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Crosslight Publication of the year 2015

No. 263 March 2015





Women within the church reflect on leadership, faith and confronting gender stereotypes.

The traditional UnitingCare Pancake Day celebrations have once again been embraced throughout the church.

Meet the ministers leading the way in sharing leadership within their communities.

Churches throughout Australia joined a growing chorus of protest against the forced removal of 267 asylum seekers (including 37 babies born in Australia) to offshore detention centres Nauru and Manus Island. Habitat Uniting Church in Hawthorn was one of dozens of churches of all denominations to declare their church a sanctuary for those at risk of deportation. Read more about the churches response to offshore detention on page 3.


St Patrick’s Day – a day of national pride or an excuse to party?

From what to give up for Lent to the US presidential nominations, our readers share their views in the letters page


Synod Snaps brings you images from throughout the Church and beyond.

Regulars Reviews - 16 to 17 Letters - 19 Placements - 21 Moderator’s Column - 22

Editorial Challenging bias PENNY MULVEY

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day (IWD), held on 8 March for the past 105 years, had its origins at an international conference of socialist women held in Copenhagen in 1910, which had, as its foremost aim, international suffrage for women. While the definition and expectations of gender equality vary greatly depending on an individual’s place of birth and

Communications & Media Services

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

socioeconomic, religious and ethnic background, IWD is a rallying call for women in their struggle for economic, social and political equality. Sometimes I wonder how far we have progressed. As women seek to raise their collective voice, some males, strangely threatened by women having an opinion, become both verbally and physically aggressive…and they become deeply personal! Women who are brave enough to engage in the public square, via social media, will be ‘trolled’ by anonymous males, threatening both physical and sexual violence. Recently, comedian Lawrence Mooney didn’t see the humour in a female journalist’s critique of his performance at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, and took to Twitter to attack her integrity. The commentary around the fallout between best friends and fellow television hosts, Gary Lyons and Billy Brownless, apart from gutter journalism, seemed to presuppose that Nicky Brownless was a piece of prop-

erty to be fought over. Destroy the Joint keeps count of every woman in Australia who dies at the hands of a violent man. As of 21 February, DTJ reported eight women have been killed this year, four of them in Victoria. Tragically, 79 women lost their lives in our nation last year because of violent men. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2015 Gender Indicators report, only 17 per cent of chief executives are female; 35 per cent of our politicians are female; three quarters of the top two awards within the Order of Australia system were given to men; women on average earn 10 per cent less than men and have considerably less superannuation balance as they approach retirement. Positive discrimination by employers can be met with cries of ‘what about jobs based on merit?’ Women are still judged on their appearance, and report being verbally or physically assaulted by men for being too fat, poor mothers, terrorists, and a range of names which cannot be printed.

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.

Circulation: 21,000 (publisher’s figure).


Deadlines: Advertising and editorial.

Executive Editor - Penny Mulvey Managing Editor - Deb Bennett Design, Digital Illustration and Print Services- Garth Jones Communications Manager - Nigel Tapp Online Content Coordinator - Emmet O’Cuana Communications Officer - Tim Lam P.A to Executive Editor - Lynda Nel Senior Media Officer - Ros Marsden

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.

Please check exact dates on our website <>. Closing date for April– Friday 11 March 2016. Printing: Rural Press, Ballarat Visit Crosslight online:



‘Unconscious bias’ is a term to describe our unconscious attitudes and beliefs. Our particular bias has been developed over years, within our society, home life, workplace, media and peers. It is deeply held and unnoticed. My unconscious bias will come out in conversation, in the way I respond to others and in choices I make. Cultural change is hard. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance are often part of our unconscious bias. We have all grown up with complex and deeply held views around gender. If we truly believe that men and women are created equal, then each of us has a part to play in not just calling sexist behaviour, in speaking up for women and supporting women in leadership, we also need to look inward, at our own unconscious bias. It is from within that we can bring about lasting change.

News Uniting churches offer sanctuary MOMENTUM is building ahead of the upcoming Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees. The past month has seen an incredible community response to the February High Court ruling that legalised Australia’s offshore detention regime. The verdict sparked an unprecedented response from churches throughout Australia. A number of Uniting Churches declared their intention to offer sanctuary to people facing deportation to Nauru. The concept of sanctuary dates back to the Old Testament. It was enacted in British law during the War of the Roses in the 1500s, when fleeing soldiers would hide in local churches. St John’s Uniting Church in Essendon was the first church in Victoria to publicly state its intention to invoke the ancient Christian tradition. Rev Mark Dunn, minister at St John’s UC, explained why he was prepared to offer sanctuary. “I’ve been an ordained minister for 36 years and this is one of those times where I think it’s time to stand up and be counted,” he said. “I’ve had a good relationship with police and the law. Years ago I was a police chaplain, so it’s not something that I, in any way, take lightly.” Mr Dunn was a visiting chaplain at Maribyrnong detention centre for five years and had many conversations with people seeking asylum. He believes Australians should stop demonising vulnerable people and remember they are human beings who simply want protection from persecution and abuse. “They have names, they have stories, they are human people just like you and me. Their hopes and dreams are not a lot different to ours,” he said. “They want a place to call home, they want a place to be safe in and feel that they are valued, loved and respected.” Other Uniting Churches that have publicly declared their intention to offer sanctuary are: Manningham, St Andrew’s (Chelsea), Habitat, Croydon North, Brunswick, Mountview and St Andrew’s (Fairfield). Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan

ACL does not speak for all Christians DEB BENNETT A GROUP of Uniting Church ministers has joined forces with like-minded church leaders to distance themselves from views expressed by the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) in relation to marriage equality. The letter, addressed to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, also expresses concern that the proposed plebiscite on marriage equality will incite hatred among some sections of the community. In a move described as ‘disgraceful’ by human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs, the ACL has called for a suspension of state and federal anti-discrimination laws in the lead-up to the plebiscite. Signatories to the letter express concern about the plebiscite and call on the government to vote on marriage equality in parliament. They are particularly worried that the debate preceding a plebiscite will vilify people from the LGBTI community as well as reflect poorly on faith communities as whole. “A volatile, public and politically-charged debate could both distance leaders from


issued a pastoral statement on the legal ramifications of providing sanctuary. “For those congregations who have decided to extend sanctuary, God bless you for your courage and compassion,” Mr McMillan said. “The Assembly is working with the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and the lawyers who are looking after the 267 people. “Our first priority is to ensure that nothing we do has harmful consequences for those people seeking asylum. We are also working to gain clarity about the legal issues involved in offering sanctuary and will keep in close contact with the congregations most likely to have the offer accepted.” The sanctuary movement captured national and international media attention. Snap rallies took place throughout the country as

refugee supporters called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to “let them stay”. Premiers from all six states pledged to take in the 267 asylum seekers facing imminent deportation. Teachers displayed banners at schools and universities to protest against the potential deportation of their students. The Palm Sunday Walk for Refugees is an opportunity to continue this push for a more compassionate and humane response to people seeking asylum. Lisa Stewart, Glen Iris Uniting Church minister and a regular visitor to MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation centre), explained why she will be attending the march. “As Christians, we are called to speak up for justice, to speak out against injustice. Words are powerful things, but unless our words are followed up and filled out with action

they are in danger of becoming hollow rhetoric,” Ms Stewart said. “The Palm Sunday March for Refugees is a powerful, eloquent, symbolic act signalling our commitment to walk our talk, wherever it may lead.” Last year’s walk attracted more than 15,000 people to the streets of Melbourne. Twelve months on, more than 1,400 people remain trapped on Manus Island and Nauru detention centres. Under the Turnbull government, onshore detention times have reached a record high with an average of 445 days. The Uniting Church stands in support with refugees and people seeking asylum. Join the marches in either Launceston or Melbourne on Palm Sunday (20 March) and walk in solidarity with the world’s displaced people.

lay people, marginalise faith communities from broader society and alienate LGBTI individuals within religious communities”, the letter, signed by leaders of the Anglican, Baptist and Uniting churches, states. It refers to the “…knock-on effect of undermining the wider contribution faith communities can make to other public matters. We also want to avoid any public perception that the resources available to faith communities for important charity and welfare work are expended instead on a plebiscite campaign…” Referring to the debate already underway in the community, the letter highlights comments made by prominent Christians arguing against marriage equality. “High profile proponents of ‘traditional’ marriage have a track record of public statements that have been widely interpreted as disparaging LGBTI people. This includes linking same-sex relationships with odious moral behaviours such as incest and bestiality,” the letter states.

Referring to the traditional separation of law from confessional doctrines, signatories to the letter ask the government to consider the social ramifications of a plebiscite. As well as social division and denigration of vulnerable minorities, they feel a plebiscite has the potential to damage Australia’s secular-religious harmony. While some of the signatories faced backlash from members of their faith communities, Uniting Church minister Rev Dr Avril Hannah Jones said she was proud to sign the letter. “I signed this letter for two reasons. The first is that one of the greatest difficulties I have in my evangelism with young people is the widespread belief that the ACL represents all Christians,” Dr Hannah Jones said. “The young people I meet want nothing to do with institutions that discriminate against GLBTIQ people. I noticed this particularly during the four years that I lived and worked in a university college, but it has remained true now that

I’m in congregational ministry. “The second reason is even more important. I have frequently been one of the first people that young same-sex attracted people ‘come out’ to, and almost always their first question of me is: ‘Does God hate me?’ This is true even of people who are not part of any church. The question always makes my heart break a little. “Groups like the ACL say that their campaigns against marriage equality and the Safe Schools Coalition don’t imply that God hates GLBTIQ people, but sadly that is what many young people hear them saying. “If a plebiscite goes ahead and groups like the ACL continue the campaigns they have started – with government funding – that is the message that thousands of vulnerable same-sex attracted young people will hear. “The suicide and self-harm rate among same-sex attracted people is already greater than that among the general population and I believe that a plebiscite campaign will only add to it. “I signed this letter to try and protect the sort of young people who sit down to have a coffee with me and, with tears in their eyes, ask me if God hates them.”

To read the letter to Malcolm Turnbull turn to page 20.



News UnitingCare Pancake Day cooks up a storm SOFI LAWSON THANKS to the generosity of hundreds of local churches, schools and businesses, UnitingCare’s Pancake Day is on track to raise more money this year than ever before. Locals cooked up delicious pancakes to raise money for Victorian and Tasmanian UnitingCare agencies. The annual UnitingCare event, now in its 14th year, is traditionally held on Shrove Tuesday and is a great way to bring local communities together while making a real difference to people’s lives. Shrove Tuesday is the final day of indulgence before Lent, a 40-day period of abstinence leading up to Easter. Historically, Christians gave up food such as butter and eggs during Lent. This led to the tradition of making pancakes to use up the ingredients. Every year locals hold Pancake Day events across homes, schools, workplaces and community groups. Staff at Epworth hospital in Richmond and Epworth Eastern in Box Hill showed their commitment to a long-standing tradition and

Deliberate blaze rocks St Columba’s PARISHIONERS of St Columba’s Uniting Church have been left reeling after a deliberately lit blaze caused significant damage to the recently refurbished building at Noble Park last month. The fire, which started in the kitchen area, was first reported about 4.15 on the morning of 17 February. It took about 25 minutes for firemen to bring it under control. Damage was largely contained to the kitchen and recreation areas of the complex. The congregation recently spent about $1 million refurbishing the property. Church council chair Greg Wyatt said parishioners found it hard to understand why anyone would want to set fire to any community building, let alone a church.

Mary Suhr and Sam Lochhead

cooked up delicious pancakes for staff, patients and visitors. Epworth Eastern pastoral care worker Libby Murray said there was a happy and fun atmosphere throughout the morning of Pancake Day. “I heard ‘I love Pancake Day’ on many occasions from people who were more than happy to buy pancakes,” Ms Murray said. “Even the aroma of the pancakes brought a smile to people’s faces as they walked by. It was an enjoyable experience for all those involved whether serving or eating delicious pancakes.” Together both events raised $1155 which will provide much-needed support for people suffering from homelessness, domestic violence, addictions and financial hardship. Uniting Church congregations also showed their support by holding Pancake Day events last month. St Leonards Uniting Church members beat

their personal best after raising in excess of $2000 at their event. Leopold Uniting Church and local volunteers helped raise more than $1500 for UnitingCare Geelong to help support local disadvantaged families. Coordinator Ken Flavell said congregational members and community volunteers cooked pancakes at Leopold Primary School. It’s the fourth year the church has catered for nearly 800 children, together with parents, grandparents and school staff along with a few other interested residents. “By 8.30am it’s all action,” Mr Flavell said. “Trays of pancakes being rushed from BBQs to serving tables, plates being loaded at a great rate and topping-distributors fulfilling the requests to lots of happy people. Not one person missed out on a pancake – the cheerful, delighted, appreciative faces of so many were the best donations.

Kay Walsh and Elizabeth Hines

“The bell rang and the children disappeared and so had 30 boxes of pancake mix, six litres of maple syrup and one litre of strawberry jam.” Since 2002, millions of pancakes have been flipped and sold to raise funds for UnitingCare agencies. Last year’s Pancake Day raised over $80,000. Organisers are hoping to reach $100,000 this year. UnitingCare Australia National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said it has been an exciting start to Pancake Day with many supporting the worthy cause. “We would like to thank everyone who held an event in their local community or bought a couple of yummy pancakes to support us,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

But, Dr Wyatt said, the congregation was determined to repair their home. “As a congregation we are resilient and will get through this,” he said. “It will be inconvenient during the restoration and re-building.” Dr Wyatt said a number of non-Uniting Church congregations worshipped at the site and would also be inconvenienced over the next few months. He praised the synod insurance office and tradespeople who worked quickly to ensure that worship could go ahead on site the Sunday after the fire. “We are very grateful to the synod insurance office for their rapid response and the tradespeople who worked to repair smoke and water damage so that we had access to as much of the building as possible in a very short time.” The building is currently under assessment and the cost to rebuild has not been finalised.

Chaplaincy & Youth Formation Full time position

A unique and exciting opportunity to shape and form young people in a Parish and School setting involving: ¥* Leadership in the faith formation of youth and young adults through worship events and community/social justice activities at St Leonard’s Uniting Church. ¥* Being part of a ministry team delivering chaplaincy services to St. Leonard’s College through pastoral care and educational opportunities. A background in teaching and theological formation at a tertiary level will be well received. Position description available at Applications close Thursday 31st March 2016

Applications: Secretary, St. Leonard’s Church, 2 Wolseley Grove, Brighton VIC 3186 or email Initial inquiries can be directed to Rev Kim Cain 0419 373 123



News Starting school FEBRUARY is one of the busiest months of the year for school chaplains in Uniting Church schools across Victoria and Tasmania. The role of a school chaplain varies from school to school. David Hall is one of two chaplains at Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (PEGS). The skills they draw upon are typical of those throughout the school network. As well as pastoral care and worship leading he and fellow chaplain, Rev Janet Munroe, coordinate social justice activities, conduct fundraising events, lead prayers, coach sporting teams, drive mini buses and attend camps. “Most school chaplains have just led church services to mark the commencement of the school year,” Mr Hall said. “These provide an opportunity to reflect, pray for any personal or global concerns, be reminded of God’s love at the start of the year, hear of the Good News Jesus

offers, and know that students and staff are connected with the Uniting Church through the school.” Mr Hall and Ms Munroe held seven services last month, each attended by approximately 450 people. PEGS uses St John’s Uniting Church in Essendon as their chapel, which reinforces the church’s strong association with the school. Students and staff will gather at St John’s again for a series of Easter church services, mid-year church services and the Valedictory church service for Year 12s. At the end of the year PEGS conducts a service of 9 Lessons and Carols at St Paul’s Cathedral because the attendance has grown beyond the capacity of St Michael’s or Wesley in the city. Services are designed to cater for the multicultural nature of the school population, which includes Greek Orthodox, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus as well as Christians and those of no faith. Mr Hall said that feedback from students and staff attending the services has been overwhelmingly positive. “Just yesterday a Year 12 student told me she came out of the church feeling so

inspired by the story she’d heard, the short video clips we’d shown and the music we had sung and played,” he said. “We find the best way to connect the Gospel to such a diverse group is through a powerful story – whether that’s the story of Ruby Bridges or Archbishop Oscar Romero. A number of teachers now say to us: ‘Looking forward to whatever your story is at church’.” The 2016 Commencement Services were particularly important for a lot of PEGS students as they mourned the death of one of their classmates due to come into Year 7. “He was a much loved member of the PEGS community, and died in mid-January after battling cancer for over two years. Year 7 is already a big step – even harder when you are facing this – so we’ve been offering the students involved a lot of care,” Mr Hall said.

the Nuer service to come to, which she can get a lot more from.” Many participants in the sewing group are young mothers. The church provides a babysitter to look after the children while the women take part in the lessons. Sarah Keat has participated in the sewing group for the past two years. “I never did any sewing before. But now, I’ve learnt how to sew children’s clothes and my own clothes too,” she said. “Learning is my favourite part. I can do something for my kids and for myself.” Another activity that strengthens the connection between Sudanese migrants and the Ballarat community is a weekly homework club that operates out of Ballarat Library. Many Sudanese parents greatly value education because their own schooling was disrupted by war. However, their limited English means they often struggle to help their children with homework.

Last year, the club had more than 40 registered students. Volunteer tutors included members of the Ballarat Central congregation and secondary students from Ballarat Clarendon College. The club was recognised for its efforts in engaging migrant communities with an Outstanding Out-of-School-Hours Learning Support Program Award by the Centre for Multicultural Youth. Ballarat Central minister Rev Kate Tierney paid tribute to the Sudanese members for their resilience and companionship. “We have learnt a lot from our Sudanese brothers and sisters,” Ms Tierney said. “We are in awe of their courage and gentleness as we begin to understand a little more of the suffering and trauma from which they have come, and have a growing awareness of the challenges that face them in building a life in a Western culture and a rather chilly regional city.”

Sudanese connections in Ballarat TIM LAM BALLARAT is home to a strong community of Sudanese migrants. Many worship at the Ballarat Central Uniting Church and engage in a diverse range of activities to strengthen their connection with locals. In 2011, the Ballarat Central congregation formed a ‘Women with Women’ group to nurture friendships between Sudanese and non-Sudanese women. What started out as a monthly lunch evolved into a weekly sewing class, thanks to the assistance of church elder Koang Jock. Mr Jock, originally from South Sudan, migrated to Australia 11 years ago. He obtained a government grant to purchase sewing machines and the first class commenced in March 2012. “We wanted the women to come together to build relationships between themselves, so that they can feel like they are not isolated,” Mr Jock said. “They learn a lot about Australia and they integrate in the community.” The Ballarat Central congregation runs a fortnightly Nuer service which enables the Sudanese members to worship in their native language. Many AustralianSudanese children speak English as their first language and the worship services help the children learn about their parents’ culture.


“We want to integrate into our community, but we also want to maintain our language, especially for our children,” Mr Jock explained. The sewing club is currently run by two teachers who are members of the Ballarat Central congregation – Judith Wheaton and Lyn Rawlinson. “Lyn and I like sewing, so we thought that between us we could do something useful,” Ms Wheaton said. “It’s a good way to get to know people.” Every Friday afternoon, participants bring items they would like to mend or create, such as children’s clothes or carry bags. Ms Rawlinson said the Sudanese community has greatly enriched the Ballarat congregation. “I’ve loved the friends I have made. They are lovely women,” she said. “One woman whom I have made friends with speaks very little English, so it must be so hard for her. It’s lovely that she has


News Almost 50 tonnes of food for families WESLEY Mission Victoria’s annual Food for Families appeal has collected an unprecedented 49 tonnes of food for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. The appeal runs in the lead up to Christmas, inviting schools, businesses and community groups to collect food and household essentials for distribution through Wesley’s outreach centres. Over 550 groups participated in 2015, more than double the previous year, with many individuals and families also hosting a collection box at home. Several Uniting Church congregations also participated, including Melbourne, Auburn, Glen Waverley, Bentleigh and the East Preston Ladies Guild. Wesley’s Manager of Crisis and Homelessness Services, Janene Evans, said she is extremely grateful for the generosity of Melburnians. “Our goal was to collect 30 tonnes and we’ve got much more than that which is fantastic. I think people really like the appeal because they can be sure that all of the donations will go to people in need,” Ms Evans said. The main reasons people turn to services such as Wesley are financial difficulties and housing affordability. In June last year, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ rental report found the cheapest median rent was $240 per week for a two-bedroom flat in Melton. Centrelink’s Newstart Allowance

Volunteers carry Food for Families boxes into Wesley Mission Victoria’s Ringwood office

for a single person with a dependent child is $566.30 per fortnight. Food for Families received generous corporate support, including packaging company Orora who supplied all of the Food for Families boxes and 13CABS who provided vans to pick up the collection boxes across Melbourne. As the donations piled up, Fort Knox Ringwood

opened its doors with free temporary storage. If Wesley relied solely on funding to support families, the agency could give just five dollars’ worth of food to each family that asked for help at Christmas. The donations to Food for Families meant the agency could supply families with two or three bags full of food. “The response was amazing. It’s clear that we

don’t want to see others suffering and a lot of us are willing to go out of our way to help. That means a lot to people who are struggling,” Ms Evans said. Wesley Mission Victoria will embark on the 25th annual Food for Families appeal in the lead-up to Christmas this year.

Rachael Kohn



News Little festival with a big heart TIM LAM

SACREDEDGE will return to the coastal town of Queenscliff for a weekend of music, stories and reflection. Now in its third year, the festival takes place from Friday 29 April to Sunday 1 May. It will feature more than 20 artists and performers including: Indigenous singer Frank Yamma, Kurdish refugee Reza Yarahmadi, theologian and LGBTI activist Padraig O’Tuama, author Daniel Witthaus and ABC radio presenter Rachael Kohn. The festival is hosted by the Queenscliff Uniting Church and embraces a spirit of inclusivity and diversity. This year’s program includes interactive art installations, music performances, cultural dances and keynote speakers. Attendees will also enjoy a Persian feast on Saturday night prepared by Geelong’s Iranian refugee community. Queenscliff Uniting Church minister Rev Kerrie Lingham coordinates the Sacrededge program. She said the idea for the festival originated from a dinner table conversation with friends. “We had just come back from the Greenbelt Festival in the UK and thought ‘wouldn’t it be fun if we could do a little festival in Australia that was inclusive, open-minded and openhearted?’” she said. The concept was brought to the church council, who were extremely excited by the idea. The presbytery of Port Phillip East, the Centre for Theology and Ministry and the local Queenscliff community also offered their support. Sacrededge is built around the core values of Queenscliff Uniting Church – building connections with Indigenous and refugee communities, exploring environmental sustainability, caring for those with mental illness and supporting the LGBTI community. It provides a welcoming space for people from different backgrounds, histories and interests to share their stories and experiences with one another. Ms Lingham emphasised that the festival is not a ‘talkfest’. Instead, it aims to foster relationships between people from diverse backgrounds. “The purpose of the festival is to get people from various backgrounds here, sharing

their stories, their music and their ideas,” Ms Lingham said. “To have the asylum seeker community and the Indigenous community and the LGBTI community all under the one roof is a very fascinating and enriching, experience. “People who have never been to church and who are not interested in the tradition, either theologically or morally, feel like this is a space where they can connect with the deeper issues in life. We also get people who have left the church and found this a place they felt safe to come.” Richard Allen, secretary of the Queenscliff Uniting Church council, described the festival as a multi-faith and multicultural weekend. “We get to learn a lot during the week about how other cultures exist, and how they see themselves and they see us,” he said. “There’s also an underlying commitment to supporting Indigenous entertainers.” The festival will begin with a Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony. The Deadly Dancers, a group of young Indigenous dancers from the Geelong region, will also perform. Approximately 180 people attended last year’s festival and organisers are expecting a similar turnout this year. Sacrededge proudly calls itself ‘the little festival with a big heart’. Ms Lingham said the festival has a respectful community atmosphere, which makes it ideal for attendees to build relationships with one another. “We are a small town, so we can build those strong connections easily,” she said. “People feel like they’re coming in and connecting, rather than just coming in and observing.”

Frank Yamma

Mariam Issa

Tickets can be purchased online at www. Tickets are currently on sale for $139 (they will be $159 after 1 April). This includes the cost of the three-course Persian feast.




Reza Yarahmadi



The Pilgrim Presbytery of Northern Australia is inviting applications from those who may have heard God’s call to serve in this position.

The Pilgrim Presbytery of Northern Australia is inviting applications from those who may have heard God’s call to serve in this position.

Members of the Nhulunbuy Church in the Northern Territory are looking for a Minister of the Word to join with them to share God’s love in this unique corner of Australia. This is a welcoming congregation who is keen to be involved and use their gifts in church and community life. They are looking for ways to grow their ministry beyond the four walls of the Church and to engage more in the region.

Living Water Uniting Church, located in Darwin’s rural area, are seeking a Minister of the Word to join with them in ministry and mission. This is a welcoming congregation who are actively involved in church and community life. Mission activities include school chaplaincy and a very busy Op Shop. They are looking for ways to grow their ministries and mission, in particular with youth.

This is a half-time position based in Nhulunbuy and an off-site manse and vehicle are provided.

You will be part of a diverse and multi-cultural congregation, with opportunities to share the Love of Jesus with the surrounding rural community.

This position would be an ideal placement for a family looking for a change, a single person keen on adventure, or a minister nearing retirement.

This is a full-time position based in Humpty Doo. The manse is located on the large (1.2 ha) church block.

Applications for this position are sought by 11 March 2016.

Applications for this position are sought by 11 March 2016.

For further information about this position please contact Rev Bruce Slater, Presbytery Chairperson, or ring 08 8982 3400.

For further information about this position please contact Rev Bruce Slater, Presbytery Chairperson, or ring 08 8982 3400.


News Surfin’ UCA TIM LAM

MORE than 20 young refugee men spent a sunny weekend in February surfing and kayaking on the Bellarine coast. The activities were part of a two-day camp supported by the Queenscliff Uniting Church. The congregation provides financial assistance to Diversitat, a not-for-profit organisation that organises programs for migrant communities in the Geelong region. Hussain Haidari (Haidari) is community development worker at Diversitat. The former refugee from Afghanistan has lived in Australia for the past six years. Haidari understands the challenges of moving to a


new country and is particularly interested in helping new arrivals adjust to life in Australia. “We work with Afghan, Iranian, Karen, Karenni, Congan, Sudan, Somali and Tibetan communities,” Haidari said. “We have a lot of activities for youth, both girls and boys.” On the weekend of 13-14 February, Diversitat organised a camp at Queenscliff for young refugee men from Geelong. “We had surfing in the morning, which they really enjoyed,” Haidari said. “In the afternoon, we had kayaking and then cycling the morning after. Some of them also played soccer.” The surfing lessons were an opportunity for the men to learn essential water safety skills. For some, it was their first time surfing. The open ocean is a rare sight for refugees who come from landlocked countries, where there are few opportunities to take part in sea-based activities like surfing and kayaking. Before boarding the kayaks, safety instructors

taught the men how to protect themselves from dangerous marine animals, such as the highly venomous blue-ringed octopus. They also learnt about the sacred land of the Wathaurong people and the dark history of colonisation in Australia. As one of the instructors explained, Indigenous Australians have become “almost refugees in their own country”. One of the participants, 20-year-old Kamal Hussain, lived in Afghanistan and Pakistan before migrating to Australia three years ago. He said the hospitality of the local community reminded him of his friends back in Afghanistan and Pakistan. “The people there are fun and friendly, like Australian people,” Kamal said. “Afghanistan and Pakistan is good, but there’s no safety place there. “When we go to a new country, we make new friends. It’s a lot of fun; we can hang out and chill. We had a lot of fun surfing at Ocean Grove,” Kamal said.

After a long and tiring day in the sun, the men relaxed with a barbecue hosted at Queenscliff Uniting Church member Les Harrison’s house. Other Queenscliff congregation members also joined the dinner. Haidari thanked the church and the local community for their support. “They are very helpful people. They’ve helped us many times,” he said. “Les is a very good and nice man. He helps collect many bikes for newly arrived people. Every two months, we get 14 to 15 bikes from Queenscliff Uniting Church.” The camp is just one of many refugee programs the Queenscliff congregation supports. They recently hosted an Out of the Darkness exhibition which seeks to improve community understanding of why people come to Australia by boat. The art installation combined paintings, photography, sculpture and text to highlight and challenge Australia’s response to people seeking asylum.


Profile Sharing the load NIGEL TAPP IT is often said two heads are better than one but in ministry it is more common to see one person filing a position rather than two sharing the role. In 2016 there are many who believe the sharing of placements must be considered as an alternative to expecting one person to master everything. Rev Kerrie Lingham and her husband Rev Charles Gallacher (pictured) are no strangers to joint ministry, having served together in two congregations since ordination a quarter of a century ago. The duo spent eight years at Terang and have been ministering at Queenscliff ever since. Ms Lingham said while having two ministers sharing one placement was quite uncommon when the couple first started, the fact they had a young family meant it made perfect sense to share the load, both at home and in ministry. She said she believed that the model the couple use actually meant both were able to achieve far more than if each was operating in their own placement. “I am someone who throws myself into a community and to do that in a separate community to Charles would have been hard,” she said. “Here I am free to do that.” The couple believe one of the benefits for the congregation is that both ministers are practising the gifts and performing the roles they are best suited to, rather


than a minister being forced to operate in areas where they were not comfortable. “For example I am more of the co-ordinator so I do more things in that area,” Ms Lingham said. “I love cooking and gathering people around food and that is something we do quite a lot at Queenscliff. “Charles is the more patient one and is happy to do things such as making sure the website is updated, something I just couldn’t do.” The couple generally share the ministry requirements associated with Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Mr Gallacher said keeping in constant touch was important as many parishioners believed that if they told one something the other would automatically be brought into the loop, which was not necessarily the case. He said the couple had found it beneficial to understand their preferences through the Myers and Briggs

psychological testing which indicated the tasks each was best suited to undertaking and why. Both said there were few downsides for the congregation in having two ministers in the one placement. They believe they actually remain more energised by being able to play to their specific strengths. Rev Denise Savage and Anthea Maynard have just started job sharing the role of Presbytery Minister Leadership Formation in Tasmania with the role divided to best meet their particular gifts. While job sharing is new to both, they are keen to explore the challenges presented and find a way of proving it can be just as effective as having one person in the post. Synod Liaison Minister Rev Carol Bennett was a key driver of the arrangement and said it should not be seen simply as a ‘two-for-one’ deal. Both are operating parttime and it is important the boundaries

associated with such an arrangement are recognised. “From the presbytery point of view, we had not been able to find one person who offered the gifts we were looking for. But we were aware of two people who did have the gifts we were looking for and both were looking for part-time ministry,” Ms Bennett said. “In the end the gifts we now have are probably broader than any one person could have provided.” Ms Bennett said it was important for the church to remain flexible around the way ministry roles are filled in the future. Ms Maynard said she is excited by developing the role alongside Ms Savage and accepted they will have to spend time this year helping congregations understand which person is responsible for each particular component of the role. She recognises it’s important for the pair to stay in touch and keep communicating with one another. “A job sharing role like this cannot work if one person thinks they know it all. We are both open to being flexible which might mean some of the delineations will change over time,’’ she said. Ms Savage said being the first people to operate jointly in the role provides the pair with more advantages than disadvantages. “It is not prescriptive and will allow us to grow into the role and make changes as needed along the way.” Ms Maynard said as a lay person the opportunity to work in such a role was a real privilege and one she could not have considered without Ms Savage to work alongside.


News Seafood industry takes action THE Uniting Church’s long-term campaign to stop human trafficking and forced labour in the Thai seafood industry is starting to have an impact. Thailand is the main source of seafood imports into Australia. Uniting Church members have lobbied the Thai government to uphold the human rights of people working in the industry. In November last year, the Thai government announced that people who move to Thailand for work are now free to change their employer within the industry. Previously, these workers needed permission from their existing employer to change jobs. This often trapped them under the control of abusive employers. “This announcement is a very positive step forward to ending this abuse,” Mark Zirnsak, from the synod’s Justice and International Mission (JIM) unit, said. “The workers, mainly from Myanmar, need decent jobs in Thailand, as there is a lack of jobs in Myanmar itself.” The new laws came into force on 14 November last year. The law subjects owners of fishing vessels using crew without a valid work license or permit to a fine of up to $30,000 per crew member. The owner of the vessel will also have their fishing license revoked. Factory operators that violate Thai labour law face up to two years imprisonment and fines of up to $75,000. One of the most vulnerable groups of people in the seafood supply chain are those who work in subcontractor sheds carrying out work such as peeling prawns. The giant Thai multinational company, Thai Union (owner of the John West brand globally), announced that all seafood processing work will now be done in its factories. “This is very good news, as some of the

MSR information sessions underway NIGEL TAPP

ALL church members have been invited to a series of synod-wide information sessions to inform and provide feedback on the vision and plans of the Major Strategic Review (MSR). Sessions have already been held at Hoppers Crossing, Longford, Tasmania, Noble Park, Benalla and Traralgon.


worst human rights abuses occur with small subcontractors,” Dr Zirnsak said. “In subcontractor sheds people can be forced to work up to 16 hours a day. They are sometimes locked inside the shed to prevent them escaping.” Thai Union reported in January that over 1,000 workers from pre-processing facilities were now employed in its factories. Thai Union is a supplier to many businesses in Australia, including Coles, Woolworths, Nestlé and Simplot. Workers shifted from pre-processing facilities into its factories will be paid wages consistent with the minimum wage requirements under Thai law. The Thai Union announcement was followed by a similar announcement from the Thai Frozen Food Association (TFFA), which is the peak industry association for most seafood companies in Thailand. In December last year, it promised that none of its members would use subcontractors to pre-process prawns, but would do all the work in their factories, as a safeguard against human trafficking and forced labour. Thai Union also revealed in October 2015 that it had stopped doing business with nearly 1200 Thai fishing boats in the last two years, as part of its responsible sourcing policy. It now sources seafood from 800 boats. “This is good news. The Thai fishing vessels are where we have seen some of the worst abuses, including people being murdered,” Dr Zirnsak said. “Knowing which fishing vessels the product is coming off has been a key ask of the Uniting Church in its discussions with both Thai companies and the Australian businesses buying from them.” “We are thankful to all the Uniting Church members who wrote letters to the Thai and Australian governments and the seafood industry.”

This month meetings are planned for Heathmont, Wycheproof, Ararat and 130 Little Collins Street. An information session has also been held for staff of Synod-based ministries and operations. The MSR seeks to respond to the Church’s context in a contemporary – multi-faith, multicultural and increasing secular - society with greater expectations on governance standards as well as the church’s changing reality. This changing reality revolves around a smaller and ageing church with an openness to new expressions of life and mission which places a greater strain on people and financial resources. It is being framed around the need for financial sustainability with a focus on budget processes, risk management and

financial oversight, asset management and dealing with reducing resources. The MSR’s work is guided by a shared vision of “Following Christ, seeking community, compassion and justice for all creation” and mission principles which proclaim that God in Christ reaches out to the world. The sessions will present possible operational and governance changes throughout the church. While there are no recommendations for boundary changes or amalgamations of the eight presbyteries, models of support and resourcing of presbyteries will be discussed. The focus is on greater collaboration between presbyteries and the synod to support the life and mission of gathered communities.

The structure, practices and logistics of the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) – including its size, length of terms and meeting protocols – will be discussed, as well as the role of the various synod boards and committees and the general secretary. Time will also be devoted to exploring the structure of synod-based ministries and operations, the roles and reporting lines of senior leaders and the relationship between the various units. Recommendations from the MSR will be taken to SSC meetings in March and April this year with a three to five year plan to be presented to the Synod in June. For more information go to:


People Fifty years of Nits BACK in the 1960s, St John’s Presbyterian (now Uniting) Church in Essendon was awash with teenagers, many of whom were active in what was then the PFA (Presbyterian Fellowship of Australia). Fifty years have passed since nine of those PFA members, then known collectively as ‘The Nits’ (corruption of ‘Knights’), presented a one-off concert in the church hall on 1 April, 1966. Original members of The Nits, Keith Howden and Geoff Willis, remember the hard work and fun that was shared by this special group of friends. “We wrote our own drama and comedy scripts, and practised skits and musical items for many weeks before performing,” Mr Howden said. “We shared our efforts with a full house of friends we’d made through youth/church events across

Singing from the same hymn book PEOPLE with a shared love of music gathered together on Valentine’s Day last month for the Rutherglen Big Sing. MC for the day was Zelma Eltringham, one of 60 people who met in the Uniting Church in Rutherglen. “Folk travelled from Benalla, Albury, Cohuna and Melbourne to join with clergy and members of the Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches of Rutherglen, to raise the rafters as we sang some old and new favourites,” Ms Eltringham said. “The Cohuna and Melbourne brigade were part of the music crew. Hazel Radley and Jenny Appleby from Cohuna brought along their voices and Hazel her electric piano

A howling success EVERY Monday afternoon, the front porch of the Cross Generation Uniting Church in Heidelberg Heights is transformed into a festive musical gathering. The Hope Springs marimba music group started in 1998 as a way to mobilise community support for people living with mental illness. Jon Rumble, coordinator of Hope Springs, said the program aims to provide a joyful and supportive environment. “It’s important to provide a safe space free from stigma, because many people here are folks with mental illness, a physical disability or an acquired brain injury,” Mr Rumble said. Approximately 20 people participate every week. They can choose to play on the marimbas (giant xylophones) or other percussion instruments.

Melbourne and elsewhere.” Every April Fools’ Day since then, the group has managed to gather at different venues to share a meal and reminiscence. On 1 April this year they will gather for a remarkable milestone – their 50th reunion will take place back at St Johns in Essendon. Most of the members of the friendship group have continued a lifelong commitment in the faith community. “Of the nine original members, three became ministers (one Uniting, one Church of Christ and one Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia), one a church organist and one chairperson of an inner suburban UC Congregation. Two members now live interstate with just one still in Essendon,” Mr Willis said. The Nits would be pleased to hear from others they once knew, through their church and PFA/MYF connections. Anyone interested should contact Keith Howden (03 9410 9808) or Rowland Ward (03 9720 4871).


(L-R): David Johnson, Roger Behrendorff, Keith Howden, Geoff Willis, Rowland Ward, Kerryn Pascoe (absent Bob Chalmers)

to provide a wonderful accompaniment to the singing. Ron Dunstan from Melbourne brought his lovely voice to fill in the bass harmonies.” This is the second time the Big Sing has been held in Rutherglen. It has been so successful there are plans to make it an annual event on the calendar. Last year the Anglicans hosted the festivities, and the group hopes to hold one later in the year at St Mary’s Catholic Church. Ms Eltringham said the Big Sing was just one example of how faith groups support each other in country areas. “We are a small congregation and are very fortunate to have a wonderful ecumenical relationship with the Anglican and Catholic churches in Rutherglen. We come together for Lenten studies, Advent studies, Pentecost, Christmas and other social events throughout the year.”

Mr Rumble said no musical experience is necessary as the program is about encouraging participation and building self-esteem. “It’s more about people having a go and not being embarrassed if they hit the wrong note,” he said. “You can be involved as much or as little as you want. You’ll sometimes see someone new to the group who won’t be involved for quite a while. Then one day they’ll start banging on the drums and the next thing they’re really involved. So you see people grow with confidence.” Mr Rumble is assisted by more than 25 volunteers who coordinate the music, prepare food and provide transport. They are joined by several canine companions, including Mollie the pet therapist (pictured). These pooches keep the participants active with their constant demands to play ‘fetch’. The pets provide a comforting and familiar presence to the Hope Springs community and their playful antics are often a source of

Residents race in the name of cancer research

Nell Rapely

Original group (L-R): David Johnson, Chris Johnson, Bob Chalmers, Roger Behrendorff, Keith Howden, Geoff Willis, Bill Newton, Rowland Ward, Kerryn Pascoe

TASMANIA’S unpredictable weather did not keep Uniting AgeWell’s Lillian Martin residents from donning their sneakers and participating in their Relay For Life marathon on Monday. Inspired by staff who entered a team in the Cancer Council fundraising event, residents decided they would also do their part for cancer research, forming a team of their

Zelma Eltringham leading the singing.

laughter and joy. After their hard work is done, the dogs spend the afternoon napping lazily as they enjoy the soothing musical melodies playing in the background. The music group is just one of many activities run by Hope Springs. There is also an open canvas art group, a drop-in centre, Thursday worship, a women’s support group and fortnightly outings. For more information go to: banyulenetwork. hope-springs/

own and doing laps around the site of Lillian Martin before settling in for morning tea in the recreation room. At 103 years old, Nell Rapely is the oldest resident to take part. After completing a lap in her wheelchair, Nell said she was extremely happy with her efforts and, like the other residents, was ‘over the moon’ with the event. Manager of integrated services at Lillian Martin, Vicki Mills, said the residents had a fabulous time. “Because of the rain the event was moved indoors and we were able to get a few extra residents to take part. “Southern Cross News Tasmania and WIN News attended the event with Cancer Council Tasmania CEO Penny Egan, all

clearly impressed by the residents’ efforts. “The residents all wore their jerseys donated by Cancer Council Tasmania and raised a total of $700 for cancer research, beating last year’s record of $326. “Derrick Shaft, our extended care assistant, even shaved his head to raise more money,” Vicki said. Impressed with Derrick’s efforts, 95-year-old resident, Doris Thackery offered to shave her head next year, if the team raised more than $2000. The official relay will take part in Tolosa Park, Glenorchy in Hobart this weekend, where 12 Lillian Martin staff members will continue the race for cancer research.



l u f e m a h s s i t i r o F “... n a m o w a for ” . h c r u h c n i k a e p s to

(1 Corinthians 14:34-35) THE theme for International Women’s Day 2016 is ‘Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality’. Since its inception in 1977, The Uniting Church in Australia has prided itself on ensuring women have equal status to men throughout the church. In the Church’s rules and regulations, under the heading ‘Government in the Church’, it states: The Uniting Church recognises that responsibility for government in the Church belongs to the people of God by virtue of the gifts and tasks which God has laid upon them. The Uniting Church therefore so organises its life that locally, regionally and nationally government will be entrusted to representatives, men and women, bearing the gifts and graces with which God has endowed them for the building up of the Church… We asked five women leaders in the Uniting Church whether or not the church has lived up to that pledge.



Feature Finding my voice in the Uniting Church REV LAVINGI TUPOU

Rev Lavingi Tupou

With thanks to those who went before me REV BETH DONNELLY

Rev Beth Donnelly

AS one of the newest and youngest of the women in ordained ministry in this synod, I have the women who went before me to thank for the boldness required to get to this place. At no point did I question the validity of my own gifts and graces because they came wrapped in a stylish bow. I know at other points in history, and in other places at this point in history, those


IN reflecting on my journey from where I was to where I am today, I am truly grateful. I am one of the many women within the Uniting Church that holds a leadership role (ordained minister). I am also one of the few ethnic women blessed with the opportunity to become a leader, not only within the Uniting Church, but ministering in a strange land, foreign people and a different culture. It would be fair to say that the Uniting Church is among those denominations that have struggled with the issue of leadership and inclusivity. It is clear these two issues are not straightforward or easy to tackle. This is in part due to the nature of our Church and its structure and diverse theological understanding. In my experience as a minister it is obvious that we as a Church are struggling with both issues. We are far from perfect. We do well in some areas and not so well in other areas. There have been two areas in ministry that I have always had great interest and feel confidence to speak about; the area of women is ministry and cross-cultural ministry. As a woman from an ethnic background, I am grateful and blessed for the opportunity to work, study, journey and indeed struggle together with many other women in the Church family. But I know other ethnic women do not necessary share the same experience that I have. With all due respects to all members of our Church community, it is fair to say that the feeling of isolation, prejudices and being undervalued because I am a woman has been my experience. But those feelings are my inspiration. I know if I sit quietly in my little corner and do nothing about it, my voice and the voices of other women in the same situation

gifts were shoved straight back with a patronising smile. But from where I am sitting, as the chaplain in a regional Uniting Church school, the embracing of the gifts and graces of women is evident by their leadership at every level, both staff and students, and that only makes us stronger as a whole. Many of the young people at this school are lucky enough not to have to think about the challenges fought by previous generations of women. But several of the young female leaders in this pocket of the UCA family are continuing to challenge the community not to be complacent about the work that still needs to be done. These Year 11 and 12 students speak authentically about empowering their friends and each other; making the most of the opportunities they have been given and making sure all people experience those same opportunities. There have been several women along the way who contributed a great deal to the opportunities I’ve been given. A few were among those who laid hands on me during my ordination two months ago. Teachers, mentors, colleagues, and my mum, are all part of that generation before me, the generation who ensure I could boldly step into the role I have now. I am, in turn, encouraged by the boldness of the school leaders. The Uniting Church is a diverse organisation, and I am lucky enough to see a side to it that not everyone is able to experience. The optimism and gratitude that I feel as a woman in ministry sits on

will never be heard. So I make it a priority to grab any opportunity relating to the issues of women that comes my way. I try to make a constructive contribution, hoping that our voices as women will be heard by someone. Similar feeling applies to the cross-cultural aspect of our Church. I don’t see the straight answer to this, but I know I can’t change others and how others act, behave and do things. The only person I can change is myself. I have been involved in many cross-cultural activities as part of my ministry and recognise the big gap in how the Church understands what it means to be a crosscultural Church. Let alone being an ethnic woman. I love telling this story as part of my experience and understanding of what it means to be in a cross-cultural Church. A few years back, in a small country town, we arrived as fruit pickers. The town was dominantly Anglo (or ‘Palangi’, as Pacific islanders called the white people). On Sundays we gathered to worship as one big group of fruit pickers. One day the minister came and approached the leader of our group asking if it will be OK to have a combined service on the first Sunday of every month so we can have Holy Communion together. We accepted the invitation, only to be told by the Anglo members that they wouldn’t come to church on Sunday because they didn’t want to sit next to us. As a group of Christians, we accepted that as part of our journey. We continued on in our journey in that small congregation and gradually some of us became full members of the Uniting Church. That gave us opportunity to live out our Christian faith in a new way and contribute wholeheartedly to the life of this congregation. A few years down the track, the Anglo members became fewer and older. Then, in a Church council meeting, our Anglo members officially acknowledged that they had come to the realisation that ‘they’ needed us as much as ‘we’ needed them. For me The Spirit cracked open in the heart of our

relationship. The ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ was no longer the experience but it became ‘We’ in every aspects of the life of our little church. Unless the Spirit cracked open in our relationships and understanding, then there would always be feelings of prejudice, inferiority and being undervalued in our Church. It is my hope and prayer that the Church we love and served in will one day recognise that we need each other – women, men, children no matter what – for the building up of God’s Kingdom. May the Spirit of God ‘crack open’ anew in our relationships; not as women or men, not as ethnic or Anglo, but as We. As the whole people of God. And may our gifts and graces be valued and appreciated as God loves us and equally values us.

the solid foundations laid by my teachers and mentors. I am able to walk boldly, and empower the next generation to do the same, because their gifts and graces were celebrated and turned into the stones that build up a strong and solid church. We must continue to be bold as a church – to embrace the solid foundations laid for us, and trust them enough to walk in new ways and carve new paths. The diversity of our members makes us stronger, and embracing every one of them with all their gifts will help us be a church that supports the next generation of young women and men.


Feature Lessons in leadership ELISABETH LENDERS PRINCIPAL KINGSWOOD COLLEGE OUR current Kingswood College girls have lived their lives with no experience other than that they are equal to their brothers and their male classmates. They have every expectation that they will live lives of dignity and value, developing their unique talents and receiving treatment according to their behaviour and their character, and not based on their gender. And so they should! International Women’s Day is an occasion for looking back, and even more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.

In the footsteps of the three Marys REV ESETA WAQABACA-MENEILLY THE Uniting Church is the front-runner in acceptance of women in leadership. The Uniting Church celebrates this recognition of the diversity of gifts and graces within its members, men and women, with joy. Coming from a cultural background where women in leadership, particularly in the

As principal of a coeducational Uniting Church school there are some clear messages and reflections on International Women’s Day 2016. First, much has been achieved to improve the status of many women since the first International Women’s Day was celebrated 105 years ago in 1911. Second, even more remains to be done, especially for women in developing countries, but also for women across Australia. Improving the lives of women and girls delivers better outcomes for everyone. And yet, sometimes the challenge seems overwhelming. Locally, nationally and globally, we at Kingswood College have more opportunities and resources than most people on our planet to make a difference in the status of women and the quality of their lives. We are called on to remember our college values, and to seek to live out Respect, Integrity, Compassion and Responsibility for ALL the world’s citizens. To achieve this, a greater commitment is needed to women throughout the world. My first observation, that much has been achieved, can be illustrated by the fact that the girls at Kingswood do feel empowered and equal. This is great. Alongside this progress is my second key point, which is that much remains to be done. Globally, there are countless tragic stories of the systematic misogynist mistreatment of women and girls. And there are also stories of hope, and of how we can all help to make a difference. In this country where many of us have lived lives of wonderful opportunity, women

collectively still fall behind in a number of areas. • In pay equity – the difference in salaries for the same work done by men and by women last year was around 18 per cent on average. It was recently noted in The Age newspaper that women are on average two to 10 years behind their male equivalents, which is an outrage. • Women’s representation in leadership and governance. We continue to have lamentably low representation of women on the boards of big companies, and in senior leadership roles in government. • Sexual harassment remains an issue for many women, socially and in the workplace. • Violence against women remains a debilitating disadvantage for too many in our community.

Church, is not enjoyed, I understand that women in leadership in the Uniting Church was not always the ‘‘norm’. Although Fiji is changing in its acceptance of women leaders. For instance, in 2014, two out of 56 superintendent ministers were women. A leap in Fiji, it is a far cry from where the Uniting Church is. The gospel records the stories of three Marys; the mother of Jesus, the Magdalene and the sister of Martha. When the message was given to Mary mother of Jesus that she would bear the Christ-Child, her immediate response was, “This cannot be!” When it became clear that the message was for her, that God could and would perform the miracle, that she was going to be the mother of the Messiah, she kneeled and recited The Magnificat. Mary Magdalene broke into a Men’s Business gathering to pour oil on Jesus’ feet. Although some of the men sniggered, making funny comments and thinking unkind thoughts, that was all right with Mary. She did not have to interact with

them. She focused only on Jesus. It was Jesus who had given her new life. And Jesus, reading the thoughts of the hearts, said to the men: “For this anointing of my feet, she will always be remembered.” Mary the sister of Martha chose to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his teachings instead of helping her sister in the kitchen. She could do kitchen work on any other day, but this time with Jesus may never come again. In that culture, as in the Fijian culture, she was behaving in an unacceptable manner. She was a woman, she should be in the kitchen! What was she doing? Sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to him? Was she wanting to be a man? And what was wrong with Jesus allowing her this ‘for men only’ privilege? He should have listened to Martha and told Mary to go to the kitchen and help her sister. But he didn’t. Jesus was present in these events, enabling the three Marys, and many more women, to participate with him in ministry, to move away from the ‘norm’ and create a new thing that would help build up the Church. I give thanks to God for the men in the

Valuable gifts

commitment to ensure that women, as well as men, are able to use the “gifts and graces with which God has endowed them for the building up of the Church ...” (Basis of Union para 15). There are more women in specified ministry roles but often less women on presbytery and synod committees. I still hear male pronouns used exclusively to refer to ministers. In each of my placements I’ve been described as “the first woman minister we’ve had”. The Church has given me amazing opportunities to exercise my gifts and I’ve been encouraged by women and men within the Church who have been very generous to me as they have shared experience and insights. At the same time I know what it is to be dismissed on the basis of my gender. Sadly, I continue to hear reports of women being patronised in meetings: anything from being mistaken for the caterer or the administrative support to outright sexist comments. It is not enough to point to where we fall short of the vision we have of ourselves as an inclusive community. I have a responsibility to play my part in moving us

REV CAROL BENNETT JANUARY 1990 is an important date for me for two reasons: my youngest child started school and I came to understand that there was a place in the Uniting Church for me and for the gifts and skills God had given me. I remember the date, the place and the women who shared this revelation with me as if it was yesterday. The women who organised and led the Church Made Whole conference in Melbourne in January 1990 helped me understand that the ‘competence’ I offered to the world could also be valued in the Church – “…that there is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ.” (Basis of Union para 13). When I look back over the 26 years since those days I have a mixed response to the question of how well we are living out our CROSSLIGHT - MARCH 16

This leads to my third observation. At Kingswood College we are well placed to address the challenges women face locally, nationally and globally. The first thing to do is create awareness of where work is needed and to think about ways in which each one of us, and the institutions to which we belong, can contribute. Evenings like our International Women’s Day Dinner, and our IWD School Assembly are two good examples, both enthusiastically supported by our College community. The status and wellbeing of women is not a women’s issue – it is everyone’s issue, and to achieve a just and fair world, an ongoing commitment by men and women to equality and justice is vital. Our global community-based learning

Elisabeth Lenders with 2016 College Captains, Alice Curtis and Dieter Brand

experience in Cambodia is one example, as is our support for Impact for Women, a local organisation supporting women in crisis. We are committed to providing our students with the experiences and opportunities to make a positive difference, and to understand that improving the lives of women benefits everyone. At Kingswood College we value education highly – many parents make great commitment and personal sacrifice to have their children educated at our College. We know that education is a gift that lasts a lifetime, and we are committed to providing education opportunities for girls and women everywhere.

Rev Estea Waqabaqa-Meneilly

Uniting Church, past and present, for their support of women leadership. I give thanks to God for the women in the Uniting Church, past and present, who have created a path for other women to follow, to not be afraid to stand up and be counted, to use their gifts and graces, to have a voice.

closer to the commitment made in 1977. The questions I need to keep asking myself are: “How am I working to ensure the inclusion and participation of women in the task groups, committees and councils of the Uniting Church?”; “When can I advocate for meeting styles, times, and locations that ensure women can participate?” and “What younger women can I mentor so that they feel able to step, with confidence, into what is often still a male dominated task group, committee or council?” 15



WHEN Michelle and Yusef chose to embark on life together as a married


DR Lorraine Parkinson is a Uniting Church minister and the author of one of the most widely read books on progressive Christianity by an Australian author, The World According to Jesus … his blueprint for the best possible world. Dr Parkinson’s new book deals with a basic issue for contemporary Christians – how to distinguish Jesus the Teacher from the figure of Jesus the Christ depicted in the developing New Testament writings and in subsequent theological reflection. The author presents a carefully formulated argument that the gospel writers “created the Christ”. By confronting a common assumption of many people in the churches as well as of people


couple, some things were sure to become a little more complicated thanks to their different faiths and cultural backgrounds. For Michelle, an Australian-born Christian, and Yusef, a Muslim, one of their first experiences of balancing two different religious traditions was deciding how they would get married. And more specifically, who would conduct the service. Rev Helen Richmond, a Uniting Church minister, shares their story in her new book, Blessed and Called to be a Blessing: Muslim-Christian Couples Sharing a Life Together. “Michelle’s parents were struggling with their daughter’s decision to marry someone from a very different culture and religion, and Michelle had always wanted to marry in a church and walk down the aisle. For Yusef ’s family it was important that a Muslim cleric, who was a close family friend, could conduct the ceremony.” They were delighted to find a minister who not only welcomed them but who was open to the idea of jointly conducting the service with a Muslim cleric. Helen Richmond describes interfaith couples like Michelle and Yusef as examples of a “living dialogue between two religious traditions”. The book draws on in-depth interviews with 28 Muslim-Christian couples

who have left the churches, Lorraine Parkinson helps us see Jesus as relevant in a fresh way to people today. ‘The sub-text of this book contends that by including teachings of Jesus alongside claims for him as Christ, gospel writers bequeathed to Christianity two contradictory gospels – the gospel of Jesus and the gospel about Jesus.” Writing about this book, Michael Morwood wrote: “At last! A book that helps readers to see and understand how the Way of Jesus with its emphasis on this world, was wrong-footed into fixation on ‘the Christ’ and the next world. There is no bigger challenge to Christianity today than to rid itself of this fixation and from creedal adherence to the worldview that shaped it.” The book concludes with a section on implications: What would it mean for Christianity to remove the Christ and reclaim the Teacher? “Given the boundless human misery caused by the old triumphalist religion of certainty based on Christ, it is well past the time to allow it to be consigned to history, including the name ‘Christ’.”

based in either Indonesia or Australia. Richmond also spoke to some of the couples’ children and a number of community leaders from both faiths. The author said finding new ways of understanding religious diversity has never been more important. “At a time when we see much distrust between religious communities, I hope my book offers a glimpse into what helps and what makes it difficult for people from different faith communities to live together with integrity and friendship,” says Richmond. The wisdom found within their experiences lies in how participants were able to reflect on their own faith and reimagine some of their religious understandings. “Believing that God is not the monopoly of one religious community was a perspective that helped interfaith couples...this meant taking seriously the distinctive religious self-understandings of each while searching for common ground,” Richmond writes. Interestingly, most couples took an approach that focused on shared actions for the betterment of humanity. They connected with each other by recognising Christianity and Islam’s common focus on kindness, goodness and integrity. Blessed and Called to be a Blessing is a powerful and positive insight into how


Available from the publisher online

HERE is a book that purports to speak with some knowledge and insight about these two great religious leaders, Jesus and Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Dr Bernie Power suggests that his book may help enlighten modern believers about each other’s sacred beliefs across the major religious and political barriers that we experience today. However, it is very far indeed from achieving that laudable goal. In fact I would suggest that this book will only serve to feed into the growing Islamophobia in Australia by setting up a straw man in opposition to a ‘sinless, pure and perfect Jesus’ and then burning him, and Islam, at the stake.

human relationships are challenged by and can transcend our notions of the religious other. Regnum books regnum/

This is no careful academic analysis but rather a crude polemic hidden behind a plethora of textual references which are offered to the reader as incontrovertible proof because they are chosen from the Bible or the Koran. No real debate here about how all sacred texts have been hijacked at times by powerful men who used them for their own ends, or that various interpretations of the meaning of texts make this a very controversial exercise. The author’s own highly subjective conclusions on each chapter are presented in an astonishing simplicity. It’s Jesus vs Muhammad (PBUH) for the masses, and we know who Dr Bernie Power is rooting for. We have a whole chapter on the miracles of Jesus (ch 10) and then a matching chapter proving that Muhammad had no miracles (ch 11). What we learn is that Jesus was the son of God and Muhammad (PBUH) was a sinful, violent and ordinary human being. This is worrying scholarship and it will only serve to divide rather than to bring people to a place where they can respect and value the beauty, complexity and sincerity of the other’s religious beliefs. So, here is taste of a different opinion on these two men from the world famous writer on comparative religion, former Catholic nun, Karen Armstrong *. I would recommend reading her works because they reflect the respectful interfaith dialogues that the Uniting Church is trying to foster in our community. “Terrorism has nothing to do with Muhammad, any more than the Crusades had anything to do with Jesus. There is nothing in Islam that is more violent than Christianity. All religions have been violent, including Christianity. There was nothing in the Muslim world like antisemitism: that is an import of the modern period. They got it from us. The missionaries brought it over.” * karen-armstrong-nothing-islam-violentchristianity/


Review Uncovering dark secrets REVIEW BY DEB BENNETT FILM | SPOTLIGHT | M NOMINATED for six Academy Awards, Spotlight is a true-life movie that can be appreciated on many levels. It tells the story of four investigative journalists (the Spotlight team) from the Boston Globe who, in the early 2000s, uncovered widespread child abuse, corruption and deceit within the Catholic Church in Boston. Similar to 1970s classic All the President’s Men – the story of the Watergate scandal that brought down a president – we are privy to information as it unfolds in the newsroom. The audience shares the shock of the team as they realise the magnitude of the coverup, we cheer them on as they overcome bureaucratic hurdles and mirror their indignation as they confront the arrogance of power. As we witness the inner-workings of a newsroom, we also get to know the people and, through them, the survivors. It is at this very personal level that Spotlight connects with the audience. As they listen to tale after tale of abuse, we see the toll it takes on the journalists, trained to remain professionally detached. A strong cast ensures this is more than just a movie about the mechanics of good journalism. Michael Keaton is Spotlight

editor Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson, a man who has grown up in Boston and even attended the Catholic school directly opposite the Globe office. Rachel McAdams is reporter Sacha Pfiefer, a lapsed Catholic who still accompanies her beloved grandmother to at least one of the three mass services she attends each week. Brian d’Arcy James plays journalist Matt Carroll. Throughout the course of the investigation, Carroll realises he lives just around the corner from a ‘treatment’ house for paedophile priests. Although he warns his children never to go near the house, he struggles with the guilt of not alerting other families for fear he will jeopardise the Spotlight investigation. Mark Ruffalo portrays perhaps the most clichéd of the characters – Michael Rezendes is the scruffy newshound with dogged determination who occasionally bends the rules. The adult survivors they meet carry the scars of the horror they endured as young children. For some, like the young drugaddicted father, the pain is visible in the marks of self-harm. For others, like the successful businessman who was Robby’s childhood friend, the pain is hidden so deep it is all but forgotten – until with sickening clarity, it becomes real again. Perhaps above all else, this is a movie about power. In the personal sense, it reveals the power of one individual (an adult) over another (a child). It explores the power of the press, not just in uncovering corruption, but in having the resources to choose who and what they investigate. And ultimately it is about the power of an institution.

Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo

See GHOST… before it disappears REVIEW BY PENNY MULVEY PLAY | GHOST THEATRE tickets are expensive, particularly the large-scale music theatre productions. As a result, audiences tend to revisit tried and true favourites such as Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera or The Lion King ahead of new musicals. Backing a new production presents a significant risk for the producers in small markets such as Australia, so it is not surprising that GHOST The Musical has only very short runs across four cities in the first half of 2016. With that introduction, if you like a good musical then GHOST The Musical is definitely a winner. And it will not matter if you have never seen Ghost the movie, (THE love story of the 1980s, starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze). Lack of prior knowledge will not impact your appreciation of the show as it has all the ingredients of success – passion, drama, intrigue, humour, strong musical numbers, a great ensemble and magic. Set design is a key element to this production. Large projections enable quick scene shifts, taking the audience from the busy New York streets to the underground

metro, to a banker’s office. If you are wondering how a live show can replicate the train scene with the subway ghost and Sam Wheat, imagine a more sophisticated version of ‘smoke and mirrors’. It works! GHOST tells the story of Sam (Rob Mills) and Molly (Jemma Rix), an up-and-coming banker and a talented potter, enjoying city living until Sam is shot and killed in a botched street robbery. The Righteous Brothers’ song, ‘Unchained Melody’, remains a feature of the story, along with 13 new songs written by the playwright, Bruce Joel Rubins. One of the highlights is Sam’s interaction with Oda Mae Brown, a storefront psychic, played deliciously by British performer Wendy Mae Brown. ‘Are You a Believer?’ performed by Oda Mae and her two sidekicks Clara (Evette Marie White) and Louise (Lydia Warr) is high-energy theatre at its best. Every element of this production works. The many ensemble scenes, requiring numerous costume changes, demonstrate an old fashioned understanding of the heart of music theatre – memorable song and dance numbers, characters that the audience can connect with and a strong storyline. GHOST is fun. It is a highly professional production presented by elite dancers, music theatre specialists, musicians, with marvellous illusions and other special effects. However, if you want to see it, you need to move quickly. It leaves Melbourne’s Regent Theatre for Sydney on 12 March, and from Sydney it opens in Perth 21 May.

Rob Mills and Jemma Rix



Reflection Subversive Tradition BEHIND the formal declaration of International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975 there is a longer tradition. In 1911 more than one million women and men in Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Austria began to keep 19 March as a Women’s Day to rally for women’s right to vote. It is worth pausing to think about this in the light of Australia’s national memory too. The choices we make about how we remember are as much about the future as the past. Australia was ahead of most democracies on the issue of women’s suffrage. Women, including Aboriginal women, won the right to vote in elections in South Australia in 1895. There was a racist blind spot: after Federation in 1901 the right to vote was extended only to Aboriginal people who were already registered on state electoral rolls. It wasn’t until 1965 that Indigenous people throughout Australia gained the same voting rights as other Australians. So, the Australian record of gender equality is flawed but still advanced (for white women) when compared to other western nations: it was 1920 before women in the USA could vote on the same basis as men, and 1928 in Britain. Victoria was the last state to include women on the electoral roll in 1908, but the newly-created Australian parliament had voted for women’s suffrage in the second year of its operation, passing the Franchise Act in 1902, and prodding Tasmania into extending the franchise in 1903. Australian women campaigned to change public policy with innovative strategies that have become standard, from leafleting and convening public meetings to lobbying

politicians and writing to the newspapers. Their success was impressive and linked to other reforms in working conditions, the right to own property, and access to education and work, including in professions like medicine and law. But not many people recognise the face of Adela Pankhurst, the lesser-known daughter of the British suffragette Emmeline, who spent most of her life in Australia, and even fewer know about Henrietta Dugdale, Annie Lowe, Vida Goldstein, Catherine Spence, Anna Brennan or the Golding sisters Annie, Belle and Kate. The exploits of men such as Simpson and his donkey are widely recognised, but theirs is not the only memory we could honour. Australian history includes currents of radical social experiment alongside the stories we know better, and listening carefully to the past opens up more than just new ways of understanding ourselves. By neglecting the tradition of strong advocacy for social reform we are shortchanging the history of the churches

as well. Women in the churches, and especially members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), were among the strongest advocates for the participation of women in public decisionmaking. The significance of the movement for abstaining from alcohol in Protestant churches in both the cities and country areas gave the WCTU a national network that streamlined their organisation. The relative strength of Methodist, Congregational, Presbyterian and Baptist churches in the colonies, as well as the limits on the role women could play in the parishes in the 19th-century, also contributed energy for the spread of the movement. The campaign for women’s suffrage succeeded first in the three states where the WCTU was strongest: SA, WA and Tasmania. Paradoxically, the first instincts of the WCTU in relation to women were conservative. Working on the assumption that women were home-makers first and foremost, the aim was to put the vote in the hands of those who rocked the cradles

to guarantee social stability above all else. But their traditional expectation had unintended consequences. This is where the dynamics of tradition get really interesting. The advocates of temperance appealed to conventional views of women but they were surprised. They found they unleashed much more than voices for the status quo at the ballot box. They found that there were seeds of radical renewal in what they had thought was adherence to the past. Tradition often surprises and challenges those who pay proper attention. Does this sound a little familiar? Those who pray the scriptures know that authentic tradition always reforms us. It is not static. If we listen well to the collective memory, to the stories of the past, they crack open our assumptions and call us to change. Not change for its own sake in the game played by advertisers, but the radical transformation of the Gospel that re-aligns our assumptions. In the community of faith, tradition subverts us. Long may it be so.

Katharine Massam Coordinator of Studies – Church History

Profile Uplifted in faith and hope Bindy Taylor recently spoke with Khadija Gbla, executive director of No FGM Australia. Khadija will be the keynote speaker at the UnitingWomen conference held in Adelaide this April. SPENDING time with Khadija Gbla is an uplifting experience – she is as passionate and as vocal one-on-one as she is speaking to a gathering of 1,000 people. Khadija has squeezed a lot of life into her 27 years, and she feels compelled by God to share her life experiences, both the ups and the downs, to instill hope in others. At the age of nine, Khadija underwent female genital mutilation (FGM), an unnecessary and cruel act of violence. At the time Khadija had no idea what was happening to her, but she is now able to name it for what it is – human rights abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse. It is an experience she wants no other girl or woman to go through. FGM, also known as female circumcision, has no known health benefits and is largely practiced in countries within Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Common reasons given for performing FGM include social acceptance, hygiene, ideas relating to female sexuality, purity and modesty, religion, and cultural identity. While it has been restricted or outlawed in many of the locations where it is practiced, FGM procedures continue to be performed. The dangerous act can lead to 18

ongoing health problems, inability to conceive a child and complications during childbirth. In her widely watched TED Talk, Khadija explains that FGM is very much an issue in Australia, as new arrivals bring their culture with them when they settle. Many who seek the procedure believe they are doing what is best for their daughter, but Khadija’s goal is to spread the word that FGM is abuse, and to change the cultural practice for good. No FGM Australia estimates that three girls each day are at risk in Australia. “This is an Australian problem. It’s not an African problem, it’s not a Middle Eastern problem, it’s not white, it’s not black, it has no colour. It’s everybody’s problem,” Khadija said. “FGM is child abuse. It’s violence against women. It’s saying that women don’t have a right to sexual pleasure. It’s saying that women don’t have a right to their bodies. “Well I say ‘no’ to that.” As an adult, Khadija was told that FGM may prevent her from falling pregnant. But she held tight to Jesus’ teachings and never let go of hope. “When we hope we are waiting for God to act; without hope there is nothing. After all, isn’t faith hope?” After marrying her partner, Khadija and her husband yearned for a baby. She recalls her husband reaching for her hand and saying: “In God’s kingdom anything is possible, we need to believe, pray and hope that God will act.” Prayers were answered with the news that Khadija was pregnant. She and her husband are now the parents of a one-year-old son Samuel, meaning ‘heard by God.’ Khadija will share her experiences of God responding to hope and prayer in all facets of her life when she speaks at the UnitingWomen conference. “Women need to be uplifted in life, to keep

in faith and remain strong. God just needs a mustard seed to be able to act. Women all have a point of need – what hope looks like for one woman looks differently for another,” she says. “We have all started somewhere and sometimes we need to hear from others how we have journeyed in life. Testimonies give us hope.” This article originally appeared in the publication of the Uniting Church in SA, New Times.

UnitingWomen will be held from Thursday 28 April–Sunday 1 May at Wesley Kent Town Uniting Church, Adelaide. To register visit register or contact Tim Molineux on or 8236 4221. You can also visit their Facebook page at Hear Khadija’s emotional and humorous TED talk, as she shares her experience with FGM at my_mother_s_strange_definition_of_ empowerment. Find out more about FGM at


Letters Giving up prejudice LENT is said to be a time of self-imposed abstinence. This Lent maybe it’s time we go a little further and try to give up more than chocolates. We could give up pre-judging others, whether by force of habit, narrow-minded nurture or just plain selflimiting fear. For instance, we may tend to equate Islam with dangerous extremism (thanks, no doubt, to the well-publicised IS fondness for beheading and torching people). Christians cannot ever claim their faith has always led them on the path of peace either. It was not too long ago that Catholics and Protestants were each labelling the other side heretics and literally at each other’s throats. In the early part of the 17th century in central Europe, the unimaginably destructive 30 Years War (1618 to 1648) saw thousands of men, women and children (yes, children – some hardly more than toddlers were accused of being the Devil’s paramours!) burnt alive at the stake for heresy. Christianity and the Church had been around for some one thousand six hundred years then. The warring parties were Christians, people who believed in Christ and knew His teachings. The Church – on both sides – was part and parcel of this insane carnage. Pope Gregory XIII wrote to France’s King Charles IX after the earlier massacre of Huguenots (French Protestants) in Paris: ‘We rejoice with you that with the help of God you have relieved the world of these wretched heretics.’ The Protestants gave as good as they got and torched Catholic clergy and congregation alike. A more recent flare-up of this Christian-you versus Christian-me bloodbath was the IRA versus the North Irish Ulsterman episode of the 70s. So it’s not about God. Never was. God was and is hijacked. He was just the pretext, the cover. Back to our Muslim brothers and sisters. A great majority of them value peace, safety and a place to raise their family free from fear and danger. There are over a billion Muslims in the world. If every Muslim was radicalised to go on a rampage, the world will be in deep, deep trouble! It is the fanatical leanings of a tiny fraction which have brought the whole into disrepute.

Lent is also a time of introspection. Perhaps this Lent we could deny ourselves our perceived selfrighteousness and the tendency to put ‘the different’ into convenient boxes of our labelling. Perhaps this is what the Bible meant by ‘dying to self’ so that we may live anew.

Kimmy Fam Ballarat

Christian response THE Pope declares Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall to prevent people seeking asylum in the United States is unchristian. Predictably, strident voices oppose the Pope. But this is not the Pope’s creation as early Christian texts show. Jesus warns the authorities of his day that they are like blind leading the blind, and they inhabit darkness (Matthew 15). They are like whitewashed tombs; their claims to serve the ends of justice and righteousness are false. (Matthew 23). This stinging critique warns us most sharply that we need go neither to first century Palestine nor to the US’s migration policy. We Australians have problems enough with our detention centres, the maltreatment of children, and policies to ‘push back the boats’, all under the veil of secrecy. Politicians who know what is happening in detention centres but support the code of secrecy deserve the most severe judgment. We, as citizens, who fail to uncover the repression of defenceless humans in detention are most to be condemned. Aren’t these our ‘whitewashed tombs’? Those incarcerated in island death holes deserve our most strident actions seeking to close these places of oppression and brutalisation. But a shift is taking place toward asylum seekers. Churches are declared as places of sanctuary, church groups are engaging in civil disobedience in politicians’ offices. Premiers are offering places of residence; professional and citizens’ movements are growing. Will we refuse to be silent until their plea is heard?

Remembering the truth IN a week when our PM Malcolm Turnbull made his stirring ‘Closing the Gap’ speech, I read with interest a news item in February’s The Melbourne Anglican. The Dean of Melbourne’s St Paul’s Cathedral, Rev Dr Andreas Loewe, has stated that the Cathedral’s Culture and Heritage Committee “is actively considering a memorial to Aboriginal lives lost in the frontier wars”. Australians are learning that there is no reconciliation and recognition without truth – the truth of violent Indigenous dispossession. Already this year I note sadly the anniversaries of these massacres: ‘Flying Foam’ Burrup Peninsula, WA, 7 Feb 1868; Cape Grim, Tas., 10 Feb 1828; Barrow Creek, NT, 22 Feb 1874; Fighting Hills, Wando Vale, Vic., 8 Mar 1840. Surely it’s not too late for an ecumenical memorial? I would hope that the synod of Vic/Tas, with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Congress, can have input into this discussion. I feel that an appeal for financial support would gain a ready response from UC congregations. Dr Loewe says he will be reaching out to the Koori Heritage Trust and other Koori elders and artists to assist with the process. The Aboriginal Catholic Ministry in this state has previously commemorated massacres in Victoria in a ceremony at Doug Nicholls Reserve, Thornbury. Let’s work together to end the silence.

Rev Neil Tolliday Retired UC minister, Werribee, VIC

Chapel in the 1940s. Many ‘elderly’ Methodist ministers would remember Arthur as the manager of the Methodist book shop and a gifted organist and chorister. His very early preaching would have been with visiting deputations for the Methodist Babies Home alongside my late father Clive Lord. He compiled the history of the Surrey Hills area and anyone who is on his Christmas card list would be aware of his painting cover of the card.

David Lord The Grove MUC

Days for girls I WAS thrilled to read what the East Gippsland Days for Girls is doing. We commenced the Berwick Days for Girls group in December 2015 and meet monthly. There are many groups both metropolitan and country meeting to sew reusable sanitary items for girls in developing countries where sanitary items are not readily available and difficult to dispose of after use. Groups need people who can sew but also need people who are non-sewers to help prepare and pack kits. To find a group in your area visit or contact the Victorian coordinator Michelle Gates 0414 854 649. If you are in the Berwick area and are interested in finding out about our group contact me on 0422 760 984.

Judy Williams Berwick Victoria

Man of many talents I READ with great interest the article about Arthur Tonkin, who was for many years a much loved and appreciated Worship Leader at The Grove MUC. He took his first service at the historic Wesleyan

Rev Dr Wes Campbell Castlemaine VIC


Man of great faith REV ROBERT BRIAN CATFORD 27/06/1934 – 15/09/2015


THROUGHOUT his more than 50 years of service, first as a Presbyterian and later a Uniting Church minister, Rev Robert Catford lived out his faith by example, sharing the gospel messages of love, grace, hope, joy and peace with those around him. As a young adult Rob experienced a strong and personal calling to be a minister, changing from a career in science to one focused on sharing and nurturing Christian faith and values. Rob was subsequently ordained in 1959 after completing degrees in both Science and Divinity at Melbourne University. Rob’s first parish posting in 1959 was to picturesque Mt Beauty. With his new wife Val accompanying him this was the beginning of a loving partnership and shared vision spanning more than 50 years. Rob brought to his parish a youthful enthusiasm, as well as warmth, sensitivity and the ability to relate to people from all walks of life and all ages and also to be an advocate for those in need. Indicative of the leadership and presence he would consolidate over his working life, he gathered a community together, a church was built and a youth group nurtured. His was an inclusive ministry where all were worthy of a place in the community of the church. Rob’s second calling was to the north west of Tasmania, to the forestry and farming port city of Burnie, where again the needs of the community were disparate and challenging. He demonstrated great skill and commitment in the area of pastoral care, with a focus on the support of young families and regular visits to the sick and elderly. His natural leadership and preaching skills were further recognised and developed when he was appointed Moderator of Tasmania. He was able to draw on the teaching traditions of Ormond College to provide well prepared and carefully planned services which actively engaged his congregation. In 1966 Rob was appointed minister at St John’s in Essendon, a well-established Presbyterian

Church with a large congregation dating to Scottish settler beginnings. He moved his young family back to the mainland and 13 years of successful ministry followed. There were many weddings, baptisms and funerals performed and Rob’s active interest in, and commitment to, ecumenical work became even more evident through outreach initiatives and connections with other local churches. He initiated a variety of different worship styles such as Good Friday with the inclusion of symbols from Christ’s last journey, dawn Easter Sunday gatherings and the candlelit nine lessons and carol service at Christmas. Some inter-church services were held in local parks and recreational areas. He recognised the need to support frail and socially isolated people and the Friendship Club was established in 1975 which still runs today. He also saw a need to honour and respect deceased members of the church community and their families, so established a memorial garden in the church grounds, something he replicated in later parishes of Burwood and Heathmont and in supply at Mt Eliza. Demonstrating sensitivity and vision, balancing a respect for past traditions with a need to embrace a new and cooperative future, Rob also played a key role in the challenging process of church union in 1977, both at the local parish and synod levels. For several years he also served on the school council at Methodist Ladies College, Kew. Rob and his family moved to Burwood Uniting church in 1979, and he devoted the next 10 years of service to this sizeable and busy community. Rob continued to provide spiritual nourishment and challenge through thoughtful preaching that was theologically and socially informed and spoke to current issues. He also promoted dialogue and built connections with other faiths and cultural traditions through inter church services and work with partner congregations such as the Koreans. He

continued to minister to the frail and elderly, establishing close links to local care facilities such as Condare Court. Rob also continued to mentor and teach other ministers and youth leaders, a skill he had developed with colleagues from his year of 1958 graduates. From there he enjoyed a further 8 years with the Heathmont congregation, his final fulltime congregation before retirement. At Heathmont Rob continued to share his gift of being able to minister to all people whether young, old or socially disadvantaged. He continued mentoring ordained and lay members of the congregation and established with other local churches, such as Anglican and Presbyterian, the Heathmont Inter Church Help program. (HICH). Ecumenical and community events such as Holy week services and outdoor carol services continued with success whilst ensuring the Sunday service remained the ‘ main event’ leaving the congregation with a strong message and challenge to take home with them. After retiring to Somers on the Mornington Peninsula with Val and later to Hayville retirement village in Box Hill, Rob contributed part time supply ministry to churches and communities as diverse as Dandenong, Berwick, Balnarring, Box Hill, Mt Eliza, Hastings, Burwood, Toorak and Armadale. The large number of friendships that they shared over their times in all their parishes is testimony to their capacity to connect with people in a very personal way. Rev Robert Catford is remembered with much love for being a true witness to his faith which he shared openly and with great clarity, for his support and guidance of others including those in need, and for his ability to accept and celebrate the complexity and diversity of human faith and life.

Compiled by Robert Catford’s family


Dear Prime Minister The following is a copy of the letter sent to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on 16 February. It was signed by 42 religious leaders from a variety of faith communities. WE the undersigned faith leaders urge you not to proceed with a plebiscite on the issue of allowing same-sex couples to marry. We believe such a plebiscite would be damaging to faith communities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, and the broader community. We believe a plebiscite has the potential to, • polarise faith communities over a highly politicised moral debate • silence and threaten LGBTI people of faith • discredit the voice of faith communities more generally on public matters • provide a platform for disparaging LGBTI Australians and their families, leading to increased incidences of anxiety, depression and suicide • severely damage relations between LGBTI and faith communities • not resolve the issue because plebiscites offer no binding or agreed outcome

Division Among Faith Communities Polls have demonstrated that opinion on legalising same-sex marriage varies among people of faith. In fact most polls find that a majority favour change. Yet the negative case will be put by religious groups and leaders who claim to speak on behalf of people of faith generally, or religious institutions as a whole. The tensions this poses for faith communities are exacerbated because significant, open dialogue around LGBTI issues is often yet to occur. A volatile, public and politicallycharged debate could both distance leaders from lay people, marginalise faith communities from broader society and alienate LGBTI individuals within religious communities.

De-stablisation of Religion in Society

In a secular society divorce, re-marriage and de facto relationships have long since been recognised in law. Various faith groups disagree theologically with these, but widely support the in-principle separation of law from confessional doctrines. By uniting a confessional

doctrine (on marriage) to a specific public policy, a plebiscite threatens to undo the social consensus central to Australia’s secular-religious harmony. This poses the knock-on effect of undermining the wider contribution faith communities can make to other public matters. We also want to avoid any public perception that the resources available to faith communities for important charity and welfare work are expended instead on a plebiscite campaign.

Detrimental Effects on LGBTI Australians All sides disavow causing harm to LGBTI Australians. Nonetheless, there are grave concerns about what a plebiscite would mean. Such concerns cannot be put down to exaggerated imagination. High profile proponents of ‘traditional’ marriage have a track record of public statements that have been widely interpreted as disparaging LGBTI people. This includes linking same-sex relationships with odious moral behaviours such as incest and bestiality; with negative health outcomes, such as smoking and sexually transmitted diseases; and with charges that children in samesex households suffer parental loss and a breach of their human rights. After decades of legalised discrimination, and ongoing social stigma embodied, LGBTI Australians will face an angry, drawn-out debate, one likely to multiply existing disadvantages and harms.

The uncertainty of a plebiscite

Some law-makers who oppose legalising same-sex marriage have stated that even if a plebiscite result was in favour of change they would not vote accordingly. This highlights that a plebiscite will not be binding and that marriage equality can only be resolved by a vote in parliament. A plebiscite creates serious risks of polarisation within faith communities, societal divisiveness and harm to vulnerable minorities. Yet the process itself lacks consensus and offers no guarantee that it will progress, or finalize, this debate. We ask that, instead of holding a plebiscite, you allow marriage equality to be resolved by a vote in parliament as soon as possible. To learn more about the difference between a plebiscite and a referendum, go to:

All are welcome at opening worship and the installation of the new Moderator, Rev Sharon Hollis, at 7.30pm, Friday 3 June, at Wesley Uniting Church, 148 Lonsdale St, CBD. The business meeting will run from 9.00am Sat 4 June to 4.00pm Wed 8 June at Box Hill Town Hall, Whitehorse Road, Box Hill.

And next time you visit 130 Little CollinsSt, please check-in on Facebook! The UCA Vic/Tas synod building hosts a number of events throughout the year in the G1 & 2 rooms. From commmittee meetings and boards, to groups such as Uniting Adult Fellowship, as well as special events like the Interschool Social Justice Day and World Day of Prayer, it is a welcoming space for members of the church.

/ucavictas 20


Placements CURRENT AND PENDING PLACEMENT VACANCIES AS AT 22 FEBRUARY 2015 PRESBYTERY OF GIPPSLAND Cowes** Koo Wee Rup-Lang Lang-Corinella Mitchell River – Paynesville (0.6) Orbost Presbytery of Gippsland Growth Corridor Minister (0.5)(P) Presbytery Minister – Mission and Education (P) Traralgon District** PRESBYTERY OF LODDON MALLEE Dunolly (0.5) (P) Eastern Mallee Rural (Lake Boga, Manangatang, Meatian, Nyah West) (0.5)-Kerang (0.5) (P) Maryborough, Avoca, Bealiba, Moonambel** Mobile Ministry (P) North Central Living Waters (Birchip, Donald, St Arnaud, Wycheproof) (P) Presbytery Minister – Administration** Sunraysia (0.5) and Robinvale (0.5) (P) Strath-Haven Uniting AgeWell Chaplaincy (0.6) (P) PRESBYTERY OF NORTH EAST VICTORIA Mansfield (0.3) Rutherglen (Rutherglen/Chiltern-Corowa-Howlong) (0.5) Wodonga (St Stephens) PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP EAST Armadale (0.7) Beaumaris (0.6)** Berwick Brighton (Trinity) Cornish College (0.5)** Endeavour Hills (0.5) (P) Frankston (High St) Koornang (E) Narre Warren North (0.7) (P) Noble Park (St Columbas) (0.5) Presbytery Minister – Mission and Education St Kilda Parish (Chapel St)** PRESBYTERY OF PORT PHILLIP WEST Bellarine Linked (Drysdale, Portarlington, St Leonards) Hoppers Crossing Macedon Ranges Partnership – Pastoral Care (P) PRESBYTERY OF TASMANIA PRESBYTERY OF WESTERN VIC PRESBYTERY OF YARRA YARRA Croydon North (with Harrison) (0.5)** Diamond Valley (0.8) (P) EACH Mental Health Ministries** Melbourne (St Michaels) Presbytery Minister – Administration Ringwood North Tecoma (0.6)** ** 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 under Regulations 2.3.3 (a)(ii). 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 Committee: Ms Isabel Thomas Dobson. Email: Formal expressions of interest should be put in writing to Isabel.

MINISTRY MOVES CALLS AND APPOINTMENTS FINALISED Beth Donnelly (E) called to The Scots School Albury commenced on 1 January 2016 (revised date) Greg Fry called to Cheltenham-Mentone commenced 1 February 2016 Christine MacDowall called to Sandringham commenced 1 March 2016.

CONCLUSION OF PLACEMENT Kili Mafaufau concluded at Hawthorn West 17 January 2016 David Fotheringham concluded at Ashburton 29 February 2016 Sr Miriam to conclude at Belmont 4 April 2016 Barbara Allen concluded at Glenroy-Pascoe Vale 29 February 2016 Sunghoon Hong (OD) concluded at Korean Church of Melbourne 30 January 2016

INTER SYNOD TRANSFER Kili Mafaufau transferred to the Synod of NSW and ACT as of 17 January 2016

RETIREMENTS Eseta Meneilly retired 1 February 2016. Sr Miriam to retire 4 April 2016. Geoffrey Needham retired 31 December 2015. CROSSLIGHT - MARCH 16

Notices and Advertisements 150TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF WORSHIP AT FOREST HILL, AND CENTENARY OF DEDICATION OF THE CURRENT CHURCH SUNDAY, 6 MARCH 2016, 10AM Forest Hill Uniting Church, 333a Canterbury Road, Forest Hill, 3131. Thanksgiving service followed by spit roast lunch (cost $20 per person), display of memorabilia and entertainment. Contact – Glenys Coates P: 9801 4653 E: glencoates RSVP 6 February 2016. ‘POP UP PARENTING SEMINARS’ Trinity Uniting Church, 17 Black St Brighton Tuesday, 8th March, 7.30pm ‘Impacts of the 21st Century on Childhood and Parenting’ by Dr Daniel Donahoo. 15th March, Prof Dr Erica Frydenberg ‘Families Coping-Effective Strategies for You and Your Child’ 19th April Judy Crigan, ‘Positive Development Across the Lifespan’ $10/seminar. Bookings: ‘Trinity’. Enquiries P: 0419 872 532. HOT CROSS BUN MORNING TEA at THE HUB Glen Waverley Uniting Church corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway. Thursday, 17th March, 10am - 12noon Come along to The Hub and enjoy a hot cross bun with a cuppa. Bring your family and friends, all ages welcome. All donations to The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal. Info and group bookings, P: 9560 3580. HABITAT RETREAT DAY – CALLED TO HOLINESS IN AUSTRALIA Habitat Hawthorn, 2 Minona Street, Hawthorn VIC Friday, 18th March, 10am – 3pm Habitat Uniting Church invites you to a retreat day at Habitat Hawthorn. During this retreat, explore the call to holiness as an invitation to enter into a relationship with the living God. It is a summons to be heard and responded to here and now. This invitation is found in the human restlessness that seeks to find a meaning to life and to find the love for which our hearts are made. Holiness is our participation in this divine Communion. In this transforming relationship we can find meaning, purpose and the love for which our hearts long. For more information or to book, contact the office on 03 9819 2844. TENEBRAE, A TRADITIONAL SERVICE OF DARKNESS Auburn Uniting Church, 81 Oxley Road, Hawthorn. Maundy Thursday evening, 24th March, 7.30pm. Arranged by Hal H Hopson for choir and instrumentalists, commemorates the last hours of Jesus’ life in readings and music. Marked by the extinguishing of candles, it is sung by the choir of Auburn Uniting Church and the Ad Hoc Singers. Contact Bruce 9443 7063. WINCHELSEA UNITING CHURCH ANNUAL AUCTION Saturday, 2nd April Hesse Street Reserve, Winchelsea. Items for sale on commission may be delivered on Friday 1st April from 9am. This is the major annual fundraiser for the church in Winchelsea. Contact. 0417 059 683 or 0409 418 766. CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS, EXETER UNITING CHURCH, TASMANIA 2-3 April 2016 Exeter Uniting Church Main Street Celebrations will begin with a barbecue lunch and children’s activities at the Main St church buildings from midday on Saturday, 2nd April. A worship service will begin at 11am the following day, followed by a shared lunch and community singing from 2.30 pm. If you have any photographs or memorabilia, please bring them along. For more information contact Jenny Flanagan on Email. FINAL SERVICE AND CONCERT, ST ANDREW’S GARDINER UNITING CHURCH Sunday, 10th April, 2.30pm St Andrew’s Gardiner Uniting Church A free Saturday afternoon concert of baroque style music will be held at St Andrew’s Gardiner Uniting Church, corner of Burke and Malvern Roads, Glen Iris at 2.00pm on Saturday 9 April. The concert will be followed by afternoon tea. The final service to celebrate the life of the congregation of this Church which has faithfully served the community at Gardiner since 1911 will be held on Sunday 10th April at 2.30pm. All past members and clergy are warmly invited to attend. The service will be followed by refreshments. Please RSVP to E: or P: 0407 330 442. HUGE SECONDHAND BOOK SALE Grovedale Uniting Church, cnr Reserve and Torquay Roads, Grovedale Friday, 22nd April, 2 – 8pm Saturday, 23rd April, 9am – 4pm Fundraising for Uniting Care & Grovedale Uniting Church 150TH ANNIVERSARY, ST PAUL’S UNITING CHURCH, INGLIS St Paul’s Uniting Church, Inglis Street Ballan Sunday, 29 May, 10am Moderator Dan Wootton will be our guest at this service, which will be followed by lunch. Past members and clergy are warmly invited to attend, share memories and reunite with each other. At 2pm in the Mechanics Institute there will be a performance by the Moorabool Light Orchestra featuring soloist Carolyn Bennett. Afternoon tea will follow. (Concert & Tea Cost $10.00 per person). RSVP by 13 May 2016. Contact Elizabeth Zilveris, P. 03 53682016 or E:

THE HUB IS OPEN Glen Waverley Uniting Church, corner Bogong Avenue and Kingsway Tuesday and Thursday 10am - 2pm, and Wednesday 10am - 12noon The Hub at Glen Waverley Uniting Church is a welcoming and friendly meeting place for people needing company, a cuppa and a biscuit, to relax in a busy day or to practise speaking in English in an informal setting. The Hub is open. People of all ages are welcome. WARRUWI CENTENARY WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE Warruwi community on South Goulburn Island will be celebrating 100 years of Christian mission in 2016. A special day of thanksgiving will be held at Warruwi on 22 June, which will include the launch of the history of Christian work at Warruwi by Rev Dr William Emilsen. For further information contact Judy Orme E: or P: 0407 828 495. FREE UNITING IN WORSHIP BOOKS A quantity of AHB and Uniting in Worship Books are available free. Contact Robyn Shaw P: 03 5345 7282 for details. LEAD TENANT ACCOMMODATION AVAILABLE Ashburton Uniting Church supports a house in Glen Iris for three people with mild intellectual disability with a voluntary lead tenant. The lead tenant’s accommodation is rent-free, and may be suitable for a student or interested person with appropriate background checks seeking positive connections in the community. Contact Rev David Fotheringham P: 9809 1795 E:

CLASSIFIEDS CAPE WOOLAMAI Summerhays Cottage. Sleeps 3. Tranquil garden. Stroll to beach. Discount for UCA members. Ring Doug or Ina 0403 133 710. 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. CALOUNDRA, Sunshine Coast, Queensland: Beachside units, from $400/week, for details, M: 0427 990 161 or E: LORNE: Spacious apartment, breathtaking ocean view, open fire, peaceful, secluded, affordable. P: (03) 5289 2698. GOLDFIELDS HOLIDAY RENTAL: Fully equipped modern architecturally designed house. Situated in the Forest Resort Creswick, double storey house, four bedrooms, sleeps up to 11 people. Contact Adam P: 0414 725 887. PSYCHOLOGIST Sue Tansey, BA (Hons), MPsych (Counselling) MAPS Individual and relationship counselling. Bulk billing for clients who have a referral from their GP and have a low income. St Kilda. P: 0418 537 342. E: GRAMPIANS WORSHIP When visiting The Grampians, join the Pomonal Community Uniting Church congregation for worship each Sunday at 10.00 am WANTED: TOGETHER IN SONG Any unwanted Together in Song booklets would be greatly appreciated by the Dookie Uniting Church congregation. Please contact Beth Stewart on P: 5828 5211 or 0408 546 267 if your congregation has any spare copies available. 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. MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL: REV J. EDWIN DAVIES. A collection of 60 sermons and addresses. $20 posted. Contact Joe Fraser, 5263 1148. WANTED TO BUY OR DONATION: Up to 6 copies of Alexanders Hymns No.3., Marshall, Morgan, Scott (up to Hymn no 439 – red covered book). Contact Bill Kirtley on 0419 288 512. OFFICE SPACE AND SMALL STORAGE AREA required by the Victorian Men’s Shed Association in the Eastern Suburbs. Contact Lindsay Oates on P: 0408 343 531 or E: ROBINVALE UNITING CHURCH want to purchase second hand copies of “TOGETHER IN SONG”. Contact Val Tucker, Parish Secretary, PO Box 499 Robinvale Victoria 3549, E: CELTIC SPIRITUALITY FOR TODAY’S WORLD Rev Gwen Masters at Hamilton UCA, April 8 – 10. Sponsored by Henty Region. Further details – Elaine Edwards P: 5572 4627 or M: 0411 404 189 or


Opinion St Paddy – God and country EMMET O’CUANA I GREW up during the 1980s in the Republic of Ireland. At a time when the evening news frequently summarised violence occuring not too far away north of the border, as well as the more global fears of the Cold War, there was a constant sense of existential threat. I still associate a lot of that fear with Irishness itself, a feeling of precariousness. To be Irish was to live with an awareness of political upheaval and religious discrimination. In schools we were taught that the language we spoke had been forced on us, that our religious faith was something that had to be practiced in secret before we became a Republic, that famine was deliberately inflicted on the rural population of the country and that those who fled to the States were treated with contempt – the legendary “no Irish need apply” shop signs. With that brew of martyrdom and fear bubbling away for most of the year, the calendar date of March 17 felt like a release. The celebrative air was palpable. Morning mass was tinged with impatience to see the festivities in New York or Toronto on television.


On occasion my dad brought me to Dublin to watch the parade on O’Connell Street. There were impressive floats, performers juggling or marching on stilts, and baton twirling American high school girls wearing unseasonal leotards. For one day I felt connected to a global community of Irish people, what President Mary Robinson famously (and at the cost of much mockery at the time) described as the diaspora. From having been reminded over and over that we as a people were somehow victims of history, witnessing the scale of the celebration and the obvious expense American cousins were going to to mark the occasion shifted how I saw being Irish. As I have grown older, that optimism has sadly faded. What felt like a global net, connecting us to countries around the world, has come to feel like a tourism showcase. When the news broke that the Sydney St Patrick’s Day event was not going ahead in 2016 due to lack of finances, it was pointed out that the Irish government had been providing funding. The news that the government paid to light the Opera House green at a time of economic downturn indicated it saw investing money in attracting overseas tourists as more important than domestic services and infrastructure expenditure. Also, while I have fond memories of sitting on my dad’s shoulders and watching the parade go past, revisiting O’Connell Street as an adult was less pleasant. The messy drunkenness and packed streets inspired

claustrophobia instead of celebration. As online culture grew in the early 2000s, there were more photos of Americans dressed in green partying to excess. We were bound together by alcohol consumption, not culture. The habit of Americans referring to the day as ‘St Patty’s Day’ made that clear. Matters came to a head in 2008 when the Irish clergy informed the country Holy Week necessitated a move of St Patrick’s Day to March 15. The Irish, not interested in whatever ecclesiastical ruminations had led to this decision, went ahead and held the march on the 17th regardless. A year before, Father Vincent Twomey – priest and member of conservative thinktank the Iona Institute – represented some of the thinking behind that failed strategy in an interview to The Word magazine. Fr Twomey stated: “Paddy’s Week is descending into an excuse for mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry. Must it be so?” and concluded “it is time to bring the piety and the fun together”. I never want to be on the same side of any argument with an Iona member, but to be honest – I did begin avoiding the Dublin town centre on Paddy’s Day. When living in Sydney, I saw fellow migrants rolling out of pubs the morning after the night before. The Irish clergy complain that the event itself has become too secular – but this presupposes it was traditionally religious. Largely this is founded on the complex symbolism of Patrick himself as a national figure. Religion and politics were joined at the hip in Irish life for centuries during the

British occupation. It is significant that St Patrick’s Day parades commenced shortly after the Republic was formed. From the beginning, the celebration had a nationalist flavour to it. Even depictions of Patrick, the presence of green and sometimes blue in his clothing, has associations with the colours of various revolutionary or republican movements down through the years. Now it is largely believed that the man named Patricius who was canonised by the Catholic Church for his efforts in bringing Christianity to the pagans of Ireland was a composite figure. Some of his missionary work is attributed to a previous visitor from Europe, Palladius. Ironically Palladius spent more time in the region where Dublin, centre of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, is located than the man we credit with being our national saint. He, in turn, largely ministered in the north and west of the island. In effect, St Patrick’s Day is an event based on uncertain foundations, which was originally celebrated as a way of confirming our own sense of identity as a nation. A nation that had lost millions of citizens to famine and immigration. Those values, not simply spiritual ones, but of political identity, simply do not carry the weight they once did for the younger, more affluent Irish of today. Who, like Americans, British and Australians, now use the occasion as an excuse to drink.


Moderator’s column Effective visiting I HAVE a booklet that was published by the Joint Board of Christian Education way back in 1986. It was part of a Uniting Church Elder Series and the subject matter was ‘Effective Visiting’. The co-authors were Rev John Billington and Rev Willis Jago (both now deceased). John Billington wrote on Visiting the Healthy and Willis Jago wrote on Visiting the Sick. As an inexperienced elder in my mid-30s, I regularly sought guidance from this booklet. My parents were elders and, whilst I had been aware that they ‘visited’, I was not aware what that entailed. As an adult layperson I have been visited occasionally by an ordained minister but rarely, if ever, by an elder. I haven’t had a lot of experience of being on the receiving end of Effective Visiting, however I tend to agree with the writers of the booklet that pastoral visitation forms part of the work of both lay and ordained Christians. In many of the sayings of the monks of the desert, ‘work’ simply meant manual labour, but several related sayings link the concept of work to a monk’s duty toward God and his attitude towards his neighbour. “When we were in Scetis”, said Theodore of Pherme to John the Eunuch, “the works of the soul were our work and we held manual work to be secondary. But now the work of the soul has become secondary, and what was secondary has become our work.” In recent times I have been reflecting on whether visitation within the life of the Uniting Church is in fact a ‘work of the soul’ and that maybe it has become secondary. I offer this reflection particularly in an environment where the

church is undergoing a Major Strategic Review. John Billington wrote “When we take time to visit healthy active members of the congregation, two important things happen. First, we let people know the church considers they are worth visiting; they don’t have to be ill to gain the recognition of a visit. Second, we hear what they have to say to us.”

communication. I remember well John Billington’s disarming smile whenever he visited me as an employee in the synod office during his term as moderator in the early 1990s. John had a particular knack of sensitively taking the initiative early on in the conversation and then moving the conversation beyond a social one. Certainly it was an opportunity to talk a little about

Don’t get me wrong, my objective in writing about this is not to impose a guilt trip on anyone. I recognise that not everyone wants to be visited. Indeed, these days privacy is a prized possession for many. What I want to suggest is, perhaps we have lost the hang of visiting – particularly with the advent of e-mail

the experience of faith, but it was never a dialogue of discomfort, of being imposed upon. The former Archbishop of Canterbury wrote that “One of the great temptations of religious living is the urge to intrude between God and other people. We love to think we know more of God than others”.

Perhaps we have never quite appreciated the fact that the sacred can often be found in ordinary conversation. I’m still not sure how John managed to do it, but he had the happy knack of helping me feel that he was as enriched by the visit as I was … that somehow he was finding his own life in solidarity in his communication with me. This sometimes seemed to involve a willingness to put ‘on hold’ any perspective he might have on wherever the conversation had led. For my part, during my time as moderator, which in many respects, is essentially similar to the role of elder, there have been several occasions where I have found myself in one-on-one conversation about matters of faith. Such conversation has involved a certain ‘dying’ to myself – my ‘self ’ as a possessor of knowledge, virtue or gift. In the end, as I have left those conversations, all I have known is the struggle and weakness out of which I have attempted to listen and to speak; beyond that, who knows? Yet somehow I have been confident in knowing that the liaison has been helped by God’s unfailing presence.

Dan Wootton Moderator

Giving is living

The Palm Sunday walk takes place on 20 March. More than 100 organisations have endorsed the march, including the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. The Melbourne walk starts from the State Library of Victoria at 2pm. The Launceston walk begins from Prince’s Square at 2pm and will travel down Charles Street, through Brisbane St Mall and on to City Park. Speakers and performers will be announced on the Palm Sunday Walk for Justice for Refugees Facebook page in the lead-up to the march: Go to page 3 for more on the Uniting Church’s response to offshore detention.



Synod Snaps

Beryl Kenny at Lara Uniting Church’s Pancake Day event

“Patience is the essence of clicking great Photographs!” - Abhijeet Sawant

Jill Arney at Lara Uniting Church’s Pancake Day event

Rev Wendy Snook celebrates 30 years since her ordination

Chris Marsh and Judy Symons from the Cranbourne Regional Uniting Church Food Truck were recognised with a Holt Australia Day Award

Cross Generation Uniting Church declares its support for churches offering sanctuary

Morning tea at Swan Hill Uniting Church

Uniting AgeWell residents Alan and Phyllis Clayton celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary