Assembly Update May 2008

The latest edition of Update is now available online and in PDF format. It includes the latest news from our Agencies and Working Groups as well as Uniting Church resources.


Upload PDF version.

Just a Thought
Uniting International Mission News 
WARC/REC Uniting General Council 
Disaster Relief    
Positions Vacant    
Staff Movements   
Ministers Conferences Update  
Books and Resources  

Just a Thought

From: Terence Corkin
Assembly General Secretary

The deadline has just about passed and it’s time for another contribution to “Just a Thought”. It is one of those occasions where I am at a loss for a “thought”. Regular readers of this piece may suggest that it is not the first time.

I have to admit that my mind is not always on things that are interesting or connected with the life of many of the readers of Assembly Update and so it is not always that easy to just drop tools and write a piece like this.

I found it the same when I was a Minister in congregations. I could not just turn prayers and sermons on and off at the drop of a hat. It was necessary for me to live with the text and the ideas for some time so that they arose from a much deeper place than the first thing that came into my mind.

No doubt this is true for the whole of the living of the Christian life. We cannot be conscious of the appropriate response for a Christian disciple in the challenges of life, business, church meetings, home and relationships by just switching on a Christian thought or grabbing a religious element to drop into the conversation. Living an authentic Christian life does not happen by turning our mind to what that might mean from time to time. Rather the authentic Christian life arises from a depth within when it is cultivated through the practice of Christian disciplines.

In these days it is not so much what we say as who we are that makes any aspect of our witness authentic. The practice of the Christian disciplines of prayer, contemplation, scripture reading, fellowship around the Word in community, the sacraments, generosity and service are what enable us to live in ways that are authentically Christian. 

May you not just have “thoughts” about the Christian life, but may you have a life where the thoughts of Christ rise deeply and naturally from within you.

Uniting International Mission

From: Jonathan Foye
Communications Coordinator, UIM

Congregations form direct partnerships Congregations continue to work with Uniting International Mission to develop connections with churches and projects beyond Australia’s shores. UIM works with Synod international mission teams to facilitate these vital and inspiring links.

For further information…
Asia partnerships
John Barr  (02) 8267 4251
Pacific partnerships
Kerry Enright  (02) 8267 4219
Aid and development projects
Rob Floyd  (02) 8267 4221

Pacific trade issues network
Some aspects of Pacific free trade negotiations between the European Union, Australia and New Zealand have the potential to undermine the Christian spiritualities of Pacific peoples. UIM is part of a small and informal network of unions, non-governmental organisations and churches raising issues about negotiations. Watch the UIM website for updates on trade issues.

Vanuatu Church Partnership Program
Laurie Fitzgerald, Associate Director Uniting Church Overseas Aid (UCOA), recently met in Vanuatu with Australian church organisations and their Vanuatu partners to pursue the church partnership program there. Our partner is the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu. It promises to be a growing part of the work of UCOA.

Joy Balazo returns to Australia
Joy has been participating in a four month study program in Thailand sponsored by Rotary International. As part of an international group of 18, including people in military, government, judicial and development roles, Joy studied and visited peace and conflict resolution programs in Asia (including one run by Young Ambassadors for Peace). We are thrilled to welcome Joy back and look forward to incorporating her insights and learning into our work.

Uniting World PDF now online
The latest Uniting World is available in PDF form online. Click here to view the PDF form.

PNG Partnership Program extension

The Church Partnership Program (CPP) is a unique, AusAID funded community development program that seeks to enhance the work that churches in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are already doing in the area of community development.

Seven PNG churches (Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist and United) and their seven Australian counterpart organisations are involved in the program.

Uniting Church Overseas Aid works with our partner, the United Church in PNG, in the program. The program has particularly focused on education, health, HIV/AIDS awareness and peace building along with capacity building of the United Church in PNG. The program is entering the fifth and final year of the first phase.

The CPP has become widely known and respected for the manner in which the churches have been able to work closely together, collaborate on many activities and deliver significant outcomes to the communities within PNG.

With the agreement of AusAID and the Australian Government, the CPP has entered into a design process to develop a second five-year phase for the program. UCOA will continue to work closely with our partner in PNG to ensure that the CPP is of maximum benefit to the United Church and to all communities across PNG.

Water of Life Through this year’s Water of Life campaign, Uniting Church Overseas Aid aims to provide safe water and sanitation for eight rural villages in the Pacific. This will help some 8,000 people who currently lack access to safe, clean water.

Bali Ministers Conference

UIM is supporting UCA National Assembly President, Rev. Gregor Henderson, in organising a ministers conference in Bali.  John Barr, Asia Secretary, is facilitating visits to three partner churches in Bali, West Timor and Java, aimed at helping UCA ministers connect more closely with the church in Asia, strengthening the international identity of the Uniting Church.


Uniting General Council
From: Rev. Dr Sandy Yule
Secretary, Christian Unity Working Group

The inaugural joint meeting of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC), to form a new organisation to be called the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) has been announced.

The Uniting General Council, replacing the WARC Assembly, is to be held in Michigan, USA, from 18–28 June 2010. The theme is Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace (Ephesians 4:3).

The WARC Assembly in Accra adopted a strong call to Reformed and Congregational Churches around the world to work for global economic justice (the ‘Accra Confession’), which the UCA has received. The WARC also has a strong Theological Office which has supported the WARC’s involvement in world-level dialogue with virtually every other Christian Confessional family.

One fruit of the ecumenical activity of the WARC is the agreement to unite with the REC, to be inaugurated at this Uniting General Council. More information about the WARC website

As a member church of the WARC, the Uniting Church in Australia has received an invitation to send up to six delegates to the General Council.

The Christian Unity Working Group therefore calls for expressions of interest in participating in this Uniting General Council.

Interested persons are advised that the UCA Assembly is not able to provide financial assistance for delegates, apart from one ‘youth delegate’ (who must be under 30 at the time of the General Council meeting).

Expressions of interest should include name, address, age if under 30, other contact details and information about your relationship to the UCA and any other relevant bodies.

Please send expressions of interest before 1 August 2008 to:
Rev. Dr Sandy Yule,
Secretary, Christian Unity Working Group
Level 4, 11 Bank Place
Melbourne, Vic. 3000
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
P: 03 9606 0034

Disaster Relief

From: Terence Corkin
Assembly General Secretary
Chairperson, National Disaster Relief Fund

In early 2008 a severe weather event devastated the farming areas around the western NSW town of Lake Cargelligo. A great deal of damage was done and, in particular, miles and miles (as they say out there) of fencing came down. Given the drought there was very little spare cash to finance repair of the fences. With the time for sowing approaching, the need to protect crops from wandering cattle was becoming more urgent.

The Riverina Presbytery Minister, Rev. Tony Davies, was visiting the area and heard how the Chairperson of the local UCA Church Council, with others from the community, was gathering volunteers to help construct fences. The Council hoped to, where necessary, pay for the materials. The volunteers were willing and able but without funds for materials a good number of people would miss out on the assistance they needed.

Tony, on behalf of the Presbytery, put in an application to the Assembly’s National Disaster Fund for $30,000 towards fencing materials. The Committee willingly agreed.

Peter McFadden, the Chair of the Church Council, was on the phone within days of receiving the letter expressing his appreciation of the support. He said local people were so encouraged and almost incredulous that people from across the UCA had thought about them and their needs and had been prepared to lend a hand.

Peter asked that this story be told and could not thank the Uniting Church enough — and neither can the very appreciative community of Lake Cargelligo.

Peter is certainly telling everyone who will listen what wonderful support the Uniting Church has given.

Thank you to all those people who contribute during the President’s natural disaster appeals.

The Disaster Relief Fund of the Uniting Church in Australia was established by the Assembly of the Uniting Church so that the church as a whole could provide assistance in disaster situations within Australia in order to assist in the recovery of individuals and communities. Find out more at the UCA website.

Positions Vacant

World Methodist Council
Youth and Young Adult Coordinator

The World Methodist Council seeks a part-time Coordinator of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. This position has been created to enable greater continuity, efficiency and public awareness of World Methodist Council youth and young adult programs.

This position may be based in the country where the Coordinator chooses to live or at the World Methodist Council Headquarters in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, assuming the following conditions are met:
• Easy access to an international airport.
• Strong communication infrastructure (reliable telephone, internet, postal service, etc).
• Office (administrative) support from a World Methodist Council member church or regional network.

The Coordinator will serve as the channel of communication among national and regional youth and young adult organisations belonging to the Methodist and Wesleyan tradition as well as liaising with other relevant youth and young adult organisations. They will implement and promote youth and young adult programs as planned by the Council’s Youth and Young Adult Committee, report to the General Secretary of the World Methodist Council and act as an ex-officio member of the World Methodist Council Youth and Young Adult Committee.
Key Selection Criteria

• Up to 35 years of age at beginning of the five-year term.
• Active membership in a member church of the World Methodist Council for at least 5 years.
• Leadership experience with young people within the church on regional or national levels.
• Education, skills and talents appropriate for the successful performance of duties and responsibilities of the job.
• Preferably with the ability to communicate effectively in written and spoken English, and ability to communicate in at least one other language.
• Ability to travel internationally.

Send applications by 15 May 2008 to:
Dr. George H. Freeman
General Secretary, World Methodist Council
PO Box 518
Lake Junaluska
NC 28745 USA

Christian Conference of Asia
Executive Secretary

The Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) is seeking applicants for the position of Joint Executive Secretary for Justice, International Affairs, Development and Service (JID).

The full job description is available on the CCA website.

The closing date for applications is June 30, 2008.

Applications can be submitted via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Assembly staff movements

From: Penelope Monger
Assembly Communications Manager

The Principal of Coolamon College, Rev. Lee Levett-Olson has resigned from his position and will conclude his ministry with the College on 23 May 2008. A Closure of Ministry service will be held on that day at 7.30pm.

Lee has accepted a new role as Principal of Nungalinya College, Darwin, which he begins on 1 July.

Rev. Jo-Anne Fulton, currently the Dean and Education Development Officer of Coolamon, will be Acting Principal of the College for the remainder of the year.

Ministers Conferences Update

From: Gregor Henderson, President

The three national ministers conferences will be well attended, but places are still available.

The conference in Bali, 1-4 July, has 55 registered to date. Registrations will close late this month. The post-conference exposure visit to Blimbingsari is still available. Most direct flights are booked out but travel is available through Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Brunei or Singapore. We anticipate final numbers will be in the mid-60s.

The conference in Darwin, 15-18 July, has 58 registered to date. Registrations will close in mid-June. Post-conference visits are still available to Galiwink’u and Nhulunbuy/Yirrkala.

The conference in Alexandra Headland, Qld, 27-30 October, has 90 registered to date. Maximum numbers are 150 and registrations close in September.

To register go to the conference page on the Assembly website.

Books for Unitings 

From Nomads to Pilgrims
Stories from practicing congregations
Diana Butler Bass and Joseph Stewart-Sicking
An inside look at an emerging style of congregational life based on traditional Christian practices such as hospitality, discernment, prayer and witness.

Alban Institute
9781566993234    $24.95

Wisdom from the Middle Ages for Middle-aged Women
Lisa Hamilton
Mediaeval mystics become mentors for contemporary women journeying through mid-life.

9780819222374    $24.95

Why We’re Equal
Introducing feminist theology
Val Webb
This UCA author introduces feminist theology not as a departure from tradition but as an affirmation of the early church’s commitment to the equality of all believers.

9780827242401    $29.95

Contagion of Jesus
Doing theology as if it mattered
Sebastian Moore
What would it be like to discover the contagion of Jesus for the first time? This innovative book is based on the author’s conviction about a loving God, a saving Christ and a church of friendship and discipleship.

9780232527179    $34.95

A Muslim View of Christianity
Essays on dialogue by Mahmoud Ayoub
Irfan Omar
A superb introduction to Muslim-Christian dialogue.

9781570756900    $34.95

New from MediaCom

Belonging Kit
Cheryl Lawrie (Ed.)
Belonging explores the traditions of Christianity, including the topics of belief and life which are central to the Christian faith. The Kit can be used to:
• Explore the Christian faith and its impact on life
• Prepare for Adult Baptism
• Reaffirm Baptism
• Prepare for Confirmation

Uniting Church Press
Ringed folder, 284 pages, 1864071966 $80.00

Belonging Journal
Belonging Journal: one per person is required to complete for personal reflection.
     $8.75 each

Communion Services
Robyn Knowles Wallace
Ready-to-use Communion services suitable for Sunday morning and other special occasions. The Just In Time! series offers brief, practical resources for pastors at an affordable price. 

This book introduces the practice of Communion and offers a collection of Communion prayers and resources for worship. Included is information on Communion elements, vessels and methods with answers to commonly asked questions. Rev. Knowles Wallace gives four possible orders of Communion, various ways to offer Communion and prayers and resources for specific seasons and holy days in the church year from Advent through Thanksgiving.

99 pages, 0687498368   $16.00

All Things Are Ready
Communion Prayers for the Church Year A and Pastoral Occasions
Peter Andrew Smith
All Things Are Ready is a lectionary book based on Cycle A of the Revised Common Lectionary.

There are 35 responsive settings of pre-communion prayers for a variety of times throughout the year, including church seasons, seasons of the year, confirmation, stewardship and more, as well as seven brief post-communion prayers. This volume will be a cherished resource for any pastor or worship planner.

92 pages, 0788024876   $19.25

Igniting Worship Communion
Worship Services and Video Clips on DVD
Grace Community Church
This volume contains ten unique and complete acts of worship for the topical subject of Communion. The worship experiences are organised around a Scripture and theme and include brief biblical and liturgical comments, sermon outlines, calls to worship, prayers and benedictions.

The DVD contains video clips suitable for projection in worship. Background worship graphics and bulletin covers are also included on the DVD and can be customised in imaging software.

96 pages, 0687025885   $50.45

Books for Unitings are selected by Hugh McGinlay and are available from UCA bookshops and resource centres. Click here to visit the website.

MediaCom is an agency of the South Australian Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia.