Issue 32, No 2, 2013
The voice of Uniting Church SA
For God so loved the world...
Love is the Easter story
CONNECTING LIFE AND FAITH Preaching and teaching over Easter p. 10
THE LIFE OF A RURAL REV The triumphs and challenges of a country minister pp. 20-21
Explore your faith through your senses
Contents FEATURES February Presbytery & Synod Meeting Connecting life and faith
Strategic Plan wrap-up
Getting to know...
The life of a Rural Rev
Can you lend a helping hand?
REGULAR PAGES Moderatorâ€™s Comment
Letters to the Editor
Editor: Catherine Hoffman
Sense Making Faith Exciting 9 week experiential course that takes you on a spiritual journey led by three guides Steve Taylor Principal Uniting College, Writer, Blogger Mark Hewitt Minister The Corner UC, Visual Artist, Photographer Sarah Agnew Minister Belair UC, Poet, Biblical Storyteller Wednesday Evenings at the Corner UC, commencing April 24 Unit can be taken for audit or credit as a Guided Reading in the Diploma or Bachelor of Ministry through the ACD Uniting College for Leadership & Theology is the ministry training and theological education agency of the Uniting Church SA. Uniting College is a member college of the Adelaide College of Divinity (ACD), a registered Higher Education Provider and Registered Training Organisation.
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Love is volunteering â€œDear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth,â€? (1 John 3:18). Love in action is a powerful thing to behold â€“ volunteering is one of the most impactful ways that love can be expressed. In the Uniting Church, many people feel called to volunteer every year. In sharing their time and gifts for the benefit of others, their love is transformed into something tangible.
DEADLINE FOR APRIL Wednesday 13 March
iStockphoto reference: p. 9, Moppet
A greater gift
Chocolate-chocolate-chocolate. As a child, this would consume my thoughts as I waited (and salivated) in anticipation for the arrival of Easter. All through the inculcations of the Easter message that I received from parents, grandparents and people from the church I attended, I was focussed on having that foil-wrapped gift in my hands. With a mind so full of food, it was difficult to allow the true meaning of Easter to completely sink in. Once the Easter egg or bunny was in my possession, I savoured every chocolatey morsel, trying to make it last as long as I possibly could – determined to at least make it last longer than that belonging to my younger siblings. Eventually, however, there would be nothing left besides a hankering for more. Fortunately, the love of God and the gift of life given to us through Jesus’ death do not disappear after a week or two. While we may be most strongly reminded of these over the Easter period, the truth and actuality of the message does not fade. As an adult, the allure of Easter lies not in the chocolate consumed but in the ways in which the Easter story can be re-explored and fully realised. Within these pages are just some ways that we can reflect on and think about the Easter story.
Over the past month, the New Times production staff have been overwhelmed by the number of readership survey responses we have received – and the passion behind so many of the responses. While it is much easier to receive the praise than the criticisms, both are incredibly useful in determining the form that New Times will take in the months to come. We are thankful to everyone who has sent in their feedback thus far, and hope that it will help us to shape a news-zine that more fully represents the wishes and ideal of the Uniting Church in South Australia. Please continue to send us your thoughts and feelings about the publication. Although the official survey collection date has passed, we are always interested in hearing what you have to say about New Times and the wider Uniting Church. In this edition we have already begun to play with new ideas that have come as a direct result of the wishes expressed in the surveys received so far. A popular item of interest was ‘local church news’ so we have developed a new "Getting to know..." section. Each month we plan to feature small profiles of both rural and suburban churches, starting off with the letter ‘A’ and following through the alphabet. In the upcoming April edition of New Times, we will include a summary of the survey feedback received, which will undoubtedly reveal an overwhelming interest in news from local congregations. In this edition, we are focussing on Easter reflections and celebration. This is epitomised by the photograph on the edition’s cover. This image shows delicate metal artwork representing Jesus on the cross. The intricate metal pieces were beaten into place with a hammer – reflecting a suffering that evolves into something beautiful, and thus reflecting the Easter story.
Bindy Taylor at a 2012 Presbytery and Synod meeting
All you need is love... Who could count the number of songs written over the centuries concerning that mysterious emotion we call love? In 1967, over 400 million people in 26 different countries watched the Our World broadcast – the first global television link. This broadcast included a song that had been written to communicate a simple message, to be understood by all nationalities – “All you need is love.” This song, credited to Lennon-McCartney, was intended to inspire its hearers with hope, and with a direction that was sadly lacking at the time due to the Vietnam War and tensions between world powers. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) – the LennonMcCartney song was not unique. However, our Christian tradition contains many love stories that are unique – stories that shape who we are
and what we do as the people of God. As we approach Easter through this season of Lent, we share some of our best stories, leading into the greatest love story of all time. We will read again about a son who leaves home, wastes all of his inheritance and returns full of guilt and despair, only to be welcomed back by a loving father who has been watching and hoping for his reappearance. We will be reminded of the newness of life that is God’s gift to those who have responded to the love of God. We are deemed to be ‘a new creation’ because of the love of God demonstrated and made real for us through the cross of Jesus Christ. We will be reminded of the confidence we can have for daily living because of who we are – people at one with God because of the love revealed to us through the death and
resurrection of Jesus Christ. We will also walk the difficult path with Jesus as he gives himself in love and obedience to God’s will in his life. And so we will find ourselves reflecting on our response to these various stories of God’s love for us and for all humankind. Love is mysterious, with numerous different aspects – many permeated with selfishness. However, in the stories we will hear and read leading up to Easter, selflessness rather than selfishness will be the common theme. “All you need is love.” Yes – the love of God, central to our Easter story.
Rev Rob Williams
New initiatives, new ministers and new courses From 15-16 February this year, the Presbytery and Synod of South Australia met at Adelaide West Uniting Church. Below are brief summaries of some of the matters that were discussed at the meeting.
Ready for Ordination
The Presbytery resolved to ordain Lyn Leane as a Deacon and Robyn Caldicott as a Minister of the Word.
Ski for Life
Rev Darren Lovell, minister of Burra and Mannum Uniting Churches, spoke of the high incidence of male suicide, especially in regional SA – over five male suicides have occurred in his local community within the last 18 months. He discussed the need to raise awareness and take action with educative programs. To raise money for these programs, the Ski for Life event has been created. To donate or find out more visit menshealthsa.com.au
Appreciation of Barry Atwell
The Presbytery and Synod were led in a minute of appreciation for Barry Atwell on the evening of Friday 15. Barry has worked tirelessly in the role of General Manager Resources at the Uniting Church SA for the past 11 years. He will retire in May 2013.
New Uniting College courses
Uniting College announced two courses – ‘Big Year Out,’ which is a year-long, two-day a week flexible Certificate IV in Christian Life and Ministry, and a Diploma in Chaplaincy. For further information on either of these, please contact Uniting College on 8416 8420.
CommUnity Day 2013
CommUnity Day is in its second year of operation and will again be celebrated on 22 June, 2013. Congregations are encouraged to participate and organise an existing or new CommUnity Day activity or event in June, July, August or September. Registration will open in June. To find out more visit communityday.org.au or telephone the Uniting Church SA Communications team on 8236 4249.
Stipend proposal forwarded to Changing Landscape Working Group It was moved that the issue of part-stipend ministries, crosscultural and multicultural ministries be forwarded to the Changing Landscapes Working Group.
On Saturday 16 February, members of the Presbytery and Synod were treated to a full day resourcing session with author, speaker and emergent church leader, Brian McLaren. Brian also presented at CitySoul on Wednesday 13 February and at Adelaide West Uniting Church on Thursday 14 February. A full article on Brian’s teachings will appear in the April edition of New Times.
Placements news Placements finalised since the February edition of New Times: Rev Diane Bury to Pastoral Relations Officer, Congregations and Ministry from 1 June 2013 Rev David Buxton to Mission Officer, Rural and Regional (Mission Resourcing SA) from 1 March 2013 Upcoming Special Services: Christine Manning, Candidate for MOW Barossa at Nuriootpa, 10 March at 2pm Rev Liellie McLaughlin at Eden Hills, 3 March at 9.30am Vacant Placements Profiles available: Ardrossan (Ardrossan, Clinton Centre, Dowlingville and Price)(0.5); Bordertown, Buckingham and Mundulla; Kangaroo Island Linked Congregations; Mallala and Two Wells (0.6); Mt Gambier; Woodville.
Retiring General Manager Resources, Barry Atwell, responds to the formal minute of appreciation.
Profiles not yet available: Glenunga; Port Augusta Faith Community Congress. For more information on any of these placements, please visit sa.uca.org.au/pastoral-relations/placements-vacant
Building peace, restoring communities
Sri Lankan school children living in a refugee camp in India supported through gifts to the Christmas Bowl. Photo: OfERR Through its annual Christmas Tree Festival, Willunga Uniting Church joined thousands of churches across Australia in raising funds for the Christmas Bowl Appeal. The festival sees more than 50 local community groups, businesses, schools and individuals enter a stunning array of beautifully decorated Christmas trees. These are displayed to the public in December and form a backdrop to other Christmas events, including a carols night, an Advent wreath-making workshop, and Devonshire teas that all provide fundraising opportunities. Jenny Esots, coordinator of the festival, said it was good to be able to support
international aid work through the Christmas Bowl while also connecting with the local community at a special time of year. “One of the things we most enjoyed in this year’s festival was the meeting of so many people from different facets of life. Many had never been to the festival before.” Support from churches around Australia for the Christmas Bowl helps to rebuild the lives of people from some of the world’s most conflict-affected countries. The Christmas Bowl is the Christmas appeal of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
Last year’s Christmas Bowl highlighted the plight of Sri Lankans who fled their homeland to escape conflict during the civil war that ravaged the country for more than 25 years. With support from Australian churches, Act for Peace’s project partners help Sri Lankan refugees living in camps in southern India by providing health care, counselling, maternal care and women’s empowerment programs. Now that the civil war has ended, these project partners are helping to prepare refugees to return to Sri Lanka safely. “Thanks to generous support from churches for the Christmas Bowl, we have started the work of building shelters for 50 families who have returned to Sri Lanka,” says Act for Peace executive director, Alistair Gee. “Fundraising support has also helped us to provide families with materials for rearing cows, goats and chickens, and tools and fishing gear for small businesses, so that they can provide for themselves and work their way out of poverty. “Thousands more returned refugees and displaced people in Sri Lanka have begun the life-transforming process of being provided with the vital documentation they need in order to access basic government health services, education for their children, or land titles.”
A step closer to recognition On 13 February 2013, an Act of Recognition was passed through the House of Representatives. The legislation formally recognises the unique place that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold in Australia as First Peoples. It has been a long awaited decision for many Aboriginal and Islander peoples, and is one that now needs the support of all Australians. The passing of the Act is intended to give momentum for constitutional recognition after the September 2013 federal election. Before this time, much needed work has to be done to educate all Australians about the importance of the decision so
that an informed and ethically-based decision can be made. While the specific wording on the referendum has yet to be decided, there are simple questions that we in the Uniting Church need to begin exploring: Where do we stand as a church? Where do I stand as an individual? What will be my response? These are questions that can only be answered with wellrounded knowledge of the issues involved. For more information, please visit sa.uca.org.au/covenanting
Fuelling the fire for change Tara Burton
Dynamic, faithful and influential were the words that National Faith Development Consultant, Tom Kerr, used to describe young adults in the Uniting Church of Australia. Our job, he says, is to supply fuel for their fire to live out their faith. Mr Kerr was one of the organisers of the National Young Adult Leadership Conference (NYALC) at Naamaroo Conference Centre in Sydney in late January, which brought together 42 young adults from across Australia. Joining them were 15 facilitators and a total of 50 different contributors. The conference was jointly hosted by Uniting Church President, Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, and by key leaders of Congress. The first NYALC was held in January 2012. The national event aims to build leadership capacity in young people, and to form a national network which will provide opportunities for inspiration and influence in the church and the wider community. Candace Champion from the Uniting Church Congress in South Australia said
that the conference inspired young people to learn the true meaning of leadership. “The National Young Adult Leadership Conference brings out the best in me. There’s so much that I have to learn and I feel like the conference enables this. “I want to see the future of the Uniting Church to be united across not only Australia but the world.” Conference facilitator and member of Samford Valley Community Church, Peter Armstrong was inspired to meet young adults who are bringing their gifts of leadership to their local community. “The experience really was one of incredible unity as followers of Jesus Christ – with an emphasis on the reconciliation and renewal of all creation through Jesus. “As a church we need to bless our young adults by listening to them, learning from them, and helping to shape the church to become the vehicle of God's purposes for the next generations,” he said. The attendees enjoyed a range of different activities including team building, Bible study groups and mentoring visits
from key Uniting Church leaders. The conference concluded with the attendees producing an action plan to create change in their local communities. “The participants have been set a challenge to be the salt of the Earth,” said Tom Kerr. “To go back to their churches, to live out their faith in their communities, and to influence the world. “The shape of the actions they take will be as diverse as the participants themselves. Some will aim to be better neighbours, others might work towards harmony in their multicultural and multifaith suburbs, some will start community projects and some will produce internet clips or images that we hope will end up going viral. “They are making the world a better place for others, as faithful followers and disciples of Christ.”
National Young Adult Leadership Conference attendees with Uniting Church Australia President, Rev Dr Andrew Dutney (centre). Photo: Tom Kerr
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Wishing you and your family a Happy Easter from the UC Invest team. Thanks to your support wee have provided grants of $1.37 million to the Church in 2012. With your help we aim to provide $1.5 million in 2013! 0 013!
Visit us at ucinvest.com.au or call us on 1300 274 151 UC Invest is an activity of The Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (S.A.) ABN 25 068 897 781, the legal entity of the Uniting Church SA. Investment services are provided on behalf of the Uniting Church SA pursuant to ASIC Policy Statement 87 exemptions and APRA Banking Exemption No. 1 of 2006 (â€œThe Uniting Church in Australia Property Trust (S.A.)â€?). Neither UC Invest nor the Uniting Church SA are prudentially supervised by APRA. Investments and contributions lodged with UC Invest will not benefit from the depositor protection provisions of the Banking Act (1959). All products offered by UC Invest are designed for investors who wish to promote the charitable purposes of the Uniting Church SA.
L ove i s t h e E a s t e r s t o r y The emotions associated with the Easter story are many and varied – contrition, compassion, grace – but it is love that features most strongly. Easter is ultimately a love story – a tangible expression of God’s love and sacrifice for us.
Unconquerable love Rev Dr Chris Walker
The carol “Love came down at Christmas” by Christina Georgina Rossetti speaks of “Love all lovely, love divine,” shortly followed by the words “Love incarnate.” Love in the flesh, however, was not always lovely for Jesus; at Easter the cost of love was graphically evident. Jesus, the human presence of the love of God, had to endure betrayal, physical and mental agony, the abuse of authority, and injustice resulting in being flogged and then crucified while people were mocking him. In sermons and theological writing, the idea is often put forward that God sent Jesus to die. The Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed both move straight from Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary to his being crucified under Pontius Pilate. His life, teaching and ministry do not rate a mention, although the Nicene Creed does say that it was “for our sake” that Jesus suffered and died. Some modern commentators understandably react against this way of speaking about Easter Friday. Does it make God a terrible God who is willing to sacrifice his own son? Is it an awful case of child abuse, even if indirect? I think this is a misreading of the Easter story. Easter was the climax of Jesus’ life and ministry. All four gospels give it a great deal of space. In human expectation, it
should not have happened – Jesus, the Messiah, should have conquered his enemies, violently if necessary. He should not have died and certainly not by crucifixion like some despised criminal. But wait – if Jesus was God’s love in the flesh, the embodiment of God’s reign of love, how could he respond like a political revolutionary? How could he turn from teaching and persuasion to violence and overpowering those who opposed him? For him, the means and the end were always congruent. He acted in love; he taught love; he inspired love. And he died still loving – even his enemies, even those who crucified him. Easter is all about love. In the Easter story we see Jesus steadfastly continue to love, no matter what the outcome or cost. Let us see Easter in context. Jesus’ crucifixion came about as an outcome of the challenge that his total ministry presented. Love was at the heart of what Jesus said and did, but such love was never sentimental or weak. His was a love that was confronting to the religious and political authorities, and that exposed hypocrisy and injustice. It called for treating people, especially those regarded as sinners and outcasts, with compassion and fairness. Jesus taught and demonstrated that God’s reign welcomed those people who were usually excluded, judging those who thought that they had a claim on God. He was a threat to the authority and reputation of those in positions of power. For this reason they conspired against him and were able to fulfil their desire to get rid of him. Surprisingly, Jesus accepted all of this and did not attempt to defend himself – he demonstrated dignified love until the end. What the authorities failed to realise was that this love could not, and cannot, be conquered. The Easter story of love does not end on Easter Friday, for Easter Sunday follows soon after. Love is stronger than death; love has the last word.
L ove i s t h e E a s t e r s t o r y
An Easter visit Easter is classed as one of the most significant occurrences on the Christian calendar, but it is also a popular time for Australians to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine and holiday over the long weekend. New Times approached ministers from a number of churches in South Australia’s tourist destinations to find out what they are doing over the Easter period – here are some of the responses.
Easter at Clare Uniting Church
with Rev Simon Dent The focus of Clare Uniting Church, at 20 Victoria Road in Clare, is to be a living proclamation of the gospel of grace through connecting with God, each other and with those whom God has called us to serve. Each component is not isolated from each other but come together to make a whole. You could say three in one. Hmmm, I’ve heard that somewhere before...
What do you have planned for your Easter services? We have two services planned for Easter Sunday. The first will be an Easter dawn service at Paulette’s winery, on the SevenhillMintaro Road (at the top of the hill), at the very respectable time of 7am. The winery overlooks the hills of the Clare Valley and is truly a spectacular location to experience the promises of resurrection in Jesus. This will be an ecumenical service, so many of the other churches of Clare will be involved. Each community will take a flame from the one ‘Light of Christ’ and bring it to their respective local churches in a lantern to then light the Christ candle for their own Easter services.
At Clare Uniting Church we will remember God’s redemptive work at 10am on Good Friday and celebrate the resurrection of our humanity in Christ at 10am on Easter Sunday. What are the topics, ideas or issues that you will focus on in your Easter services? Throughout the Sundays of the first quarter we have been looking at key characters of the Old Testament beginning with Adam, Noah, Abraham etc. This series will build to a climax on Good Friday as the prophetic people of the covenant of grace come to fulfilment in Jesus Christ. On Good Friday we will recap the people and the story, showing that Good Friday was no tragic accident but was rather a planned expression of God’s covenant love. Easter Sunday will continue this theme but with the promise of resurrection – the day has come where we can both look back and look forward in hope. How do you come up with fresh and engaging ideas – particularly for an annual event like Easter? This Easter we will be preaching Christ, the risen Son and the present, reigning Lord. While we will have some creativity, songs, video and drama, our focus will be the proclamation of gospel in a sermon. We believe that God convicts, renews, forgives and recreates by speaking his Word through the sermon. Going on a holiday over Easter? Find out what churches are in the area by visiting sa.uca.org.au/easter
The congregation of Clare Uniting Church (pictured) will take part in an ecumenical dawn service on Easter Sunday this year.
L ove i s t h e E a s t e r s t o r y
Easter at Goolwa Uniting Church For the congregation of Goolwa Uniting Church, on Collingwood Street in Goolwa, the Easter weekend will see the culmination of Rev Adam Low’s series of messages focussed around questions related to Easter. Starting in the first week of March, Adam will cover the questions ‘Easter Who?’, ‘Easter What?’, ‘Easter When?’, and ‘Easter Where?’ Over Good Friday and Easter Sunday, he will talk on the final question – ‘Easter Why?’ For more information and service times please call 8555 2589.
Easter at Loxton & Renmark Uniting Churches Rev Nathan Whillas is the minister for both the Renmark and Loxton Uniting Churches in the Riverland. Both churches will have services on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. On Maundy Thursday, a reflection service featuring the Stations of the Cross will be held at Renmark and Renmark West Uniting Churches at 7pm. Those visiting Loxton will be able to enjoy a ‘Little Town’ production called Pontius; a musical based on the Easter story. With an original score and the involvement of locals both from churches and the community, it’s a very popular event. For more information on the Renmark and Loxton Uniting Church services, please call Nathan on 0488 223 840.
Children at Westbourne Park Uniting Church collecting money for Lent Event
Message at Lent grows faith When Adrian Nippress first visited Westbourne Uniting Church in Adelaide, he heard a message that connected Christian faith with international community capacity building. At that moment, he knew he’d found his spiritual home. “I heard ‘Lent Event’ co-coordinator, Jim Rumery, speaking about the water harvesting project in Zimbabwe, and Rod Dyson explaining the importance of investing in international communities as an expression of Christian faith,” Adrian recalls. “I knew it was the place for me. Participating at Westbourne has lead to a very substantial growth in my faith – along with my wife and daughters, I've found a home here largely because of the way that social justice is embedded in the life of this community.” Adrian is now his congregation’s coordinator of Lent Event – UnitingWorld’s 40 days of action, reflection and connection with people living in poverty. Lent Event encourages people to give up an item from their daily routine and donate its cost towards projects that give life in developing countries. According to Adrian, investing in international development makes sense not only for pragmatic reasons but because of the example of Christ. “Improving primary health care and education reduces the need to engage in emergency relief; better education, especially amongst women, reduces the strain on population growth simply because better-educated women have fewer children,” he says. “But the main reason to invest in community capacity building is because so much of Jesus’ teaching was aimed at recognising the significance of supporting and celebrating these communities. It’s simply about compassion.” Although the Lent period has already begun, it’s not too late to get involved. You can find out more about Lent Event projects supported by South Australia, as well as resources for small groups, worship and children, by visiting lentevent.com or calling Fiona on (02) 8267 4449.
L ove i s t h e E a s t e r s t o r y
Connecting life and faith Rev Tony Eldridge discusses the challenges and potentialities associated with preaching during the Easter period, drawing on his own practical experiences to explore engaging Easter teaching.
Wow, it’s difficult to believe that Easter is almost upon us again. It’s a time of mixed emotions for many, and for preachers it can conjure feelings of both excitement and dread. The excitement comes from the opportunity to journey with a community of faith through the most important season of the church’s life. The Easter period provides a chance to explore the rich theological themes of the cross and resurrection. The feeling of dread comes from a very different place and can usually be boiled down to one perplexing question – “what on earth am I going to say this year?” After a few years of preaching in the same community, this question often becomes a very real concern. In some churches, the preacher feels the weight of needing to say something fresh, engaging, entertaining and enhanced by technology about a story that is centuries old and very well-worn. However, there is no reason why a well known story cannot be inspirational – many of those to whom the Easter story is familiar can find that the reiteration of it touches something fresh in their lives. There are many themes of salvation related to Easter that have broad theological touching points. So, even when you are baffled about the way forward this year – preachers, take heart! - the Holy Spirit and creativity always seem to coincide at just the right time. Along with the regular themes of Easter, the pastoral connections to people’s lives are very important. Human pain and suffering does link to Good Friday but that’s not the final word. In life, every Good Friday has its accompanying Easter Sunday – we Rev Tony Eldridge at the November 2012 Presbytery and Synod Meeting.
are not left without hope or without God’s resurrecting presence. The experience of Easter Saturday is also important. It is a time when, like the disciples in darkness between Friday and Sunday, we wait, unsure of what will eventuate. Easter keeps human life in balance. All is not pain and suffering of the kind that Good Friday represents. It is not all waiting like Easter Saturday. It is not all jubilation and celebration like Easter Sunday. Instead, human experience teaches us that all of these emotions, with their ups and downs, will happen in our lives – and often in this same pattern. Easter is not only a spiritual reality but a pattern of life which is underpinned in every dimension by God’s presence. Telling the old story of Easter carries weight for many in our congregations as people cry out for teaching that connects life and faith. By articulating an understanding of resurrection as connected to everyday personal, social and environmental issues, the faith of individuals and congregations can be taken deeper, and the potential for lively conversation is opened up. In essence, every Sunday is Easter Sunday as we celebrate the ‘Service of the Lord’s Day.’ This title, developed very early in the life of the church, encapsulates the idea that every Sunday celebrates the resurrection. We can continue that tradition through exploration of what the idea means for us as a gathered community, as congregations and as individuals. Easter Sunday and the resurrection inform our view of the world and our mission for the resurrected Christ as alive and at work in our midst.
The 2007-2012 Strategic Plan Report In January 2011, Malcolm Wilson took over as Associate General Secretary and Strategic Plan Project Manager, succeeding Rev Russell Knight. Malcolm reflects on his past two years as project manager. A firm believer in guidelines and regulatory processes, Malcolm Wilson believes that strategic planning is essential in defining the direction of the Uniting Church in South Australia. He is acutely aware of the need for change within the church to become more relevant in today’s society. “A Sunday morning church service with four hymns is no longer relevant to all,” Malcolm opines. “We are a diverse denomination – we need to capitalise on this in order to deliver church in a way that is relevant to a broad spectrum of people.” While able to identify the significant achievements that have occurred as a result of the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan, Malcolm also recognises that measuring the longevity of some initiatives and the ‘success’ of some campaigns is challenging. “Conversion growth is difficult to track and record. A confirmed church membership is no longer a measure of how the denomination is tracking,” he explains. “We need to get serious about ‘fresh expressions’ and ‘loosen’ the requirements around what it means to be a part of the Uniting Church in SA.” “Fresh expressions are generally different and relevant forms of church. Within this there is need for a discipleship path to be taken in order for conversion to happen,” Malcolm continues, outlining the strong links between fresh expressions (Key Direction 4), discipleship (Key Direction 3) and conversion growth (Key Direction 1). “The formation of a Leadership Development Council shows the Strategic Plan providing encouragement for positive, ongoing leadership opportunities,” Malcolm comments on Key Direction 2.
“Raising our profile (Key Direction 5) has had a significant impact for elevating the Uniting Church brand, with an extension of this being the newly launched CommUnity Day.” “Some great projects also came out of Key Direction 6. It is encouraging to consider the possibility of re-energising some justice-related initiatives in the future.” The new Strategic Plan will operate from 2013 through to 2017. Although this plan is running approximately six months behind the anticipated schedule, there has been significant research to ensure that the new Strategic Plan Newsletter
key directions are applicable to the entire South Australian Uniting Church body. The resulting key directions were announced at the November 2012 Presbytery and Synod Meeting. After some slight modifications, a small group of Standing Committee members has begun work to progress them. Two of the new key directions are aimed at the Presbytery and Synod congregations, while the other two will be undertaken primarily by ministry centres. This is a change from the 2007-2012 Strategic Plan which was largely encompassed by the ministry centres.
Key Direction 1: Fostering conversion growth The objectives of this key direction were: • To foster an environment where introducing people to Jesus is key • For every Uniting Church congregation/faith community in South Australia to actively engage with Matthew 28:19-20 • To improve stewardship of God’s gifts • For every congregation or faith community to see people grow into faith within their communities
“Conversion growth” was the name given to Key Direction 1 (KD1). For some members of the team, this title seemed straightforward. Others, however, felt that it was ambiguous. The reflection and discussion surrounding this topic caused a complete team change, as the originally appointed team could not discover a way to move forward with the key direction. Rev Ruthmary Bond was instated as the team leader for the final two years of the Plan, taking over from earlier leader, Rev Roger Brook. Other team members included Benji Callen, Rev Brant Jones and Caryn Rogers. One of the first decisions made by the new KD1 team was to redirect its focus.
The term conversion growth had negative connotations for some team members, so the focus was put instead on 'faith sharing.'
suggesting ways to share faith with others. The app is available via email or through the Android and iOS app stores.
A nonverbal DVD entitled KEY was produced as the KD1 team’s first project. It was distributed with related material for worship services, sermons and small groups. Every Uniting Church congregation in South Australia received a DVD pack and it was also offered to interstate synods. DVD packs are still available from Rev Ruthmary Bond at email@example.com
Since its launch in October 2012, over 1000 people in 16 different countries have begun to use “50 ways.” The long term goal is to produce a similar app that will share a story daily, rather than weekly.
A weekly devotional application (app) was the second project worked on by the team. Entitled “50 ways to share your faith," the app provides users with a weekly faith story, sharing personal anecdotes and
Key Direction 2: Raising Leaders The objectives of this key direction were: • To establish and develop a centre for leadership • To establish a Leadership Development Council • To appoint a faculty for the centre for leadership • To launch the Australian Leadership magazine The Key Direction 2 (KD2) Leadership Core Team was comprised of Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, Rev Dr Graham Humphris and coordinator, Rev Dr Ian Price. The team addressed the task before them on three fronts: maintaining a missional leadership focus for the presbytery, providing educational resources, and tackling the matter of effective leadership amongst the clergy and laity. The Leadership Core Team accomplished a number of things - they secured important guest speakers for the Presbytery and Synod meetings; launched the Australian Leadership magazine; and saw the theological college focus on missional leadership. The team evolved over five years, as its goals and directions changed. In particular, the development of the theological college saw a significant amount of the
team’s focus move to the Leadership Development Council of Uniting College for Leadership and Theology, which has continued to develop the work of education for leadership. The leadership focus of the college led to a number of changes: its name changed from Parkin-Wesley to Uniting College for Leadership and Theology (Uniting College); a Leadership Stream was established as one of the four streams of education; a full-time Leadership Director was appointed; and an emphasis on mission in all streams has been increased. While the achievements of the KD2 team have been significant, the work of transforming the culture of the church to more effectively engage Australian society is an ongoing task. With many aging and declining congregations, reaching younger generations continues to be a
challenge. Furthermore, it is apparent that, while there are many people enthused by opportunities to offer in ministry, the capacity of the Uniting Church in South Australia to pay for and support that ministry and education is limited. While Uniting College will continue to have a strong focus on missiology and leadership, it is clearly the responsibility of the church as a whole to ensure the ongoing development of missional effectiveness in congregations, schools and agencies. In order to ensure momentum is not lost, the team suggest that the Standing Committee (or another group) provide a strong watch with respect to this issue over the next few years.
Key Direction 3: Growing Disciples The objectives of this key direction were: • To assist congregations in focussing on discipleship • To help congregations to create and resource discipleship pathways • To recommend discipleship resources, programs and strategies The Key Direction 3 (KD3) Discipleship Core Team consisted of Rev Sandy Boyce, Rev Simon Dent, Craig Mitchell, Rev Peter Morel and Matt Sarre. “Discipleship is about learning to follow Jesus among a community of disciples. You can't simply tell people how to be disciples – they must learn by living. That involves everyday conversations, living examples, sharing stories and learning from each other, as well as teaching and service," says Craig Mitchell, the KD3 convenor. Discipling includes vital worship, Christian community, mission engagement and intentional faith development, each contributing to a life-long growth in Christian discipleship. The team worked from the assumption that there are already many churches keen to be effective in discipling, and sought to tap into and
encourage people’s enthusiasm and energy. “We were intentional in considering discipleship for the 21st century, and exploring the range of resources that would be most helpful for congregations,” Craig continues. Rather than a big budget approach, the KD3 team sought to foster interest in discipling as a ‘grassroots’ movement. A Growing Disciples website, www.growing-disciples.org, Facebook and twitter feed were developed to help resource churches. The team gave emphasis to resources that addressed the radical nature of Jesus’ call to follow him and pattern our lives on his. Resources included Becoming Disciples, a DVD that examines the Gospel of Mark through a Bible study by Vicky Balabanski and music by Robin Mann. "Practices of
faith" print resources produced by the NSW Synod provided a focus on living as disciples in community. Dave Andrews, creator of the Plan Be DVD, provided a resourcing session at a Presbytery and Synod meeting exploring The Beatitudes as a manifesto for Christian faith and life. A book club, set up at Uniting College and now operating from Pilgrim Uniting Church, has 20 sets of different resource books for congregations to use. Topics include prayer, mission, reconciliation, spirituality, leadership, and the ‘emerging church’. Leadership teams also participated in Welcoming Church workshops, the Train the Trainer event and Pathways in Discipleship workshop, to assist leaders in identifying the strengths and gaps in their processes for growing disciples of all ages.
Key Direction 4: Developing new models The objectives of this key direction were: • To engage in conversations about ‘fresh expressions of church’ • To encourage congregations to engage with people outside the church • To encourage and resource three new and different ‘fresh expressions’ • To encourage and resource three church plants and strategies Team convenor Rev Rob Stoner, Rev Ruthmary Bond, Rev Andrew Robertson and Rev Trevor Whitney embraced the idea of developing new models, defining the team’s direction towards ‘fresh expressions’ of church early on. The team aimed to foster new models of church and assist in the creation of new church plants. They also defined what a fresh expression church is. “A ‘fresh expression’ could be seen to be a group of people who are engaging with God in the world, and with life, faith and spirituality. The group must be intentional, regular and ongoing. It must be a connecting point for people who won’t join a conventional congregation and should offer appropriate worship. In addition the group must be linked to an existing Uniting Church structure,” Rob summarises.
In an attempt to make this definition better understood, the team produced Pendulum, a brochure which gives a brief outline of fresh expressions in South Australia. The Key Direction 4 (KD4) team was also assisted by a fresh expressions research trip undertaken by Rob and Rev Ian Price to the UK. The trip resulted in the publication of Fresh Directions: Developing mission-shaped church and ministry. In 2009, the team allocated funding for the Esther Project, a new model of alternative church focused on Christian storytelling and drama. This was presented at the 2010 Fringe Festival by Rev Sarah Agnew. The team also organised a number of other events, including Re-generate and hosting Dave Male at a Presbytery and Strategic Plan Newsletter
Synod meeting in 2010. Seed funding was made available to congregations to develop ‘Fresh Expression Churches’. Funding was limited, but in 2011 and 2012 the team partnered with Uniting College, Anglican and Lutheran churches to develop a course “Mission-shaped Ministry,” that trained leaders in how to plant and lead a Fresh Expression Church. Of the 26 Fresh Expression Churches established in South Australia in the past five years, 21 are still going strong. Other team members throughout the progression of KD4 were Rev Sarah Agnew, Rev David Hoffman, Di Price and Rev Dr Steve Taylor.
Key Direction 5: Expanding our profile The objectives of this key direction were: • To develop and launch a Uniting Church SA branding campaign • To develop a communications plan for the Uniting Church SA • To develop a coordinated media strategy • To investigate new ways of promoting church ministries • To increase the interactivity of the Uniting Church SA website Focussing on ‘Expanding our profile’, the Key Direction 5 (KD5) team consisted of Jill Freear, Mark Henley, Julie Johinke, Rev Dr Tony Nancarrow, Sarah Urmston, Shannon Short as original team convenor, and Bindy Taylor, who took over the role of convenor in 2012. Initially, the group resourced advertising and promotional campaigns from churches globally to generate ideas for profile raising. A resulting advertising campaign was developed to build awareness and increase goodwill amongst the general public with people aged 35 to 50 as the primary focus. The team commissioned a survey to determine public awareness and perceptions of the Uniting Church SA. The survey found that 92% of people
had heard of the Uniting Church in SA but identified awareness by SA’s younger population as “slipping.” A dynamic and reenergised version of the Uniting Church logo was created and continues to be actively used - the logo is "Uniting Church. Uniting People." The Uniting Church. Uniting People. campaign symbol “&” was utilised to connect the church with the community. Each Uniting Church. Uniting People. campaign focused on a theme pertinent to the SA community. The first theme focussed on loneliness and social isolation, particularly at Christmas time. The team also produced a ‘welcoming church’ guide to assist congregations with newcomers to the church. A television advertisement was produced
to highlight the issue of loneliness and promote the Uniting Church as a church that listens, cares and builds community. A free booklet titled 100 ways to spend quality time with your kids accompanied the TV advertisement. Uniting People banners were erected around South Australia (60 in total). The team created another new booklet at Christmas time, 100 ways to celebrate Christmas. The final campaign launched in 2012 was CommUnity Day. This provided a two-edged opportunity to celebrate the Uniting Church in SA turning 35 and to publicise the work of Uniting Churches in the community. CommUnity Day is now an ongoing project that will be celebrated every year on and around June 22.
Key Direction 6: Championing Justice The objectives of this key direction were: • To develop and resource new social justice communities • To resource ministries with marginalised groups • To increase the church’s capacity to engage and respond to justice issues The Key Direction 6 (KD6) team members were Deanna Howland, Rev Jenni Hughes, Rev Ian Hunter, Charlene Kent, Peter Russell, Rev Michaela Tiller, Kate Tretheway and Team Convenor, Rev Peter McDonald. In the initial planning stages, the KD6 ‘Championing Justice’ team identified five objectives that they hoped to achieve. They wanted to develop ways to actively seek relationships with marginalised people; to encourage solidarity with practical action to support South Australian Congress and Aboriginal people; to develop a theological and practical response to environmental issues; to develop strategies for a united Uniting Church in Australia; to promote local ‘grassroots’ interaction between specified international partner churches and the Uniting Church in SA. In 2008, the team offered funding to assist in developing and establishing
new justice partnerships, keen to work in partnership with local congregations, faith communities, schools and agencies. In 2010, the KD6 team approved funding for The J Project, a new youth and social justice initiative which was developed in partnership with Pilgrim Uniting Church and based at the University of Adelaide. In 2011, the team provided scholarships for people interested in undertaking justice training or work experience. The following are snapshots of other projects which received financial support from the KD6 team in the past five years. Operation kitchen face-lift: A grant provided the Congress kitchen with a 'facelift,' making it a modern, functional facility. Food for thought: At UnitingCare Kapunda, volunteers regularly came across people in need of food. A grant was used
to run workshops that taught low income earners the basics of healthy cooking, utilising home-grown vegetables from a local community garden. Reconciliation morning tea: A grant enabled the Lower Murray Uniting Churches, who had long desired to be in covenant with the local Aboriginal people, to train volunteers and provide morning teas. This was done in conjunction with the local TAFE who were struggling financially to provide the Ngarrindjeri language class with refreshments. Other projects which received funding included: Gawler UCare, Salisbury Centacare, Welcome to Australia and the Cottage Kitchen at Port Adelaide.
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Adare Uniting Church Adjacent to Uniting Venue’s Adare Camp and Caravan Park in Victor Harbor, Adare Uniting Church lies 83 kilometres south of Adelaide. The church was originally established in the mid-1950s as a Methodist church, and has had a lively history. The current Adare Uniting Church hosts a healthy congregation of approximately 125 people. The church’s mission is in renewing lives and growing disciples of Christ, and this has been a focus for Rev Ian Kitto, who is in his seventh year as minister of Adare. The congregation has a vision of being a family of Jesus Christ’s disciples, empowered by his love, obedient to his commands and seeking to be like Christ to others. These things are expressed and lived through the work that the people at Adare undertake when ministering to the local community. Their outreaches include the growing Men’s Shed ministry, the Love Quilts craft group, work parties to assist in bushfire recovery, help for locals in need, and aid to people in isolated station country through the Frontier Services Outback Links.
Another key feature of Adare is their music ministry. Although many in the congregation class themselves as “mature age,” they have an enormous energy and vitality that is expressed in their singing – from traditional choir to contemporary worship songs.
What is God doing at Adare?
God is at work in the inclusive attitude of people who make their home at Adare. The congregation is able to accept and involve people with a wide range of theologies. They seek to care for those who become too frail to attend regular worship by offering tapes, CDs or DVDs of each church service. For more information visit the Adare website:
Adare congregation members painting Bullyaninnie Homestead (near Oodlawirra in SA) as part of Frontier Services Outback Links
Inside Adare Uniting Church
Adare minister, Rev Ian Kitto
Adare Men's Shed with Dean Wickham (left) and John Mardell (right) working on a wooden canoe
g e t t i n g t o k n ow. . .
Adelaide West Uniting Church Adelaide West Uniting Church was established in 2002 as a result of the merger of Brooklyn Park Uniting Church, Holder Memorial Uniting Church, West Richmond Uniting Church and Torrensville Uniting Church. The church was built on the grounds of the old Salesian College playing fields at Brooklyn Park. Adelaide West offers a number of different services, all of which are well-attended. An average of 120 people can usually be found at the traditional 9.15am Sunday service, followed by approximately 180 people at the Sunday family service at 10.45am. A 6pm service on Sunday nights caters to young adults with approximately 50 attending most weeks. Adelaide West also features a small, progressive mid-week Christianity service and a mid-week healing service. Adelaide West’s Senior Minister is newly appointed Rev Rod Dyson. The church also has a visitation Pastor, Rev Norm Scrimshaw; Youth Pastor, John Harris; Lorraine Schroder as Children and Family Pastor; and Suzi Cousins as Office and Event Coordinator. Adelaide West is known as a popular event venue – each year they host the three South Australian Presbytery and Synod meetings. There are also many other conferences, meetings and training sessions held in the space, which seats 450 people comfortably.
What is God doing at Adelaide West?
The church is home to a rich diversity of people who have different theologies, cultural backgrounds and worship styles. Adelaide West believes God is holding together this diversity, building a community of love and support.
God is also enabling a skilled and diverse music ministry whilst discipling occurs through the many small groups that attend the church. This includes discipling children and youth through vibrant and enthusiastic leadership. God is also active in engaging the wider community through Adelaide West’s youth events, the Mainly Music program, its ongoing work in schools and its service to the wider church as a hospitable meeting venue.
Hopes for the future?
Adelaide West has an exciting outlook for the future which involves growing mature disciples of Christ from birth to old age. Despite being a quite recently established church, Adelaide West houses a wide spectrum of age groups – nurturing the faith of people from babies right through to the elderly. Adelaide West hopes to be a welcoming and hospitable community – reaching out into the wider community that surrounds them, including developing a closer working relationship with Uniting College. They would like to help resource other Uniting Churches in the western suburbs and run more discipling and education programs. Current community programs include Mainly Music, City Youth, an annual spring fair, a men’s choir and an annual pasty bake. For more information visit the Adelaide West website:
Worship leaders at the November 2012 Presbytery and Synod Metting, held at Adelaide West
Adelaide West's new minister, Rev Rod Dyson The colourful Adelaide West building on Sir Donald Bradman Drive
The life of a Rural Rev Rev Matthew Carratt
n July 2009, my wife and I loaded our three-month old into the car and made the 650 kilometre journey from Adelaide to the Eyre Peninsula. I had accepted the call as a ‘Rural Rev’, serving the people of the Lock and Cummins Districts amongst the Western Eyre Uniting congregations. Having a background in city-based youth ministry, this was a major shift in lifestyle and focus. Some of my younger friends, whilst encouraging of the adventure ahead, were a little puzzled that we were moving all the way “out there.” There was, perhaps, a sense that the rural church was in decline, and that my investment would be better spent amongst the larger population of the city. My experience on the ground has highlighted that there is a huge amount of life left in rural South Australia. I have discovered that, while every community is unique, there are definite pockets of the church that are growing. Our Yeelanna congregation is an encouraging example of this with its regular gathering of of over 40 children and youth, and a Sunday School bursting at the seams. Beyond Sunday mornings, there are some exciting ventures in local mission taking place. In Cummins the XRoad kids club is now in its fifth year, connecting with up to 75 primary-aged children as they discover God’s love for them through music, teaching,
craft and lots of fun. Alongside this, over 55 mums from the local community have been connected through our Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group, which is led by a team from across the denominations. The Good News is being spread through word and strengthened relationships. There is a special bond which ties rural communities together and unless you have had the opportunity to live in the country, it is difficult to fully appreciate how special this is. Waving to each other on the road is common practice on the Eyre Peninsula, and a trip to the local shops takes much longer than anticipated as meeting people you know is inevitable. When major issues come up in the community, people will rally together to support those in need. There are also some very real challenges for the rural church. While congregations decline in both city and rural contexts, many rural communities additionally face a decline in their overall population. Young people tend to migrate out of the district, with only a small percentage remaining in or returning to the area. Those who remain are often involved in multiple aspects of running the local community alongside the church. Distances between communities can make resourcing rural ministry a
challenge, and finances can sometimes be an issue in areas where income is dependent on rainfall. These challenges can be turned into opportunities, helping the church reassess priorities and seeing many people move into roles that they may not have previously considered. There is never a dull moment in my role as a rural minister, with plenty of diverse opportunities to take part in what God is doing. From conversations on a tractor to leading ecumenical services in a shed, I have found myself in many unique places alongside some inspiring people of faith.
These experiences led me to begin a daily project in November 2011, â€œA Year in the Life of a Rural Rev.â€? The project was uploaded to Facebook and has offered an encouraging snapshot of rural life and ministry. Further photos are available for viewing online at
1. Day 354 Service of thanksgiving at Yelanna Uniting 2. Day 249 Ecumenical Picnic Service amongst the machinery of Lock Museum 3. Day 276 30th birthday party - with a carrot theme 4. Day 100 Centenary team planning and promotion at Western Eyre Uniting Church Cummins Ministry Centre. 5. Day 352 Farm visit 6. Day 346 Shooting a Christmas play 7. Day 17 Being a morning volunteer at the spectacular Christmas Wonderland 8. Day 126 Good Friday service at Yeelanna 9. Day 55 Catching up with fellow Ministers and families at Thuruna 10. Day 4 Packed house at Yeelanna for a Sunday School presentation 11. Day 16 The harvest is plentiful - out for a header ride with Pete
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Camp marks 50 years Margaret Manuel
Campsite coordinators and local farmers, Margaret and Trevor March, on the grounds at Emmaus. The site has two bunkhouses and a leader’s cottage that are able to house up to 47 people altogether.
estled in native scrubland, Emmaus Campsite at Halbury is about to celebrate 50 years of dedicated service to the Christian community. The campsite, which is situated 100 km north of Adelaide, has marked Sunday 14 April for a full day of celebration at the location. The site has a rich history, hosting hundreds of camps and witnessing the conversion of many young people. The Emmaus campsite has its roots in the early days of Australia’s Methodist Church. The idea for the campsite came about in 1958 and the church approached a number of Sunday Schools and youth organisations within the district to raise money for the proposed youth campsite. Four years later, a site had been found and the church asked Balaklava District Council for permission to lease some parkland in Halbury. This was approved and construction soon began. By April 1963, requests were sent throughout the district asking for financial and practical
assistance to complete the build of the campsite. In June 1963, the campsite was officially opened with a day of celebration involving competitive sports, a picnic lunch, a dedication service, a barbeque tea and a rally held by the Methodist Youth Fellowship at the Halbury Hall. The 50th anniversary celebration will in some ways echo the activities of that opening day. Celebrations will begin with a morning service at 10.30am followed by a shared lunch. During the afternoon, children’s activities will be offered leading up to a barbeque tea and a 6pm evening service. Rev Brant Jones will lead the two services on the day. Long-time coordinators of the Emmaus site, Margaret and Trevor March said they were excited to be part of the 50th birthday celebrations. They have invited anyone who has had a connection with the campsite to “come and help celebrate this significant milestone.”
For more information contact Margaret March: p. 8862 1338 m. 0428 621 339
Emmaus Halbury Campsite: 50th Anniversary Celebration Where: Emmaus Campsite in Halbury, near Balaklava When: Sunday 14 April What: Morning service at 10:30am, followed by shared lunch; evening service at 6pm, preceded by a barbeque tea Who: Anyone who has an interest in or a connection with the Emmaus Campsite
diary PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION called ‘Out and About 1’ by artist Rev Mark Hewitt. The exhibition, which features photographs taken all around the beautiful state of South Australia, opened in February and will run until the end of March. It is open Tuesday to Friday, 10am-3pm at The Corner Uniting Church, 93 Oaklands Rd, Warradale. Proceeds to help resource worship project, ‘A Thin Place.’ STILLPOINT LENT RETREAT will offer the opportunity to reflect on Lent in the light of our experience below the equator. What richness and opportunity presents itself by having Lent in autumn? What themes and invitations of the season guide us further along the path of discipleship? Choose to come to Stillpoint’s autumn Lenten Reflection on Friday 8 March or Saturday 16 March, from 9:30am-4pm each day. These are self-led retreat days. Materials for reflection are provided. Alternatively, we can send you the information for you to reflect in your own time and space. Please contact Stillpoint for further information at email@example.com or on 8178 0048. WELLSPRING SA PICNIC with special guest and keynote speaker, Jan Sutch Pickard. There will be a shared BBQ on Saturday 16 March, 12pm at Karinya Park, corner of Shepherds Hill Rd and Northcote Rd, Eden Hills. Please bring a salad or dessert to share, your own drinks and chairs, and a donation towards the extra food costs. Meat, bread and sauce will be provided. If you are interested in attending or have further enquiries, please contact Lynona on 8278 3870. RAINBOW EASTER SERVICE. An Easter service at which gay and lesbian people are especially welcome will be held on Easter Eve, Saturday 30 March at 5.00pm at Semaphore Uniting Church next to the Exeter Hotel on Semaphore Road. The service will be followed by a shared dinner. All welcome. Enquiries to Rev Ian Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org To have your upcoming event or message published here, email email@example.com with ‘Diary’ in the subject line.
A gift to the Church’s future Graham Watts
he Uniting Church has pioneered many social and environmental changes in the past. Recently, many within the church have been concerned about energy usage and our impact on the environment with regard to this. St Anthony’s Catholic Church in Edwardstown has recently proven that the Uniting Church is not the only denomination looking towards a greener future. The building recently acquired solar panels, and these have been placed in the shape of a cross on its roof. There are two obvious meanings to be interpreted in such a display – that the group is active in its faith and in its care for the environment. There are other benefits beyond the kind of message that this symbol sends to the community – solar panels are an ongoing saving into the future. With many churches in South Australia struggling to find funds and balance budgets, the use of solar panels is an excellent way to cut present and future costs. The catch in this sort of project lies in where to obtain the money now, to save money in the future. The Marion/Warradale Uniting Church congregation have encountered this very problem as they are redeveloping and attempting to establish a solar panel project within their church. The members of the congregation are generous but money remains thin on the ground. Although many of us are blessed with more than we need daily, we don’t always use the excess to act as good stewards. Considering investing in a solar panel project at your church is one way that this money could be used wisely, as the future savings make it a ‘gift that keeps on giving.’ If you are interested in developing a solar panel project in your own church, consider contacting your church council.
letters to the editor Discouraging Dinka decision Some years ago now, the Dinka people of the Sudan were forced to flee their homeland by their own government, with support from northern Islamic interests. Australia, and in this case South Australia, welcomed these impressive people to our state. An unwanted church, Cornerstone, became a possible Centre of Dinka Culture and Worship. Until that is, the S.A. Synod sold the building to an Islamic group. Regardless of the political ramifications, what an appalling decision. Tony and Di Price, Modbury
Praying for action While reading the latest issue (February 2013) of New Times, I see significant evidence of the wonderful role played by the Uniting Church in social services in Australia, from Frontier Services in the outback to city care missions. I understand that the Uniting Church has the greatest social care outreach of any of the major denominations which is highly commendable. But what I see in relation to the disastrous bushfires are stories of the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Some years ago while serving in the kitchen during a Kairos short course on Christianity in Mobilong Prison, a helper received a phone call that someone had lit a fire near her farm at Balaklava and it was racing towards her home. We gathered together and prayed that the wind would change or stop, it would rain or the fire fighters would bring the fire under control. Later in the day she heard that the fire fighters had controlled the fire before it reached buildings or livestock. Later in the day, Neil Pontifer, who was directing the course inside the prison, heard on the phone that an intense fire was heading for his farm and crops, near Vivonne Bay. Again we gathered in prayer. Later on, Neil received a phone call from his manager, a new Christian, saying “If ever I needed evidence that God is real and answers prayer, I saw it today.” When the fire front approached the farm, the wind changed and the fire did not enter the property. Brian C. Jefferies, Myrtle Bank
Send your letters to: firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 2145, Adelaide 5001. Be topical, be brief, be timely. Letters over 150 words will be edited; responses to previous letters /articles will be considered within two months of the original item’s publication only. All letters are published at the editorial team’s discretion.
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Contributor call-out In the recent New Times readership survey, a majority of people identified a desire for more news from local
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congregations, personal stories about journeys to faith, and letters. We have always been open to submissions from
people in the wider church. As we do not have a huge array of journalists writing for us, most contributions come from people within or connected to the wider Uniting Church in South Australia. If you would like to submit an article or pitch an idea for publication in New Times, we want to hear from you! Please send all submissions and enquiries to: e. firstname.lastname@example.org m. New Times, GPO Box 2145, Adelaide SA 5001 Or contact Editor, Catherine Hoffman on 8236 4230
One Lord, One Hope, One Faith One Church is an exciting example of what church communities can achieve when they join together. Keith resident and Chairman of Elders, Alf Densley, speaks to Bindy Taylor about the exciting initiative that is One Church.
t’s just another Sunday for most, but for the residents of Keith and surrounding districts it is a ‘new beginning’ as the official opening of One Church melds two churches into one. On Sunday 17 February, both Keith Uniting Church and Keith Church of Christ officially closed. On the same day, the congregations of these churches combined to become the new One Church – the inspiration for the name coming from Ephesians 4:4-6, “One Lord, one hope, one faith.” Over the years, the Keith Church of Christ and Keith Uniting Church have forged a great relationship, having worshipped together on the fifth Sunday of
each month for many years. The decision to merge together was a strategic one with both churches sharing a vision to boost their outreach to the community of Keith. “After combining youth groups over the years, and working together in many other community initiatives, the decision to unite made perfect sense,” comments One Church Chairman of Elders, Alf Densley. “As a small country community we were already connected outside of Sunday services. As churches, our differences were only small. Now as a larger gathering we can encourage each other as a Christian family.” The 17 February event was attended by people of both congregations, as well
as Uniting Church SA Moderator, Rob Williams, who was there to officially launch the new church. So far, One Church has had many encouraging meetings and Alf is positive about God’s presence in the new venture. “The small hurdles that have presented themselves along the path to the formation have been dropping away as God’s timing and guidance become increasingly evident”. One Church is a positive and refreshing example of two functioning churches prayerfully working together to outreach into the local community as one.
Uniting Church SA Moderator, Rob Williams (left) with Church of Christ State Minister, Dr Greg Elsdon, Uniting Church minister, Pastor Ron Heir, and Church of Christ minister, Rev Ray Fitzpatrick (left to right) in front of the new One Church sign.
Getting the message
A spiritual guidebook
Book: Reading the Bible for All the Wrong Reasons
Book: Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life
Author: Russell Pregeant Recommended for: People who are new to faith and want to understand how the Bible needs to be read, and for people who are questioning the contradictions within it and seeking answers In short: Pregeant argues that the Bible speaks “as human testimonies to human experiences of the divine” and that it cannot be read literally, but is a book about people’s journey with God. Available from: amazon.com, bookdepository.com RRP: $16.99
Author: Richard Rohr Recommended for: Anyone seeking clarity about the spiritual path In short: Examines the whole of the spiritual journey from first steps through to long-term pilgrims. Available from: MediaCom RRP: $24.95
Through clear explanations, Pregeant demonstrates the issues that arise when the Bible is read for all the wrong reasons – as is suggested by the book’s title. This book gives examples of the ambiguities and outright contradictions which make it difficult to determine one ‘right’ answer. Pregeant acknowledges that there are many different ways of interpreting the Bible, something that is influenced by the differing perspectives of readers. He suggests that, when reading the Bible, it is important to ask appropriate questions about the material within it in order to avoid abuse of the text. Early chapters examine the topics of the authority of the Bible, and the many ways that it can be read. His later chapter on science and religion is discussed in a way that allows the two to interact. He notes that science “is not equipped to ask whether a divine purpose is at work in the process” but that Christians have a right to reflect on God’s acts without feeling threatened by scientific suggestions. The chapter on prophecy feels very timely at present. Pregeant examines the ways in which the prophecies of the Old Testament can be read, examining how these fit in with present day lives. The book concludes with a discussion of “life in the Spirit.” Pregeant doesn’t hold punches and acknowledges that living a Spirit-filled life is not always easy. He notes the differences between putting others first and being a doormat; about knowing when to let go of your own rights and when to stand up for justice. We need to be grasped by the Bible witness rather than grasp and control its message. Anna Grant-Henderson
Ever read a book and then found yourself unexpectedly quoting it to others in conversation? This was one of those books for me. In Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, Father Richard Rohr offers an insightful and frankly captivating account of the spiritual journey, both from his own experience and also from the common human story. Unpacking what Rohr means by the “Two Halves” of life is the key to understanding his book. By necessity, we all begin in the first half. It is there that we embark on meaning-making as we discover ourselves in a complex world. We largely look to others for guidance and support as we are formed and re-formed. The second half is altogether different. This is that part of life when we begin to let go of our external prescriptions on belief and life, forming instead our identity from a deep core. We begin to realise that “success” in life is not about having more, and that we all have flaws. It is here that Rohr offers his most insightful, and potentially most resisted, message. It is precisely in the second half of life that we begin to realise the most profound of Christian truths – it is our flaws and our falling down that actually become our greatest tools for spiritual growth. Falling Upward is not about denying the self or punishing one's failings, but growing through them and coming to see God's careful handling of our whole journey. A joy to read and a pleasure to recommend! John Hughes
Can you lend a helping hand? In the November 2012 edition of New Times, an article titled ‘From drug addict to deacon’ profiled Albert Patrizi. The story touched a chord with many people, as was noted in the New Times survey feedback – his is a story that encourages and inspires, it is also a story that continues to grow. However, Albert is currently facing a new challenge as he attempts to move into the area of ministry to which he feels called – prison chaplaincy.
“I came to Christ in jail after all my closest friends had overdosed or committed suicide,” Albert says in the November article. “I was in a fairly dark place. I’d been a drug addict and criminal up to that point, and I just sort of said, ‘Okay God, I’ve done it my way all my life – I’ll give you a go.’” Since that time, Albert has gone from strength to strength. He was greatly assisted by the Kairos program – both inside and outside the walls of the prison – and eventually recognised a call to enter into ministry. Albert has been volunteering at Yatala Prison since completing a Supervised Field Education placement in 2012. Having also completed his theological studies at Uniting College last year, Albert was presented to be affirmed for Minister of Deacon at the November 2012 Presbytery and Synod Meeting, Albert now feels called to move into prison chaplaincy full-time. “Many prisoners don’t have consistency in their lives,” Albert comments. “While programs run through Kairos and other groups provide important services, they are not always able to provide regularity. The times volunteers are able to come to prison may vary, and the people who come to see them may be different each time.”
“By going into a placement as a chaplain in prisons like Yatala and Mobilong, I would be able to more readily build rapport,” Albert continues. “Things in prisons often escalate quickly – I could be there for these people in their times of need and offer hope when they have hit rock bottom.” The unique position that Albert holds, having experienced the prison system from the inside, makes him an ideal candidate for the role of prison chaplain. “Guys listen to what I have to say. They know that I understand where they are coming from and so are more receptive to hearing what I have to communicate.” Albert is ready to be ordained as a Deacon within the Uniting Church, subject to funding for a position as a prison chaplain becoming available. At present, there is no such funding. Approximately $44,000 is required for Albert to be able to become an ordained 0.5 (FTE) prison chaplain. Fundraising began earlier this year – Kairos has given $10,000 and other support groups, congregations and individuals have also been generous. However, more financial support is still needed. If this is a cause you feel passionate about, please consider donating funds to the ‘UCA Relief Fund – Prison Chaplaincy.’ Donations are tax deductible and 100% of funds will go directly to prison chaplaincy. To donate by credit card, go online to sa.uca.org.au/pastoralrelations/uniting-church-sa-relief-fund To donate by cheque, send to Uniting Church SA Relief Fund – Prison Chaplaincy, GPO Box 2145, Adelaide SA 5001