Assembly Update November 2009

The November edition of Update is here, with all the latest news from the Assembly agencies and working groups.


Just a Thought

Terence Corkin,  Assembly General Secretary Maybe it’s something I am eating but once again as I thought about writing this piece my stomach was churning. I was at the meeting of an Assembly working group and we were meeting at a church facility. As I passed the place where notices are put out I saw flyers for a series of speeches on ‘non theistic spirituality’ and I felt sick. Perhaps those flyers were there so that people could be encouraged to go and inform themselves on this rather unusual notion of a God-free spirituality. However I have my doubts. Maybe I am missing something in this quest for a theistic free spirituality, but I thought that the fundamental characteristic of spirituality was that it had an object and that object was the divine. There seems to be an increasing number of Christians who think there is a sensible conversation to be had within a Christian framework about whether or not God is an optional extra to the Christian faith (e.g. ‘Without God’ is the title of a book by a Canadian whose name I cannot remember). Such a discussion may be all fine and well but what I object to is when people disclaim all acknowledgement of ‘an other’ called God, and then clothe it up in a fictional cover of Christianity. If people don’t want to believe in God then this is hardly novel, but I do object to the core beliefs and fundamental elements of Christianity being appropriated for a cause that they do not belong with. This spills over into a so-called spirituality that—self consciously abandoning the notion of God—reduces itself to exercises in self awareness and ‘feel goodism’. I don’t have a problem with self awareness and the fostering of a positive disposition towards others and the creation. But I am quite sure that a ‘non theistic spirituality’ is closer to psychology than it is to spirituality. It seems to me that the same issue is behind my thoughts for this month and last month—the church sells out to the prevailing culture in the presentation of the gospel at the peril of authentic mission. Hopefully by next time I might have come across some stories of authentic mission practice.


Relations with Other Faiths

Glenda Blakefield, Assembly Associate General Secretary
and Bronwyn Thompson, Education/Administrative Assistant, Uniting Faith & Discipleship

Official Delegate at Fifth Regional Interfaith Dialogue

Australia hosted the Fifth Regional Interfaith Dialogue in Perth from 28-30 October 2009. Co-sponsors of the dialogue included Indonesia, the Philippines and New Zealand. The theme for this year's Dialogue was ‘Future Faith Leaders: Regional Challenges and Cooperation’. In addition to the co-sponsoring countries, Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, East Timor, Fiji and Papua New Guinea participated in the Dialogue.

Rev. Seforosa Carroll, Convener of the Relations with Other Faiths Working Group, was an official delegate of this year's Dialogue.

A full review can be found at:

New resources

The website of the Relations with Other Faiths Working Group continues to be updated with new resources, news, and upcoming events. This month additions include:

  • Book review by Heather Griffin on The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid the Clash of Civilizations by Jonathan Sacks, published by Continuum, London, 2003.
  • Photos from the Interfaith Dialogue Class’ visit to the Gallipoli Mosque, Auburn, NSW.
  • Additional contacts for State & Local interfaith groups.
  • Several papers authored by Dr Trish Madigan op, of the Dominican Centre for Interfaith, Ministry, Education and Research (CIMER), which can be found at:
  • Among these are papers entitled ‘A Woman of Perfume and Prayer Speaks with Christ-Sophia: Wisdom as a basis for dialogue between Muslims and Christian’, ‘Learning from Islam’, ‘The Threat of Fundamentalism? Some Christian and Muslim Perspectives.’
  • A paper by Clive Pearson entitled ‘Yours faithfully: Christ, Cronulla and the Common Good’ presented at the ‘Challenging Islamophobia: Towards Social Justice & Inclusion’ conference sponsored by Affinity Intercultural Foundation.

To explore these resources or to sign up for monthly e-newsletters, visit:


Adult Fellowship

Allan and Denise Secomb

The 2010 National Adult Fellowship Celebration will be held at Greenhills Centre in Canberra from 21-25 April. The three keynote speakers are: Rosemary Young, National Director Frontier Services; Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director UnitingCare Australia; and Rev. Gregor Henderson, Bible Study Leader. A post celebration tour of 5 days/4 nights will explore the NSW South Coast, Southern Highlands, Blue Mountains and Wollongong. Detailed information of registration, speakers, and tour has been distributed through all Synod UCAF Committees. For more information contact:
Celebration: Denise and Allan Secomb
P: 02 4951 6885
Tour: Judy and Geoff Hicks
P: 02 4933 3703
Registration: Ron Gregory
P: 02 9747 1448


Frontier Services

Felicita Benedikovics, Communications Officer, Frontier Services

When your colleagues are scattered across some of the most remote pockets of the continent, the opportunity to come together marks a very special occasion. Between October 12–16, Sydney welcomed the Patrol Ministers for their bi-annual conference. As a time of sharing and training, the ministers took part in sessions by Rev. Dr Dean Drayton (former Uniting Church President) in theological reflection, Lynette Dungan in spiritual reflections and sessions also from Dr John Ashfield on mental health. The current President, Alistair Macrae, also spent time with the ministers sharing a meal with them, hosted by Rosemary Young. The conference concluded with the celebration of Rev. David Buxton’s induction as the new Associate National Director of Frontier Services, and paid tribute to Rev. David Thiem, his work and commitment to the role over the last seven years. Frontier Services launches second Troopy for Aboriginal carers The success of the Frontier Services’ Troopy program in the Central region of the Northern Territory, Troopy 2 has been launched for the Aboriginal communities located in the Barkly region. This unique respite option has been created especially for Aboriginal carers living in remote communities and gives them access to a fully stocked Troopy which includes swags, shovels, tents, cooking utensils, bush tucker and more. “The Troopy Program gives Aboriginal carers the freedom to have a break in the bush if they choose to, without having to come into the city for their respite.”


Theology and Discipleship

Chris Walker, National Consultant, Theology & Discipleship

The National Consultant has prepared two papers for the November Assembly Standing Committee. One is a follow up paper to ‘A Church of Passionate Disciples… rethinking church membership’ which resulted in many responses. The second paper is ‘A Theology of Stipends’. The ASC will discuss the papers and consider the implications arising from them.

A Bible Study ‘Peacemaking and Discipleship—Putting God’s Peace into Practice’ has been completed and is now at MediaCom for printing. It will include commentary, prayers and suggested activities. A DVD with interviews with a range of people involved in engaging in peace as part of their discipleship goes with the study but will be sold separately. It is a resource in its own right and individual interviews could be used in worship or other groups for example. The resource will be ready before the end of the year.


Rob Lutton, Community Relationships Manager, UnitingWorld

Everything in Common

The 2009/10 Everything in Common gift catalogue and website have been launched. To request additional copies of the catalogue please contact UnitingWorld on 02 8267 4267 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Meaningful gifts from the catalogue can also be purchased online at

120 year Anniversary for Korea and Australia

In October, Korea and Australia celebrated 120 years of mission, friendship and growth. The first Australian Missionary, Rev. Henry Davies arrived in Pusan on the 4th October, 1889 and since that day, the Church in Korea has grown into a powerful agent for reconciliation and justice.

Celebrations were held in both Korea and Australia in Sydney and Melbourne. The celebration hosted by the Dong San Church in Parramatta was host for a sumptuous Korean banquet and Church Service afterwards for the occasion. Similar celebrations were held by the Korean Church of Melbourne.The room was filled with both old and new faces of mission in Korea, warm wishes and many happy ‘Yobosayo’s’. President of the UCA, the Rev. Alistair conducted the service and many distinguished guests spoke of the power of depth of the friendship between Australian and Korea including the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea Mr Woong Nam Kim, the Moderator of the PCK Rev Yong-Soo Chi, Rev. John Barr and the Hon Laurie Ferguson MP.

During the celebrations a new Mission Declaration was signed between the PCK and the Uniting Church committing to working in partnership together in the future.

The night was proof that the ministry of the church is much more than the sum of its part and testament to the strong relationship forged through 120 years of mission and service.

Support for reunification on the Korean Peninsula

Significant steps towards peace were made last week as an international consultation took place in Hong Kong supported by the World Council of Churches. The consultation focused on reconciliation and reunification on the Korean Peninsula. Rev. Gregor Henderson (former Uniting Church President) and Rev. Kisoo Jang (Secretary Korean Commission in NSW) attended as representatives of the Uniting Church in Australia.

For information visit:


Disaster appeals

UnitingWorld’s partners in Asia and the Pacific have been working to provide relief and plan rebuilding efforts for disaster affected communities. Rob Floyd visited tsunami-affected Samoa in October to begin a relief effort in partnership with the Methodist Church in Samoa and the Congregational Christian Church. Updates from the efforts in Samoa and Sumatra are available on our website:

Sydney-based emergency relief fundraisers

Breakfast Fundraiser for Samoa Relief Appeal:

Following the devastating tsunami that occurred in Samoa, Sydney’s Wesley Mission has organised a Corporate Breakfast to raise funds in support of UnitingWorld’s tsunami appeal.
The breakfast will take place on Wednesday 4 November at 7.30am and will feature a special Guest Speaker. The High Commissioner of Samoa, Mr. Lemalu Tate Simi, has also been invited to attend.
The event will take place at the Smith Room, Wesley Conference Centre, C2 Level, 220 Pitt Street, Sydney. The cost is $100 per person (a $70.00 tax deductible receipt will be issued after the breakfast).

Please RSVP to Amy Fallon on 02 9263 5438, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Concert Fundraiser for Emergency Relief Appeals

On Saturday 14 November 2009 a light classical music concert will be held to raise funds in support of the UnitingWorld relief efforts in Samoa, Sumatra and the Philippines. The concert will begin at 7pm at the Chapel of St Andrews Centre for Ministry, 16 Masons Drive, North Parramatta. Performers include Christopher Perrin, trumpet, Gregory van der Stuik, trombone, John Martin, piano and Ann Perrin, bass.

For more information contact Ann Perrin on 02 9630 7554, or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A concert flyer can be downloaded from the UnitingWorld website at

Lent Event 2010 – Joining God at the Edges

Lent Event will be back in 2010, challenging Australians to re-evaluate their lifestyles while helping some of the world’s poorest people in the forty days leading up to Easter. To date Lent Event has raised more than $1 million for UnitingWorld’s relief and development projects. This effort will continue in 2010, with participants being given the opportunity to bring about positive change in communities in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, South India, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Zambia. Join Lent Event next year and join God at the edges.

To find out more about how you can get involved visit


There are still numerous exciting experience placements available for 2010 in Asia, Africa and the Pacific. These include:

Architect/Draftsperson in Tonga to tutor a course in basic architecture or drafting. Possibility for full funding. Ideally a 12 month commitment.
Teachers and Principal in Tonga to set up and head an English speaking side school in Vava’u. Primary school teaching experience needed.
Communications staff in Amritsar, North India. Experience required.

A full list of available placements is available at:

Experience placements provide life changing opportunities to use your gifts in the service of communities who need them and to learn from new cultures and traditions. If you think you may have the skills and passion to explore these possibilities, please contact:

Kathy Pereira
P: 02 8267 4250
E:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Jennifer Whyte, Research Officer, UnitingJustice

News on a Human Rights Act for Australia

The report from the National Human Rights Consultation was recently made public. The report recommends that Australia should enact a Human Rights Act, with further key recommendations including the development of a national human rights education plan, auditing of all legislation, policies and practices to ensure they comply with human rights, and the establishment of a Joint Committee on Human Rights to review all legislation for compliance with human rights.
UnitingJustice enthusiastically welcomed these recommendations, and has been actively expressing our support for a Human Rights Act following the report’s release.
For more information, see the opinion pieces from the President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae, and UnitingJustice National Director, Rev. Elenie Poulos, on the UnitingJustice website:

Also on our website is a new briefing paper which outlines the current state of play, explains the Uniting Church's support for a Human Rights Act and addresses some common concerns about an Act.

How does Australia treat potential migrants who have a disability?

UnitingJustice has a long-held concern for the impact of Australia’s migration health rules on people with a disability, especially for refugees and humanitarian entrants. In our recent submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s inquiry into the migration treatment of disability, we argued that the current treatment of disability in Australia’s migration laws is in direct violation of Australia’s human rights obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We recommended that these laws be amended to take into account the important and valuable social and economic contributions that are made to Australian society by all people with disability, and in doing so conform to our international human rights obligations.

A copy of this submission is available on our website.

UCA opposes further weakening of CPRS

The Assembly has written to MPs and Senators urging them to vote for a strengthened Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, Rev. Elenie Poulos, said, “We are unable to support any further weakening of the CPRS which compromises its integrity, increases support for polluting industries, and holds back Australia’s transition to a low carbon society”.

Click here to read more on our website:

UCA urges constructive dialogue on asylum seekers

The Assembly has written to Prime Minister Rudd and Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Sharman Stone, to express concern and disappointment at the Government's responses to asylum seekers arriving by boat.

President of the Uniting Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae, expressed dismay that issues surrounding the movement of asylum seekers were once again being confused with issues of border security. “It is not a matter of national security that people come to Australia seeking protection as refugees. Everyone has a right under international law to seek asylum.”

Rather than feeding an unrealistic fear of ‘boat people’, Rev. Macrae said, “We have urged Mr Rudd to demonstrate leadership of a different kind – one that directs public discourse away from such baseless fears and towards our moral responsibility to care for vulnerable people who seek our help”.

Click here to read more:

Christian Education

Mark Hillis, National Director, Christian Education

Deep engagement with the Bible

Recent and differing encounters with the Bible have refreshed my conviction that serious work with the Scriptures nourishes people’s faith. The first of these has arisen in the congregation where I belong, using the studies from Under the Tree of Life, the final resource in the ‘Disciple’ series.

The weekly pattern consists of: (i) each group member reading ahead, before gathering on Wednesday night; (ii) enjoying the DVD input of a biblical scholar responding to the same texts; (iii) taking quality time to share our own responses to the text and questions that have arisen for each of us; and (iv) exploring what it all means for our daily walk with Jesus. I have rarely had such a rich encounter with books of the Bible including Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, Daniel and Revelation, to mention just a few covered in this 32-week series.

The second deep engagement happened at this year’s Network of Biblical Storytellers Gathering in Queensland. At least 20 members had been learning allotted portions of the Book of Amos in the weeks leading up to the gathering at Alexandra Headland. Each participant immersed her/himself in the passage and, by the time of the gathering, gave expression to it, with or without props. Prior to this event, I had not believed that the prophecy of Amos could be so wonderfully portrayed. Many of the participants and audience were deeply moved and profoundly challenged by the impact of the whole book of Amos presented in this way. Several comments were made about how astonishingly relevant Amos is today!

Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry

Meera Atkinson, Journalist, National Assembly

Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry has been very busy participating in several conferences this month. The Niue National Conference was held in Sydney with a theme of ‘Jesus. All about life!’ The 6th Indonesian National Conference was held October 15-17 at the Caulfield Indonesian congregation site in Melbourne. All but one of our congregations was present.

On October 17 the leaders and ministers of the Samoan National Conference met for the day at Inala UCA in Brisbane where significant time was spent in conversation about training of worship leaders. Also on October 17 MCM National Director, Tony Floyd, met for several hours with the Sudanese Nuer Uniting Church Faith Community in Queensland based at the Cooper’s Plains UCA in Brisbane.

October 18-20 was the annual gathering of the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Cross-cultural Ministry and Mission Network. Tony Floyd participated in the Vic/Tas Synod Cross-cultural Ministry and Mission Retreat and led a session discussing UCA Relations with Other Faiths.

To read about these events in full go to:



Ramon Peachey, Communications, UAICC

UAICC magazine

The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress produces a quarterly magazine called Message Stick, showcasing various aspects of its Indigenous Ministry and community development programs. To subscribe to Message Stick please email your contact details and preference for a hard copy or electronic version: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Museum Custodian/Caretaker

If you’re serious about a lifestyle change, look no further…

Frontier Services is recruiting for a custodian/caretaker for the Frontier Services museum in Birdsville, QLD. It is in need of an energetic and committed volunteer couple with an interest in outback history to live in and maintain the facilities as well as provide a welcome to visitors.

If this opportunity is of interest to you or someone you know, contact Rosemary Young for more information.
P: 02 8270 1320
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CCA General Secretary

Applications are invited from individuals from member churches and councils of churches of the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) for the position of General Secretary of the CCA. The position is open to both lay and ordained, men and women.  

This is a senior position, involving international ecumenical leadership for the churches in Asia. It has the expectation of appropriate qualifications and experience. The location is in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with extensive international travel.

A Position Description, including Selection Criteria and Terms and Conditions, is available from the Moderator of the Search Committee:

Rev. Professor James Haire
15 Blackall Street
Barton, ACT 2600
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Closing date for receipt of applications: 15 November 2009

National Faith Development Consultant

Applications are invited from interested persons for the National Faith Development Consultant position. the role is a half- time position, within the
collegial staff team known as Uniting Faith and Discipleship. Location is negotiable.

A position description is available on the Assembly website:

Any queries can be directed to the Associate General Secretary (02 8267 4203), or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Applications close Monday 7th December, 2009.




Essays to honour John Paver
Randall Prior and others
(Uniting Academic Press)
ISBN     9780980580310            $34.95

This book honours UCA minister and teacher John Paver, a pioneer in integrating theology and ministry practice. Rev. Paver made a major contribution to the discipline of Practical Theology at the Uniting Church Theological College as well as to the churches and ecumenical community as a whole.

Advent through Holy Week
Charles Rice and others (eds)
(Augsburg Fortress)
ISBN     9780800620776            $45.95

New Proclamation continues to offer the best in creative, searching, and responsible interpretation of the biblical lectionary texts and is an indispensable resource for preaching that is biblical, yet contemporary.

Michael Ford
(Hidden Spring)
ISBN    9781587680557            $29.95

Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Anthony de Mello and John O'Donohue—four enduring figures whose relevance is timeless and whose spiritual inspiration in times of recession and uncertainty are essential in helping us to rise above despair and to search for God deep within ourselves.


Series III, Cycle C
Cynthia E Cowen, Frank Ramirez, Arley K Fadness, Rick McCrakcen-Bennet, Scott Bryte

In this complete set of insightful and inspiring sermons for every Sunday and major celebration in the church year, an experienced group of five master preachers skillfully place readers right in the middle of the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Weaving together the authors’ diverse experiences and viewpoints with the powerful story of Christ’s ministry, these eloquent messages provide a wealth of ideas for fellow pastors as well as an astute understanding of the gospel message for contemporary living that will revitalize the faith of all readers and draw them closer to Christ.

CSS Publishing
ISBN 9780788026218
Product Code CSS621                AU$62.45/NZ$78.45

Series III, Cycle C

Derl G Keefer, David J Kalas, Stephen P McCutchan, Chrysanne Timm, R Kevin Mohr

If you want a new perspective on the ancient texts of the Hebrew Scriptures, this comprehensive collection of inspirational messages based on the First Readings from Cycle C of the Revised Common Lectionary is an invaluable resource.

CSS Publishing
ISBN 9780788026195
Product Code CSS619                AU$62.45/NZ$78.45

Series III, Cycle C

Richard Gribble CSC, Steven E Albertin, April Yamasaki, Charles L Aaron Jr, Scott Suskovic

The New Testament epistles offer us a unique look at some of the struggles faced by the early church, and how those first-century Christians worked through some of the theological and pastoral issues that divided them. In this anthology of insightful sermons based on the Second Readings from Cycle C of the Revised Common Lectionary, five distinguished preachers explore the epistles and show that their lessons on life and faith still offer valuable guidance for today's complex challenges. This volume includes messages for every Sunday and major celebration throughout the entire church year, and is filled with compelling stories and wisdom. It’s a preaching, teaching, and meditation resource that will be a welcome addition to any library.

CSS Publishing
ISBN 9780788026201
Product Code CSS620                AU$62.45/NZ$78.45

Series VI, Cycle C

David E Leininger

This volume is just what any pastor needs when looking for something special to spice up a Sunday sermon—it’s full of imaginative and inspirational meditations that breathe new life into scripture texts from Cycle C of the Revised Common Lectionary.

CSS Publishing
ISBN 9780788026225
Product Code CSS622                AU$36.75/NZ$45.95

Order books from MediaCom at:
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P: 1800 811 311