Just a thought
From the President
Youth and young adult ministry
Outback care and community services
Worship, theology and discipleship
Cross cultural and international ministry, relief and development
Justice and advocacy
Rev. Terence Corkin, General Secretary, Assembly
The lectionary reading this week (well the week that I am to write this piece) was Genesis 34 and the death of Moses. You may know the story – he gets to see the Promised Land spread out before him and then he dies without ever getting to go there. Read more
Here is a person whose vocation was to lead the people of Israel out of a land of bondage into a land of freedom. After 40 years of sand in his socks, all the manna and quail you could possibly want and an earful of cranky people for years; he dies within spitting distance of the goal. That looks mighty unfair to most observers. Moses had done the hard yards and he gets pulled up just short of the finish line.
Moses is not the only one among the people of faith who seems to give up a great deal to follow God and yet do not seem to have too much to show for it when they die. Abraham who was the first to receive the promise of a homeland had to buy a tomb from the Hittites to bury his wife and later himself. Jeremiah worked long and hard as a prophet and for his trouble gets dragged off to Babylon. Good Friday for Jesus did not look like a fair result for the faithful service that Jesus performed for God. What’s going on here?
To a human perspective none of these outcomes seem fair. For many it would beg the question “why bother with faithfulness?!” Perhaps that is a very western materialist orientation. Many of Christians among our partner churches often experience suffering and disappointment yet they also exhibit a great confidence and joy in God. What they have found is that the quality of their relationship with God, and their reward for faithfulness is not to be found in material well-being but in things more certain and valuable. I suspect that they have a lot to teach us western Christians about what faithfulness can expect from a faithful God.
Thomas a Kempis in ‘The Imitation of Christ’ observed that Jesus has many lovers but not many who will carry his cross. We would do well to recall that we are called to serve and crucified Lord and to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings as The Basis of Union observes.
Launch of President’s Appeal – Care for Christmas Island
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev. Alistair Macrae, has encouraged people to support an Appeal to provide pastoral care and spiritual support for detainees and staff at Christmas Island Detention Centre. Read more
Rev. Macrae said ‘The Uniting Church has been consistent in its advocacy for a more humane approach to asylum seekers. While we oppose offshore detention strongly, and recognising that it will be there for the foreseeable future, we need to match our advocacy with a demonstration of pastoral care and spiritual support of those detained or working in these dreadful places’.
The Uniting Church has been a committed and active presence in immigration detention centres over many years, with both lay and ordained ministers offering vital support through visitation, advocacy and more formal chaplaincy arrangements. On a visit to Christmas Island detention centre last year with the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Roger Herft, President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae, found that the incarcerated asylum seekers were in desperate need of assistance.
“While our persistent calls for an end to mandatory and prolonged detention fall on deaf ears, vulnerable asylum seekers remain in need of pastoral and spiritual care while they are forced to languish in legal limbo,” said Rev. Alistair Macrae.
On Monday 31st October, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev. Elenie Poulos, travelled to Canberra to participate in a delegation to encourage the Government to enact their own New Directions in Detention policy by processing asylum seekers in the community once initial health and security checks have been conducted. The delegation, which included the Refugee Council, church representatives, and multicultural, union and community services groups, met with over twenty MPs to try and ascertain the precise nature of the Government’s directives in the wake of the collapse of the Malaysia refugee ‘swap’ deal.
Chris Bowen has admitted that issuing Bridging Visas and onshore processing for vulnerable asylum seekers will not be implemented until the 2500 places left in detention and community detention are filled. The Uniting Church, which has a proud history of providing ministry to asylum seekers in detention centres, has first-hand knowledge of the harmful and long-term effects on those left to languish in remote and isolated detention centres.
“We have veered disturbingly far away from the policy set out by this very Government, and the rates of self-harm and suicides have consequently soared,” said Rev. Elenie Poulos. “The emotional, psychological and physical effects of prolonged detention are borne by refugees long after they have been released into detention: we are inflicting scars that are carried for life.”
Rev. Alistair Macrae said “We are working with the Anglican Diocese of Perth and the Synod of Western Australia to place a chaplain – trained in multi-cultural and multi-faith realities – in the Christmas Island detention facility. The Catholic church have had a worker on the island and have sometimes been overwhelmed by the needs. It is time that we made a contribution to the care and support of some of the most vulnerable people in the country.
“I am running a Presidential Appeal to raise much needed fund to support this vital ministry. Immigration Detention Centres are in remote places and supporting a ministry in such a remote location requires considerable funding. “Providing this spiritual support will show compassion, love and support for detainees and staff on Christmas Island. And hopefully, if the Appeal is successful, provide similar ministry in other detention facilities as well,” said Rev. Macrae. Please support this important work and show care for those in Christmas Island by helping to send a Chaplain to Christmas Island.
We're getting to the business-end of arrangements for About FACE 2012 now, and it's getting VERY exciting!
We're putting together the placements, the program and the participants (that's a lot of P's in one sentence!!) Most of the applicants have had their interviews, or are about to have them, and will soon be getting "welcome to the program" letters in the mail. Read more
We wanted to let you know that despite it being early November and despite a few (!!) deadlines going past you haven't missed out if you haven't applied just yet! While we do need to get moving on logistical arrangements for the program, you have ONE LAST AND FINAL CHANCE to register for About FACE 2012! Applications need to be at the About FACE office by close of business on Friday 18th November. That's almost 2 months extension on the original application date, but still allows us time to get everything sorted.
So please spread the word! If there's people that you know that have been thinking about it, or those that think they've 'missed the boat' for 2012, then give them a gentle nudge in our direction.
The About FACE website contains all the information you need - the program costs, key dates, what the program is all about and all forms for you to download.
The program will run from 7th – 27th January, 2012. The briefing and debriefing will be held here in Melbourne, Victoria.
So if you’re interested then visit and get applying!
Patrol Ministers meet in Alice Springs
Travelling from remote locations across Australia, the 22 Frontier Services Patrol Ministers met in Alice Springs for their biannual conference in September. Read more
It was a rare opportunity for the patrol ministers to come together, travelling from locations as diverse as the west coast of Tasmania, Cape York in the far north east, Hughenden in north Queensland, Broken Hill in NSW, the Pilbara and Kimberley in the west and the Snowy River region in Victoria.
Frontier Services Associate National Director Rev David Buxton said it was an extremely valuable time for the patrol ministers to share with each other the joys and also the challenges of providing pastoral support to people living in isolated locations.
“The patrol ministers really valued the opportunity to have everybody together. Some of the ministers had not met each other before. It reinforced the sense that they were part of a family – they recognised how valuable that was,” Mr Buxton said.
The conference was also designed to build the capacity of the patrol ministry network. Clinician and educator Dr John Ashfield conducted training for the patrol ministers on how to identify and assist with mental health issues.
The training focused on gender and the differences between men and women in terms of how they deal with stress, grief and trauma.
Broken Hill Patrol Minister Rev Jorge Rebolledo led a session on Code of Ethics for ministers.
As part of their pastoral sharing, Croajingolong Patrol Minister Rev Rowena Harris and Parkin Patrol Minister Rev John Dihm both spoke about their faith journey and how that has influenced the way they sustain themselves when they do not have a church community around them.
On the Sunday, the Patrol Ministers shared in worship with the Alice Springs Uniting Church, at the John Flynn Memorial Church, a location which resonated with the patrol ministers as it was Flynn who established the first ‘padre patrol’ as part of the Australian Inland Mission formed in 1912.
Workshop for carers of isolated and remote children
Frontier Services carers who work with children living in remote areas of Australia met in Townsville from 19-21 October.
Eighteen staff members came together for the workshop, Caring for Children in their Homes and Caring for Ourselves. Read more
The participants came from two Frontier Services programs, In-Home Care and the Remote Family Care Service, which provide care to children inside their own homes.
Because of their isolated location, it is impossible for many of these families to access mainstream services. Accessing long and short term care from Frontier Services is often a lifeline for many remote families.
The workshop included training and information with speakers from the Queensland Department of Education and Training, Beyond Blue and other Frontier Services programs.
A major focus was the Australian Early Development Index, a measurement for how children are developing, and the Early Years Learning Framework, the national framework for care and education for children up to five years of age.
“This was an opportunity for the teams who care for children in their own homes to review existing skills and to enhance these in a supportive environment with their colleagues,” said Frontier Services Queensland Regional Manager Karen Harvey.
“The timing is important with the move to the use of the Early Years Learning Framework across childcare services nationwide.”
Check out the new Frontier Services website!
The website for Frontier Services has a new fresh and vibrant look with the latest news, service details and information on how you can help or get involved.
Go to the Frontier Services website.
“A guide to worship for the people of God” DVD now available
A Discipleship Training course which has been introduced to people across the country as a tool for helping people to grow in their faith and understanding as disciples is on the Assembly website. Go to the Theology and Discipleship section. A course outline and leaders’ notes are provided along with a commendation from the first course conducted and a sample advertising flyer.
The national consultant conducted three Bible studies for the recent Queensland synod on the theme of Discipleship. These studies are now on the Assembly website in the Theology and Discipleship section.
Doctrine working group
The Doctrine working group met on 8 & 9 November. It discussed such subjects as the new Preamble, a draft Doc.byte on “Conversion” and papers such as “A Guide to Contemporary Faith” and “What does it mean to be Church?”
Joan Stott UCAF bursary awards for 2012
The National UCAF Committee has selected the following applicants as recipients of the above Bursary : Read more
LAURA LINDSAY (Wollongong NSW) Laura is the children's, youth and family worker at Kieraview Uniting Church, West Wollongong, studying for a Ph D in Theology through the University if Newcastle.
LUKE WILLIAMS (Perth WA)
Luke is currently in formation for the Ministry of the Word with the Uniting Church at the Perth Theological Hall (based at Murdoch University.) He is in the second year of formation and will complete both the Bachelor of Theology and formation programme at the end of 2012.
The Joan Stott UCAF Bursary is open to applicants under 35 years of age, and studying in the field of Leadership or Theology within the ethos of the Uniting Church.
Joy Balazo retires
After twenty years of travelling across the Asia-Pacific region spreading seeds of peace, the founder of Young Ambassadors for Peace (YAP), Uniting Church Peacemaker, Joy Balazo has retired. Joy has decided to return to her home island of Mindanao in the Philippines. Read more
National Director of UnitingWorld, Rev. Dr. Kerry Enright has paid tribute to Joy’s contribution to the work of the Uniting Church in Asia and the Pacific.
“Over these years Joy’s ministry through UnitingWorld has contributed to the mediation of tribal conflicts in Papua New Guinea, brought together Muslims and Christians in Ambon and Mindanao, and been part of peacebuilding efforts in Sri Lanka, Burma, Bougainville, India, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.”
Read more about Joy here.
Uncompromising Compassion for North Korea
The situation in North Korea is worsening.
Severe weather and failed harvests are causing continued famine. The ABC recently reported on the crisis here.
But we believe there is hope. UnitingWorld's partner in Rason City is providing much needed care for the most vulnerable through their hostel and Tuberculosis clinic.
Please continue to pray for those who are working in this difficult region. To find out more about UnitingWorld's work in North Korea, please click here.
Gifts to be DOUBLED dollar for dollar
Last week Minister for Foreign affairs, Kevin Rudd, said he was “proud of the Uniting Church’s work locally, nationally and with partners overseas.” Read more
He was speaking at Tecoma Uniting Church in Melbourne where he announced the Government’s generous initiative to match donations to Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) appeals for the Horn of Africa Crisis.
Between 5th October and 30th November, every dollar donated to approved agencies will be matched by the government, dollar for dollar. It comes with renewed concern for the acute situation facing countries across East Africa.
UnitingWorld welcomed the announcement. UnitingWorld's Horn of Africa Crisis appeal is assisting a network of faith-based agencies who are working on the ground in Kenya, distributing food aid and assisting in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps. With around 1,100 refugees arriving every day from Somalia, Sudan, and Djibouti, the camps continue to be stretched to the limit.
Relief food distribution is needed by people like Naomi (above). At 43, she alone cares for 12 children. Her husband passed away last year. Naomi’s family has practiced rain fed agriculture on one acre of land, but due to the unreliability of the rains, they have been forced to depend entirely on casual labour for their neighbours. But the prevailing famine means most work opportunities have dried up. With no extended family able to assist her, Naomi and her children are malnourished and often have to go without food.
Naomi’s story is common in the region, as acute drought and famine cut off most livelihood survival systems.
Please consider supporting the relief efforts for the Horn of Africa.
To find out more about UnitingWorld’s Horn of Africa Crisis Appeal, visit our website, here.
Everything in Common 2011
There is something liberating about a gift that takes up no space on your shelf, does not need wrapping and truly gives life.
This year’s UnitingWorld “Everything in Common” gift and project catalogue will be available from mid-October. So watch out for opportunities to give a gift with a difference!
You can head to this website to purchase online.
National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds had a seat at the table of the historic Tax Forum in Canberra on 4-5 October. UnitingCare Australia sought an increase in Newstart payments, an extension to the mining tax to include other minerals, closing superannuation loopholes which disproportionately benefit high income earners, and greater equity arising from the current negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements. We also sought a seat at the tax reform table for the not for profit sector and measures to address the ongoing erosion of PBI tax arrangements.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
UnitingCare Australia is working with Every Australian Counts Campaign to ensure the historic National Disability Insurance Scheme will be in place by 2018. To that end we participated in the Parliamentary Action Week in Canberra in October and the Parliamentary Breakfast which was addressed by the Prime Minister. A panel will address the National Press Club on 23 November in Canberra about the issue. Find out more about the campaign here. To book a seat at the National Press Club visit here.
Poker machine reform
The Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce will meet in Canberra on 3 November. Membership is made up of the heads of the major Christian Churches and the heads of their social services arms united by a commitment to make poker machine gambling safer. Find out more here.
Aged care reform
Leaders from UnitingCare Australia’s aged care network will share their expertise with Federal politicians in Canberra on 2 November in response to the Productivity Commission’s report on the Care of Older Australians. UnitngCare Australia is one of the sector leaders participating on the Aged Care Minister’s expert advisory group.
Uniting Justice staffing news
UnitingJustice has recently welcomed Siobhan Marren as the new Research Officer to UnitingJustice.
Siobhan comes to UnitingJustice with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Bachelor of Teaching and postgraduate study in the areas of anthropology, ethics and religion. She has been teaching at the University of Western Sydney in areas relating to theology, sociology, cultural studies and social justice as well as consulting for JobQuest and researching and writing for ChilOut and other policy-based organisations. She has recently returned from East and Northern Africa where she was teaching in refugee camps.
In the aftermath of the failed attempt to amend the Migration Act, the President released a statement calling on the Government to use the introduction of onshore processing as an opportunity to begin a new era of compassion and hospitality towards vulnerable asylum seekers. Read more here.
UnitingJustice followed up the release with a passionate examination of the events that led to the announcement that Australia would – for the time being – adhere to its international obligations to those people seeking asylum on our shores. Read more here.
Elenie and Siobhan also travelled to Canberra to participate in the UNHCR NGO Roundtable. This was a wonderful opportunity to connect with leading advocates in the field of refugee rights, and to learn of the latest efforts to ensure that asylum seekers are treated with the dignity they deserve.
Economy of Life workshops
Elenie was on the road again this month, hitting the green shores of Tasmania to present a series of workshops for the annual School of Ministry at the Presbytery of Tasmania. The theme of the workshops was ‘Nothing Less Than Transformation’ based on the Assembly Statement, ‘An Economy of Life’. The workshops focussed on the need to reimagine our economy to focus on human flourishing and environmental sustainability.
Thornleigh Hillcrest Uniting Church also hosted Elenie on Sunday 23rd October, with the congregation keen to learn more about the advocacy work undertaken by UnitingJustice.
Hope for Creation
UnitingJustice is also proud to partner with Hope for Creation, to be held on Sunday 6th November. Through this day of prayer and reflection, we seek a Christian response to the issue of climate change. Our Christian responsibility extends not only to the care of the natural world, but also to our brothers and sisters in the Pacific region, most vulnerable to climate change. Resources for the Day of Prayer, including promotional material, prayer resources and Bible teaching resources, may be accessed here.
Uniting For Change
UnitingCare Australia has launched an exciting new advocacy website.
This new website aims to bring the UnitingCare Australia and Uniting Church community together online. It will provide information on issues at the heart of public debate – starting with problem gambling. The site will provide resources for citizens to be active in their local community and it will provide a secure online workspace for UnitingCare Australia service providers. Be sure to check it out.
Frontier Services Christmas cards
Frontier Services has a great range of Christmas Gift Cards available. Each gift has a direct impact on the people of remote Australia.
“In the past year, record-breaking floods, cyclones and bushfires have impacted on the lives of many people living in remote Australia. Many were left not only to rebuild homes and fences, but also their livelihoods,” said Frontier Services National Development Manager Gabriel Lacoba.
“By purchasing a Frontier Services Christmas gift card you will help us to ensure that no one is alone – no matter where they live.”
After selecting your gift, you will be sent a card with a description of your gift and a Christmas message for the person who is to receive it.
Check out the Frontier Services gift cards at www.frontierservices.org
Uniting Ministry email
Are you engaged in ministry? Interested in developments and resources in ministry? Want to stay connected with the work with other Uniting Church agents of ministry?
Why not sign up HERE to the Uniting Ministry monthly email for new resources, news and features on ministry from around the Uniting Church.
To find out about what is happening across the country visit the Synod news sites below:
New South Wales and the ACT - Insights
Northern Synod - Northern News
Queensland - Journey
South Australia - New Times
Victoria and Tasmania - Crosslight
Western Australia - Revive
To learn more about employment and other Assembly news go to www.assembly.uca.org.au