Crosslight May 2018

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Crosslight No. 287 May 2018


boy! The joy of




Congregations celebrate Easter in creative ways

How a personal tragedy gave birth to a new Sunday School



An American bishop speaks out against gun violence

Remembering the legacy of Jill Ruzbacky

14-15 11


Regulars Julia Baird – when religion and violence intersect

Why South Sudanese youth are making their voices heard

Letters - 16 Moderator’s column - 19 Notices - 24 to 25 Reviews - 26

Guest editorial Being South Sudanese, being Australian and being Christian

Communications & Media Services

LIKE many newly arrived migrants I struggled to bridge cultural divides of being a South Sudanese, an Australian and especially being a Christian in a predominantly secular Australia. This month (pages 22-23) Crosslight talks to three members of the South Sudanese community active in Uniting Church programs about the challenges of living in a new country and the way that negative media reports impact South Sudanese parents and youth. Issues of belonging are complex. As we grapple with what it means to be South Sudanese-Australian, we should also reflect on what it means to be a Christian within a secularised Australia. Recently I was approached by a colleague of mine at a presbytery meeting with a question, “where do South Sudanese fit in on the topic of the same sex marriage?” My modest and humble response was that we are at the extreme end of the

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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debate. The Australian church exists in a post-Christendom era and the South Sudanese Christians come from a different context. This makes such conversations unattainable to many within my South Sudanese community. I anticipate that now is a time for South Sudanese Australians to honestly and transparently engage with the challenges posed by this. An exciting engagement for all of us is the passion of our younger people within the church. Last month in Victoria young adults gathered for the Somers Youth Leadership Conference. On page 12 Meg Ryan shares her reflections on the conference which was designed to equip young people with leadership skills. This month’s Crosslight also looks at how congregations celebrated Easter with a wide range of inspirational activities – decorating crosses, writing poetry and engaging with communities. You will see

many examples on pages 6-7. Baptism, which is often associated with Easter, is an important Christian tradition and this month’s cover features the baptism of a young boy in East Gippsland. Crosslight explores the experience of baptism on pages 14-15 and the different approaches in preparing for this sacrament. As we continue as a church to talk about issues that affect all Australians – both new arrivals and citizens of many generations it is my hope and prayer that our ongoing conversations, especially those in the public domain, are led with tolerance, respect, care and love.

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Rev Paul Aleu Dau Minister at Springvale Uniting Church

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

News Voice recognition

THE power of story was a central theme of the Voices of Strength cultural gathering held at the Leprena centre in Hobart on 18 April. Approximately 130 people attended the event to launch the Voices of Strength book, which is a collection of women’s stories and artwork collated by writer and historian Terry Whitebeach. There was also Indigenous welcome and cleansing dances, songs by Aboriginal artists and traditional food. Leprena manager Alison Overeem said the aim was to launch the book in a culturally immersive setting that links the women’s stories to the wider story of the First Peoples of Tasmania. “My idea was to invite both First and Second Peoples and connect them in this space,” she said. “To say, ‘come in and see what we do and know that you are welcome and this is part of your story too’.” Ms Overeem said that the day had been “amazing” and she had seen a lot

Making decisions amid God’s abundant grace MATT PULFORD


Alison Overeem, Tameeka Jamieson, Tim Matton-Johnson, Grace Williams

of connections made, such as between members of Kingston Uniting Church and some prospective new members. Also among the attendees was a group of Filipino women, representatives from disability services and Rev Mark Kickett from Congress South Australia. Congress Tasmania minister Rev Tim Matton-Johnson, who spoke on the day, expressed satisfaction at the wide range of attendees. “It was really great to see so many of them turning up to what they knew was a

special event,” he said. Voices of Strength was a collaboration between the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and literacy network 26TEN with funding provided by the state government. “The aim was to gather women around stories,” Ms Overeem said. Dr Whitebeach met with 15 women, mostly at Leprena, over a six-week period. “For a short time we became a small community, mirroring the supportive wider community we all long to inhabit

- in which everyone is valued, respected and cherished - a safe place for all,” Dr Whitebeach writes in the book. Ms Overeem said that what especially resonated from the book was the vulnerability and strength of the women. She said that being in the privileged position of experiencing the women’s stories meant the reader also became a keeper or holder of their stories. “People are invited in,” she said. “It’s about knowing what that means when you hold another’s story.”

UNITING Church members from around Australia will come together in prayerful community at Box Hill Town Hall in July for the 15th Assembly meeting. On Sunday 8 July, members of the 15th Assembly will install Dr Deidre Palmer as President, the second woman to hold that leadership position. Dr Palmer has chosen Abundant Grace Liberating Hope as the theme for the Assembly and the triennium. “As the Uniting Church we have been greatly blessed by the abundant grace of God, calling us into being and shaping our life and mission,” Dr Palmer said. “This theme Abundant Grace, Liberating Hope invites us to reflect God’s generous and overflowing love, in our relationships with one another, in our local community and in the wider world.” Dr Palmer will be installed as President in a service at St Michael’s Collins Street UC on the first night of the Assembly meeting. From Monday 9 July the Assembly’s 265 members, drawn from across the councils of the Church, will decide the Church’s national priorities for the next three years. Together they will consider reports and proposals on a dauntingly diverse set of issues. These range from the Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, to the challenge of domestic and family violence and the continuing conversation on Indigenous sovereignty in light of the Covenant relationship between the UCA and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. There will be a landmark statement encouraging action and advocacy on climate change and a consultation process proposed regarding voluntary assisted dying. Assembly members will

also consider a report and proposals on marriage and same-gender relationships. These big conversations aside, the weeklong meeting is also a festival of all things Uniting Church. Assembly agencies such as UnitingCare Australia, UnitingWorld, Frontier Services and other Assembly groups will have a marketplace of information stalls. There will be two public lectures. The first is hosted by the Uniting Church National History Society on Saturday 7 July from Prof Stewart Gill, Master of Queen’s College, Melbourne on “No Gods and Precious Few Heroes: Why We Need to Remember Our History.” The Cato Lecture, a regular event at every Assembly meeting, will be delivered on Wednesday 11 July by Bishop Ken Carter of the United Methodist Church in the US state of Florida featured on page 9.

Daily Bible studies will have a Pacific flavour led by Rev Dr Sef Carroll of UnitingWorld and Rev James Bhagwan of the Methodist Church in Fiji and will be in line with the focus on climate justice. The worship program is being coordinated by Rev Ian Ferguson of Brunswick Uniting Church. You can follow what’s happening in the lead-up to the Assembly on the website and register for regular updates. The 15th Assembly will attempt to go paperless. All proposals, reports and timetables will be provided to members’ mobile devices on the Crowd Compass app previously used for VicTas Synod meetings. Uniting Church members will also be invited to join in 40 days of prayer before the Assembly meeting from Tuesday 29 May.

Who are members of the Assembly? Representation at Assembly meeting is set out in the UCA Constitution and Regulations. • One minister and one lay member appointed by each Presbytery • Ministers and confirmed lay members appointed by Synods • Ex-officio and other members • Sixteen members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress In Synod and Presbytery representation and overall, the number of lay members shall not be less than the number of ministerial members. One in 10 members must also be of a “youthful age” (under 25 at the beginning of the Assembly). For more information see Section 40 of the UCA Constitution and UCA Regulation 3.3.8


News Second lease of life for Ballarat op shop

Snakes and leaders

A little op shopper

ICE creams, a sausage sizzle and bargains greeted customers at the March Community Day to celebrate the opening of the new Uniting Ballarat op shop. The shop has moved from its previous home near the Ballarat Central Uniting Church to a building in Delacombe, a suburb of Ballarat. It offers easier parking and a bigger purpose-designed interior for stock that includes clothing, toys, books and furniture. For Ballarat Central UC members David Pratt and Albert Peart, who attended the official ribbon-cutting ceremony, the new shop recalls a journey of more than half a century of memories. Both were members of the original Parish Mission committee that first discussed outreach work the church could provide for the local community. “Looking back to the days we used to sell oranges to raise money for our Lifeline services to where we are now, it’s terrific!” Mr Peart said. Mr Pratt and Mr Peart have both served as chair of the Ballarat Lifeline board. Mr Pratt also served as chair of UnitingCare Ballarat from 2008-2010. “The social involvement of the Ballarat church started in the late 1960s, even before the formation of the Uniting Church,” Mr Pratt said. In 1971 the Parish Mission launched

Lifeline Ballarat which to this day continues to provide crisis support and suicide prevention services to the community. “Following this we opened our first Ballarat op shop in 1974,” Mr Pratt added. The newest op shop continues the tradition of serving the local community with proceeds from sales going back into Uniting programs, including BreezeWay Meals Program, Meals for Change and Lifeline Ballarat. While parts of the transition have been challenging, volunteer and ribbon cutter Heather said she is pleased to be involved in the new shop. “It’s meant a change in routine for some of us,” she said. “But at the end of the day it’s great to feel you’re volunteering in an environment that helps supports people. Customers at the Community Day enjoyed the new facilities, saying it was easy to shop with the family because there was something to interest everyone. Local op shopper Mandy was the shop’s first customer and said she liked the addition of the shop to the Delacombe area. “It’s so spacious and well laid out,” she said. “It’s really nice to have a new shop in Delacombe. I love to op shop, and knowing that I’m giving back to the community by doing that, it’s a great feeling.”

EMERGING church leaders got an opportunity to show that they could handle anything by picking up live snakes at a recent training session in the Centre of Theology and Ministry building in Parkville. The snake handling was part of a three-day intensive course in April, which was the introduction to a new 18-month program that aims to develop leadership skills in the Uniting Church. Rev Robin Yang said he and the other course participants from around Australia were challenged by instructor Peter Kaldor to devise a strategy for a group of people to overcome a fear of snakes. “Then he put a twist on it and said ‘you are now going to confront real snakes and you are going to put your strategy into practice’,” Mr Yang said. “So he turned what was theoretical into something that became very real.” Those who wanted to participate walked into a room where a professional handler presented three types of snake and also other reptiles, including a baby crocodile. Mr Yang said the snakes ranged from a small and delicate one to a “very, very big one”. “They called him Darth Vader, because he had a black head,” Mr Yang said. The course participants had varying reactions. “There were some people who went straight up to the snakes, there were other people who just stood around the edges and those who were fearful stood at the door sweating and crying,” Mr Yang said. “What ended up happening is when other members of the group engaged and held the snakes, those who were fearful were able to realise it’s not that bad. “The strength of the exercise was that we chose to do it together and offered care to one another.” Mr Yang said that before the encounter the group had scored themselves on a scale of one to 10 (some chose to go over this), according to the severity of their fear of snakes but for him it wasn’t a big concern. “I have no issue with snakes at all,” he said. “For me to hold a snake was a wonderful experience. At the same time I felt really bad for the people who were terrified. I ended up standing alongside those who were fearful, just to be a presence for them.” Mr Yang said there were wider lessons to be drawn from the experience. “The snakes represent all kinds of problems and fears and challenges that the church and its agencies face,” he said. “As a church it’s not necessarily about solving the problems of how you take away the fear, but how to lessen that and how to work as a team to lessen that.” Mr Kaldor is a NSW-based educator, author and researcher in leadership. He has conducted this type of exercise a number of times to illustrate different aspects of complexity, especially what was happening above and beneath the surface, when facing change.

Some close encounters of the scaly kind

Keeping siblings together


UNITING Vic.Tas will trial a new service to ensure out-of-home care siblings remain together for as long as possible. On average, 25 percent of children who enter into foster care in Victoria are separated from their siblings. The Siblings Support and Placement Service, the first program of its kind in Australia, will help keep siblings together. It will also support siblings who cannot be placed together to maintain contact. Uniting Vic.Tas CEO Paul Linossier said he hopes the pilot program helps create a stable environment for children. “Too many children enter care separated from their siblings and miss out on the important interactions that build relationship and a sense of identity, family

and belonging,” he said. “Siblings have a unique bond that can’t be taken for granted, it has to be nurtured. “This program will allow siblings to spend more time together to strengthen their relationship and support carers to nurture healthy, safe and happy children”. The $1.5 million funding from the Victorian state government allows Uniting Vic.Tas to trial the program across its Victorian services. Uniting will provide training and support to carers, birth families and other professionals. Maree Armitt has been a foster carer with Uniting (and previously Wesley Mission Victoria) for more than a decade. She has four foster children living with her, including a set of siblings.

“There’s nothing worse than being ripped from your own family and to be thrown apart, one this way and one that way. Put siblings together and they thrive a lot better,” she said. “They’ve got their own self-worth, which is what they need to have.” One of the girls in Ms Armitt’s care is currently separated from her two brothers. Ms Armitt hopes they will be reunited. “It’s hard for her because she sees the two sisters that I care for together all the time,” she said. “It would be wonderful to have all three together, to support each other with what they’re going through.”



Vanuatu visitors and a harvest of goodwill DAVID SOUTHWELL

FOR six months of the year Bairnsdale Uniting Church becomes the second spiritual home for a group of men from Vanuatu. The current group will be returning to Vanuatu early this month and for some

it has been their third time working on a 500-acre organic vegetable farm in East Gippsland. From November to May, the men learn skills that can be utilised in their home villages. Ambrose is one of the repeat visitors who said he felt very appreciative of being welcomed into the Bairnsdale congregation. “We are very happy here, we feel at home here,” Ambrose said. Bairnsdale UC member David Husted said that shortly after the first group arrived in 2015 he invited them to the church. “They arrived on the Friday and came to church on the Sunday and we found out that they didn’t have food, so people rallied

Winter study that warms your


around and we put some money in so food could be purchased ,” he said. “We also opened the op shop and said ‘go for your life’. The op shop has been very supportive in providing all the men with clothing.” Ambrose said he was grateful for the congregation’s generosity. “The congregation has looked after us, they are good to us so we want to do something to give back,” he said. Joining the choir has been one way the visiting men have participated in the life of the church. “Their singing has delighted the congregation,” Mr Husted said.

“After some church services many of us meet to enjoy a coffee and a chat at a local bakery. On one occasion our Vanuatuan guests entertained other church members and customers with an inpromptu song session.” Last November seven men from Vanuatu arrived, with one since returning home for family reasons. “It was good to welcome friends back and follow up on what the men needed to make them comfortable,” Mr Husted said. “It was cold so we got extra blankets and they’ll be there each time that people return for another visit from Vanuatu.” Whenever a group returns to Vanuatu the op shop provides some farewell gifts. “Each of the guys goes back with a case full of stuff, such as clothes and toys, and a sewing machine to help the family support themselves,” Mr Husted said. The initiative to bring the Vanuatuan men to Australia came from Uniting Church member Don MacRaild , who has been awarded an Order of Australia for his work with the Vanuatu Prevention of Blindness Project. After researching the rate of diabetes in Vanuatu, Mr MacRaild determined the islanders’ diet was too heavily biased towards white rice. So he organised with a labour hire company for men to work in Australia on temporary work visas where they can learn how to grow potatoes and other vegetables, as well as earn money to invest back in their home communities. Ambrose said that these goals were being achieved. “We have learnt a lot of things here about farming and the machinery,” he said. “We come here to learn more skills and then go back to do projects, farming and start some businesses. Some men can also afford to build more permanent houses.” Mr MacRaild also said he was pleased with the results. “In its best form this is one of the best ways to get aid money into villages,” he said. “Nearly all of the men working here have had as their priority something for their village other than themselves.”

As the cold months approach enjoy new learning at Pilgrim Theological College. Enrol now for three intensive units that deliver topics relevant to the 21st century. 2-6 July ENROLMENT CLOSES 31 MAY Gender, Justice and Empire: Contextual Readings of the Old Testament with Monica Melanchthon Are you interested in the place of Christian women in society? This unit particularly narrates the experience of women through study of the Old Testament and relates this to the experiences and portrayal of contemporary women’s experiences. 20, 27 July; 10, 16, 18 August ENROLMENT CLOSES 29 JUNE The Art and Practice of Oral Storytelling with Julie Perrin and Christina Rowntree Storytelling involves performance, contemplative listening, memory and recollection whether you’re delivering a sermon, talking around the family table or running a meeting or study group. Reignite your passion for telling a story with this fun and stimulating unit. 26-28 July, 3-4 August ENROLMENT CLOSES 29 JUNE Sex and the Bible with Jione Havea Look at how changing notions of sex and sexuality impact the way biblical texts are interpreted. This unit helps support the many discussions currently debated in today’s society and is not to be missed. Visit PILGRIM.EDU.AU or call us on (03) 9340 8800 so we can tailor study that works for you and your lifestyle. 0035

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Across the synod

Look up and see Rev Sani Vaeluaga, minister at Altona Meadows-Laverton and Lara Uniting Churches was inspired to write Look Up and See on Holy Saturday. His poem, published here in English and opposite in Samoan, is based on Mark’s account (Mark 16:1-8) of the resurrection.

Easter moments Easter Crosses

Reflection based on Mark 16:1-8 for Easter Sunday 1st April 2018 Look up and see the dawning of a new day The grave that once held death Now contains new life The grave that once held an ending Now becomes the opening of a new beginning

Scottsdale Uniting Church in north-east Tasmania

Elli Schmiedte’s artwork Rejoice at Richmond Uniting

Yarraville Uniting Church

Shepparton Uniting Church

Williamstown Uniting Church

Port Melbourne Uniting Church

Look up and see a whole new life Unfolding before you God is doing a new thing And it is scary but marvellous to behold Behold, Look up and see The unfolding of a new relationship with God with others and with Christ and give thanks for you are invited to share in it Look up and see Your shattered hopes and dreams Now rekindled with a message to begin again To share the new life with Christ... You came and saw Now go and tell Go and see Beyond your fear and amazement Look up and hear the message for your hopes and prayers That slowly and surely dilutes your grief and anxiety On the road of duty and call of culture Look up and feel the resurrected life That invites you to respond: Christ has been raised… Go and tell the other disciples He is going ahead of you You will see him Just as he told you Look up and see the grace of God – the crucified and risen Christ, who looks with the scars and pain of the First People crying out for justice; he feels the longing of the poor; the refugees and asylum seekers; the marginalised; the lonely and the lost; the oppressed and the excluded. He always looks Before you With you and After you Look up - Then look inward Look up - Then look outward For the crucified and risen Christ Loves you Calls you And looks With grace and faith in you – Look up! 6

A picture perfect Easter EASTER is always a busy period for Beechworth-Stanley Yackandandah Uniting Church in north-eastern Victoria. Chair of the church council Don Pope takes Crosslight readers on a photo tour of the community’s Easter celebrations. “This year we staged a number of activities as individual congregations and in conjunction with the Combined Christians of Beechworth,” he writes.

After our Good Friday service, we have a tradition of carrying a wooden cross from the Uniting Church to the Anglican Church at the other end of Ford Street and then returning it the following year.

We pass throu gh seven stations of the cross along the way . Each year we release a p aper cross suspended on helium balloons. In th e last two years we have used more environ mentally friendly biodeg radable starch, 250-lit re garbage bags.

On Saturday Beechworth hosts the Golden Horse Shoes festival which includes a parade in the early afternoon. For the last few years the combined Christians have released four crosses to start the parade and the announcer makes a statement that this is to represent the true meaning of Easter.


Across the synod WE were blown away by the beautiful, creative ways congregations and individuals celebrated Easter. Check out our gallery of Easter crosses, Rev Sani Vaeluaga’s poem inspired by Easter and the story of how an area of north-eastern Victoria experienced Holy Week.

Va’ai a’e ma iloa atu Solo e Faavae I le Mareko 16:1-8 mo le Eseta 2018

Vaa’i a’e ma iloa atu I le tafa mai o ata o le taeao fou O le tu’ugamau sa iai le oti O lea ua iai le ola fou O le tu’ugamau sa iai le i’uga O lea ua avea ma avanoa o se amataga fou. Va’ai a’e ma iloa atu le ola fou Ua ataata mai i ou luma, O se foafoaga fou ua faia e le Atua E iai le fefe ae faauta i lona matagofie Glen Iris Road Uniting Church

Plenty Valley Uniting Church Good Friday candles

Chadstone Uniting Church

Va’ai a’e ma iloa atu Ou fa’amoemoega ma miti ua le taulau Lea ua toe fuataina mai i le fea’u ma le valaa’u ‘ia toe amata’ Ia Molimau I le ola fou fa’atasi ma Keriso… Ua e sau ma ua e va’ai Alu la ia e molimau atu Alu e va’ai I tala atu o lou fefe ma lou ofo

Wallan Uniting Church

Mt Martha Uniting Church held an Easter dawn service with the Anglican church

ran a rday our church On Easter Satu s for that raised fund stall at the gate imor r a student in T a scholarship fo yed $2100 and enjo Leste. We raised the day.

After the stall we have a tradition of dressing the gate and doorway in foliage and flowers.


Fa’auta, Va’ai a’e ma iloa atu Le matala mai o se faia fou ma le Atua ma isi tagata faapea Keriso ma ia fa’afetai aua ua valaa’ulia oe e te au ai

Altona Meadows/Laverton Uniting Church

Dawn on Easter Sunday finds the Combined Christians on the Gorge Road rock overlooking Beechworth for a brief service

We then finish the Easter period with a 9:30am service

Va’ai a’e ma fa’alogo atu i le feau mo ou fa’amoemoega ma tatalo Na te liua lemu lou loto fa’anoanoa ma le le mautonu I le auala o tiute masani ma le vala’au a tu ma aganu’u ua ola ai Va’ai a’e ma pa’i atu i le ola ua au maia e le toe tu O lo’o valaulia oe e te tali atu iai: Ua fa’atuina Keriso Alu la ia e molimau atu i isi o le a’uso’o O lo’o muamua atu o Ia ia te outou E tou te iloa fo’i o Ia E pea ona Ia folafola atu ia te outou. Va’ai a’e ma iloa atu le alofa tunoa o le Atua – le Keriso toe tu manumalo, O lo’o va’ai atu ma manu’a ma tiga o ulua’i tagata o Ausetalia o loo fetagisi mo le fa’amasinoga tonu; o lo’o ia lagona manaoga o e matitiva; o le a’u sulufa’i ma e ua fa’atafea; o e ua agaleagaina; nofo to’atasi; o e ua leiloa; o e o pologa ma ua tagataesea. E silasila pea o Ia I aso ua mavae ao lei iai oe I le taimi nei faatasi ma oe I le lumana’i pe a mavae atu oe Va’ai a’e – ona va’ai ifo lea oe ia te oe Va’ai a’e – ona va’ai atu lea i isi tagata faapea le foafoaga Aua o le Keriso toe tu manumalo E alofa ia te oe O loo valaau ia te oe Ma sisila mai ona fofoga ia te oe Ma le alofa tunoa ma le fa’atuatua ia te oe Va’ai a’e!


People Minister with a score to settle

Strengthening safety zones

Paul Bauer (R) greets players

WHILE footy umpires can be targets of criticism and abuse on any given Saturday, it’s the potential feedback he might get on a Sunday that concerns Leongatha Uniting Church minister Rev Paul Bauer. Paul has picked up the flags again this season to be a goal umpire, something he has done for 25 year with various leagues, both metropolitan and bush – roughly the same time he has been in training or placement as a minister. He started out as a boundary umpire but soon decided that being behind the posts was his calling. “I thought my real niche was as goal umpire because I like the quick sprints to get under the flight of the ball,” he said. While it might seem a relatively straightforward job to judge whether the ball has gone through for a goal or a point, Paul said those who try it, including field umpires, soon discover otherwise. “Everyone says ‘it’s harder than you think’,” he said. Some of the most difficult aspects are judging whether a ball off the boot has been touched by another player, or whether the trajectory of a high kick that goes over the posts makes it a goal or not. Paul nominates the 2016 Gippsland league grand final as a game where he particularly felt the pressure of umpiring because it featured the hometown Leongatha side. “I was having nightmares that I was going to cost them the grand final and get run out of town. Thankfully it was all straightforward,” he said. A good day of umpiring means Paul won’t get noticed much at all but it doesn’t always

work out like that. “You get a bit of fun from the crowd. I remember a game in Glenorchy, Tasmania, when I got glared at by the players and crowd for calling a goal that they thought wasn’t one,” he said. “So five minutes later when one goes blatantly through for a point they say ‘That’s close enough for you to give it a goal, isn’t it ump?’ “You get a lot of funny comments but I’ve never had anything where I felt like I cost a team a game.” Paul, who coaches other umpires, said his years of officiating have taught him some valuable life lessons. “Whether you’ve made the right decision or wrong decision, you’ve got to stick by it and move on – you can’t dwell,” he said. “Also teamwork. People just watching a game and not knowing anything about it wouldn’t know how all the umpires, myself and the other goal umpire, how all of us are working as a team. How we are trying to help each other out.” Paul said even though he was sometimes the target of players expressing their frustration, there were other situations he dreaded more. “Sometimes you know players are just venting, they’ll tell you to f---off or they’ll flare up and yell at you that you’ve made a stuff-up,” he said. “But after a sermon I could get an 80-yearold woman saying ‘Gee I didn’t get much out of that today’. “That would probably hurt me worse, that’s harsher than a 25-year-old swearing at me.”

PRESBYTERY child safe project officer Anne Kim says that even though she has the daunting task of liaising with 130 congregations there is plenty to encourage her. Since late 2016 Ms Kim has been busy making sure synod’s Keeping Children Safe policy and practices are understood and operating effectively in the churches that form the Port Phillip East and Yarra Yarra presbyteries. “I think that compared to last year most of the congregations are really aware of the importance of the policy,” Anne said. “Congregations have become more active than before, so I am really glad. “Last year the temperature was quite cold because some churches thought ‘why do we have to do this? We don’t have any children in our congregation’. “I hassled people a lot last year, but I hope they felt I did it for the right reasons. “Now a lot has changed and congregations are really supportive and helpful. They try to comply with the policy as much as they can, it’s really good.” Anne attributes much of the change to a general increase in awareness about the importance of protecting children from abuse. “Society is actually talking about this,” she said. “If you go onto the synod website or presbytery websites, or read Crosslight, people learn about the commitment to care for children. “Everyone is now more aware that the whole society, the whole community is talking about children’s safety. We can’t just ignore it because we don’t have children.” In the presbyteries Anne covers, there are four Korean congregations, some with large numbers of children. “Some couldn’t clearly read all the documents as they were written in English,” Anne said. “I translated some documents into Korean because my background is Korean so that actually helps a lot.” The cultural background of some CALD communities can mean more conversations are required, particularly if people have been raised in a more hierarchical society. Anne said that it is vital in those circumstances to get the church leadership on board. “When the leadership actually realise the reality and importance of the policy and society’s movement in relation to children’s safety, it’s much easier for the whole congregation to come to understand that as well,” she said. Anne said she recognised that for some churches, especially ones with smaller congregations, a problem in complying with Keeping Children Safe requirements was lack of human resources. Despite only being part-time Anne does all she can to support such congregations and spreads out her two days of work over the entire week. “I try to work nearly every day because I don’t want congregations to wait a long time until they hear from me,” Anne said. “Whenever they email me or contact me I try to answer straight away.”

To find out more about the child safe project officers working in presbyteries or to access Keeping Children Safe information and resources, visit Anne Kim

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

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

The Thinking Person’s Church 8


Opinion Ending the cycle of violence KENNETH H CARTER JR ON 14 February, 17 people were killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many learned of the news as they were preparing to attend Ash Wednesday services, which mark the beginning of the season of Lent. As we learned of the deaths of students, teachers and staff the murders penetrated the consciousness of our nation. Not so long ago we had similarly learned of shootings at a Baptist church in Texas, a country music concert in Las Vegas and earlier at a nightclub in Orlando and an elementary school in Connecticut. We were again in the tragic cycle of grieving and mourning, questioning and reflecting. United Methodists attend and teach at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and our churches are adjacent to it. How could we respond? The repetitive cycle of mass shootings in public places had recently elicited responses that our “thoughts and prayers” were with the victims. And yet the repetitive nature of the trauma had begun to render this assurance, even if wellintentioned, as hollow. This made me think of one of my favourite chapters in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 13, and a verse in that letter: “I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal…” Some of you will recognise these words from Scripture and the continuing refrain, “but do not have love…” It occurs to me that the critique of the language of “thoughts and prayers” is precisely the insight of the Apostle Paul. Thinking is one of God’s great gifts to humanity. To think about someone is to allow them to enter one’s mind. Prayer is one of God’s great gifts to a Christian. To pray is to open our lives to the indwelling holiness of God. The critique of “thoughts and prayers” is the perception that thinking and praying can be an avoidance of the response God is actually calling us to make. We were called

to something more. Again, it was there in the Scripture: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” How, I wondered, could we love the students of Parkland, and the one who murdered them, and the survivors around them? My thoughts and prayers, in the present moment, were compromised if they could not be integrated with a love that hoped and endured. In other words, what did it mean to love our neighbours? The horrors of Parkland convinced me that we needed to move beyond thoughts and prayers. So we asked the people of the Florida Conference to supplement thoughts and prayers with two specific acts. First, we read the names of the deceased in the Sunday morning worship services following Ash Wednesday. Lighted candles were set upon altars in memory of these lives and symbolic of the coming of Jesus Christ into our darkness. Second, we wrote 5000 letters to our political representatives, at every level, appealing to them to act in such a way that our children and grandchildren would know a safer future. We wrote as United Methodists, in the name of Jesus, and not as members of political parties. We wrote because we had heard the voices of Parkland and Orlando, Las Vegas and Sutherland and Newtown. We knew that God loved this world. We loved the world that God created. And we wanted our love to be more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. We linked this appeal to the United Methodist Church’s resolution on Gun Violence and documented them on the website. We were seeking to build a non-partisan movement that would change our laws. Not one that repealed our constitutional amendments, but a law that would abolish assault weapons, a law that would protect our children and grandchildren, and a law

Kenneth H Carter Jr, Cato Lecture presenter at the 15th Assembly

that would make it as difficult to purchase a gun as it is to buy an automobile or a medication, or to rent an apartment. One month later, approximately 5300 letters have been documented and mailed to political leaders. In this time, we have witnessed the moral clarity and courage of the students of Parkland High School. And laws in Florida related to gun safety have begun to change. In Lent, we have grieved. In Lent, we have taken steps toward our own healing, and the healing of others. And in these 40 days we have joined our thoughts and prayers with an advocacy grounded in a love that is more than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Bishop Kenneth H Carter Jr is Resident Bishop of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Carter will deliver the Cato Lecture as part of the 15th Assembly at Box Hill Town Hall on Wednesday 11 July 2018. Reservations are open via (search Cato).



People Discipleship and the cost of peace BARRY GITTINS Retired English vicar, author, photographer and director of registered charity Peacemaker Trust, Rev Dr Stephen Sizer is an affable, peaceful man with a gentle handshake and a ready smile. He is also a man resigned to the fact that his declared mission of bringing about a just peace in the Middle East angers some people. Crosslight caught up with Stephen while he was lecturing in Australia as part of a wide-ranging world trip that’s included the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Middle East, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Hong Kong and Singapore. Detractors brand Stephen as anti-Semitic, and accuse him of having engaged with Holocaust deniers and anti-Zionist conspiracy theorists. Stephen’s initial response is that he is a follower of Jesus “who was a Jew, who taught us to repudiate racism. Both Jews and Arabs are semitic peoples”. “I look at this through the lens of human beings,” he says. “Human rights should be seen as impartial, which is why I defend the rights of Palestinians to a state and a homeland, to

security and freedom from fear ... as much as Israelis; either in one state as equal citizens, or as people in two states. “Israel is currently practising a form of apartheid, and ethnic cleansing.” Stephen said he isn’t surprised by the reaction to his form of discipleship. “I have had death threats … if you follow Jesus, you have a death sentence,” Stephen said with a smile. “There should be a health warning on every Bible – obeying the word of God may seriously shorten your life.” “Jesus didn’t say, ‘If you get persecuted’; he said, ‘When you get persecuted, because of me... rejoice and be glad.” It is in encouraging this dialogue and forging a just resolution that Stephen sees a role for himself. “Jesus was criticised for eating with tax collectors and sinners,” he said. “I was criticised for going to Iran and sharing the good news of Jesus. “Right across the Middle East, Muslims equate Christianity with US foreign policy. It’s destroying the church in the Middle East. “We go in and say, ‘No, Jesus would not drop bombs, therefore Christians should not drop bombs’. Following Christ means repudiating the use of violence.” Stephen is committed to pleading the cause of peace even in the midst of potentially dangerous situations. He sees an historical precedent in St Francis. In 1219 AD, during the fifth crusade, St Francis travelled at considerable risk to meet

Stephen Sizer

with the Sultan of Egypt, Malik al Kamil, to plead for peace (the 800th anniversary of the crusade occurs next year). That took courage, or holy foolishness. Stephen can relate. “I was in southern Lebanon, and I met a leader of Hezbollah,” Stephen said. “He asked, ‘Stephen, what would you advise?’ “I said, ‘Release the Israeli captives. Let them go. Don’t trade them like animals. You worship a compassionate and merciful God – show compassion and mercy’. “I hope some of my Israeli friends will realise that I advocate for Israel in ways that are consistent with the Christian gospel, not for political reasons.” Synod of Victoria and Tasmania senior social justice advocate Dr Mark Zirnsak agrees with

Stephen that Middle East combatants need to see the futility of violence. “The church’s focus is to seek for both sides to respect basic human rights,” Dr Zirnsak said. “A lasting peace will only come about if there is action from both sides. “There is no military solution to this conflict. Our contribution is to try to reason with both sides; they need to abide by human rights standards and the laws of armed conflict.” In considering the likelihood of a peaceful soloution, Stephen believes some recent moves by the Trump Administration are not helping. “If the US does move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which looks inevitable, it’s the end of the two-state solution.”

Mountview Church Mitcham Celebrates 50 years of the uniting of Methodist and Presbyterian congregations in a new suite of buildings. That same week the MAROONDAH SINGERS was formed and took up residence. The worship service on 20 May at 9:30am will celebrate this in song. We would love to have former choir and congregation members join us.

More information from John Williams on P: (03) 9874 3957. Mountview Uniting Church Mitcham, cnr Maroondah Highway & Doncaster East Rd, Mitcham.



Profile Degree of reckoning JULIE PERRIN

Picture credit: Bassem Morgan

Picture credit: Meg Nelson


A SMALL piece of history was made in March when Julia Baird stood in front of 300 graduands and received the highest academic honour the University of Divinity bestows, the Doctor of Divinity. Julia Baird is a journalist, historian and broadcaster. She is known for her work as an ABC presenter of The Drum, and as the author of a recent biography of Queen Victoria. Julia with her colleague Hayley Gleeson has addressed an issue largely ignored and unstudied in Australia – domestic violence in faith communities. University of Divinity Vice Chancellor, Dr Peter Sherlock, described Dr Baird’s journalism in the area of religion as courageous. “Her commitment to truth, justice and the eradication of violence is evident in community and media panels alongside survivors and church leaders.” Julia and Ms Gleeson interviewed hundreds of survivors, social workers, counsellors, clergy, theologians and social workers. Despite hearing numerous stories of suffering, fear and shame and of leaders who failed to understand, Julia told Crosslight that churches remained an important place for healing. “The best thing churches can do now is listen to the survivors, educate their leaders and preach against violence with unequivocal force,” she said. “Being prepared to examine any behaviour that might lead to women being unheard, ignored or disbelieved is vital because women need a voice!” Having a voice was not something Julia fully understood when she sat in the pews of her Sydney Anglican church as a child, because she was repeatedly told that she was and would always be subordinate to men. “I did not know enough about the world and about violence to understand that men who beat their wives – or abuse, control

and sexually assault them, would draw on and twist these scriptures,” Julia said. Though the research consistently produced results that were disturbing, Julia said there were also incredible stories of love and support from local communities. “You know, sometimes change happens one box, one bag of groceries, one phone call, one heart at a time,” she said. “I heard stories of clergy who accompanied women to the Archbishop to ask for a hearing, who helped move house, shifting boxes and cooking meals, and who just listened and believed what they were told,” she said. “Reorienting a community to be vigilant for signs of danger or abuse, or even just isolation post separation, can make an enormous difference to many lives.” A remarkable feature of the interviews that Julia and Ms Gleeson conducted was that women continued to talk of faith giving them enormous strength. Many women have found new churches, new friendship and places where they can “unspool, unravel and breathe before beginning again.” “Women have spoken of being sustained privately, of knowing abuse is hateful to God, of a constant yearning for peace and community along with safety,” Julia said. “It can take a long time, but study after study, and my own research, has repeatedly shown that faith sustains survivors. This gives the church an even greater responsibility to provide shelter and rest for them.” So how does Julia Baird deal with her own public profi le as a Christian? “To be honest I rarely talk about my own faith as I get attacked from all sides on a personal level,” she said. “But the irony of walking out of a beautiful service in a little church on the South Coast on Easter Sunday to a torrent of messages from trolls accusing me of attacking Christianity has not escaped me!”

Dr Graeme L Blackburn presents Julia Baird with the Doctor of Divinity

Dr Julia Baird gives the graduation address


Youth leaders

Meg Ryan (far right)

Leading the way MEG RYAN In late April, a group of young adults gathered for the Somers Youth Leadership Conference. The conference equipped young people with leadership skills in preparation for the annual Somers Camp in July. Frankston Uniting Church member Meg Ryan shares her reflections from the weekend.

Team communication exercise – building a mini golf course hole.

LAST month’s Somers Youth Leadership Conference had a great impact on me. I will take on a couple of new roles at Somers Camp this July and I feel as though the Leadership Conference gave me some of the stepping stones that will help me contribute my fullest. These roles will undoubtedly come with challenges, but with this training I feel more confident taking on these new responsibilities. One of the new roles I am looking forward to is being one of the Slushie camp leaders. Most of our campers are from Years Three to Nine while Slushies are Year Ten students who spend their week transitioning from camper to leader. They do a variety of different behind-thescenes tasks and activities that help keep the camp running. The Slushies are led by two young adults who have been Somers leaders for more than five years. This year I will be one of them and I can’t wait to work alongside these wonderful students and my fellow Slushie leader. I have been a Somers Camp leader for a number of years now, so I have seen how the Leadership Conference has evolved and improved by leaps and bounds. It used to be incredibly camp-oriented and had gotten a little complacent with what it provided for leaders. This year, we spent Friday night focusing on the expectations of the conference and getting to know each other. Saturday was dedicated to developing leadership skills and learning about

different aspects of working with children. We had sessions on bullying, working with children with behaviourial difficulties, and figuring out our leadership identities. Sunday was a Somers Camp focused day. We looked at the different aspects of camp, such as creating a safe Somers, discussions between senior and junior leaders and time for mentors to share their experiences. I think the conference has definitely benefitted from having a team of new leaders. With the revamp, the new conference can be easily adjusted to include a variety of people from different age groups and background. There were so many highlights from this year’s Somers Leadership Conference. In fact there was such a vast range that I don’t quite know where to begin the list. I loved how some of the retired Somers leaders came back for the training weekend. They gave us talks that were relevant not only to camp, but also things they had experience in. I also loved how quickly our first year leaders, especially those who have never been to a Leadership Conference before, were instantly welcomed into the Somers family. I loved having an opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge for something I love, with a group of people that I love like family.

Moderator Sharon Hollis with Lachy Gregory, co-ordinator of the Somers Leadership Conference

The Somers team would like to thank Richmond Uniting Church and Rev Sally Douglas for the financial support to run this leadership conference in 2017 and 2018. Ella McShortall, Rose Siracusa and Ella Guiney



Family Ann and Lyn’s legacy DAVID SOUTHWELL

LAST year was a very difficult one for Rita Hastilow and Broadford Uniting Church but out of immense loss has emerged the unexpected blessing of a thriving children’s ministry. In February 2017 Rita’s beloved aunt, Ann Blackwell, succumbed to cancer only a matter of months after she was diagnosed. Then in November Rita’s mother also died from cancer following a long battle. “Mum kept her illness largely private,” Rita said. “The loss of two close relatives in one year was really traumatic for us as a family.” It was also devastating for Broadford Uniting Church in central Victoria. With no members under the age of 60 and drawing a congregation of only three people on some Sundays, the struggling church had to cope with the loss of two of its most devoted and pivotal members. “Both Mum and my aunt had really poured their heart and soul into keeping the little church going,” Rita said. “I felt really sad we weren’t going to have a connection with the church anymore after all the hard work that Mum and Annie had put in.” However, during the time of grieving Rita began discovering a deeper sense of faith. “I think for 40 years I took an upbringing with faith for granted,” Rita said. “I definitely wasn’t a regular churchgoer when Mum was still here. I wasn’t someone who prioritised God in my life.” So Rita made a decision. “I spoke to some of my cousins. We had all been Sunday school kids under my mum, so we decided that we would love to help out the church by having a go at starting a Sunday school,” she said. “It just kinda grew from there.” Now every fortnight at Broadford Uniting


Church a recording of Standing on the Promise of God by Alan Jackson sounds at the start of the service to signal that Sunday school will be in session. Typically about 12 Sunday school members, ranging in age from two to 10, sit in the church for the first part of the service to hear a children’s story and take part in singing. The children have also taught songs to elderly members of the congregation, such as sisters Nola and June who are both in their 90s. “Nola and June light up having the little kids present in the church; it’s just the most heart-warming thing,” Rita said. “The joy it brings to the congregation is worth every single minute of planning and time we put in.” After the children go to their dedicated Sunday school area Rita conducts the sessions along with her cousin Heidi Hinchcliffe and their respective teenage daughters, Lily and Breanna. “I just love children, it’s one thing I inherited off my mum – she looked after kids her whole life,” Rita said. Rita, who spent 12 years writing behavioural plans for primary school aged children, prepares the lessons with Heidi in consultation with the church elders. “Our focus is including those really good

Heidi Hinchcliffe and Rita Hastilow

solid morals along with the Sunday school program,” Rita said. “We have an emphasis on kindness, on empathy and learning our manners.” An example of how the Sunday school encourages this is by having a wall where children are encouraged to write or draw on Post-it notes, stories that show them or others being kind. In their small country town, word about the Sunday school, which now has a full

enrolment of 18 children, has got out. Parents who haven’t had a church connection or don’t want one for themselves have begun bringing their children. “It’s not about us dragging kids in kicking and screaming, that’s not what it’s about,” Rita said. “It’s about when I got approached by a mum down the street last week and she said ‘my daughters would really enjoy that’. “We’re just keeping the door open and praying that the word spreads, so anyone who needs or wants to be there can find their way.” Broadford Uniting Church chairperson and secretary Annette Zolnierczyk said the Sunday school heralded a “new lease of life” for the congregation. “It is a great feeling to have the sound of children back in the church, and we thank Rita and the girls for their enthusiasm, skills and commitment,” Annette said. Rita said the Sunday school has been important to her family. “There’s a connection to Mum for my daughter Lily and me to share in our grieving process,” Rita said. “I’m so grateful they’ve allowed us to implement this at the church because it’s therapeutic for everyone involved. “I feel Sunday school has risen out of all that tragedy. Every time I look at a photo of our Sunday school kids, it is connected to the loss of Mum and Annie in a way that warms our family’s heart. “I know that they are looking down on us and I know the joy that it’s bringing them.”




s, James, Andrew, Denni Elaine Flahive

JAMES Flahive’s baptism in East Gippsland’s Johnsonville Uniting Church was very much a homecoming for his father Andrew, who grew up attending the small church and married James’ mother Elaine there eight years previously. “During the service I was reflecting on other events held at the church like our wedding,” Andrew said. “Even seeing some of the artwork on the walls of the church that my sister and I did 30 years ago brought back memories.” While Andrew’s parents Peter and Wendy still attend Johnsonville, Andrew and Elaine live in Queanbeyan just outside Canberra. They normally attend the Uniting Church there, where their first son Dennis was baptised. However, last Christmas the extended family, including Andrew’s sister who lives overseas, gathered in Johnsonville and Andrew and Elaine decided it was the opportune time to baptise James. The family only met with Rev Kharis Susilowati to discuss baptism a bit over a week before the service. “Perhaps the baptism preparation was a little rushed but we’d definitely been thinking about it for some time,” Andrew said. ‘We were patient and God presented the perfect opportunity for us. It would have also been nice to have the baptism in Queanbeyan but I’m glad we were able to share it with our extended family in Johnsonville.” Andrew also decided to hold the baptism at Johnsonville to support the church, which has not seen such a service for many years and normally hosts only a small contingent of regular attendees. “I guess there was a feeling of cautious awareness of the fragile membership of the Johnsonville Church,” Andrew said. “Could this be the last ‘major’ event at the church as there are only a few people who live more than 20km away keeping the church viable?” In the Christian tradition, baptism is a powerful signifier of new life and the promises of God for both adults coming new to the faith and infants. For the Banyule Network of Uniting Churches in Melbourne’s north-east, baptisms are becoming a regular feature of the new expression of worship known as Messy Church. “Messy Church is church, so it has communion and baptism just like any other church,” Banyule Network minister Rev Sandy Brodine said. Five baptisms have taken place during three years of Banyule monthly Messy Church meetings and other participant families have conducted baptisms during regular Sunday services. Sandy said in keeping with the family orientation of Messy Church she makes sure all ages are engaged with baptism. “I always make sure the kids know what is going on,” she said. “There’s a thing called Godly Play and there’s a Godly Play baptism story that explains what’s happening.When we do baptism we have the kids sitting on the floor at the front, straight after they’ve been through the story of baptism so they understand what it is. “We might also blow bubbles as we walk around the congregation as a sign of the Holy Spirit. Or children might do a dance.” Sandy said that for family members attending for baptism who are only familiar with the 14

traditional forms of worship this can be a revelation. “They come and they really enjoy it. They’re often astonished that they have had such a wonderful time,” Sandy said. “I had one particular grandfather who had been alienated from the Catholic church as a younger man and he came up to me at the end of the service in tears. “He said ‘I never expected being able to see my grandchildren enjoying church and growing up as part of a church community and it’s just so wonderful to see them running around and enjoying it, being engaged in it’.” Sandy said the communal aspect of baptism was vital. “The most important thing for me about a Messy Church baptism is that the child is being baptised into a community where they will grow up and be nurtured in the faith,” she said. “They’re not just having their kid done as something that grandma thinks is a good idea. It’s very different to that. “For me it’s really important that the family wants something to do with the life of faith – because they’ve got to make promises – and we make promises too as a community that we are going to help this child be nurtured in the faith. “The nice thing I can say is that with every child I have baptised since I’ve been in the Banyule Network I still have a relationship with the family.” Sandy said that even if Messy Church is a non-traditional way of worship, baptism is treated with due reverence and the liturgy is a standard one contained in Uniting in Worship 2. “The words I say at Messy Church baptism are exactly the same as the words I would say on Sunday morning. I don’t simplify that,” she said. Rev Peter Gador Whyte, who is part of an Assembly working group on worship, said he believed it is essential to ground baptism, which along with communion is a sacrament of the Uniting Church, in this deeper theological understanding. “Baptism is seen to be the way we enter into the life of the church,” he said. “There are a lot of people in the church who don’t understand baptism; it’s just a rite that we do.” Peter said he believed that baptism had to some extent fallen victim to trends of theological thought. “In the 1950s and 60s there was what is called the ‘God is Dead’ period in theology. I think it was a very arid period of liberal theology,” he said. “That stream of theology is not really into sacraments, it tries to demythologise everything. “What has happened for some people who got into that is they realised it was dead end and they became neo-orthodox, almost went the other way. “So, I think, there is a real need for people to recover a depth of what baptism is all about. CROSSLIGHT - MAY 18


“To have the baptisms uplifted the energy of the whole congregation; we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.” – Rev Jay Robinson

If we do that we’d be a stronger church.” Peter said that in early church times preparation for baptism was extensive and essential, especially when there was fear of persecution. During what was then the eight weeks of Lent, baptismal candidates prepared for at least two hours a day with Bible study in the morning and an evening spent with the bishop learning the creed and prayers. “We really need to prepare people well so they can enter more fully into the life of the church,” Peter said. “It’s what some people call getting onto the veranda of the church.” Peter, who is minister at St John’s Essendon Uniting Church, recounts the story of a woman who asked him if she could get baptised on a Sunday afternoon when no would be around. He asked if she would undergo what he calls a process of preparation. “I’ve run it with several people now and it’s where the whole congregation is involved,” he said. “Every time I’ve done it people have said ‘Wow, gee if we did that more often the church would really come alive’.” Peter invited the woman to make a covenant to attend church and grow her faith alongside a mentor, one of the church elders. The congregation made a covenant to pray for her and they did so when she came forward during subsequent Sunday services. The woman was also presented with gifts. “One Sunday it was a hymn book because that is part of the treasury of the church, another Sunday we gave her a creed, again one of the treasures of the church, then the Lord’s Prayer and so on,” Peter said. Peter also arranged weekly one-hour meetings with the woman and her mentor for Bible study and other teachings. Sometimes those sessions stretched to two and a half hours. Peter eventually talked to the woman again about baptism. She replied that “when I get baptised I want to invite the whole church and have a party”. Peter says it is also important to equip parents with an understanding of baptism. The 2005 UCA Assembly paper How do we understand Baptism? asks what should be done about babies who are baptised and then never seen at church again. The paper suggests that problems arise when parents say that they intend to work with the congregation in nurturing the child in the faith and then fail to do so. Peter said this makes it difficult or impossible for congregations to fulfil their responsibility. “This is a genuine pastoral issue, which many ministers and church councils continue to wrestle,” he said. While in the UK, Peter saw some innovative approaches to preparing families for baptism. He recommended the book We Welcome You: Baptism Preparation with Families by Jacqui Hyde. “I think it’s a really excellent resource for the church,” he said. Later this year Peter will be teaching a course in Parkville on the Starting Rite program developed by Jenny Paddison. Peter said Starting Rite was similar to a playgroup for parents and babies but with the MAY 18 - CROSSLIGHT

aim of nurturing the Christian message in a multi-sensory fashion, often on the floor and with songs. “It’s become quite a big thing in the UK. It’s been very effective in getting people to that point of wonder and mystery at the birth of their child and saying ‘here’s a wonderful opportunity for you to grow in your faith and teach your child about the faith,” Peter said. “It’s very gentle but it’s also giving young parents some clear teaching about God, the mystery of God.” While the program does not necessarily lead to baptism, it can be used as preparation. Murrumbeena Uniting Church minister Jay Robinson faced something of a challenge when she was asked to baptise a mother from India and her young daughter. “The mother wanted to be fully immersed because it was very culturally connected with what they do in India,” Ms Robinson said. The problem was that the church in Melbourne’s south-east did not have a font for full immersion. However, a solution was found in the shape of a portable pool from Clark Rubber. The pool was set up in the church and filled almost to brim with a hose on Saturday. “On Sunday morning I made sure it was topped up with every ounce of hot water it could take,” Jay said. “Having conducted baptisms in Western Port bay I know how chilly it can be.” As is traditionally fitting, the baptisms took place on Easter Sunday at the end of what Jay called a “very blessed Holy Week”. “It was a wonderful vibe to baptise the mother and her infant daughter,” she said. “To have the baptisms uplifted the energy of the whole congregation; we felt the presence of the Holy Spirit.”

Easter baptism at Murrumbena Uniting Church 15

Letters Too big a gamble RECENTLY some AFL football clubs announced they were reconsidering their acceptance of income from pokies. Perhaps our church could do the same. The Community Support Fund (CSF) was established to distribute part of the Victorian government’s gaming revenue ‘to projects that benefit communities’. From 2015-17, Uniting (Care) agencies received over $5.7m from the CSF for the provision of alcohol and other drug-related services! The value of these services is not questioned. However, there is an ethical question about their source of funding. Our synod, particularly through the former JIM unit, has advocated consistently for harm reduction from gambling, and is to be commended for doing so. However, the credibility of such advocacy is compromised when the service arm of the same church accepts money derived wholly, and explicitly, from gambling. At present such agencies are adhering to a 2005 Synod resolution. The time has come for us to revisit that resolution - to set a date from which the Uniting Church, and its agencies (and schools) no longer accept funds from the CSF. The 2005 Synod resolution may need to be rescinded and replaced. This would need to be managed carefully, so that, if possible, the continuation of the relevant services could be negotiated. At the same time, our church ought to advocate for meaningful

tax reform, so that services for the common good are appropriately resourced from the common purse. I believe others agree that our church could do more to challenge the destructive social impact of gambling. If there is someone who is likely to be attending the 2019 Synod, and who would be willing to collaborate on an alternative Synod resolution, please contact me within the next couple of weeks on Looking on the bright side, we do have time. Yours in Christ, Max Wright Parkdale, VIC

Called to sacrifice I GO along with the letter in the February Crosslight by Alan Ray, “Property and Progress”, and have ordered Rev Dr Michael Owen’s book Property and Progress of a Pilgrim People. I feel he may clarify my thoughts. It seems that after many years of good pastoral care and oversight, good programs, activities, meeting after meeting, paperwork etc, there is no continuing growth, where people have a personal relationship with Jesus. New folk are not coming, even from other churches, and questions are being asked. We seem to be busy with meetings,

paperwork, executive moves programs etc and forget Who and What it is about ( John 11.25-26 Col 2.9), a personal relationship with an eternal consequence. Money and managerialism are not the answer. This is my suggestion… let’s forget about the continuation of struggling parishes. We don’t have to have a nervous breakdown if a church closes. Instead let’s do the social gospel that the Uniting Church boasts of. Just think what thousands of dollars could do in dirt-poor Nicaragua (Bible Society project). We have this treasure, (John11 25.26, Col 2.9) and we can sacrifice the continuance of our loved denominational church, and help with thousands of dollars towards great causes. Instead of meetings, why not talk about how our money can help those without homes in Launceston? I personally would not feel overstressed to fit into another fellowship (if my own church closed), so some folk in Africa or Nicaragua could have more help and care. One may have to give up what may feel comfortable over many years, but maybe it’s an answer to sacrifice our comfort. Jane Harris South Launceston, TAS

Not a joke GENERALLY I enjoy the ABC comedy show Mad as Hell. But it occasionally uses blasphemy such as on 7 March and 11 April this year. If Mad as Hell or any comedy show or act cut out blaspheming, such as using Jesus Christ as a swear word, it would be just as funny but not offend Christians. Blaspheming in this or any show helps make this seem more acceptable in daily discourse. This contributes to developing a less sensitive society, which does not respect all people. I’ve complained (politely) to the ABC several times but they responded saying this was considered acceptable public behaviour. I’ve written to The Age saying that blasphemous language offending any faith should not be used, but they haven’t considered it important enough to publish. However, if many people such as readers of this newspaper wrote to the ABC and newspapers saying that they found blasphemy offensive it might make an impact. Marguerite Marshall Eltham, VIC

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 Quiet Places Show me the quiet places Lord, Where I can find your peace. Take me beyond the noisiness of life's relentless beat. Take me as only you can do, to places in my heart. Where inner peace and gratitude, draws me into your light. Take me away from those that live in muddy lifeless haze. Their lives devoid of brightness, Your love beyond their gaze.

Pic credit: Margaret Gambold

Please let me walk with you Lord through this confusing way, Your hand to guide and teach me. In peace preserve my day. WORDS AND ART BY MARGARET GAMBOLD



Every person has a story to tell 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 in the form of poems, threaded tweets, comics, creative writing or images of artwork such as kids’ drawings, culinary

art, graphic design, photography, digital illustration, sculptures, pottery, paintings and sketches. If English isn’t your first language, or you are unsure of how to start, please contact us at Crosslight for a chat. In this issue, Annette Spurr tells how she learnt to give thanks in the darkest moments. Margaret Gambold shares a poem and painting.

Give thanks… in everything? ANNETTE SPURR

Annette and Jack

GIVE thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 8:13). Everything? Even the bad things? That seems completely unrealistic and unfair. Anyway, that’s what I thought, until a near tragedy changed everything. It started out like most nights at our place, frantically getting dinner ready in our upstairs kitchen while my boys played noisily around my feet. Phil had just stepped onto the veranda to light the barbeque when we heard an almighty thud! “What on Earth was that?” I thought. Phil looked at me through the outside door and the horror in his eyes made my heart sink. He raced back inside. Jack (two days shy of his first birthday) had found a small gap in the staircase handrail and plunged head first, two and a half metres to the wooden floor below. I froze. “There’s no way he survived that,” I whispered, picturing his limp, lifeless body on the floor below. A myriad of unspeakable thoughts went through my mind. Then, miraculously, out of the darkness… a cry. Phil flew down the stairs and picked up our baby boy. “He’s alive!” I was already on the mobile, calling an ambulance. Jack’s forehead had doubled in size and was distinctly purple. The operator finally made sense of my hysteria and an ambulance was on its way. When the ambulance arrived, Phil placed Jack, still screaming, into my arms. Phil then held Jack’s older brother Tyson MAY 18 - CROSSLIGHT

(poor, confused Tyson) by the hand. As we ran to meet the ambulance our neighbour Jenni casually leaned over the fence for a chat and realised all was not well. “I’m coming in the ambulance with you,” Jenni said. How grateful I was to have someone with me to talk sensibly to the medics while Phil and Tyson followed behind in our car. At the hospital, half a dozen emergency medical staff were waiting for us and pounced on Jack. X-rays, MRIs, a cannula, poking and prodding. I sang to Jack in a desperate, broken voice, trying to keep him calm while I fell apart. The nurses were gentle and kind. Phil texted everyone we knew, asking them to pray for our little Jack. By midnight, our baby boy was fast asleep. I was set up on a trundle bed beside him and spent the early hours of the morning staring out at the beautiful city lights as texts and emails poured in from friends and family who were praying for Jack. My mother arrived and we waited out the next two days in the neurology ward. Day two was Jack’s first birthday. His party was cancelled but he was smiling, and nothing else mattered in the whole wide world. At about 3pm that day, a neurologist gave Jack the all-clear. “Just a large fracture, from the top of his head to his eye socket,” he said. Ouch! The sense of relief was incredible. Mum

drove us home and as I took my first step inside, I burst into tears. I didn’t know anything about posttraumatic stress syndrome but that’s what I was experiencing. For weeks, whenever I heard an ambulance siren or a loud ‘thud’ I would jump 10 feet in the air. Tyson became super protective of his little brother – running from the other side of the house to make sure Jack was OK whenever he cried. My social media post, written the day we arrived home from the hospital says: “When something terrible happens, that’s when you realise love is tangible. It has a face and hands, it’s a kind voice, it’s prayers, it’s words, it’s presence, it’s help, it’s heart. “Thank you for all of the above, beautiful people in our lives. We have felt your love in our darkest moment and we feel truly blessed. Jack is doing better than we could ever have hoped and anyone who has seen how far he fell knows it’s a miracle he is here with us today.” When a friend came round a few weeks later and saw where Jack had fallen, she said: “Your God has been tough on you.” I looked at her in surprise and declared: “No, my God has been good to me.” Romans 8:28 says. “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Note it doesn’t say “All things are good for those who love God.” It’s important to acknowledge that hard times will come your way… and you aren’t expected to thank God for them, especially while you’re in the midst

of it. But to be thankful in them, as 1 Thessalonians 8:13 suggests, is something else altogether. God would never ask me to thank Him for what happened to Jack. But I found ways to be thankful in it. That first night in hospital I thought about all the things I had to be thankful for in our darkest moment. I was thankful for my neighbour Jenni who was there for me, no questions asked. For the ambulance officers who treated Jack on the way to hospital. For the team of doctors and nurses who gave him the highest level of care. For my mum who sat beside me for two days, so I could shower and eat and just walk outside for a moment. For my sisterin-law who travelled two hours to help look after Tyson. And, of course, I was so incredibly thankful that my Jack was alive – bruised and sore – but alive nonethe-less. It’s the ability to focus on the eternal blessings of God that gives you the strength to cope with whatever life throws at you. Australia’s National Day of Thanks is on Saturday 26th May. It’s an opportunity to think about all the people you have to be thankful for in your life. The ones who have helped you through your toughest moments - and to make sure you say ‘thanks.’

Visit to find out more. 17

Pilgrim Reflection Is the Old Testament dying?

Parting of the Red Sea

WEIRD, strange, foreign, old, irrelevant, outdated, useless, violent, are among the words people have used to respond to the question “what is the Old Testament?” In contemporary Australia people have rarely responded by saying, it is ‘the word of God’ or ‘Scripture’. The UCA Basis of Union says, The Uniting Church acknowledges that the Church has received the books of the Old and New Testaments as unique prophetic and apostolic testimony, in which it hears the Word of God and by which its faith and obedience are nourished and regulated. And yet, there are many who believe that, “We have the New Testament now” – making obsolete the Old Testament or seeing it as superseded or replaced by the New Testament. This is often matched by poor knowledge of the contents of the Old Testament, its culture, language or history. Several ministers have expressed hesitancy to preach from the Old Testament and some congregations have stopped reading the Psalms because they see them as inherently violent. Therefore, I ask, “does the Old Testament have any authority within our Church?” How do we define it? How might you answer? How might we advocate for the Old Testament and help individuals and congregations regain trust in the Old Testament and discover its many truths and ‘the word of God’ that resides in it? I have found it helpful to read a 2017 book entitled, The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment, by Brent A Strawn (Baker Academic). He addresses the life of the Old Testament within the Christian church and concludes that it is ‘dying’ if not ‘already dead.’ 18

His diagnosis is based on his observations and experiences of teaching the Old Testament. He also examines the data of a 2010 survey on religious literacy among the general US populace and analyses sermons, hymnody and the lectionary. He states that “for many contemporary Christians, at least in North America, the Old Testament has ceased to function in healthy ways in their lives as sacred, authoritative, canonical literature. These individuals—or in some cases, groups of individuals (even entire churches)—do not regard the Old Testament in the same way (or as highly) as the New Testament, do not understand the Old Testament, would prefer to do without the Old Testament, and for all practical purposes do exactly that by means of their neglect and ignorance of it, whether in private devotion or public worship or both (p.5)”. I come from a country where the Old Testament is still popular and meaningful. Individuals and congregations wrestle with this corpus of Scripture and its multifaceted challenges. Even if people are largely ignorant of the history and scholarly debates surrounding the Old Testament, they are fairly knowledgeable of its contents – the narratives/stories, characters, Psalms, and prophetic preaching. This is aided by regular reading of the Old Testament, and through memorisation and recitation of Scripture both within the home and within the church. The Old Testament and Scripture as a whole are ‘alive and kicking’ and play a predominant role in the spiritual life of the community. Strawn’s diagnosis is provocative and his recommended remedy for the North American context is to work towards regaining biblical fluency and proficiency. This can be done by employing mechanisms

that ensure the survival of biblical languages, the culture, and the history. We need to equip people with the ability to “speak Scripture”, incorporating the Old Testament with all its amazing diversity and challenging complexity into Christian worship, preaching, and hymnody. What is the status of the Old Testament within the Australian church? How might we improve biblical literacy and fluency, especially of the Old Testament? Perhaps we begin with impressing on our people that the Old Testament is Scripture, and that it was the Scripture that also formed and influenced Jesus Christ who cited it liberally. He questioned it, challenged it, reflected upon it and drew inspiration from it but he did not reject it. Our understanding of the New Testament is impoverished when we distance it and its connections to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a library, an anthology, of diverse material and genres from varied times and periods and therefore it contains repetitions, contradictions and counter arguments. Its richness, power, beauty and usefulness lies in the fact that those responsible for creating the canon of the Old Testament did not harmonise these texts so that they would all say the same thing. Instead, they juxtaposed these writings and we as readers are invited to join the conversation, so to speak, and to arrive at our own conclusions … conclusions that are relevant, edifying and uplifting for the life of the individual and the community. The many issues the Old Testament addresses, troubling as they might be – violence, gender, ethnicity, nation, land, human injustice, disturbing behaviour of the divine and the like, should not deter us from wrestling with it. It provides

opportunity for us to address similar issues today. There is much to be done in developing biblical literacy – through practice and use – exercised with wisdom, caution and care to ensure the survival, the continuity and relevance of the Old Testament. This is a daunting but necessary task for a church as it strives to live up to its belief that Salvation depends on the Word of God “heard and known from Scripture appropriated in the worshipping and witnessing life of the Church” (UCA Basis of Union). The time is surely coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send a famine on the land; not a famine of bread, or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. (Amos 8: 11-12, NRSV)

Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon Coordinator of Studies – Old Testament Pilgrim Theological College


Moderator’s column

Moderator Sharon Hollis speaks at the Palm Sunday Walk in Melbourne

The Spirit’s call SHARON HOLLIS


AS we move towards the Feast of Pentecost when we celebrate the gift of the Spirit to the church and each follower of Jesus, I am reminded again of the privilege I have witnessing so many signs of the Spirit’s presence calling us to worship, witness and service. This year I am seeking to visit congregations on weekdays to better understand how different faith communities and agencies are living out their vocation as the body of Christ. I have already seen many communities of faith seeking to hear the call of the Spirit in their midst and to respond to that call. I have seen congregations offering hospitality to community choirs, feeding the hungry and hosting groups that provide support to carers, people with a mental illness and cancer patients. I have visited op shops that not only promote the reuse of resources through selling used goods but also provide a place for people to find a cuppa, a chat and a sense of belonging. I have marvelled at lush community gardens that build community and help those tending them to overcome loneliness, while caring for the environment by helping people grow their own food. The common thread through these ministries is recognition of each person as a beloved child of God, the desire to welcome others as we have been

welcomed by God and a commitment to be alongside those who are marginalised or finding life tough for a season. These are indeed fruits of the Spirit. I continue to be impressed by the work of our agencies Uniting Vic.Tas, Uniting AgeWell and Uniting Housing. They each strive to be innovative in meeting the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community. They are navigating complex organisational and sector changes with good humour and skill, always mindful that the priority is the people they serve. Through the ministry of Uniting AgeWell we are reminded that there is no age limit for the gifting of the Spirit and that everyone deserves dignity and respect. Through Uniting Vic.Tas the Spirit’s prophetic voice of justice and compassion is heard, reminding us again and again of God’s preferential option for the poor. Uniting Housing demonstrates how transformative a home and housing can be. The agencies’ work reminds us that the Spirit is always inviting us to live out the reign of God in bold ways that bring the possibility of new life and hope. The recently completed Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, along with the earlier Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry, have laid bare to the world the failure of the church to protect children in our care.

It has called us to lament and repent. It has demanded we be accountable for the evil done in our name and for the suffering many people live with every day as a result of childhood abuse. In this I see the work of the Spirit convicting us of our sin, calling us to repentance and leading us to real and lasting change. One of the ways we are changing in response to this call is the implementation of the Keeping Children Safe framework across the church. It is pleasing to see that most congregations across the synod have begun the work of creating safe communities for children and vulnerable adults. Designated leaders have obtained Working with Children Checks/ Registration and committed to adhering to the Code of Conduct for Lay Leaders. Those running programs for children have begun to screen, mentor, train and review program leaders. We are not there yet and we cannot become complacent. But I do see in the progress being made a sign of the Spirit remaking us as a community. Discerning the movement of the Spirit is a communal task; it is to be done by the body of Christ. I offer these reflections not as a definitive list but as a prompt to all of us to be open to where we see the Spirit moving, acting and calling. I invite you to discern as communities of faith where you see God’s wild Spirit is calling you and to heed that call. 19

Obituary Jill Ruzbacky – a tireless warrior for social justice

IT is a testimony to synod social justice advocate Jill Ruzbacky’s profound impact on so many that there was an outpouring of tributes and grief from across the world at the news of her death at the age of 48 after eight months of illness in hospital. Hundreds of social media messages remembered and affirmed the courage and conviction that was the stamp of Jill’s energetic personality: “Around the country and in far-off lands (especially the Philippines), Jill will be remembered and missed”. “A social justice warrior.” “A strong, joyful and generous spirit who lived and served for the common good.” “A true friend of the marginalised.” Jill was born and spent her early years in Tasmania before moving to Melbourne to do postgraduate study in 1997. She worked for several years in the Philippines with NGOs. Returning to Australia, she worked as a Community Health and Development worker with newly-arrived migrants, asylum seekers and refugees for over 15 years. When she joined the Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit as a Social Justice Officer in 2008, Jill focused on education and advocacy. Dr Mark Zirnsak, Senior Social Justice Advocate for eLM (equipping Leadership for Mission), led the JIM unit and worked closely with Jill for 10 years. He said that Jill was a tireless worker and campaigner for the better treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, human rights issues in the Philippines, promotion of international mission relationships with partner churches and for Covenanting and Reconciliation. “Jill had an amazing ability to make connections with people,” Mark said. “She seemed to know so many people across the churches and this proved to be very helpful to the work of the JIM unit in mobilising people to take action in support of the social justice mission of the synod.” As part of her work with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, Jill ran the AboutFACE program which places UC members in First People communities. She also represented the Uniting Church in a leadership role on the National Council of Churches in Australia. Often it was the detail of care that set Jill apart. In the lead-up to Mother’s Day 2015 she wrote to colleagues about a local group she belonged to that was planning to take flowers to the women in detention centres in the hope that it “will lift the spirits of those currently in detention”. In next-to-no-time she raised $500 which went towards flowers put in boxes to navigate the ‘no vases rule’ and one bouquet went to each woman at Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation in Broadmeadows. Amid all her other work for social justice, Jill supported her work colleagues as the Australian Services Union delegate for over a decade. She left a legacy of improved conditions and pay that she fought for on behalf of synod staff. ASU organiser Luke Cherry said that she will be sorely missed. “There is no doubt that every person working at the synod is better off as a result of Jill’s actions and passion, not to mention the many others she supported as a worker and activist in the community,” he said. Jill was a passionate AFL supporter and at her funeral in Glen Waverley UC the North Melbourne team song rang out loud and proud at the conclusion. She was also a keen gardener and loved to cook. Moderator Sharon Hollis expressed what many felt about Jill that “the best tribute we can offer Jill is to live our lives with the same joy and deep commitment to creating a kinder, more compassionate world”. Jill is survived by her husband Robert.


Laurie Turner – a life that shared the love of God

FORMER UCA Synod of Victoria moderator Rev Laurie Turner has been remembered for a life of Christian service. Laurie, who was a resident of an aged care home in Camberwell, died peacefully on 21 January at the age of 94. A Service of Thanksgiving was held for Mr Turner’s life at Camberwell Uniting Church on 30 January. Moderator Sharon Hollis told the congregation Mr Turner became a follower of Christ during a Christian Endeavour meeting in Horsham when, like Methodist founder John Wesley, his heart was “strangely warmed”. Laurie was always committed to local ministry with he and wife Edna serving both urban and rural congregations in Victoria and Tasmania in this capacity. Laurie was an active supporter of the formation of the Uniting Church in Australia. At the time of negotiations for Union he served as President of the Methodist Conference Victoria and Tasmania and later became moderator of the Synod of Victoria. Laurie also served on numerous prominent church governance bodies. “He was a much sought after and valued committee member and often chaired because of his financial skill, his administrative nous, his capacity for decisive action,” Ms Hollis said. “But most importantly he was valued because of his wise judgment, his encouragement of others, his faithfulness, his pastoral sensitivity and his deep love for the church.” Ms Hollis said that as a young minister Laurie had been a mentor to her. “Laurie was at all times gentle, kind, supportive and wise,” she said. “He spoke openly of God’s faithfulness to him and about where he saw God still being faithful in the world. “He knew himself loved by God and he treated everyone as a beloved child of God. “The hallmark of Laurie’s ministry was his desire to share God’s love in all he did and all he was.” Edna Turner passed away in 2003. “They were partners in the truest sense,” their daughter Susan Bridges said. “Dad is now at peace with mum and his Lord.” Laurie is survived by three children, nine grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.


Opinion Strengthening Sustainable Economic Security JOHN LANGMORE

Churches, along with other nongovernment organisations, have an important role in demonstrating that there are greater values than consumerism. This was one of the challenging propositions to come out of a workshop organised by the University of Divinity Centre for Research in Religion and Social Policy. Keynote speaker, the renowned economist and public policy analyst Professor Ross Garnaut, argued that while a decentralised market is necessary, “the only sustainable democracy in the developed world is social democracy� because political legitimacy can only be achieved by gaining greater equity sharing. Social democrats, however, face the challenge of a declining share of taxation being collected from corporations in developed countries, which undermines the welfare state. Prof Garnaut proposed reforms to eliminate some of the common means that corporations use to avoid tax. He also advocated implementing more effective and enforced anti-corruption legislation to minimise rent-earning opportunities for the wealthy. Another necessary, but not sufficient, step towards ensuring governments sought the common good was putting tight limits on corporate political donations. In terms of global inequality, Prof Garnaut recommended maintaining open economies that encourage large transfers of all forms of capital from developed to developing countries (including generous development assistance).

In combination with good governance, the evidence from the growing economies of Asia and now Africa is that these factors increase average incomes and reduce internal inequality. Prof Garnaut also spoke about environmental issues, praising Pope Francis’ ‘magnificent’ encyclical Laudato Si for applying authoritative climate science and

discussed neo-liberalism and its alternatives, including ‘green-growth social democracy’. He said that a social democratic system makes the role of the market more subservient to democratic processes and the common good because it includes effective social protection, promoting work for all as well as economic redistribution. He emphasised that in a social democratic

economic policy to current ethical issues. The letter is based on the canticle of Saint Francis of Assisi “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs�. Prof Garnaut said a positive trend is that renewable solar and wind energy are rapidly becoming less costly than fossil fuel but the speed of transfer towards them depends on policy choices such as introduction of a carbon tax. Following Prof Garnaut’s address Dr Tim Thornton from La Trobe University

system the economy serves the society rather than the other way around. The aim of a green growth social democracy is that environmental sustainability and economic growth complement one another. Production costs are lowered by achieving a greater efficiency with environmental inputs, recycling and waste reduction. Expanding accessibility and quality of services, building up intellectual capital rather than physical assets, and producing more goods are all characteristic of green growth. Whilst green growth presumes we can achieve a decoupling of economic

expansion and environmental impact, this is a central and contested question. Dr Thornton said that “steady-state economics� was another, less politically palatable, alternative to neoliberalism. Workshop participants voiced a broad support for replacing the GDP, which is an aggregate measure of production, as the standard indicator of national economic success. The suggested alternative would be a composite index that measures Australia’s progress in ways that are not purely material and amoral, such as the Australian National Development Index. Another underutilised measure is the UN General Assembly’s Sustainable Development Goals. I came away from the workshop convinced that we need to develop an ethic of responsibility for the rights of nature and of future generations. As part of this we must support constraining global population growth by enabling all families to have access to birth control. Young people need to be engaged in caring for ecology, something that churches can do at a local level by becoming part of the Transition Network and promoting projects that increase self-sustainability. What is clear is that socially democratic evolutionary change is an important stepping stone towards a just and environmentally responsible society.

John Langmore is a Professorial Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne and a member of the Mark the Evangelist Uniting Church in North Melbourne.

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Stories of “African gangs” terrorising Victorian suburbs have featured prominently on the front page of tabloids this year. They describe Victoria gripped in “a state of fear” as “out-of-control teen thugs” wreak havoc in the streets. In this feature, we speak with three members of the Uniting Church’s South Sudanese community on the real story beyond the headlines.

Macmajok Media, to support other South Sudanese youth. “The purpose is to educate people so that we are not left behind,” Majok explained. “When I was in high school there were so many challenges. I’m trying to share what

I have experienced to make it easier for everyone else.” Majok initially wanted to pursue a career in law or economics, but he developed an interest in videography after he realised programs for migrant communities were missing from much of Australia’s media landscape.

“What I do is educational programs through the internet in a language that can be understood by those who cannot follow the news,” he said. “I’m trying to educate parents on what they need for their child to succeed at school and what they can do to help their kids get better scores.”

SPRINGVALE Uniting Church member Majok Majuch wants to change how South Sudanese youth are portrayed in the media. During the 2018 New Year celebrations, Majok spent the night filming South Sudanese volunteers as they patrolled the Melbourne CBD with Victoria Police. He wanted to highlight the South Sudanese community’s involvement in preventing youth crime in the city. “When the media report about Africans, it’s as if we don’t have any values where we came from,” Majok said. “We come from a tribal based region and tribes are managed by the value that people live together in harmony.” As a nine-year-old, Majok fled South Sudan and spent several years in Kenya and Uganda before resettling in Australia in 2006 on a humanitarian visa. When he first arrived in Melbourne, Majok struggled to adjust to a new culture and language. His experiences inspired him to create an online video channel, Majok Majuch gets ready for his next video project

A “knife in our community”

Riak Gordon Kiir in front of the mural outside Pakenham Uniting Church


RIAK Gordon Kiir is a community development worker at Pakenham Uniting Church in Melbourne’s outer south-east. His role involves building relationships between government agencies, community service providers, schools and South Sudanese families in the Cardinia Shire. “If there is any misunderstanding between a South Sudanese child and a school, the school will ring me and I will translate for the family,” Riak explained. “I also try to explain cultural context to police, city council and MPs.” According to the Victorian Crime Statistics Agency, Sudanese-born people make up one percent of all offenders. While Sudaneseborn offenders are overrepresented per capita, a person in Victoria is 25 times more likely to be seriously assaulted by someone born in Australia or New Zealand than someone from Sudan. Riak said many within Melbourne’s South Sudanese community are upset at some of the headlines splashed across the nation’s newspapers. “If anything happens with any other nationality, they never mention their community,” he said. “Why is the media always putting the knife in our community?” Riak denies the existence of a South CROSSLIGHT - MAY 18

Feature Sudanese gang in Melbourne and is particularly dismayed that the actions of a few individuals have been generalised to an entire community. “Culturally, we deal individually. If you did something wrong, the law will deal with it individually. It can’t be the whole community having a problem,” he said. “If there is a child from a Nuer community, the government needs to find out which part of the Nuer community. Even within the Nuer community there are three groups. “They need to address the issue to the sub-community leaders, not the whole South Sudanese community.” Victoria Police has expressed doubts over whether an African youth gang exists in Victoria. The Apex ‘gang’ that created headlines in 2015 and 2016 was a loose network of members from different cultural backgrounds, not a predominately African group as first reported. It was declared a ‘non-entity’ by Victoria Police in April last year. However, Riak said certain politicians continue to feed the narrative that Melbourne’s South Sudanese community has a youth crime problem. “It’s individual people on the streets, according to their individual situations,” Riak said. “Those kids might have issues such as financial, social, housing problems. This needs to be investigated, not just put more pressure on the community.” Earlier this year, Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton claimed Victorians were afraid to go to restaurants at night because of “African gang violence”. Prime Minister Malcolm

Turnbull also criticised the Andrews Labor government’s handling of youth crime in the state. “The police and government in Victoria are dealing with it normally because they see it as a social issue,” Riak said. “It’s not a gang issue. It needs to be addressed in social life. If those kids have problems and drop out from school, the government needs to find jobs or training for them.” Majok suggests the heightened media coverage given to “African gangs” may encourage young people to partake in criminal activity. “Some kids might think being called a ‘gang’ or being in the media is something cool,” he said. “Once you are reported as different to everyone else, you are being isolated. When you isolate yourself, you don’t want to go to mainstream services offered by the government.” With stories of terrified residents featuring prominently in the news, some have blamed South Sudanese parents for letting their children run riot on the streets. But Majok argues the media spotlight on African youths is “even more traumatic” for South Sudanese parents. “No African person wants to see their kids on the streets doing bad things,” he said. “They want their kids to be in school, be educated and get the highest job possible. The reason people come to this country is because they want a better life, particularly for their kids. “If there are problems being caused by African kids, it’s actually hurting the parents too.”

Nobody is born a criminal PAULO Kwajakwan is a candidate for ministry studying at Pilgrim Theological College. When he arrived in Australia with his family in 2001, he set up the Chollo Christian Fellowship, which formed a close association with Noble Park Uniting Church. Paulo said it is important to understand the background of young offenders rather than simply labelling them as ‘thugs’ and ‘criminals’. “Nobody is born a criminal,” he said. “Every problem has a background and you really need to go into that community and talk to the people. “We community leaders have advised police not to rush in judgment and to understand the background of people first.” According to the most recent census, the unemployment rate for South Sudanese people in Victoria is 31.8 percent, compared to 5.7 percent for the rest of the population. Paulo believes many of the young men who engage in criminal activity come from broken families. Some grow frustrated at the lack of job opportunities and become disengaged from the community. “Most of them are on their own with their mum, some don’t have their fathers because they died at war,” he said. “They find it hard because there’s no support for them.” Paulo is concerned how his five children will be treated in light of the intense media scrutiny on the South Sudanese community. Just last month, his 23-yearold son was struck in a random attack that left him with a broken jaw. “It was really scary – that’s exactly the worry we carry with us all the time,” Paulo said.

“I always talk to my children and alert them. I tell them to be careful what they say and how they act and approach others.” A quick glance at comments on the internet will reveal some of the vitriol directed at Australia’s African community. Majok believes racism against AustralianAfricans has worsened, particularly in the online space. “You see comments calling for Africans to be deported, asking the government why we are here and so many offensive things that are disturbing to hear,” Majok said. “It seems like we don’t belong to this country. We’re Australian citizens. We shouldn’t be segregated as Africans and Australians.” Earlier this year, Australian-African youth took to social media to fight back against some of the media coverage. Using the hashtag #AfricanGangs, they began tweeting photos of graduation ceremonies, weddings and family dinners. Riak hopes to see more positive stories of Sudanese youth represented in mainstream media. “We have kids in Sunshine picked for the NBA in America. We even have a female from our community playing footy for the first time last year,” Riak said. “There are a lot of great things going on.” It’s not just in the sporting arena that South Sudanese youth are making strides. From 2011 to 2016, the number of South Sudanese people in Victoria with a bachelor degree more than tripled. “We have South Sudanese graduating university and college; some are lawyers and university lecturers,” Riak said. “We have South Sudanese in the Australian army and other government departments. “These are good stories, but the media isn’t talking about them.”

Listen to our voices THE majority of South Sudanese youth in Australia have grown up in a different cultural environment to their parents. Majok urges the government to invest more in culturally appropriate services for South Sudanese parents so they can better support their children. “Sometimes people say parents are failing, but parents also need help,” he said. “The parents are now in a different situation and deal with things they’ve never seen before, like drugs.” Pakenham Uniting Church offers a range of community programs to help migrant families adjust to life in Australia. These programs bridge some of the generational gap between South Sudanese parents and their children. “We open homework classes for young children when there is no one supporting them at home,” Riak said. “We cooperate with their parents, so they can do homework with support from our volunteers at the Uniting Church. “We also have playgroups to integrate young Sudanese kids with others.” These outreach programs can also help combat stereotypes as people learn more about South Sudanese culture. In South Sudan there are 64 different tribes, each with different histories, language and traditions. “People see that we are black, they call us all African,” Riak said. “Africa has 54 countries. There are different cultures and language even in the one country. How do you know if someone is Nuer or Dinka? Sit down and talk with them. That’s the only way.” Riak’s congregation is an example of a community that is united across different cultural backgrounds. A mural outside Pakenham Uniting Church (pictured opposite) illustrates their commitment to welcome people of all colours and faiths. “Communication is a part of understanding the other person. That is what we do at church,” Riak said. “We are from different nations, but we understand each other because we believe in God. But we not only believe in God, we also need to share our stories.” For Paulo, the best way to support South Sudanese people is to give space for their voices to be heard. “Listening to the stories of people and letting them speak is the best help you can offer,” he said. “That’s at all levels – church, government, institutions, if they want to help they need to know the people first. “If you go and talk to them, you may discover amazing things.” Paulo Kwajakwan MAY 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 20 APRIL 2018 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Drouin – Bunyip Parish (*) Lakes Entrance (0.6) (P) (C) Yallourn/Morwell/Newborough (*) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Presbytery Minister, Administration (*) Presbytery Minister, Mission and Education (*) Presbytery Minister, Pastoral Care (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) (C) Cranbourne (5 year term) (P) (C) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Essendon North (0.5 – 0.7) (P) (c) Geelong (Wesley) (C) Surf Coast (P) (C)

PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Banyule Network – Ministry Team Leader (C) Banyule Network – Pastoral Care and Discipleship (C) Melbourne (St Michael’s) Presbytery Minister (P)(C) Ringwood (C)

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

PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA West Coast Patrol (*) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) (C) Kaniva – Serviceton (P) (C) North Central Region – Lake Bolac (0.5) (*)

MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Peter Greenwood, UAICC Resource Worker (0.5) (1 year), commenced 1 May 2018 Mel Perkins (Lay), Lay Leadership Educator to commence on 1 June 2018 Juliette Maua’i, Williamstown (St Stephens) to commence on 1 July 2018


RETIREMENTS Raja Rajakulendran, Tecoma to retire on 30 April 2018 CONCLUSIONS Brenda Burney (OD) concluded at Churchill, Boolara and Yinnar Cooperating Parish on 10 March 2018

Notices COMING EVENTS BOX HILL METHODIST YOUTH FELLOWSHIP REUNION 2PM – 5PM, SATURDAY 19 MAY Manningham Uniting Church, 147 Woodhouse Grove, Box Hill North. Former members are invited to the celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Methodist Youth Fellowship to be held at the Manningham Uniting Church. Please bring a plate of food to share and any memorabilia you may have. RSVP to Lance /Sue Harvey on P: (03) 9725 8298; Bev Atkinson (Allingham) on M: 0407 338 314 or Marg Hammon on P: (03) 9955 4532 by 12 May. MOUNTVIEW UC MITCHAM AN ‘EXTRA SPECIAL’ 50 YEAR CELEBRATION 9.30AM, SUNDAY 20 MAY Mountview Uniting Church Mitcham, cnr Maroondah Highway & Doncaster East Rd, Mitcham. Fifty years ago, the then Mitcham Methodist and Presbyterian Congregations took up joint occupancy of their new buildings – Mountview Church Mitcham. Coincidently, a large, significant community choir was formed the same week and found accommodation in this new suite of buildings. They are still here. To celebrate this ‘coming together’, the Maroondah Singers will join the Uniting Church congregation at the 9:30am worship service on 20 May. All are welcome at this great service of praise in music, especially past congregation and choir members. For more information phone John Williams on P: (03) 9874 3957. AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 10AM – 12NOON, THURSDAY 24 MAY Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Australia’s biggest morning tea at the Hub, in support of The Cancer Council, Victoria. Come along to The Hub and enjoy a delicious morning tea. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to the Cancer Council Victoria. For information and group bookings, P: (03) 9560 3580. MIND BODY SPIRIT SERVICE 5.30PM – 7.30PM, SUNDAY 27 MAY North Balwyn UC, 17-21 Duggan St, Balwyn North. Speaker - John Steward, a peace consultant and spiritual director. Topic - “Why is forgiveness so hard? What can Rwandans teach us about it?” To be followed by soup and a short service of reflective worship in the church. See for more details.

GIFFORD ART FROM THE VILLAGE EXHIBITION 21 MAY – 13 JULY 2018, OFFICIAL OPENING THURSDAY, 24 MAY 2018 Maroondah Access Gallery, Federation Estate, 32 Greenwood Av, Ringwood. Uniting Harrison and Croydon North Uniting Church invite you to the Art from the Village exhibition at the Maroondah Access Gallery. Come along and see their beautiful and diverse art pieces. As a special part of the exhibition, Rev Dr Robert Hoskin (a piano-playing visual artist) will be leading a discussion on creative engagement at 1.30pm, Saturday 26 May. Robert’s work in the Kimberley has focused on listening to Indigenous voices, and as part of the Boab Network, responding to a variety of concerns including Aboriginal health issues, governmental policies, Aboriginal rights and Native Title. Enquiries and further information from Jane Davoren on P: (03) 9871 8701. 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: VICTORIAN CHAPTER OF THE AUSTRALIAN CHURCH LIBRARY ASSOCIATE 10AM – 3PM, SATURDAY 26 MAY Wycliffe Bible Translators, 70 Graham Road, Kangaroo Ground. The May meeting will include speaker Michael Collie from Sparklit (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge), involved in training and development of Christian writers, editors, publishers and booksellers, and well-known for their annual awards including Christian Book of the Year. In the afternoon committee members (and others if they wish) will speak about books which have had an influence on their lives. Further information from Rachel on P: (03) 9850 4828 or E: IMMANUEL SINGERS CONCERT FOR SKILLS, OPPORTUNITIES AND SURVIVAL IN KENYA 2.30PM, SUNDAY 27 MAY Surrey Hills Uniting Church, cnr Canterbury Rd and Valonia Ave, Surrey Hills. The Immanuel Singers are giving a concert at Surrey Hills Uniting Church featuring a mixture of sacred and secular music. Afternoon tea will be provided. The concert is to remind people of the UN’s sustainable development goals, and the proceeds will go to SOSK (Skills, Opportunities and Survival in Kenya), which supports destitute women and children, and a new school garden project in East Timor, which will encourage self-sufficiency. Entry is by donation.


Notices PROGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN NETWORK OF VICTORIA EVENT 3PM, SUNDAY 27 MAY Ewing Memorial Centre of Stonnington Uniting Church, cnr Burke Rd and Coppin St, Malvern East. Coralie Ling will speak on “Eco feminism contribution to the Christian message in the light of climate change.” For more details contact Anne Sinclair on M: 0411 097 531. SINGULARITY SINGS FOR RYDA 2.30PM, SUNDAY 3 JUNE, ST. Margaret’s Uniting Church, Mooroolbark, and 2PM, SUNDAY 10 JUNE, St. John’s Uniting, Cowes. Singularity presents a concert performance of Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. While away your Sunday afternoon in the fairy story silliness of this wonderful comic opera. Afternoon tea provided at both venues. Proceeds from the two performances go to Rubaga Youth Development Association (RYDA), Uganda. More details from Doug Williams on M: 0401 177 775 or E: HYMN FEST CONCERT 2PM, SUNDAY 3 JUNE St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 105 High St Berwick. Come along and have a singalong of much loved hymns, new and old. Featuring soloist Monique Churchill, Journey Bound band, pipe organ, church choir. $5 per head, includes afternoon tea. For more information or to sing in the choir on the day, contact Matthew Clark on M: 0437 397 369. BOOK AND BEAR SALE FUNDRAISER FOR FRONTIER SERVICES QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY WEEKEND, SATURDAY, 9 JUNE 10AM – 4PM AND SUNDAY 10 JUNE 11AM – 4PM St Andrews Uniting Church, Gisborne Road, Bacchus Marsh. Books for all ages, collectibles and new. Also bookmarks & painted primordial rocks. Enquires to Valerie on M: 0412 240 056. FRIENDS OF THE UNITED CHURCH OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA & THE SOLOMON ISLANDS 12PM – 4PM, SATURDAY, 30 JUNE Camberwell Uniting Church, 316 Camberwell Road, Camberwell. Have you lived in PNG or the Solomon Islands? If so, you are welcome to visit our group to share current news of these countries. Publications are shared, recent trips recounted, issues discussed and letters written. A shared lunch is included. Contact Don Cracknell on E: or Margaret White on E: or P: (03) 9889 7345. SOMERS CAMP 3 – 7 JULY Port Philip East Presbytery Uniting Church children and youth camp for grade 3 to year 9 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

COME AND VISIT THE HUB 10AM – 2PM TUESDAYS / THURSDAYS, 10AM – 12NOON, WEDNESDAYS Glen Waverley UC, cnr Kingsway and Bogong Avenue, Glen Waverley. The Hub is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people needing company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practise speaking in English in an informal setting. The Hub is open Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Wednesday 10am 12noon. People of all ages are welcome. For information phone P: (03) 9560 3580. GROUNDSWELL 7PM, FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Groundswell is a monthly inter-spiritual gathering. We draw upon our rich human history of spiritual journeys to experience the sacred together. We look at all spirituality in the light of the archetypal patterns in our lives and engage in practical transformative experiences. For more information, visit the Habitat website Enquiries to Elizabeth Bethune on P: (03) 9818 2726. READING THE CREED BACKWARDS: THE SHAPE AND DIRECTION OF CHRISTIAN FAITH A new small group study, Reading the Creed backwards: the shape and direction of Christian faith, is available for download from Illuminating Faith. The Nicene and Apostles’ Creed are important elements of Christian tradition. These studies are intended as a ‘prelude’ to saying the Creed, looking at the structure of the Creed as a whole and considering Christian confession as less a matter of content than as a matter of style. Also available, The Lord’s Prayer – Prayer for those who can no longer pray. See www.marktheevangelist.unitingchurch. FEED YOUR SOUL YOGA MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY – MORNING, MIDDAY & EVENING CLASSES Habitat Uniting Church, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn. Free your mind, body and spirit; strengthen your back and core muscles, and improve your overall wellbeing. Classes include yoga for beginners, yoga for seniors, yoga for men, yoga for menopause, yin yoga and hatha yoga. For more information please contact Angelika on M: 0401 607 716 or go to: DANCE CLASSES FOR MATURE WOMEN 1PM-2PM, THURSDAYS Habitat Canterbury, cnr Mont Albert Rd and Burke Rd, Canterbury. Join this gentle, joyful space for movement and self-expression. For more information contact Susan on M: 0433 259 135.

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 onehour 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.

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.

LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. ELECTRONIC ORGAN: Free to a good home/organisation. Yamaha Electone Model B-75N. In good condition (F pedal needs a new spring). Photos available from Denise on E: PULPIT AVAILABLE: Porepunkah Uniting Church has a pulpit available to a good home. 120cm (H) and 90cm x 90cm (W). In very good condition. Maple in colour. Photos and further details available from Val Taylor on E: 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. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, secondhand/retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin M: 0408 969 920.

LIVE AND WORK ON THE BEAUTIFUL SUNSHINE COAST: Apartment and management rights of an accommodation resort for sale. Email and see ad in this edition of Crosslight.

Upcoming events of interest Not-for-profit Post Budget Breakfast 17 May 2018 Kooyong Tennis Club, Kooyong Learn how the budget could impact not-for-profits and faith-based organisations. Hear from panel experts as we discuss funding changes, policy trends and the economic outlook. Treasurers, board members and financial advisors to the sector 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 CEN0190418v1




Food for thought

Mental battle

Rising hope

Star struck









OUR supermarket shelves may be groaning under the weight of stock, but it is increasingly obvious that our food economy is a problem. Monoculture crops and overly processed foods can lead to obesity, heart disease and cancer with fewer nutrients in foods bred for quantity not quality. Many of us have a disconnection from the sources of our food, and the natural world is under strain from farming’s reliance on chemicals and fossil fuels. It is clear the system is not sustainable. Charles Massy’s new book may be as important as those of Bruce Pascoe, Michael Cathcart or Bill Gammage for understanding how we can live sustainably in this wide, harsh land. It is a long book, but we need perspectives that are not quick fixes. He looks at our history of working with the environment we find ourselves in, and laments that we have moved from an ‘organic’ mindset to a ‘mechanical’ one that removes us from an ecosystem we see simply as a resource to exploit. Add to this the import of a European-style of farming often unsuited to Australia, and the prominence of multinational chemical corporations, who not only kill off the microbiology in the soil, but as fertiliser suppliers have vested interests in doing so. Massy offers many alternative, hopefilled examples where large-scale farmers are returning to older, holistic, diverse, environmentally appropriate ways of doing things, and actually profiting. In doing so, they are also contributing to the health of native vegetation and wildlife. This is not incidental, as Massy reiterates that the health of our nation’s farms and of ourselves is inseparable from the wider environment. This is a vision that Massy, a farmer, took a long time to develop but it is one that Australians quickly need to acquire.

THIS book could be very helpful to any Christian who has ever struggled with mental illness, especially depression, or knows someone close who has done so. Christians can sometimes feel, or may even have been told, that if they are mentally ill it is the person’s own fault. They have sinned. They lack faith. They don’t pray enough. They don’t go to the right church. This book tells of a man who had struggled with mental illness all his life, beginning at the age of 13. While still in his teens, he becomes a Christian and learns to pray and trust in Jesus. However, he finds that his faith was not insurance against mental illness. As his faith and prayer life grow, he becomes stronger and more stable through his high school years. Following this, he begins studying for a Bachelor of Arts. He seems fine until near the end of his third year, when he realises something is not right, and he again is unable to cope. He does not know at this stage that he needs help, or how to seek it but he manages to defer his main exams because he knows he is not ready. A doctor prescribes tranquilisers to help with his anxiety. Later an older and wiser Christian friend recommends a psychiatrist who prescribes antidepressants and he eventually passes his final exams. His life stabilises for a time. The book continues to follow his spiritual journey through the USA and back to Australia as a professor and a Uniting Church minister. A new relationship develops with his father as they really get to know each other. Then he begins to write as well. Although he sometimes doubts, he never loses his faith, and finds when even at his worst, these can be times of personal growth and self-awareness and learning. He learns that psychiatry and Christian faith are not mutually exclusive.

TOM Wright, a rock star of biblical scholarship, brings the full weight of his intellect and skill to the task of answering the fundamental questions of why Jesus died, and what his death means for the world. Wright seeks to answer these questions, or at least throw light on them, in the context of a continuing theological debate. He argues that neither conservatives nor liberals have “seen the bodily resurrection as the launching of God’s new creation within the present world order”. God’s Kingdom is not some paradise-like reward for saved sinners, but is a new and liberated realm in the here and now where we become free to be true images of God. It is a realm where forgiveness of sins provides opportunity to worship (our true vocation), to witness to God’s love and grace, and to hope and work for justice in this world rather than the next. This substantial book asserts that Jesus’ death on the Cross was not defeat but victory. At 6pm on that Passover Friday the world changed; the revolution had begun. Jesus’ suffering and death defeated sin, and made it possible for our worship, our witness, our hope, indeed our total mission to take effect. This does not mean that we will not suffer, that we will not struggle, that there is nothing for us to do. But the Cross stands as assurance that the major war with the forces of evil has been won. Our sufferings and struggles are to be understood in that perspective. The Cross, argues Wright, makes it possible for us to live a radical new life, to break with the idolatrous attachment to false gods, and to be compassionate. The Cross puts us on the winning side in the war. Wright is speaking theologically to theologians but he writes for a wider audience as well. If you get to read it, allow time, and be prepared for a bit of work. You won’t be disappointed.

Available at RRP $19.95

Available from: RRP $39.99

LOUIS Theroux has made a career out of asking awkward questions but in this documentary he has to answer them. Louis Theroux: Savile is a 2016 follow-up to the previous program When Louis met Jimmy, where Theroux spent several days inquisitively sparring with UK TV and radio star Jimmy Savile in 2000. Even back then Theroux admitted he failed in his signature task of getting a subject to reveal their deeper self. However, the extent of that failure became shockingly apparent following Savile’s death when the entertainer’s staggering decadeslong catalogue of child sexual abuse was revealed. Even more uncomfortably, Theroux calls Savile a friend as they kept in contact after the first program. Theroux asks why he failed to see the monstrous predator not only hidden in plain sight but in the glaring spotlight of celebrity. In this show Theroux reviews his encounters with Savile, interviews Savile’s victims and others who knew him. It becomes clear that Savile’s charity work, including raising millions for a hospital spinal injuries unit, was a cloak for his crimes, some of which were perpetrated on the unit’s patients. Savile targeted both the physically and psychologically vulnerable, with some victims explaining that because they were sexually abused in their own families, Savile’s behaviour seemed normal. This helps explain the victims’ silence, especially against Savile whose fame, powerful connections and wealth came garlanded with admiration for good deeds and whose peak stardom coincided with cultural attitudes permissive to bad male celebrity behaviour. When a predator cultivates the acceptance and trust of victims, but also of adults to get access, it is called grooming. One of Savile’s victims asks Theroux if he was groomed. Theroux denies this, saying it is too big a term and doesn’t apply to him. This is one awkward question that Theroux gets wrong. Theroux was groomed to write off the jarring warning signs of Savile’s perturbing behaviour as eccentricity. However, an entire nation was groomed to do this, showing predators can thrive in any context and on any scale.

Available from University of Queensland Press. Available at: RRP: $39.95

Crosslight had the pleasure of hosting Jean Warriner, the writer of this review, for university work experience during the month of April. Jean worships at Ascot Vale Uniting Church.

Louis Theroux: Savile will be available on ABC iview until May 10 26


Social media round-up Did you know there are more than 100 Uniting Church Facebook pages in Victoria and Tasmania alone? Most are run by volunteers and ministers who take photos, share sermons, upload videos and organise events.

This month, we feature some of the photos and tweets from our Uniting Church members and ministers. From candlelight scripture readings to Messy Church celebrations, they are using social media to share their faith in creative ways.

You can also stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the church by following us on social media or subscribing to our friendly Facebook NewsBot: Most watched video: Moderator’s Easter message

Facebook: Easter fun at Lara Uniting Messy Church


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


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


Once you have subscribed, the NewsBot will send new Crosslight online stories automatically to your Facebook Messenger inbox.

Like us on Facebook - Follow us on Twitter – Twitter: Rev Dr Avril Hannah-Jones (@DocAvvers) gets ready for the Palm Sunday walk for refugees

Instagram: Fi Bottcher (@fibottcher) made the most of Earth Hour by reading scripture by candlelight

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Plea for help Plea to beef up hymn book stocks

Not everyone is happy singing from the same song sheet at King Island UC

THOUGH you may think King Island Uniting Church members could seek comfort in a ripe brie, a prime steak or a dollop of double cream, it’s not fine food but books they’re searching for. The King Island congregation loves to sing, particularly as they celebrate the growth in their numbers. And that’s where the problem is. They have run out of Together in Song books after missing the notice that the books were about to be discontinued. “Had we seen the notice, we would have made sure we bought extra copies,” explained Beth Vellekoop, treasurer and member of the church council. “Our congregation was very small and steady in numbers. Nobody anticipated that we might need some extra books. “Now our congregation has grown which couldn’t be better and while we might still be MAY 18 - CROSSLIGHT

considered ‘small’ by some standards, we have a lovely committed bunch of Christians who attend regularly.” Congregation members have trawled the internet searching for even one or two books. They have looked at second-hand sales sites without any luck, they have turned their cupboards upside down and now they’re asking for help from Crosslight readers. Beth said that the church is happy to pay for postage if people find an extra Together in Song tucked in the pews. “We thought there might be spare copies from some of the churches who have amalgamated or closed, or perhaps churches that don’t use that particular book anymore,” she said. Can you help the King Island congregation in their quest? Contact Beth at who would love to hear from you. 27

Synod Snaps

The churches of Nagambie (including Aveneal and Seymour UCA) joined together for an ecumenical worship on the shores of Lake Nagambie as part of the NOW (Nagambie on Water) Festival.

“ W H I C H O F M Y P H O T O G R A P H S I S M Y FA V O U R I T E ? T H E O N E I ’ M G O I N G T O TA K E T O M O R R O W.” — Imogen Cunningham

Molly Edebone is a regular attendee (along with her mum Lyn) at Torquay Uniting Church on the Surf Coast.

Easter dawn service at Wallan Uniting Church

Members from St Andrews Corryong cooked hundreds of sausages and hamburgers for The Man From Snowy River Bush Festival.

Rufus has joined the team at Dalton McCaughey library. He is the canine companion of Charlotte Clements, the new chief librarian.

More than 160 people from 14 churches participated in a Good Friday Way of the Cross service organised by the Mt Waverley Chadstone Inter-church Council.