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Crosslight No. 293 November 2018

Duty of care Children’s chaplain Page 12


22-23 Toy story – Osgood’s across Australia adventures

High office and the politics of Christianity


Regulars School chaplain’s take on the religious freedom debate

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

Photograph by Carl Rainer

Guest editorial

Being part of a new story

Allison Overeem

Communications & Media Services

I was honoured to be part of a strong Tasmanian delegation invited to attend the Council of Australian Government (COAG) National Summit to Reduce Violence against Women and Children in Adelaide recently. The purpose of the summit was to provide advice and direction on the COAG fourth Family Violence Action Plan. At Leprena, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) centre in Hobart, we have run a small but very successful family violence prevention program around the stories of survival, and the impact on women and children exposed to family violence. Through the work of UAICC Tasmania I was able to be part of the team representing Tasmania and representing the voice of First Peoples. The summit challenged me to consider how do we, as communities of faith, work together across this nation, to build communities of hope and safety for our First People, in a culturally inclusive and holistic way that brings sustainable change? What are the resources we can use to support our women, children, and men,

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

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unpacking the impact of colonisation and intergenerational trauma? On the second day of the summit I was humbled and proud to stand with my First Peoples brothers and sisters from across the nation, to be part of the reading of a statement from First People’s ethos. This was intended to help form the fourth National Action plan through the lens of First Peoples. I was proud to stand with our mob echoing our voice, echoing the need for programs in prevention and response to be culturally safe, culturally driven and culturally relevant. We seek to unpack the impacts of colonisation on our people, look honestly at behaviours, respond though a cultural lens and open up the conversations to develop programs to support our women, our children and to engage and bring our men on the journey with us. We do not just want to prevent violence against women and their children in our current context, we want to be part of the new story that stops violence against women and children.

Through our work on awareness, prevention and response I am excited to see what we can embed in the life of our UAICC families across the Nation of First Peoples and in our UCA families across the nation. That domestic violence affects many more families than you might suspect is a strong message in a Crosslight feature this month on pages 15-16. Tackling cultural causes of domestic violence was also a theme of UCA President Deidre Palmer’s recent travels in the Pacific on page 7, where you can also read about the inspiring UnitingWomen conference held recently in Brisbane. On page 13 you can read about how migrant, asylum seeker and refugee women are being empowered to set up their own businesses. Find out how you can also support the work Uniting Vic. Tas agencies are doing to help asylum seekers on pages 5 and 28.

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Alison Overeem is Leprena Centre manager.

Editor - David Southwell Graphic Designer - Mirna Leonita Communications Officer - Tim Lam Advertising Co-ordinator - Jacqui Kairu Graphic Designer and Print Services - Carl Rainer Digital Technology Officer - Graham Holtshausen


After the tsunami UNITINGWORLD church partners have responded quickly to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi in late September, but donations are still needed to support recovery efforts. More than 2000 people are confirmed dead, 5000 remain missing and an estimated 70,000 are homeless. The disaster has taken a personal toll on UnitingWorld partners in Indonesia, with a number of staff losing friends and loved ones. A number of UnitingWorld development projects were also affected by the crisis. More than 4000 vulnerable people in Central Sulawesi who were clients of a microfinance project supported by UnitingWorld partners Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM) have lost their homes. It will be some months before TLM is able to assess the full impact of the disaster. UnitingWorld has launched an emergency appeal to support local churches in Sulawesi as they respond to the crisis with shelter, food, water, malaria nets, hygiene kits and medical aid. Initial funds raised were sent to support relief work coordinated by Communion of Churches in Indonesia. Those funds have gone towards churchbased shelters providing basic health care, pastors offering trauma counselling and other crisis relief services. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, churches in non-affected areas around Donggala began collecting emergency supplies to take to Palu and

other coastal areas that were hardest hit. The Protestant Church in Central Sulawesi opened an emergency centre in one of its high school buildings near Palu. Local ministers coordinating the relief effort reported that people were so traumatised by aftershocks they preferred to sleep outside the buildings. Many church buildings have been converted into emergency centres. A health team has been sent from Jakarta to assist recovery efforts and UnitingWorld Indonesian staff are planning to travel to Palu. Over the coming months, UnitingWorld will work with church partners on drawing up long-term recovery plans. However, infrastructure breakdown and the sheer scale of the disaster have made this process difficult. UnitingWorld’s Bali office remains in constant communication with church partners in Sulawesi and is putting together an agreement for the Protestant Church in Bali’s development arm (MBM) to scale up their response. The MBM plans to send a medical team and a specialist disaster coordinator to support local health centres run by Sulawesi churches, with a particular focus on remote areas overlooked by major recovery efforts. You can support the UnitingWorld tsunami crisis appeal at www.unitingworld.org.au/indonesiatsunami

The aftermath of the Sulawesi earthquake

Connected to country

Opening of Leprena’s Cultural Land and Playscape project

A NEW landscape project at the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) Leprena Centre in Hobart aims to immerse visitors into the First Peoples’ cultural connection to country. Over 70 people gathered to launch the Cultural Land and Playscape in the Hobart suburb of Glenorchy last month. Tasmania’s Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jacquie Petrusma officially opened the project on 5 October along with Elder Stan Smith and UAICC Tasmania Chairperson Rev Tim Matton-Johnson. “We wanted visitors and family of Leprena to engage in a ‘story’ when they first enter the space,” Leprena manager Alison Overeem said. “We wanted them to not just see, but NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

to feel being on and with country. With gathering circles, fire pits, bush tucker pods, plants native to country, logs to sit and yarn on, a large sand pit and digging pit there was a healing space for everyone to engage with.” Alison said that stage one of the cultural land and playscape project is reflective of Leprena’s vision of being an organisation that plants seeds for the First and Second Peoples to grow together and flourish. “We want to have Aboriginal culture as our compass, to provide a safe cultural space for all, a space that says ‘come and sit, come and yarn, and come share your hopes and your challenges’,” Alison said. “We are seeking to give all an experience

and a connection with Aboriginal culture, to demonstrate the significance and integral role “connection to country” is for First Peoples. “I have no doubt the design concept, with its calm tranquillity, natural materials, and circles of cultural safety will be an inspiration to all our UCA and UAICC families. “Our hope is that other organisations see the concept and design as a gift, and that they may plan to have similar spaces reflecting the oldest living culture on Earth.” The intergenerational gathering who came to the launch event enjoyed a warm Welcome to Country and story, cultural dance performances, kangaroo stew,

and the opportunity to meet up with old friends and meet new ones. The completion of the “Learning on and with Country” project was a culmination of over two years planning, involving Leprena community and committee members, staff and designers. “We worked holistically with our UCA Property personnel to bring together the project outcomes,” Alison said. “I am so proud of team Leprena and all those involved in the concept planning, design and opening. “May we all live, learn and walk with and on Country, holding deep within us all the stories of struggle and survival of the First Peoples of this land with dignity, hope, healing and respect.” 3


Habit forming TIM LAM

Amna Iqbal

Being there for asylum seekers BARRY GITTNS

UNITING Church agencies are calling for help in supporting asylum seekers attempting to make a new life in Australia. Andi Jones, Uniting Vic.Tas manager of Lentara’s Asylum Seeker Programs in Brunswick, which are not government funded, says asylum seekers often have limited means of support. “Those people we case manage receive $100 per month as a basic living allowance, and $36 per month for myki public transport,” she says. “We also provide some limited support through our foodbank. We try to provide material aid to our clients, as do our partner agencies. “Some clients have work rights and some don’t – it’s about a 50/50 split, roughly, in those we case manage. Some are unable to work because of language difficulties and/ or mental and physical trauma.” Lentara supports 60 individuals through accommodation and case management. It has access to 15 properties across metropolitan Melbourne. There is also a drop-in centre for asylum seekers in Brunswick, which receives about 250 presentations each month.


A CRUCIFIX-wearing Catholic nun was the unlikely catalyst for reconnecting Amna Iqbal to her Islamic faith. Before she moved to Melbourne, Amna grew up in the UK where she attended a Catholic school. “A lot of my love for interfaith is because it is familiar to me – the hymns, the verses, the way we worship in a church space reminds me of home and of that school,” she said. But there was one person in particular who played a special part in Amna’s faith journey. “I still remember Sister Brenda with her fiery red hair, special nun outfit and her big, awesome, badass crucifix,” Amna said. “She’d slip her backpack on and take us everywhere – the synagogue in London, the mosque in Nuneaton, churches, Buddhist temples. “I never encountered an individual who was so in love and so true to her faith but also had genuine compassion, empathy and curiosity for all the other faiths that she encountered. “My faith and my journey towards Islam is also because of Sister Brenda and the love she had for her faith.” Amna shared her story at Ormond Uniting Church as part of Multi-faith October, where guests from different faith traditions talked about their religion at the

Asylum seekers in Australia face complex challenges, include coping with the life experiences they have endured in their countries of origin, and language barriers that are partly overcome through limited access to translators. Uniting Kildonan operates various services to support the approximately 250300 asylum seekers living in the Victorian town of Shepparton. “Most of the asylum seekers come to us for support with their legal applications for protection, emergency relief, housing support,” Uniting Kildonan’s programs manager of resilient communities Sara Noori said. “Case managers refer them to the right services and support them with making appointments and filling out any forms they may need assistance with. “Community organisations in Shepparton have an open door policy to support asylum seekers, particularly the Goulburn Valley Community Centre food pantry.” “Physical and mental trauma among our clients is quite significant; we refer them to torture trauma counselling services available locally.” Sara appealed to employers to consider hiring asylum seekers with work rights. “They come with amazing strengths and skills,” she said. “They are hard-working, committed and incredibly resilient; they have escaped situations that we cannot even imagine. “Many of them are qualified builders and plumbers, and many of those who are working in Australian communities are the bosses’ favourite employees.” Andi and Sara are looking for volunteers and donations. “If people are unable to support these people financially, then their support as volunteers would be invaluable,” Andi says. Find out more about volunteering at: https://www.vt.uniting.org/get-involved/ volunteers/. For donations and gifts, call 1800 668 426 or email fundraising@ vt.uniting.org

Sunday morning services. Fi Bottcher spoke about her journey with Christianity, Cynthia Mackenzie shared teachings from Buddhism, Pam Spiegel represented the Jewish faith and Amna Ispoke spoke candidly about the joy and challenges of being a young Muslim. One of the five pillars of Islam is prayer, and Amna uses the iPray mobile app to send her daily reminders. But the perils of modern technology were exposed during a visit to a churros store. “When I downloaded the iPray app, I didn’t realise the default ringtone was a man reciting the call to prayer,” she said. “So I was in San Churro with my friend with my churros and hot chocolate when my phone started playing the call to prayer on full volume! “But it was also a really defining moment for me because I realised what is part of my everyday life is incredibly unfamiliar and a bit spooky and weird for people who might not have been confronted with it before.” That realisation took on a darker turn when Amna went on exchange in Madrid and was placed in a homestay with an Islamophobic housemate. “She took a doona away and said ‘you people have coloured skin, I don’t want you to dirty up my doona’,” Amna said.

“I’ve had people stare at me my whole life but I never had someone pierce me quite so much to the point that the façade that I had been so carefully curating for so many years just crumbled.” Her traumatic experience led Amna to visit a mosque for the first time in many years. “I remember just sitting in front of a fountain and crying,” she said. “At that moment it was not about the hijab or whether I was praying five times a day. I had a feeling that I just hold on to now beyond anything else – that I have God in my heart. “In front of the fountain that day, crying and feeling like I had nothing, I realised I had God and I’d found him. “When you have God in your heart, when you have Jesus, or Buddha or Vishnu, you have light. And where there’s light, there’s love.” Multi-faith October concluded with a panel discussion and multicultural meal prepared by the Ormond home groups. Ormond Uniting Church minister Rev Andrew Boyle said there was a “wonderful resonance” between the guest speakers’ stories and the Christian faith. “It’s about this journey – of maybe avoiding God but then being found by God, often through suffering – where light and love enters into us,” he said.

ReGen wins award UNITING Vic.Tas’s Mother and Baby Residential Withdrawal Service has been recognised with an Excellence in Women’s Health award at the 2018 Victorian Healthcare Awards. The service, a key strategic initiative of Uniting ReGen and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, fills a crucial and longstanding gap in the Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) system in making AOD treatment more accessible for women with babies and infants. “In 2010, ReGen realised women with babies or young children faced particular barriers to accessing what is often the first stage of AOD treatment,” ReGen CEO Laurence Alvis said. “ReGen saw the need for a dedicated ‘Mother and Baby’ residential withdrawal service, an idea which was in line with DHHS key policy directions.” Before the service opened in Ivanhoe last October, women seeking AOD residential treatment in Victoria were unable to stay with their babies and infants while undergoing withdrawal. Consequently, the idea of being separated from their children, or having to find alternative care stopped

many women seeking help. Often women feared losing their children as a result of making contact with services, or being stigmatised as a drug-user. “By providing targeted, evidence-based treatment the program ensures mothers’ treatment is successful and they are able to be responsible parents, the program reduces risk to children,” Laurence said. “This removes barriers that stop women seeking early treatment and delivers significant improvements in mothers’ wellbeing and children’s safety. “It delivers longer-term engagement with health and support services for a highly vulnerable group.” For many of these women, the service has meant the difference between being able to go home with their baby, and having the baby removed from their care. The service is a key element in the current expansion of the Victorian AOD treatment system, the state’s response to the Protecting Victoria’s Vulnerable Children Inquiry and the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Victorian Healthcare Awards recognise excellence, dedication and innovation in providing publicly funded healthcare for the Victorian community.

Uniting Vic.Tas ReGen team receives their award 5


PM’s Jerusalem plan ‘erases Palestinians’ TIM LAM

RELOCATING Australia’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem would be a “dangerous decision” that could destabilise peace in the Holy Land, a Palestinian Christian has warned. Areej Masoud, who was visiting churches throughout Australia last month as part of a Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network speaking tour, said moving the embassy would have devastating consequences for the Palestinian people. “For us Palestinians, it has more significance than just changing a location,” Areej said. “It would legitimise an occupation that violates international law and that terrifies me. It would send a message that we are unseen or don’t exist.” Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently raised the prospect of moving the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Jerusalem holds historic and symbolic significance for Israelis and the Palestinians, with both claiming it as their capital city. Most countries operate their Israeli embassies out of Tel Aviv in recognition of this sensitivity. When the US government relocated their embassy to Jerusalem earlier this year, it sparked mass protests on the Gaza border, with dozens of Palestinians killed. “When Trump relocated the embassy, nearly all Palestinians went on strike,” Areej recalled. “Everything was locked down, no one would be going to work or leave their houses because they were mourning and in deep sadness. It was like a zombie town.” Areej spent the first seven years of her childhood in Qatar before her family moved back to Palestine, where she began

to experience the restrictions placed on the Palestinian people. “Maybe at the time I was not able to put it under the label of ‘occupation’ but I was noticing that can’t I go to the beach or a park, like I used to do in Qatar,” Areej said. “That’s how you were introduced to the occupation growing up – something that sets limitations on each aspect of your life.” The mass exodus of Palestinians in the past few decades has seen the number of Christians drop from 30 per cent of the Palestinian population to just 0.9 per cent. Christianity may be a minority religion in Palestine, but Areej believes Christians and Muslims are united in their struggle against the occupation. “We never see each other based on our religion, we just see each other as neighbours, friends and fellow Palestinians. It’s like growing up having a daily interfaith dialogue,” she said. “It’s the political occupation who are trying to use religious ideologies to make it seem like Christians, Jews and Muslims can’t live together. “For example, I’d go through a metal detector much easier than a woman in a hijab. This can cause tension as some might come to the conclusion that we are more privileged because we co-operate with the occupation. “It’s a way to separate people, and when you separate people you conquer.” At Bethlehem University Areej wrote a dissertation on Christian Zionism and the Kairos Palestine declaration of Palestinian theologians that the Israeli occupation is a sin against “God and humanity”. “Other Christians who believed in the

Areej Masoud

same Bible that I do would legitimatise the occupation from the Word of God and use it to justify my hardship and persecution. Christian Zionism has a huge effect on us Palestinians,” she said. “Some verses have been picked out and this has left out the God of justice, love and mercy.

“Little by little, I learnt I had to look at the holistic message of love. We are all God’s children and I cannot exclude one people over another. “My fear is that one day where Christianity started is the same place where Christianity is going to end.”

Road toll remembrance A MULTI-FAITH ceremony of healing for those impacted by road trauma will be held at Victoria’s Parliament House this month. Every year, the Uniting Church organises a Time for Remembering service on the third Sunday of November to commemorate World Day of Remembrance for Road Trauma Victims. The ceremony is also an opportunity to pay tribute to organisations and first responders who work tirelessly to reduce incidents of road trauma. Synod disability inclusion advocate Rev Andy Calder initiated the service. “Since 2001, the Uniting Church VicTas Synod and Road Trauma Support Services Victoria have organised this ceremony in Parliament House,” he said. “It continues to be a significant event for people affected by grief and loss on Victorian roads.” Representatives from the state government, Transport Accident 6

Commission (TAC), Victoria Police and emergency services will attend. Visitors are invited to bring a framed photo of their loved ones or other symbol of remembrance and light a candle in their memory. A number of guests will share stories of loss and healing during the ceremony. “The tears of pure pain, shed in that communally supportive space, were a necessary release,” an attendee from last year’s ceremony said. “Walking up the stairs of Parliament and placing a photo of my son inside, and being part of such a thoughtfully created ceremony, gave me something precious: recognition and validation of this difficult new role of a bereaved mother of a young son killed in a senseless road crash.” The ceremony is open to all, including those with no religious affiliation. In the year up to September 874 people have lost their lives on Australian roads.

Andy Calder at last year’s Time for Remembering service

Time for Remembering will take place at Queen’s Hall, Parliament on Sunday 18 November 2018. Please arrive before 11:45am to allow sufficient time to pass through a security checkpoint before entering the building. RSVP Friday 16 November 2018 to 1300 367 797 or office.manager@rtssv.org.au. CROSSLIGHT - NOVEMBER 18


‘Wonder women’ weaving together JAMES O’CALLAGHAN

WITH more than 300 women from across Australia in attendance, UnitingWomen 2018 was an opportunity to weave stories of wisdom and wonder. From the opening words of welcome to the closing communion service, the theme of sharing stories about the interweaving of faith and life ran through the third UnitingWomen conference in Brisbane at the end of September. In tune with the spectacular Saturday night Riverfire fireworks marking the end of the Brisbane Festival, there was plenty of excitement and inspiration. Over the four days of structured and casual conversations, keynote speakers, workshops and forums, more than 350 women of all ages and ethnicities shared their wisdom and formed new connections at the Somerville House Girls School venue.

The event, hosted by the Queensland Synod and supported by Somerville House, opened with a Welcome to Country and an address from Di Farmer, Queensland Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. After the initial formalities, UCA President-elect Rev Sharon Hollis took to the stage. Sharon summarised UnitingWomen as letting women see the humanity in each other “in our vulnerability, our strength, our laughter, our tears and our joy” and the image of God in that humanity. “And if we encounter each other like that we will weave such a tapestry of faith, such a tapestry of wisdom, such a tapestry of wonder that we will enrich each other, and we will enrich the lives of the Uniting Church,” Sharon said. On the second day keynote speakers Olympian Eloise Wellings and artist Lyn Diefenbach inspired listeners with their stories of faith in times of adversity. Lyn spoke of the devastation caused by the tragic death of her granddaughter. While she spoke, she created an artwork on stage, underlining the link between art and spirituality. Lyn invited her listeners to explore the joyful and painful memories which make up our lives and recognise that God can weave our brokenness into wholeness. “God is good. God comes alongside of us in our hurts and he carries us on the wings of the prayers of others, their presence, their actions, so we can become stretcher bearers for others who have walked a similar path,” she said. “We can pick up the broken because we

Lyn Diefenbach at the UnitingWomen conference

have been broken ourselves.” The first of two panel sessions on Saturday highlighted how UnitingWorld was making a difference in the Pacific region through programs like Partnering Women for Change. This initiative raised awareness of domestic violence within the predominantly Christian Pacific culture, responding to alarming statistics which indicated that 68 per cent of women and girls experienced violence in their homes and community. The second panel focused on women in leadership, with senior Uniting Church figures taking the stage for a session moderated by Queensland Synod general secretary, Rev Heather den Houting. Sharon, who was one of the panellists, said the church in Australia must come to terms with the fact that it was no longer the

centre of the universe. “I say that’s fantastic, because we can be true to our call which is to be salt and light and mustard seed and yeast, all of those fabulous images of God taking the small things and doing something with them,” she said. Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer delivered the sermon at the closing service, focusing on two key women in the Bible – Joanna and Mary Magdalene. “These wise wonderful women in the scriptures are our sisters of faith,” she said. “Our lives are woven together with theirs, as we hear again the good news declared in the Gospel." In her parting message, Deidre encouraged women to find their voices to share the story of Christ and the wisdom of God.

Giving it all in the Pacific UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer didn’t shy away from the big issues of women’s equality, the devastating impact of changing climate and domestic violence during recent trips to Bali, Fiji and Vanuatu. “It doesn’t matter where we live, we all face issues and we all have hopes for who we might become,” Deidre said. “The experience of meeting with our Christian brothers and sisters through UnitingWorld in the Pacific over the last few months has been incredibly life-giving. “Hearing the inspiring stories of women pastors who’ve faced considerable discrimination in order to lead their communities; attending a choir festival where people are nurtured in faith through music; speaking with UN officials about the ravages of changing climate in the Pacific – these things confirmed for me what it means to truly be part of a global church.” During her time in the Pacific, Deidre attended the Methodist Church of Vanuatu’s National Assembly. During the conference, UnitingWorld produced a television commercial to condemn violence against women and promote the life-giving way of Jesus. “We share in common the idea that the gospel of Christ is holistic – it addresses NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

Dr Deidre Palmer with women leaders Martha and Sophie at the Vanuatu National Assembly.

our social, economic and cultural needs as well as our deep spiritual and emotional needs. We’re of one heart and mind on so many of these issues,” Deidre said. “It’s been wonderful seeing the commitment of churches in Fiji, Bali and Vanuatu to nurturing disciples in the way of Jesus, sustaining people in faith and genuinely being part of the flourishing of their communities – providing clean water, health, education and addressing poverty.”

UnitingWorld is working alongside the local church in the Pacific and with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to undertake a number of community welfare, environmental, education and health initiatives. Deidre said that Uniting Church members could support UnitingWorld’s international programs by buying festive season gifts from their Everything in Common catalogue.

“It’s been a delight to worship with our brothers and sisters through connections forged with UnitingWorld, and this Christmas I encourage Uniting Church members to give Everything in Common gifts that so richly express our investment in the global church,” she said. If you would like to buy a Christmas gift, go to www.everythingincommon.com.au or call 1800 998 122.



From Melbourne to Malawi TIM LAM

AS the first permanent audiologists in Malawi, Peter and Rebecca Bartlett arrived facing a mammoth task. The couple and their three young children had never set foot in the southeast African country before, and they had to adapt quickly to a lack of resources and facilities. “We started off doing hearing tests in what was pretty much a cupboard where they used to store things,” Peter said. “I don’t think Bec and I really knew what we were going into – in fact, I’m pretty sure we didn’t! “But we felt called and we were somewhat prepared through our 16 years in audiology, a year of which we spent in various countries.” Peter grew up attending Templestowe Uniting Church (now Manningham Uniting Church) before studying audiology at the University of Melbourne. In 1998, he and fellow audiologist David Pither established Ears Inc, a Christian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing hearing impairment in developing countries. The organisation has established programs in a number of countries, including the Philippines, India, Dominican Republic and Papua New Guinea, but Malawi has a special place in Peter’s heart. Peter helped establish the Hearing Clinic and Training Centre at Malawi’s African Bible College (ABC) – the first dedicated audiology facility in the country. “Just because it’s a poor country doesn’t mean you should get poor standards,” Peter said. “We’ve now got a very good clinic with high-tech equipment. In the last three years, we’ve had over 10,000 patient appointments. You can come in and get tested and fitted on the same day – especially if you’ve travelled a long way.” In Malawi, hearing loss is often a result

Peter Bartlett conducts an ear examination

of anti-malaria medication, with children particularly susceptible to its side effects. With Malawi having the lowest GDP per capita in the world, the clinic adopts a flexible payment model so no one misses out. “If people can afford a private price, then that’s what they pay – that’s about 10 per cent of people who walk through the door,” Peter said. “The others pay a community price, so they might pay $10 for a hearing aid and

six months’ supply of batteries. But even if they can’t pay that, we ask them what they can pay. It might be 200 kwacha (38 Australian cents), so that’s now the price for the service.” The audiologists also undertake outreach programs where they visit villages in remote areas in a mobile audiology unit to conduct tests and supply hearing aids. “We are only one clinic in the middle of the capital city. More than half of our

patients have been on outreach because not many can come to where we are,” Peter said. “We work with organisations like Save the Children, CBM and others to do outreach because we’re not a big organisation, so we connect with those who understand where the needs are. “So many people have come in and we couldn’t have done all this without the support of Manningham Uniting Church, our church in Ballarat and many other congregations. “They have provided the money for tuition and outreach expenses, ear and health care devices and offered hope to thousands of Malawians.” Peter returned to Australia in 2016 and now lives in Ballarat with his family, but he has been back to Malawi several times to support the medical team. Last November was a milestone moment for the Hearing Clinic and Training Centre, as it marked the first time the facility operated without any expatriates. There are now seven clinical staff, two support personnel and five newly enrolled students. In January, Peter will embark on another outreach visit to Malawi and he is inviting volunteers to get involved with Ears Inc. The organisation is seeking audiologists, speech pathologists, teachers of the deaf and other allied professionals to volunteer overseas. They are also looking for a part-time Australian-based volunteer CEO who can offer organisational, business, governance and marketing skills to expand the reach of Ears Inc. “We know from the Bible that with God, nothing is impossible,” Peter said. “He can use every single one of us – wherever we are, whatever we’re doing – just like my friends in Malawi right now.” To find out more about Ears Inc, visit www.earsinc.org

Hitting out against slavery A TEAM of dedicated table tennis players last month rallied against slavery at High Street Road Uniting Church as they took part in the annual Ping-Pong-A-Thon. For 18 hours, 80 participants showed off their prowess at the Mt Waverley church, raising more than $10,000 towards the national campaign. The funds raised support nine organisations working to alleviate human trafficking in India, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines. Church treasurer and event organiser Stephen Lowe said it was exciting to see so many people come together to support an important cause. “We had Saward Dawson Chartered


Accountants sending a team to play, a group of young people doing a drug rehab program and a third group of golfers from a local private golf club,” he said. “It was a fascinating mix of people all working together for the freedom of exploited young people in South East Asia.” The event was one of 90 held across Australia in church halls, high school gyms and community centres. Ping-Pong-AThons were also hosted internationally for the first time, with five events in the US. The event began in 2011 and has raised more than $1.6 million. If you wish to donate, go to www.pingpongathon.com/mtwaverleyvic

Ping-Pong-A-Thon participants at High Street Road Uniting Church



Methodist memorabilia is a real spectacle DAVID SOUTHWELL APPROPRIATELY enough for a collection that includes John Wesley’s spectacles, Queen’s College is asking for artefacts that will help see the early Methodists with fresh eyes. Wesley’s glasses along with commemorative plates and cups, porcelain statues and original letters can be found in a dedicated room under the Queen’s College library in Parkville. These type of artefacts, known as ‘Methodistica’, have been donated to the College’s Sugden Heritage Collections by families who have inherited items often bought out to Australia from the UK in the luggage of their ancestors. Perhaps the collection’s most valuable piece of Methodistica, in monetary terms, is a porcelain bust of an aged John Wesley made by his friend Enoch Wood. The collection also has a huge collection of books, mostly on Methodist history, theology and mission, but some theological books and classical texts that date back to the 15th century. Sugden Heritage Collections Committee chair Rev Prof Robert Gribben said it was a “treasure trove” of items and “probably the principal Methodist collection in the Southern Hemisphere”. Robert said the College was always looking to add to the collection and he recently donated from his own family heirlooms a statuette of early Methodist theologian John William Fletcher. “As Methodism fades from memory it is more important than ever that these tangible artefacts are preserved for future generations,” Robert said. “With many children not taking up Christianity we think there are many families who will have things of value that will end up in a tip truck. “So we’re asking if you have Methodist materials, be they statues or cups or plates or documents, and you would like to give them a permanent home where they would be looked after, then Queen’s is a port of call.” Robert said it was important to preserve Methodist literature and artefacts.

“We don’t want the Methodist legacy lost simply because the times are changing and our next generation is not Christian in the way that their parents and grandparents are,” he said. Robert also said there has been a resurgence of Wesley and Methodist scholarship since the formation of the Uniting Church, making many studies from earlier than the 1970s out-of-date and inaccurate. “We inherited a somewhat sentimental understanding of John and Charles Wesley,” Robert said. “We promoted John higher than he should have been because his brother Charles, did a great deal more than write hymns. The brothers shared the oversight of the missions, John based in London, and Charles at first at Bristol, but they discussed all important decisions together. “We have slowly collected Charles Wesley’s letters and realise that he was a distinct theologian from his brother, there are things they differ on.” The letters and artefacts also reveal a more personal side of the founding Methodist brothers. “We know a lot more about their lives as two human beings than we did,” Robert said. “For instance, John had a disastrous marriage in the second half of his life, whereas Charles had one of the happiest marriages that we read about in the 18th century. “They were extraordinary men both of them.” Tax-deductible donations can also be made to the fund that supports new purchases and the restoration of old volumes to the Sugden Heritage Collections. Anyone with an artefact or letter they would like to donate can contact archives@queens.unimelb.edu.au or call 93490789. Any items more appropriately housed at the Synod Archives will be passed on to them.

Robert Gribben holding a porcelain bust of John Wesley


Ken Clark, Jim Colville, Tony Bisdee and Bill Tewson at the Anzac Day dawn service

Centenary of tears for Tasmania REMEMBRANCE Day in November marks 100 years since the signing of the Armistice to end World War I, and Tasmanians this year have been remembering the terrible toll of the conflict on the island state. In Tasmania, with a population of barely 190,000, 15,000 enlisted and nearly 3,000 were killed. Twice that number returned wounded. Unfortunately many plaques and honour boards from WWI and other conflicts are being lost as church buildings are closed and sold. At this year’s Anzac Day Dawn Service in Bagdad, north of Hobart, Rev Jim Colville brought two memorials from local churches that had closed. After the service they were presented to the RSL for display and safekeeping in the RSL Memorial Hall at Kimpton. One Memorial Board from Bagdad Uniting Church commemorates the grief of grandparents who lost three grandsons: Henry Eddington at the Somme in 1916; Ernest Bessier at Ypres in 1917 and Leslie Hyland at Warneton also in 1917. Another memorial that had originally been placed in a congregational church near Jordan River, Pontville, commemorated Harry Hodgman, who was killed in 1915 at Gallipoli. The other name on the plaque is Alan Gunn Hodgman, 20, brother of Harry. Alan died in 1917 at Messines. Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman is related to the two men. Harry Hodgman was buried at Lone Pine, but his brother Alan is listed on the Menin Gate Memorial to the missing at Ypres, Belgium. The memorial is dedicated to more than 55,000 missing British and Commonwealth servicemen, including 6,000 Australians. “Often it took weeks before a family knew of the death of a son, and being buried overseas, most families never had the opportunity to visit the grave,” Jim said. “For many, however, war had totally destroyed the body and they weren’t even left the solace of a known grave.” At the Anzac Day Dawn Service, Jim shared the story of an elderly lady who

every Sunday attended the Methodist Church in Glenorchy and sat in the same place. Directly above her on the wall was a plaque to a Charles Walton Stansall, a local preacher, who was killed on 10 September 1918, 62 days before the war ended. Just before he enlisted in 1916 he and the faithful congregant had become engaged. She never married and until the day she died she wore the engagement ring he had given her. At the service Jim wore the medals of his grandfather, James Colville. James lowered his age when he volunteered in World War I. He received the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. In World War II he enlisted again but wouldn’t accept his World War II medals, (the Australian Service Medal 39/45 and the War Medal 39/45) as he was very upset at being discharged at nearly 68 years of age. Jim received these medals 50 years later. The other three medals Jim wore were those of his wife’s father, Lisle Archard. Lisle was fortunate to survive the war when shot over the heart on 1 September 1918. The bullet hit the whistle in his pocket, was deflected under the heart and out through his back. On the Thursday before Anzac Day Jim was invited to unveil a plaque at the Bagdad Primary School commemorating the sacrifice of so many in what was believed to be the war to end all wars. This is located in a new and beautiful memorial garden funded by the Federal Government and donations. It was constructed with the help of volunteers and of many of the school children attending. “It is pleasing to see a new generation who will carry on the traditions of Anzac Day into the future,” Jim said. “In August of this year as chaplain I also participated in a moving service at Kempton, Tasmania. “A memorial avenue of trees planted 100 years ago to remember soldiers who served from the surrounding areas was rededicated and this was also attended by many school children.” 9


Driven young leaders DAVID SOUTHWELL

Participants at the 2014 NYALC

THERE’S a bus seat to Adelaide and financial assistance waiting for those wanting to attend a transformative event for young UCA leaders in January. The National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC) is being held from 17-20 January in Adelaide and the theme is LEAD – Live. Embrace. Act. Disciple. The four-day program will encourage leadership formation and explore the future of the church with sessions of worship, Bible studies and small group conversation. Intergenerational ministry youth worker Bradon French says NYALC events have had a major impact on him. “I’m yet to experience a NYALC that isn’t transformational,” said Bradon, who has been to four in various capacities as an attendee, co-ordinator, mentor and support person. “Each gathering, simply by creating space for young Christians and First and Second Peoples to express themselves, we find a glimpse of the church we were always called to be in. “By drawing people together from across the geographical and theological landscape of our church, NYALC forces us to grapple with issues and to say, ‘Who are we and where are we going?’ And then you layer upon that the opportunity of those attending to lead us there.” Assembly associate general secretary Rob Floyd said NYALC would give young leaders a platform to share their vision for the Church, but also to realise their own leadership potential. The four-day program will challenge participants to think about their core purpose, their strengths and passions and to look at where God is calling them. “The Uniting Church is seeking to hear new voices and fresh ideas,” Rob said. “We want to give our young people the opportunity to lead. Every participant will have at least one opportunity over


“We want to give our young people the opportunity to lead. Every participant will have at least one opportunity over the weekend to put their leadership skills into practice”

the weekend to put their leadership skills into practice.” UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer will be joined by church moderators, including Victoria and Tasmania moderator and President-elect Sharon Hollis, as well as other senior Church leaders in fellowshipping with the young adults. Dr Palmer said NYALC would give participants greater insight into how the Uniting Church works. “It is our hope that LEAD will be an opportunity for young adult leaders to reflect deeply on their faith and their place in shaping the life and mission of the Uniting Church,” she said. “NYALC is a space where we ask questions together, test ideas and develop Christian community that encourages us in our discipleship of Jesus.” LEAD participants will also be given the opportunity to visit the Colebrook Blackwood Reconciliation Park, once the site of Colebrook Children’s Home, now a memorial for members of the Stolen Generation and their families. Bradon said Synod was offering financial and practical assistance for young adults from Victoria and Tasmania to attend. “To help young people be part of this amazing opportunity, we are offering $200 subsidies to help cover the registration and transport costs, as well as a free bus convoy from Melbourne for the event,” he said. Bradon is going to drive the mini-bus from Melbourne to Adelaide with seats being offered free to those attending NYALC.

Bradon French is ready to go

A second vehicle will be provided if spaces are full. “The bus trip will definitely be lots of fun, adding to the experience,” Bradon said. Those wanting to apply for the subsidy can find a short form online at http://nyalc. ucayouth.org.au, where they can also find out more about the LEAD Conference. Applying for the subsidy is separate from registering to attend NYALC. This can be done at www.nyalc.org.au. NYALC is on from 17-20 January 2019 at Nunyara Conference Centre in Adelaide. For more information, contact Bradon French at bradon.french@victas.uca.org.au or 03 9340 8825.



Finding Common Ground BARRY GITTINS

FOR two years Mel Jepson has been asked where she saw God that week. That’s part of the ritual when she meets her friends at Common Ground, an intergenerational faith community that gathers in Heidelberg Scots Church meeting room on 10am Sundays. The congregation, ranging from a dozen to 30 or more people, welcome each other and light a candle, before asking, “Where have you seen God this week?” “We are CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) and Anglo-Saxon, ‘retireds’ and students and unemployed folks, workers and managers, singles and parents, and children and grandparents,” Mel says of the mix. “Some are well off and some are doing it tough.” Common Ground do things differently. There are no sermons as such, but they have Bible readings, prayer and discussions interspersed with creative responses, including writing, art, modelling clay and a capella singing. Options vary weekly, catering for differing learning styles, and for introverts and extroverts. They write letters as acts of worship and solidarity with people who are suffering. On occasion children and adults join forces to create dioramas. “People are free to make comments and ask questions,” Mel says. “Hearing people ‘process’ what we share is powerful. There is a lot of wisdom in

the room, and everyone is welcome to add to our understanding and searching. “There are times after our group has spoken and shared about a topic that our minister, Sandy Brodine, will say to us, ‘Everything that I would have included in a sermon has been shared.’ That is affirming.” Common Ground started with families that were part of Banyule Network’s Messy Churches. Most regular attendees are families with young, teenage or adult children where the parents wanted to engage in worship with their children. “They wanted to do something that bridged the gap between Messy Church and traditional church services,” Mel says. “People engage differently. Some people write poetry. Others connect best through drawing. Others want a quiet, thinking space, and that includes adults and children. “We communicate through tactile as well as aural or visual means. “We worship and learn about God together; we want God to be present in all of our senses and in all aspects of creativity; in all aspects of life. We worship God with our whole selves – our prayer activities attempt to connect with God and each other.” One Sunday – after discussions with Park Victoria – was spent “Making a Difference” (MAD) by picking up rubbish from an area of riverside close to Heidelberg.

There are more MAD experiences planned for 2019. Anyone is welcome to find Common Ground. Passers-by have joined in, including some people who are homeless. “The key is listening to each other,” Mel says. “Discussions include tactile and active options to participate in, as young people often engage better in conversation while doing something, as do some adults.” Common Grounders know that people describe God and the world in different ways. “We are all blinkered by our own expectations and experiences,” Mel says. “We realise there are other ways to see the world, and that when we talk with people of different faith traditions and generations and life experiences, it’s then that we begin to bridge the gaps. “We want the church to be a welcoming, inclusive, safe and open place. The heart of the church wants to welcome people. “We need all sorts of diversity in Christian communities, because there are all sorts of people. We’re grateful that the Banyule Network has enthusiastically launched and supported fresh expressions of church. “God is in this, and there is more to come. We need to be faithful to what comes next.”

Common Ground meets at 10am on Sundays in Heidelberg Scots Church meeting room at 187 Burgundy St, Heidelberg.

The Common Ground clean-up crew




Listening post Rev David Howie is a UCA chaplain at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). We asked him what he has learned in the three years he’s been there.

How many chaplains work at the RCH? There are Christian, Muslims and Buddhist chaplains in our team. We also have a visiting Hindu and Orthodox chaplains. How did you come to be a RCH chaplain? In 1984 I did a student placement at the hospital with Rev Dr Allen Edwards. This was a very challenging, but rewarding year. I always had an idea of coming back. Toward the end of 2015 the position became vacant and was advertised in Crosslight. I almost didn’t apply thinking I hadn’t maintained my pastoral qualifications. My wife convinced me to apply anyway and see what happened. Was this something you felt called to? Yes. I’ve always had a keen interest in the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of children. Being a chaplain at the RCH enables me to exercise this ministry with children, their parents and families. Especially given the opportune way that it happened, I have felt called and privileged to be at the hospital. What are your main responsibilities? The major part of the role is the spiritual and pastoral care of the hospital community. This includes patients and families, over 3500 staff and volunteers. My particular focus is caring for children and families during their short or long stays in hospital. For example, a child with bronchiolitis (a common chest infection) might stay a few nights, whilst some cancer treatments take more than 12 months with regular hospital admissions. Often children will have many admissions so a relationship is built with them and their families. Indeed, some who have regular admissions call themselves “Frequent Flyers”. There are also times when a chaplain is on-call to minister to a critically ill child when parents request a baptism or blessing, or pastoral care at an extremely difficult time. We also offer debrief sessions for staff after a critical incident as well as supporting them with teaching and encouragement of self-care. Occasionally I conduct funeral services for patients or staff members, as well as an Annual Memorial Service to remember and celebrate the lives of children who have died. What are the sensitivities of working in a secular environment? Chaplains provide person-centred care to those we encounter, which means they set the agenda. I thoroughly enjoy working in the secular environment of the children’s hospital, but it brings a range of responses. For some the words ‘chaplain’ or ‘pastoral care’ bring confusion, so people still ask


David Howie at Royal Children’s hospital

‘why are you here?’ For others, the terms bring suspicion; when I can almost see the person thinking: ‘What does he want? Is he going to try and force religion on me?’ And for some these terms bring significant fear, thinking that the chaplain has been sent to deliver bad news. Once, I was visiting a family where, unknown to me, the child was in surgery. I’d just finished introducing myself as a chaplain when the hospital rang the mother’s mobile to say the operation was finished. At that very moment the father, a former soldier, jumped to the wrong conclusion and stood up. I looked up at a huge man with significant fear, and no small amount of anger in his eyes. When the mother received the news that all was well and their child was asking for them I was able to reassure the relieved father that I had no knowledge of the surgery and it was just a wonderful coincidence that I walked in the room at that moment. Usually people relax after a brief conversation and I assure them my role is about care and support. As pastoral and spiritual practitioners we do not proselytise, however if a person brings up religion or faith issues, we are fully able to engage. Regularly I am the only representative of organised religion that a family knows. Often I have found those listed as ‘no religion’ have a deeper faith than those who name a denomination.

What have you learned about children? Children are amazing. They are open, accepting and fully able to embrace life – regardless of what might be happening to them. Children have the capacity to live in the moment, they are naturally very trusting and often bounce back quickly. Children know how they feel and will tell you. They will tell the truth, without prevarication or shade. I’m convinced it is no accident that Jesus placed a child in the middle of the community as the model of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. What do you find most challenging? The emotional nature of working within a children’s hospital can be very challenging. There is something about the innocent suffering of children which brings another level to people’s response. Being with children in pain and discomfort through illness or injury, and the impact this has on them and their families, who are experiencing upheaval and trauma. Situations where children have been abused or neglected are even more challenging. What are the greatest satisfactions? One of the great satisfactions is being with families when they receive good news; “the cancer has disappeared … the operation was a success … the injury is healing better than

expected … the child seems to have turned the corner…” When journeying with people through both the highs and lows of their child’s illness there are significant relationships that develop. Occasionally one gets the sense that we have actually made a difference in the care and support that we offer. Similarly being part of a multidisciplinary team, including doctors, nurses and allied health is very satisfying. By offering a compassionate, listening presence and encouragement we support staff that give of themselves in caring for children and families. To see the way the team works well together which enables children’s healing brings great satisfaction. What makes a good chaplain and how would someone get involved? An effective chaplain is someone who brings non-judgmental listening to an encounter. They are listen carefully without needing to ‘fix’ things. A good chaplain is someone who is able to stay with a person in their pain and grief without too many words. Participating in Clinical Pastoral Education units, which provide focused practise and learning, is the most direct way to develop these skills and explore becoming a chaplain.



Stepping up to run a business DAVID SOUTHWELL

WHEN Minerva couldn’t find a suitable source of protein to feed her baby she decided to invent one. She came up with a spread based on legumes that has no added sugar, preservatives and is allergen-free. It proved a hit with her daughter and, being a food technologist, Minerva saw market potential. “I always wanted to have my own product,” she said, but, having recently migrated from Mexico, there were a number of hurdles. “I am new in Australia and I didn’t know anything about regulations,” she said. Thankfully Minerva was able to turn to Stepping Stones to Small Business for help. “The program helped me to understand what I needed to start a small business. They helped me with all the basic tools,” she said. Minerva is currently market testing her three flavours (raspberry, chai and chocolate) of legume-based baby food. Stepping Stones is a micro-enterprise training and support program tailored to women from refugee, migrant and asylum seeker backgrounds. It is run by the Brotherhood of St Lawrence as part of a range of ecumenical supports to people from those backgrounds. Coordinator Rebecca Meddings said starting a business can be daunting for migrant, asylum seeker and refugee women. “A lot of these women are finding it so hard to find work that it’s actually a last resort to earn income for their family,” Rebecca said. “But when you are a woman from a refugee background having gone through a difficult journey to get here, having English as an additional language, having caring responsibilities without much support there are a fair few barriers in accessing mainstream small business support or in setting up a small business.” Rebecca said many migrant women are

Rebecca and Minerva at a Stepping Stones expo

extremely entrepreneurial but lack local experience and understanding. “Our role is really about providing that knowledge around the Australian context because there’s a whole lot of regulations and ways of doing things in Australian business that’s different to all the countries that they come from,” Rebecca said. “Many are scared of doing the wrong thing. Some of the people are fleeing governments who persecuted them. We’re trying to really be the conduit and build trusting relationships. “We hope by the time they’ve gone through our program that they know they have every right to access all the mainstream small business support.” The Stepping Stones course runs for 15 weeks, one day per week, and it teaches all aspects of starting a small business, including financial literacy, market research, business regulations as well as income support and tax aspects. Participants are set up with a one-on-one mentor and, after the course is completed, can attend workshops, networking events and markets. “There is generally around three years of support but all of graduates stay within networks and we have this growing alumni that come back and support other women,” Rebecca said.

Hand-made toys for sale


Rebecca said the course does not push women into forming a business, but rather teaches them about what is involved. “You really get a chance to think ‘Is business for me and is it for me right now?’,” she said. “It’s more about economic participation in general rather than starting a small business.” Since its modest beginning almost seven years ago with a few women making beaded items in Fitzroy, the program has seen 268 graduates from 57 countries. Of those, 48 per cent have started a business, which range from food and catering to handmade goods to imported products and professional services. “One woman from an architecture background was designing caravans for dogs. The business ideas change all the time,” Rebecca said. While many businesses are sole traders some have expanded considerably, such as the Somali Street Food Café in Glenroy, which employs five people. Another graduate has set up beauty salons in Prahran and South Melbourne. Stepping Stones participants have ranged in age from 23 to 67 and, while some have been in Australia for many years, others were newcomers, with one starting the program on only their third day in the country. “The diversity in how long people have been in Australia is really important because you could be sitting next to somebody who is a lot more settled than you or someone who isn’t and you are helping each other,” Rebecca said. “You might also get a group of women in a room who are from completely different cultures, so there is difference to share but there’s so much similarity in being new to a country, all the challenges they face in settling and starting a business. “A lot of the program is just as much learning from who else is in the room rather than just us. “The bonds they build, some of them have long-lasting friendships beyond the class. A

lot of women, if they don’t start a business, still choose to come back to networking events we have on because that is their sense of belonging, it’s their community and they love it. It’s women supporting women.” Rebecca said the program has seen women blossom and take on leadership roles in their communities. “The biggest success stories I love seeing are the changes in someone’s confidence, and improved English and seeing someone from the start who might hardly speak doing a speech at graduation or coming back and speaking at an alumni event and becoming a leader in this program,” Rebecca said. “Those are the things that blow me away and really move me.” Rebecca said a “critical” aspect of Stepping Stones is the partnering with a mentor for six to 12 months. “It’s quite a long-term trusting relationship we’re building and mentors generally meet with someone every two weeks for an hour or two,” Rebecca said, adding that this schedule is flexible. Stepping Stones is always looking for more volunteers and, while some have particular skills in finance or marketing, that is by no means essential. “Mentors can come from any background,” Rebecca said. “A lot of people think ‘I haven’t run a small business before and how can I help?’ but most skills are transferrable because the main focus of working with someone is helping them do their business plan. “There are so many different ways you can get involved. You could help run a market or a workshop, lots of people help participants with the English side of their homework. “If people want to come and help we really will work out how they can best do that.” Female mentors are especially welcomed, with induction training running two or three times a year. Recently Stepping Stones has also been piloting classes with men and women. 13


Too close to home DEB BENNETT

WENDY Austin wants you to know that family violence is not about other people. Manningham Uniting Church member Wendy has worked to combat family violence for more than 40 years, including being CEO and manager of Brenda House Domestic Violence service. She is a founder, long-time board member and now consultant with peak advocacy and research body Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) and was one of the key presenters at last month’s Justice and International Mission conference. The essential message she has for those who think domestic violence hasn’t happened or isn’t happening to someone they know is that they are almost certainly wrong. “Family violence impacts the people you shop with, the people on the bus, and the people you go to church with,” she said. “I’ve done many talks in churches and I’ll say, ‘Look around the room, one-inthree relationships suffers from some form of imbalance’. “The more we think we’re special, we’re not. We’re part of the community, we just happen to gather together to worship.” Victoria recorded more than 78,000 incidence of family violence in 2016, an increase of 10 per cent on the previous year. According to DV Vic even that figure is less than the real tally because many incidents are unreported. What is known is that one woman a week dies as the result of intimate partner violence, making it the leading cause of preventable illness, disability and death for women aged 15 to 44. While family violence is often presented in terms of injury or death, Wendy feels we need to expand our understanding to include all forms of control. “My aim is to raise awareness of family violence as an imbalance of power and control in relationships,” she said. “An imbalance is not just about physical or visible violence, or something that is at crisis point. It might appear ‘normal’ to the people it affects, but it is something we can all have a part in addressing. “This requires us to think of it as something that happens to us. “Think about the kids that come into


your home when they come to play. Some of those mothers are being abused, some of those fathers are abusers. It’s a fact. It’s not something where you can think ‘oh maybe not’ – it is a fact. “There will be people in our lives who will be living like that. Sometimes their family don’t know, the community around them don’t know, but it doesn’t mean they are not there.” According to DV Vic, family violence is rarely a one-off incident. More typically it is the result of progressively worse behaviour. “Family violence often starts with an intimate partner’s apparent love transforming into controlling and intimidating behaviour,” DVVic says on its website. “Over time, the woman is often increasingly isolated from friends and family by her partner. Physical violence may not occur until the relationship is well established, or it may not occur at all. The abusive, violent and controlling behaviours create an environment of fear and constant anxiety in a place where women and children should feel safe and secure.” Wendy said there was often an “early noticing” stage where people might be able to intervene. It could be that a woman has little control over the household finances and this is evidenced by her worrying about overspending on groceries or gifts. Wendy said it was important to start the conversation without making the woman feel you were challenging her decisions. “You can ask, ‘Is this an arrangement you have agreed to? I do things a little bit differently to that’. Take it more into that sort of space,” she said. “The key is to always leave the person in control because that’s not what they are used to. “Allow them to be in control and say ‘no’ if they don’t want your help. You have to know when to push and when not to. “You can offer a cuppa or offer a chance to just have a chat and if they say ‘no’ then it’s no. But you’ve offered.” Wendy feels it is vital to understand people often come to view a power imbalance as normal, so they don’t realise

it is an abusive relationship. “It is important to remember that nobody’s reality is the same – what you experience is your normality,” she said. “It is affected by their personal view of their self-worth, both from the view of those experiencing violence and those perpetrating violence.” From working in a women’s shelter, Wendy has learnt the importance of respecting a person’s reality and not trying to “fix” their situation. “People come in and out of family violence; we think they are ready to leave but they’re not and might go back to a situation you don’t believe is right,” Wendy said. “But I used to say to my case managers, ‘She needs to be the one to make that choice’. “If you’ve done nothing but plant that seed that she actually matters, that she is worth being respected and safe, then maybe that’s all you need to do at that point in time. “Maybe next time something happens she might make different choices depending on whether she is in a different place and whether she values herself or not.” While on a personal level it might be confronting to offer help, particularly if that help is rebuffed, Wendy believes community organisations, such as churches, have a significant role to play in reducing the level of family violence. “It’s the preventative stuff where I think the community has a role that can be very valuable because they can do it together,” she said. “The role sits in any of the places where communities gather. The sporting ground, churches, the pub – anything that brings people together, the opportunity is there. “The notion of building respect and promoting it is the best way of dealing with it. It’s challenging what have become norms.” While family violence permeates all socio-economic levels of society, rural and regional communities are particularly impacted. An Australian Institute of Family Studies research paper, Domestic and family violence in regional, rural and remote communities, found that isolation,

lack of service providers, a patriarchal values contribu comparative prevalence of violence in rural commun The paper, released in 201 that women often stayed in relationships because of a l alternatives, such as somew find employment. Wendy agrees the issues c to family violence are often rural communities. “To leave a relationship, y up a lot, especially for wom she said. “They are giving up their workplace, the only safety t they can’t leave with much the legal process has taken not a simple thing to do. A accommodation regionally very sparse.” However, Wendy says, the characteristics of small com not entirely negative. “I was discussing this rece nurse from a Bush Nursing said one of the things that to discuss family violence i community is that everybo everybody,” Wendy said. “But this is also one of the can in fact reduce family vi people do look out for each This ties in with Wendy’s “early noticing” and helpin up the confidence in peopl conversations with those th need help. “A number of interesting been developed,” she said. “One involves a group of that have been trained to re violence. People often talk hairdressers, so it is educat know where to go. “They aren’t expected to s say ‘No wonder you’re upse sound good, here’s a numb “I think this can work for organisations and groups. “If you know what the ne can offer to go with them, y find the phone number – th range of little things we can



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For help and support If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger call: 000 For help or advice call: • 1800 Respect: 1800 737 732 (Australia-wide) • Safe Steps Family Violence Response Center: 1800 015 188 or 03 9322 3555 (Vic) • Domestic Violence Helpline: 1800 800 098 (Vic) • Family Violence Response Referral line: 1800 633 937 (Tas) • Family Violence Counselling and Support Service: 1800 608 122 (Tas)

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Domestic violence and the workplace As society comes to terms with the prevalence of domestic violence, Australian employers are beginning to take steps to support their employees who may be affected. In 2011, the University of New South Wales reported 30 per cent of employees had experienced domestic violence. This impacted on their work in a variety of ways, with nearly half saying they had taken days off due to partners hiding their keys or refusing to care for children. Others reported receiving abusive phone calls and emails, or their abuser showing up at work. Access Economics predicts the cost of lost productivity in Australia associated with family violence at will be $609 million by 2022. This year, the Federal Government proposed changes to the Fair Work Act to include provisions for employees experiencing family violence. Dr Mark Zirnsak, senior social justice advocate for the Vic/Tas Synod, said the mooted changes were inadequate. In a submission to parliament, Mark noted the Bill provided five days of unpaid leave annually at the discretion of an employer, but he argued that this allowed too much scope for trying to minimise the time taken off work. Concern was also raised at the narrow definition of family violence recognised by the Bill. A person is entitled to family violence leave only if they themselves are the victim of the violence. Mark said this contrasted with similar legislation in countries such as New Zealand and the Philippines, which allowed 10 days of paid family violence leave. These countries also considered employees eligible for such leave if they were caring for, or supporting, family members who may be experiencing violence. Mark cited the example of steps taken by the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania to help employees experiencing family violence.


Letters Standard of proof

Pride and change

I AM curious after reading Bill Norquay’s letter (October, Crosslight). Bill and his Friday discussion group appear to reject anything that is not known to science. Specifically they regard a virgin birth as an impossibility even though the only reason it is not commonplace is a gene behaviour issue. But here is the curiosity: they claim to believe in God and a “kingdom of God” both of which are less supported by science than any physical event, including raising the dead. To me this seems a massive inconsistency. Do they perhaps believe their God has no supernatural power, no omniscience and no way of knowing of our existence?

IT was a sea of orange cards, no blue or yellow, when the church council at Beaumaris Uniting Church - St Martins decided to allow same-gender couples to marry at our church. As the person who introduced the proposal I would like to share what I told the meeting: I believe passionately that St Martins should welcome same-gender couples to marry here should they wish to do so. I would feel this even if I did not have two adult gay children. That I do adds further depth and commitment to my conviction. I firmly believe that my two gay children should have the same legal opportunity to marry the person they love (especially in this church should they chose to) in the same way their ‘straight’ sisters were unquestioningly able to do. A person’s sexual orientation should have nothing to do with him or her wanting to come before God to bless the marriage. To support our gay children in the Pride Marches last year during the horrendous postal plebiscite on this issue was to feel the widespread support in the wider community. It was heartening and reassuring at a time of great vulnerability and distress for the LGBTIQ community. References in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, to exclude gay people from mainstream cultural observations and customs, such as marriage, derive from an ignorance and fear of difference. We tend to fear and demonize what we don’t understand. Such attitudes and feelings are perhaps at the heart of continued discrimination and prejudice experienced by gay people today. It has taken a very long time, but society now understands a little better that we have nothing to fear from the LGBTIQ community. We cannot turn back the clock on years of persecution and bigotry, but we can all work toward a more inclusive, accepting and loving society which celebrates diversity. As Christians, Jesus reminds us of “a new commandment I give unto you, that you love another as I have loved you. By this shall all people know that you are my disciples”. He further teaches us of the two great commandments: to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Gay people are just as much ‘our neighbours’ as straight people, and as such are entitled to the full protection and potential of the law, including same-gender marriage.

Wal Dower Narre Warren North, Vic

Passing on peacefully I AM a resident of Condare Court aged care facility and formerly an active member of the Glen Iris- Hartwell Parish. You will recall that a few years ago the Tasmanian Parliament considered and eventually rejected a private member’s Bill on Voluntary Assisted Dying. I was invited to make a submission on the draft legislation, which I did. I made copies of my document for interested parties and lodged two of them with Uniting Aged Care, one with the social worker at Elgin Street and one with the senior nurse at Condare Court, where I am now a permanent resident. I was a bit disappointed that my paper had failed to gain much interest, as I was inspired to write it by a close friend, a registered nurse of long experience, and also a former Catholic. Her mother, a practising Catholic, was in her mid 90s when she died and was a patient - confined to bed mainly in a Catholic nursing home. Old age had taken over, she had memory problems and had become confused. Her doctor was pretty sure that there was a malignant growth in her stomach. His suggestion was that she be transferred to hospital for X-rays and probable invasive treatment. At this stage my friend stepped in for serious discussion with her mother’s doctor, who had also been her own GP for many years. She expressed her wish that her mother be permitted to die in peace. Her GP took over, pain relief was set at an appropriate level, and the patient passed out in her sleep three days later. The nursing sister in charge congratulated my friend on her intervention, about which the Catholic Church raised no objections. Graeme Wilson Camberwell, 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. Send your letters to crosslight@victas.uca.org.au.


Nick Toovey Beaumaris, Vic

Prayer Creative process EVOLUTION is anathema to some Christians, but it doesn’t rule out creation. It’s obvious that many species have evolved over millennia for we have archaeological evidence to prove it, but this doesn’t disprove creation because creation is not finished and is an ongoing process. It didn’t all happen in six days and then remain static thereafter. Some proof of this can be seen in ice ages coming and going, sea levels fluctuating (the Mediterranean Sea basin being dry in some ages), coastlines changing, and continental drift that has seen the continents moving away from Gondwanaland. All this is obviously part of God’s plan for the progression of His marvellous Creation. Melva Stott, Anglesea, Vic

Occupational insights I READ with tears, “Letters from the Holy Land” (July, Crosslight) from Ann and Joe. Thank you for printing these insightful, first-hand diary and photo accounts from warzone danger. For me, what shone brightly against the nightmare of Israel’s relentless oppression was the buoyancy of the Palestinians, humble, welcoming, unbreakable, as reflected in Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, persistent in prayer”. Particularly moving was Ann and Joe’s reminder of Raza al-Najjar, the 21-yearold nurse shot dead while rescuing injured protestors, and the doctor’s cathartic painting of her memorial on the separation wall. Israel has sold its soul for land. The way it has and continues to terrorise Palestinians demands the attention of all who seek justice. Ray Higgs Ferntree Gully, Vic

Way off track WHAT a state we are in – housing costs almost impossible for lower income groups and our jails are full. Victorians spend much time discussing the pokies’ issues and their effect on society. Do we realise the great impact of Racing Victoria which now has some 200 licenced pokie machines? And is as yet to unveil a new multi-million dollar grandstand which took two years in building plus groundwork to re-align the straight. Fellow Victorians we have a rare opportunity to ask questions of our candidates for the forthcoming election.  One question is - do we need a public holiday for a horse race?  Or is it more appropriate to celebrate with an annual Peace and Harmony Festival on the 11th day of the 11th month? 

MY PRAYER If I must use my hands for you, Lord, Please let my hands be strong; If I must fight a hard fight for you, Lord, Please, won't you come along. If I must sing a glad song for you, Lord, Help me to strike the right note; Help me remember, when I'm feeling down, That others are in the same boat. If I must offer my love for you, Lord, Make my arms warm and secure; If my faith trembles a bit, now and then, Give me a faith that is sure. If I must tread a long road for you, Lord, Please let my steps be true; If I'm confused about what to do next, Please tell me, Lord, what to do. If I must use my brain for you, Lord, Let not my thoughts go astray; Whatever it is that you want from me, Lord, Please walk with me all of the way. Amen Helen Brumby

Bill Chandler Ringwood North, Vic


Everybody has a story

Osgood and the art of hospitality TANYA WALKER

Aria (11) and Sophie (9) with Osgood

IN late May, as our family were farewelled from our church in Benalla, the minister, Rev Kel Hodge, presented us with Osgood, a soft toy from his spare room. We had a mission to take pictures of Osgood to share with our home church while on our journey to experience something of this huge country of ours. Our itinerary took us through the centre of Australia to Alice Springs and then to Darwin, across to Broome, down the West Coast to Perth and then the South West Coast and across to South Australia, Adelaide and home to Benalla. Seeking a Uniting Church to attend in the towns we went through was a way we felt we could connect, albeit briefly, with people across the other side of the country. Early one Sunday morning we even packed up our van and drove 180km to Broome in order to attend the 9am service. First up there was the Uniting Church in Alice Springs, which was vibrant, busy and lively, with lots of kids wandering in and out – there was even a small puppy being cuddled by the minister's children. Then there was Darwin, which was going through a stage of transition and didn’t have a regular minister. Broome was memorable for its open walls and welcoming community and a great children's address. In Perth we decided to go to the Wesley church in the city - this proved to be spectacular in the music department, with a grand piano, large pipe organ, robbed choir and, to top it all off, a clarinet soloist from the music academy. Then we headed south and found a little community called Pinjarra. This place was as friendly as they come, even giving us hugs at the door. In SA, we visited Streaky Bay, a lovely little town and when we got to church the 10 people there were rather surprised but very happy to see our family turn up. In Clare, SA, we happened to turn up on the Sunday when the youth were taking the service (not the usual we were told). There was a fabulous band and vibrant

Aria holding up Osgood in the desert landscape

music, video clips made by the kids and some great sharing by young people. Our girls were particularly taken by this as they enjoyed seeing young people showing such confidence up front of the church. However, there was one Sunday, Father’s Day as it happens, that really stood out in the lovely WA town of Denmark. After the service I started chatting to the organist, John Pate, who asked us what we were up to that afternoon. After learning about our love of bushwalking, John and wife Trudy invited us to his place in the hills. John and Trudy live on a spectacular property 6km north of Denmark. The house is humble, a renovated miner's cottage, but the garden is magnificent; growing everything from natives to African plants to bulbs to a huge vegie patch with raspberries and citrus trees. John is 85. Nearly everything about him suggests a person whose spirit is more in control of the body than the other way around. After calling some blue wrens (which appeared in seconds) for the girls to feed, he took us on a tour of the 7km walking track he had carved out of the bushland, using only shovels, rakes and secateurs. After an hour and a half of fairly challenging walking that culminated in a breathtaking view of the coast, we returned

to the house where John made us tea before urging us to take some grapefruit and lemons from the garden. We felt so privileged and honoured that John and Trudy had taken time out of their day to share with us. It was a true highlight on our four-month journey. When you have been traveling, with only three to four days maximum in any one place, there is little opportunity to make real connections with people. We felt very transient and, for that reason, it’s good to get back to Benalla.

At the end of our travels we were welcomed back with much delight by our church community. We then took a final photo of the well-travelled Osgood with his home congregation. But spending time with John and Trudy, being welcomed into their home and their lives, was special and something we will remember for a long time. It made us think a lot about the gift of hospitality – especially spontaneous hospitality. Not all of us have the gift of hospitality, but some definitely do, it is just hidden. For myself, I think it is hidden behind what I have to get done at home, hidden behind feeling awkward about not knowing someone and what they will be like, hidden behind not feeling adequate enough to open up myself and my home to others. I need to take a page out of John Pate's book and put aside all those excuses and invite a church visitor home to our house for morning tea, or lunch, or for a walk around the lake.

Please send us your stories.They can be in the form of poems, comics, creative writing or artwork. Email submissions to crosslight@ victas.uca.org.au.

The Uniting Church congregation in Denmark, WA NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT


Pilgrim Reflection

For the sake of our children MONICA JYOTSNA MELANCHTON

ABOUT 20 years ago I came across a book by journalist and activist Pinki Virani called Bitter Chocolate: Child Sex Abuse in India. She had travelled across India meeting victims, psychologists, social workers, police and others to record incidents and analyse how they had been handled. It was the first book to be written on the subject in the sub-continent. Needless to say, the content was disturbing and confronting, but also powerful in that it shattered the conspiracy of silence around child sex abuse/assault in Indian homes (mostly middle and upper class families) and succeeded in giving the child a voice. The statistics at that time revealed that about 25 per cent of boys and 40 per cent of girls under the age of 16 were being abused sexually – 50 per cent within their own homes by adults and caretakers (parents, relatives and even school teachers). The problem has not gone away. In 2016, India’s National Crime Records Bureau reported 106,958 cases of abuse/assault – that’s one child every 15 minutes. These numbers are frightening, to say the least. They also illustrate that rape and sexual abuse is a violent instrument of power that is rooted within systems and structures that give disproportionate power to adults at the expense of children. As we all know, child sexual abuse is not

a static crime or one confined to a single geographical region. It is pervasive and, unfortunately, alive in our communities, cities, churches and homes. The abused are the “shrieking silent”. Last month, the Prime Minister delivered an emotional apology to the victims of institutional child sex abuse in Australia. The government’s efforts to expose the issue are commendable and it is my ardent prayer that it emboldens victims and survivors of abuse to come forward. We, as members within the church, are being trained to be alert, to spot abuse, to establish processes and ways of reporting, to put in place safety measures and safe environments for children. We have committed ourselves to understand and implement the lessons of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and to be taught by the testimonies of victims and survivors. As one involved in theological education, the challenge before me - and perhaps all of us - is how do we read or engage the biblical text and our traditions for the sake of children? • How familiar are we with theological reflections on the sexual violation of children? • How do we promote healing and foster biblical-theological reflection

by deepening our insight into texts and traditions with an eye to sexual abuse of children? • How have our readings of the biblical text shaped or informed our approach to the care of children? • Have our readings and interpretations taken into consideration the impact they might have on children or how we treat our children? I don’t have the answers yet, but I confess I have not been as alert as I should have been to the impact that stories and narratives within the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament have on children. For example, how might a child respond to the story of Isaac in Genesis 22 or that of Ishmael (Gen 16 and 21), Lot’s daughters (Genesis 19), the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter (Judges 11), the many children killed during the time of Moses’ birth (Exodus 1) or at the time of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2), to name a few? These texts showcase children that are seemingly expendable, children who are traumatised, who suffer and are in pain. Christine Hayes (Introduction to the Bible) reminds us that the Bible is not suitable for children. Disturbing episodes of incest, treachery, murder, and rape speak to those who have the courage to acknowledge that the Bible mirrors life with its depiction of

suffering, pain, conflict and of joy, mercy, compassion and justice We need to take up the challenge voiced by Dana Nolan Fewell (The Children of Israel: Reading the Bible for the Sake of Our Children) that we start to read these texts from a child’s perspective because “children are in crisis” - victims of abuse (physical, psychological and sexual), hunger, conflict, displacement, disease, sex trafficking, pornography, commercial adoption, poverty, homelessness and of neglect. As theologians, as readers and interpreters of the Word, and as people of faith, we need to seek an understanding of God and the world that will make sense of this data and determine how we help victims to reconnect or stay connected with the community of faith.

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

“How do we read or engage the biblical text and our traditions for the sake of children?”



Moderator’s column

Sharon Hollis at the UnitingWomen conference

Acts of renewal and hope SHARON HOLLIS

OVER the last couple of weeks I’ve had one of those patches where life and its demands threatens to overwhelm me. My diary was fuller than I would like, there were difficult conversations to have as November, the anniversary month of my partner’s death, loomed. I felt that I was running on empty or close to it. I’m sure most of you have had weeks or months or years like this, not the same issues but that feeling there is nothing left in the tank and you are not quite sure what will sustain hope and discipleship. This feeling of dryness caused me to pause and reflect on what sustains me. How can I draw again on the practices of life and faith that will give me strength for the work I need to complete and hope for the future? For me, one of key practices of faith is gathering for worship and I’ve continued to gather with the Christian community week by week. NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

In the past, this has been with the congregation I belong to but now due to the nature of being Moderator this means it is often a different community each week. Each week, whoever I gather with and whatever the occasion being marked by the congregation, I have been enriched by their faithfulness in prayer and in the opening of Scripture. The rhythm and discipline of gathering Sunday by Sunday to listen for God’s word, to give thanks, confess, sing and pray for others anchors me in the story of God’s saving works and reminds me that I am part of a story much bigger than me which holds me and renews me. So often when we gather for worship the regret I have is that we don’t celebrate Holy Communion weekly. I particularly feel this in times of spiritual and emotional dryness when I long to hold out my hand and have placed in it the body of Christ, to take into myself the

nourishment of Christ’s presence. At the table, Christ feeds us so that we might live as his followers in the world. We live undernourished as disciples when we do not gather regularly around the table. I’ve also been walking the dog more, which has been an unexpected spiritual blessing. As I’ve walked, often in the early evening, I’ve enjoyed the smells of the changing season, the citrus blossom and the jasmine and I’ve marvelled at the glory of creation and the Creator. I’ve stopped and smelt the roses, literally, and given thanks for those who planted them and those who tend them in the hope that beauty will blossom each spring. I’ve seen a shrub planted in the most improbably small piece of dirt, an act of hope by the one who planted it that life can be nurtured in the most unlikely of places. For me it has become a sign. Every time I walk past this plant I am invited to look out for signs of life and growth and reminded

of the way the Spirit of Jesus brings life when we should not expect it. I can hope that the Spirit can renew even me. Gentle walking seems to help me notice God and helps me to pray. I try to maintain a practice of prayer, to take time each day to open myself up to God. In prayer I am able to see myself more truly, to see myself with the eyes of God which judge me, restore me and help me see myself as a beloved child of God In prayer I am reminded that each of us is held in love by the God of love. As I lean into those practices and habits I find they ground me again and again in God’s goodness and love which binds me up and sends me out into the world.

Sharon Hollis Moderator 19


Degrees of commitment MARGUERITE MARSHALL

Photo by Willian Justen de Vasconcellos on Unsplash

CHRISTIANS have led many important social movements including the antislave trade, anti-Apartheid and AfricanAmerican equality in the US and now we have a new and urgent challenge. Last month’s UN special report on global warming says emergency action is needed if we want to maintain a safe climate for our children. If we don’t act now they won’t have a liveable planet, according to 97 per cent of the world’s climate scientists. The UN report says we must almost halve our C02 emissions by 2030 and cut them to zero by about 2050. To succeed, carbon emissions must begin to reduce from 2020, according to Mission 2020 – a campaign for a safe climate. This would limit a rise in temperature to a relatively safe climate of 1.5C above preindustrial times. But according to current plans the world will exceed this limit. Country commitments at the 2015 UN climate conference will result in 3-4C warming by the century’s end. It is true the signatories agreed to review and try to reduce these targets. Worryingly the US aims to withdraw from this agreement. Today’s average temperature rise of about 1C already brings more extreme climate. This is especially bad news for the poor who are already impacted most by climaterelated extreme weather events and sea level rise. It’s clear that our leaders are not solving this enormous problem. So what can be done? Christians know that anything is possible with God. Our task is to love others and care for all creation. With the West’s growing secularisation, this is an opportunity to demonstrate and spread Jesus’s message of love and hope. At an individual level we can start by living simpler, which accords with the way Jesus taught us to be. The Uniting Church is supporting the


Melting ice threatens to raise sea levels

global initiative “Living the Change: faithful choices for flourishing world”. The campaign, run by the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), challenges believers in various spiritual traditions to make concrete commitments to live more simply, in line with their deeply held beliefs and values. “There are indeed sacrifices, but there are many co-benefits that come with simpler lifestyles,” ARCC president Thea Ormerod says. “Just as following Jesus brings fullness of life, moving towards plant-based diets, walking and cycling bring health benefits; using public transport and reducing air travel slows down the frenetic pace of life; more energy efficiency and renewable energy means less pollution; congruence with personal values enhances self-worth.” Internationally millions of people are taking emergency action in their local communities. More than 9000 cities, representing about 10 per cent of the world population, belong to the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. They plan with partners to limit global warming to 1.5C or less. More than a third of the US population are also defying their government’s plan to pull out of the Paris UN climate agreement by November 2020. The ‘We Are Still In’ campaign members vow to cut their greenhouse gases. The campaign signatories represent about 120 million Americans, including more than 1000 governors, mayors, businesses, investors and universities. In February, 70 local Australian councils, representing more than 7.5 million people, vowed to take action to tackle climate change according to The Climate Council. Darebin and Moreland Cities have emergency plans to reduce their carbon

emissions to net zero carbon emissions Darebin by 2020 and Moreland by 2045. Melbourne city aims to be carbon neutral by 2020, Adelaide city by 2021, Canberra by 2045 and Sydney city by 2050. Tasmania in 2015-16 became Australia’s first jurisdiction to achieve zero net emissions. South Australia aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. Is Australia’s population too small to make a difference? Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, according to the International Energy Agency, so we have a strong impact on the rest of the world. For a reasonable chance of a safe climate 90-95 per cent global fossil fuel reserves must stay underground and we must turn to renewable energy, according to the Climate Council. Yet Australia has not stopped Adani

from building what will be the biggest coal power plant in the Southern Hemisphere. The good news is that when we know we must change quickly we can, as the US did, moving to a war economy in WWII. Christians can lead in emergency action. The Uniting Church has been implementing fossil fuel divestment. The Uniting Church in Australia’s first public statement voiced concern for the wellbeing of the planet and the rights of future generations. It’s time for us to act on that call.

Marguerite Marshall is a Uniting Church member trained by Al Gore as a leader with The Climate Reality Project.


• • •

Find out more about the Living the Change campaign and make a commitment here: https://livingthechange.net/commitment-tool Our schools and homes could switch to renewable energy. Install solar panels with Power Purchase Agreements that have low upfront costs. Our leaders and church groups can lobby parliamentarians.



Beth Donnelly

Schooled in real Christian examples BETH DONNELLY

“DIDN’T Jesus speak English?” “Are you a Christian or a Catholic?” “Ooh I know! We’re the one with the bird!” Working with 450 children and teenagers features daily moments of wisdom, insight, and facepalms as I learn how little of the church and the Christian faith they know, despite some attending schools associated with the Uniting Church for 13 years. I am an ordained UCA Minister of the Word in placement as the school chaplain at The Scots School Albury on the Vic/ NSW border. My role at the school is varied. I lead worship regularly with strong student involvement. I run RAVE (Religion and Values Education) classes from kinder all the way to year 8, witnessing fantastic discussions about world religions, philosophy, ethics, and stories of our faith. I spend time with students as they work through life issues, from how to survive exams to exploring concepts of life and death. I witness students building relationships with community organisations and volunteering their time as they learn about the nature of service. I walk alongside students as they explore their place as leaders, as learners, and as humans. This is the nature of being a chaplain in a school. A constant thread running through my ministry in this place is what I represent – the church and the faith. I carefully consider what I say, knowing that for some, I will be in their minds the spokesperson of Christianity. NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

But like all education, I am not the only person from whom they learn about the institutional church and the Christian faith. They learn from media, from peers, from history and from extremists. We teach them as best we can how to be critical of information and sort out the reliable sources, but that sometimes does not come until much later. Some have a fantastically wide range of sources. Our older students in particular are media savvy and politically aware – recently 23 senior students attended an episode of Q&A and were incredibly thoughtful in their reflections. Our students will be aware of the conversations about religious freedoms and the alarm that LGBTI students may be expelled from schools. Like many Australians, some will take that information without critically processing it. Some will believe that all Christians want to kick out LGBTI students from their institutions. Early in the conversation, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as a prominent Christian voice, had the opportunity to affirm the humanity and belovedness of LGBTI people in religious schools. But instead of quoting Scripture, he quoted legislation, saying the right to discriminate was an existing law. At the time of writing this he has spoken further and I am sure he and other politicians – Christian or otherwise – will continue to speak about religion in the public sphere, as is their job.

“I believe every human is a beloved child of God, and therefore human rights should always come before institutional rights. ”

He must surely be aware that people are listening to him, but I wonder how much he thinks his words are educating our young people about his faith? If he publicly proclaims his Christian faith, then it follows that people will take his words as a proclamation from Christianity also. Fairly or unfairly, this is the nature of being a public figure, whether in Canberra or in front of 300 impressionable teenagers. So how do we ensure that what young people are learning about Christianity in our public domain is theologically sound, especially on issues that are politically divisive and vulnerable to sensationalism? The main message I hope that comes through to our young people through this debate, from my faith, is that I believe every human is a beloved child of God, and therefore human rights should always come before institutional rights.

Alongside facepalm moments like arguing that Jesus was white and the Bible was originally written in English, I will be incredibly disheartened if our young people believe that the God of the Christian faith would exclude a vulnerable young person from their community. Our schools are an incredible opportunity to teach our young people about Christianity and from a Christian perspective. We are educating them with what we say and what we do not say and so we all need to take our prophetic calling seriously. As I tell the young people in my flock, the most repeated command in the Bible is not ‘do not murder’, or ‘do not swear’; it is ‘Do Not Be Afraid’. My prayer for this political conversation is that we will remember this command as we seek to be Christians in the public space. 21


Cross party politics DAVID SOUTHWELL

WHILE many Australians might say they are losing faith in politics among our political leaders faith is not in short supply. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been very upfront about his Pentecostal beliefs. In his maiden parliamentary speech he drew on Bible references and quoted Abraham Lincoln about how being on God’s side was his greatest concern. However, Morrison is far from alone in being a professed Christian among recent Australian political leaders. At the national level, political heavyweights Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten, Kevin Rudd, Kim Beazley, John Howard and Peter Costello have all been practising adherents, and sometimes converts, to the Anglican and Catholic traditions. With each census showing a steady decrease in the number of Australians identifying as Christian it seems a paradox that the nation’s political leadership is so comparatively devout. However, Rev Dr Geoff Thompson, who is co-ordinator of studies – systematic theology at Pilgrim Theological College, doesn’t find this so remarkable. “It shouldn’t surprise us in one sense that perhaps Geoff Thompson Christians will be overrepresented in political processes because Christianity is one of the traditions that cultivates some sense of community responsibility and commitment to the common good,” he said. Geoff notes that Christian leaders, such as Morrison, are emerging from traditions outside the established and mainstream denominations. “What is most interesting in this postChristian moment is that many of Christian politicians who are attaining the highest profile are coming out of church traditions that didn’t belong to Christendom, they are almost post-Christendom,” Geoff said. “Perhaps it is because those churches aren’t hampered by the legacies of Christendom, maybe they feel more confident to enter the public space. Or it could be because they see something very distinctive about Christianity that they feel it has been lost in the public space. “There would be some in those churches who obviously see the secular as far more problematic than the mainstream Christian churches do because the established


traditions have lived with the secular for a couple of centuries and in a sense know how to negotiate their way through it.” Geoff said he was not too concerned about the mainstream churches’ weakening position as the public religion. “We’ve had a pretty good innings,” he said. “Mainstream churches have for a long time had the ear of the public on matters of religion and matters of theology. The churches are more aware that they no longer have a dominant role.” In this context Geoff said that an outspoken promotion of Christianity and Christian values was something comparatively new in Australia. “I would have thought 20 or 30 years ago it was one of the points of contrast between Australian politicians and American politicians was exactly this – American politicians talked about God, Australian politicians did not,” he said. Derek McDougall, who is Professorial Fellow in the University of Melbourne School of Social and Political Science and a member of St Andrew’s Uniting Church Alphington-Fairfield, said there were still some distinctions between US and Australian public Christianity. “I don’t think we have a Christian right in the sense that the US does, thank goodness,” Derek said. However, Derek admits the most vocal proponents of a Christian point of view in recent debates such as same-gender marriage, religious freedom in schools and voluntary assisted dying have often been from the right side of the political spectrum. “There’s a certain perception as to what the Christian view is,” he said. “Often the press and people outside the church identify the Christian position as what is to me an essentially conservative Christian position.” “If you say liberalism is the dominant culture in Australian society, a lot of people who adhere to that position implicitly think of the Christian position as being a conservative. They don’t see the more liberal Christian as represented by the Uniting Church. “Even though the Uniting Church might make statements on some issues, sometimes you think the Australian Christian Lobby is quite prominent. It’s quite good at getting its viewpoint out there with a very politically conservative position.” Derek noted Professor Derek McDougall

that an often neglected part of the Prime Minister’s story was that he grew up in the Uniting Church. As to why it might seem the more conservative Christian voices speak the most loudly, Derek offered a few theories. “They might have a clearer position. In a church like the Uniting Church there is more recognition of the complexity of issues, allowing for shades of grey,” he said. “You can also say that the media promotes this because it dramatises some of these issues and makes for better copy. “I had a colleague, a radical feminist, who used to find the Uniting Church position rather annoying because it didn’t fit in with her thesis that religion was

countries,” he said. “On a lot of issues we might find ourselves combining with a lot of people in Australian society who are not specifically Christian who might have a more liberal or conservative outlook,” he said. “You can see from the census results that we are an increasingly pluralist society and that doesn’t just relate to religion, but to a whole different range of issues. “We want to reflect our own tradition but not in a closed way - we want to engage with a broader debate in society. “It’s fair enough to have your religious beliefs but when you are in the public space you have to argue your case with criteria that are accessible to everybody.”

“The Christian call is not be on God’s side but to do God’s will”

basically misogynistic.” Derek points out there is no uniform Christian position on many, if not most, issues and these differences manifest not only between denominations but inside the larger ones. “It’s simple to talk about the Christian view but it’s usually the Christian views plural,” he said. “With Turnbull and Abbott it shows how you have different approaches within the one (Catholic) tradition.” Derek said that even when politicians described themselves as Christian, or even as belonging to a particular type of Christianity, that did not necessarily direct their decisions in a straightforward way. “I agree with Scott Morrison when he said the Bible is not a policy handbook,” Derek said. “Obviously interpreting the underlying approach in terms of everyday issues can be quite complex. There is not just one Christian position. I think it is important to think through the requirements of justice in relation to a whole range of issues affecting the Australian community.” Derek said in view of the declining number of Australians who call themselves Christian, politicians who were intent on governing were looking to build coalitions and couldn’t just rely on the religiously likeminded. “We don’t really have confessional Christian parties in Australia like the Christian Democrats in some European

The recently published book God is Good for You: A defence of Christianity in troubled times by journalist Greg Sheridan explores the links between Christianity and politics in Western societies and Australia more specifically. Sheridan, writing from a conservative Catholic perspective, interviews a number of politicians about their religious faith, including Uniting Church member Senator Penny Wong. Although the Christian politicians are on both the right and left of the conventional political perspective, Derek says Sheridan draws out a common theme in how their Christian beliefs influence them. “Generally from a political perspective it was to do with some notion of justice or fairness and getting a deeper sense of that through the Bible or through significant Christian leaders up to the present,” Derek said. “How you go with that goal of justice to the range of issues that the various jurisdictions in Australia are responsible for is another matter.” Sheridan argues that in the contemporary West, Christians should consider themselves a bold minority. “Perhaps it is ironic that we have all these leaders identifying as Christians and yet we feel we are a minority,” Derek said. “However, it’s not as if those leaders as Christians are governing of advancing



policies from a narrowly Christian perspective as if they are defending the interests of Christians only.” The liberal idea of a separation between church and state, Sheridan argues, is part of the legacy of Christendom. Commonly this argument invokes the command of Jesus, found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. Derek, however, says that Scripture does not necessarily mean the political and spiritual realms should be kept separate. “You can also interpret that text as Jesus is being a bit clever here because if you are a Christian everything comes under God,” he said. “People like Dietrich Bonhoeffer argued that the Christian faith applies to the whole of life and he was against that traditional Lutheran position where you had that kind of “render unto Caesar” approach that did lead to privatisation of religious belief. Derek argues that Christians should be involved in public life as a way of expressing their faith. “I shared an office for a period of time with Brian Howe, who was deputy prime minister under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. “If you know him well you would also know he is a Uniting Church minister. He’s sort of influenced by someone like Reinhold Niebuhr and the idea that justice is being love at the level of society.” Derek says Christians shouldn’t just engage with issues that specifically affect NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

churches and their schools and agencies, such as religious freedom or voluntary assisted dying, but also with more general issues such as what is being taught in both public and religious schools. “The whole curriculum really is based on assumptions about meaning of life so why aren’t we debating that and where is the Christian voice in the public schools?” he asked. “I think we should be more forthright in expressing our views. Not necessarily at an institutional level but just get involved. “That is good advice for all Christians - you should be engaging with people coming from other perspectives. Often you will agree on specific policies and you will have different views from other people who identify as Christians, that’s just politics. Geoff Thompson is also reading Sheridan’s book and says, as the title God is Good for You indicates, it puts forward a utilitarian argument that ethics has to be based in something transcendent, such as Christian belief, or it becomes arbitrary. However, Geoff expressed some scepticism about this point of view. “In the past that assumption between some transcendent of origin ethics and the reality of ethics was accepted,” he said. “The reality is we live in a context now where people argue for different sets of ethics. “I don’t think it’s the case once you dispense with God you enter an ethical vacuum - what you enter is an ethical plurality. The issue is that people don’t believe in God but they have ethical values.”

Although Sheridan does not refer to the Judeo-Christian tradition, this has become a fashionable phrase for politicians and other commenters who argue as Christianity fades the West is losing a valuable cultural inheritance. Geoff says that although one can perceive how Western society has been influenced by Judaism and Christianity, he views the promotion of a Judeo-Christian ethos as not particularly helpful. “The utilitarian argument is very amenable to people who want to place the church and Christianity inside this narrative that I think people use for various purposes, sometime political ones,” he said. “However, what it takes the church away from is what emerges out of ministry of Jesus.” Geoff notes that the Judeo-Christian terminology has become more widespread after the 9/11 terror attacks and is often used as defensive contrast to the Islamic tradition. In a Guardian article earlier this year Geoff harked back to Morrison’s maiden speech and its ambition to copy Lincoln in taking God’s side – and that “taking sides” is not theologically sound because God is on the side of all of humanity. “The whole language of taking sides is not helpful. The Christian call is not be on God’s side but to do God’s will and I actually think that’s a different rhetoric altogether,” Geoff says. “When you take that language of sides into the adversarial world of Australian politics or American politics, I just think it is unwise in that context.

“I’d prefer us to find language of doing God’s will or participating in God’s mission.” Geoff noted that for Christians exercising power has always been a vexed matter. The early followers of Jesus were largely those who felt dispossessed and marginalised under Roman rule. “Christianity has had an issue with power from the very beginning because it was the powers of the day that crucified Jesus,” he said. “Early Christians seemed content not to wield power. At the same time, Christianity did not want to be uninfluential. It actually did want to shape societies, even if only at a local level. “They weren’t just waiting for heaven, but were called to fashion particular ways of life. And you can’t do that without exercising power or influence.” Geoff said when Christianity became politically and culturally dominant this posed a challenge for the church. “What it ought to do, and what we ought to do as the inheritors of that, is to exercise extreme self-criticism, finding ways about being honest about what power you actually have and being aware of the capacity to use that power in such a way that is foreign to the way of Jesus,” he said. “The churches have to be intentional about divesting themselves of some of the power they have inherited, but also be wise to some of the ways that they can use power for good by being disciplined in the use of that power in the way of Jesus. “The issue is not power itself, but how power is used.” 23


Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 16 OCTOBER 2018 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Lakes Entrance (0.6) (3 year term) (C) (P) Trafalgar (*) Maffra - Heyfield (*) Morwell – Yallourn (*) PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Central Mallee Cooperating Parish (0.5) and Tyrrell Parish (0.5) (C) (P) Castlemaine District (C) Nardoo Loddon Cluster (*) Bendigo Hospital Chaplaincy (*) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Kyabram Parish p/t (*) Seymour Parish (*) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Chadstone – Melbourne Fijian UC (*) Burnley (St George’s) (*) Mornington (*) Chelsea, Carrum and Edithvale (C) Hampton Park (C) Mount Martha (0.8) (C) Monash & Mulgrave (C) Noble Park (0.5) (C) Presbytery Minister - Team Leader (C) (P) Presbytery Minister – Church Development (C) (P) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Aitken College Chaplain (C) Essendon North (0.5 – 0.7) (C) (P) Presbytery Minister (C) (P) Brunswick – Children, Youth and Young Adults (*) Footscray (*) Sunshine Mental Health Chaplaincy (*) Werribee (*) Leopold (*) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Derwent Cluster (Glenorchy and Claremont) (0.6) (C) (P) Hobart (Wesley) IIM (C) (P) Launceston North (C) (P) Presbytery Minister – Mission Development (C) (P)

PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Henty Region – Surrey Cluster (P) (C) Lake Bolac Cluster – Hopkins Correctional Facility (*) Presbytery Minister, Pastoral Leadership and Education (C) (P) Ararat IIM (*) Ballarat Central (*) Ballarat South (C) Horsham and District (*) PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Glen Iris Road (C) Heathmont (C) Ringwood (C) Deepdene (*) Healesville/Wandin-Seville/Yarra Glen (*) Koonung Heights (*) Mooroolbark (*) Presbytery Minister (*) Warrandyte (0.5) (*) Melbourne (St Michaels) (*) SYNOD Intergenerational Ministry – Young Adults (C) (P) NSW/ACT SYNOD Northern Region – Linked Congregation (C) Narrabri and Moree (C) SA SYNOD Enfield (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 completed Expressions of Interest forms to: Rev Sue Withers Secretary, Placements Committee Email: placements.secretary@victas.uca.org.au. Expressions of Interest forms are available at: www.victas.uca.org.au

COMING EVENTS DIALOGUE WITH OTHER VOICES SEPT-NOV 2018 Heathmont Uniting Church, 89 Canterbury Rd, Heathmont During the supply ministry of Rev Dr Paul Tonson, the Heathmont congregation is engaging with people with other beliefs and experiences. Our guests in November will be John McKenna who is a disability commentator, Sunday Nov. 4, and Michelle McNamara representing the transgender experience, Sunday 25 Nov. Join us at 10 am, including other Sundays when the biblical theme of our relationship to the other/the stranger will be treated. Paul aims to be biblical, evangelical and progressive in presenting the Christian faith in contemporary thought forms. For fuller details, call the church at (03) 9729 4452. ANNUAL OPEN GARDENS DAY – INVERLOCH UNITING CHURCH 10AM – 4PM, 10 NOVEMBER Maps available from Inverloch UC, William St, Inverloch (opposite post office). Cost $10. Refreshments available with tea/ coffee and a slice for just $2. For further information, contact Liz on 0401 472 669 or Bev 0408 502 707. COMBINED CHARITIES CHRISTMAS CARD SHOP 8 NOVEMBER – 15 DECEMBER 2018 The Lentara Uniting Care Christmas Card Shop will open at the North Essendon Uniting Church, 132 Keilor Road, North Essendon, on Thursday 8 November. Opening 9:30am-4pm, 8 November Hours are 9.30am-4pm Thursday/Friday and 9.30AM – 12.30PM Saturday. For any enquiries please phone P: (03) 9379 3326.

A GOLD BOAT FOR A GOLD COIN AND ADRIFT EXHIBITION 7-25 NOVEMBER 2018 Red Gallery Contemporary Art Space, 157 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North. Opening 6-8PM, Wednesday, 7 Nov. Hours are 11am – 6pm Thursday/Friday and 12 – 5pm Saturday/Sunday. An exhibition bringing two artists from different cultures together in visual discussion on what it means to be unanchored. Tan Yifeng, born in China, and Denise Keele-bedford of Celtic heritage express in a light-hearted way the seriousness of being without a base. In conjunction with the exhibition, Denise’ installation A Gold Boat for a Gold Coin invites visitors to take a Golden Origami Boat in exchange for a gold coin donation, to raise funds for the Uniting Lentara, Vic.Tas Asylum Seeker Project. For more information visit www.lentarauc.org.au THE RICHARD MCKINNEY MEMORIAL ECUMENICAL ADVENT LECTURES FOR 2018 TUESDAY 13 & 27 NOVEMBER, 4 DECEMBER 8PM The following lectures will be held by Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Assembly Theologian in Residence of the UCA TUESDAY 13 NOVEMBER 2018 “The Dao became Flesh” Ivanhoe Uniting Church, 19 Seddon St, Ivanhoe TUESDAY 27 NOVEMBER 2018 “Bamboo Shoots After Spring Rain” St George’s Anglican Church – 46 Warncliffe Rd, Ivanhoe East TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2018 “Feeding of the Five Thousand” Mother of God Catholic Church – 63 Wilfred St, Ivanhoe East For all information please contact Ann. P: (03) 9459 1898 or ann@audioio.com

Banyule Network of Uniting Churches Clinical Pastoral Education Centre

MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Rose Broadstock, to commence at Loddon Mallee on 1 January 2019 RETIREMENTS Miriam Darlow (Lay), Bendigo Health and St John of God Hospitals Chaplaincy on 31 December 2018


CONCLUSIONS James Hughes (Lay), Tasmania UAICC concluding on 1 February 2019 Dhirendra Narayan, Wesley Box Hill on 11 January 2019 RECOGNITION WITHDRAWN Ron Peacock, recognition withdrawn by reason of resignation Reg 2.10.3(a) 19 August 2018

Pastoral Care in the Midst of Change and Transition 4 February to 2 December 2019 This CPE Centre is offering an innovative and fully accredited part time program of Clinical Pastoral Education in 2019. Successful applicants will be engaged in 200 hours of actual pastoral care with members of congregations experiencing change during a building for mission program. Education days are scheduled on Mondays. Further information is available at: http://banyulenetwork.unitingchurch.org.au/cpe or by contacting Jennifer Gibbons 0418 318 589, jgibbons1942@bigpond.com


Notices HILLTOP MARKET 17 NOVEMBER 2018 Saturday 9am-2pm High Street Road Uniting Church, 482 High St Rd, Mount Waverley, will once again hold their popular Hilltop Market. The market features a large array of stalls, hot and cold food, a number of competition, a Brass Band and a Vintage Car display. For any enquiries please phone P: (03) 9802 9129 150TH ANNIVERSARY TYLDEN UNITING CHURCH 18 NOVEMBER SUNDAY 2:30PM Tylden Uniting Church, Trentham Rd, Tylden. Everyone is welcome to join in for worship followed by afternoon tea. For any enquires please phone P: (03) 5427 1807. VARIETY CONCERT 18 NOVEMBER SUNDAY 1:30PM Boronia Road Uniting Church, 209 Boronia Rd, Boronia. Boronia Rd UC will be holding a variety concert on the 18 November featuring Hanford Lam, some of his piano students and the Boronia Adult Pop Choir. Enjoy a wonderful afternoon of music. Cost is $15 per person, which includes a delicious afternoon tea. For more information contact Irene on P: 0421 769 067 or E: irenesmith2@bigpond.com GARAGE SALE 24 NOVEMBER SATURDAY 9AM-1PM Springvale Uniting Church, Balmoral and Albert Ave, Springvale. Springvale UC will be holding an indoor garage sale and clothing clearance. All clothing in the hall is 50 cents each. Morning tea, household items, op shop bargains, toys, homemade cakes, gifts, jewellery, Christmas gifts and decorations and lots more will be provided.

CHILDREN’S NATIVITY DRESS-UP PHOTOS 19 – 21 NOVEMBER 10AM – NOON The Hub, Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Bring your children or grandchildren to dress up in nativity costumes, and be a part of the Christmas story, and have their photos taken. Dress ups will be available to use. Photos ready for collection on Thursday 6 December between 10am and 12 noon. Donations welcome for families in need in the community. For more information and group bookings phone P: (03) 9560 3580 CLOSING SERVICE 25 NOVEMBER SUNDAY 2PM Branxholme Uniting Church, Munroe Street, Branxholme. The Branxholme Uniting Church will be holding a closing service on Sunday, 25th of November. The church will be celebrating 153 years of service to the wider community as the first church built and the last to close in the area. Afternoon tea will be served. For more information phone P: 0447 863 216 INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN 25 NOVEMBER SUNDAY 10AM Sophia’s Spring, corner of Stewart and Robert streets in East Brunswick. Sophia’s Spring is having its traditional “Break the Silence Sunday” which reflects on the issue of violence against women and children and how the church can take an active role in prevention. Our guest speaker this year will be Scott Holmes from the national violence prevention agency Our Watch. For more information phone P: (03) 9387 2822. CHRISTMAS 2018 Looking for Christmas nativity inspiration? For a free original script that’s already been tried out email Don & Carmyl Winkler E: cdwinkler@bigpond.com.

CHRISTMAS MORNING TEA AT THE HUB 6 DECEMBER THURSDAY 10AM NOON Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway Bring your family and friends. All ages welcome. All donations to help families in need in our community. For more information and group bookings phone P: (03) 9560 3580 COME AND VISIT THE HUB The Hub at the Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, is a welcoming and friendly place for people to meet and enjoy some 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-noon during school terms. People of all ages are welcome. For more information and group bookings phone P: (03) 9560 3580

CLASSIFIEDS CAPE WOOLAMAI, PHILLIP ISLAND: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps three. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. www.summerhayscottage.com.au. Ring Doug or Ina M: 0401 177 775.

LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. SENIORS’ SPECIAL: Enjoy a break in luxury surroundings. Three days and three nights, dinner, bed and breakfast for $450 per couple (including GST). Jindivick Gardens. P: (03) 5628 5319. CHOIR ROBES AVAILABLE: North Balwyn UC have 20+ choir robes in good condition (burgundy colour), to give to another congregation or choir. Please contact the office on Friday morning on P: (03) 9857 8412. WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, secondhand/retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin. P: 0408 969 920. NEW INTERPRETER BIBLE SET AVAILABLE: 12 large books from GenesisRevelations are being given away for collection at Sunbury. Contact Robert. P: (03) 9744 5688 T.I.S HYMN BOOKS REQUIRED: Penguin Uniting Church is looking for 30 Together In Song large print hymn books. Contact Barrie. E. bdfrench@bigpond.com or P. (03) 6425 1061

RINGWOOD UNITING CHURCH ORDAINED MINISTER OF THE WORD The Ringwood congregation, in the outer East of Melbourne, is a large Church attended by a people who feel called to promote social justice. Importantly we seek to be a presence in our changing community beyond our front door. We are geographically located in the commercial hub of our suburb but surrounded by homes and RBGNNKR@MC@QD@V@QDSG@S@SSGHRSHLD VDMDDCSNjMCMDVV@XR of undertaking mission and outreach. Are you a Minister who will be: • • • • •

Enthusiastic about journeying with our congregation (and other Churches and services) to explore new ways of following Jesus Supportive towards existing outreach programs Comfortable to lead and work with a dedicated Ministry team Excited about delivering different styles of worship with an enthusiastic team of skilled lay leaders and talented musicians The ‘glue’ that keeps us together as we move toward redeveloping our Church property so we can further care and interact with our diverse neighbourhood

This is a full time position for a UCA ordained minister. Please view our website ringwood.unitingchurch.org.au ENQSGD/K@BDLDMS/QNjKD Further information can be gained by contacting Alan on 0447 219 174. Applications should be sent to kerryn@ringwood.unitingchurch.org.au by 30 November 2018.




Leading questions Live cross

Abridged history

Faithful responses









GREG Sheridan is well known as the foreign editor of The Australian, and as a leading advocate of centre-right positions in Australian politics. In this book he has turned his attention to some big issues close to his heart, a defence of Christian faith and some manifestations of that faith in Australia, a society increasingly described as post-Christian. Sheridan writes neither as a theologian or a scholar of religion, but as a wellinformed journalist. While at times one might have appreciated more depth in his writing, his approach is very accessible for a general audience. He has the knack of incorporating anecdotes from his own experience to amplify the general points he is making. The first part of this work is mainly apologetics as he explains and defends Christian beliefs and argues for their role in forming Western societies. The second part, Christians, is like another, related book. The focus is on Christianity as part of Australian life, giving attention to recent and contemporary politicians who identify as Christians. Perhaps the unifying theme is the way in which politicians have a heightened moral awareness through their faith. Mostly they describe to Sheridan a sense of justice that is enriched through their Christian engagement. It is less clear however as to whether this sense of justice or fairness leads in a more specific policy direction. The views of justice as articulated by the various politicians interviewed could overlap with views coming from nonChristian sources. Overall, Sheridan has boldly presented his understanding of the Christian faith, together with glimpses of the role of that faith in contemporary Australia. I would have liked more attention to ecumenically-minded liberal/progressive Protestant perspectives (my own position), but the book certainly provides a good insight into these matters from a more conservative (theologically and politically) viewpoint.

ARE you looking for a Christmas present for a slightly religious relative that they could read without embarrassment on the tram? The coquettish cover photo and tantalising title give no hint that this is a collection of creative conversations about well known Biblical passages, imagined from the point of view of a person who might have been there. Catherine Laufer takes 15 stories from both the Old and New Testaments, treating them as though they are being reported live for Sky News or the ABC. The lectionary, when solemnly read from the lectern, may distance us from the impact of those earthy dramas. Here we experience through a different lens, the stories of creation, the Egyptian plagues, Jonah, the Annunciation, as well as the events of Easter, and more. I like the vibrancy and immediacy of the narrative. For example, in the story of the feeding of the multitude, it is as though the camera pans on to the gathering crowd on the hillside before a close-up frame of Jesus’s conversation with his disciples. At the conclusion of the Annunciation, we cross to the “reporter” who quotes the relevant Gospel passage followed by a line from John Bell’s hymn: Mary consenting to what none could guess, replied with conviction, “Tell God, I say yes”. So often we hide Jesus and the Gospel behind stained glass windows or elaborate rituals conducted in 17th century chanted language. Or Jesus is obscured by the semantics of the catechism, or encrusted by the legalistic language of the Nicene Creed. Laufer, who has Jewish ancestry, draws on the Rabbinic tradition of storytelling, exemplified in Jesus’s parables. For the regular churchgoer, rather than your relative described above, this 114-page book provides a means of reinvigorating Gospel stories, dulled from much hearing. Some of them could easily be adapted for children pretending to be reporters, dramatised with several voices to enhance their message.

DUDLEY Flats was a Depression-era shanty town in West Melbourne, on the site of today’s vast container terminal. Originally a bountiful wetland, as the city grew it became a marginal area of reviled swamp and a tip, a place for the city to turn its back on, a ‘vortex’ that sucked in the jobless and homeless. It would perhaps be forgotten without the efforts of historian David Sornig. Like London’s Iain Sinclair, and with similar literary flair, Sornig has an interest in the liminal spaces not listed in tourism brochures. In Dudley Flats he finds an unsettling, slippery space that he likens to the ‘Zone’ in the centre of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. Even today, Sornig notes, the area under the Bolte Bridge, which cyclists speed through on their way to work, is a strangely empty space, frequented only by the marginalised. Sornig tells the story of its mid-century residents through three characters, notorious in their own ways, who were victims of xenophobia, racism and the cruel Kafkaesque tendencies of politicians and planners. These three lives Sornig pieces together from scraps of newspapers and government statistics. He finds contradictions and ambivalence. The area was often ignored, but not always. The police kept watch, newspapers occasionally flared up with sensational news of deaths and there were intermittent efforts to clean it up. But there were mixed reports of squalor and dignity. The residents were described as industrious and free, and at other times as freeloaders and criminals. They were teetotallers and drunks, violent and polite. They should be left alone and moved on. These conflicted attitudes remain in our own times. Sornig mentions the homeless at Flinders St Station who, otherwise ignored, became too prominent for Melbourne’s civic leaders. But Sornig helps us see the marginalised as people, not just problems.

IS Christianity a quaint, harmless hobby like quilting or trainspotting? Or should it permeate all aspects of our life? This volume provides a smorgasbord of topical theological and social justice issues from leading thinkers. It follows the highly acclaimed first volume. In 31 interviews we learn from Archbishops Justin Welby and Kay Goldsworthy, N.T. Wright, Tim Costello and others. The conversations range from a woman archbishop’s personal testimony to insights on St Paul’s theology from influential theologian Tom Wright. There is a section on understanding and engaging with Islam. This interview caught my eye because it spoke of the ‘jihad’ of Jesus. Today in Australia, when church attendances are falling, church buildings are being sold and more of our fellow citizens are declaring they have “no religion” on the census form, this is a timely publication. Philip Hughes and Stanley Hauerwas reflect on the future which they see for faith when the Christendom era is over. This Synod of the Uniting Church has tasked each congregation to envision what needs to be done to make our parishes viable and relevant in five years’ time. Encumbered with an ageing demographic this is an urgent problem. In hard-hitting chapters such as “Mission is not about ‘scalp-hunting’ for Jesus” and “An Activist for Gospel Justice” by Stephen Cottrell and Tim Costello respectively, we are drawn to new visions. We are also privileged to share in Pope Francis’ spirituality. It is based on the spiritual exercises of the Spanish mystic St Francis of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit order. Protestants are rediscovering these and other spiritual exercises: meditation, lectio divina, Celtic spirituality. All are explored here. The subtitle of this volume sums up its challenge to us all: “What an intelligent, compassionate and authentic 21st century Christian faith looks like”. In just 170 pages, these incisive interviews distil the essence of the Gospel and enable us to be nourished by it.

Available from Allen & Unwin, RRP $33

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP $19.95

Available from Scribe Publications, RRP $35

Available from Morning Star Publishing, RRP $19.95



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ARTIST Denise Keele-bedford’s installation A Gold Boat for a Gold Coin will be displayed at the Adrift Red Gallery exhibition in Fitzroy North this month. In exchange for a gold coin visitors can take home a golden origami boat. Proceeds will go to the Uniting Lentara Vic. Tas Asylum Seeker Project (ASP). In the article below, Denise explains the inspiration for this idea. About three years ago, with an artist friend, we had a discussion on the massive movement of people across the globe. We talked about how we came to be in Australia and the issue of so many people having to leave their homes and take boats as an escape, to find a better life and a secure, safe environment. Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city in the world and for me as a ‘privileged’ white Australian I thank my ancestors for taking a boat in 1849 and migrating to this country. For so many, though, they do not have the choice to live where they want. These are people who, for whatever the reason, find themselves physically and emotionally drifting in search of ‘home’. As I thought about this issue a few years NOVEMBER 18 - CROSSLIGHT

ago I had the opportunity to undertake an artist residency in the Hudson Valley New York State. The city of Poughkeepsie is a melting pot of cultures and the ‘boat people’ issue in Australia arose in my mind again. My first boat installations were in Poughkeepsie where I used colourful papers to make origami boats that reflected the migration and transport on the Hudson River. The yellow boats are a symbol of hope - hope for a safe environment, hope for security, hope for a safe passage, hope for a better life and hope for a home. Each person’s hope could be different. I have been invited several times to create boat installations so I am continually folding yellow paper. In the beginning, I folded one boat at a time. I then devised a rhythm and started folding 100 at a time through each of the 10 steps of the production process. One hundred boats takes about six hours to complete, it almost becomes meditative. A recent invitation to exhibit at Red Gallery has led me to create a series of 2D artworks that are full of colour and collage. They are bright, joyful and in some way humorous. However, underlying the joyful surface is the deeper concern for asylum seekers in my city and who have a very different perspective of the place that I love and call home. Due to their legal status, many asylum seekers are unable to work, or access any forms of welfare provided by the Australian Government. Many have nowhere to live, as they are unable to apply for mainstream homeless accommodation or for public

Denise Keele-bedford with her installation

housing programs. I welcome asylum seekers to my city, however what can I do? Folding yellow boats for Gold Boat for a Gold Coin is in a small way my recognition that we were all once boat people, seeking a better life, a safe environment and a home.

For more information on Uniting Vic.Tas Asylum Seeker Program visit

www.lentarauc.org.au Adrift is an exhibition featuring the works of Chinese-born artist Tan Yifeng and Denise Keele-bedford who explore both humorously and seriously what it means to be unanchored. The exhibit’s opening event will be at the Red Gallery Contemporary Art Space in Fitzroy North from 6-8pm on 7 November. The exhibit runs until 25 November. Hours are Thu/Fri 11am – 6pm , Sat/Sun 12 noon – 5pm. 27

Synod Snaps

Simon with his loyal canine companion Pepper at the Sophia’s Spring Uniting Church Blessing of the Animals service. Jean Ross (left) led the service.


Students and staff at Pilgrim Theological College gather in solidarity with refugees on Manus Island and Nauru.

Rev Nigel Hanscamp and his daughter Jacinta completed the Melbourne Marathon, raising more than $700 for Uniting Vic.Tas’s refugee and asylum seeker support programs.

The Cooperating Parish of Croajingolong enjoyed an outdoor Blessing of the Pets service at St Peter’s Mallacoota. It was attended by 35 people, seven dogs, a few soft toys, a pet rock, and even a minister dressed as a kangaroo.

Richmond Uniting Church held a ‘Church in the Park’ worship service to celebrate the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. The service gave thanks for the gifts of creation and included a blessing of the animals.

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November 2018 Crosslight  

November 2018 Crosslight  

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