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Crosslight Celebrating 25 years of

No. 276 May 2017





The Ask a Muslim forum didn’t shy away from the big questions

The 40-year debate attempting to sort out issues of sexuality

Why Carol Bennett is such a tough act to follow in Tasmania

The gospel finds you when you least expect it

Goorambat Uniting Church is probably the last place you would expect to see original artworks by internationally renowned artist Adnate. But the small country church was recently transformed as it became a canvass for the striking portrait of Sofia, a reminder of the relationship between art and spirituality.


Is a jailed generation the way to deal with youth crime?


Image: Barb Matheson

Bigger and batter, how St Leonard’s raised a record Pancake Day amount

Regulars Letters - 18 People - 19 Reviews - 20 to 21 Notices - 24 to 25 Moderator’s column - 26

Editorial Cause to celebrate PENNY MULVEY

NEXT month is the Uniting Church in Australia’s 40th birthday. What memories are conjured up for you as you look back to 22nd June 1977? I was a student at a Methodist girls’ school in Sydney. I had no understanding of the many years of prayer and negotiation, heartache and theological debate that led to this historic moment. For me, it meant a slight name change to our school.

Communications & Media Services

UCA Synod Office, 130 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 Phone: (03) 9251 5200 Email: ISSN 1037 826X

The headmistress and the chaplain talked a little about it, but as a schoolgirl I wasn’t much interested in documents such as The Basis of Union. Nor did I even vaguely comprehend what it would have meant for church members to surrender their old familiar liturgical framework and adopt a new one. Liturgy, property, foundational beliefs, episcopal or non-hierarchical? All important considerations, but what was at the very heart of this union was a belief in one body, one Church, built upon the One Lord Jesus Christ. If you haven’t read the foundational document recently, it is worth rediscovering. The Basis of Union consists of a mere 18 paragraphs, outlining how the Uniting Church came together, what its purpose is, how it will manage itself, the centrality of Christ and other essential tenets. 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. Advertising: Crosslight accepts advertising in good faith. Acceptance of advertising does not imply endorsement. Advertising material is at the discretion of the publisher. Distribution: Crosslight is usually distributed the first Sunday of the month.

Paragraph 11 reminds the Uniting Church that its foundation is built upon the Scriptures. God will provide scholars to the Church who can interpret the Scriptures within a contemporary and changing society. It is this willingness to consider a faithful response to the Living God, using ‘fresh words and deeds’ that some see as the Uniting Church’s greatest point of difference. The ordination of women had already been resolved by its predecessor churches, and yet gender continues to be a significant issue for other Protestant churches. Sex has always been a hot button topic for most religions, and yet in the 1990s the Uniting Church bravely established a task group to investigate sexuality. (See page 16) Even the Union itself led to division as some churches within the Presbyterian Church chose not to take part.

It can be painful to be a trail blazer. The Uniting Church is currently in the midst of a discernment and listening process in regard to marriage equality. What will the next 40 years look like for the Uniting Church … a church known for its advocacy, inclusion and advocacy? A Church that changed its preamble to acknowledge the First Peoples who had encountered God before the arrival of the colonisers. A church committed to being multicultural and intercultural. May the Church continue to pray “that it may be ready when occasion demands to confess the Lord in fresh words and deeds” (BoU Para 11). You are invited to join UCA leaders who are embarking on a 40-day journey of prayer from Sunday 14 May.

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News Political uncertainty stalls moves to incorporate PENNY MULVEY ON 21 January last year the Vic/Tas general secretary wrote to assembly, the other synods, presbyteries and Church councils as well as all the reporting bodies and institutions of the synod to inform them of a decision of the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) to incorporate the synod. The letter and subsequent reporting in the February 2016 Crosslight informed the Church that a Legislative Incorporation Task Group (LITG) was being formed to develop a framework for achieving incorporation within Victoria and Tasmania. Sixteen months later the sands have shifted both at the state and commonwealth government level. The LITG, headed by Rev Dr John Evans, had made considerable inroads into the task set by the SSC until November last year, when the federal government announced plans to introduce a national redress scheme in relation to child sexual abuse. This created uncertainty for the Victorian government, which had planned a state-based redress scheme after the 2013 Betrayal of Trust report of the Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Abuse in Religious Organisations. That inquiry made specific recommendations which would

require institutions and organisations that work with children, such as the Church, to incorporate. Since the announcement of a redress scheme late last year, the federal government has provided no further information. It could be waiting for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which is due to complete its final report by the end of the year. The Royal Commission has stated it supports a national redress scheme to ensure equity and compassion for survivors. Nor has the state government made any further announcements regarding a potential state-based redress scheme, after announcing a public consultation on the matter in August 2015. Meanwhile the impact of these developments on the requirement of the Church to incorporate is unclear. To be incorporated means an organisation becomes a legal ‘person’ or entity, and like a person it owns assets, it can sue and be sued in its own name. The synod currently exists as an unincorporated association with two Property Trusts (Vic) and (Tas). This presents some legal difficulties for abuse survivors in pursuing their claims. “The Church needs to discern how to

best meet its responsibilities to a rapidly changing civil society,” Rev Dr Evans explained. “We have failed society, as is evidenced by the survivor stories to the Royal Commission. We will either be compelled to make changes, that is become incorporated, or we can decide for ourselves to make the change as part of our commitment to civil society to be a good citizen.” Assembly President Stuart McMillan hosted a National Consultation on Incorporation in Sydney in March this year. It was attended by all moderators and general secretaries as well as other synod representatives. However, other synods have not needed to consider incorporating as they have not faced recommendations like those coming from Victoria’s Betrayal of Trust inquiry. “The LITG is consulting the assembly, the Assembly Legal Reference Committee, and the other synods, but we also recognise that consultation might be superseded by state government compulsion to incorporate,” Dr Evans said. “The Synod Standing Committee has made clear that it wants the LITG to continue investigating the most appropriate framework for the Church’s presence

No longer worlds apart WHEN Gemma MacMillan, a 24-yearold marketing specialist from Barwon Heads, met Dr Alma Ram, a 67-year-old community health leader from Amritsar, in northwest India, she found something that was lacking in her demanding corporate career – a chance to contribute to meaningful change. Dr Alma runs the Woman & Child Mobile Health Clinics project in North India, which works with the Dalits (otherwise known as the Untouchables caste). The Woman & Child project has worked with 11,000 women and 7000 children in 30 poor and oppressed Dalit villages in the Punjab. It is a program of ante and post-natal care, female empowerment, gender equality, nutrition, contraception, immunisation and HIV/AIDS care; as well as environmental, sanitary and health education. The project is supported by the JBK (Jagriti Bhalai Kendra Society) which was established through the UCA overseas partner Church of North India. Dr Alma and the JBK have been assisted with their work in a number of ways during a three-year partnership with Frankston UCA and other Australian supporters. Helen Beeby is a travel partner with the synod’s Uniting Journeys program. She explained that travelling to India and seeing the work firsthand strengthened the relationship between the partners. “It began as a purely financial arrangement – traditional, although now regarded as somewhat paternalistic, support. We MAY 17 - CROSSLIGHT

within society despite the changing landscape. “In the past, church might have been set apart, special even, but that is no longer the case. Both the community and the government expect all institutions to abide by laws that ensure the physical, psychological and sexual safety of all people, regardless of age. “The local footy club, the Scouts and other community groups, along with institutions, have the same OH&S, child safety and other compliance demands placed upon them. We are no different.” The SSC wants to ensure it is ready if the state government compels the Church to incorporate. This means considering the Uniting Church Acts (Vic and Tas), the Constitution and Regulations, but also what it means theologically. For incorporation to work effectively, it requires a high degree of cooperation and consultation across the inter-conciliar governance of the Church. This has been planned for but the Task Group is dependent on clarity from government before proceeding further.

and Uniting Journeys Conversation Partner Lea Trafford at a wedding. “Lea encouraged Gemma to join me on a project visit last month, along with another UCA stalwart Eleanor Wood. “Gemma stayed on for a further four weeks after we left and has been listening to stories from mothers, fathers, widows and project staff to create new website material. “By establishing face-to-face relationships with those the Church supports we continue to see great benefits for all parties involved.” Uniting Journey participants helped fund Dr Alma to be a delegate at the AssetBased Community Development (ABCD) annual conference held in Goa, India in January this year. Delegates from around the world were shocked and profoundly impacted by Alma’s accounts of the realities of life in an Indian village. “Uniting Journeys are also involved with some micro-finance programs – the widows and single women supported by the JBK project are knitting Wisdom Wipes – cotton-ply knitted facecloths and dishcloths,” Ms Beeby said. “The knitters in India, many with no income or resources as widows, receive a percentage of the profit and the remainder is pumped back into the JBK project work. “Some Australian women have knitted too, so it’s an international partnership that is connecting everyone.”

Uniting Journeys visited the Golden Temple in Amritsar

parachute in the money and they deliver the work,” Ms Beeby said. “Then we took people to visit the project, through Uniting Journeys Responsible

Travel Tours, and these people became advocates back home. “Gemma happened to learn about our tours when she talked to my dear friend

To learn more about Wisdom Wipes go to: Another Uniting Journeys Tour to North India, incorporating a three-day visit to the JBK project, will run from 23 September to 6 October. For more information go to: www. 3

News Road worthy Share projects HELEN BEEBY SHARE hit the road last month with 21 loyal supporters to witness its community service agency programs, places and people first-hand. Donors, bequestors and Share reps jumped on the ‘Share shuttle bus’ bound for UnitingCare Harrison before travelling on to Prahran Mission. The first stop was Croydon North Uniting Church, home to UnitingCare Harrison’s Gifford Village and Gifford Arts Program. Share supporters were impressed by the dynamic set-up at Croydon, which encompasses the worship space, meeting rooms and kitchen surrounded by social housing units and an art studio for agency participants and residents. “It was a wonderful day of connection and conversation,” Laura Cregan, church relationships and partnerships manager for Share, said. “We were welcomed by acting CEO Sharon Wolstenholme, before hearing informative and powerful presentations by Harrison staff – Mark Dixon who is general manager of homelessness services, community engagement worker Jane Daveron, and local artist and Gifford Village resident David Buller.” Mr Dixon outlined some stories of people living on the streets, young and old, who have welcomed practical help

Share supporters enjoy a cuppa and a chat

from Harrison over the years – as well as referencing social advocacy and the lobbying of politicians for policy change on homelessness. Mr Buller then shared some very human stories about the arts group – including how a group of women who were cancer patients had attended in the early days, sharing their journeys and finding expression through art.

How will the budgets impact not-for-profits? Tuesday 16 May 2017 Free breakfast event


After a morning cuppa and hot cross buns, the Share supporters climbed back on the bus to travel to Prahran Mission. The group heard from dedicated staff involved in vital emergency relief, op shops, a Lifeline drop-in centre, a successful employment program and the beloved Hartley’s Café, where everyone enjoyed a warm lunch alongside some of the regular diners. The tour proved to be successful. Not

only did Share supporters engage with the agencies that benefit from their donations, but donors and bequestors were able to build new relationships and strengthen their common purpose and desire to make an impact. “The sense of community and connection was wonderful and seeing the agencies, staff and volunteers in action was inspiring,” events coordinator Ann Byrne said.

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News Child safe priority PENNY MULVEY

ALL churches, sporting clubs, schools, scout groups and any other institution or community group that engages with children are facing legal responsibilities to ensure the safety of children. Employees and volunteers associated with these groups must put the welfare of the child front and centre. That means understanding issues such as grooming; bullying behaviours; children who are potentially at risk or who could be exhibiting behaviours of abuse. It means policies, training, codes of conduct, special awareness of particularly vulnerable groups, paperwork, good processes and clarity about what is required. If this sounds onerous, then it is worth reflecting back on some of the initial findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which held its final public hearing into the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse at the end of March. As religious non-profit organisations, churches are fundamentally about people. If people do not enter the doors of the church, it will cease to exist. Those people attend church for a number of reasons, but primarily for the sense of community and/ or to worship God. At the conclusion of its public and private hearings, the Royal Commission announced that 60 per cent of survivors who told their stories of sexual abuse as children in private sessions had been

abused by institutions managed by religious organisations. The Moderator of the VicTas Synod, Rev Sharon Hollis, said the statistics reinforce the importance of the Uniting Church taking very seriously the expectations imposed by the government, assembly and the synod for rigorous child safe measures. “The community has been betrayed by Christian institutions, and that includes the Uniting Church. While the Commission has more reports of abuse from other denominations, that does let the Uniting Church off the hook,” Ms Hollis said. “We have failed children within our own institutions, both historically and now. And all of us – Catholic, Anglican, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Baptist, Uniting –need to work hard to restore the broken trust of the community. “The community had every right to expect more of religious institutions. We certainly do not want our neighbours to now expect less of us because of our betrayal of trust.” Case Study 57, the Royal Commission’s last public hearing before it hands down its final report at the end of the year, sought answers to some of the big questions regarding child sexual abuse. What factors contribute to the risk of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts? How has community understanding of abuse changed over time? What are the challenges to identification and prevention of abuse? What are the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse to survivors, their

families, friends and the wider community? The Commission held 11 panel sessions throughout the course of this hearing, comprising expert witnesses and survivors. Karyn Walsh, CEO of Micah Projects, which offers a specialised service for people who have experienced abuse in institutions, particularly those in out-of-home care, was one such expert witness. Ms Walsh told the Commission the impact on survivors of abuse within institutional contexts is lifelong, and made more complex as they enter into systems they need at different phases of their lives. “The most common thing is that people feel that our systems reinforce they’re not being capable, not being competent, not being courageous, not being able to take on those functions of life as life changes.” The moderator believes the Royal Commission has helped people begin to understand the lifelong damage inflicted on people as a result of childhood abuse. The Uniting Church Safe Church training incorporates both care of children and vulnerable adults. Ms Hollis said congregations and church institutions must provide a safe inclusive environment for all people – children, and adults, and particularly the vulnerable. “I urge each congregation to take seriously the Keeping Children Safe policy and procedures. Do the training. Tell your community that your church is a safe place where children and vulnerable adults will always be welcome,” she said.

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News Refugee rally drenched but defiant TIM LAM

THOUSANDS braved Melbourne’s stormy weather on Palm Sunday to walk in solidarity with refugees and people seeking asylum. The mercury dropped to as low as 10C as Melbourne shivered through its coldest day of the year, but moderator Rev Sharon Hollis reminded the contingent gathered at Wesley Church before the walk that the suffering of refugees in offshore detention is “a million times worse”. The day before the walk, the ‘Refugees Welcome Here’ sign outside Wesley was defaced by vandals to say ‘Kill Refugees Here’. Wesley minister Rev Alistair Macrae said it was a sobering reminder of the need to stand strong in the face of hostility. The Palm Sunday walk followed a new route this year as it made a circle inside the CBD, bringing traffic in the heart of Melbourne to a standstill. People from various faith backgrounds, families, children and even a number of dogs joined in the walk. The Grandmothers against Detention of Refugee Children once again

turned out in large numbers to voice their disapproval of the Australian government’s offshore detention policies. The Uniting Church logo was on prominent display and a group of 18 refugee men from Swan Hill came down to Melbourne with Swan Hill Uniting Church members to participate in the rally. Ms Hollis addressed the crowd at the State Library as part of an interfaith panel alongside Mohamed Mohideen from the Islamic Council of Victoria and Rabbi Kim Ettlinger. “At the moment, Christians and people of goodwill are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until we have a fair and humane refugee policy,” Ms Hollis said. “We are dissatisfied with the detention of asylum seekers in offshore detention camps. We are not satisfied with the use of asylum seekers as political pawns. “We are filled with a holy, righteous dissatisfaction with the way vulnerable people seeking asylum are treated by the government and we say ‘enough is enough’.” On the same day as the rally, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told reporters that none of the refugees on Manus Island will be resettled in Australia and that “advocates can bleat all they want, they can protest all they want”. The Manus Island detention centre is due to close by October this year, but refugees who are not taken by the US will be

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and we are living in Australian society happily,” Mr Yousafi said. “We raised our children in Australian society. We are happy and proud Australians.” Aziz, who has been detained on Manus Island for the past four years, shared his message from Papua New Guinea via an audio message. He thanked the crowd for their solidarity and support and urged Australians to continue advocating for refugees. “These rallies are important, Refugee supporters send their love to the children on Nauru but also keep campaigning in resettled in PNG. People not assessed to be between rallies to end the offshore refugees will be sent back to their country detention,” he said. of origin. “The rights of us refugees have been abused The Nauru immigration detention facility by the government over the last four years. will remain open indefinitely. Refugees must be treated with respect and “When Mr Dutton says we are ‘peddling human dignity. We are not criminals.” false hope’, that is untrue – there is a Daniel Webb from the Human Rights Law hopeful and fair way forward and we Centre met Aziz on Manus Island last year. call on the government to develop fairer He told the crowd that refugees like Aziz policies,” Ms Hollis said. have much to contribute to Australian “We will continue to turn out at rallies, society. we will continue to write letters until the “I say ‘bring them here’ not just because camps are closed, the people are brought it’s the right thing to do, not just because here and we have a fair policy to welcome leaving people in limbo is cruel and refugees and give them a home in this fundamentally wrong,” Mr Webb said. country.” “I say ‘bring them here’ because, frankly, Nazir Yousafi, President of the Victorian we will be lucky to have people like Aziz Afghan Associations Network, said here in our country. refugees have made significant “We cannot sit back and hope for contributions to Australian society. leadership from our politicians. It is you “We refugees have worked hard, we have who must lead them.” established businesses, we have paid taxes

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Join Wesley Church and Brunswick Uniting Church for a celebration through hymn and song of the 40th Anniversary of the Uniting Church. Sunday June 25th, 2-5pm Wesley Church, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne


News The big ask of Muslims DAVID SOUTHWELL

Zahirah Johari, Ifrah Nasser and Faisal Mahboob

IT might have been a ‘trial run’ but the very first question at the Ask a Muslim forum held at 130 Lt Collins St on Wednesday night delved into profound and potentially problematic territory. Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God? The relatively young Muslims, who were seated among a circle of tables with about 20 Uniting Church people, gamely waded into these deep theological waters. Reem Sweid is president of the Muslims for


Progressive Values chapter in Victoria. She said that, according to her opinion and the teaching of the Quran, it was indeed the same God. “We have to respect Christians and Jews and other people of the book,” Reem said at one point of the evening. Addressing religious differences, Reem said that according to Islamic teaching God had decided to create different faiths so they may learn from each other and strive for righteousness. The other Muslims in attendance, Ifrah Nasser, Zahirah Johari and Faisal Mahboob agreed, stressing the value of diversity. The event was organised by Uniting Through Faiths in partnership with Muslims for Progressive Values. It was a test run for what both groups hope will be an ongoing series of forums hosted by different Uniting Church congregations to promote interfaith understanding and discussion. Interfaith network developer April Robinson introduced the event and encouraged people to join the conversation. “We know that there are spaces that need to be created where people can feel comfortable asking questions, whether they think they are silly or inane or if they’re a bit too scared and think they will be labelled a racist,” she said. Reem said she had been compelled to create an Australian chapter of the Muslims for Progressive Values, which started in the US in 2007, to show that not all Muslims ascribed to the more conservative or fundamental interpretations of their faith. She also hopes to combat misconceptions

and misrepresentations of Islam in the wider community. In Melbourne the group has about 400 associated people, mostly aged between 20 and 40, and Reem said it was growing fast, with chapters also being established in Sydney and Canberra. “People are joining us because they are looking for a group that they can feel comfortable in, that shares their values,” Reem said. “I think there’s a lot of desire for something like this among the Muslim community.” Reem said the group had a good relationship with other Islamic bodies. Nearly all of the internet trolling she had seen came from nationalistic Australian groups and followers of Pauline Hanson. The questions for the visiting group came steadily from around the gathering. While some wanted to explore the way Islam enriches the lives of those who practice, curly and contentious issues were broached. The visitors were asked what they would say to those who use Quranic verses to promote values against those advocated by progressive Muslims, what was the meaning of ‘jihad’ and why was it associated with terror and war, and what the Quran says about slavery. The recent controversy over whether the Quran instructs husbands to beat their wives was also raised. Reem suggested there was an alternative way to interpret this verse. The group argued that – considering the time period in which it was written – there were many positive depictions and progressive values in the Quran relating to women, but

these had been obscured by later practice. The tricky question of whether politics drives interpretation of the Quran or whether the Quran moulds politics was asked. The general answer was that it went both ways but that a conservative authoritarian interpretation had largely been imposed on the Islamic world. “Unfortunately the politics in the Middle East is really bad and has been for centuries now, repressing critical thought,” Reem said. Taking a positive view, Reem said she believed change was happening, being led by some of the progressive Muslim thinkers who were given freedom to explore their religion in the West. “Maybe the extremism is a reaction to that, that things are going to change, the fear that things are going to change,” she said. She said the idea of Islam being a rigid, rulebound religion was a major misconception in the wider community. “They are buying this line that Islam and modernity can’t coexist, that Islam is some sort of a static religion that can never change,” she said. “That is the biggest misconception that even some Muslims have. We need to address that one, Islam is a fluid religion that has laws and principles the same as any other religion and it can co-exist like any other religion.” Any who are interested in hosting an Ask a Muslim forum are encouraged to contact April Robinson or Larry Marshall.


News Spirituality meets street art TIM LAM

INTERNATIONALLY-ACCLAIMED street artist Adnate has transformed the interior of Goorambat Uniting Church with an artwork of biblical proportions. The giant mural of Sophia (front page image) – the personification of divine wisdom in the Old Testament – was created as part of the annual Benalla Wall-to-Wall festival in April. Now in its third year, the festival brings together international and local street artists to create murals throughout Benalla and surrounding towns.

Goorambat Uniting Church is a small congregation located 15 minutes outside Benalla. The country town has a population of just 347 people according to the most recent Census. More than a thousand visitors descended on the town over the festival weekend as the church opened its doors to art lovers and curious onlookers. Goorambat Uniting Church member Irene Ham said the mural originated from a conversation she had with a parishioner from a neighbouring church. The parishioner knew street art collectors Sandra Powell and Andrew King, who were scouting for a small country church to host a mural for the festival. “It turns out Sandra knew Adnate personally and he had an interest in churches because he has a very strong interest and knowledge of the early Renaissance paintings and a desire to do that kind of stuff,” Ms Ham said. Adnate’s murals can be spotted around the world, from his hometown of Melbourne to the bustling streets of New York. In Australia, he is best known for his stunning portraits of Indigenous Australians that can be found on buildings and silos across Victoria. Ms Ham was familiar with Adnate’s work with Indigenous communities and, upon further research, discovered he spent a lot of time with Indigenous communities to listen and hear their stories. These conversations formed the inspiration for his portrait murals.

Adnate adopted a similarly collaborative approach with the Goorambat church to come up with a visually striking design that respectfully merged street art with spirituality. “We had quite a lot of discussions. He gave us a couple of concepts and we gave him some suggestions of what we felt we needed,” Ms Ham said. “We finally came up with the concept of painting Sophia, which he was quite excited about and we were quite excited about even though we didn’t really know much about her. “It was a chance for us to learn and to grow and especially in a small country church, you can get stale. So we needed to think about going outside the square.” The congregation wanted the mural to have religious significance and one of their suggestions was to add a dove next to Sophia. “We particularly wanted the dove because it is a representation of the Holy Spirit and a symbol of the Uniting Church,” Ms Ham said. “That flight of movement symbolises the spreading of wings outside the church, spreading the good news out.” Despite initial trepidation over whether the painting would be a good fit for the church – and concerns about the church becoming too ‘commercialised’ – the congregation decided to embrace the collaboration with an open spirit. Ms Ham said the project became an

opportunity for the congregation to experiment with new ways to reinvigorate the church and its relationship with the community. “We’re really just learning as we go,” Ms Ham said. “We thought ‘let’s just be open to something different. If someone comes to us, let’s go with it and be guided by the Holy Spirit and see where we go’.” The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Ms Ham spent the weekend of the festival answering questions from visitors. Many were keen to learn about the story of Sophia while others were content to just admire the mural. “It’s become quite big – it’s all over the internet and we’ve had more than a thousand people come through the church over the weekend of the festival,” Ms Ham said. “So many people have felt spiritually enlightened by it. Many people look at all the street art around Benalla and when they come to this small quiet church, they just sit and contemplate. “It’s just been a lovely experience to see how it calms people.” Goorambat has recently struggled through hard times with bushfires and economic issues and Ms Ham said she was delighted the church could do something small to bring joy to the community. “There have been some flat times here in Goorambat, so to see the smiles on people’s faces was really wonderful,” she said.

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AN INVITATION TO THE MODERATOR’S WODONGA LUNCH “Courage roars quietly” Join Moderator Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Sharon Hollis and her guests at this inspirational lunch to talk about our innate resilience and how to have courage in the face of adversity. Featuring: • Gaye Pattison, ABC Albury Wodonga • Amanda Laycock, Scots School Albury Junior School teacher • Margaret Whittaker, St John’s Ambulance Volunteer & Citizen of the Year 2015 Tuesday 30 May 12.30pm l St Stephen’s Uniting Church (Cnr Beechworth Road and Nilmar Avenue, Wodonga) Cost: By donation as able RSVP Essential: (02) 6024 2108 or

HOLY STITCHES EXHIBITION of embroidered textiles from from a private collection of vestments and church furnishings, from the 18th to early 20th centuries. Thursday 25 May – Thursday 8 June, 2017 10 am – 4 pm daily, Wednesdays, 10 am – 8 pm Embroidery House, 170 Wattletree Road, Malvern Entry: $7 members, $10 non-members, U12s free Information: Phone: 03 9509 2222 l Email: l




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Celebrating an Intercultural Journey

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3rd June, 3:30pm - President Stuart McMillan St. Andrews-Hanbit (Boxhill) Uniting Church The Uniting Church in Australia was formed on June 22, 1977, as a union of three churches: the Congregational Union of Australia, the Methodist Church of Australasia and the Presbyterian Church of Australia.


In uniting, the members of those bodies testified to "that unity which is both Christ's gift and will for the Church" (Basis of Union, para. 1). This year 2017 we celebrate the 40th year of her formation as a Uniting Church.

Come and join us to celebrate an intercultural journey Venue: 909 Whitehorse Road, Cnr Whitehorse Road and Bruce Street BOXHILL

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Profile Carol’s legacy of listening and leadership NIGEL TAPP

CAROL Bennett may not be a Tasmanian by birth or upbringing, but she has certainly established herself as an ardent advocate for the Church in the island state during her eight years as the synod liaison minister (Tasmania). Carol – who retired from the role last month – has been an important conduit between the synod and presbytery, often helping both parties to understand the uniqueness of each other and find ways of working together with a shared vision. She was the first person to fill the role which was created following the retirement of Tasmanian-based associate general secretary Rev Allan Thompson. Formerly the Queensland synod’s assistant general secretary, Carol said her previous experiences had prepared her well to deal with the diversity of the role. Carol has played an important part in helping the Church in Tasmania to re-imagine itself in a time of change, something she believes has been assisted by the members’ willingness to not simply do things the same way. She said congregations had always demonstrated a willingness to change, accepting it was essential. “When I first arrived there was a good

Carol and husband Rev Colin Gurteen flanked by their children Simon Gurteen, Helen Glyde and Kate Whitehead

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sense of community across the presbytery and there was an openness to doing things differently,’’ Carol recalled. “But, at the same time there was a reasonable level of anxiety about what was happening in terms of decline.” As well as strengthening the positive relationship developed between synod and presbytery, Carol has provided the leadership to ensure the presbytery team functions effectively. “I have taken the time to help synod staff understand what life in Tasmania is like –such as the cultural differences and the legislative differences,” she said. “In part, my job is about supporting and resourcing others to be able to do their job. It is about the ministry team, presbytery committees and it is about synod staff. “The more each group understands the role of the other the more effective the relationship will be. Tasmania has been a synod, so has an awareness of the responsibility which comes with that council of the Church. “Sometimes that means Tasmania has specific ways of doing things which might be different from Melbourne but are just as effective.” Carol’s vital leadership role is well recognised within Tasmania, even if she shies away from suggestions she will be hard to replace. “It is always important for me to recognise that I am not indispensable and developing leaders is important,” Carol said. She said she is leaving behind a church in Tasmania which is more robust but also more fragile than when she first arrived. “More robust in that it is not as anxious about the future, as we see pop up faith communities, but more fragile with the decline and ageing in established congregations,” she said. “But, there are groups exploring creative ways of being Church and we still have congregations faithfully maintaining the traditions of the Church.” Carol said she was confident the Church in Tasmania was following its strategic directions in terms of being communities of reconciliation and forming leaders for a missional church. She was delighted to see the presbytery’s

relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress in Tasmania restored in recent months. While disappointed that the former West Coast Patrol operated by Frontier Services had not been re-established prior to her retirement, Carol remains hopeful it would occur soon. Carol is also confident that the presbytery is in capable hands. “I am excited by the presbytery ministry team. They have such giftedness and are focused on new ways of being the Church.’’ She has spent some time in recent months preparing the presbytery for the change. “It will be a period of transition for me and the presbytery, but the Code of Ethics and Ministry Practice is very clear about how we conclude ministry roles. I have worked to make sure the relationships that have been built are maintained by others,” she said. Carol said her service of closure last month would have helped members look at her in a different light “particularly when it says that I will lay down this role and the responsibilities which go with it.” Carol and her husband, Rev Colin Gurteen, will settle in Launceston following their retirement. As for the future – travel is on the couple’s mind, but not in the short-term. “While I have never resented the travel involved with the role it will be nice to spend some time with Colin and watch dust gather on my suitcase,” she laughed. “We are looking forward to seeing more of Australia and spending more time with our hobbies. “And I am looking forward to being able to read theology just for pleasure.” Presbytery chair David Reeve praised the role Carol had played in the life of the church. “We will miss Carol and are deeply thankful to God for the many gifts and graces she has brought to the Church in Tasmania,” he said. “She has a mind which quickly grasps the issues we face, balanced by her empathetic understanding of the people involved. “Her amazing capacity for work and attention to detail has been balanced by big picture thinking and her administrative ability has been balanced by team building and delegation to others.”

13/04/2017 10:16:09 AM 17 CROSSLIGHT - MAY

News NextGen sets out on Korea path


SOUTH Korea is often described as a Christian success story. From humble beginnings, Christianity endured persecution and political division to become the largest religion in South Korea. In October this year, 20 NextGen youth from diverse cultural backgrounds will travel to South Korea to learn about the history, traditions and culture of the Korean church. The trip is a joint program between UnitingWorld, the Presbyterian Church of Korea, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea, the Korean Methodist Church and the synod’s Intercultural Unit. Christianity was first introduced to Korea in the 17th century by returning diplomats who came in contact with Roman Catholicism during their travels. But Catholicism was outlawed by the Joseon nobility and their systematic persecution of Catholics resulted in the deaths of an estimated 8000 Koreans. Christianity later became a source of resistance during the Japanese occupation (1910 – 1945) and many Christian leaders were imprisoned for refusing to worship the Japanese Emperor. Through the efforts of Protestant missionaries and churches, Christianity began to grow rapidly throughout the latter half of the 20th century and it is now the largest religion in the country. Approximately 30 per cent of the population identify themselves as Christians, followed by Buddhists (23 per cent). South Korea also sends a large number of missionaries to evangelise overseas, second only behind the US. The Korean churches are at the forefront of many social welfare programs in the country. During the trip, the young people will visit Seoul and Busan and witness the churches’ mission outreach projects. They will also experience worship in Korean churches, some of which are home to thousands of congregation members. Upon their return to Australia, the travellers will share their experiences and insights with the rest of the synod. Intercultural unit director Rev Swee-Ann Koh asked congregations to encourage young people in their churches to apply for the trip. “This program will enable NextGen young people to connect and learn from those in South Korean Christian churches,” Mr Koh said. “They will have the opportunity to share with the rapidly growing church in South Korea the multicultural nature of the Uniting Church and their faith journeys. “Contextual learning is about mutual relationship and respect. It encourages each other to learn about the partner’s ministry context in order to discern God’s mission in and between the peoples.” The participants will be accompanied by five adult leaders who will provide pastoral support. The trip will run from 26 October to 6 November. For more information contact Swee-Ann Koh at

NextGen tour of China in 2015

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

Professor Joseph Camilleri Over two lectures, Professor Joseph Camilleri OAM addresses the twin questions of the moment: How is the world to engage with Trump’s America, and how will the Eagle engage with the Bear and the Dragon, as we navigate our increasingly uncertain future?

For a truly inspirational experience visit St Michael’s today.

6pm, Tuesday 9 & 16 May Cost: $20 per lecture or $35 for both (seating is limited) Bookings:

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Reflection Home values BILL PUGH

OUR little weatherboard home was built by a wise man and his wife in the 1950s. Tools were basic, hammer and nails, and help from Jimmy over the road, an odd job man supplying practical skill and a garage of handy items. A small bank loan was obtained and work proceeded as wages were saved. The family lived in a shed by the side fence. His wife, mother of their three children and a hairdresser by trade, earned housekeeping by running a primitive backyard salon. Often Jim’s wife fed the youngest with a bottle as the mother trimmed a customer’s hair. The house was built from a plan in a book. Each stage was photographed and now every detail has been preserved by the local historical society as a tribute to an ownerbuilder. From earliest days fruit trees were planted, and vegetables and flowers grown according to the season. Many kinds of birds have delighted in the garden over many years. Presently two magpies rule, chasing the little ones away. All around us, the scene has changed. Old

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weatherboards have gone and two-storey houses and units have taken over. On a side road leading to the highway and shopping centre, homes have disappeared and, in one block, 500 units rise up, with more under construction. Traffic has so increased that the council waste collector is often compelled to reverse and enter from the other end of our street. Parking is limited to two hours and the unsuspecting are fined. Not far from us, homes are being compulsorily demolished to make way for railway crossings to be removed. Many homes and businesses are affected. Local families who have lived in the same home for a lifetime are being displaced. Public safety, of course, is paramount, but homebuilders have invested lovingly and sacrificially in a way of life, almost impossible to recreate elsewhere. This is a continuing experience for many families in our community. And how could any price compensate for the loss of the spiritual capital of the years?

SYNOD 2017

In all this our little home remains as a place of peace and haven for birds and insects, safe from the outside rush and cacophony of modern living. And our little dog, companion of many years, lies safely at rest in her corner. Regular painting has preserved the weatherboards, those experiencing dry rot repaired. And the walls have no cracks because the wise builder built on concrete foundations. Around us some modern buildings show the cracks which appear as the ground has moved and settled. One day our little home will be bulldozed like the rest. But the evidence of what was achieved is preserved in the historical records. Family photos record the love and life of the home where I am privileged to live. Recently on a Saturday morning when playing a recording of the opera Madame Butterfly the beautiful voice of the soprano floated across our lounge room and out through an open door. Suddenly back came the whistling sound of a visiting butcherbird in perfect pitch.

For years we have been entertained by the coming and going of birdlife who have found our garden a picnic ground with bird bath included. One memory stands out. For a long time a little brown thrush came by morning and evening and flitted back and forth along the back fence, gathering little scraps before flying away. Finally, the little brown thrush disappeared altogether. Where is this little brown thrush and the wise and careful craftsman who built our home and died too soon from cancer now? Was the butcherbird bringing us an answer that all was well for them? There is evidence in the Scriptures. Paul, a craftsman and tent maker, assured young Timothy that the work of a wise builder was approved by God. And Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, reminded his listeners that not a sparrow falls to the ground unnoticed by the heavenly Father. In his house of many mansions there is room for the little brown thrush and a job for the builder who gave us the home in which we are privileged to live every day. Our story is that of many families. Now the children have grown up and left bringing sadness and joy. Adjustments have to be made. The next story of life is unfolding. But still our home is a place for the grandies to come, a safe backyard to play. (Remember to wind the old Hills Hoist, oiled, as good as new!) But there is a sadness about it all. A future where land and building prices are denying families a home and a backyard. Everyone wants to live near the city with jobs scarce in regional centres leading to shortage of land. However healthy a country life, families need schools, tertiary education and hospitals. The greed of developers, shortsighted council planning, and bureaucracy are stumbling blocks. Bird life disappears. The Church needs to take a stand. Together we can urge governments, councils and communities to have an achievable vision for the future, and make possible decentralised family living. And to hold to account developers, institutions and banks. Our future families deserve the chance to make the dream of a home possible. We owe this, mindful of the inheritance by which we have been richly endowed.

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Youth gangs running amok at public events in central Melbourne, riots and escapes at juvenile jails, terrifying home invasions, armed robberies and carjackings in the suburbs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; these stories have played out in nightmarish TV images and on tabloid front pages in Victoria over the past 18 months.



Feature ISSUES of youth crime and justice pose an obvious electoral danger to the Andrews Labor government. The government has established a parliamentary inquiry and moved to bring in longer sentences and increased police powers of monitoring and control. In a move that attracted the most controversy, young prisoners were transferred out of juvenile detention centres into rapidly adapted areas of adult prisons following the escapes and riots that damaged facilities. The state opposition meanwhile hammers away at the theme of the government being too soft on crime and weak in punishment. This criticism has also been prevalent in the tabloid press, on talkback radio and even picked up by federal politicians such Senator Derryn Hinch. It is also an issue that has become a battleground over immigration, with the term ‘Apex’ constantly looming large in coverage. The Apex Gang, named after a street in Dandenong where it is said to have originated, has been characterised as a group of predominantly Sudanese youth, with some Pacific Islander and other African nationality membership. It achieved peak notoriety after gang members were involved in mass brawls that broke out in Melbourne’s CBD during last year’s Moomba celebration. Apex members have since been deported with federal Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton also criticising the Andrews government’s handling of youth crime and a federal parliamentary inquiry set up to look into how well migrant communities have settled, with a focus on Melbourne. However, a number of experts and those at work in the field have disputed or at least qualified the impression that lenient and lax authorities have lost control both on the streets and in the jails as youth crime has swelled up from ethnic communities. JULIE Edwards is chief executive officer of Jesuit Social Services that runs a number of programs in the area of youth justice. She points out that statistics tell a nuanced story, rather than one of a rampant and deteriorating breakdown of social order. “Victoria historically has done very well in keeping down the offending rates, the recidivism rate and the incarceration rate of young people compared to other states and territories,” Ms Edwards said. “There used to be a stronger focus on diversion and rehabilitation, which is great. So we actually were sitting down the end where we had lower numbers of offenders etc. “Overall, we are still lower than where we were five years ago. We’ve been on a downward trend for some time. So we haven’t got a huge problem about offending in this state.” Ms Edwards, however, said there had been an increase in some very serious types of offending, such as aggravated burglary and carjackings. “We don’t resile from the fact that we do have a problem. There is a relatively small group of young people who have been committing serious repeat offences,” she said. “But the reality is that you don’t base


a whole system or don’t turn a whole system around on the basis that there is a small group. “You look at the whole system and also you look at what’s working well and keep that in place and you look at what you can do for that group of young people.” Police also assert that they have responded effectively to the spike in some crime categories. “We established Operation Cosmas in May last year to target the rise in aggravated burglaries and carjackings that were being committed by networked young offenders,” Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Leane told Crosslight. “While we cannot go into the operational details, Cosmas certainly had an impact. We saw the peak of these offences in June and July last year and since then we’ve seen a reduction.”

undertake these crimes additional media attention is, therefore, exactly what they want,” Mr Woods said. “Perpetrators commit such acts with the hope they will receive media coverage, which many tabloid publications eagerly provide.” AC Leane agreed that the media mystique built up around the term Apex had added to its allure. “While it is not for police to analyse media reporting on a particular issue, it is true that we have seen some young offenders revel in the notoriety that has accompanied media reporting on their offending,” he said. VIEWPOINTS on how endemic crime is to the Sudanese or other ethnic communities can depend on how statistics are read. Sudanese make up only 0.11 per cent of Victoria’s population and correspondingly are only a small

“But this is a behavioural issue, not an ethnicity issue – no one is born to commit crime.” – AC Leane

AC LEANE and other senior police have cast doubt on whether Apex still exists, and questioned whether it was ever a gang at all as traditionally understood. Apex has no real defined neighbourhood turf or headquarters, no consistently gathered membership, no colours or other signifiers and doesn’t actually consist of any one ethnic group. According to police and other authorities, Apex is a loosely connected network of individuals of various nationalities, over half of which are Australian-born, who have used social media and instant messaging to discuss and often boast of crimes and criminal intent. Writing about this “anti-social” media on academic commentary website The Conversation University of Melbourne criminology lecturer Mark Wood argued that Apex was not so much a gang but more a hashtag or brand used to promote “performance crimes”. As such those who identified with or as being Apex have thrived on the notoriety of media coverage. “Giving the individuals and groups who

component of total offenders, but they are over-represented per capita. Conservative News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt has long accused police and some media outlets of downplaying the high rates of crime associated with the Sudanese community, which he blames on problems of cultural incompatibility. AC Leane denies that the problem has been air-brushed. “African community leaders have acknowledged that a problem exists amongst a small group of young people from African backgrounds involved in serious offending over recent times – and police do not deny this,” AC Lean said. “But this is a behavioural issue, not an ethnicity issue – no one is born to commit crime. “Overall the issue of youth offending is broader than a single community or cultural group. “We’ve also seen very serious offending amongst young people of other backgrounds.” Ms Edwards said that though there were new technological characteristics

associated with contemporary youth crime it wasn’t an unprecedented social or cultural situation. “We always have new waves of refugees or new arrivals and that has happened from the 50s, we’ve had different groups of people right through to now. “So we’d say it’s not a brand new problem,” she said. “We would say the same underlying causes in young people are in play. Namely they want to belong, they want to feel there’s a future and a possibility for them and hope.” She said those who felt marginalised were often referred to by police and others as feeling “locked out”. ‘They don’t really see a future for themselves because they may be new arrivals and seeing that their mum and dad haven’t been able to break into mainstream society to get good work,” Ms Edwards said. She argues that what is needed is a less reactive response. “Nobody ever does the longer term response … if we analyse which postcodes these young people come from it’s actually a handful of postcodes,” she said. “We actually know which postcodes we could take a long-term approach to and invest more heavily in. “Keeping people connected to school, making sure there are job opportunities in those areas. It’s a long-term investment in those areas where we have the same kind of core risk indicators over-represented. “So, if you really want to tackle crime, and the Leader of the Opposition is saying that you can’t put a price on community safety, well then bloody invest in what we can do to prevent crime.” AC Leane, while insisting that police had always been tough on crime and had stepped up their arrest rate, also advocated a broader approach. “As the old adage goes, this is not a problem we can arrest our way out of,” he said. “Leadership and cross-government collaboration is needed to address the drivers of offending.” PERHAPS even more politically embarrassing for the government than the rise in serious types of youth offence has been the scenes of chaos at youth detention facilities in Parkville and Malmsbury. Rioting inmates have destroyed property, assaulted staff and even staged highprofile breakouts. For some, this has been seen as evidence of a youth justice system that’s gone soft. “Putting young thugs behind bars with meaningful sentences will send a message that cannot be misunderstood,” the Herald Sun editorialised late last year. “As the juvenile justice system now stands, it is incapable of holding violent young thugs to account. The jail door must be slammed shut. Young thugs must be sent to serious prisons, not youth holiday camps.” Paradoxically, moves to toughen juvenile detention, including the controversial housing of offenders and those on remand in dedicated areas of adult prisons, have coincided with a national outcry and the subsequent royal commission over the shocking images of the fully hooded teenager Dylan Voller


Feature manacled to a chair at the Northern Territory’s Don Dale youth detention centre. Victoria’s hardline responses and rhetoric have also gone against the almost unanimous expert testimony that tougher youth prison sentences and conditions do not succeed in reducing crime. “At the moment the answer seems to be locking people up, well we are not a country that keeps people locked up until they die,” Ms Edwards said. “Ninety-nine per cent of people get out of prison. Prison isn’t the answer in that they are going to come back into the community. All the research shows that we should divert people from further engagement with the criminal justice system not widen the net and bring more people in.” She offers an alternative explanation for what went wrong with Victoria’s juvenile justice system, previously seen as one of the nation’s more progressive and successful, than that it became too lenient. “The system had been neglected. With a changeover of people and moving to a more punitive, less relationship-based approach, the system became more brittle and fragile where you had people acting up more,” Ms Edwards said. She said cutbacks had led to untrained and unqualified people working in centres. Facilities were often undermanned with high levels of absenteeism among staff. Staff often rely on lockdowns, where detainees are confined to their rooms, as a tool to keep control. Also because of tougher bail laws many of those in detention are on remand and awaiting trial. She described these conditions as something of a “perfect storm”. “You’ve got staff who are unqualified and not able to do it even with their best intentions. They’re not supported to

“We believe it is possible to help people turn their lives around if you offer really targeted intensive support.” – Julie Edwards

work in a therapeutic rehabilitative way. And you have young people who have a lot of uncertainty, who may feel it is unfair they haven’t even been convicted and they’re in jail,” she said. “They do arbitrary lockdowns, not because the young people are misbehaving but because the staff aren’t managing. “They lockdown whole units and when young people feel it’s happened for no good reason it builds resentment. Their family, workers or lawyers can’t get to see them.” MS EDWARDS argues we need a clear vision of what juvenile detention is for. “In the short-term we need to change the model so we are very clear it is about rehabilitation not just punishment,” she said.

“We need to have a clear operating vision and operating model so everyone in youth justice knows what to do, you don’t have rogue people locking people down because they don’t have the skills. “We believe it is possible to help people turn their lives around if you offer really targeted intensive support.” She argues that there are often ways to work with young offenders besides locking them up. One such program run by Jesuit Social Services is Youth Justice Group Conferencing. “It’s not a soft option on crime,” she said. “It’s a very tough response where you bring the young person and a victim or a victim representative together with police and a lawyer and perhaps the young

person’s parent or there might be a teacher as well, someone from the community. “People talk about what happened from their point of view, the police talk about it, the young person does. And then a plan is made.” “The research shows that victims are much more satisfied with that process than, for example, courts. The evidence from our model is that the young person is less likely to reoffend and overall it’s a very healing and restorative process. The young person feels that in some way they have atoned for what they have done and in some way set it right with the community and the person that they have harmed.” She argues this type of approach is also more cost-effective. ‘”The methods we are talking about are much less costly than prison,” Ms Edwards said. “Locking up young people, or older people too, running those large institutions is very expensive compared with a case worker who would be working with however many young people and keeping them out of prison.” “That’s a much more effective use of money but not only for that year. These people are going to be 30 and 40 and 50 and we want them to be productive members of the community. We want them to get trained. “We want them to get jobs. We want them to contribute over time not just the year in front of us and this is where we need to take both a short-term and a long-term view.” “We believe it is possible because people ultimately want the same things. They want to belong, they want to be recognised as a productive person in the community. But unless you give people those opportunities they are going to find their identity elsewhere.”

The Uniting Church is part of the Victorian Inter-Church Criminal Justice Taskforce. Find out more about their advocacy work at In February the Justice & International Mission unit ran a letter action campaign A Youth Justice System That Works. It invited church members to write polite and respectful letters to:   The Hon. Daniel Andrews The Hon Jenny Mikakos MP Premier Minister for Families and Children Minister for Youth Level 1 Affairs 1 Treasury Place East Melbourne, VIC 3002 Level 22, 50 Lonsdale Street E-mail: Melbourne VIC 3000 Salutation: Dear Premier E-mail:   Salutation: Dear Minister Points to make in your letters: • Request the Victorian government to resist the attempts by some media outlets to dictate the government’s approach to youth justice. Ask that the Victorian Government continue to have a focus on rehabilitation of teenagers and young people who break the law, with imprisonment being a last resort. • Ask the Victorian government to follow the successful models of youth justice, such as New Zealand that has had a 40 per cent reduction in youth crime in the last five years, rather than the failed path of the US youth justice system that destroys lives, reduces community safety and wastes valuable government revenue that could be used for the benefit of our community. • Note that the youth justice system will not work to reduce crime and increase community safety if it is not adequately resourced to ensure issues of past abuse, mental health issues, and drug and alcohol dependency of the youth in it are not addressed. There needs to be sufficient numbers of appropriately qualified staff working in the system.   Please also write letters to your local paper, the Herald Sun and The Age. Letters to The Age can be submitted at: Letters to the Herald Sun: Letters should be about 150 words and submitted by midday at the latest.



Celebrating 40 years Sexuality debates not new for the Church NIGEL TAPP

SEXUALITY debates within the Uniting Church have been around almost as long as the institution itself. In 1981 – less than five years after the Church came into being – the Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) was asked to consider the ordination of homosexuals by the Presbytery of Yarra Valley after a candidate informed the presbytery she was living in a lesbian relationship. In response to a request for advice from the assembly, the ASC advised the presbytery that “in its view sexual orientation is not and has not been in itself a bar to ordination.’’ “A decision on the suitability of a candidate may, of course, depend among other things on the manner in which his or her sexuality is expressed.’’ Neither the ASC nor the assembly has ever clearly ‘ruled’ on the question of ordination, instead leaving it as a decision for the council charged with ordaining – the presbyteries – to form their own position. As a result some presbyteries have ordained gay and lesbian candidates and some have not. Debate and discussion on the issue of same-gender marriage at the 2015 Assembly revealed continuing significant differences of opinion on matters relating to homosexuality. Until the issue of same-sex marriage appeared, prompted by the prospect of a change to Federal marriage legislation, there had been something of a hiatus in these debates. This was a relief for some in the Church who lamented the time and energy the issue had consumed, but a frustration for others who would like the Church to either affirm the current position on marriage or change it to be inclusive of same-gender couples. Sexuality has held centre stage at many Assembly meetings since the fourth


gathering in 1985 debated the report Homosexuality and the Church. The Assembly sought to establish 1994 as a Year of Listening to enable the church to discuss issues of sexuality and sexual ethics. However, if that year was meant to assist resolve outstanding concerns, that didn’t happen. The Church’s Interim Report on Sexuality, co-authored by former president and current Wesley Church minister Rev Alistair Macrae, was released in May 1996. It became arguably the most explosive document in the UCA’s short history. The report was bound to be controversial for some given it spoke positively about the ordination of homosexual ministers, suggested pre-marital sex was not ‘living in sin’ and described masturbation as a “natural sexual activity (which) can be a positive experience”. Not only did it attract much debate from within the Church but also from the mainstream media, which covered it – and the fallout – extensively. In the following months Crosslight was flooded with letters of complaint about the report and its authors. One letter writer stated: “If I found that any Uniting Church minister is a homosexual I would definitely find another Church.” Praising the efforts of the task group, another letter writer said many of the recommendations would have positive outcomes if implemented and were to be applauded. But he went on to write, “however it is difficult to identify any benefit that would accrue from the

ordination of people actively following a homosexual lifestyle”. In August 1996, Rev Sir Allan Walker said the report was “thoroughly unrepresentative of the church” and the Year of Listening was “wasted” on the committee because it only listened to the pro-gay section of the church. Mr Macrae described this criticism as “untrue and unfair”. “Neither the task group’s process nor the mission of the Church will be well served by dismissive, inaccurate or unfair generalisations,” he wrote in September 1996. So fervent did the debate become that former theologian Rev Dr Nigel Watson wrote an article in Crosslight imploring all participants to “lower the decibel level by at least 75 per cent and listen patiently to one another”. The Church received more than 8000 responses to the report with almost 90 per cent – representing the views of 21,000 members – negative. In Crosslight in May 1997, the assembly general secretary Rev Gregor Henderson said he was disappointed that a large number of responders confined themselves to the question of homosexuality rather than the broad range of issues raised. At the 8th Assembly in 1997 – as the meeting debated the final Uniting Sexuality and Faith report – several members of the Church came out as gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. However, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress withdrew from the debate.

It meant that the Assembly was left to pass a motion which expressed sadness that the meeting had been unable to reach agreement on the report. The 11th Assembly statement on sexuality expressed regret for those ministers and members who felt they had no option but to withdraw from the Church and also for faithful Christian gay and lesbian people whose lives the Assembly deliberations impacted. Co-convenor of the Uniting Church LGTBIQ Network Keith Gerrard said he believed the church had failed to face the issue of sexuality squarely, preferring to be seen as all things to all people. “Others churches have made statements against same sex marriage but the Uniting Church position seems to be one of not wanting to deal with it,” Mr Gerrard said. Mr Macrae disagreed with Mr Gerrard’s assessment. “The Assembly’s Working Group on Doctrine continues to consult, study and write on the issue and is preparing a report which will come through the ASC to the next Assembly meeting in 2018 where the matter will be discussed and debated,” he said. Former Assembly of Confessing Congregations chair Rev Dr Max Champion argued that any proposal to change the Church’s current position on marriage needed to be grounded in theology, something he did not believe had occurred. Dr Champion said he believed there had been a shift in thinking from some within the Church who had moved away from the Basis of Union position on diverse gifts of the Church to arguing for diversity to be the main theological base. For 40 years the Uniting Church has grappled with the difficult and sometimes divisive issues of sexuality, and it’s a conversation that shows no signs of quietening down.


Vision and Mission Waiting for gospel – a strategy

‘Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains.’ (Ephesians 6:19). HERE in Ephesians, Paul comes towards the end of his letter asking for prayer. He asks for the provision of words “whenever” – moment by moment – he is called upon to speak of the “mystery of the gospel”. There is humility in his request. Paul cannot control the gospel – for it comes as a gift and as a mystery. He may have spoken of the gospel many times before, but that does not mean he can presume to know it, nor have words to share it, in the moments to come. Paul, like us all, remains a recipient of a surprising and mysterious gospel – God’s gospel in Jesus Christ. As Mark’s words succinctly announce, the arrival of Jesus comes so suddenly: “The time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). This is God’s initiative and God’s gift of grace. I often feel this truth – praying for the ‘whenever’ moment – not only the words to speak, but also for the moment of gospel to come and visit where I am. I pray it comes when I preach and as my gathered community worships. I pray it comes even when, especially when, I’m least expecting it. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to position ourselves in situations where gospel revelation might be possible? Or, at least pray that God might lead each of us into such situations. Here’s one of mine… Some years back, I had finally responded to persistent invitations from various members of my congregation to check out the local Relay-For-Life event. The team event is a fundraiser for the Cancer Council. About 100 teams walk around the local athletics track in a 24-hour relay effort from 12 noon Saturday: each team with their own marquee tent base, thousands of people, all generations together. The more formal Saturday evening ceremony of speeches was followed by a Scottish piper that heralded a solemn moment of public memorial; candles were lit right round the 400 metre track with messages of memorial and hope. As I walked silently in the darkening dusk around the track, I found the display overwhelming. Why? The event had a threefold emphasis that was clearly evident: • Remembering – honouring those who have died. People giving expression to their grief and deep respect for those who have been part of their lives. They remember with profound pride and solemnity. • Compassion – standing alongside those who are suffering. Many people walk for those they know who were battling cancer. In many instances, such sufferers were part of the team that had gathered.


Hope – making a stand of hope for a future where pain and suffering are no more. The question was repeatedly asked: “Who are you relaying for?” Was it someone you once knew, someone you now know, or someone you are yet to meet? I became acutely aware that this huge community event was laced with so many dimensions of pastoral care: dimensions of love and care that, as a Uniting Church minister, I knew were so sorely needed in our community. And I felt blessed to be present in the midst of this community of people. I remembered. I remembered my mother who died of cancer. I remembered the ones who had gone before me. I remembered the one who invites me: “Do this in remembrance of me”. I was moved with compassion. Compassion for those I walked with, compassion for their stories, compassion for those who have encountered incredible hurdles in their life. I recalled the one who, filled with compassion, reached out his hand and touched the ones no one else dared touch. I was imbued with hope. It was a hope

born of community and solidarity. Not the hope of wishful thinking, but rather it was a hope grounded in companionship and resolute purpose. A person I didn’t recognise came up alongside me and greeted me by name. Eventually I discovered that I had led a funeral for a member of their family. Repeatedly, conversations were naturally struck up: some from previous connections, some from random introductions. I even met people from my own congregation, cancer survivors, who already knew the ministry of participating in this event. For me, gospel was interweaving in a context that took me by surprise. It was like church at its best. In the years that followed, the enthusiasts in the congregation drew a team together and set up ‘church’ in the midst of this event. Somehow, God was present here, and it was where our congregation needed to be. And today, what has this to do with the synod’s Strategic Framework – our Vison and Mission Principles? I ask myself: “Can our church strategies make the gospel come and breathe continuing life into our Uniting Church?” The answer has to be ‘no’. We do not put

our faith in strategies. Our faith is in the one who – in a mysterious (strange) way – renews the Church. Our faith is in the Spirit of Christ by whose fellowship we may not lose the way. The gospel comes as divine grace, and it is only ever received as a gift. Yet this ‘no’ does not imply our own inactivity. The best we can do, in terms of strategy, is to apply ourselves, our learnings and our resources as faithfully as we can, and to move into various contexts and possibilities that are open to us. In short, we seek to live as disciples worthy of our calling. And then in that active application and movement on the way, we wait – wait for gospel with open hands. When this gospel gift comes upon us, we receive it with joyous thanksgiving. This good news is our daily bread. I pray that our efforts at strategy and planning, of stewardship and leadership, may lead us in the Spirit’s power to places where the gospel of Jesus Christ is encountered and received. May we be surprised, challenged and converted by the mystery of the gospel that calls us forward. David Withers Strategic Framework Minister

Relay-For-Life team and supporters


Letters Logo life THEY say that everything in life is relative however, in Jim Gibson’s case we are not related! Nigel Tapp’s timely piece (‘Logo stands the test of time’, April) brought back memories of a front-page story in The Sydney Morning Herald (perhaps November 1976) written by that paper’s long-time religion writer, Alan Gill, about the adoption of the Uniting Church’s official ‘emblem’. The article mentioned the new ‘badge’ will “supersede the unofficial, but extremely popular, design used during the past two years by the new church’s Joint Constitutional Commission”. That design showed three individuals, representing the three participating denominations, standing beneath a cross within a circle. Gill’s report went on to say “the individuals on the left and right of the trio extended an ‘open hand of friendship’ to other Christians, hinting of further ecumenical ventures to come”. You may well ask how do I know all this detail? Well, for some reason I cut out the article from the Herald and filed it somewhere (I assumed over 40 years ago) I would find it! Last night I had this sudden flashback as to its location. I went straight to my copy of The Basis of Union As Revised 1971 (Joint Board of Christian Education, 1971 Edition) and there it was! Thank you Jim Gibson for your inspiration in helping to bring the Uniting Church’s emblem to life and adoption. As Gill concluded in his article, “the unofficial design was considered to have ‘insufficient substance’ to warrant consideration as the official and permanent emblem”. Allan Gibson OAM Cherrybrook NSW

Anything else is sinking sand IN Christianity, Jesus’ physical resurrection is central to the belief that Christ is who he says he is and has done what he was called to do. For the rest of the world the gospel with its Easter message is a fairy tale that just wouldn’t die. In countries like Malaysia, the significance of Easter is suppressed. Easter is essentially a very powerful message of love: God so loved the world that he sacrificed his only begotten son to redeem all mankind. The resurrection? Confirmation that Christ is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God. The Malaysian government possibly fears Christians’ open confession of Christ’s identity may upset, confuse or even sway people of other faiths. Thus Easter is necessarily a non-event, to be celebrated within the private confines of church buildings only. This is quite understandable as Malaysia is a Muslim country. It is therefore ironic that in western democracies like Australia, where Christianity is supposed to be the dominant faith, the meaning of Easter is controversial. Not all churches are on the same page as to how they see the event. Take for example, ‘liberal’ denominations which pride themselves on an enlightened, new-age approach to the faith. They see the Easter story as a hidden allegory of spiritual self-renewal. It is perhaps part of their denominational mission to ‘liberate’ minds, to explain away, often subtly, and align biblical events within the framework of a credible worldview. To do this plausibly, the gospel will have to be tweaked and Jesus must 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.


necessarily be relegated to the figure of another ‘very good man’, like Gautama Buddha or Prophet Muhammed. All very commendable, very intelligently rational. But many people find it puzzling and often ask the relevant question: if they believe in what they are preaching, that what they preach is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, why preach under the mantle of the Church then? Why not launch a different belief-system? Does not the oddity of approach here speak for the Truth as overwhelmingly preferred by the faithful? In a world reeling from frequent and frighteningly random terrorist and terrorism-inspired attacks, people need the stronghold and comfort of an unchanged and unchanging faith. One built on rock. Anything else is sinking sand. Kimmy Fam Via email

Astronomical ANN Byrne’s Hidden Figures movie review (April Crosslight) rightly highlighted the noble struggle of three AfricanAmerican women. With tenacity worthy of movie making, they challenged deep and widespread racism and sexism in the context of the space-race of the 60s decade. A hidden figure that the space-race movie ignores, yet needs to be exposed is the cost. The cost just to win a race. In dollar terms: $100 billion (today’s equivalent) during the 60s; in environment terms: five million litres of fossil fuel (350 petrol tankers) for the six Apollo rockets (1967-69). In the movie, President John F Kennedy (Sept 1962) pledged, “We choose to go to the moon … in this decade”. Pity he didn’t say, “We choose to eradicate world poverty … in this decade”? Simply, that stuff doesn’t sell. Instead, things got a whole lot worse. Imagine impoverished countries being equipped with adequate schools, hospitals and infrastructure. Imagine everyone having access to clean water, food, and shelter. What sort of world would it be? But no. It was more important to win a race at all cost. Ray Higgs, Ferntree Gully, VIC

Unanswered questions I REFER to my letter and the reply from Rev Dr Mark Lawrence, General Secretary, which appeared in the October 2015 Crosslight under the heading ‘Costs per church member?’. My concerns were broadly about duplication and overlap of administrative functions between the Victorian synod and its presbyteries, as well as the comparative costs per church member of running UCA bureaucracies in the various states. The General Secretary responded, in part: “the Major Strategic Review is addressing a number of issues raised in this letter”. In the 18 months since that reply was published, I wondered whether a further response could be made to my original queries. Alan Ray Mont Albert, VIC

Spirit of renewal MY DAD is a retired Uniting Church minister. I talked to him recently about whether he was dejected about the state of the local and broader church. His response surprised me. “God’s Holy Spirit will blow through again, Dave. Life will come again.” I oscillate between hope and despair, but I

am absolutely convinced that no genuine renewal will happen without God. No amount of human endeavour, committees working on Major Strategic Reviews, beavering away in offices, consulting with wide parts of the church will bring about life … only with the energy of God’s Holy Spirit. And so when I read that the working title of the Synod’s new major unit is the Mission and Capacity Building Unit (April), I revert to a bit of despair. Don Watson in his book Death Sentence writes: “Every day we are confronted with a debased, depleted sludge: in the media, among corporations, the public service, cultural institutions, out of the mouths of our leaders… New styles of business management have forced on us this new public language that makes no sense to outsiders, and confounds even those who use it. It is a dead language…” Can we as a Uniting Church collectively have a moment to reflect and perhaps confess that at times we are guilty of management speak, of using debased, depleted sludge? The 16-page Vision and Mission Principles are refreshingly clear in their Christ-centred mission. But I do have concerns when I read: “The March Synod Standing Committee approved a high-level framework for the new Mission and Capacity Building Unit to comprise four main functional areas… Leadership, Education and Formation; Relationships and Connections; Priorities, Focus and Advocacy; Functions and Administration.” If I used that sort of language with the students I teach and minister with, they wouldn’t let me get away with it for a nanosecond. This new synod unit could be the heart and soul of what the Uniting Church is about, if we give God’s Holy Spirit a chance to blow through again. Let’s not mire it in depleted sludge. David Hall Chaplain Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School

Buying power DR Ian Anderson AM in his letter (April) writes of living hopefully in a troubled world where many of us feel powerless. He refers to the importance of Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God and neighbours. One specific way we can express our love for our neighbours is through the way we shop. Many of the world’s workers are exploited or treated as slaves. Purchasing Fair Trade products such as tea, coffee and chocolate, ensures that the people who produced what we consume were paid a fair wage, worked under healthy conditions and in an environmentally sustainable way. UnitingJustice in the document, Ethical decision-making in the key of an economy of life, asks us all, individuals and congregations, the question “Are we buying certified Fair Trade products?” How do we respond if we are serious about showing God’s love towards our neighbours across the world? Rev John O Martin Robina Qld

Truth for our time Hedley Fihaki’s thoughtful article (‘Lead us not into temptation’, April) unfortunately represents a classic example of ‘proof texting’ of scripture. It is always possible to make a point about anything by bringing into service this, that or the other piece of scripture. That method has long been the mainstay of conservative theologians, so I am not surprised that Dr Fihaki does that. Many of Crosslight’s readers will know the risks involved in assuming a literal understanding of Scripture, (in this case) in order to argue against ‘free research’ and ‘scholarly biblical interpretation’. This

he regards as ‘Satan’s method’ of leading humanity astray. Yet it is apparently only some biblical scholars he has in the crosshairs. He, after all, is assuming the mantle of biblical scholar, albeit by cherry-picking portions of scripture from out of their historical and theological contexts. Many of the ‘free’ biblical scholars Dr Fihaki disdains are in fact pointing to the teaching of Jesus, and encouraging their readers to become his followers. This is hardly commensurate with his argument that “common practice today” means “we alone speak and decide what God can do and what we will and should do”. Dr Fihaki’s article actually illustrates the danger of dividing people who love God and follow Jesus into two opposing camps – those who are good (who read Scripture literally) and those who are evil (who find its meaning through literary, historical and contextual biblical criticism). That kind of biblical scholarship has been taught in theological academies for over 200 years. It is called ‘interpreting scripture’. It follows Jesus’ method, where he clearly did not believe he should regard every word of scripture as literally and indisputably true. Instead, he interpreted it compassionately for his own people for his own time, according to the sacred law of love. By following Jesus’ lead, we too can find sacred ‘truth’ in Scripture, for our time. For love of Jesus, let us regard each other with love, not as people who “misuse scholarly exegesis to try and destroy the figure of Jesus and to dismantle the Christian faith”. Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson Via email

Support for tradition IN his article supporting same-sex marriage (March), Bill Loader avoids any reference to traditional marriage and this enables him to argue his case in a contextfree space. The core of his argument is that homosexuality is neither a sin nor a disability and it follows that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. I don’t think it follows at all. For most of us, the fundamental human partnership is between a man and a woman. In partnership, they possess complementary physical and biological features and a mutual attraction which enable them to create new life together. Each one of us owes our existence to such a harmonious partnership and it is appropriate that the word ‘marriage’ should be retained solely to describe the formal commitment between a man and a woman. Same-sex partnerships do not possess the harmony of the features described above. I can accept that same-sex couples discover rather than adopt their sexual preferences and that in the past many have suffered from extreme prejudice and discrimination. However, my understanding is that most of the previous legal restrictions no longer apply as is the case for de facto partners generally. However, as same-sex marriage advocates see it, there remains the struggle for the word ‘marriage’ in ‘marriage equality’ to symbolise that there should be no distinction between same-sex and male-female formal relationships. If these advocates are prepared to struggle for the name to symbolise that there is nothing special about traditional marriage then it is reasonable for supporters of traditional marriage to argue otherwise. It is disappointing that Bill Loader concentrates on what homosexuality is not about while ignoring the life-creating potential of a man and a woman within traditional marriage. Whether this is indicative of a general church view or one of many is unclear. Geoff Smith Mount Waverley, VIC CROSSLIGHT - MAY 17

People Record Pancake Day result

Peter’s kind farewell

ST LEONARD’S Church Brighton Bayside raised the highest amount ever donated from a Pancake Day event in Victoria and Tasmania, even though they didn’t charge a cent for the 300 or so pancakes served. Barry Schofield has been involved with the fundraising event for many years at St Leonard’s. He decided that he had to get rid of the collections of $1 and $2 coins so last year he tried something new. “Previously Pancake Day was a gold coin donation to get a pancake,” Barry said. “It made a maximum of $200 and barely covered the cost of the pancakes.” Pancakes were served without charge after the two morning services at St Leonard’s but people were asked to put a donation in a bucket placed at the door of the church or at the morning tea venue. An advantage of giving by donation, rather than buying a pancake, is that people could put their gifts into envelopes and get receipts to make them tax deductible. This approach raised $2600 in 2016. “I challenged the congregation to make it $4000 this year,” Barry said. This time around Barry researched the struggles of people experiencing homelessness and for four Sundays leading up to the first Pancake Day morning teas he gave a brief talk during the services encouraging people to give. The approach proved stunningly successful. “I have never seen so many $50 and $100

WHEN you mention the name Rev Peter Cook to locals in the Hamilton area, the first thing that often comes to mind is his generous support for people in need. So it was fitting that the community honoured his legacy by pledging to perform one kind act for another person. Last year, community members in Hamilton started a social media campaign called ‘Peter’s List’. This encouraged people to do something simple in service of others, such as helping a neighbour or volunteering their time. Hamilton Uniting Church member Elaine Edwards said Mr Cook, who retired last year after 18 years of ministry in the Henty region, was a strong believer in spreading the love of God through practical actions. “He encouraged everyone in their own endeavours and placed a value on every little contribution made,” she said. Mr Cook is a passionate supporter of refugees and played a major role establishing the Rural Australians for Refugees group in Hamilton. He also created the Uniting Church Argyle Shop where people could donate furniture and household goods, often from deceased estates. These are then sold or redistributed to people in need. Mr Cook was inducted into the Hamilton congregation in 1999 and his placement was extended twice so that he could complete a number of projects.

Barry Schofield serves pancakes to St Leonard’s church members

bills in my life,” Barry said. The final tally was $5550, with Barry throwing in an extra $5 to give reach the more nicely rounded figure. Barry said the effort made in the lead-up to educate and engage church members was a decisive factor. “What really helped us this year is that people learned where their money is going rather than just giving to a bottomless pit called charity,” he said.

Heavenly needlework WHETHER it was a match made in heaven or merely a stitch in time, an upcoming exhibit will celebrate the long-running partnership between The Embroiderers Guild, Victoria, and an ‘incorrigible’ collector of ceremonial church garments. The Holy Stitches exhibition will feature vestments and other church furnishings collected over a period of 20 years by the appropriately named Dr Guy Churchman, which have been expertly repaired and restored by members of the Guild. Dr Churchman has collected vestments dating from the 18th century to the 20th century. A number of items in his collection come from Italy and Germany and feature liturgical designs from the Roman Catholic tradition. “They are gorgeous, very sumptuous, even though you can see they are worn,” Embroiderers Guild exhibition committee convenor Marian Cravino said. Dr Churchman approached the Ceremonial Group at the Guild, which is a group of eight to 10 highly skilled embroiders headed by convenor Norma Bain, to bring the garments back to their original glory. The Guild was eager to assist as part of its mission is to preserve textiles of significance and maintain needlework skills in danger of being lost. The exhibition, which runs for two weeks from 25 May, will be a fundraiser to help thank the group for its painstaking MAY 17 - CROSSLIGHT

Rev Peter Cook

Ms Edwards paid tribute to Mr Cook’s generous spirit and informal style of worship. “His guitar, his deliberate injection of humour, his inclusion of members of the wider community to enhance services and his deep, inspiring love of God, made Sunday mornings a special time of worship,” she said. During his ministry, Mr Cook served as a police chaplain, offering pastoral support for people on both sides of the law. He worked with officers who faced trauma in the line of duty and cared for the pets of people in prison. Ms Edwards described Peter as a humble man, who never sought recognition or reward. “He preached the work of Jesus and did the work of Jesus here in Henty,” she said. “He is one person who made a big difference in our district and was always supported by his beautiful wife Dianne. “His ministry will long be remembered.”

Treble tones


voluntary efforts. It will feature the work of renowned embroider Lesley Uren, who on one garment has restored a dove motif. There will also be a pre-exhibition lecture on Wednesday 17 May by Dr Churchman and Ms Bain on the history, significance and meaning of the garments and the techniques used to restore them. Ms Cravino said the Guild, which has membership of about 1500 throughout Victoria, is made up of all ages and caters for various types of embroidery, ranging from the traditional to more contemporary and creative expressions. “It’s about fellowship, having similar interest and attitudes and looking out for each other,” she said. For details go to:

THE Treble Tones Ladies Choir is set to light up Burwood Uniting Church when they perform their annual concert ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ on Saturday 27 May. The choir, first formed in 1962, was known as the United Ladies Choir before it changed its name to Treble Tones in 1998. It currently has 29 members who sing two and three-part arrangements, including folk songs, ballads, light classical and music theatre songs. North Balwyn Uniting Church member Loraine Baldock said the choir allows her to share the joys of singing with other people. “I have always been involved in singing in one way or another. As well as the enjoyment which I gain from this activity, there is a wonderful feeling of fellowship and support in the choir,” Ms Baldock said. “Although our choir is not affiliated with any particular church, many of our members belong to the Uniting Church, as well as churches from other denominations.”

The choir regularly performs at retirement villages, country towns, churches and nursing homes, in addition to a yearly concert at Burwood Uniting Church. “We all derive immense satisfaction from performing at the various venues, such as nursing homes, because we feel that we are giving enjoyment to those who are in that situation,” Ms Baldock said. The choir rehearses every Wednesday morning from 10:15am to 12:45pm at Burwood Uniting Church. They are currently seeking new members, so if you would like to join the Treble Tones contact musical director Lorraine Pollard by calling 9807 5936. The ‘Don’t Stop the Music’ concert takes place at Burwood Uniting Church on 27 May at 2pm. Admission is $22 for adults, $20 for concession and $50 for family. Children under 12 are free. Enquiries - Loraine Baldock T: 9955 4522 or E:

The Treble Tones Ladies Choir



Free to believe

Material world

The perils of Pauline

Breaking points









FAITH and freedom may be thought of as opposites by those critical of religion. But this is certainly not the case for a thinker such as Martin Luther, who thought that only faith can free us from slavery to our self-interest. And it is not the case for Spanish nun and activist Teresa Forcades. Forcades suggests that the early church took some time to reconcile itself to the concept of a God who does not restrict, and she notes the differences in Near East creation narratives, in that the Israelite God, unusually, gives rather than asks for something. Additionally, God radically allows for the chance of subversion by human beings, who are given freedom to accept or deny what God offers. So Christianity begins not with conformity but with release. The monastic tradition and freedom may also seem contradictory, but for Forcades, the life of a nun removes many impediments to communion with God and with others, particularly an attachment to possessions. As a nun, she is free to serve others, as it were, which spills out into the world via her activism in the areas of social justice and the fight against rampant consumerism, discrimination, disparities of wealth, our dependence on global pharmaceutical companies and the erosion of democracy. Much of her short book is concerned with such matters. She writes that she was a feminist before she was a nun, and that her introduction to theology was through liberation theology. Her faith and what one might term her radicalism inform each other; they are two sides of the same coin. Turning inward, Forcades finishes her book with a meditation on forgiveness, a profound act that can only spring from freedom and which, she says, is at the core of our experience of faith.

TERRY Eagleton can usually be relied upon for a left-field viewpoint on religion, politics and culture, both in the senses of the political left and the simply surprising. In his latest book, he investigates the concept of materialism (the philosophical concept rather than the idea of hording riches) in the thought of Marx, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, with major contributions from the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. For Eagleton, Marx largely gets materialism right, arguing that the everyday determines how we think about things, rather than the other way around. Material things should not be a means to an end, as in manufacturing simply for profit, for example. Nietzsche, while holding similar views, got the practical application of materialism tragically wrong, arguing that the appalling treatment of many human beings in history is simply the price we need to pay to sustain the elite of society such as himself. Wittgenstein, who is somewhere inbetween, thought philosophy was often hopelessly out of touch with reality, but he also undervalued philosophy’s power to change the material for the better. All three thinkers are wary of philosophy, but not in the sense, says Eagleton with his usual wit, that Brad Pitt might be. Eagleton relies heavily on Aquinas, who is a kind of materialist – one who thought we are more than matter but didn’t dismiss the material, and held that body and soul, emotion and reason, feeling and thought are not so easily disentangled. It might surprise some to read Eagleton’s argument that Christianity is a materialist religion. Jesus, who is God in material form, spent much time healing bodies, and his ‘spiritual’ advice was typically materialist – don’t get caught up in the struggle for wealth, clothe the naked, take care of the wounded stranger, welcome home the prodigal son with a feast.

IN his seventh Quarterly Essay, The White Queen - One Nation and the Politics of Race, journalist David Marr examines Pauline Hanson and One Nation’s re-emergence in our current global political context. Collaborating with a team of statisticians, Marr analyses the resurgence of Hanson through the lens of Australian voters’ demographic makeup. One Nation’s rise itself is investigated through an exploration of John Howard’s mid-late 1990s political opportunism, providing an illuminating timeline of Hanson’s hot button topics. Muslims, for one, have obviously replaced Asians as our nation’s greatest existential threat. Marr discussed The White Queen at Carlton’s Church of All Nations in late March, noting that his work can be robbed of topicality by the rapid pace of modern political theatre. In June 2010, a soon to be ex-Prime Minister was in his sights. Political Animal, Marr’s piece on then opposition leader Tony Abbott, arrived in late 2012, just months before the ouster of Julia Gillard and the doomed return of Kevin Rudd. Released on 27 March, The White Queen was published in the wake of the Western Australian state election. Then Liberal Premier Colin Barnett had engineered preference deals with One Nation, which backfired spectacularly and led to – for the Liberal Party – an ominous electoral wipeout. In the current edition of The Monthly, journalists George Megalogenis and Richard Cooke also reflect on One Nation’s constituents steadily eroding the Liberal Party’s traditional voter base. This explains the Turnbull Liberal Government’s further push to the populist right. The recent abolition of certain 457 visas subtly dog-whistle to Hanson’s base and are met with approval from Hanson herself. Bill Shorten’s Labor opposition – hardly immune to criticism – has also embraced Trumpian ‘nation first’ rhetoric in an effort to woo disaffected middle Australian voters. As noted, the frenzied pace of modern political discourse renders any printed work fleetingly contemporaneous. Regardless, Marr’s newest Quarterly Essay provides us with a useful snapshot of the present condition of mainstream Australia, and is recommended for those critical insights alone.

HAVE you ever experienced a deep visceral response to friends’ news that they are breaking up? Perhaps you have seen them as the perfect couple? You cannot imagine them as individuals. This is the premise of playwright Joanna Murray-Smith’s latest offering, Three Little Words, currently showing at the Melbourne Theatre Company’s Sumner Theatre in Melbourne. Directed by MTC associate director Sarah Goodes, the play ridicules upper-middleclass intellectualism, which can spill over into narcissism. As two couples gather to celebrate the 20th wedding anniversary of Tess (Catherine McClements) and Curtis (Peter Houghton), Tess announces to Bonnie and Annie that she and Curtis are splitting up. The play, performed without interval, is at times predictable but provides moments of laughter along with sadness, irritation and poignancy. One wonders what anyone saw to like about Tess in the first place. She has no concept of others’ feelings but expects everyone to be immediately responsive to her opinions and emotions. Curtis needs more flesh to his character. Although love and hate are at opposite ends of the same spectrum, he seems to jump quickly from one to the other with no sense of nuance or depth. Annie (Kate Atkinson) is the only nonuniversity graduate of the four. A masseuse, Annie has felt confident within herself and her relationship with Bonnie (Katherine Tonkin) until their friends break up. Their own turmoil is as central to the play as the poison which leaches out of the separation of Tess and Curtis. A spontaneous round of applause erupts from the audience when Annie calls out the elitism of the other three and demands that Bonnie depart with her, leaving the dishevelled couple to manage their own self-imposed chaos. The questions posed by Murray-Smith – What keeps people together? Is our individuality surrendered when we enter into a relationship? Can friendships continue when couples don’t? Is love enough? – are not new, but they are always worth revisiting.

Published by Polity, available at: RRP: $21.95

Yale Uni Press, available at: RRP: $34.99 essay/2017/03/the-white-queen/ 20

18 April – 27 May Southbank Theatre, The Sumner, Melbourne



THE number of entrants to the 2016-2017 Blake Prize is testament to the ongoing interest in religion and spirituality. The 64th Blake Prize, Australia’s prestigious religious art prize, received a staggering 594 entries, which the judges whittled down to 80 finalists. Of those, 26 are part of the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Touring Exhibition, currently on display at Kinross Arts and Spirituality Centre at Toorak Uniting Church. Lyndel Wischer, centre manager and curator of the Kinross exhibition, explained that the Casula Art Powerhouse seeks to offer a cross-section of the prize entries when it selects the pieces to tour. “The artworks range in medium from painting to beautiful etchings to some wonderful sculpture and some very powerful photography,” she said. “It tells us a bit about art history and the mediums that also, of course, relate to the theme.” Kinross Arts and Spirituality Centre is an ideal location to exhibit artwork which invites conversation about religion and spirituality. Lyndel said it was particularly special that the exhibition coincided with Holy Week. “In this quietitude of Easter we have time


FOR John Hull the experience of totally losing his sight became something of a spiritual quest. That’s not such a surprise considering he was the son of a Melbourne Methodist minister who became a theologian and eminent religious educator. John’s determination to wrest a sense of meaning from his mid-life loss of sight in 1983, while living in the UK with his wife and children, led him to record a taped diary. The diary forms the bulk of the soundtrack for the extraordinary film Notes on Blindness. Actors lip-sync to the voices of John (who died while the film was being edited), his wife Marilyn and other family members to create a vivid dramatisation of the diaries and other taped material. This is done so well that you have to keep reminding yourself that it isn’t the actual people and events being shown. Even more remarkable is the way young British writers and directors, James SpinMAY 17 - CROSSLIGHT

The Crusader by Liam Benson

to engage with some of the deeper things of the art,” she said. “I was keen that our touring exhibit was shown over the Easter period so that people could see the connections between art and spirituality.” That prompts the obvious next question about what kind of connections there are between art and spirituality. “The commonality is that art can be a universal language, and I think for some people their faith or spiritual journey is also one that they would like to see as

boundary-less and not caught up with other parts of society,” Lyndel said. “One of the artists featured in this exhibition talks about art as being one of the best vehicles to speak about spirituality, because some of the more formal tenets of religion fall away and we get to a deeper heart of things. We become less concerned about judgement or large tracts of history.” Lyndel is particularly moved by the words of Liam Benson, whose work The Crusader features in the exhibition.

Benson, in describing what led him to submit a photograph of himself wearing a veil, writes: “as the Australian community continues to diversity religiously and culturally, despite the contrast of difference, it is our community spirituality that allows us to process the bias and prejudices and find a common humanity based in compassion.” His artwork is laden with meaning and for Lyndel captures the wonder of the Blake Prize, which she believes enables dialogue about religion and spirituality through the lens of Australian contemporary art. “On that veil is a cross, and within that veil is a point at which Liam Benson stares at the viewer. That, for him, is referencing some of our Australian identity in terms of Ned Kelly and his armour. But of course, he’s also referencing Islamic faith, and within it he’s even questioning and talking about his gender identity as a gay artist.” In partnership with the Centre for Theology & Ministry, Kinross Arts Centre and Toorak UC are providing tangible opportunities for dialogue about religion and spirituality at a special ‘Australia & The Divine Image’ Symposium over three days in May (11-13 May). People can attend across all three days or dip in and out. The symposium opens with an atmospheric concert in the church. Other events include a series of art workshops and a panel discussion chaired by Dr Claire Renkin, art historian at Yarra Theological Union. The panel includes 64th Blake Prize artists, leaders in religious diversity in Australia and experts on the link between spirituality, wellbeing and the body.

People can register at http://ucavt.goregister.

ney and Peter Middleton, use the visual medium to impart a sense that you are sharing in a blind man’s experiences and understandings. The film is tremendously inventive and, paradoxically, visually striking aided by lushly immersive audio. Dreams, the one time when John can ‘see’, and other imaginings feature prominently and come weighted with emotional and symbolic significance, as do visual metaphors such as his glasses. John’s trip home to Victoria proves a pivotal moment as he sinks into despairing frustration over his failure to connect with his emotionally distant father or with any sense of his past. Childhood settings have become a meaningless blank. From this sense of loss, isolation and incapacity, the film charts John’s path towards an epiphany, fittingly in a cathedral, as he reframes his dilemma of whether to accept or resist blindness. John’s sister, Jan Dale, introduced a one-off showing of the film in Carlton on 26 April. Notes on Blindness is being shown on demand, requiring an individual or group to act as an event host and ensure enough tickets are sold to allow a screening. If you are interested in hosting a screening go to the Demand Film website https://

Images from Notes on Blindness 21


Reflection Understanding Pope Francis’ (and Andrew Garfield’s) spirituality

WHAT do Pope Francis, and actor Andrew Garfield, who plays a lead role as a Jesuit priest in Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Silence, have in common? Answer: they have both undergone the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in 1539, and whose Exercises are at the core of Jesuit spirituality. For both Pope Francis and Andrew Garfield the effects of the Exercises have been profound. In an interview with America magazine, Garfield said that through the Exercises he had fallen in love with Christ. And Pope Francis too radiates being in love – with Christ and people. Jesuits are normally required to complete the Exercises in a retreat of 30 days, but completing them part-time over 30 weeks is another option, particularly for lay people. This 30-weeks-in-daily-life retreat seeks to integrate the Exercises into normal life. It covers the same material as the 30-day retreat, which is divided into four weeks or segments: God’s love for us despite our sinfulness; Christ’s life and ministry; Christ’s Passion and Death; and the Resurrection and life in the Spirit. Being ‘transformed utterly in love’ was a process that began for St Ignatius when he was recovering from severe injuries sustained in battle. For this dashing young man –with an eye for the ladies and dreams of fame and glory as a soldier – life was to change dramatically when a cannon ball shattered one of his legs. In the long


recovery period, he read about the lives of the saints, and found they inspired him in a way that his military heroes could not. So began a lifelong and life-changing love affair, which would lead him to offer his life in the complete love and service of Christ, and he was able to pray: Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, My memory, my understanding, and my entire will, All that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. All is yours. Dispose of it according to your will. Give me your love and grace, For this is sufficient for me. He also wrote: “There are very few who realise what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves entirely into His hands, and let themselves be formed by His Grace.” The idea of falling in love with God and Christ was explored by St Ignatius’ 20th century successor as Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr Pedro Arrupe, who wrote: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way… Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Last year I undertook the Spiritual Exercises at the Campion Centre of Ignatian Spirituality in Kew, Melbourne, and discovered the practicalities of falling in love with Christ, for the Jesuit, include:

The Principle and Foundation: recognising that I am created by the God who is love, to love, praise and serve God – “I am from love, of love, for love”, as one translation puts it. The Daily Examen: invites you to reflect on how God has loved you, and to give thanks for the many blessings and graces you have received throughout the day. The Discernment of Spirits: which includes seeking to discern where have been loving and generous-hearted; and where you have failed to love, or have been stonyhearted. The Imaginative Contemplation: which invites you to place yourself in a gospel scene either as an observer or as one of the protagonists, imagining the sights, sounds and smells so that you feel physically present, and ending with a colloquy, or conversation, with Christ. I found this way of engaging with Scripture particularly powerful. Falling in love with Christ is also about experiencing the power of forgiveness – for oneself and for others. It is difficult to love and forgive – yourself and others – unless you have experienced being loved and forgiven. Jesus said of Mary of Bethany, the ‘sinful woman’ who showed him great love by anointing his feet with perfume and washing them with her hair, that “he who has been forgiven little, loves little” (see Luke 7: 36-50). The second great commandment – “love others as yourself ”– is difficult unless

we know and experience God’s love for us, despite our sinfulness. This is the love which has enabled Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche Communities for the disabled, to say, “Each of us is more beautiful than we can dare to believe [because we] are children of God”. One of the most painful, but cathartic and liberating moments of the 30 weeks came when my director suggested I write an apology to someone I had wronged nearly 40 years ago, and then to give the matter up to Christ. Learning to let go of past mistakes, and see them as “buried in the heart of Christ”, as Br Roger of Taize put it, is a critical part of learning to love and forgive – yourself and others. The Spirit-filled ministry of Pope Francis, who has acknowledged the failures of his early priestly ministry, is testament to the power of such forgiveness, and to the love that “transforms utterly”. See or

Roland Ashby is editor of The Melbourne Anglican (TMA) newspaper. See He is also editor of Heroes of the Faith – men and women whose lives have proclaimed Christ and inspired the faith of others (Garratt Publishing).



Committee: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson. E: Formal expressions of interest should be put in writing to Isabel.

PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Alpine Regional Resource Ministry (P) Seymour Community Pastor (P)


PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Beaumaris (0.6) (P) Korean Church of Melbourne – Korean Speaking Minister Mount Waverley (St John’s)

Peter Wiltshire, St David’s Oakleigh (Balkara Parish) to commence 1 May 2017

PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Aitken College Chaplaincy** Geelong (Wesley)** Highton (St Luke’s)** Williamstown (St Stephen’s)** PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA Ulverstone – Sprent (3 year term) (P) South Esk (P) Synod Liaison Minister (5 year term) (P) PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC Nil PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Ashburton Burwood** Canterbury (Balwyn Road)** Croydon North – Gifford Village (0.5) (P) Melbourne (St Michaels) Ringwood** UAICC Tasmania - Chairperson/ Minister (3 year term) ** These placements have not yet lodged a profile with the Placements Committee, therefore they are not yet in conversation with any minister. There is no guarantee that the placement will be listed within the next month. (P) These placements are listed as also being suitable for a Pastor. A person may offer to serve the church in an approved placement through a written application to the Synod. Further information on these vacancies may be obtained from the Secretary of the Placements


John Broughton, Uniting AgeWell – Director of Mission to commence 1 May 2017 Michael Duke (SA), Kingston (Rowallan Park) to commence 1 September 2017 CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT Jeanne Beale concluded at Aitken College on 27 March 2017 Margie Dahl to conclude at Banyule Network on 30 June 2017 Margaret Callaghan (Lay) to conclude at Drouin – Bunyip on 30 June 2017 Nick Randall to conclude at Geelong East – Leopold on 30 June 2017 RETIREMENTS Gwen Ince, Kensington (Christ Church) to retire on 30 June 2017 Helen Robinson, Surf Coast Parish to retire on 30 June 2017 Charity Majiza, Echuca and Moama to retire on 30 November 2017 Beth Hancock, Banyule Network to retire on 31 December 2017 INTER SYNOD TRANSFERS Beth Hancock, to transfer to the Synod of South Australia from 1 January 2018 Janis Huggett, transferred to the Synod of VicTas from the Synod of NSW and the ACT from 1 March 2017

SYNOD LIAISON MINISTER, TASMANIA COMMENCEMENT FROM JULY 2017 This key role provides the principal link between the Synod offices in Tasmania and Victoria, management of the Synod office in Launceston, exercising responsibility on behalf of the Presbytery of Tasmania for the pastoral care of ministry workers in Tasmania, and leadership of various kinds within the Presbytery of Tasmania. The person appointed will be a lay or ordained person who is a member of the Uniting Church and has a good knowledge of UCA Regulations and processes. Excellent pastoral, communication, interpersonal and organisational skills are essential. Theological qualifications will be well regarded. For further information, please request a ministry description from: Robyn Hansen, Executive Assistant to the General Secretary, P: (03) 9251 5215 or E: Expressions of interest close on Friday 26 May 2017.


Notices COMING EVENTS CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY MEDITATION COURSE 2-4PM, THURSDAY AFTERNOONS, or 7-9PM, THURSDAY EVENINGS, 4 - 18 MAY 2017 Chalice Community of Faith, Northcote Uniting Church, 251 High Street, Northcote. Contemplative practices invite us to a deeper relationship with ourselves and God. Topics may include: sitting meditation, labyrinth walking, art making, and movement meditation. No experience necessary. Open to people of faith, no faith or seeking a contemplative lifestyle. Cost: Full fee $108/Concession $54/ Early bird $80. Booking essential at MASSAGING HIMMLER: A CONCERT – A POIGNANT COLLABORATION OF PIANO, POEMS AND IMAGES 3.50PM for 4PM start, SUNDAY 7 MAY 2017 Canterbury Habitat Uniting Church, cnr Bourke & Mont Albert Rds. Selected poems from: Massaging Himmler: A Poetic biography of Dr Felix Kersten by Anne Carson are interwoven with Rachmaninov 10 Piano Preludes Opus 23, recorded soundtrack by Julian Bailey, and potent historic images. Masseur to Reichsführer Himmler (head of the SS & Gestapo), Kersten used his influence to secure the release of tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of prisoners. Hosted by Anne Carson. Cost: $50 / $30 concession. For more details contact Anne on M: 0425 708 274. Bookings essential via ‘LAND OF THE MORNING STAR’ FILM – THE WEST PAPUAN STORY 5PM, SATURDAY 13 MAY 2017 St John’s Uniting Church, 37 Virginia St., Mt Waverley. The Mt Waverley Chadstone Uniting Churches are presenting the film Land of the Morning Star – The West Papuan Story. There will be a light meal served in the foyer at 5pm followed by the 50-minute film. Admission is $10. Contact Faye on M: 0402 853 147 or Margery on P: 03 9807 4084 for more information. CELTIC PRAYER WORKSHOP at ST LUKE’S UNITING CHURCH 9.45AM – 3PM, SATURDAY 20 MAY 2017 St Luke’s Uniting Church, 94 Essex Road, Mt Waverley. Do you long to see intercessory prayer in your local church grow stronger, or develop in your own life, or have you wondered how you can involve your congregation in intercessory prayer? Enjoy a day learning the elements of Celtic prayers and the opportunity to write your own prayer in a supportive, safe environment. Leader: Judy Kennedy. BYO lunch, other refreshments provided. Cost $20. Enquiries to Katrina Dowling on M: 0411 042 111 or E: 20 YEAR CELEBRATION OF ROSEBUD UCA OP SHOP 10AM, SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017 6 Murray-Anderwon Road, Rosebud. On Sunday 21 May the Southern Peninsula Uniting Church (formerly Dromana, Rosebud and Blairgowrie) will hold a special church service to celebrate 20 years of the op shop service to the local community. The service, at 10am, will be followed by a light lunch and entertainment at 11am. All are welcome to attend, especially past and present volunteers. Please RSVP to Sandra Hansen on P: 03 5986 5521 or E: LECTURE: THE HISTORY AND CONSERVATION OF ECCLESIASTICAL TEXTILES 6.30PM, WEDNESDAY 17 MAY 2017 Embroidery House, 170 Wattletree Road, Malvern. (Melway 59 C9, Tram 5 from City Stop 46). Guest speaker, Dr Guy Churchman. Cost is $5 entry on arrival.

AUSTRALIA’S BIGGEST MORNING TEA at THE HUB, supporting CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA 10AM – 12 NOON, THURSDAY 25 MAY 2017. Glen Waverley Uniting Church, cnr Bogong Avenue and Kingsway, Glen Waverley. Come along to The Hub and enjoy a delicious morning tea. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to the Cancer Council Victoria. For information and group bookings, enquire on P: 03 9560 3580. 140TH ANNIVERSARY ST KILDA UNITING CHURCH, BALACLAVA CHURCH 10.30AM, SUNDAY 21 MAY 2017 Balaclava Church,163 Chapel Street, cnr Carlisle Street, St Kilda. The St Kilda Uniting Church, Balaclava Church, is celebrating its 140th anniversary on Sunday 21 May at 10.30AM, followed at noon by the launch of its history, Campaigns, Causes and Commitments: the continuing story of the St Kilda Uniting Church in the Balaclava Community by Maureen A Walker. Welcome is extended to all. For catering, or to order a copy of the history, contact: Desleigh on P: 03 9534 3145, M: 0413 158 855 or E: or Maureen on P: 03 9534 1966, M: 0400 187 250 and E: HOLY STITCHES EXHIBITION AT THE EMBROIDERERS GUILD, VICTORIA 10AM – 4PM DAILY, THURSDAY 25 MAY – THURSDAY 8 JUNE 2017 (WEDS. 10AM – 8PM) Embroidery House, 170 Wattletree Road, Malvern. An exhibition from a private collection of richly embroidered, antique ecclesiastical vestments and church furnishings. Cost is $10 non-members, $7 members, children under 12 free. For more information P: 03 9509 2222, E: or see or www. STOP ADANI COMMUNITY MEETING 7.30PM – 10PM, TUESDAY, 23 MAY 2017 Brunswick Uniting Church, 212 Sydney Road, Brunswick. A Community Meeting is being planned to encourage and empower people of spirit and people of faith to take action to stop the proposed Adani mega coal mine project. If you are concerned about climate change, indigenous rights, the Great Barrier Reef, the Great Artesian Basin water supply, and a caring, sustainable Australia, then please come to this meeting. Enquiries, Richard Arnold on M: 0407 796 429 or E: TREBLE TONES LADIES’ CHOIR ANNUAL CONCERT 2PM, SATURDAY 27 MAY 2017 Burwood Uniting Church, cnr Hyslop Street & Warrigal Road, Burwood. The Treble Tones Ladies’ Choir will present its annual concert “Don’t Stop the Music” on Saturday 27 May. Admission is $22, $20 concession, $50 per family, and children under 12 free. For enquiries phone Loraine Baldock on P: 03 9955 4522 or E: MEETING OF THE VICTORIAN CHAPTER of the AUSTRALIAN CHURCH LIBRARY ASSOCIATION 10AM – 3PM, SATURDAY, 27 MAY 2017 Starting at Greensborough Christian Book Centre, 14 Church Street, Greensborough, then on to St Mary’s Catholic Church, 204 Grimshaw St, Greensborough. The morning will be spent at Greensborough Christian Book Centre for tea, a talk by the proprietor and a browse around the shop, The meeting then moves to St Mary’s Church for lunch and the afternoon program. Bring a plate of food to share for lunch, and books, etc., you no longer need for the swap table. For more information phone Rachel on P: 03 9850 4828 or E:



QUALIFIED CHRISTIAN PAINTER: handy-man, interior/exterior work, available outer eastern suburbs. P: 03 9725 6417. 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.

ELECTRIC ORGAN - FREE: A Lowrey Genie, small, electric organ free to a good home or congregation. Contact Jenny Walker on M: 0418 312 549 for more information.

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GRAMPIANS WORSHIP: When visiting the Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10am.



WANTED TO BUY: Antiques, second-hand/ retro furniture, bric-a-brac and collectables. Single items or whole house lots. Genuine buyer. Contact Kevin P: 0408 969 920.

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To play one 10.30am service on Sundays on a Johannus Opus 15 two manual, full pedal board organ. Starting in July or earlier. Small enthusiastic singing congregation. It might be possible to form a team of part-time organists so that one person is not committed to playing every Sunday of the year. If this interests you, please contact Jeannie Poole – P: (03) 9859 1967, M: 0409 400 021 or E: for more details.

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

CONTEMPLATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY NETWORK 2PM – 4PM, FIRST SATURDAY OF THE MONTH Centre for Theology & Ministry, 29 College Cres, Parkville. Are you interested in photography/videography as a spiritual practice? The network gatherings will offer a time of reflection, a place to enhance technical skills (whether newly acquired or wellseasoned), and a forum for discussion, support and encouragement. RSVP essential to Rev Deacon Peter Batten at or M: 0419 255 585.


CAPE WOOLAMAI: Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. Ring Doug or Ina P: 0403 133 710.

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

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EDWINA GATELEY RETREATS Retreat 1: Call to Global and Personal Transformation FRIDAY 28 to SUNDAY 30 JULY 2017 (Mixed retreat) Retreat 2: Soul Sisters: Women Called to Connect, Bond and Heal in the Broken World FRIDAY 4 to THURSDAY 10 AUGUST (Women’s retreat) Held at the Edmund Rice Centre Amberley, 7 Amberley Way, Lower Plenty, www.amberley. and presented by The Sophia Circle. For more information or enquiries about retreat costs or programs go to or E: For registration go to

CALOUNDRA: Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/wk. For details contact Ray P: 0427 990 161. E: rayandjean@


HYMN FEST CONCERT 2PM, SUNDAY 4 JUNE. St. Andrew’s Uniting Church, 105 High St Berwick. Come along and have a singalong of much-loved hymns both new and old. Featuring ‘Journey Bound’ band, pipe organ, church choir. $5 per head, includes afternoon tea. For more information or to sing in the choir on the day, contact Matthew Clark on M: 0437 397 369.

SERVICE OF CLOSURE - WATSONIA WORSHIP CENTRE 2PM, SUNDAY 18 JUNE 2017 69-71 Devonshire Road, Watsonia. Rev Ian Brown will lead a final UCA Service of Closure at Watsonia assisted by Rev Sandy Brodine. Afternoon tea will follow. Those with past association with the Watsonia Congregation are particularly invited to attend. Enquiries and RSVP for catering purposes to either: David Peach P: 03 9434 4168 or E:, or Peter Kirby P: 03 9717 6286 or E:


ART AND CRAFT EXHIBITION 10AM – 5PM, FRIDAY 16 JUNE and 10AM – 4PM, SATURDAY 17 JUNE 2017 You are invited to celebrate with Banyule Network of Uniting Churches the 40th anniversary of the formation of the Uniting Church at Scots Uniting Church, 187 Burgundy St, Heidelberg. Contact P: 03 9458 1984 or E: for more information.


CELEBRATING AN INTERCULTURAL JOURNEY - 40th ANNIVERSARY OF THE UCA 3.30PM (DINNER AT 6PM) SATURDAY 3 JUNE 2017. St Andrews-Hanbit (Box Hill) Uniting Church, 909 Whitehorse Rd, cnr White Rd and Bruce St, Box Hill. Come hear President Stuart McMillan speak, and share in an intercultural dinner. There will be songs from different cultures, recapturing the origins of the UCA, and stories of migrant congregations. The dinner is also a fundraiser for NextGen’s Contextual Learning journey to South Korea. $20 per person or $15 per person for a group of 4 or more registering and paying together. Please purchase your tickets at www.trybooking. com/book/event?eid=264236&. Print your ticket and bring with you to the event. For information contact Ann Byrne, event coordinator on E: or P: 03 9251 5404, or Rev. Dev Anandarajan on E: or P: 03 9251 5486.

BOOK SALE FOR FRONTIER SERVICES QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY WEEKEND 10AM – 4PM, SATURDAY 10 JUNE and 11AM – 4PM, SUNDAY 11 JUNE 2017 St Andrews Uniting Church, Bacchus Marsh. Collectibles, old books, new books, children’s books, annuals, novels, science fiction & fantasy. Books to read, books to look at... lots of choice. Plus hand-painted primordial rocks of outback scenes. For more information P: 03 5367 3023 or E:

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60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION KERNOT MEMORIAL UNITING CHURCH 10AM, SUNDAY 4 JUNE 2017 Kernot Memorial Uniting Church, 1040 LochKernot Road, Kernot. You are most welcome to attend the Kernot Memorial Uniting Church 60th Birthday Celebration Service on Sunday 4 June 2017, commencing at 10am and afterwards for refreshments at the Kernot Hall. Please contact Hon Secretary Judy Hogan on M: 0422 094 903 for any queries.

SYNOD 2017

INTERNSHIP Melbourne Welsh Church is inviting expressions of interest from suitable candidates for internships, commencing in the second half of 2017 for 12 months. Internship offers a small stipend as well as accommodation in the Melbourne CBD. Interns experience training in servant leadership and discipling towards mature spiritual formation as a member of the church community while participating in a range of sessional experiences including outreach activities, interfaith dialogue and cultural immersion. To discuss this opportunity further contact Rev Jim Barr on M: +614 2546 2277 or E: Closing date for applications is 30 May 2017


SYNOD MEETING 2017 Join together for opening worship on Friday, 8 September 2017 at 7.30pm, St Michael’s Church, 120 Collins St, CBD. (There will be Auslan interpreting at the service.) Diarise the date 9 – 13 September 2017 at Box Hill Town Hall, 1022 Whitehorse Road, Box Hill. Pray for the meeting: for representatives from your presbytery, for our leaders and all members of Synod as they seek wisdom and discernment in their discussions, deliberations and decision making. We’ve launched the Synod 2017 mobile app for information and regular updates and news about the meeting. To download the app visit 25

Moderator’s column

Hope-filled meditation

AMONG the many letters Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote when he was in prison was a poem that was later versified into a hymn. Since I first came across the poem and hymn I have spent some time each Eastertide pondering it. Three small verses that, even if I meditate on them for the rest of my life I will never fully comprehend, but which draw me deeper and deeper in Christ’s living and dying and rising. This reflection does not deal with the verses in order but rather reflects where my meditation took me over the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Day. Here’s the first verse: People go to God in God’s need, find God poor, reviled, with neither shelter nor bread, see God entangled in sin weakness and death. Christians stand by God in God’s suffering. When Jesus dies, suffering and death enter into the life of God. Jesus’ death is a brutal one –state-sanctioned torture. The suffering is lonely – Jesus is abandoned by friends and forsaken by God. He is utterly alone. Jesus enters an abyss where there is no comfort and where God is not present. He descends into hell. God suffers. The suffering of the cross reveals the essence of God’s being. God is willing to suffer, to enter into the depths of human alienation. One of the implications of Jesus’ suffering and death is that there is nowhere that God cannot be present. Suffering, destruction and death cannot separate God from the world God loves. Sin, evil and death have been confronted and overcome in the cross and so cannot keep God from loving and saving the world. In the midst of the horrors that confront our world and in the suffering in our lives, God is already present, suffering with us. This has been very important to me as I have sought to make sense of the death of my partner by suicide. If God suffers with us and for us then, no matter how painful my grief, God will not turn from me. No matter how I might feel alone and abandoned God does not turn from me. No matter how deep my partner’s suffering, no matter how unfathomable to me his death, God will not turn from him. 26

People go to God in their need, for help, happiness and bread they plead for deliverance from sickness, guilt and death. Thus do they all Christians and unbelievers. Acknowledging God’s suffering love does not mean that we simply accept suffering in our own lives or in the world. In Christian thought, some suggest that because Jesus suffers on the cross Christians should accept suffering, distress and death in a tranquil fashion with devotional resignation. Rather, post-resurrection, Christ’s suffering and God’s vindication of this path gives hope that we can follow the way of the cross as Christian disciples serving in places of suffering, transforming them and witnessing to God’s loving liberating presence. We do not just accept injustice. Jesus’ suffering is transforming injustice by challenging all its causes for the sake of the oppressed and downtrodden. God comes to all human beings in need, sates them body and soul with His bread, dies the death of the cross for Christians and pagans, and forgives them both. Reflecting on the suffering of Jesus on the cross and Jesus’ ongoing suffering in the world and for the world does not diminish the joy of the resurrection. The resurrection is a creative act of the Spirit of God that overcomes sin and death. The raising up of Christ renews the world with forgiveness and newness of life. The resurrection call us from our hopelessness, sin, suffering, doubt and despair to be bearers of the hope of the resurrection in the world.

Sharon Hollis Moderator As well as Bonhoeffer’s poem in Meditations of the Cross, I also drew on The wounded heart of God: The Asian concept of Han and the Christian Doctrine of Sin by Andrew Sung Park and God the Revealed: Christology by Michael Welker for this reflection. CROSSLIGHT - MAY 17

Crossword This month in Crosslight


For the cluey Thisreader month in Crosslight Compiled by Lynda Nel COMPILED BY LYNDA NEL 3 4 6

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01. College offering course of teachings on Bonhoeffer 02. When truth is contested 03. Governance style of the Uniting Church 05. St Andrews-Hanbit, celebrating this journey for 40th Anniversary 06. Saint, Superior General of the Jesuits 10. Venue for Ignatius style retreats in Melbourne 11. __ Stamp, a part of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship 12. Theological College of the Victas Synod 13. Current Pope 15. Multi-faith, multi-ethnic Sri Lankan choir 18. The _ Buddha, another ‘good man’ 19. Rev Peter _, a passionate supporter of refugees, from Hamilton 20. Uniting Church venue for 40th Anniversary ‘Big Sing’ 23. Raises funds to resource Uniting Care agenices

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Across Mission providing emergency relief and other support Founder of the LʼArche Communities for the disabled Asks the question ʻAre we buying certified fair trade products?ʼ Carol, retired from the role of synod liaison minister (Tasmania) Meeting this year in Box Hill from 9-13 September Logo stands the test of time Dietrich _, wrote poems when he was in prison President, guest of honour at 'Intercultural Journey Celebration' event Platform for articulating ideas about matters of importance Disease of the skin Street artist Medium for recording video clips to be viewed at Synod Meeting The personification of divine wisdom in the Old Testament

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Down College offering course of teachings on Bonhoeffer When truth is contested Governance style of the Uniting Church St Andrews-Hanbit, celebrating this journey for 40th Anniversary Saint, Superior General of the Jesuits Venue for Ignatius style retreats in Melbourne __ Stamp, a part of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship Theological College of the Victas Synod Current Pope Multi-faith, multi-ethnic Sri Lankan choir The _ Buddha, another 'good man' Rev Peter _, a passionate supporter of refugees, from Hamilton Uniting Church venue for 40th Anniversary 'Big Sing' Raises funds to resource Uniting Care agenices

Giving is living

HELEN Her (pictured) has volunteered for Sammy Stamp for the past 20 years. Every Thursday, she joins a group of volunteers at the synod centre to trim and sort stamps collected from Uniting Church members and synod employees. The stamps are sold and the money directed towards various programs connected to the church. A part of the Uniting Church Adult Fellowship, Sammy Stamp has raised more than $851,000 since its inception. They enjoyed a record-breaking year in 2016, generating more than $64,000 from sales.

Dear God, We give thanks for our wonderful volunteers Who give selflessly in service of those in need Grant us the spirit to be your servants Shaping the world with good deeds Bringing your message of hope through our actions Amen

The funds from last year’s sales supported a number of grants that provided cyclone relief in Fiji, constructed toilets in Timor Leste and welcomed refugees to Swan Hill. The synod’s Giving is Living program produces a range of resources to encourage congregations to embrace a spirit of giving. These include monthly pew sheets and prayers that can be downloaded from the VicTas website. Visit Resources/GivingIsLiving to access them.


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02. Prahran 04. Vanier 07. UnitingJustice 08. Bennett 09. #Synod2017 14. Emblem 16. Bonhoeffer 17. McMillan 21. Soapbox 22. Leprosy 24. Adnate 25. iPhone 26. Sophia



02. Mission providing emergency relief and other support 04. Founder of the L’Arche Communities for the disabled 07. Asks the question ‘Are we buying certified fair trade products?’ 08. Carol, retired from the role of synod liaison minister (Tasmania) 09. Meeting this year in Box Hill from 9-13 September 14. Logo stands the test of time 16. Dietrich _, wrote poems when he was in prison 17. President, guest of honour at ‘Intercultural Journey Celebration’ event 21. Platform for articulating ideas about matters of importance 22. Disease of the skin 24. Street artist 25. A device for recording video clips to be viewed at Synod Meeting 26. The personification of divine wisdom in the Old Testament

01. Whitley 02. Post-truth 03. Interconciliary 05. Intercultural 06. Ignatius 10. Campion 11. Sammy 12. Pilgrim 13. Francis 15. ConChord 18. Guatama 19. Cook 20. Wesley 23. Share




Synod Snaps

An Easter Sunrise service was held at Eagle’s Nest, on the coast road between Cape Paterson and Inverloch. More than 100 people from Inverloch and Wonthaggi churches attended this ecumenical event.

Moderator Sharon Hollis preached at her mother’s congregation at Dookie Uniting Church on Easter Day. She planted a tree in the church garden alongside Don Bryant and Rev Loni Vaitohi.

“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.” - Ansel Adams

St Luke’s UCA at Devon North in Gippsland, decorated a wooden cross with fresh flowers. It stood outside the church from Maundy Thursday until Easter Tuesday.

Scoresby Uniting Church recently celebrated its 143rd birthday.

Easter decorations at Camperdown Uniting Church

The Sipwell faith community celebrated the Easter dawn around a campfire and enjoyed a fish breakfast.

More than 300 people gathered at the Mulgrave Community Centre to celebrate Sri Lankan Harmony Day. The event was supported by Uniting Through Faiths.

Crosslight May 2017  

Crosslight is a monthly newspaper for people who have a link with the Uniting Church. The paper is based at the church’s Victorian and Tasma...

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