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On a mission

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Photo by Keith Bodman

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Feature

Water for life Heather Dowling

As we enter summer, while the air gets dryer and the temperature gets warmer, we start to realise yet again the precious resource we have in water. Indigenous Australians have always known the sacredness of our water. In the Dreaming, fresh water is the home of their creator – the Rainbow Serpent, or Waugul. Water is something to be protected and respected. Josh Byrne recently delivered the Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture at Murdoch University. Josh, a WA local and a regular on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, is considered by many a ‘water guru’. He has also turned his own house into an example of how households in Perth can live sustainably, using less water and energy. He said the population of Perth is rapidly increasing; the Western Australian Planning Commission are anticipating that Perth will grow to a population of around 3.5 million by 2050. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Perth’s population currently sits at just over 2.5 million. “This brings with it some significant challenges for a city like Perth which has been traditionally low density and sprawled,” Josh said. “That number of 3.5 million people is expected to require an additional 800 000 new homes. Forty six percent of that plan, the government is expecting to be infill within the existing metropolitan footprint.” Josh added that the South West of Australia is also seeing some of the most profound effects of humaninduced climate change in the world. “It’s a particular twist of geographical fate,” he said. “We’re seeing a sharp decline in rainfall. We’re seeing an increase in temperatures. And whilst there’s some range of opinion of how pronounced the next 20–50 years will be in terms of decline in rainfall and increase in temperature, there is no doubt amongst the leading scientists in this space that we will see change.” This affects our regional areas too, as drought is devastating for our farmers. The West Australian Department of Agriculture and Food, as an example, is just one organisation that has prepared a Climate Change Response Strategy to help prepare for our changing climate in regional areas.

What does this have to do with our water? Well, quite a lot. Here in Australia we are lucky to live amongst some of the cleanest water in the world, which Josh says is a tribute to our Water Corporation as they are leading the way in water resilience for cities with dry climates. Western Australia is home to a unique system of rivers and wetlands; and the cleanliness and vibrancy of our waterways has a direct relationship to the quality of our household water. There are wetlands all over WA, and 12 of these are internationally recognised by the Ramsar Convention, or the Convention on Wetlands. Signed in Iran in 1971, the Ramsar Convention is an international treaty, with an agreement to work towards the conservation of wetlands. Adrian Pinder, principal research scientist and leader of the Wetlands Conservation Program at the WA Department of Parks and Wildlife, said the convention was originally set-up as a way to protect migratory waterbirds. In WA, there are many species of birds which fly here for the summer, returning to the northern hemisphere to breed. “The various countries that were party to that convention, which includes Australia, agreed to nominate significant wetlands in their own countries for special protection,” Adrian said. “They’re some of the most significant wetlands that we have in the state and they’ve been listed for their conservation values. “More recently, the criteria has expanded to look at more than just waterbirds; so to look at their broader conservation values. So plants, aquatic invertebrates, that sort of thing.” Adrian said that our wetlands are part of a connected system that affects a large part of our biodiversity system, not just the unique species that live in the water. Our wetlands were formed millions of years ago, originally as old river systems, which over time have formed after the ancient rivers stopped flowing. “There

certainly

are

wetlands

Coondiner Pool in the Pilbara (photo credit: Michael Lyons, Dept of Parks and Wildlife)

everywhere; even in the desert there are wetlands,” Adrian said. “One important thing to remember, especially for wetlands in a dry continent like Australia, is that wetlands will often have no water. They’re still called wetlands; they have water when it rains. “That drying and wetting cycle that you get in so many Western Australian wetlands has really important implications for the animals and plants that live in them. So they look pretty barren when they’re dry, but when they flood with water after rains, they just come to life.” Adrian explained that some species of aquatic invertebrates will lay eggs while there is water, which will then lay dormant in the baked, cracking clay during its dry season – which can be decades. When water returns, the eggs will hatch within days, and visible life returns to the area. “Then you’ve got waterbirds. When those wetlands dry, and I’m specially talking about the arid areas, those all disappear. But when that water comes back – and it could be another few years, decades before water comes back to these areas – you’ll see water birds there very quickly.” While WA’s Wheatbelt is home to a number of natural salt lakes, Adrian said that due to land clearing, some of our wetlands have turned from fresh lakes into salt lakes as the groundwater rises. Issue 51

Page Two

December 2016


Feature

“It’s so acidic that a lot of animals and plants can’t live in them, so they become fairly barren.”

Uncle Ben Taylor, Nyungar elder, said that for thousands of years Aboriginal people have known the value of water and its need to be protected.

The drying, peaty sediments are also highly flammable, causing new implications for managing bushfires.

“That water, it gives us life,” he said. “It’s sacred. It’s part of our religion, our culture, our spirituality.

sediments are exposed to air.

In WA, most of our household water comes from desalination and ground water. Adrian said that the quality of our ground water is directly connected to the quality of our wetlands, as they help filter nutrients. This process also helps keep our rivers clean. In some cities, artificial wetlands are often built just for this purpose. In rural areas, wetlands can also help stop water from flowing down stream during floods. But they’re also more than that.

As our climate becomes dryer, some of our wetlands are also at risk of becoming acidic. Adrian said that rainfall in the south west of Australia is dropping faster than most places in the world. “With climate change we’re likely to see a lot more of our wetlands drying out and that can create some problems,” Adrian said. “Some of our wetlands in the south west for instance, when they dry, they turn acid when their

Western Australia’s wetlands are home to some of the most unique species in the world, and they deserve respecting. “It’s not just about the water resource it’s also about protecting our natural environment,” Adrian said. “They support a lot of species that we all enjoy watching that are found nowhere else. “If we don’t look after the wetlands those species are going to disappear. We’ll have less enjoyment as we walk around the natural environment. You won’t see the waterbirds anymore. You won’t see the herons and the frogs.”

“We’ve got to protect those sacred places. They’re drilling for oil and gas, destroying our water. “If you destroy the water, you kill the spirit.”

Inspired? In WA there are a number of wetlands which are under threat, including in Bayswater and Cockburn. To find out more about how we can work to protect them visit http:// www.savebeeliarwetlands.com or http://www.envirohouse.org.au/ bayswater-wetland-under-threatdevelopment. For more information about the Ramsar Convention visit http:// www.ramsar.org or for local Ramsar information visit https://www. dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/ wetlands/wetlands-of-national-andinternational-importance. To hear Josh Byrne’s lecture in full visit http://our.murdoch.edu. au/University-Secretarys-Office/ University-history/Lectures-andspeeches/Sir-Walter-MurdochMemorial-Lecture-Series/ For more information on Josh’s House visit http://joshshouse.com. au. To find out more about water sensitive cities visit https:// watersensitivecities.org.au/what-isa-water-sensitive-city.

(Left) Brine shrimp (Parartemia serventyi) that is known only from naturally saline lakes in the Goldfields region of WA. It has been recorded living in lakes with seven times more salt than the ocean. It lays drought tolerant eggs that stay dormant in the dry sediment of salt lakes until the next rains.

photo credit: Jane McRae, Dept of Parks and Wildlife

Investments for the Head and the Hear t

Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (WA)

ABN 6648 151 531

Enabling Investors to make a personal contribution to God’s work

call Lyn Boorn on 08 9260 9800 or 1300 736 692 email: ucif@wa.uca.org.au or visit http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/ investment-fund/ Uniting Church Centre, 85–89 Edward Street, Perth GPO Box M952 Perth WA 6843 Issue 51

• Competitive rates • No minimum balance • Interest calculated daily 3 months 2.35% interest on maturity 6 months 2.40% interest on maturity 12 months 2.50% interest paid six monthly Note: Rates are current at the time of printing however, they are subject to change at any time. Please Note: Neither the Uniting Church Investment Fund nor Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (WA) are prudentially supervised by APRA; and contributions to the Uniting Church Investment Fund do not obtain the benefit of the depositor protection provisions of the Banking Act 1959; the Uniting Church Investment Fund is designed for investors who wish to promote the charitable purposes of the Fund.

December 2016 Page Three


Events | Contents | Editorial

Revive Guide December 2016

Sunday 4 December, 9.30am. Scarborough Uniting Church 50th anniversary celebration at Scarborough Uniting Church. Saturday 10 December, 12.30pm. Uniting Church Campsite Commissioning Service at the Uniting Church Campsite, Busselton. Wednesday 14 December, 10.00am. Village Artisan pop-up shop at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Quarter. Friday 16 December, 1.00pm. Free music recital at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth. Saturday 17 December, 7.00pm. Voices in Praise Spirituals and Carols at Mount Pleasant Uniting Church.

January 2017

Tuesday 3 January, 8.30am. Uniting Church Centre re-opens for 2017. Friday 6 January. Revive contribution deadline. Friday 6–Saturday 14 January. NCYC WA delegates tour. Sunday 8–Thursday 12 January. Yurora, National Christian Youth Convention in New South Wales. Thursday 12–Sunday 15 January. National Deacons Conference, Melbourne. Saturday 14 January. NCYC 2007 Reunion. Saturday 21 January, 5.00pm. Ecumenical Multicultural Prayer Day for Peace at Armadale-Kelmscott Uniting Church. Saturday 21–Wednesday 25 January. Youth Culture and Mission Intensive, in Sydney. Friday 27–Saturday 28 January. Contemplation on Canvas Retreat at Trinity North Uniting Church, Greenwood Worship Centre.

U

C

Uniting Church Investment Fund

I

F

Synod of Western Australia

NOTICE for visitors to the

Uniting Church Centre 85-89 Edward Street, Perth.

Please note, the office will be closed from 12 noon on Friday 23 December 2016 and will re-open at 8.30am on Tuesday 3 January 2017. For pastoral concerns or any other matters, please contact General Secretary, Rev David de Kock on 0488 267 442.

Have a wonderful Christmas

Uniting Church on a mission

As Christmas approaches we often start thinking about how we can make it a great time of year for our families, friends and loved ones. It’s also a great time of year to remember what we can offer the world to help make it just that little bit better. This edition, we’ve included articles on various missional Christmas appeals that you can get involved with to show the people in your own lives, and those locally and around the world, that you care about them. Other missional stories of the Uniting Church WA in this edition include GSI’s STEP program, page 13, and Uniting Adult Mission Fellowship’s stamp collecting team, page 8, which has raised a huge $8 000 in 18 months for Frontier Services Patrol Ministry in WA. An article on a recent gathering at Mogumber, a previous Indigenous mission site, shows the hope and healing that can come when stories are shared and respected, page 6. Our feature article, page 2, focuses on water. It was inspired by the World Council of Churches, who recently joined the Blue Communities Project, a community that fights the privatisation of water. Recent news of the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests, and the struggles of the First Peoples of North America, and their supporters, to protect their water have also dominated my social media pages. The support protesters have received from people around the world has been pretty encouraging, but footage of the treatment of many of the protestors has been really disturbing. And with the current political climate in the United States of America, it’s unclear how this conflict will be resolved. A feature article on water could have gone in so many directions, but we’ve kept it local for this edition, focusing on the importance of WA’s wetlands. Having lived close to wetlands for around the last ten years or so, I’ve definitely come to look at them in a different light after taking up this research. I’ve learned that they’re not just full of noisy frogs, pretty birds, annoying mosquitoes and creepy snakes, but they are pretty much integral to our current way of life. The Uniting Church has always been ‘on a mission.’ Hopefully, this edition helps share some of those stories and inspires others to also share their own experiences. Feel free to send us your stories and letters to revive@wa.uca.org.au or by post to Revive, Uniting Church Centre, GPO Box M952, Perth WA, 6843. Heather Dowling

Managing Editor: Editor: Staff Writer: Art Direction and Design: Advertising: Contributors: Printed at Picton Press

Maggie Johns Heather Dowling Elaenor Nield Andy Reavell Andy Reavell Wendy Hendry, William Loader, John McKane, Richard Smith, John Squires, Cath Taylor and Jess Xavier

Features

Water for Life

2

Revive is published bi-monthly for the WA Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia.

CPE: no place to hide

7

Opinions expressed in Revive do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or the policies of the Uniting Church.

Russia with Love

19

Revive welcomes contributors. Contact the editor in the first instance. Deadline for the February 2017 edition is Friday 6 January.

Regulars

Uniting Church in Australia, Western Australia GPO Box M952, Perth WA Phone: 1300 736 692 Fax: 9328 2731 Email: revive@wa.uca.org.au http://revivemagazine.org.au

Revive Guide 4 From the Moderator 5 Faith in Action 6, 8–9 Regional Focus 10 First Third 11–13

Reviews and Blogs

News 15–16 Theology Spot

17

International Focus

18

Issue 51 Page Four

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December 2016


Moderator’s Column

Do dreams come true? Recently, I had a bad dream; I woke up suddenly believing that I had been attacked by a large army of cockroaches. Thankfully, when my eyes were fully opened, there was not a cockroach in sight. No doubt, a good therapist could work out why I had such a nightmare. Maybe it was just the curry from dinner taking revenge on my psyche. Sometimes, thankfully, dreams don’t come true. They are usually the product of anxious living. Does God have dreams? Probably not the kind we have. Some Christians, however, think that all the talk in the Bible about ‘the kingdom of God’ is really talk about God’s dream for humankind. Pick up on most of the Old Testament prophets and you will get this drift. If you read through the long and winding Isaiah or the short and abrupt Haggai, you will catch a glimpse of the hopes and dreams God has for humankind. Jesus was captured by these Godly dreams when he began his ministry with the words, ‘the time has come, the kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news’ (Mark 1 v 15).

This God-shaped society is where prayer and praise are balanced with compassion and a commitment to see God’s reign everywhere. The kingdom is about heart and head, the environment and education, politics and poverty, church and state. We pray as we go “your kingdom come, your will be done.” Our mission must be shaped by the kingdom dream of Jesus. I hope and pray that this edition of Revive will help us all to dream and do as Jesus did. Blessings

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator.

Notice how Jesus connects kingdom with the words “now” and “arrived.” The waiting was over and it was time for the kingdom to arrive. It wasn’t, however, what most of Israel expected. They thought kingdom equals a king, land and citizens. The king meant ditching Caesar or the corrupt local king (Herod Antipas) and replacing him with a Messiah. This new king would sit on the throne in Jerusalem and rule the land. The land would flow with milk and honey and everyone would follow the Torah (the Law). The citizens would love and serve the king and the kingdom would expand. Jesus’ dream was different. His kingdom was not of this world. The dream-maker Jesus was the king, but a humble king, a servant king. He is Lord, both longing to be enthroned in the life of each person while also being Lord of the cosmos, ruling in time and space. The citizens (disciples) of the kingdom are those who share the dream of Jesus for a society shaped by love, truth, beauty and justice. A society (a kingdom) where people truly care for each other, God is honoured and Jesus is followed.

Spot the Moderator

The first part of December is looking busy for the Moderator beginning on Sunday 4 when he will preach at Bandyup Women’s Prison followed by Monday 5 December when he will attend the Wesley College Speech Night. On Tuesday 6 December, he will attend the St Stephen’s School, Carramar Campus Presentation Night. On Friday 9 December, the Moderator will attend the Scotch College Speech Night and also on the same day, he will attend the Wesley College Council Annual Dinner. On Saturday 10 December, the Moderator will travel to Busselton to conduct the Uniting Church Campsite Commissioning Service. On Sunday 11 December he will attend the Sunday morning worship at Guildford Wesley Chapel where he will preach and celebrate communion. Issue 51

December 2016 Page Five


Faith in Action

Hope and healing at Mogumber Heather Dowling

of which the Uniting Church WA is a supporter.

Photo by Keith Bodman

“The area where Mogumber sits is in Yuet country and that’s where I grew up,” Bev said.

Geoff Bice, social justice officer at the Uniting Church WA, and Bev Port-Louis, Nyungar elder, gathered at Mogumber.

In October, those with a connection to the closed ‘Mogumber Native Mission’ site gathered to share stories of the past and hopes for the future of the site. The site closed in 1974, but prior to this was a government settlement housing Indigenous Australians, many who were part of the Stolen Generations.

Bev was approached by Rev Dennis Doust, a retired Uniting Church WA minister, and others who had previously worked at Mogumber, about holding a day for healing. She felt that many of the staff who worked at Mogumber also needed healing, as some felt concerned that they had been part of a hurtful past. “A lot of the staff now are in their 60s and early 70s and they were teachers there and had other positions. I didn’t want them to have a conscience to think that they did anything wrong because it’s not their fault how the place got set-up,” she said.

Bev Port-Louis, one of the main organisers of the gathering, is a Nyungar elder with strong connections to the site at Mogumber; her grandmother is buried there. Bev is a member of the Bringing Them Home Committee WA,

Guests were invited to share their stories from Mogumber; some were able to share fond childhood memories of the place.

Rev Dr John Squires and Rev Elizabeth Raine will be the keynote speakers at next year’s Summer Spirit. John is also the new director of education and formation for the Uniting Church WA, and will take up his role in February 2017.

ways, such as community gardens, projects with local schools, Messy Church, community markets and a nonreligious youth group.

Geoff Bice, justice and mission officer at the Uniting Church WA, read out a letter

Inspiration to connect John and Elizabeth have a passion for doing church in new ways, and have spent much of their recent ministry helping churches creatively connect with their communities. John is currently in a placement with Wauchope and District Uniting Church, NSW, and Elizabeth is serving an Intentional Ministry Placement in Canberra. They have also worked in shared placements, including as Presbytery ministers with the Mid North Coast Presbytery of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT, encouraging others in engaging and new ministry. With the Summer Spirit theme of ‘Being church in new ways,’ John and Elizabeth will share their knowledge and experience of these ministries, much of which has been spent encouraging congregations to experiment with different ways of connecting with their communities. John said this has happened in various

“It’s really been limited only by the imagination of the people in the church,” John said. While connecting with communities, action speaks louder than words. “I think it’s important for people in the community to know that church people are just ordinary people. We’re not always out to get people to sign up to come on Sunday morning or to live life in a certain way, but we’re just there and involved with people, interested in people and happy to work with them on various projects,” he said. In his new role with the Uniting Church WA, John is excited to integrate education for a wide audience. “For me, the most important part about it is approaching the educational offerings across the church in an integrated way. So, education of lay leaders, education of congregation members, continuing education for ministers in placement and the formation of new candidates

from Rev Steve Francis, moderator of the Uniting Church WA, and Rev Sealin Garlett, chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress WA Regional Committee. The letter reaffirmed the apologies and resolutions made previously by the Uniting Church in Australia. It also called for hope that the site could become a place of healing. Bev said that the letter was welcomed by those present at the gathering, and that it was a wonderful gesture. She is now hoping that the community can work with the West Australian Department of Aboriginal Affairs to revitalise the site into a place of healing for everyone involved. “If we continue to have gatherings and get-togethers for the people that live in the area, I think it will bring some healing,” she said. “And people will still have that attachment to the place.” To view the letter read at the gathering on behalf of Rev Steve Francis and Rev Sealin Garlett visit https:// revivemagazine.org.au/2016/11/23/ hope-and-healing-for-mogumber.

for ministry – I’ll have responsibility over all that area, so I’m looking forward to doing it in a way that offers things for multiple audiences,” he said.

Inspired? Summer Spirit is the Uniting Church WA’s annual education and spiritual discernment event. Summer Spirit 2017 will be held on Saturday 25 February at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. As well as the keynote speakers, there’ll be workshops on Visioning for Fresh Expressions, Deep Water Dwelling, and Empowering Lay Leaders. Cost is $90, register before 17 February 2017. Register online at http:// summerspirit2017.eventbrite.com.au. or email rsvp.ucawa@wa.uca.org.au. Issue 51

Page Six

December 2016


Profile

CPE: no place to hide Heather Dowling

Rev Michael Hertz came to Australia almost two years ago from the USA to a Uniting Church WA placement at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH). He co-ordinates the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program there, and claims he has the best job in the world. Michael describes clinical pastoral care as learning how to be present with someone in their spiritual distress. At Royal Perth Hospital, that can be during some of the most challenging experiences people will face. “We don’t do surgery. We don’t do helping people have an appropriate hospital bed in their home. We don’t administer medications, but we’re part of all that activity and we’re right there providing emotional, spiritual, relationship and care,” he said. As a young adult, Michael was working towards a career in medicine. But a moment of clarity about where his life was heading careened him in a different direction. “I became the person I did not want to be in my attempts to get the top grades. I was taking the medical college admission test and I looked around the lecture hall and I realised I would not want to be cared for by any of the people I had been studying with and, worse than that, I would not want to have been cared for by myself.” After a suggestion he take some time out in a seminary degree, he moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco and took part in a clinical pastoral education program and found his home. From the late 80s and into the 90s, Michael spent six years at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, during the early years of an HIV AIDS epidemic among gay men and intravenous drug users. During this time he worked with patients and their families providing spiritual and pastoral care, sometimes to family members who weren’t previously aware of the patient’s sexuality. Having come out as gay himself during this time, Michael still considers himself one of the lucky ones. Issue 51

“We were transporting ten to twelve bodies down to the morgue from our little unit every single day,” he said. “I don’t know how we did that. “I think I was just young enough that I didn’t know what I was doing. It was devastating. An entire community was being wiped out. “A lot of these guys had lost 30 or 40 friends to the epidemic; they knew they were going to die. Families were coming in from all over the country to be with, generally their sons, to learn that they were dying, that they were gay, that they had this entire life. “Guys from the middle part of the country, I was one of those, gravitated to San Francisco to figure out why we felt so different and why we felt so unaccepted in our rural, small towns. When I got to San Francisco there was a whole community of people having that same exploration. Unfortunately, a lot of that exploration involves sex and that’s, I think, why the epidemic took off as fast as it did. “I consider myself very lucky that I’m still here.” Fast forward 20 years or so, and Michael is a leader in the field of CPE. At RPH, the Clinical Pastoral Education program is open to anyone, of any faith or none, who is willing to learn how to be present for people in their time of need. “Basically, the program is open to anybody who’s open to a deep self-exploration for the purpose of improving the care they’re able to offer to others. ‘Spiritual, but not religious’ is the biggest demographic right now.” Being there for students as they grow in their ability to care for others is one

of the highlights of Michael’s role. “It is terrifying to enter a situation where someone is dying, where there’s been a major crisis, where someone’s screaming at God. And when [students] confront that initial fear and have that first experience, they come back and have the support of a supervisor and a peer group,” he said. “Within a matter of weeks, I watch the transformation from that fear to excitement, and sense of honour and privilege of walking into people’s worst day of their lives. “CPE, at its heart, is teaching the art and science of responding to spiritual crisis through a variety of skills, theory and, what makes CPE particularly unique is self-awareness. You can’t join another person in their spiritual crisis, suffering, grief or celebration until you know yourself well enough that you don’t get in the way of the care you offer to them. “There’s no hiding in the hospital and there’s no hiding when you’re in CPE.”

Inspired? Royal Perth Hospital’s CPE program consists of 400 hours of study time, 100 of which is in a classroom, and 300 providing supervised pastoral care. Courses are offered full-time and part-time. For more info, contact Rev Michael Hertz on 9224 2482 or visit the new Association for Clinical Pastoral Education WA website at http:// www.acpewa.org.

December 2016 Page Seven

Rev Michael Hertz (left) pictured with current students of the Clinical Pastoral Education Program outside Colonial House, Royal Perth Hospital. L-r: Kay Wee Sim, Mary McLean, Konrad Gagatek, Tee Truman and Oliver Yengi.


Faith in Action

How good is your gift? Cath Taylor

Australians give a lot of gifts – about $8.9 billion worth last year. But how good were they? A jawdropping $500 million worth ended up back on e-Bay within a month and quite a few of them are probably nestled somewhere in landfill because really, who needs a Star Wars themed toilet roll holder? As people of faith, giving and generosity is central to our identity. We Christians are not only good at donating, but at reliably providing mince-based meals in a crisis and giving our time for the school fete. I have a hunch, though, that the early church saw giving as being about much more than ‘one off’ acts of charity. In Acts, ‘everyone was together and shared everything in common, so that no one would have need’ (Acts 2: 42). This was about choosing to live beside others as brothers and sisters, fully invested in their lives and wellbeing.

Life in Christ is not just about good giving. It’s about building long-term relationships that care for people. At UnitingWorld, all our project managers have solid relationships with the project managers they work with in Vanuatu, South Sudan, North India, Fiji or West Papua, and through them, the communities with whom they work. When cyclones hit, we get emails letting us know how people are coping, and we pray by name for families. Can I encourage you to think about your gift this year as an opportunity to invest in a life? These are gifts that represent a relationship, part of what it means to be God’s community. While $10 might provide chickens for a family in Zimbabwe or help seed peace in South Sudan, the gift is symbolic of much more. $50 could start a woman on a

journey to leadership in the church in the Pacific – a journey you could support from start to finish through prayer and by visiting communities in Fiji who’ll benefit from her leadership. Our identity as followers of Jesus is about more than a quick and emotional gift to ‘the poor’. It’s about being part of long-term relationships that allow every person to live life to the full. Explore the range of gifts from the Everything in Common catalogue at https://everythingincommon.com.au.

The fundraising stamping ground of WA Elaenor Nield

stamp collecting and selling. While there has been a number of people working at it for a while, it has galvanised more recently into an organised offshoot of the Mission Fellowship. In the short 18 month life of this stamp collecting group they have raised a staggering $8 000 for Frontier Services’ Patrol Ministry in WA.

Volunteers enjoying fellowship while sorting stamps.

Wednesday mornings at Bicton Uniting Church are a hive of activity. At the men’s shed there are men building things and upstairs in the main building there is a tap dance class. In the reception area there are three tables, around which are seated a group of industrious people sorting small squares into piles. This is the Uniting Church Mission Fellowship’s (WA) Stamp Team.

Bob and Kay Lockley, members at Bicton Uniting Church, took over the running of the group 18 months ago. The group that meets at Bicton every Wednesday (except for the third Wednesday of each month) are the sorting crew. They are responsible for sorting stamps according to their value and type before the stamps are sent off to a bulk stamp buying agency that arranges to sell them on to stamp collectors all over Australia.

The Uniting Church WA has a long history of raising funds through

There is a lot of work involved; the men and women at Bicton are only a small

portion of the community contributing to the stamp collecting work supporting Frontier Services in WA. “We have some people in the country – Ongerup, Denmark – who post in packets of stamps. People leave them at the church office and I usually call in to pick them up,” Bob said. Along with individuals are a number of Uniting Church WA congregations collecting stamps for the cause including Pinjarra Uniting Church, Lighthouse Church in Geraldton and Uniting Church in the City, where a box is kept for people to donate stamps. Some collectors source stamps from local businesses and medical clinics. For people who want to contribute to this effort, Bob suggested, “they can scout around their area, businesses, medical practices, any office that receives mail, and try to get their stamps. The first thing is to secure and extend our source of stamps.” For more information contact Bob Lockley via email at rlockley@bigpond.net.au. Issue 51

Page Eight

December 2016


Faith in Action

Planting seeds of hope Jess Xavier

Beauty and her husband are hardworking farmers living in Zimbabwe’s Masvingo region. They rely on the land to grow food and to earn a living. Terrible drought has ravaged her country, destroyed her fields and left her unable to grow enough food. Jessina, another farmer in the district, once felt despair just like Beauty’s. Just when she was about to give up hope, Jessina was visited by a field coordinator for Act for Peace’s partner, Christian Care, who offered to teach her a new way of farming much better suited to the cycle of drought and low rainfall that Zimbabwe is now experiencing. Called ‘conservation farming’, it involves new techniques like digging individual pits for each corn plant and covering the ground with mulch to keep the water from evaporating. “In the first year of practicing conservation farming I was so thrilled and happy with the yield on my small

plot. I could see a very bright future for me and my family,” she said. “In the second year I worked hard and my harvest was very good. I managed to pay school fees for all my children and I also bought them new clothes for Christmas. I’m now in my third year, and I have many goats, turkeys, guinea fowl and chickens,” she says. It is thanks to the generous gifts of compassionate Christmas Bowl supporters all across Australia that farmers like Jessina have been trained in conservation farming. Jessina is so grateful to have joined the conservation farming program. But there are still so many farmers like Beauty who are still using the old techniques and struggling to grow enough food to feed their children. Your generous gifts to the Christmas Bowl appeal can help Zimbabwean

Jesina Bhurasho feeding turkeys outside her home in Zaka district, Zimbabwe. Jesina Bhurasho has been a conservation farmer, assisted by Act for Peace partner Christian Care, for 4 years and is now considered food secure. families facing severe hunger learn conservation farming so they can always have enough to eat. Please give to the Christmas Bowl today by visiting www.actforpeace. org.au/christmasbowl or calling 1800 025 101. To read this article in full, visit http:// revivemagazine.org.au/2016/11/23/ planting-seeds-of-hope.

Bringing people together at Christmas UnitingCare West officially launched the annual Target UnitingCare Christmas Appeal in WA on Friday 18 November, in Perth’s CBD, at 100 St George’s Terrace Perth. Students from Tranby College helped create a festive environment, singing Christmas carols to those present. One in eight Australians are currently living in poverty. Many of these people turn to UnitingCare to put food on the table, buy gifts for their children and provide temporary accommodation over Christmas. The annual Christmas Appeal helps to support people through their hard times. This year, Target and UnitingCare are hoping to raise $1.5 million, which will go towards running many of UnitingCare’s community services. Leave an unwrapped gift underneath the Christmas tree at participating Target stores, and you could be helping women and children fleeing domestic violence, people seeking emergency relief or children in foster care. At the launch, Sue Ash, CEO of Issue Issue51 51

UnitingCare West, explained what the Target UnitingCare Christmas Appeal means for UnitingCare West. “The message of Christmas is one of hope and joy and yet we work in an environment where we see real hardship,” she said. “The reality for many people that we work with is that there is emptiness. “The Christmas Appeal for UnitingCare West is a wonderful opportunity to bring people together to make sure that everybody can share the joy of Christmas.” Jennifer Garlick kicked off the giving by donating $2000 to the appeal on behalf of 100 St Georges Terrace. The Target UnitingCare Christmas Appeal will run until 24 December. Shoppers are encouraged to drop off unwrapped gifts under the Target Christmas tree at the front of any Target store or purchase a $1 bauble gift tag at the checkout. All proceeds will be donated to the UnitingCare Christmas Appeal. For more information visit http://www. unitingcarechristmasappeal.com.au.

Students from Tranby College with Sue Ash, UnitingCare West CEO, and guests at the WA launch of the Target UnitingCare Christmas Appeal.

December December2016 2016 Page Nine


Regional Focus

Regional Focus Metro East

The Uniting Church Presbytery of WA contains ten geographical regions: five metro and five rural. Members within these regions gather together at least twice a year, in between Presbytery meetings, to build relationships and support each other. Here we put the focus on the Metro East Region, which includes the following congregations, faith communities and chaplaincies: Armadale-Kelmscott, Byford, Cannington, Foothills St Martin’s, Forest Lakes, Gidgegannup Community, Glen Forrest, Gosnells, Guildford Wesley Chapel, Kalamunda, Mundaring and Swan View.

Swan View Uniting Church wins environmental award Accepting the Five Leaf Eco-Award on behalf of Swan View Uniting Church is Neil Butcher (left) from Jessica Morthorpe (second left) pictured with Rev Ken Williams, past moderator of the Uniting Church WA, and Rosemary Smith, committee member of the Swan View Community Garden (right).

The Swan View Community Garden at Swan View Uniting Church

Swan View Uniting Church was recognised for its community garden and environmental efforts on Sunday 30 October in a special service and celebration. The church was recognised with a Five Leaf Eco-Awards Basic Certificate for their water saving native garden; solar hot water system and solar photovoltaic panels; community green waste collection, chipping and compost program; educating their church and community about gardening, compost and sustainability; and their community garden, which was established in partnership with the Swan View Community Association. Five Leaf Eco-Awards founder Jessica Morthorpe visited Swan View Uniting Church to present the award to Neil Butcher and Rosemary Smith, who were representing the church and community garden, and to congratulate the congregation on their achievements. This presentation makes them the 9th church in Western Australia to achieve a Five Leaf Eco-Award and the 26th in Australia, with many more working towards completing the criteria. “The Swan View Community Garden is truly impressive, and has previously been recognised with several grants and awards,” Jessica said. “It hosts a thriving collection of fruit trees and all sorts of vegetables, all planted in a variety of recycled garden beds, including fridges, bathtubs and old water tanks. Water is recycled through the garden to reduce waste and shade cloth has just gone up to protect budding strawberries. “Produce grown in the garden is donated to the local Salvation Army Foodbank to provide a healthier diet for disadvantaged people in the area. Local children also sometimes visit to learn about composting, and the garden has played host to a pilot therapy project helping children develop speech and motor skills in the garden environment.

“It is a credit to all involved and a stunning example of what community projects like this can achieve.” The Five Leaf Eco-Awards are a national ecumenical environmental change initiative that assists, inspires and rewards churches and religious organisations for environmental action. There are currently six awards of varying difficulty available. “Christian eco-theology and teaching on the environment make it very clear that caring for creation is a vital priority for the church,” Jessica said. Neil Butcher is a member of Swan View Uniting Church, and was involved in some of their environmental projects. He said they have provided a great way for the church to get to know their local community. “It’s part of our outreach in terms of reaching out to our community in Swan View,” Neil said. “Its brought part of the community and the church together which is a good thing. That’s our mission within Christianity; is to be in the community and a caring force within the community. “We’re very honoured to get the award. The plaque will be put in a prominent place in the church.” Rev Ken Williams, past moderator of the Uniting Church WA, assisted with the presentation. Also present was Daniel Parasiliti, councillor for Midland and Guildford Ward in the City of Swan; Nigel Hayward from Catholic Earthcare and the National Energy Efficiency Project; and visitors from other Perth churches. The Swan View Community Garden has been funded through multiple community grant schemes, with sponsors including the Shire of Mundaring, Open Gardens Australia, Midland Brick, Elite Limestone, Waterquip Pty Ltd, the Government of Western Australia Waste Authority, the Swan View Community Association and Swan View Uniting Church. For more information about how to get involved in the Swan View Community Garden visit http://swanviewunitingchurch. com/garden.htm For more information about the Five Leaf Eco-Awards, visit https://fiveleafecoawards.org/ Issue 51

Page Ten

December 2016


First Third First Third

6 Summer Activities for the whole family Elaenor Nield

1

Western Australian Circus Festival – 27–29 January 2017, Karridale

Run by Lunar Circus in Karridale, the Circus Festival is a celebration of fun. It’s suitable for the whole family with a dedicated kids’ big top with workshops all day, loads of great food, market stalls and Australia’s longest highwire walk. This is a camping festival, so it’s great for a short holiday and it will be a riot of fun.

http://www.lunarcircus.com

2

Perth Writers Festival Family Day – Sunday 26 February 2017, University of Western Australia (UWA)

Family Day is one of the highlights of the Perth Writers Festival and 2017 will be no exception. With 2017 being the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Harry Potter books, festival goers are invited to dress up as their favourite Harry Potter character to enjoy the day and take part in Hogwarts themed activities. The best part is, that much of it is free!

https://perthfestival.com.au/perth-writers-festival/whats-on/events/family-day

3

Scripture Union WA Summer Camps – various locations throughout summer

Scripture Union WA (SUWA) hold a number of summer camps encompassing a range of outdoor activities. This year there are camps featuring sailing, stand-up paddling, snorkelling and loads more activities to make good use of WA’s perfect summer weather. These camps fill-up quickly, so check out the website for more information. http://www.suwa.org.au/su-community/camps/summercamps-2

4

Sandcastle competition – all summer, any beach or sandy spot

5

There’s nothing wrong with a little competition. Get together with some family friends, pool all your sandcastle building resources and head for the sand! You can get passers-by to vote on the best castle for some unbiased judging, or don’t judge at all and just have some fun.

Boorna Waanginy: The trees speak, PIAF 2017 Festival Opening – Friday 10–Sunday 12 February, Kings Park

6

A highlight of the summer festival season in Perth, the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) Opening is always spectacular, so mark it in your diary for 2017. The 2017 opening, Boornay Waanginy: The trees speak, will be a three-night extravaganza of light, sound and imagery transforming Kings Park over the opening weekend. It will be a walk-through event running continuously from 8.00am–10.30pm each night. And it’s free!

Bushwalking, anywhere

Western Australia is blessed with an abundance of incredible bushland filled with incredible wildlife and summer is a great time to get out and explore. The great thing about bushwalking is that it is a completely customisable activity, there are some great resources around to help you find a walk that is suitable for your ability and the ability of your fellow trekkers, even if they are brand new to trekking. Just remember to stay safe and let a friend know where you’re going before heading off on your great trek. http://trailswa.com.au/trails/trail-types/bush-walk https://parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/activity/bushwalking Issue 51

December 2016 Page Eleven

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First Third

Sharing wholistic faith through storytelling Heather Dowling

Top right: Michael Nield performing as the Prince in “The Prince who stole Christmas”. Lower right: Jack Zhu and Leanne Usher.

Fine Edge Theatre’s The Prince who Stole Christmas, a children’s play about a journey of discovering the true meaning of Christmas, was launched on Sunday 6 November at Mount Pleasant Uniting Church. The following day, the play began its month long tour to schools and churches in Perth and surrounding regions, travelling as far south as Albany, east to Kalgoorlie and north to Geraldton, including many spots along the way. Fine Edge Theatre Company is a Scripture Union WA program which not only delivers fun and thought provoking plays to primary and high school aged children around the state, but also mentors performers, helping them grow in their performance skills and in their faith. The company performs and tours three shows a year, with planning for each show commencing a year out. Michael Nield, Fine Edge Theatre coordinator, said the program is a great way to connect with kids on themes linked to the Christian narrative. Through question and answer time, kids can explore the themes presented. “Kids are often way smarter and way more succinct and think on much deeper levels than we expect them to, which is really exciting,” Michael said. “You get some really deep [answers] that make everyone stop and think for a minute and go, ‘wow, that was really powerful, thanks for that contribution.’” The play, written by Elaenor Nield,

digital communications officer at the Uniting Church WA, and Amber Stewart, is accessible to both government and non-government schools. “We talk about Jesus and we talk about a range of themes from forgiveness and grace, through to love, strength, compassion, and all of those things,” said Michael. “And we do find that in a Christian school the kids will connect the dots really quickly. “In government schools it’s generally a little bit more disconnected, but there’s some really powerful moments of kids making those connections or kids saying both ends of the story. So, repeating the things we said about Jesus and the themes of the show and then really being open to listening to us connect them and seeing little light bulb moments.” While on tour, cast and crew of The Prince who Stole Christmas held 31 performances over 32 days, often staying in billeted accommodation along the way. As Fine Edge Theatre Company aims

to perform dynamic storytelling for and with young people, Michael said that creating the productions is a great opportunity to mentor and grow performers. “It’s about sharing a wholistic faith experience with kids and building into a team wholistically as well,” he said. The Prince who Stole Christmas toured parts of WA from Sunday 6 November– Wednesday 7 December. For more information visit http://www.suwa.org. au/su-schools/fine-edge/.

Agents of Change reunite In January 2017 it will be 10 years since the Uniting Church WA invited young people from all around the Uniting Church in Australia to come to Perth for NCYC 2007: Agents of Change.

KCO is on again in 2017 from Saturday 18–Sunday 19 November for primary school aged campers. The theme is ‘Now.’ For more info contact Janine McDonald, First Third officer at the Uniting Church WA, on 9260 9800 or email janine.mcdonald@wa.uca.org.au.

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The organisation of such an event was supported by congregations of the Uniting Church WA. Hundreds of volunteer hours were given, from dedicated staff and committee members to realise the dream of bringing NCYC to Perth.

way, you are welcome to attend a picnic in the park on Saturday 14 January for a reunion. More information will be available closer to the date and First Third Ministry is endeavouring to contact everyone involved. For more information email rsvp.ucawa@wa.uca.org.au.

If you were part of NCYC 2007 in any Issue 51

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December 2016


First Third

Stepping up to employment with GSI Elaenor Nield

Since 1958, Good Samaritan Industries (GSI) has been focused on providing employment opportunities for people living with disabilities. This year, GSI has established a new program addressing the transition from school to post school employment for young people living with disabilities. The program is called the School Transition Employment Program – or STEP. This initiative is co-ordinated by STEP project manager, Tanya Matulich, with Danielle Congden since April of this year, having received a grant from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Under STEP, 100 work experience places were created within the various arms of GSI, a number that has quickly bloomed to 150 placements within the first year of the program’s inception. According to the most recent report on labour force participation among people living with disabilities, produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2012, from 1993–2012 the rate of labour force participation for working age people with disabilities has remained relatively stable at just above 50%, whereas labour force participation for working age people without disabilities has increased by over 6%. While there are many contributing factors to this disparity, Tanya and Danielle identified the lack of suitable transition options from school to employment as one of the significant problems they see in this sector. GSI has partnered with schools and education support centres around Perth to provide work experience programs that are consistent with

Issue 51

curriculum requirements and provide essential opportunities for students to experience workplace environments and responsibilities. Work placements are currently available in three industry areas: warehouse, retail and administration. STEP also includes the opportunity for promising work experience students to transition into School-Based Traineeships. “A School-Based Traineeship will run from 12 to 18 months. Within that period, [students] engage in nationally recognised training so, whether it‘s a Certificate II in Retail, across the retail stores, or a Certificate II in Warehouse Operations in our warehouse, while they’re on the job they will be learning,” Danielle explained. Trainees are employed by GSI one day a week and have observational visits from trainers to ensure they are completing the requirements of their certificate. Students are recommended for traineeships when they are seen to be excelling in their work experience placements. There are currently 13 students signed up for traineeships with seven already underway. The traineeship is a significant undertaking. It requires an eight hour employment commitment, as well as course work. “Everyone really needs to be on board, the student, their family, school and support staff,” Danielle said. Despite the newness of STEP, there have already been 13 transitions to employment out of the work experience program.

Emily Atkinson is one student, who has found employment with GSI’s café. She has been attending the café in a work experience function for the past few months and, as she will leave high school at the end of this year, she was offered an employment opportunity. Emily said since she signed up to STEP she has grown in confidence and has had the opportunity to learn and meet new people. Hospitality has been Emily’s area of interest for some time and this job gives her the opportunity to work in a field she really enjoys.

Emily Atkinson has found employment in the GSI café, thanks to her work experience placement.

Already the program has seen success with students developing greater confidence and learning about how employment works. “Ideally we would have other community organisations and businesses involved in offering placements in the future,” Tanya said. STEP Enrolments are now open for 2017. For more information email step@gsi. org.au or call 9463 0560.

December 2016 Page Thirteen

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Reviews and Blogs

Reviews Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many: Theology provoked by the Basis of Union, by Geoff Thompson This book contains a collection of recent articles by Rev Dr Geoff Thompson, related in one way or another to the Basis of Union (the foundation document of the Uniting Church in Australia). Dr Thompson teaches at the University of Divinity in Melbourne, and is well-placed to lead us into the bumpy and tempestuous ride of provocation and disturbance. This book, I am confident, will foster such qualities in the theological imagination and ecclesial commitment of anyone who reads it. Geoff Thompson has grappled with a wide range of topics, and has sought to show how the intention of the authors of the Basis of Union has been worked out in the ongoing discussion amongst Uniting Church people (and the wider church). If you read this book, or selected chapters from it, you may feel disturbed much. For myself, as should be clear, I have been disturbed a little, and would like to be disturbed more. Or, at least, would like to see many others sharing more fully in the process of being disturbed by the expression of ‘fresh words and deeds’ as we make our journey as the pilgrim people. John Squires

Human Race: 10 Centuries of Change on Earth, by Ian Mortimer Over the past millennium of plagues and exploration, revolution and scientific discovery, women’s rights and technological advances, human society has changed beyond recognition. In exploring this change, Mortimer cites belief in God 116 times as the most significant agent of change. It was the Catholic Church’s perception of God’s will that resulted in the ‘peace movements’ and discontinuation of slavery in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was Christian monasticism that led to the 12th century renaissance and beginnings of learning and science. After the reformation and printing was invented, the study of God in the Bible led to widespread literacy creating better government which in turn caused the decline in personal violence. Exploring God’s creation led scientists to uncovering the mysteries of the universe and nature. Belief in God’s healing powers gave many 17th century physicians the confidence to heal the sick. In the 19th century it was the understanding that God had made everyone equal that led to equal rights of men and women, black and white, rich and poor as the only defensible moral standpoint. Only in the 20th century did God’s influence decline, but Mortimer predicts that religion will again rise to meet humankind’s global challenges. Richard Smith

The Sound, by Sarah Drummond The Sound is a work of historical fiction following Maori man, Wiremu Heke’s, search for justice and the colonial captain who ransacked his village and caused the demise of his father. It is a harrowing, but beautiful narrative, written to showcase the majestic Australian landscape, set against the brutal sealing industry of the colonial era. Sarah’s historical work has focussed strongly on the role of Aboriginal women in the sealing industry of the west coast and this book is no exception, it wrestles with the complex and traumatic reality of child abduction and slavery, and the uneasy notions of justice in a land struggling under the increasing impacts of colonisation. The Sound makes no excuses for the sins of the past, its beauty lies in the spectacular portrayal of the still wild coast of Australia and Sarah’s impossible talent for making accessible a realistic portrayal of the history white Australia desires to repress. This novel is important not only for its contribution to WA literature, but even more so for providing a vessel by which we can honestly view our, often confronting, past. Elaenor Nield

Messages from the aether What people are blogging UnitingWorld Blogs http://unitingworld.org.au/blogs The blog posts you’ll find at UnitingWorld Blogs are many and varied and absolutely worth reading. As an agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, UnitingWorld facilitates relief, development and church connections with communities both near and far. I particularly recommend reading ‘Passing the Peace in South Sudan’ a recent post from Megan Calcaterra about how we understand peace as Christians and how we often take it for granted. This blog is a great way to engage with the work of UnitingWorld on a people level in the words of those serving on the ground and representing the Uniting Church. OMF Stories https://omf.org/australia/stories OMF International is a non-denominational Christian mission organisation. Being missional in the traditional sense of the word,

Elaenor Nield

OMF aims to share the good news of the Gospel, particularly in the East Asia region. OMF Stories is a blog collection from missionaries all over East Asia, many of the posts are short, quirky and handy for a big read over your morning coffee and others are thought-provoking and deeply considered. Backyard Missionary http://www.backyardmissionary.com This blog is a bit different from the others listed here. It’s an everyday kind of look at what doing mission is in the local context. Backyard Missionary is the personal blog of WA Baptist pastor, Andrew Hamilton. It covers many subjects and is full of short reads and a couple of longer, more theological posts as well. Rather than talking about specific mission stories, this blog encourages us to have a missionary attitude in our day-to-day lives. It’s great for developing perspective on how to engage in mission in our own communities.

Do you have a favourite blog? If you would like to share your online insights, email revive@wa.uca.org.au Issue 51 Page Fourteen

December 2016


News

Christians march with Pride Northbridge lit up with glitter and colour on Saturday night, 19 November, as Perth’s annual Pride Parade, a celebration of the LGBTI community took to the streets. Marching through the centre of Northbridge, the party went into the night, with the theme ‘Love Wins’. Faith groups joined the parade including ‘Jews for Pride’ and ‘Christians with Pride’. A passionate group of Christians marched, mostly from the Anglican Diocese of Perth and the Uniting Church WA. Fr Peter Manuel, from St Andrew’s Anglican Parish Subiaco, said it was important

for Christians to march in the To view a gallery of pictures, parade to show their support visit https://revivemagazine. for the LGBTI community. org.au/2016/11/23/christians“I think it’s important that we march-with-pride/ march here today to show the outside world, those who aren’t Christians, as well as those who are Christians, that you can be a Christian and support Pride and same sex marriage,” he said. Search ‘Christians with Pride Perth’ on Rosemary Hudson Miller and Geoff Bice , Facebook to keep social justice officer at the Uniting Church up-to-date with WA, marching with Christians with Pride. future events.

Progressive spirituality: new directions Richard Smith

Thirteen members of the Uniting Church WA made the long flight to Brisbane to join with 300 others from around the world for the 4th Common Dreams Conference. Common Dreams aims to promote study and discussion of progressive religious thoughts. The conference was formally opened by Rev David Felten, co-author of Living the Questions, who highlighted the significance of the progressive movement and his experience of a co-ordinated attack on Progressive Christianity by his neighbouring evangelical churches. It was followed by a lecture for the late Rev Canon Nigel Leaves, a past Warden of Wollaston College in WA, introduced by his widow Rev Jewlz Leaves and given by

Diana Butler-Bass articulating a move from the vertical to the horizontal world view of the sacred, in her book ‘Grounded’.

theologian Dr Val Webb. We also heard a most engaging lecture by a Muslim woman, Saara Sabbagh on ‘Living with Faith in a faithless world’. She shared the wisdom of Islam’s Sufi mystical tradition known to many of us from the writings of Rumi. Nine different elective workshops on progressive spirituality led by experts were held throughout the conference, as well as a range of keynote sessions on interesting topics. The Common Dreams Conference provided an amazing diversity of talented speakers and topics with many opportunities for open discussion and debate. The expectation is that Common Dreams 5 will be held in Sydney in 2019. In the interim, ‘Common Dreams on the Road’ will bring Professor Hal Taussig to Western Australia in October–November 2017 to talk on his latest book A New New Testament, a landmark contribution to the two worlds of scholarship and spirituality.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION / PROFESSIONAL SUPERVISION Spiritual Direction or Professional Supervision for clergy or lay people. Competitive fees. Call Rev John Clapton at Eulogeo Resources on 0408 957 997.

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The manse has been transformed into motel style, fully equipped three bedroom accommodation. This is available, free of charge to ministers (retired or current), and lay preachers in return for them taking Sunday worship whilst staying. Enquiries to Dora Rogers at dordor.rogers@gmail.com.

For more information visit http://www. commondreams.org.au.

Seasonal change Maggie Johns

Sue Ash, UnitingCare West chief executive officer has announced her resignation, and retirement, by April next year, depending upon the recruitment process for a suitable replacement. After six years in the role, Sue believes this is the right time personally, as Issue 51

well as for UnitingCare West which celebrated its 10th birthday in July. “This is an opportunity for someone with fresh eyes and skills to lead the organisation through the next, new phase,” said Sue. Personally, Sue sees retirement as a change

of season. “Upon retirement, 2017 will be a ‘gap year’. A time to take stock, think and continue graduate study. After decades, I look forward to the luxury of waking up without an alarm, a little bit of travel, continuing some external appointments

and devoting more time to family and friends, especially as a grandparent,” she said. The recruitment process

is well underway with an announcement of the new UnitingCare West chief executive officer anticipated in early 2017.

December 2016 Page Fifteen


News

Sit, chat and wander at Campfire Contemplation on Canvas comes to Perth Over the September long ‘The practices of sent people,’ Andrew Broadbent

weekend, 125 people from Uniting Churches around WA descended on the small, Wheatbelt town of Lake Yealering for Campfire 2016.

Campfire is run by the Pastoral Network of Evangelicals Uniting in Mission Action (PNEUMA) with the express aim of encouraging and resourcing people for mission. It is also a fantastic weekend of relaxing and hanging out with friends – old and new. Andrew Hamilton, part-time retic guy and part-time pastor of Quinns Baptist Church, was guest speaker this year with his three sessions focusing on

‘Living lives that are different’ and ‘Speaking of Jesus.’

Andrew’s sessions were engaging and practical with plenty of time for discussion. There were fifty young people in attendance over the weekend and a particular highlight was having some of them lead worship for two of the sessions. Late night games of ‘spotlight’ and fireside chats were also well received. Campfire is deliberately low-key with plenty of time to sit, chat, walk, wander over to the pub to watch the footy and just be. Pencil in the last weekend of September now and plan to be there in 2017. For more information visit http://www. pneuma.org.au. A beautiful setting and an excellent view of the night sky.

Investment in a sustainable future Elaenor Nield

In an effort to become more sustainable, Uniting Church in the City (UCIC) has undertaken a number of projects to increase their environmental sustainability and reduce their ecological impact. UCIC general manager, Neil Starkie, explained that in July 2015, the church adopted a strategic plan that included new direction on sustainability and design. Since adopting the plan, UCIC have engaged in three initiatives to address their sustainability. One of these initiatives is the upcoming installation of a 65 cell solar array on the tallest building in the Wesley Quarter. The solar array has been made possible with the help of a small scale technology certificate rebate. The project is expected to reach completion by 31 December. The

array will account for 5% of the energy for the largest building in the Quarter. Another sustainability initiative undertaken by UCIC this year was begun by chance when problems with dampness in Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth prompted the church to dig beneath the buildings. Making good use of the circumstances, UCIC decided to install three 60 000 litre stormwater tanks, beginning a rainwater harvesting system. UCIC’s new rainwater harvesting system will account for a significant portion of toilet flushes each year, saving thousands of litres of water. UCIC are also embarking on an urban beekeeping project, with more information to come in the future.

Wendy Hendry

Rev Cathie Lambert, minister at Margaret River Uniting Church, will be at Trinity North Uniting Church on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 January guiding participants through an art and spirituality workshop – Contemplation on Canvas. Contemplation on Canvas will run on Friday evening, and then all day Saturday. During the retreat, participants will have the opportunity for personal reflection on their own life and spiritual journey so far. Guidance and inspiration will be given in a large group format, followed by individual reflection time.

that depicts their life and their hopes for the future. Prepare to be surprised and moved while getting your hands grotty with the earthy mess of creativity. You don’t have to be a skilled artist or dedicated to meditation to attend this retreat. All are welcome. Cost is $150 which includes all craft and retreat materials, morning, afternoon teas and supper. For details and registration contact Cathie on 0448 730 355 or email deepwaterdwelling@gmail.com.

At each stage of reflection, participants will begin to create their very own mixed media canvas. Using creative materials, participants will craft an artwork

USA refugee deal raises hope and questions The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has welcomed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s recent announcement of a ‘oneoff’ agreement with the United States of America to resettle refugees currently detained on Nauru and Manus Island. While details of the arrangement remain vague, Stuart has welcomed the thrust of the announcement. “The Uniting Church has long campaigned for an end to the inhumane detention of people on Nauru and Manus Island,” he said. “In that there is hope that people might soon be able to start rebuilding their lives, I welcome this as a positive development.” UnitingJustice Australia national director, Rev Elenie Poulos, is calling for more details about the agreement.

“There are many unanswered questions,” she said. “How many people will the US take? What will happen to refugees who miss out on a place? Are those people from Nauru currently in Australia for medical treatment included in the agreement? “People who have suffered under the Government’s harsh and punitive policies, deserve to know as much as the Government knows. People on Nauru and Manus Island must be moved to safe places where they can start to recover and rebuild their lives.” Resettlement to the United States of America is hoped to begin early next year, although questions have already been raised as to whether PresidentElect Donald Trump will honour the deal. Issue 51

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December 2016


Theology Spot

Missio Dei? Rev John McKane

When one thinks of mission, how many of us immediately think of these words from Matthew 28; what we’ve come to understand as the Great Commission? “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” For many years I believed that ‘going,’ ‘baptising’ and ‘teaching’ were mission instructions from the king and head of the church to all of us. Lately, however, I am beginning to understand these words as more of an invitation from God to us for the sake of the world. Let me explain. Ever since humanity was sent packing from the Garden of Eden, God has been initiating reconciliation between us and Godself, and between us as people. We are reminded of this every time we celebrate Holy Communion in the Great Thanksgiving Prayer. We are reminded that Jesus was and is the agent of reconciliation and that before his ascension he declared the church to be the instrument of his reconciliation until he returns (2 Corinthians 5:18–19). This is called the Missio Dei (God’s Plan) and we’re invited to be a part of it. So instead of Matthew 28:18–20 being the Great Commission (instruction) it is an invitation to co-mission (partner) with God in what God has been doing, is doing and will continue to do in making the kingdom of God an eschatological reality. If we can grasp this, mission planning takes on a whole new focus. Instead of us deciding what we believe, we need God’s help in doing in the name of God’s kingdom (instead of us being the initiators of mission). Mission planning becomes a process of discerning what God’s plan is and what role we are invited to have in bringing it, or part of it, about within our specific context, utilising our specific gift-sets and for a specified time period. To this end, whenever I am involved Issue 51

in mission planning I seek to answer these questions:

4. When would God have us do this?

1. Who are we? Who do we understand ourselves to be? Who are we are in God’s eyes? Who are we as a Uniting Church? What are our core values? What are our foundational beliefs? In answering these questions we come to understand our identity. 2. Why has God put us here? What makes your context what it is? Why has God called us and placed us here and not over there? In answering these questions we come to appreciate our context. 3. What has God put us here to do? What are we uniquely called and invited to do that God has not called some other church to do in the same place? What will the outcome(s) look like in terms of our worship, witness and service? In answering these questions we begin to see our part in God’s plan.

How long will it take to get from here (current reality) to there (God’s plan/ outcome)? Will it be this year? Will it be three, or four, or five, or more years from now?

In answering these questions we establish a timeline. 5. How do we action God’s plan?

How’s the plan going to work? Who will be involved? Are there other groups that we need to talk to about this? What resources do we need? Where can we get the resources? What’s it going to cost?

In answering these questions we resource God’s plan. If only we had the eyes to see God at work, we would see that reconciliation has always been and will always be the central work of God’s love. And if we had ears to hear we would be able to hear God’s invitation to be a part of this lifegiving work. Rev John McKane is a member of the Strategy and Mission Planning Commission, and minister in Eastern Wheatbelt congregations.

Emmanuel Uniting Church, Enoggera

Emmanuel is a contemporary, mission focused church in the inner northwestern suburbs of Brisbane. We are a congregation of 350 members, with a significant small group ministry and extensive community outreach. After a period of intentional growth in Christian discipleship we see the next phase of our journey as mission oriented. Our recently adopted vision statement, “real people, relevant faith, our community” expresses this call. We are seeking a Lead Minister, who will lead this exciting new phase. They will assume leadership and overall responsibility for the ongoing missional and practical operations of the church. This includes leadership of a staff ministry team comprising a minister, two pastors and an administration assistant. The gifts, skills and passions we are looking for include: strong leadership, passion for discipling others, prayer and scripture. They will be Spirit led, and have a heart for mission and evangelism in contemporary society. They will also have a passion for contemporary worship and music. This is a full time placement, with stipend and allowances according to UCA Queensland. A full position description and congregation profile is available on request from the JNC Chair, minister@faithworks-uc.com.au Applications close 30 December. Please address your application to: Emmanuel Uniting Church – Enoggera c/- Chair of placements, Synod Placements Committee Uniting Church in Australia (Qld Synod) GPO Box 674 BRISBANE QLD 4001 Or email to placements@ucaqld.com.au clearly identifying the role in the subject line.

is seeking a full time Minister of the Word.

December 2016 Page Seventeen


International Focus

Seeking justice for Palestinians The Uniting Church in Australia has launched a national campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the Palestinian people among its church members. The Living Stones campaign website was launched in Melbourne by the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Rev Dr Olav Fyske Tveit, during his visit to Australia in October. Olav thanked the Uniting Church for its renewed commitment to peace and justice in the Holy Land. “We as a fellowship of churches, including you, are committed to continue this journey as a pilgrimage to find a just and sustainable solution together with the Palestinian people and with all peoples living in this area,” said Olav.

program for three months in 2015. The campaign is the result of a resolution on Palestine by the Uniting Church in Australia’s 14th Assembly. “The Living Stones campaign is a response to the request of our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine conveyed directly to us and via the World Council of Churches,” said Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia. “It is also a direct response to the experience of many Uniting Church members who have visited the Holy Land

“Any solution must be a solution that is fair and just for all. We are called to give a new word of hope to those who are in chains, who are suppressed, who are blind, who are sick… as our perspective to a conflict. This is a situation where one party is the occupier and the other is the occupied. One party has driven the other party out of their homes.” Rev Dr Olav Tveit observed that next year will mark 50 years of occupation for the Palestinian people since the Six-Day War of 1967. “It is very proper that you find expressions of solidarity and ways of committing yourself to this case for a just peace. May God bless your efforts in this. May God bless both the people of Israel and Palestine, and may God give peace to Jerusalem.” The Living Stones page hosted on the Uniting Church Assembly website provides basic background information on the situation in Israel-Palestine for church members wishing to learn more or get involved in advocating for justice for Palestinians. The page includes links to other ecumenical organisations working in Australia and overseas in this area of advocacy, as well as information for consumers looking to boycott products from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories. The website also features a video of retired Uniting Church Minister Rev Joan Fisher talking about her experience as an ecumenical accompanier with the World Council of Churches’ EAPPI

and been shocked by the living conditions of Palestinians in their homeland.” Stuart McMillan and Colleen Geyer, General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia, have written to every Uniting Church Council member to encourage them to support the Living Stones campaign. “Your prayers, support and solidarity for our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ are greatly needed,” said Stuart. “These prayers, together with your continuing prayers for a just peace for Palestine and Israel are highly valued.”

Come and Celebrate CHRISTMAS

with the Uniting Church in the City Sunday 18 December

10.00am A Celebration of Nine Lessons & Carols at Wesley

10.00am A Festival of Lessons & Carols at Trinity

Christmas Eve Saturday 24 December 11.15pm Christmas Eve service at Wesley Beautiful Christmas music from the musicians as you arrive from 10.50pm

Christmas Day Sunday 25 December

8.30am Afrikaans Christmas Service at Trinity 9.30am Christmas Celebration at Ross Memorial 10.00am Christmas Day Celebration at Trinity

10.00am A Christmas Celebration at Wesley

Where?

Ross Memorial Uniting Church, cnr Hay & Colin Streets, West Perth

Trinity Uniting Church, 72 St George’s Terrace, Perth

Wesley Uniting Church, cnr William & Hay Streets, Perth

For more information phone 6103 4222 Website: www.perthunitingchurch.org.au

Issue 51 Page Eighteen

December 2016


Travel and Spirituality

Russia with love William Loader

In the last week of September a very special event took place in Moscow. For the very first time, a hundred scholars came together in Russia to focus on the New Testament and its meaning for faith. The largest contingent came from Russia itself, predominantly from the mighty Russian Orthodox Church. Alongside them were Orthodox scholars from a range of Eastern European countries, including Greece, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Ukraine, as well as Catholic and Protestant scholars from Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Britain, USA, and Australia. I made the journey from afar as secretary for International Initiatives of the Society for New Testament Studies, working with its Eastern European Liaison Committee. The Society was able to win the support of Metropolitan Hilarion for the event, who generously hosted us on behalf of the Russian church. This was a major development in the opening up of the discussion of how New Testament scholarship relates to faith. Some whose faith is nurtured and sustained by the ancient Orthodox liturgical tradition have been reluctant to look beyond it to the world of New Testament scholarship; to ask questions about history and identify diversity, as well as unity among the New Testament writings might

Issue 51

undermine faith. We know such fear also from western fundamentalism. The opposite stance sees faith as the basis for openness to explore, in the confidence that God is also present in the arena of scientific research. In initiating this openness, Metropolitan Hilarion also issued a challenge to New Testament scholarship to avoid damaging and delusional extremes. What emerged from our discussions was a clear sense that the differences are not primarily between east and west, but more diverse. Stereotypes, often conjured by politic concerns, are to be avoided. Faith makes claims about history and so cannot run away from its uncertainties and ambiguities. There are no ‘short cuts’ for faith. Faith need never fear to ask questions. I stood through three full-length (three hour) liturgies celebrated in the ancient Slavonic tongue, sung or chanted by powerful, deep voiced males and accompanied by beautiful, mixed a cappella choirs. An aesthetic experience in itself, this was also the

way faith is expressed and nourished in this tradition. It was clearly engaging for the worshippers as they came and went, despite their not knowing Slavonic, recalling the days of the Latin mass. We found the beginning of a way to communicate despite our strange and diverse spiritualities. It was a commitment to listen and ultimately a commitment to love.

December 2016 Page Nineteen

St Cyril and Methodius Theological Institute Chapel.

St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow.


Summer Spirit, a time to refresh, renew, learn and be inspired. Don’t miss your chance, register today with Eventbrite at: http://summerspirit2017.eventbrite.com.au For more information visit http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/wp-content/ uploads/2016/11/Summer-Spirit-2017-brochure-registration.pdf or contact Alice Boomer on (08) 9260 9813 or alice.boomer@wa.uca.org.au This event is organised by the Uniting Church Western Australia


Revive December 2016