Assembly Update October 2010

The October edition of Assembly Update is here, with latest news from the Assembly.

Just a Thought

Rev. Terence Corkin, General Secretary

rollinghillsIs it me or is this just a crazy time of the year? I know that we all have our busy periods and things can seem a bit hectic so maybe this is just my season for rushing along. The temptation for many in such situations is to just put the head down and keep going. Like a marathon runner we persevere through the pain barrier in the hope that we will get through this time and burst out of the forest and into the clear undulating countryside where everything again has perspective and a sense of space.

When people talk to me about being very busy and overworked, I sometimes comment that the reality is, the important things get done. When there are only so many hours in the day then what is most significant gets addressed and other things get left. That’s OK – that’s how it should be. The problem comes when we let the pressing demands of the urgent distract us from a careful consideration of what is important. Whether one is talking about a pressured work environment or the demands of life in family or community the temptation is the same – do the urgent, most demanding thing and not the important thing.

In my observation it is often self care, family or other important relationships, spiritual succour, good diet and exercise that are among the first casualties of being under pressure for time. I expect if we talked to people in the cool light of day they would say that these are all very important things; but we don’t always act that way. When we are flat out it’s easy to loose perspective and not attend to these very important things. If that is what we are doing then we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that we are saying that other things are more important to us at this time.

Our ability to make healthy long term decisions about the use of our time and energy requires of us a great degree of self awareness and honesty about what drives us. In those times when “something has to give” it’s best to make sure that we know what’s most important. And for those of us in leadership roles it is critical that we model and encourage this kind of self awareness and self care to others.

 By the time you read this piece I will be on a week’s leave down the South Coast of NSW.


From the President

Rev. Alistair Macrae, President

‘Ministry in a time of transition’ will be the theme of another series of National Ministers’ Conferences’ convened by the President in 2011. Building on the success of the Conferences in 2008, Rev. Alistair Macrae hopes the conferences will equip and encourage ministers in this ‘between-the-times’ era in church history. ‘Some of our inherited ways of worship, witness and service are no longer effective in this new context. We are having to revisit fundamental questions about the role of the church in the great mission of God. And this discernment also raises critical questions about the ministries of the church in terms of form, function and skills’. Leadership on this theme will be offered by Rev Jenny Tymms. While sharing a common theme, each Conference will also have a contextual theme derived from the location of the Conference. The first will be held in Vanuatu as guests of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu where the contextual theme will be ‘mission in a global church’. The second conference in Alice Springs will have a contextual theme of ‘indigenous spirituality and theology’. And the third will be held in Adelaide with a focus on ‘fresh expressions/emerging church’. The Vanuatu and central Australian Conferences will also offer ‘immersion/exposure’ experiences where participants can extend their stay by visiting remote Vanuatu villages and indigenous communities respectively. Registrations open in November. The dates and venues for the three conferences are:
Conference 1 Venue:                          Mele Presbyterian Church, Vanuatu Dates:                           Monday 9 May – Friday 13 May (possibly Saturday 14 May) Exposure trips:              Saturday 14 May – Tuesday 17 May Contextual theme:          Mission in a global church
Conference 2 Venue:                          St Philip’s College, Alice Springs Dates:                           Monday 11 July – Friday 15 July Exposure trips:              Saturday 16 July – Wednesday 20 July Contextual theme:          Indigenous spirituality and theology
Conference 3 Venue:                          The Monastery, Adelaide Dates:                           Monday 17 October – Friday 21 October Contextual theme:          Emerging mission and ministry
For further information about the event itself, please contact: Michael Symons PA to the President Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (03) 9251 5295



Jennifer Whyte, Research Officer

Our work in October

Rev. Elenie Poulos, UnitingJustice Australia National Director, will be heading to Albania for a meeting of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. Elenie is the only Australian member of this Commission, which last met in Cuba in 2009. The agenda includes reflection on World Council of Churches programs in peacemaking, human rights, poverty, wealth and economy and interreligious relations. There will also be a focus on global advocacy and Elenie has been invited to present a paper on church perspectives and opportunities for joint international advocacy.

We are also commencing our communications with the new Government and its Ministers, Shadow Ministers and new Members of Parliament, outlining the Church’s policy positions on a range of issues, including asylum seekers and climate change.

Continuing our opposition to the mandatory detention of asylum seekers

The Uniting Church in Australia has for many years been calling on successive governments to end the policy of mandatory detention for those who arrive by boat and commit fully to onshore processing. We believe that this policy compounds the suffering of people who have already endured considerable mental and physical trauma.

 On 22 September, we reiterated this position in a media release calling for the urgent review of the mandatory detention policy.

 Click here to read this media release.

Civil society statement on a credible plan on pollution and climate change

During the period after the Federal Election when negotiations on forming a government were occurring, we joined a diverse group of civil society organisations in calling for an urgent price on carbon pollution.

 Click here to read this statement and its signatories.

Human rights seminar at the United Theological College

UnitingJustice was delighted to support a recent seminar day at the United Theological College in Sydney, featuring human rights theologian Professor George Newlands. Professor Newlands’ two excellent presentations were broken up by a very moving speech from Mr Mick Gooda, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission.


Relations with Other Faiths.

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


This month’s interview of Working Group member, Wilma Viswanathan, can be viewed at 

A new DVD review of Peace through Education and Dialogue by the Islamic Sciences & Research Academy can be viewed at

A draft guidelines document on Interfaith Education was presented, under the leadership of the Rev. Dr Mark Hillis (National Director, Christian Education), at the recent AARE Conference on the Gold Coast. Feedback on the document was sought by those in attendance. Following this, the document will be progressed by the Relations with Other Faiths Working Group.

Looking Forward

The Relations with Other Faiths website now displays a greeting to the Hindu Community in anticipation of Diwali, which will occur on 3rd – 8th November, 2010. This can be viewed at 

Relations with Other Faiths on Twitter and Facebook or via e-news

Follow Relations with Other Faiths on Twitter -

‘Like’ our Facebook page - ‘UCA Relations with Other Faiths’

To explore the website or to sign up for monthly e-new, visit:



Tomas Ganderton – Communications and Fundraising Coordinator

One year on, Samoa continues to recover In September and October 2009, several Church Partners of the Uniting Church in Australia faced some of the most destructive and widespread natural disasters in memory. Last September in Samoa, entire communities were swept away as tsunami waves reportedly measuring up to 14 metres high battered the Pacific island nation. Within days of this disaster, Typhoon Ketsana resulted in destructive widespread flooding in the northern Philippines, and communities in western Sumatra (Indonesia) endured one of the strongest earthquakes ever to strike the region. The Uniting Church in Australia responded with great warmth and generousity to the call of our Church Partners as they worked to address the urgent needs of their local communities during this critical time. Food, water, sanitation and medical support were desperately needed during these crucial times. Click here to read more

Searching for the family of William Bennett The Methodist Church in Fiji would like to make contact with the family of the first Principal of Davuilevu Theological College in Fiji – his name was William Bennett.  They wish to advise the family of some developments at the College to be named for Rev Bennett. The Methodist Church in Fiji is also searching for photographs (copies) of Fiji's first Methodist Missionaries William Cross and David Cargill. Please contact the librarian at Davuilevu Rev James Bhagwan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Bruce Mullan, Associate Director Church Solidarity (Pacific) UnitingWorld at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 02 8267 4489. Save the date 10.10.10 101010_BANNERUnitingWorld and Micah Challenge Australia are calling on churches and Christians throughout Auwstralia to SAVE THE DATE – set aside Sunday 10th October 2010 (10.10.10) to pray, speak and act against poverty as part of the global Micah Challenge initiative. On Sunday 10 October 2010 millions of Christians around the world will unite for a Big day of Prayer, Promise and Action to see half a billion people released from extreme poverty. 100 million Christians will pray for fresh vision to take action on poverty, and more than 10 million will take part in the BIG Promise. Micah Challenge Australia have produced a range of resources for churches to use on the day, including a global prayer, video resources, a four week bible study book, sermon resources and more. Click here to read more about SAVE THE DATE 10.10.10

Click here to visit the SAVE THE DATE 10.10.10 resources page


New and urgent Experience placements UW_Experience_webbanner_660x120There are a still range of exciting Experience volunteer opportuities to serve alongside Church Partners of the Uniting Church in Australia, in the Pacific, Asia and Africa.

Some new and urgent placements include:

Communications Officer – Methodist Church in Zimbabwe

Conversational English Teacher – Methodist Church in Samoa

Community Development Officer – Church of North India

If you think that you have the skills and experience to undertake one of these positions, we would love to hear from you. For further information, please contact Kathy Pereira, Associate Director for Experience programs: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: +61 2 8267 4250 or +61 2 8267 4267 Click here to view a complete list of currently available Experience placements


Adult Fellowship

The UCAF National Committee is pleased to announce the first awardees of the Joan Stott UCAF Bursary.

Under the terms of the bursary,

  • two bursaries are to be awarded each year;
  • each bursary is made available to assist those committed to, or who already are, studying in the field of leadership or theology, within the ethos of the Uniting Church;
  • all recipients of these bursaries are to be under 35 years of age;
  • funds for each awardee will be forwarded directly to the place of study.

Applicants for the bursary are sought through each Synod UCAF Committee who interview applicants and forward their recommendation to the National Committee.

 There were three applicants this year one from NSW/ACT and two from Queensland.

The awardees are Jessica Morthorpe (Ngunnawal, ACT) and Rod Fisher (Ipswich Queensland)


Theology and Discipleship

Chris Walker, National Consultant, Theology & Discipleship

The Worship working group met in September.  A paper on “The Nature of Christian Worship: including a consideration of Contemporary and Alternative Worship” was finalised and is now on the Worship website.  An educational DVD on “The Prayers of the People” has been filmed and is being edited.  It will become available in the near future.

From the Doctrine working group, Doc.bytes on “The Lord’s Supper” and “Living the Christian Life” have been finalised and will soon be printed and put on the website.

The paper “On Being an Apostolic Church,” which explores what it means for the Uniting Church to be an apostolic church, is now available on the Doctrine website.

Some of the papers from the “Engaging the Basis” conference held on 9-11 July in Melbourne will be put on the Doctrine website.  Others will be published in coming editions of Uniting Church Studies.

The Doctrine and Worship working groups have prepared a list of Important Resources of significant books and helpful websites.  The two page list is available and is on the Doctrine website.  It is aimed to be of assistance to leaders across the Uniting Church by pointing to primary resources in different areas.  The books on the list are available through the various theological college libraries.


Christian Education

In October, the Assembly bids a fond farewell to Mark Hillis, National Director of Christian Education.

Mark has been an important member of the Uniting Faith and Discipleship team and has been particularly passionate in encouraging creativity, lifelong learning and collaboration in this field.

Mark will be moving into Congregational Ministry at Epping Uniting Church and the Assembly wishes him all the best in his future endeavours.


Property Sharing

A draft regulation on property sharing between Uniting Church congregations was brought before the ASC in response to the decision of the 12th Assembly. It seeks to find a way to provide a framework for decision making on issues relating to property sharing guiding between congregations that avoids a sense of landlord and tenant that can sometimes unhelpfully develop.

The new regulation was approved and the effective date was October 1, 2010. However, the Assembly required the production of guidelines in consultation with the National Director and Reference Committee for Multicultural and Cross cultural ministry. Unfortunately, these have taken longer than anticipated and will be made avilable in November 2010. They will provide guidelines and policy direction to assist the implementation of the Regulation. The request is made that you do not seek to apply the regulation until the policy guidelines are released.


Communication and Fundraising Coordinator - UnitingWorld

Click here to read more.


General Secretary - World Methodist Council

Click here to read more.



New from MediaCom

Why Jesus?
By William H Willimon
Abingdon Press
160 pages
Product code AB0028
$20.95 No figure in history has received more attention, and been less understood, than Jesus of Nazareth. Much of what has been written recently portrays Jesus as a vaguely kind and friendly person whose message sometimes pleases but never challenges believers. People might even be tempted to ask "Why all the fuss? What here is worth devoting my life to?" Very little about that Jesus is worth it, says Will Willimon. Yet there is another Jesus, the mysterious preacher from Nazareth who continues to invite men and women to claim the true meaning of their lives by giving their lives away in service to God and others. This Jesus continues to fascinate and compel us, in spite of all the attempts to domesticate his message and put distance between us and the call to follow. In his radical teachings, his self-sacrificial death, and his liberating life beyond death, this Jesus teaches and shows us the true meaning and purpose of our own lives.

The spirit and art of conflict transformation
Creating a Culture of JustPeace
By Thomas W Porter Jr
The Upper Room
Paperback, 160 pages
Product code TUR1026
$32.00 Transforming conflict into a positive rather than a negative force is a spiritual pursuit and needs to be grounded in biblical principles: love of God, neighbor, and self. This book is a resource for seminary professors, leaders, ministers, mediators, facilitators, and conflict transformation consultants who want to approach their work in this way. Part I explains how we can prepare ourselves for the work of engaging conflict, and Part II explores how we engage others in conflict transformation, outlining specific processes. This book articulates the vision and practice of conflict transformation developed by the JustPeace organization. The mission of the JustPeace organization is: to engage conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation, and restoration of community in and through the church universal to the world in which we live. Interwoven with the practical instructions are stories that illustrate the potential for this new "justpeace" approach. JustPeace ( Web site.
Meeting the Messiah
Scriptures for the Advent Season
By Kara Lassen Oliver
The Upper Room
128 pages
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$22.45 Advent is the season when Christians prepare for Christmas. In the midst of putting up decorations, buying and wrapping gifts, attending concerts and children's pageants, there is a wistful longing to focus on the essence of Christmas, the birth of the Saviour. Meeting the Messiah provides six weeks of short readings and guided reflections on scripture that help readers journey through Advent at a different pace and with a purposeful focus on the Christ child. The readings tell the Advent story through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, Mary, the shepherds, the Magi, and Jesus himself. Readers step into the shoes of those who prepared for and encountered the Christ child, providing inspiration for their own encounters with Jesus this Advent. The book may be used by individuals or with a small group. Full leader's guide included. Scriptures are loosely based on the lectionary.

The way of scripture
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By Marjorie J Thompson Leader’s Guide
The Upper Room
Paperback, 112 pages
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$24.00 Participant’s Guide
By Robert Mulholland
The Upper Room
Paperback, 112 pages
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$19.25 You go to Sunday school. You read the Bible. How, though, do you approach it? Do you search the scriptures for validation of your own beliefs and decisions, or do you allow the Word-in-text to search you? If you're looking for a deeper experience in God's Word, The Way of Scripture will support you in going beyond simple Bible study. As you follow this 8-week journey, you'll find ideas to help you lay aside preconceived notions and daily worries, creating a place for a transforming encounter with God. Also available, the Participant's Book. Order books from MediaCom at email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Books for Unitings

Books are selected by Hugh McGinlay. e: <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
(These books are available from UCA bookshops and resource centres; and from Mosaic Resources. For further information on any title, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit the website at


'He bgean with Moses...'
Preaching the Old Testament today
Grenville Kent (ed.)
ISBN    9781844744480        $29.95
This stimulating volume offers guidance for expository preaching from the Old Testament, and practical suggestions for how to understand the message of its diverse literature and to apply it today. The chapters cover narrative, plot and characters, along with the main Old Testament genres and two special topics: preaching from 'difficult' texts, and preaching Christ.
Ministry unplugged
Uncommon calls to serve
Susan Willhauck
ISBN    9780827223479    $36.95
Explores out-of-the-ordinary expressions of the call to ministry, telling stories of passionate people involved in ministry in uncommon ways and places in order to spark congregational imagination about ways to be ministers for Jesus Christ.
This book will help congregations and individuals to re-think assumptions about what ministry is, who can be in ministry, where it can be done and how it can be done. Six ways to study the bible
Textual, literary, exegetical, historical, theological, devotional
Trent C. Butler
ISBN     9780827234703        $29.95
Many Bible readers say they want more depth and meaning in Bible study but don't know how to get it. This small volume lays out six ways the Bible reader can ask the right questions to get the right answers to understand Scripture. These six ways include: textual, historical, literary, exegetical, theological, and devotional studies. Walking gently on the earth
Making faithful choices about food, energy, shelter and more
Lisa McMinn and Megan Neff
ISBN    9780830832996            $21.95
God created the world in a delicate balance for the good of all plants, animals and people. Tragically, though, from the Fall to today, we as humans have lived in ways that keep living things - including fellow human beings - from surviving at all, much less flourishing. But we can change that… Broken hearts and new creations
Intimations of a great reversal
James Alison
ISBN     9780232527964        $29.95
This new book from James Alison has all the brilliance, wit and panache that have made him one of the most interesting theologian writing in English, admired and enjoyed for the freshness and verve of his interpretations of scripture, for his dazzling word play and teasing connections, surprises and reversals.