Issue 38 No 6
December 2019 // January 2020
S REFLECTION IVITY ON OUR CAPT RISM p8 to CONSUME THE ART of 13 LISTENING p
Contents FEATURES Synod 2019 – A time to connect..................................................... 6 Free of contract. Free of charge...................................................... 8 Being On Board.....................................................................................10 The art of listening...............................................................................13
REGULAR PAGES Note from the Editor............................................................................ 3 Message from the Moderator.......................................................... 4 Message from the General Secretary........................................... 5 Getting to know.....................................................................................10 News snippets...................................................................................... 16 The Bible says . . . but what does it mean?.................................17 Uniting College news......................................................................... 19 Out & About..........................................................................................20 Diary…………………………………………………………………………............................... 22 Letters to the Editor........................................................................... 23
The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of South Australia
Editor: Petronella Lowies Sub-editor: Wendy Perkins Advertising: Communications Design: Thaddeus Brady Print: Graphic Print Group
Cover photo: Courtesy of Pilgrim Uniting Church
For editorial inquiries: p. 08 8236 4230 e. firstname.lastname@example.org m. The Editor, New Times GPO Box 2145 Adelaide SA 5001 For advertising bookings: p. 08 8236 4260 e. email@example.com
ISSN 0726-2612 New Times is the voice of Uniting Church in SA. Published bi-monthly, February through December, New Times represents the breadth, diversity and vision of Uniting Church members in SA. Articles and advertising do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Times Editorial team. Print circulation: 7700 Synod of South Australia Level 2, 212 Pirie St, Adelaide p. (08) 8236 4200 f. 8236 4201 country callers. 1300 766 956 Deadline for the February / March 2020 edition: Friday 17 January 2020 Cover details: International Masters in Social Work students Wen, Didi and Fargana (Tanya) are at Pilgrim Uniting Church in a Community Development field placement. Pilgrim UC is one of several Uniting Church congregations which participate in this mutually beneficial program with Flinders University. Read more on page 13.
PLACEMENTS NEWS Placements finalised as at 28 August 2019 Rev Christa Megaw (0.8) to Henley Fulham UC from 1 January 2020.
Vacant placements The following is the list of vacant (or soon to be vacant) approved placements: PROFILES AVAILABLE – Flinders Congregations (0.6): Booleroo Centre UC / Booleroo Whim UC / Melrose UC / Wirrabara UC / Wilmington UC; Lighthouse UC (Port Pirie); Loxton UC / Renmark UC / Renmark West from 1 January 2020; Para Hills UC (0.4); Port Augusta UC (0.5); Prospect Road UC (0.5); South West Fleurieu (0.5): Delamere UC / Inman Valley UC / Myponga UC / Range Road UC / Yankalilla UC. PROFILES NOT YET AVAILABLE - Mannum UC (0.3); Adelaide Plains Community Church (Joint CoC/UCA)(0.4) Hamley Bridge, Owen and Windsor; The Grove UC (0.3); Bridgewater UC (0.5); Newland UC (0.7).
Ordination and induction services Induction of Rev Alison Whish at Unley UC - 10 December at 7:00pm. For more information about any of these placements, please visit sa.uca.org.au/pastoral-relations-mission-planning/placementsvacant-and-finalised
NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
Mood-lifting (and where to find it) One of my favourite lines from a song has to be from “Friday I’m in love” by The Cure. …It's a wonderful surprise to see your shoes and your spirits rise… It invokes images of someone whose strut changes with their lifting mood – a whole-body transformation that is visible to everyone in their vicinity. When I think of the difference in mood between this recent Synod meeting and the few that preceded it, that line comes to mind. There was a rising in spirits – a clear feeling that everyone is looking forward to whatever the future may hold and that they just want to get on with the job. You could see it in the way they looked at each other, hear it in the buzz of conversation. Maybe it’s the prospect of something new one can look forward to: just like when you engage in some ‘retail therapy’ – that lifting of the mood (however fleeting that may be) as you become the proud owner of a new pair of shoes, or gadget, or car, or holiday package. If you are reading this, I’m sure you would already know that our happiness doesn’t lie in the things we can buy, no matter how good ‘retail therapy’ might make you feel. But materialistic things don’t have the monopoly on ‘new things’. There is a wealth of intangibles that can all be classified as new: some come in the form of challenges or skills, others as friends or simply a new way of doing something. For me, Christmas is one of those intangible things. It’s all the intangible ‘trimmings’ of Christmas that always get me. I dance to cheesy, commercial Christmas tunes, I belt out carols and decorate the house with strings of light and nativity scenes, I soak in the atmosphere of love, look forward to the joy of giving and I marvel at the reason for all of this – our Saviour’s birth. Of course I also miss absent relatives but think of them with fondness – those recently gone and those separated by distance. None of this is new, apart from a habit to try to buy gifts (yes, unfortunately I have been sucked into the commercialism of Christmas too) that will give back to those who might never have
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Part of the reason I love the Christmas festivities is because it spells birthday time for me too. Here I am at 12, with a Christmas decoration photo-bombing the picture.
what I do in materialistic terms. Among the pages of this edition you may find an idea or two about how to do that. All our congregations and associated organisations provide opportunities to get involved with people in our communities and beyond who are in need of practical help, generous hearts and open minds. Fill up a trolley with non-perishable goods and donate it through your local congregation or charity agency; go and spend some time in an aged-care facility with someone who has no family left to care for them; invite a lonely neighbour over for Christmas dinner or support the Christmas Bowl. This Christmas (or in the New Year, if you feel that’s where new things fit), get involved and find a new way to let your shoes and your spirits rise. Have a very blessed Christmas and an inspiring New Year.
MESSAGE FROM THE MODERATOR
It’s all about connecting
Making real connections at the Synod meeting.
It was heartening to see so many people connecting during the recent Synod meeting and associated events. Around 300 people came to share, celebrate and make decisions over four days in November. The Synod meeting was not just about business – it was also about us showing how we can be the Church together. And for the first time, those who were not able to attend the Installation Service of the Moderator could connect with it through live streaming technology and feel like they had a “front row seat”. Through our worship and Bible studies, inspirationally led by Craig Bailey, we learned of the joys of making real connections, lamented the loss of some existing connections, and wished for those connections not yet made. During the meeting we passed all proposals before us, some with little discussion, while others were grappled with in working groups and worked on by the Facilitation Team before being brought to the full meeting for decision. From my position sitting at the front of the meeting, it seemed to me that there was an atmosphere of unity – embodying the Uniting Church – and a desire to support those who brought proposals. My thinking has turned to reflection on what agreeing to proposals means for all of us – not only for those who presented the proposals or are named as taking an action – but for all of us in the Uniting Church in SA. Our first action is the raising of orange cards in support of a proposal. It then becomes a decision of the meeting and we all have a responsibility to put the words into action. Some proposals request the Moderator and General Secretary to do certain things, while others, such as the decision to form new presbyteries, affect all of us in some way. As well as praying for those who are implementing the decisions of the Synod meeting, we can all consider how to help in the fulfilment of the decisions. If the Moderator is asked to write a letter to a
Bronte Wilson at his Installation Service at Brougham Place Uniting Church on Wednesday 13 November. Photos: Winaya Kamaputri
As well as praying for those who are implementing the decisions of the Synod meeting, we can all consider how to help in the fulfilment of the decisions. politician, we can all write supporting letters. When we agree to the establishment of new presbyteries, we can consider how we can offer our time and gifts in a meaningful way. As we celebrate the season of Advent, a time of joy and reflection, I ask you to think about who you might connect and share with in this time of festivity. Make the most of opportunities that come before you and you may be surprised to find what grows from them. As the angels shared the good news with the shepherds, so may we share the good news with those around us. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” – Luke 2:10 Blessings,
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MESSAGE FROM THE GENERAL SECRETARY
The journey of discerning future priorities
Felicity speaks to members of the Synod at the 2019 Synod Annual Meeting.
As life in our two Synod office buildings returns to its regular rhythm, as members of congregations pick up their life and witness activities and as ministry agents re-engage with their roles and responsibilities, the Annual Meeting of the 2019 Synod begins to feel like a distant memory. We will need to work hard to pass on the transformative conversations we shared, important proposals where we found consensus and the commitments we made to nurture interconnected communities of love. I want to join the Moderator Mr Bronte Wilson and the Associate General Secretary Rev Sue Page in thanking all those who attended and participated in the Synod gathering. The food was good, the spaces served us well, and the worship and Bible studies were restorative. Receiving reports in smaller groups allowed a depth of conversation and engagement not previously experienced. Two opportunities to engage in working groups, on Presbytery Structures and Sovereignty, produced positive discussion, healthy engagement and helpful questions. While not everyone finds meetings inspiring, we hope there was opportunity for your representatives to experience a sense of connectedness to the wider community of the Church here in South Australia and to return home with a story to share. During the gathering we began the journey of thinking about strategic priorities for the next few years. Recognising that we never stop listening and responding to the voice and vision of God’s plan for the world, our primary goal remains to bear witness to the transforming love and grace of Jesus the Christ, who shapes our life and purpose. However, at the Synod meeting we were also reminded that the primary functions of the Synod’s work include encouragement and resourcing the mission of congregations and other ministries. This is made possible through the provision of education and training, stewardship of finance and property resources and the management of placements. At the meeting I encouraged people to share in small groups about how they had experienced the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan.
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87 sticky notes were stuck to the back wall of Adelaide West Uniting Church’s auditorium, each sharing a Synod member’s experience of the 2014-2018 Strategic Plan. Photos: Winaya Kamaputri
We were reminded that the primary functions of the Synod’s work include encouragement and resourcing the mission of congregations and other ministries. It was helpful to hear, through the 87 sticky notes attached to the back wall of the meeting space, the variety of experiences and levels of engagement, which can be loosely shared in three categories. The perennial challenges around communication, blocks to implementation and issues to do with consultation and trust, were noted. More positively people took the opportunity to share some of the great things that are happening in their congregations. People attributed their inspiration for a new indigenous garden, their renewed focus on hospitality, church planting, community kitchens and cafe church, to the Plan. Finally there was documentation of growth in key areas of the Plan. People shared about a growth in the multi-cultural space, lots of justice work, consultancies, forums and training that birthed opportunities for evangelism and discipleship, better use of buildings and leadership development. The feedback was encouraging and provided a great place to begin our journey of discernment about where our priorities need to be in the next few years. I look forward to future conversations with the many ministries that respond to God’s invitation to be communities of love, shaped by Jesus and inspired and nurtured through the gift of the Spirit to the world.
Rev Felicity Amery
Photo: Petronella Lowies Pastor Julia Lennon was commissioned as a Bush Chaplain with Frontier Services.
Synod 2019 – A time to connect Petronella Lowies Over three days in November members of the Synod of South Australia once again came together to steer the business of being the Church. We installed a new Moderator, listened to and voted on a number of proposals, reported back on the work of several committees and organisations (through a number of elective sessions), thanked and honoured those who had served us in ministry and other ways, launched books and booklets and themes, commissioned a Bush Chaplain, voted people into positions and worshipped together. But most of all, we connected.
duties as Moderator, a position in which she served for the past three years. Pastor Julia Lennon was commissioned as a Bush Chaplain with Frontier Services. Friends performed a song at her commissioning service. Julia will be serving the vast region east of the Stuart Highway.
Every morning the meeting was led in Bible study by Craig Bailey with a focus on connections as gleaned from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: connecting with our triune God, living the connected life and being a community of connection - with the land, the world and people (see the Oct/Nov 2019 edition of New Times for an article that scratches the surface Craig’s Bible study). Here is a summary of the meeting’s highlights:
Installation and commissioning The meeting began on Wednesday 13 November at Brougham Place Uniting Church with an evening Installation Service of new Moderator, Mr Bronte Wilson. Rev Sue Ellis was released from her
Posing for a picture with new Moderator Bronte Wilson at his commissioning service are General Secretary Rev Felicity Amery, UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and ex-Moderator Rev Sue Ellis. Photo: Winaya Kamaputri
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Celebrations of service Rev Lynne Aird preached at the Celebration of Ministry Service where three lay preachers were recognised for their long service to the Church: Roger McCauley (50 years) as well as Brian Tugwell and Roger Norris-Green (60 years each). A number of ministers were recognised for 50 years of ordination: Rev Dr Rodger Bassham, Rev Dr Adrian Brown, Rev Richard Carter, Rev Ian Clarkson, Rev Dean Drayton, Rev John Lawrie, Rev Brian Morgan and Rev Robin Trebilcock. The following retiring ministers were recognised for their life in ministry: Rev Rob Brown, Rev Carol Chambers, Rev Ian Lohmeyer, Rev Dr John Lucas, Rev Juleen Villis, Rev Richard Winen, Rev Dr Ian Price and Rev Coral (Cogs) Smith. The Synod Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning Team, who have been integral to the operations of the one Presbytery and Synod in South Australia, were commended and thanked for the service they provided during the existence of the one Presbytery and Synod. The meeting also remembered the ministers who had served the Uniting Church in South Australia and have died during the last year.
The Synod Pastoral Relations and Mission Planning Team members, who have been integral to the operations of the one Presbytery and Synod in South Australia, were commended and thanked for the service they provided during the existence of the one Presbytery and Synod. Photo: Winaya Kamaputri
Proposals heard 14 Proposals were brought to the meeting – all of which were passed. The most notable of these, among others, concerned: • The formation of new presbyteries – SA UAICC was encouraged to work towards becoming a non-geographic Presbytery; and two new geographic presbyteries have been formed (flowing from the Transitional Presbytery which was dissolved at this meeting). • Black deaths in custody and the coroner's inquiry into Mr Wayne Morrison's death. • Better education regarding “Sovereignty through the eyes of First Peoples” and the Uluru Statement from the Heart. • Working Creation Care into the Synod Strategic Plan. • Standing in solidarity with the UAICC regarding a nuclear waste facility in SA. • Considering the mental toll on youth due to concern for climate change. • Establishing community meals in congregations and faith communities.
Initiatives launched A new resource booklet produced by the UCA Assembly called “Good advice for Churches, Congregations and Faith Group ministering in disaster-affected communities” was introduced to the meeting. Copies of the booklet as well as an accompanying DVD, are available from the Synod Office. Contact Wendy Perkins on 8236 4284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The KCO 2020 theme and date were revealed. ‘KCO Connect’ flows out of last year’s theme ‘Welcome: a place to belong’ - after the welcome comes the work of forming connections. KCO will be held on 21-22 March at Adare Camp and Caravan Park Victor Harbor.
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Synod members show off the UCA logos they assembled and exchanged with one another after completion of each component. Photo: Winaya Kamaputri
Free of contract. Free of charge. Reflections on our captivity to consumerism Churchgoing Christians mostly share the attitude of non-religious Australians in believing that beyond health, happiness and relationships, the good life is acquired through the consumption of stuff, experiences and success – not by impacting their world.* New Times asked Rev Sean Gilbert to provide a theological reflection on our captivity to consumerism. For the past six years I have inhabited the strange literary worlds of 12th century French monasticism and the 18th century revivalism of colonial America. As might be imagined, researching a doctoral thesis can readily lead one down a series of dimly lit rabbit holes. However, these repeated encounters of timeless wisdom have been truly illuminating. A case in point is the eloquent writings of Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), whose first-hand experience of God’s grace saturated his practical teachings about the Christian life. One notable scholar summed up Bernard’s teaching about discipleship in this way: In the end, God’s love is not a contract to sign but an embrace to continually receive. As an artistic preacher and writer, Bernard loved word plays on Latin phrasing and in the following quotation from his classic tract, On Loving God, he makes an
Above: The graffiti artist known as Banksy stencilled the crucified Jesus holding shopping bags in 2005, in an effort to criticise consumerism especially over the Christmas period. The melting objects in “Consumer Jesus” represent the ephemeral joy brought by material things.
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FAITH / OPINION
astute observation about the common expressive shape of human desire: “The foolish walk around in circles, naturally wanting whatever will satisfy their desires, yet rejecting that which would lead them to their true end, which is not in consumption but in consummation.”
A consumerism mindset vs the embrace of God Here Bernard is contrasting the everrestless nature of the consumerist mindset we know only too well in 2019, with that of a yearning and yielding heart claimed by the welcoming embrace of God (Psalm 23:1-2). This homecoming offered in and through the love of God, he suggests, is humanity’s truest fulfilment (John 14:1-3), whereas the unsated desire for more and more things simply leads to the want for more and more things! The strength and place of desire remains, though while one is keenly attuned to deeper human needs of love, acceptance
Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behaviour. and self-giving, the other acts in dissonant ways because it is fuelled by anxiety and narrowing self-concern. The philosopher and theologian, James K. A. Smith has helped the contemporary and often culturally conformist Western church to begin to reframe long held assumptions about what makes human beings tick. Far more than just a needy consumer to pitch a clever or persuasive message to, Smith has sought to reclaim
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the biblical and early theological emphasis on the human being as essentially a “lover.": that meaning, a desirous, reaching person shaped in God’s own image and therefore created for the fruit-bearing life of love within community. Accordingly he writes: “Being a disciple of Jesus is not primarily a matter of getting right ideas and doctrines and beliefs into your head in order to guarantee proper behaviour; rather it’s a matter of being the kind of person who loves rightly – who loves God and neighbour and is orientated to the world by the primacy of that love.”
Behold the love, don’t buy it With all this in mind, and particularly at this time of the year when the strong social and political message is to consume even more stuff – or conscientiously “buy and fly” as one American president put it plainly – it initially occurs to me that the church’s own evangelical state of being need not be expressed in separatist terms; that is, a negative critique of culture or a buyout of any sense of buy in! Yet nor do Christian communities need to be compliant with the relentless, cresting waves of consumerism in the quest for social traction or relevance. And here I have in mind the marketing of Jesus as but another ‘tried and true’ product to help ease – as might a magic pill – the dis-ease of our highly transactional world. The wisdom of Bernard and Smith invites another way: that being, the proclamation of Christ’s birth is well placed to address pressing matters of the human heart in its longing relationship to God and the world of God’s making. In other words, the Incarnation can be spoken of and acted upon as a deeply affecting gift of healing love to behold (Luke 2:10) rather than a matter of belief to seize, buy, overthink or even perhaps impose on those unsuspecting bystanders!
…the marketing of Jesus (is not) another ‘tried and true’ product to help ease – as might a magic pill – the dis-ease of our highly transactional world. Furthermore, with the living hope of God’s seeking love in mind, any consumerdriven anxiety we may share in can be progressively absorbed into a greater and lasting peace of heart and mind. For God is enfolding love (1 John 4:16). This noncontractual self-offering continues to be felt deeply within the brokenness and incompleteness of the human experience. As such, its irrepressible force will always break free from any need we may have for a controlled and neat packaging of the Christian story. The embrace of God embodied in Jesus and given through the Spirit can be trusted to have its lifechanging way with us. Free of contract. Free of charge.
Rev Sean Gilbert is Lecturer in Ministry Practice at the Uniting College for Leadership & Theology. He spent over twenty years as a Minister of the Word in congregational ministry within the Uniting Church. Sean’s recently submitted PhD thesis is entitled, ‘Spiritual Affections and the Pastoral Disposition.’ * This is according to a 2019 research report Consumed – The state of Australian consumerism by McCrindle and the website consumed.com.au
BEING ON BOARD A different way to use your gifts and
skills to serve Christ’s mission
At 68, Bruce Spangler AM has been a volunteer on boards of UnitingCare-associated organisations for 9 years. Photo: Petronella Lowies
Petronella Lowies UnitingCare South Australia is the Uniting Church in SA’s hands and feet when it comes to delivering community care, aged care, health care and education. It connects with a network of 23 separate organisations (eight of them being schools and colleges) that supports the vulnerable and helps educate the leaders of tomorrow. Its work is guided and governed by volunteer boards. Right now, UnitingCare is looking for capable people who can represent the Uniting Church on the boards of their associated organisations and schools. Every board needs a mix of ages, influences and skills that can contribute to the wellbeing of an organisation. Bringing skills and experience to being a board member is just one way in which a person may be able to play a part in the life and mission of Christ’s Church. Karen Hunt is a wonderful example of someone who is using her gifts to help improve the quality of life of countless people she may never meet. Before hitting the ripe young age of 40, Karen has already served six years as a board member of UnitingSA, one of UnitingCare SA’s associated organisations. Bruce Spangler AM has so much experience (nearly 30 years)
serving on and chairing boards, both not-for-profit and commercial, that he has developed a reputation as a ‘fixer’. The first board he served on and eventually chaired was that of Prince Alfred College, his alma-mater. He too joined well before he was 40 and has since held positions with Seymour College also. Bruce currently chairs the board of Annesley College, but is likely best known among sporting circles as President of the Adelaide 36ers and Chair of Adelaide Lightning. We asked Karen and Bruce a few questions about their experiences as board members.
Why did you join the board? Karen: “Like most people I thought that serving on a board is something you do later in life, when you have gained lots of life experience. But I was tapped on the shoulder and encouraged to apply back in 2013. By then I had worked at UniSA for a few years and I missed being involved in a not-for-profit organisation with a focus on community services and disability.” Bruce: “I lost both my parents when I was fairly young and Prince
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GETTING TO KNOW
Karen speaks at the UnitingSA branding event in 2018, when UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide changed their name and brand to UnitingSA. Established 100 years ago, this notfor-profit UnitingCare associated organisation now helps over 16,000 people every year. Photo: Cath Leo
Alfred College had been good to me. I was quite young when they asked me to join the board and I guess I did because of that reason. I had just gone into a new business at the time and I felt that yes, I can help here. I think you really can influence the lives of a lot of people.”
What is your skills background? Karen: “I studied Behavioural Science with a strong emphasis on disability and psychology. My working life started in the Uniting
Church which gave me good insight into its workings. I also worked in the Barossa in roles that involved community health and mental health before I started working at UniSA where currently I am the Deputy Director of Student Engagement.” Bruce: “I’m a chartered accountant who has been fortunate enough to serve on several national and international boards in that profession. It gave me a great deal of experience in how boards operate and what they need to work well. I have since sold out of the accounting firm and undertake non-executive directorship and Chair roles in a variety of industries on a pretty much full-time basis.”
What is it like to be a board member? I see my service on the UnitingSA board as an expression of my faith: the ability to bring my insights and skills to help govern that ethos of standing alongside people and not turning away anyone in need. Return to Contents
Karen: “I find it truly interesting and challenging. At the start it was a bit overwhelming, because board members have to be thoroughly informed in order to make good decisions – which means a great deal of reading. It’s the role of a board member to look at the bigpicture, rather than focussing on the day-to-day operations of the organisation. But seeing the organisation’s strategies come to life is an immensely rewarding experience.”
Think about what you can contribute
BEING ON BOARD
Jump on Board sa.uca.org.au/jumponboard
Bruce: “It can be really fulfilling, interesting and is actually good fun. Board members gain a lot of intimate knowledge of the organisation - which they need in order to make good decisions - and they will be part of framing strategies that will take the organisation forward. Board members also need to understand that they won’t have any rights pertaining to the organisation on whose board they serve and have a real responsibility to take the organisation’s wellbeing very seriously. All taken into account, it is one of the best opportunities anyone may get in influencing the future of an organisation.”
How has your board membership contributed to the mission of the church? Karen: “I couldn’t be on a board if I didn’t feel passionate about the organisation that it governs. I love that UnitingSA is all about compassion, respect and doing what is right. It is the embodiment of Micah 6:8 and it echoes the heart of the Church. I see my service on the UnitingSA board as an expression of my faith: the ability to bring my insights and skills to help govern that ethos of standing alongside people and not turning away anyone in need.” Bruce: “It is very much about ensuring sustainability and outreach. There are so many really worthy organisations out there and anyone can make a true difference with whatever skills they have. My accounting background made it easy for me to understand what is happening with the financial situations of the organisations on whose boards I serve. I have also had enough experience in strategic leadership to help steer some struggling organisations back to being viable again.”
If you have been looking for a way to use your gifts and skills in service and you think that being a Uniting Church representative on a UnitingCare organisation/school board may be something you could do, we would love to hear from you. There are three requirements to be met: 1. You have to be a Uniting Church member or a member in association. 2. Academic or work background in education, law, finance, management or health is desirable. 3. The target age is between 30 and 65.
The Uniting Church in Australia Synod of South Australia
If you meet these criteria and are interested, please contact UnitingCare SA on 8236 4255 or email@example.com. You will then need to meet with Rev Tim Hodgson, Executive Officer of UnitingCare SA, for an informal conversation.
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The Art of Listening
International students learn (and teach) in our congregations and communities
Tanya, Dianne and Didi (Wen absent) provided a special lunch for the Pilgrim Uniting Church Lounge visitors. Photo: Supplied
Edited by Patricia Rademaker The Flinders University College of Education, Psychology and Social Work has partnered with several Uniting Church congregations to create Community Development field placements for international students completing Masters of Social Work degrees. Flinders University Field Education Coordinator Andrea Tschoner believes that the students have benefited from learning and contributing to the many projects and initiatives within the community centres. “They have successfully developed new ideas, facilitated programs and learnt about the complexities faced by people impacted by homelessness, mental health, isolation, drug and alcohol abuse, poverty and financial hardship,” she says. “Students also greatly benefit from receiving guidance and personal support as they experience issues around isolation, lack of opportunities to interact with ‘locals’ and difficulties in adjusting to ‘Western society’.”
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Clayton Wesley and the Spire Community Clayton Wesley and the associated Spire Community is one of the Uniting Church congregations that offer placements to UniSA students, based at Hope’s Cafe and in collaboration with Uniting Communities. “We are glad to provide a place for students to do their practical placements and we are blessed to have their hard work and insight into this complicated work of building community,” says Rev Paul Turley. For Chinese student Ziyan Wang this placement is her first contact with the church and a Western community. “I really like the organisation’s mode of operation. When I return to my country, I hope to imitate this model to help more people,” she says. Congolese student Chancelline commented: “I get to practise my
professional standards through communicating with different people. I really love how the Spire Community assists and cares for people, by giving them food, clothes, connecting them to different services and communicating with them in a respectful manner.”
Blackwood Uniting Church Jacqui Harrison is the Community Program Coordinator at Blackwood Uniting Church where she has coordinated placements for Social Work students. Here students undertake a project of their choice and assist with church projects. She shares about projects involving some of the past students: “Canh, a vision-impaired student from Vietnam, provided music therapy and also organized a concert for the community classes. Alice, from China, undertook a survey with Blackwood’s Mainly Music
The Art of Listening continued. program focused on the age demographic of the people attending. Victoria, from Ghana, provided pampering sessions for young mums at the Mainly Music classes and Jimmy, from China, presented a Tai-Chi program for the community classes.” The two current students practising their skills at Blackwood Uniting Church are both from China. “My art therapy project focusses on children in a playgroup. I wish to contribute to children’s development and promote the attachment between children and parents. The experience of doing a placement here gave me the opportunity to connect with local people and identify their needs,” explains Dong. Yi is planning to hold Chinese Dumpling Cooking Classes for the community. She reflects: “Working with people of different ages was a challenge for us initially. However, getting to know people and doing research around social work theories assisted us in coping with diverse needs.”
Random Acts of Welcome (RAW) Random Acts of Welcome (RAW) is a community lunch for new arrivals, international students, ex-refugees and indigenous people which provides a social support group for sharing conversations about life and caring for one another. The Social Work students based at Pilgrim Uniting Church regularly attend. One reflected after a lunch: "I am so used to being in a position where I am supposed to help a client, which inadvertently sets up a deficit model, where I as the professional am supposed to hand over some knowledge or expertise to a person who does not have this. It strikes me that this type of lunch is different, and creates an opportunity for equality and reciprocity, which validates people in a more inclusive and honouring way, helping each person to feel that they are a gift, or a sharer, a giver
When I return to my country, I hope to imitate this model to help more people. – Chinese student Ziyan Wang or a receiver, but ultimately a sharer of community”. Rev Liellie McLaughlin, who runs the Community Connections program at Pilgrim Uniting Church, explains: “This resonates with the notion that we as Christians are called to be part of a therapeutic community for one another, trusting in the presence of Christ as we are present to the stranger. It resonates also with the Kaurna spiritual principle of 'yeuri-inga-gerindi'/ dadirri, of deep listening based on respect. This reminds me of the way Jesus would so often ask: What would you like me to do for you?”
Social Work students get involved with Scots Church Adelaide’s Suicide Awareness Day. Photo: Supplied
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International Social Work Student Alice with a restored bike from the ‘Bike Shed ’ provided through Blackwood Uniting Church Community Classes. Photo: Supplied
Pilgrim Uniting Church Students Wen, Didi, and Fargana (Tanya) have been on placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church. They have found the experience extremely worthwhile. The students come from diverse backgrounds - China, Bangladesh and Nigeria. They hold undergraduate degrees in Marketing, Public Health, and International Relations and Diplomacy. Tanya’s experience at Pilgrim has helped her define her role as a social worker, particularly working with the vulnerable and disadvantaged. She recognises that many have experienced trauma and make decisions through the trauma-informed lens. “They need someone to support, guide and empower them,” she reflects. Wen spends time talking with homeless people, engaging and gaining understanding of their issues. She says: “I have found that I need to do more research into the work of agencies and into mental health issues. Since coming to Australia, I would like to work with older people”. Didi has worked with Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières) and
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Nigeria, and Sandy (Minister at Pilgrim UC) supports me in that.”
…we as Christians are called to be part of a therapeutic community for one another, trusting in the presence of Christ as we are present to the stranger.
For more information about this program, contact Flinders University’s Andrea Tschoner, Field Education Coordinator: Agora Student Placements & Wellbeing on 08 8201 7681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Rev Liellie McLaughlin
Enfants du Monde before coming to study in Australia. She says: “My main focus is on social justice. When I go home to Nigeria, I’ll be working with refugees. I want to find out their stories, and to look into their rights, and the policies that are in their favour. I want to learn about services in Australia for refugees.” She concludes: “Here at Pilgrim Uniting Church there is a lot of people actually doing social justice work. I get hands-on experience learning from them and from the agencies to do what I want to do in the future. The communication and cultural skills are very different between here and
Pilgrim Uniting Church’s Rev. Sandy Boyce with Social Work students Wen, Tanya and Didi. Photo: Supplied
The youth of Salisbury Uniting Church went on a shopping spree, with Sophia (fourth from the left) as part of Operation Santa. Photo: Danica Patsellis
Share a little joy this Christmas Meet Sophia. She’s a member of Salisbury Uniting Church. Because of what Sophia and her family experienced during her childhood, she will be supporting the UnitingCare Australia Christmas Appeal this year. Sophia recently told the story of how, when she was growing up in large family of seven siblings, they each received a Christmas present from a local church, despite being part of the Buddhist religion and community. “The charity of those Christians touched my heart and brightened my Christmas each year,” Sophia recalls. She never forgot the care she received from the church and, in her early adulthood, started attending services.
Researching the factors affecting Christian-Muslim dialogue in Adelaide A PhD research study is currently being undertaken which explores the views, attitudes and experiences of everyday Christians and Muslims towards dialoguing with the ‘other’. This study is seeking to recruit members of the Uniting Church and the Sunni Muslim community in Adelaide to participate in confidential interviews. People with a diversity of views are welcome and encouraged to become involved. By providing understanding of the underlying factors that influence interfaith dialogue between members of these two religious communities, it is hoped this research will derive lessons that may help in building more effective and sustainable social cohesion and inclusion. Participants will need to be over the age of 18 and be members of or regularly attend a Uniting Church. If you would like to be involved in this important research, please contact Greg MacDonald on email@example.com.
Sophia specifically supports Operation Santa, a youth event where teens and young people go shopping to buy gifts for other youth who are doing it tough. Sophia was overjoyed to be able to give back to the same type of program that warmed her heart as a child. Anyone wishing to support the work of UnitingCare at Christmas can buy a bauble at a Target store or make a donation online at sa.uca.org.au/xmas. Go on, be like Sophia!
Uncommon gifts UnitingWorld has a fabulous program where you can purchase gifts which fight poverty and build hope. By buying a gift card, you will essentially be giving a life-changing gift to someone in need and help to build the kind of world we all hope for. These gifts come in the form of a goat (income opportunity), help to train a teacher, access to clean water or something similar. You pay for the gift in honour of someone you care for, they receive the card to tell them what you did in their name, while a recipient you’ll never meet receives that goat, training, access or similar Have a look at everythingincommon.com.au. Gift card prices start from as little as $10 (for the gift of chickens or beans) and go up to $500 to pay for the education needs of a girl living in remote India. For various prices in between, you can help create child-safe communities in Timor Leste or train communities in Zimbabwe to help end human trafficking. The website also sells beautiful Christian Christmas cards and all-occasion greeting cards. It’s the kind of retail therapy which is likely to have a lasting effect.
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The Bible says . . .
but what does it mean?
There are texts in the Bible that can be difficult to understand or interpret. In each edition, New Times will pose a question and focus on one such a text, with a theological response to it. Dr David Bunton was invited to be part of a New Horizens panel discussion on 10 difficult texts at Newland Memorial Uniting Church. He responds to our first text and question.
Question: How do we reconcile the seemingly simple guidelines that Jesus gave to the various doctrines that the churches teach? Matthew 5:1-11 New International Version (NIV) Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount 1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them. The Beatitudes
Uniting Church minister in Queensland, has pointed out the anomaly that “the central doctrines of traditional Christianity contain no mention of values . . . or of Jesus’ own teaching”. What is the core characteristic of disciples of Jesus: beliefs about him, or following his teachings? What is more important: that our doctrine is ‘correct’ — or that we follow Jesus by living the values of the Sermon on the Mount?
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Johnston continues that there is “no automatic link” between “intellectual assent” to ‘the Faith’ and the “personal transformation” that can result from “values of respecting difference, love of neighbour and social justice”; that the values held by Christians have changed over the centuries (regarding for instance slavery, race, women) whilst all the time reciting creeds that haven’t changed since the 4th century. Even today, sincere Christians belong to very different political parties with very different values, yet share the same creeds.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Inspired by Glennis Johnston’s idea, my wife Helen and I developed a Beatitudes Pledge:
He said: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Dr David Bunton answered: The Beatitudes are a challenge to all of us, including to the institutional church, when our priorities are at odds with Jesus’ simple life. Does “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3) mean real economic poverty, as it does in Luke 6:20 (“you who are poor”)? Or does this mean those who are aware of their own spiritual poverty? While insight into our own spiritual state is important, have the words ‘in spirit’ given the church the wriggle room to ignore the material implications of Jesus’ teaching? In the book Turning Points of the Spirit: a journey from institutional religion to authentic spirituality Glennis Johnston, who served as a
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I pledge to be humble in spirit, seeking only God’s values; I seek to be pure of heart, with unselfish motives; I pledge to seek righteousness & justice — despite persecution; I pledge to show mercy, kindness, compassion to all I meet; I pledge to be a peacemaker, between people and communities. David & Helen Bunton (2017), inspired by Matthew 5: 3-10, and by Glennis Johnston’s ‘Turning Points of the Spirit’ (2016). Would it make a difference if Christians repeated a pledge like this in church every week or two? Surely these values are core to our identity as Christians! Mahatma Gandhi is said to have read the Sermon on the Mount every day. And look at his life! But when asked about Christianity, he is reported to have said: “I might have been more interested if the Christians I knew lived more like Jesus!” The Bible Says ... is an initiative by the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology. If you have a question about a difficult text in the Bible, please contact Dr Vicky Balabanski by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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MORE FROM UNITING COLLEGE
Theology: a useful degree? Andrew Dutney Education is expensive, so we like it be ‘useful’. Education-for-education’s-sake is pretty hard to argue for in Australia. That’s true of theological education too. So much so, that the Council of Deans of Theology, the peak body for theological education in Australia, has done some work on explaining to government what theology graduates contribute to society. First, theology graduates actively preserve and grow the religious and intellectual tradition which nourishes Australian culture and national identity. Australian institutions, laws and ethical values are reinforced and refreshed through graduates’ life-long engagement with history, the biblical deposit understood in context, social justice, Christian thought and philosophy, community building, and social engagement. As well as this, whether lay or ordained, most theology graduates participate in creating, sustaining and renewing stable, inclusive, local faith communities. These bring together a multitude of ethnic and racial groups, which enrich neighbourhoods through social services, civility, advocacy, and community-building partnerships.
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Moreover, many theology graduates serve as authorised church workers, educational chaplains, cross-cultural workers, and care-givers in church and state schools, hospitals, aged-care facilities, the justice system, sporting and recreational clubs, and industry. Theological education, the Council of Deans argues, is good for the Australian
Education-for-education’ssake is pretty hard to argue for in Australia. That’s true of theological education too. society because of the multidimensional ‘usefulness’ of theology graduates. When I read the document from the Council of Deans I was reminded of something Davis McCaughey said, just before he was installed as the President of the first Assembly of the UCA. Asked to share his ‘hopes and fears’ for the aboutto-be inaugurated Uniting Church, he said, "At the centre of the Church’s life [ought to be] a concern for the integrity of the faith." He was convinced that this meant
that the church needed at least some biblical scholars and theologians among its members, "men and women with a passionate interest in the substance of the faith… a life-long love affair with the integrity and substance of the faith". He went on to say that a sign that ‘this gift is cherished’ would be the ongoing leadership and service of ‘a genuinely educated ministry: men and women who lovingly and reverently care for what the Christian faith has meant at various periods in its history, and for what it might yet mean in the intellectual, imaginative and cultural context of their own day’. Continuing to have ‘a genuinely educated ministry’ like this is challenging. The Mission & Leadership Development Board and Resources Board, along with Uniting College for Leadership & Theology work hard on meeting that challenge in fastchanging times. Education like this is more than ‘useful’. It a key to being a church that cherishes the integrity and substance of the faith.
Below: Theology graduates show off their freshly-printed degree certificates at the Adelaide College of Divinity’s 2019 Graduation Ceremony. Photo: Alyssum Jade Photography
Renmark West Uniting Church celebrated the 100th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stones over the weekend of 10 November. 140 people attended the celebrations which included a documentary and a wedding dress display. The Sunday worship service included a brief history, original hymns that ‘raised the roof’ and a photo taken by a drone. The anniversary cake was cut after lunch by the current Trustees. Jackson Wickham then launched his book ‘The Little Church on the Hill’ - a detailed history, photos and facts that beautifully capture the church’s families and their stories.
Colleagues, friends and family of exModerator Rev Sue Ellis all gathered at the Synod Office for a farewell celebration in late October, and then at the November Synod meeting for her formal ‘release of duty’. Sue was praised for her leadership during what is described as a difficult three years for the Uniting Church in South Australia and thanked for her wonderful stewardship. In attendance at the Synod meeting was her husband Rob and ‘fur-child’ Astro - both faithful companions.
Photo credit: Placeholder
Maitland Uniting Church held a special service on Sunday 20 October with the focus on blessing the 100 Shoe Boxes of Love, organised by Sue and John Koenders (pictured) and packed by members of the Evening Fellowship. Children in the Philippines will soon have hand-made beanies, teddy bears, dolls, hand puppets, skirts, dresses, pencil cases, shoulder bags and wooden toy cars. Generous donations have also enabled purchase of T-shirts, tennis balls, exercise books and pencils. These boxes open doors for Samaritan’s Purse to undertake Christian outreach programs and humanitarian projects. – by Sue Koenders.
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OUT & ABOUT IN THE COMMUNITY
There was much fun to be had in Encounter Bay at Yilki Jefferis Memorial Uniting Church’s 100-year anniversary celebrations on Sunday 3 November. The church was packed to the rafters as exModerator Sue Ellis preached on the special occasion. Lunch, memories, afternoon tea and a birthday cake were shared in the church hall after the service, with many long-time members reminiscing late into the day.
On Sunday 17 November CityView Uniting Church, which calls the UCity Building on Franklin Street Adelaide their home, held an induction service for Rev Andrew Robertson and commissioned Cyrus Kung as Ministry of Pastor. At the same time Belinda Taylor was commissioned into her new role as Chief Executive Officer, MediaCom Education Inc. Pastor Wendy Perkins conducted the induction and commissionings and introduced the three to the congregation. Dr David Turnbull preached at the service which was attended by UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer, UCA in SA Moderator Bronte Wilson and many friends, family and congregation members.
Journey Uniting’s Mallala Campus celebrated their first adult baptisms in over 15 years on Sunday 24 November. They baptised three new Christians, Alyshia Brace, Andrew Barbuto and Chelsey Binns, and dedicated a child, baby Mason. At the start of the year Mallala Uniting Church made the bold decision to join Journey UC and changed their traditional style service to a more contemporary one in order to cater for ‘first time guests’. They view these baptisms as confirmation that the choice for mission rather than comfort was the right one.
Do you have a photo of your event that you would like to see featured here? If so, please send it to us along with a description of what happened, where it happened, and who is in the picture. We can only print high resolution photographs sent as attachments to email@example.com. Keep them coming! Return to Contents
Induction service: Rev Alison Whish
7:00pm Unley Uniting Church Rev Greg Elsdon will preach at the induction service. Light refreshments to be served afterwards. Contact: 8236 4253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Road to Christmas @ Seeds UC
7:00pm Seeds Uniting Church A free community event that lets you experience the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of first century Bethlehem recreated live. Contact: 8370 6472 or email email@example.com
Western Link Uniting Church Annual Carols Service
10:00am Western Link Uniting Church Morning tea will follow this Sunday service. Everyone is welcome. Contact: 8443 8145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cherry Gardens Community carols
6:30pm Cherry Gardens Memorial Hall
6:00pm Pilgrim Uniting Church A service designed for those finding it hard to relate to the hype of Christmas - whether because of a difficult loss, transition or life change. All will find a welcome in this special time of music and reflection. Contact: 8212 3295 or email email@example.com
Carols in the Garden
7:00pm One Tree Hill Uniting Church In addition to lots of carols singing, the evening will also include various items and skits with a Christmas theme. The evening will conclude with a supper. Contact: 0414 727 396 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
26 Jan - 2 Feb
APAN Study Tour to Palestine
Palestine Learn about the myriad contemporary and historical issues of the modern Middle East through interactions with Palestinian and Israeli communities and experts, Australian Ambassadors, United Nations officials, human rights organisations, visits to Australianfunded aid projects and much more. Contact: email@example.com
A free event starting with Old MacDonald's Travelling Farm, balloon twister and craft activities. The carols program starts at 7:30 with music supplied by Tabor Music. Contact: 0427 863 429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Send your letters to: email@example.com or GPO Box 2145, Adelaide 5001. 22
CL A SSIFIEDS MORIALTA CHARITABLE TRUST FUND Morialta Charitable Trust Fund has been supporting disadvantaged children, young people and their families in South Australia through its annual program of distributions for 40 years. To enable the Fund to continue this support through community organisations in South Australia, Morialta Charitable Trust Fund seeks donations from the public. Donations of $2 and above are tax deductible and can be forwarded to the Morialta Charitable Trust Fund at PO Box 92, Crafers SA 5152. COPY-TYPE TYPING AND SECRETARIAL SERVICE We help people carve out the time they need to cultivate what matters in their life by taking care of general typing and secretarial tasks and consulting. Efficient, professional, confidential and quality support â€“ there when you need us! Contact us today and receive 10% off your first service. Concession card holders and Not-for-Profit/Charity/ Church Organisations receive 10% off every time. Call Denise Marron at Copy-Type on 0408 065 239 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. MOVING TO MELBOURNE FOR TERTIARY STUDY? Join the Brunswick Uniting Church Student House. Rooms available. Visit brunswick.unitingchurch.org.au/ student-house-program or call Pastor Dave Hall on 0417 310 128. MORIALTA UNITING CHURCH STUDENT HOUSES - VACANCIES 2020 Undergraduate university/TAFE students from rural/regional areas. Furnished single bedrooms, living areas, shared bathroom or ensuite. Close to UniSA, Magill. Easy travel to city for Adelaide University and UniSA, and to Mawson Lakes Campus. Rent $390 or $430 monthly. Contact Anne Ind 0402 061 124 Church Office 8331 9344. Now is the time for school leavers heading for tertiary studies to apply for accommodation in our Student Houses.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Average Australian? I take exception to the statement in the New Times article “Recognising the Disconnect” (Oct/Nov 2019) which says “The average Australian might say the good life is working in a job you don’t really like to earn enough money to drink on the weekend to get just (sic) through life”. This is a poor and loaded example of the average Australian. Perhaps, Scott Morrison MIGHT be the average Christian. He has an abysmal human rights record in regard to asylum seekers, scant regard for New Start recipients and his climate policies make young people anxious with little hope for their future. His “Freedom of Religion” bill only serves to alienate people, especially the LGBTQI community. The average Christian MIGHT be Kevin O’Donnell with many victims turning to drugs or suicide because they feel disconnected from everything. The average Christian MIGHT be Israel Folau with his fundamentalist beliefs which can induce anxiety and make people feel unaccepted in society. Perhaps, the average Christian MIGHT be able to offer help with the disconnectedness in society if their values mirrored those of Rugby League: “inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork”. Many average Australians don’t need booze or Jesus to just get through life. Trish Smith Houghton
Assistance for drought sufferers I commend your publication “New Times” and find the articles interesting and informative. I found it most intriguing that in the November issue there was no mention or concern, except for the Kimba photo, about the plight of members in the rural areas suffering greatly as a result of drought and hence low returns from their crops/produce. Especially with the Christmas season upon us. (Gifts for children or others is what I was most concerned about). The “spread” about Christmas Angels was informative but that doesn’t cover families living in poverty as a result of the aforementioned. Surely there could be a publicised way for urbanites to assist them through rural UC communities? Yours sincerely Lynette Schulze Editorial comment: While we wish we had the capacity in our print edition to report more about the wonderful work done through our UnitingCare organisations (such as Operation Santa), much of their work and those of individual congregations, Frontier Services and others are reported on in our online version. Feel free to look up sa.uca.org.au/new-times/ and do encourage others to read the weekly articles posted on this website, or subscribe to our weekly UC e-News to receive articles by email. Sign up at sa.uca.org.au/uc-enews/subscribe-to-uc-e-news.
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from our Traditionally, the youth thered over congregations have ga ekend for the Labour Day long we Youth Camp the South Australian r, in 2019 Out (SAYCO). Howeve a day-long SAYCO morphed into Found Youth celebration at the Lost/ from 23 Festival, where youth ether, sang Uniting Churches ate tog ch other and together, prayed for ea ople into the welcomed 10 young pe ry first time. family of Jesus for the ve ed God for Youth and leaders thank k to what the SAYCO and began to loo w season of Spirit might have for a ne future youth events. Photos: Ethan Wildman
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Reflections on our captivity to consumerism | The Art of Listening