. Ms Barnett taught the unit in two three-day blocs in February, leaving students the rest of the semester for assessment tasks. While there is a more formal essay component, the unit’s observational tasks include the aforementioned crawl into a church building (Ms Barnett doesn’t recommend doing this during a worship service). Students are also asked to sketch a plan of a home and street to highlight where the kingdom of God might be seen and identify the theology that informs depictions of children in church and secular communications. “One of my passions is thinking of the best way we can go about theological education,” Ms Barnett said. She believes asking students to do the traditional 2500-word essays or a 25-minute sermon reinforces a particular way of thinking about theology. “When we assess in that way we tend to end up doing our theology that way or delivering our content that way out in churches and in public,” she said. “With children and with families you want people doing things together out in the community. People aren’t going to stay and listen to a half hour of monologue. “What we want is engagement and discussion. We want people interacting with their environment to understand the messages of the context. “What are the theological messages of shopping centres, schools and parks, green spaces and commercial spaces that children are part of everyday? What are we telling them about their world and how can we help children expand their place in the world? “We need to be able to have those discussions with children in their own terms.” Ms Barnett thinks the traditional model of Sunday school may not be helpful. She suggests some older congregations need to be more adaptive rather than looking back to their own youth. “They remember the Sunday schools of the 50s which were 200 children and a very educative model,” Ms Barnett said. “Learning is part of the task of childhood, but just playing is part of the task of childhood. Loving, caring, just ‘being’ is part of the task of childhood and the church has often missed those and assumed what we need to do is school our children.” Mr Barnett said while Sunday school suited some academically inclined children, some kids just aren’t wired to thrive in the classroom environment. “They aren’t saying ‘the spiritual life, the engaged life, the reflective life, the ethically responsive life, the life of justice and love isn’t for me’,” she said. “They are just saying the life of being treated like a student again is not for 18

Pic credit: Dank Spangle/Flickr

me. And rightly, as soon as they are old enough, they have walked out the door, but we haven’t given them any other options.” In a tertiary environment setting a long essay might not be the right way to help equip some of those who are working most effectively with children living in the margins of society,” Ms Barnett said. “Often those people are not confident academically but are really switched on about thinking through the really gritty issues. We want them as part of our colleges,” she said. “They speak back into the institution as well.” She thinks that is especially important because “sometimes people within churches have a very rose-coloured or sanitised view of what we think we mean by children’s ministry or children and families’ ministry”. “They think it’s Colin Buchanan songs or Sunday school colouring in. Actually,

children’s and families ministry can take you right to most confronting areas,” Ms Barnett said. “To work in children’s and families’ ministry is to move into the cancer ward and to be alongside families who are seeking asylum, are in domestic violence, who are mixed families and blended families, same-sex parent families. “Those discussions of whether we can have those families are already done in children’s and families ministry, we are already working with those shapes of families. The question is, are we keeping up?” One area where the church has been confronted and challenged is to update its practices to protect children in the wake of last year’s royal commission and new laws. Ms Barnett said the church’s first response to the issue could be characterised as “panic and mortification”. “We’ve gone from not wanting to talk

about it all to suddenly a type of hypervigilance,” she said. “We’re almost afraid of children in the church now; we need to have all these forms and protocols. We need to be careful we don’t ostracise children in that process.” Ms Barnett said it is crucial for children to have agency and to have their voices heard. “Churches find that really difficult, so there’s lots of work to do in that,” she said.

The Children and Families Ministry: Core issues in diverse contexts intensive unit ran in February this year and is expected to run again in early 2019. For more information about Children and Families Ministry courses, contact Pilgrim Theological College. P: (03) 9340 8800 or go to: CROSSLIGHT - MARCH 18

Moderator’s column

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

The promise of new life

As I was reflecting on the readings for Lent in the Revised Common Lectionary, I noticed that running through the sections from the Hebrew Scriptures is a theme of God’s faithfulness to God’s people and the way this brings joy, renewal and life. Many of us will have taken on Lenten practices and disciplines to help us to enter the season and prepare for the journey to the cross. As well as helping us enter into a season of penitence, prayer and reflection, Lenten disciplines can prompt us to be alert for signs of God’s renewing work in the world.

Lenten practices are not about earning love. They help us learn radical dependence on God’s goodness and mercy.

In the story of Noah, God gifts a rainbow to us as a sign of God’s desire to love the world no matter how much the world turns its back on God’s ways. Facing the almost complete destruction of the world, God makes a promise to Noah and his family – and to the whole world for all generations – that God will never again destroy the earth. God will endure with us in love no matter how much we turn from God’s ways for us. The rainbow reassures us that God loves MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT

us no matter what and that no Lenten discipline can make God love us more than God already does. Lenten practices are not about earning love. They help us learn radical dependence on God’s goodness and mercy. Sarai and Abram are old and have no children when God promises them a child with many generations to come. The new hope they have been given is symbolised in their new names. This pattern is repeated throughout Scripture, as life in the form of a child comes to women and men who had given up hope of ever having a family. Lenten practices that help us see signs of new life and hope assist us to live into Sarah and Abraham’s story. They invite us to be people confident that God is bringing us renewed life. Prayer allows us to dwell in God and opens us up to see where God is at work in the world. Prayer calls us to join God working for renewed life. The Ten Commandments are given to God’s people to shape their new life set free from slavery when they are wandering in the desert, struggling to make the transition from slaves to the free people of God. The Ten Commandments are a gift from God to help the people live into this new life as God’s free people. God, and love of God, is set as the beginning of freedom and new life. New life invites to us to take a day to rest and remember that all depends on God. From this flows a commitment to live as a good neighbour, a loving child, a faithful partner. In the Ten Commandments we see that new life is both freedom from

In the Ten Commandments we see that new life is both freedom from enslavement and freedom to live for God and our neighbour.

enslavement and freedom to live for God and our neighbour. Lenten disciplines invite us to the renewed life we have in God that the Ten Commandments shape in us. Disciplines such as giving up chocolate or wine to support those in need is one way to live in freedom for another. It can allow our lives to be shaped by love of God and neighbour. Jeremiah reminds us that God is constantly writing a covenant of love and faithfulness onto our hearts. God’s faithfulness to us and to all of creation allows us to face who we are and confess our sin. God’s faithfulness and love of each of us calls us to live life anew in love, for love. As you journey through Lent may the practices you take up and the things you give lead you to the life of hope and joy which is God’s gift to us in every season. Sharon Hollis Moderator 19


God at work

Making miracles

Rebel yell

New York stories









IN At Work with John’s Gospel, Rev John Bottomley has compiled five Bible studies that explore the way God impacts our daily work. Bottomley is a member of the Creative Ministers Network congregation, which gather bi-monthly in members’ homes or at weekend retreats and focuses on mission to work. Drawing on passages from the Gospel of John, the book invites readers to reflect on work-related harm that is often hidden by society’s preoccupation with economic growth and the relentless pursuit of wealth. Bottomley encourages readers to rethink work beyond a market economy approach. At Work with John’s Gospel is designed for church members searching for a spirituality that integrates work with faith. Borrowing from the tradition of Ignatian contemplative prayer, each Bible study asks readers to walk in the shoes of a character from the Gospel of John. The gospel stories presented in this short book capture the various ways God is present in the workplace and through unpaid labour at home. In the story of the Wedding at Cana, the reader is invited to recognise the transformative power of God. In the story of Lazarus rising from the dead, they are encouraged to identify the ‘deadness’ in their working lives. Each study concludes with a short prayer and a suggested ritual. At Work with John’s Gospel is a valuable resource for people seeking healing from injustices they have experienced at work. It is an ideal book for congregations, Bible study groups and individuals longing to find fullness not just in the workplace, but also in their daily lives.

YOU may know a miracle when you see one, but they are not so easy to define. Or so it seems from this book in Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction series. For a small book, philosopher Yujin Nagasawa spends a lot of pages discussing ‘non-miracles’. But that is because he is carefully winnowing potential cases and moving towards the definition of a miracle as “a violation of the laws of nature that is caused by an intentional agent and has religious significance”. That explanation may indicate, correctly, that the book is less a celebration of miracles and more an attempt to figure out philosophically what miracles are, and, crucially, whether they are possible and why people still believe in them. He writes that they are impossible from the standpoint of the laws of nature, but logically possible. Whether they actually happen is a question he leaves somewhat hanging, perhaps reflecting a general consensus in the modern world that we are not sure exactly what to make of them. After-all, one can be religious and reject miracles. Conversely, more Americans believe in miracles than they do in life after death. Miracles can take many forms: levitation, teleportation, bilocation, transfiguration, walking on water, controlling the elements, transforming matter and finding the image of the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast (supposedly). Jesus was known primarily for his miracles of healing and exorcism. But Jesus also warned not to get carried away by signs and wonders. This prompts Nagasawa to go somewhat off-topic to suggest that what is most remarkable about religion is, even if it is not exactly miraculous, it tends to inspire altruism.

Available from: RRP: $15

Available at: RRP: $15.95

THE Reformation is sometimes spoken of as creating the proliferation of churches we see today. It can also been seen as concerning dogmatic nit-picking over religious matters that have little relevance for the majority of society outside the churches. But for Brad Gregory, whose new book is a distillation for popular audiences of his large and important The Unintended Reformation, the Reformation is still with us, as it ultimately created our present individualistic society, complete with unresolvable culture wars. Current champions of the Enlightenment think the modern world began then and everything before was impenetrable dark ages. Gregory challenges this assumption. He traces modern pluralism and freedom back to Martin Luther’s questioning of the Catholic Church’s authority (triggered by his deduction that indulgences had to be money-making charlatanism), and its replacement with the individual’s right to interpret Scripture. Luther would not have put it that way exactly and the word ‘unintended’ recurs in Gregory’s narrative. He acknowledges that Luther and the other Reformers would throw up their hands and ask ‘how has it come to this?’ if they surveyed the modern separation of church and state, the decline of public Christianity, the compartmentalisation of spirituality and the freedom to reject religion altogether. Instead of the spiritual penetrating deeper into the everyday (as it arguably did for a few years), the opposite has occurred. It had to, in some respects, because the affirmation of the right to believe whatever you liked was, ironically, the only way to hold society together, after the horrific wars of religion that accompanied the Reformation. And eventually as religion gradually became a private matter it was not Enlightenment values that took the driver’s seat, but consumerism. Religion, Gregory decides, lost out to money.

ONE week’s notice, one night only and Brandon Stanton hit Melbourne last month to a full house. “Who is Brandon Stanton?” I hear you ask. For anyone interested in new ways of telling a story, Brandon’s tale of starting Humans of New York, the famous Facebook/Instagram blog – and now book – sounds irresistibly easy. At the age of 26, sacked from an allconsuming job on the US bond market, Brandon made a decision to live with less money but do something he really enjoyed. He picked up a camera and started approaching people on the streets of New York to pose for a portrait. Two in three said no at the start; now it’s about one in three. Brandon’s collection grew quickly and he started posting beautiful studies of everyday people accompanied by a short quote/tale from them. Mainly, he asks his subjects what they struggle with. People’s answers revealed a surprising honesty and rawness with some confiding intimate details they had sometimes not even shared with their family. On the Melbourne stage, Brandon told the audience that people’s openness surprised him and made him aware of his responsibility to them. He makes it clear that if people want their photo removed at any time, he will do so. Brandon’s jeans and t-shirt clad presence on stage is modest and he appears amazed that he and his blog are a global name. He ambles in front of his audience like he’s walked through the wrong door but the crowd hang on every word. The biggest lesson from Brandon’s presentation is that time is a more important asset than money and that following your dream is the way to live. He now visits countries across the world, extending the stories outside New York. Stories of faith, hope, endurance, grief no longer have to be written in traditional formats. Drop by Brandon’s site: You’ll be inspired.

Available at RRP: $54.99



Review Not quite down the tubes

DARKEST Hour appears predestined to deliver a gold Oscar to leading man Gary Oldman. But for audiences the reward is a gripping and rousing portrayal of a pivotal moment in modern history, even if the film’s pivotal moment is potentially polarising. Oldman, largely unrecognisable under jowly prosthetics, plays Winston Churchill in the period following his sudden elevation to British prime minister in 1940. A rampant German army is overruning Western Europe and British troops are being cornered at Dunkirk. First seen from the perspective of new secretary Elizabeth Layton (Lily James), Oldman’s Churchill is by turns impossible, irascible, avuncular and even a little doddering. He is indulged, but occasionally chastened,

by his endlessly bemused and devoted wife Clementine, played in wonderfully wistful manner by Kristin Scott Thomas. We are served up something of an edited highlights and remix of Churchill or Churchill-related witticisms and epigrams. This includes observations of his idiosyncratic and impecunious aristocratic lifestyle fuelled by Herculean consumption of food, drink and cigars. Churchill’s ascension occurs at the expense of Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup), whose unwillingness and unpreparedness to counter Nazi aggression has lost him the confidence of the Labour party, which partners the Conservatives in wartime coalition government. Chamberlain, however, still wields decisive clout within the Tories. He allies with Churchill’s main adversary Lord

Hallifax (Stephen Dillane) to manoeuvre the bellicose new prime minister into a position where he must consider a negotiated peace. However, Churchill’s policy is simply and solely to fight until victory. The action over the next few desperate days is mainly set in the claustrophobic underground labyrinth of tunnels and operation rooms surrounding the war cabinet room. This physical constriction mirrors the unrelenting sense of a noose tightening as things go from bad to worse in Europe and the prospect of invasion looms. In one particularly memorable scene a solitary Churchill rides in a small lit elevator surrounded by subterranean darkness after a particularly dispiriting conversation with the chummy but

cheerfully unhelpful American president Franklin D Roosevelt. Under pressure from Hallifax and Chamberlain, Churchill begins to waver. The film suggests he was seriously undecided, which is historically questionable to say the least even if some tentative steps towards peace talks were made. After a bracing chat with the King George VI (a superb Ben Mendelsohn) Churchill suddenly absconds from his chauffeured Rolls Royce on the way to Parliament and makes an impromptu plebian descent into the subway to catch a train. His fellow passengers are ‘ordinary’ Londoners. The interactions with a poetryquoting West Indian and a young child inspire the Prime Minister’s resolve to keep fighting. This is undoubtedly a crowd-pleasing cinematic moment. Unfortunately it is so improbable that it took me straight out of the film and broke its spell. Even allowing for some poetic licence, the film had to that point reflected the real historical situation and dilemma, which in its world-shaking and shaping implications had ample drama without resorting to transparent invention. The clear intent is to show that the British people strengthened Churchill’s will to keep fighting, rather than the other way around, as ‘the great man’ theory of history conventionally asserts. However well-meaning that might be in attempting to demonstrate the power of ordinary people to shape the ‘right outcomes’ of history (spoiler alert: Britain was eventually on the winning side) the scenario’s obvious contrivance undermined that message. Fortunately this fantastical Tube ride does not entirely derail the film, which otherwise is an immersive drama of the highest historical stakes imaginable.

Wishing well

Elisa has little social contact outside near neighbour, the worldly wry but kindhearted Giles (Richard Jenkins). Giles and Elisa share a love of classic Hollywood musicals and even live above an ornate cinema that is mostly empty of paying customers. Reflecting this appreciation of movie-filtered ‘reality’, every frame of The Shape of Water is sumptuous to look at, stylistically arresting and symbolically coloured or composed. Elisa works as a cleaning woman at the world’s most lax top-secret facility (the plot should not be examined too stringently). The unnamed creature she encounters is a less rubbery evolution of Gill-man, the classic monster from 1954 schlock horror B-film Creature from the Black Lagoon. Elisa realises she can communicate with the creature through sign language. They start having laboratory ‘dates’ that include music appreciation and the amphibian’s favourite repast of boiled eggs. The creature been captured and tormented by Colonel Richard Strickland (a darkly magnetic Michael Shannon), who has a face so square-jawed that the contours appear to have etched in heavy HB pencil. Strickland, it becomes clear, is the embodiment of American vice. He is narrow-minded and solely resultsoriented, militaristic, racist, sadistic and punitively religious. He has an ostensibly perfect but emotionally alienated whitebread family and fills the void with consumerism.

Strickland is patently the real ‘monster’ and his nefarious plans to dissect the creature for Space Race experimentation prompt Elisa and an unlikely bunch of allies to plan a daring escape. Among those allies are cleaning partner Zelda (in a typically robust performance by Octavia Spencer) whose garrulousness more than makes up for Elisa’s silence. A secret supporter is the humane Dr Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg), a facility scientist who is also a Soviet spy and appalled at both the American and Russian plans for the creature. While the supporting cast is uniformly

impressive, Hawkins’ virtuoso performance as Elisa is the wellspring of the film. From the marginalised, overlooked and literally silenced mouse-like menial worker we see the triumphant emergence of a determined, strong and vibrant woman. A look of satisfaction she gives Strickland at one point is worth the price of admission alone. The film runs a little long but is a luminous and lyrical piece of magical realism with great dollops of social commentary. It deserves to make a splash at the Oscars even if it doesn’t reach the high watermark of the emotional impact set by another del Toro allegorical fable, 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth.



THE Shape of Water is, like its male romantic lead, something of an oddity. Directed and co-written by Guillermo del Toro, it defies easy taxonomy into genre. The film might be considered a love story where boy meets girl – if by girl you mean a mute orphan and for boy a fish-man hybrid dragged from a South American waterway to be experimented on in a top-secret American military lab during the Cold War. More meaningfully, it could be classified as an inverted monster story or a transgressive fairy tale. It concerns outsiders (or fish-out-of-water), people (or not-quite-people) who defy the conformity of America in the straightlaced 60s to find acceptance and love from each other. Sally Hawkins plays Elisa, who lives a mundanely repetitive and almost apologetically unobtrusive life. She clearly has submerged desires, as a very adult bathing habit fairly literally illustrates. MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Pilgrim Reflection

Ordination candidates and Pilgrim faculty staff at Camp Acacia.

Church at its best I WONDER how many of us Uniting Church people spend our nights pouring over the Basis of Union rather than watching Netflix. Not many I imagine. I know some people, if asked to appear on the old Einstein Factor, would choose the Basis of Union as their area of expertise. But not many. Yet this week I was reminded of what at first glance looks like a pretty dry old paragraph –paragraph 15 of the Basis – can actually mean in action. ‘The Uniting Church… organises its life that locally, regionally government will be entrusted to…. men and women, bearing the gifts and graces with which God has endowed them for the building up of the Church.’ Seasoned church campers know there are many good things about gathering together with a group of people over an intensive period in a purpose-built facility – praying, worshipping, snorers and non-snorers bunking in, late night conversations and preparing meals together. Early February marked the date for exactly that to happen for Uniting Church candidates and Pilgrim faculty in our synod as they began their three-day commencement camp for 2018. And what a diverse bunch we were: seven men, 16 women, five faculty, two deacons and 16 ministers of word candidates, a wide range of ages and ethnic backgrounds. There were the candidates who grew up in the Uniting Church and others who are relative newcomers. They came with


backgrounds in engineering, nursing, teaching, social work, lay ministry and hospitality. They speak Korean, Chin, Arabic, French and Chinese. The overarching purpose of the time together was to build a formation community to begin our life together. But this year, as the days unfolded, I was reminded how good it is when the various parts of the church actually work well together. I have noticed over the years a habit many of us fall into from time-to-time. I call it “blaming up, down or across” for any problems within the church. How many have heard “Ah those folks at synod. They need to understand what it’s like in the Real World!”; or “Assembly just needs to get in touch with the grassroots”; or “Those folks in ‘congregation land’ just don’t know what to do with all that property” or; “In our day we never argued, we just got on with things”; or “Church council just make decisions without consulting the rest of us”? Need I go on? Of course, from time to time anyone involved in our councils – from local church councils, through to standing committees, PRC, and assembly committees – get things wrong. Yet I believe we do need to take care in falling into our blaming habits. There is something very precious about our inter-related councils which is countercultural and worth protecting. They are fundamentally places where all of us – faithful men and women, clergy

and laity – are entrusted to build up the life of our church. And it was this I saw in action among our candidates, synod staff, local presbytery people and individual congregations. Our camp was held at Camp Acacia in Halls Gap (sort of Norval’s less fancy little sister down the road) where we were warmly welcomed by Amy from UCA camping, part of the synod’s new eLM unit. Our program involved working with the local presbytery and congregations so our candidates could be immersed in the breadth of ministry in Western Victoria. One group of candidates travelled to Hamilton where the congregation is presently between ministers. They were welcomed by a team of lay people who talked about the leadership offered by their church council and the ministry in the Hamilton community. We heard of the fine work of the recently retired minister, Rev Peter Cook, and were reminded of the continuous thread of ordained ministry appreciated within the community. Other groups returned to Halls Gap after visits to Stawell and Horsham full of admiration, questions and affirmation. Then, together with the presbytery minister Rev Paul Blacker, the candidates began to explore some of the deeper theological questions: “What does it mean to be a gathered community of Christ in any place and time?” and “What is central to a life of Christian faith?” These questions and discussions continued late into the night.

Although on the surface it could all look pretty familiar, this camp made me realise that our councils of the church are working together daily, offering something very precious for the building up of the body of Christ. We do not make our way by stealth and fancy programs. It is theological conversation by theological conversation, careful decision by careful decision, prayer by prayer, and working together bit by bit, that together we build up the body of Christ though the Grace of God. Nothing less. To quote D’arcy Wood “…the Uniting Church is not a democracy, because a democracy is a form in which the people as a whole rule. The Uniting Church does not aim to represent the will of the people on any given issue, but to seek the will of God by prayer and by consulting together in the light of the Word of God.” D’Arcy Wood, Building on a Solid Basis (1986)

Sue Withers Field Education Coordinator Centre for Theology & Ministry CROSSLIGHT - MARCH 18


#MeToo and the standard of the Lord

The following is an edited version of a sermon given by Avril Hannah-Jones to Williamstown Uniting Church on Sunday 14 January. IN 2006, an American civil rights activist, Tarana Burke, started the ‘Me Too’ movement. In 1997 she had met a young girl named Heaven in Alabama. Heaven told Tarana that she had been sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend, and Tarana didn’t know what to say. She never saw the girl again. Eventually Tarana realised that what she wished she had said to Heaven was, ‘Me Too’. And so, almost 10 years after meeting Heaven, Tarana started encouraging women to say just that. Last year, when accusations of sexual harassment and assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein were made public, actor Alyssa Milano took up Tarana Burke’s words, ‘Me Too,’ using them as a hashtag on social media. The #MeToo campaign exploded, as women all around the world who had been sexually harassed or abused or assaulted by men said #MeToo on platforms including Facebook and Twitter. I said it. I tweeted #MeToo and put it on my Facebook page. My most recent


experience of sexual harassment, relatively minor when compared to the stories of abuse and assault experienced by many other women, was in Israel, a few years ago. A man selling drinks outside the Old City of Jerusalem stuck his hand down my shirt and into my bra to grope my breasts. My response was to disentangle myself from him, say ‘thank you,’ and walk away. I’m still annoyed with myself. I didn’t challenge him; I didn’t try to report him to anyone. I just accepted being groped as something that happens to women when we’re alone in a foreign country and, as I said, something relatively minor. But what the #MeToo movement reminded me was that it isn’t just something that can happen to women in foreign countries; it’s something that can happen to women anywhere. And I would never believe that my nieces, for example, need accept the occasional ‘minor’ grope, so why should I believe that I need to? The #MeToo movement was a wake-up call for me. The Hebrew Scriptures 1 Samuel 3:1-20 remind us that the sexual abuse of women is as old as time. Often we only hear the first part of today’s reading about God’s calling of young Samuel to prophesy to Eli, a priest of Israel. Eli may be a wonderful mentor for Samuel, but he is a failure as a father to his own sons.

We are told of his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, that they “were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord or for the duties of the priests to the people”. (1 Samuel 2:12-13a) Eli hears that his sons lie with the women who serve at the entrance to the tent of meeting. These women would not be freely consenting to lying with Eli’s sons; Hophni and Phinehas are raping them. Eli knows this is happening, he hears about it, and he remonstrates with his sons. But his sons ignore him and continue on their wicked ways. A man of God tells Eli that because Eli is honouring his sons more than his Lord his family will be cut off. Later, the Lord does as he has threatened. In a battle between Israel, Eli’s two sons are slain. When Eli, now 98 years old and blind, hears this, he falls over backwards from his seat, breaks his neck and dies. The strength and glory of his house has ended. From the story of Eli, it appears that the Lord agrees with Lieutenant General David Morrison and the Governor of NSW, General David Hurley, that: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. This is also the attitude of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse, which has recommended the creation of a new

criminal offence: the failure to report. If the government accepts this recommendation, all adults who know or suspect child sexual abuse is occurring in religious and other institutions will be required to report it and failure to do so will be a crime. (It’s already a crime in Victoria, as a result of the earlier Victorian inquiry into child sexual abuse.) The Lord tells Samuel that he is going to punish Eli for “the iniquity that he knew”, not the iniquity that Eli did. It’s taken centuries, but maybe social attitudes are finally catching up with the Lord. “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) There will always be people in positions of power who will use that power to benefit themselves and oppress others, as Hophni and Phinehas did. There will always be people who know that abuse is happening but do little or nothing about it, as Eli did. But 1 Samuel 3:1-20 tells us what God thinks of that. The Lord condemns it. Maybe knowing that will help us to make the right decision and do the right thing when we see iniquity. Let us not imitate Eli when we see wrongdoing. Let us do our best to restrain the Hophnis and Phinehases of our time. Sadly, there are all too many of them.


Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 23 FEBRUARY 2018 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Nil PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) Cranbourne (5 year term) (P)(C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST East Geelong (C) Essendon North (0.7) (*) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Newtown (St David’s) (C) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA West Coast Patrol (*) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) (C) Kaniva – Serviceton (P)(C)

SYNOD – equipping Leadership for Mission Continuing Education and Leadership Development (P) (C) Director Relationships and Connections (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Youth (P) (C) Intergenerational Ministry – Young Adults (P)(C) Lay Leadership Development Ministry (P) (C) Ministry Studies Coordinator (P) (C) New and Renewing Communities (P) (C) New Testament Studies Coordinator (P) (C)

(C) Current - may be in conversation (*) Pending - profile expected soon. Ministers available for placement may express interest in a particular placement. (P) Suitable for pastor. A lay person wishing to be considered must lodge an expression of interest. Enquiries and writtenexpressions of interest to: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson Secretary, Placements Committee Email:

PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Banyule Network – Ministry Team Leader (C) Banyule Network (*) Croydon and Croydon North (P)(C) Joongang (0.4) (C) Ringwood (C)

MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Deborah Kotteck (Lay), Senior Prison Chaplain commenced 1 January 2018 Judy Rigby, Airport West to commence 1 April 2018 Veronica Bradley, Wangaratta to commence 1 May 2018 Angie Griffin (SA), Henty Region – Grange Cluster to commence 1 June 2018 Fiona Morrison, Cradle Coast (Burnie, Devonport, Penguin and Wynyard) to commence 1 July 2018

Karen Eller (Lay), Royal Melbourne Hospital Chaplain to conclude on 16 March 2018 Vladimir Korotkov, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress (Victoria) Resource Worker to conclude on 13 April 2018 Morag Logan, Presbytery of Yarra Yarra Presbytery Minister, Pastoral Care to conclude on 30 April 2018 Paul Noble (Lay) (OD), Southern Mallee Cooperating Parish to conclude on 30 April 2018 RETIREMENTS


Kerry Bounds retired on 30 January 2018

Adele Mapperson (Lay), Lort Smith Animal Hospital Chaplain concluded on 2 February 2018

Sandra Houghton, Maffra Parish to retire on 30 April 2018

Kyoung Ho Choi (OD), Hobart Cheil Korean concluded on 28 February 2018 Bertram Mather, Auburn (Oxley Road) to conclude on 28 February 2018 John Rigby, Melton Fresh Expressions to conclude on 28 February 2018


Notices COMING EVENTS FAITH’S LAST HURRAH BY BRUCE D PREWER During his many years of ministry, Rev Bruce Prewer wrote many books of prayers, poems and reflections which have been used extensively by worship leaders in Australia and overseas. Bruce recently released a new book entitled Faith’s Last Hurrah. This book, as well as four other titles that are still in print, is available for sale via Sunbury UC where Bruce is a member. Contact Helen Hall at E: or on M: 0407 506 507. Helen will email book information and costs. UNITING HERITAGE SERVICES REUNION FOR PAST RESIDENTS OF METHODIST CHILDREN’S HOME AND ORANA Uniting Church agencies have been providing out-of-home care services for children for over a century. The Uniting Heritage Service exists to support those individuals who spent some or all of their childhood in care (and their families), and who are seeking records and other information about their time in care. The Heritage Service is planning a reunion for past residents of the Methodist Children’s Home and Orana. Any past residents or family members interested in attending the reunion, or anyone seeking more information, are very welcome to contact Catriona Milne, manager at Uniting Heritage Service, on P: (03) 8644 1531 or E: TREBLE TONES INC. LADIES CHOIR AVAILABLE FOR FUNDRAISERS Would you like to hold a fundraiser for your organisation/outreach? Treble Tones Inc., a ladies choir, is available to perform at such occasions. Two and three-part works performed by the choir encompass folk-songs and ballads, light classical, sacred and music theatre genres. A one hour performance includes ensemble and solo songs, instrumental solos, humorous readings and/or recitations. Fees are $100 for weekday afternoon programs, $120 for evening or weekend programs, or longer programs by arrangement. For further information contact Sylvia Giles (booking secretary) on P: (03) 9544 8546 or Lorraine Pollard (musical director) on P: (03) 9807 5936. ‘GOLDFIELDS REVIVALISM’ - UNITING CHURCH HISTORICAL SOCIETY PRESENTS 2:30PM, SUNDAY 11 MARCH Blackburn Uniting Church, cnr Blackburn Rd and The Avenue, Blackburn. Hear leading Australian historian, Emeritus Professor Graeme Davison AO, speak about how our churches flourished and their impact in post-gold rush communities. All are welcome to attend this free event. For enquiries please call M: 0427 812 606. “WHAT SORT OF MESSIAH WAS JESUS CHRIST?” LECTURE WITH SOFIA 7:30PM, THURSDAY 15 MARCH Carlton Library, 667 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. Lecture by John Noack (Carl Jung Society) followed by Q&A. Sea of Faith in Australia (SoFiA) promotes the open exploration of religion, spirituality and meaning. Gold coin donation

TRANSFIGURATION: AN EXHIBITION OF OIL PAINTINGS BY WES CAMPBELL 4 FEBRUARY – 28 MARCH Phee Broadway Theatre Foyer, Castlemaine Library, 212 Barker St, Castlemaine. The exhibition is a response to a key Christian narrative, traditionally observed on the 6 August, as Transfiguration. The atomic destruction of Hiroshima in 1945 also occurred on 6 August. The double focus of this exhibition brings together the brutal death of Jesus in his confrontation with powers that oppress and destroy, and his ‘light’ that has the power to transform life. Wes Campbell is a retired UC minister, theologian and painter in oils and acrylics. To be opened by Paul Gahan at 5pm – 6:30pm, Thursday 8 February 2018. Opening hours: Weekdays 10am – 6pm; Saturday 10am – 12 noon. RICHARD MCKINNEY MEMORIAL ECUMENICAL LENTEN LECTURES LECTURE 1: ‘The Challenge of Secularism’ 8pm, Tuesday, 6 March at Ivanhoe Uniting Church, 19 Seddon St, Ivanhoe. LECTURE 2: ‘Secular Media and the Church’ 8pm, Tuesday 13 March at St Georges Anglican Church, 47 Warncliffe Rd, East Ivanhoe. LECTURE 3: ‘The Forgotten Contribution of Christianity’ 8pm Tuesday 20 March at Mother of God Catholic Church, 63 Wilfred St, East Ivanhoe. The speaker is Barney Zwartz. Barney worked at The Age for 32 years, including 12 as religion editor from 2002 to 2013, also as opinion editor, letters editor and chief sub-editor. He also covered two papal elections in 2005 and 2013. Barney is now a senior fellow for the Centre for Public Christianity. All lectures begin at 8pm. Fellowship and light refreshments at 9:15pm. Gold coin donation. For enquiries please Ph: (03) 9497 1017. WOMEN OF THE REFORMATION LENTEN STUDIES WITH REV CORALIE LING WEDNESDAY MARCH 7 – FOCUSING ON ‘WORKING WOMEN’ WEDNESDAY MARCH 14 – FOCUSING ON ‘RULING WOMEN’ North Balwyn Uniting Church, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North. 7:30-9pm. Cost: $10 for both sessions including refreshments. See PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT SEMINAR (FOR NON-RETIRED MINISTERS) 10AM, WEDNESAY 7 MARCH UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. A ‘Planning for Retirement’ seminar will be held at the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Office. All non-retired ministers and their partners are welcome. An email invitation will be sent with registration details. Please direct further queries to E: or E: THE ST JOHN PASSION – J.S. BACH PART 1 - WEDNESDAY MARCH 21 PART 2 - WEDNESDAY MARCH 28 7.30-9.00PM, North Balwyn Uniting Church, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North. See

Tom Tali Kapen, Cobram Parish to retire on 30 May 2018 Ian Pearse, Bacchus Marsh to retire on 31 July 2018 INTER SYNOD TRANSFERS Vladimir Korotkov, to transfer to the Synod of NSW and ACT from 13 April 2018

Expressions of interest are invited for the position of Host at a Retreat/ Healing Home at Rhyll, Phillip Island, to commence approximately May 2018. Applicants should be Christians with an interest in and/or experience in ministry and pastoral care. A job description and applications are available from The Order of St. Luke the Physician, 112/100 Harold Street, Wantirna, VIC 3125 P: (03) 9837 5097 CROSSLIGHT - MARCH 18

Notices DEEP CREEK UNITING CHURCH CELEBRATIONS 12PM, SATURDAY 17 MARCH AND 10AM, SUNDAY 18 MARCH 152 Andersons Creek Rd, Doncaster East. The Deep Creek UC community from Andersons Creek Road is moving! The church community has amalgamated with three other churches in the area. A building to house a new church and community centre in Templestowe will be the new home for Manningham Uniting Church. Come and enjoy shared memories and mingle with people who were part of the shared journey at Deep Creek. Celebrations include a luncheon at midday on Saturday, 17 March, and a final service at 10am on Sunday, 18 March. All are welcome. Please RSVP for professional catering purposes to Kay Robert on P: (03) 9775 4224 or Ruth Hodges on P: (03) 9722 2000. OPENING SERVICE FOR KEILOR EASTAIRPORT WEST UNITING CHURCH 2PM, SUNDAY 18 MARCH Keilor East-Airport West UC, Cnr Roberts & Glenys Ave, Airport West. Airport West Uniting Church is opening their long-awaited new church facilities on Sunday, 18 March at 2pm. The moderator Rev Sharon Hollis will officiate the dedication. Please RSVP to Denise Grady on E: indicating the number attending for catering purposes. The following Saturday, 24 March will be a community day from 11am to 2:30pm for all to enjoy. PENINSULA IN PERIL: FAITH URGING US TO CARE FOR OUR ENVIRONMENT 5PM–8PM, SUNDAY 18 MARCH Southern Mornington Peninsula UC, 6 MurrayAnderson Rd, Rosebud. Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, shows why all faiths urge us to care for our environment. Watch Al Gore’s new film An Inconvenient Sequel – Truth to Power. All welcome whatever your faith or beliefs. Entry (for light tea) is $10 ($5 concession). Proceeds to assist the work of GreenFaith ARRCC. For enquiries please contact Bronwyn Pryor on M: 0412 301 450 or E: HOT CROSS BUN MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM–12 NOON, THURSDAY 22 MARCH Glen Waverley UC, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Avenue, Glen Waverley. Come along to The Hub and enjoy a hot cross bun with a cuppa. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. For information and group bookings P: (03) 9560 3580.

MIND BODY SPIRIT SERVICE 5:30–7:30PM, SUNDAY 25 MARCH North Balwyn Uniting Church, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North, The speaker is Sary Zananiri, an AustralianPalestinian artist and academic, on the topic of “The Crucifixion narrative and its political implications. Christianity, indigeneity and colonialism.” To be followed by soup and a short service of reflective worship in the church. TENEBRAE: A SERVICE OF DARKNESS 7.30PM, THURSDAY 29 MARCH Auburn Uniting Church, 81 Oxley Road, Hawthorn. The Service of Tenebrae has a rich tradition in the church, and is marked by movement from light into darkness with the extinguishing of candles. Through words and music this Holy Week service, arranged by Hal Hopson, movingly dramatises the suffering, death, and burial of Jesus Christ. Sung by the choir of Auburn Uniting Church and the Ad Hoc Singers. ALL AGE CAMP, CAMPS FARTHEST OUT (CFO) THURSDAY, 12 TO SUNDAY, 15 APRIL Burnside Camp, Anglesea, Victoria. CFO is a time for people of all ages to come together for learning and sharing, giving and receiving. There are quiet times alone and times of group fellowship. It is a non-denominational camp. The theme is ‘My Life in Christ; Jesus my Life Saver!’ Come and have fun! Enquiries to Jan Thwaites M: 0407- 507- 313. For a registration brochure email Harry Box on E: harryb01 Registrations close Monday 26 March. FAIR TRADE FAITH CONFERENCE 27–29 APRIL Queanbeyan Uniting Church Centre, 13 Rutledge Street, Queanbeyan, NSW. Learn more about fair trade and how it connects with your faith, meet and share with others. The inaugural Fair Trade Faith Conference features guest speakers including Dr Jonathan Cornford, from Manna Gum Ministry, Christian educator, writer and consultant Rev Scott Higgins, global futurist Dr Keith Suter and fair trade advocate Rev John Martin. Register now at fairtradefaith

DO YOU HAVE AN OP SHOP? LAST CHANCE TO REGISTER TO BE PART OF THE UCA OP SHOP NETWORK A new Op Shop Network is being established to bring together Op Shop Leaders and Volunteers across the Uniting Church. The Network will help UCA Op Shop operators share their ideas, implement best practice and explore opportunities to increase op shop income for the ADMDjSNEBNMFQDF@SHNMR@MCSGDHQLHRRHNMVNQJ Please send the Op Shop name, address and best phone number and email to

A Service of Darkness with the extinguishing of candles

Tenebrae Music and readings arranged by Hal H H. Hopson The choir of Auburn U.C. and the Ad Hoc Singers

Auburn Uniting Church 81 Oxley Road Hawthorn

Maundy Thursday March 29 | 7.30pm

CLOSURE SERVICE FOR PLEASANT STREET UNITING CHURCH, BALLARAT 1.30PM, SUNDAY 29 APRIL Pleasant St Uniting Church, 56A Pleasant Street South, Newington. After 157 years of continuous worship and fellowship, a closing service for the Pleasant Street UC will be held on 29 April. The service will be one of commemoration and thanksgiving as we acknowledge the dedication of those past and present who have served this church and congregation faithfully at this site. Afternoon tea will be provided. All those who have had any association with this congregation are warmly invited to attend. Please RSVP to Margaret Bennett on P: (03) 5332 3028. BETHEL CENTRE 21ST ANNIVERSARY 6PM, FRIDAY 4 MAY The Wyselaskie Auditorium, Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville. Bethel Centre is turning 21 and you are invited to help us celebrate. There will be opportunities to bid at the silent auction and guest speakers will be presenting on the night. More details to follow. WESTERN WOMEN’S RETREAT 25–27 MAY Norval, Halls Gap. The Western Women’s Retreat, (formerly known as Murtoa Parish Ladies Camp), is celebrating its 40th anniversary in May. The weekend is an opportunity for women of all denominations to share their faith and engender understanding with prayer, learning, love, laughter and fun. On this special occasion we warmly welcome past attendees for a grand reunion. For information and bookings contact Judy Gawith on P: (03) 5385 2470 or Fran Robinson on E: SOMERS CAMP 3–7 JULY Somers Camp is run by the Port Phillip East Presbytery for children from grade 3 to year 9. It is held in the first week of the winter school holidays. The camp is in its 61st year and is now one of the largest children and youth camps in Australia. Leadership training is open to any young people engaged in ministry. Details can be found at POLITICS IN THE PUB 7.30PM, THURSDAY 22 MARCH Venue TBA - Inner Melbourne In conversation with Rev Dr Stephen Sizer on the topic of ‘Christians, Palestine and Israel’. For more information contact Nell on M: 0424 363 371 or E:

CLASSIFIEDS CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161 or E: CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775. GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am. LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. PAINTER: Qualified Christian painter, handyman interior/exterior work available in the outer eastern suburbs. P: (03) 9725 6417. SELF CATERING RURAL RETREAT: In the beautiful Kiewa Valley, north-east Victoria. For enquiries text Sue on M: 0400 085 202. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: (03) 5628 5319. SOUTH GIPPSLAND WORSHIP: When visiting South Gippsland you are invited to join the Mirboo North Uniting Church congregation for worship at 10am each Sunday. Contact Lynne Oates on P: (03) 5668 1621. VENUS BAY HOLIDAY HOUSE: Sleeps eight, two bathrooms, walking distance to beach and shops. Call Robyn M: 0407 113 376 or Johannes M: 0419 517 051. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second-hand/ retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920. WANTED TOGETHER IN SONG HYMN BOOKS: Ten copies, plus four in large print, of hymn books for chapel at Masonic Peacehaven, Launceston, Tasmania. Contact Louisa Phelps on E:

Upcoming events of interest Not-for-profit Post Budget Breakfast 17 May 2018 Kooyong Tennis Club, Kooyong Now in its third year, this event will include special panel guests and cover funding and legislative changes to the sector. Question time is also included. Charity and Church leaders and managers encouraged to attend.

Annual Investor Briefing 9 August 2018 Rydges Melbourne, Exhibition Street Save the date for this year’s investor briefing. Session times and event theme will be announced mid-2018.

To register or for more information > > 1800 996 888 CEN0118v1



People AgeWell for the future SENIORS in the North-West Tasmanian town of Latrobe will soon be able to access more aged care services close to home. At the start of this year, work began on a major $10 million extension and renovation at Uniting AgeWell’s Strathdevon Community. The aged care residence will be expanded from 37 beds to 67 beds and the existing building will receive a modern face lift using environmentally sustainable design. The renovation includes a community café, chapel, resident activity areas, gym, hair salon and state-of-the-art kitchen facilities. Following consultation with indigenous

groups, six rooms have also been designed to meet the needs of the indigenous community. Uniting AgeWell CEO Andrew Kinnersly said the upgrade demonstrates the organisation’s ongoing commitment to provide high quality care to older people on the North-West Coast. “This major upgrade means more people will have the option to remain in their local community and maintain social connections as they move into residential aged care,” he said. Mr Kinnersly said the growth in Uniting AgeWell’s services also meant more employment opportunities in the area. It is the largest Uniting AgeWell development in Tasmania since the Queenborough Rise aged care and retirement facility opened a decade ago in the Hobart suburb of Sandy Bay.

Celebrating 60 years of preaching ONE of Dorothy Gordon’s earliest memories as a lay preacher was the night the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite into space. “There was a very small congregation that night. There weren’t many of us there because they were all looking at Sputnik,” Dorothy recalled. Dorothy’s journey to become a lay preacher began more than 60 years ago when she first met her husband, Ron. Ron was a theological student and Dorothy was curious to learn more about his studies. “I asked my father, Rev Frank Woolhouse, if he had a book I could read so I could have conversations about it with my boyfriend,” Dorothy said. “He said one book would probably not be very useful, but if I did the local preachers’ study, I could become accredited and help to fill the need in the circuit for preachers.” Dorothy was presented with her accreditation as a local preacher on 26 November 1957, exactly 21 years to the

Left to right: Uniting AgeWell CEO Andrew Kinnersly, Mayor of Latrobe Council Cr Peter Freshney, Uniting AgeWell Board Chair Allan Thompson, Vos Construction CEO Kurt Jones, Senator for Tasmania The Hon Anne Urquhart and State Member for Braddon Roger Jaensch.

ELWYN and Frances Seen’s marriage did not begin under the easiest of circumstances. Then just 15 years old, Frances was pregnant when the couple exchanged their vows at the Beaconsfield Methodist Church – about 40km from Launceston in Northern Tasmania – on 1 February 1958. Since then they have raised four sons, have 10 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren and this year celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. “Church and community have always been an important focus for us as a family,” Frances said. “Our faith and the church have always been there for us, in the good and bad times.” Frances remembered how the congregation had stood alongside the couple when they married by arranging the service and helping their families out. The same support was there again when their first son was born and had some medical difficulties which required almost around-the-clock care. Elwyn and Frances have been active in the congregation ever since, with Frances

Dorothy Gordon is presented with her certificate

An even bigger Pancake Day stir

60 years of love

Frances and Elwyn Seen

involved as a community minister in the West Tamar area for many years. The couple have been key players in the development of the Your Place concept which sees the church and its buildings open each and every day for people to come and visit. Frances said she did not think there was any one reason why the couple had managed to achieve a noteable milestone. “Patience, perseverance, prayer and reflection (are some of the factors),” she said. “Marriages are not easy and any couple who tells you they have not had a fight is not telling the whole truth in my opinion. “We always say we are a team.”

date she was baptised. In 2000, Dorothy was elected secretary of the Lay Preachers Association of Victoria and Tasmania at the association’s annual conference. “The president, Joan McRae, said ‘we’re not going home until we have a secretary’,” Dorothy said. “I wanted to go home, so I said I’ll be secretary.” Following the Black Saturday bushfire, Dorothy and Ron moved from Yarra Junction to Kilsyth. They began worshipping at St Margaret’s Uniting Church in Mooroolbark, where their daughter Rev Jennie Gordon was minister at the time. In January, St Margaret’s presented Dorothy with a certificate recognising her 60 years as a lay preacher. Since her retirement, Dorothy and Ron share services when a congregation requires an ordained minister for Holy Communion. “It was unusual at first for two people to lead worship together in a Uniting Church, but we believe we have made it a very acceptable situation,” Dorothy said. “At least the congregations keep asking us to return!”

A TV news item provided the inspiration Barry Schofield was looking for to shake up St Leonard’s Brighton Beach Uniting Church Pancake Day formula. Mr Schofield watched a story where police were ‘moving on’ rough sleepers camped around Flinders St station. An overseas tourist made the comment that it was not a good look for Melbourne. Mr Schofield noticed she was holding a cup of coffee. “It made me think that if 100 people saved $4, the equivalent cost of a cup of coffee, every week it would quickly add up to a sizeable amount,” Mr Schofield said. He and minister Rev Kim Cain came up with a plan. On 1 October (International Coffee Day) last year they asked 100 people to accept a coffee mug and take on ‘The Coffee Mug Challenge’. Each participant made a commitment to

put $4, symbolically shouting a homeless person a cup of coffee a week, in their mug for 20 weeks up until 11 February, the date of the church’s Pancake Sunday service and morning tea. This event raises money to support the work of Uniting Vic/Tas helping people in crisis. During the service on Pancake Sunday, congregation members placed the accumulated funds from their coffee mugs in a bowl at the front of the church. After the service they were invited to fill their mug with complimentary baristamade coffee from the donated services of a coffee van as they walked over to morning tea in the church hall. Once in the hall they were treated to a free pancake with various toppings. “The congregation thought that the event had a tremendous ‘vibe’ to it, and over $10,000 was raised, with further donations still coming in,” Mr Schofield said. It was the highest amount ever raised by a Uniting Church congregation for a Pancake Day event, almost doubling the previous record $5550 amount set last year by the same congregation.

Pancake Day at St Leonard’s Brighton Beach Uniting Church 26


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Giving is living

Merciful God, We pray for justice for refugees That you give them strength during times of struggle We pray for peace in the world That we solve conflicts through dialogue rather than violence We pray for our world leaders That they may open their hearts to the plight of the vulnerable We pray for generosity and compassion That we may open our doors to those in need Amen

Walk for refugees AS refugee advocates prepare for this year’s Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the fate of those left behind on Manus and Nauru. According to Guardian Australia, more than 150 refugees from Australia’s two offshore immigration centres have been resettled in the US. Approximately 2000 refugees remain marooned on Manus Island and Nauru. UNHCR regional protection officer Rico Salcedo reported a “pervasive and worsening sense of despair” among refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island. The Australian government said it no longer bears any responsibility for the asylum seekers. The Department of Home Affairs claims the processing of refugee claims are now “matters for the governments of PNG and Nauru”. On Palm Sunday, refugee supporters will gather at the State Library of Victoria to remind the Australian government that they have a legal and moral obligation to protect the refugees on Manus Island and Nauru. This year’s route will start at the State Library of Victoria before doing a circuit around the Melbourne CBD. Sudanese refugee Abdul Aziz Adam will speak live from Manus Island and Taqi Azra will share his experiences as a Hazara refugee. Corinne Grant will MC the event. MARCH 18 - CROSSLIGHT

More than 100 religious and human rights organisation, including the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania, have endorsed the walk. During the last five years, nine refugees and asylum seekers have died in Australia’s offshore detention centres. Many more have developed serious mental illnesses. Refugee supporters will also call for greater protection for the 30,000 refugees living on bridging visas in the Australian community. Many families remain separated by Australia’s harsh refugee system, and most have almost no hope of being reunited with their loved ones. Approximately 12,000 people are at risk of losing lifesaving services due to government changes. The Turnbull government recently ended a contract with Australian Red Cross, a major national provider of Status Resolution Support Services (SRSS). SRSS is a regular payment for people waiting for a decision about their immigration status. While not enough to make ends meet, SSRS payments enable people to pay rent and access specialist medical care including torture and trauma counselling. Refugee welfare agencies are concerned that cuts to SSRS would force people on bridging visas into homelessness. Join the Palm Sunday Walk at the State Library of Victoria on 25 March at 2pm. 27

Synod Snaps

“I WALK, I LOOK, I SEE, I S T O P, I P H O T O G R A P H .” — Leon Levinstein

The Rochester Uniting Church Harvest Thanksgiving display showcased the diversity of the surrounding farming district and local gardeners.

Castlemaine artist Rev Dr Wes Campbell showcased an exhibition of oil paintings on the theme of Transfiguration.

Croydon North Uniting Church members Sue and Alan McKenzie cooked up a mountain of pancakes at Gifford Village for Uniting Pancake Day.

These toys are washed and ready to be sold at the Springvale Uniting Church Op Shop.

Skipton St Uniting Church members Elsie Rudwick and Nita Bartle were presented with certificates of appreciation at the Skipton St Regional Healthcare Chaplaincy luncheon.

The synod farewelled Stephen Connelly – and his loyal poodle Esteban – after 22 years as head librarian of the Dalton McCaughey Library.

Crosslight March 2018  
Crosslight March 2018