Assembly Update December 2010

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



Just a Thought

Rev. Glenda Blakefield, Associate General Secretary


Our lives are a journey. In the Uniting Church we know that more than most.  We are on the road. We are on the way; a pilgrim people. We don’t make the journey on our own; we are called to make it with others. Our Basis of Union implants this in our DNA. Each time another transition on the journey greets us, we have the opportunity to pause and see where we have been, notice how far we have come and ponder how the journey has been for us, and remember who we are with and who we want to be with. Who is our neighbour on the journey? The writer Hannah Wolf centres her reflections on ‘neighbour’ on the rich images in the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this famous story, Jesus breaks the boundaries of traditional and conventional understandings of neighbour. For most of the world the term neighbour means people who are like us, to whom we choose to be connected. It has a particular framework in which we interpret our moral and ethical responsibility to others to whom we relate, or may have thoughts about. Who do we consider need resources for a just life? Is it those who we consider to be our neighbour? Jesus shatters the conventional boundaries and insists that every being is our neighbour. Because of this, the ‘who’ and ‘what’ of our moral and ethical responsibilities are stretched and break. They are turned upside-down. If everyone is our neighbour, all areas of life and society is transformed. Jesus could only achieve this in his life by withdrawing projections from others who were different. Therefore he could eat with the sinner; sit down at table fellowship with those who were unclean and marginalised. In Jesus’ way of living with our neighbour, there is no scapegoating of others with the secret fears of our own shortcomings. The challenge is to give up the luxury of enemies and to embrace the truth of humanity as family. Neighbour means that we are open to the possibility of personal relationship and even intimacy. We might push the paradigm even further and wonder what happens in our perceptions of others when we imagine each other as brother and sister? Each transitional moment of the journey, whether it is organisational, communal or personal, is also an invitation from others to receive the gift that they offer as neighbours. It is an occasion to find within ourselves the gift that we are, in the face of a loving God, who treats each one of us as the most precious neighbour of all.


From the President

Rev. Alistair Macrae, President

UCA first church in Australia to officially acknowledge Aboriginal and Islander peoples as first peoples of Australia

The Uniting Church in Australia revises its constitution

The Uniting Church is the first church in Australia to constitutionally acknowledge Aboriginal and Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia.

Uniting Church President Rev. Alistair Macrae says the change to the preamble signifies the natural and rightful extension of the covenantal relationship that the Uniting Church has with the Indigenous people of the church, and by extension of this land.

“As a church we entered into an agreement with our Indigenous brothers and sisters to foster more just, inclusive and equal relationships in the Church that recognise the place of First Peoples,” Rev Macrae said.

“We have worked closely with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in developing the preamble and we are proud that, as a church, we have chosen to take this important step,” he said.

“It gives us a bigger and deeper understanding of who we are as an Australian church. First and second peoples belong equally together in this great land. Hopefully this new acknowledgment might provide a strong basis to work for greater understanding, reconciliation and justice.”

The Chairperson for the UAICC Rev. Ken Sumner said, “For members of the Congress, this acknowledgement places the foundation of our relationship in truth. It also, perhaps for the first time, makes Aboriginal and Islander people feel included in this church. For the first time, our covenantal relationship is founded on truth and not the lingering denial of our historical past. This is our story. The way the Congress has experienced our relationship is now enshrined in the introduction to the law of the church of which we are all a part.”

The preamble to the Uniting Church constitution was passed by the 12th Assembly in 2009 and subsequently passed by the Synods and Presbyteries (the Church’s state-based and regional councils) throughout 2010, as is required for constitutional change.

Revisions to the text have been developed after extensive consultation throughout the church and in particular with the UAICC and Indigenous Uniting Church members.


News from Assembly Standing Committee

The last Assembly Standing Committee of the year was convened this past weekend in Sydney. The 26 elected members of the committee, our President, Synod general secretaries and some Assembly staff joined in vibrant and rigorous discussions on issues of significance for our church. Some of the main topics are highlighted here.


UCA applies to join the Pacific Conference of Churches

The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has a longstanding commitment to being multi-cultural, and building cross-cultural capacity is part of our ecumenical history. At the recent Assembly Standing Committee meeting there was unanimous agreement that the UCA should apply for membership of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC); a proposal made following consultations with Pacific communities in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

The UCA and its forbear denominations have been involved in the Pacific for over 150 years. Active partnerships exist with Pacific churches with Presbyterian, Methodist or Congregational heritages and Australians were involved in the establishment of many of these churches. Today not all of these churches have formal agreements with UCA, however there is substantial engagement with many and membership to the PCC will strengthen these ties.

It is also widely considered that it is natural and right that indigenous peoples in Oceania connect with indigenous peoples in Australia. Many Pacific people who have come to Australia have been incorporated into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities and have served in Aboriginal communities.  The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) have also had engagement with Pacific indigenous communities and there is opportunity for further engagement. For these reasons UAICC also support the application for membership by UCA.

UCA engagement with the PCC has been active and strong for some time and in Australia there is significant Pacific membership. This is reflected in the number and size of the National Conferences comprising Pacific members including the Tongan, Fijian, Niuean and Samoan National Conferences.

UCA leaders have regularly been invited to and participated in PCC Pacific Church Leaders’ meetings. In more recent times the relationship between UCA and PCC has been marked by actions and expressions of solidarity, exchanges of personnel, working together in development and other projects, advocacy and peace-making.  The relationship has shifted to being reciprocal and interactive and membership to the PCC will continue facilitate fruitful interaction.


Church membership redefined

A discussion paper, which seeks to develop a new understanding of what it means to be a member of the church, was submitted to the Assembly Standing Committee with a proposal to distribute it to Presbyteries for comment.

The paper proposes a revision of church membership to ensure that the governance and the decision making of the church resides with those who are both confirmed members and active participants in the life of the church.

Many congregations find they have confirmed members who rarely participate in the life of the congregation yet retain their voting rights according to the Regulations. On the other hand, others come to participate in the life of the congregation and may be regarded as faithful members, but have not formally become confirmed members or members-in-association or have not transferred their membership from another congregation. Strictly speaking these active participants currently cannot vote in meetings of the congregation. Adherents may attend and speak at meetings of the congregation but also cannot vote. They can be appointed as members of committees, but are not members of the congregation.

These proposed changes will mean that those able to participate in the decision-making life of the congregation will be active (confirmed) baptised people. Adherents should be encouraged to become baptised and to participate in the commitment service of the congregation if they wish to participate fully in the life of the congregation. The emphasis should be on baptism and discipleship - understood as following Jesus and actively participating in the life of the local community of faith, not simply gaining voting rights or joining an institution.

The discussion paper proposes a regular and repeatable (normally yearly) recommitment to the Christian faith and to the congregation. This commitment may be recognised by the Church Council in a variety of ways, but primarily through participation in a form of congregational worship that reaffirms baptism and calls for people to promise to serve Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord as part of the body of Christ, the church.

Being a member of a local congregation therefore involves a covenantal understanding that people will be involved in the life of discipleship through the congregation and that the congregation will enable community life to take place with Jesus Christ as the head of the church.

It is appropriate then that this covenantal understanding of the character of the local congregation be expressed, and people invited to commit themselves to Christ and the church in public ways through a commitment service.  This especially relates to participation in government and leadership in the Uniting Church.

It is proposed that the current membership categories also be simplified. A record of baptisms conducted at or through the local church is important. There should also be a roll of confirmed members - that is, a current list of those who, by their participation in a commitment service or by a personal statement of commitment, have been included by the Church Council in the roll of confirmed members for the following twelve months or other agreed period of time. A pastoral list should also be maintained. This list would comprise people associated with the congregation who are not confirmed members, including those previously known as adherents. Members-in-association can simply become recognised as confirmed members and are not required to give up their membership elsewhere.

The ASC supported the dissemination of the paper, prepared by Prepared by Rev Gregor Henderson, Rev Dr Andrew Dutney, Rev Jenny Tymms and Rev Dr Chris Walker, with a view to receiving responses from Presbyteries by 31 August 2011. The ASC will consider the responses in November 2011 and a report and recommendations will be presented to the 13th Assembly.


A framework to facilitate alternate missional use of property

As a church we are called to foster and resource the needs of all congregations and facilitate where possible the ability of all congregations, including new and emerging congregations, to fulfil their mission and pastoral commitments to their church communities.

We are grateful that as a church there is a vibrant and dynamic culture of re imagining and exploring growth and the expansion possibilities for where the resources within congregations can be used to further our mission.

Congregations are dynamic entities and evolve and change overtime. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the needs of churches will also evolve and change. The reality is that not all congregations are equal in what they require to sustain and advance the church life of their congregations. Some congregations are resourced beyond their needs and others are under resourced.

The natural generosity of the Uniting Church congregations will mostly naturally attempt to redress this imbalance, particularly with neighbouring congregations by sharing resources and partnering for specific initiatives.

A proposal was accepted at the last Assembly to enable Synods and Presbyteries to manage instances where a more equitable sharing of resources is not naturally forthcoming. The proposal is designed to enable Presbyteries and Synods to free up church assets that are not being utilised for the purposes of pastoral, mission or the social welfare advancement of their congregations and redistribute them to those with greater need or for alternative missional use.

For example some small congregations have a large amount of assets such as retail property, that could be sold and the proceeds redeployed to provide much needed resources for other emerging congregations or resource poor congregations.

A set of regulations has been drafted as a framework to assist Synods and Presbyteries to be able to manage this process and exercise a right to do so in instances where congregations cannot see their way clear to exercise stewardship over their resources.

The draft also includes a non exhaustive classification that seeks to define what alternate missional use could be. At this stage the classification is very broad and will be refined as the regulation framework is developed.

It is anticipated that a final draft of the regulation framework will be presented to the next Assembly Standing Committee meeting in March 2011.


Future strategy for the Beneficiary Fund and UC Super 

UC Super and the Beneficiary Fund were both established at the commencement of the Uniting Church in Australia to provide superannuation benefits for ministers and staff of the Uniting Church. Since the last Assembly Standing Committee meeting, a report was commissioned to explore future strategies of UC Super and the Beneficiary Fund. The outcome of this report proposed that, given the changing nature of the superannuation industry which is leading to fewer and larger funds, it was timely for these funds to amalgamate to form a ‘boutique’ Uniting Church Superannuation fund.

While both funds have distinctly different member profiles; the Beneficiary Fund was established specifically for ordained ministers as a supplement to the age pension and UC Super is a superannuation ‘fund of choice’ for staff of UCA, both funds stand to gain from cost efficiencies and stronger market leverage that can be achieved by a merger.

A range of options are still being considered and further information will be presented to the Assembly Standing Committee in March.

As we explore the best way forward on these matters, the trustees of UC Super and the Beneficiary Fund have encouraged the church to explore the theological reasons for maintaining its close interest in superannuation, taking into consideration a theology of care and call, particularly for those in ministry, a theology of stewardship and a consideration of appropriate investment strategies that maximize our income without compromising our ethical responsibilities.


Theology and Discipleship

Two new Doc.bytes on “The Lord’s Supper” and “Living the Christian Life” have just been printed and are also on the Doctrine website.  Contact Helena at the Assembly office on (02) 8267 4220 to purchase glossy copies.

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

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

A paper that went to the ASC in November on “The Question of Church Membership” will go to presbyteries for comment next year.

The Worship working group now has a paper on “The Nature of Christian Worship: including a consideration of contemporary and Alternative Worship” which is 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.

The Mission and Evangelism network met in Brisbane in November.  Some synod resources worth knowing about are: Faith Stories DVD and Mission Stories DVD produced in Queensland  (available from MediaCom), “Rediscovering Hope for Today … Exploring Hope for Tomorrow” a resource based around worship, discussion and a meal (available from the NSW/ACT Synod Board of Mission), a report by Rob Stoner on “Fresh Expressions” of church in the UK following an exposure visit (available from the SA Synod) and a new resource on faith sharing called “Makes You Wonder” has been written by Ian Robinson in WA.



Acknowledging Indigenous people in the Australian Constitution

In early November, the Government announced that it would begin a process of national discussion on recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution.

The National Assembly and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress issued a joint statement welcoming this announcement, reflecting on the Church’s own journey to the official recognition of Aboriginal and Islander people as the First Peoples of Australia in our constitution. You can read that press release here

The Assembly will look to engage in the public discussion as the expert panel set up by the Government commences its work.


Lobbying meetings in the new Parliament

UnitingJustice recently headed to Canberra for a day of meetings with politicians at Parliament House. We met with a number of new MPs to introduce the advocacy work of the Uniting Church and UnitingJustice in particular.

The President of the Church, Rev. Alistair Macrae, joined us for a meeting with Chris Bowen, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. This was our first meeting with Mr Bowen since he took up this portfolio area, and at the meeting we introduced the Uniting Church’s long history of involvement in caring for asylum seekers in detention and the community and our most pressing concerns in relation to government policy.


Resources for Human Rights Day, 10 Dec 2010

Each year, United Nations Human Rights Day is celebrated on the 10th of December. It commemorates the day in 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UnitingJustice has a suite of fact sheets on a range of human rights issues and human rights worship resources available on our website to help Uniting Church members mark the day. These are available here.


In this last issue of Assembly Update for the year, UnitingJustice would like to wish all our Uniting Church friends a very blessed Christmas and best wishes for the year ahead. We offer our sincerest thanks for all the support for and interest in our work during 2010 and look forward to carrying on our mission throughout 2011.


Relations with Other Faiths.


From 3 - 8 November, 2010, the Hindu community celebrated Diwali (or the Festival of Lights). The Hindu Council of Australia hosted their annual celebrations at Parramatta Stadium, and saw around 50,000 people attend. The scope of the event was extraordinary: traditional music and dance performances, food stalls, henna tattoo stalls, and thousands of joyous devotees and visitors.

The 50-page souvenir programme of the event features an article on an Interfaith Forum held by the Hindu Council on 8th May, 2010, and makes mention of the Rev. Glenda Blakefield’s participation in the Forum on behalf of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Looking Forward

December 1 – 9, 2010 will be the festival of Chanukah for the Jewish community. Details of this festival, and a downloadable greeting card can be found at


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

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


UnitingWorld launches appeal for Mount Merapi and Mentawai Disasters

Rev. Kuntadi Sumadikarya, Moderator of the Indonesian Christian Church, GKI Humanitarian and one of UnitingWorld’s partners, has requested the support of the Uniting Church in Australia as the Church seeks to provide much needed assistance as a result of the recent Mount Merapi eruption and the earthquake and tsunami off Mentawai, West Sumatra.

As a result UnitingWorld launched the Mentawai and Merapi Disaster Appeal in mid-November. UnitingWorld has received recent updates from our partner GKI, informing us that appeal funds will be used for a variety of emergency relief operations including transportation; medicine; foods and cooking equipment; shelter building and sleeping equipment; basic hygiene resources; and other humanitarian assistance equipment.

For further information on UnitingWorld’s appeal click here.


Everything in Common Gift Catalogue and Market Stall

The new 100% UnitingWorld Everything in Common Gift Catalogue is now available. It is a unique way for Uniting Church people to stand with our overseas partners while celebrating the birth of Jesus, the ultimate gift of peace. The catalogue covers the range of UnitingWorld engagement with our Church Partners through gift options in our Relief and Development, Peacemaking, Church Solidarity and Experience Programs.

Gifts to Relief and Development and Peacemaking programs are Tax deductible. Gifts can be purchased through the physical catalogue or online with an option of receiving a gift card explaining the donation.

Also available is an Everything in Common Market Stall Pack, to assist churches and groups to run a stall selling gifts from the catalogue. For further information click here.

Gifts can be purchased through UnitingWorld:


Call: 1800 998 122

Via mail: PO Box A2266 Sydney South 1235


New Experience Volunteer Placements

New UnitingWorld Experience Placements have become available with our partner Churches in Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

To browse current Experience opportunities click here.


Adult Fellowship

Adult fellowships are an important part of most congregations of the Uniting Church in Australia. At the grass roots level, each Adult Fellowship brings together women and men for a wide variety of spiritual, social, educational, service and mission support activities.

The National Committee of Adult Fellowships represents the Uniting Church in women's organisations of the churches from which we came. Alistair Christie, the Chairperson of Adult Fellowship shares here his thoughts on Advent:

In a recent trip to Sydney and back I was reminded how close we are to advent.

On Sunday 21 we celebrate Christ the King. Advent – the four weeks leading to Christmas, is the beginning of the Church’s year and a time of preparation as we journey with God’s faithful people through the ages, preparing for the birth of the Saviour. From your own experience, you will know this time can easily become frantic.

Advent is a time of renewal, conversation and change. In many ways it is like Lent, a time to strengthen our spiritual bonds with God.

For me, the Advent and Christmas seasons are reminders that our faith in Gods, our hope in his promises and our love for Gods and each other is the greatest wealth we posses.

Many people know little or nothing about God’s love or recognise God’s presence in their lives. We can help them.

My prayer is that we each prepare to share more readily and widely the gifts which God has blesses us and be ready to join with God who has made Christmas an celebration of life and love.


Uniting Church National Dialogue with the Jewish Community in Australia

Thursday 18 November 2010 was the latest meeting of dialogue between the Uniting Church and the Jewish Community in Australia. Six Uniting Church members and five Jewish participants met at the Emanuel Synagogue, in Woollahra, Sydney, for a day of sharing, discussing, and exploring. This is about the 30th dialogue since these meetings began in the early 1990s.

When the group met for the last dialogue, in April 2010, the key theme for discussion was ‘Exile’, and the afternoon session was devoted to the recently-issued international statement, A Time for Recommitment: building the new relationship between Jews and Christians. This particular dialogue, and the Uniting Church commitment to constructive interfaith relationships, is part of a long-standing commitment amongst churches throughout the world, to seek positive relations with neighbours of other faiths.

The morning theme at this meeting was ‘Suffering’, and short papers were given from Jewish and Christian perspectives. Rabbi David Freeman shared a range of Jewish opinions and understandings relating to suffering; most often, he crystallised them in thought-provoking questions. How can meaning be found in the midst of tragedy and suffering? Must every event be attributed to the intention of the divine being? How might it help to envisage that we live in a world where random actions simply do happen? What would it mean to affirm that God is at work, not in the tragedy itself, but in the courage to face the issues raised by tragedy?

Rev. Bob Faser offered a Christian reflection on three New Testament passages which canvassed the theme of suffering. Words attributed to Jesus in Matthew 5 and Luke 13 indicate that suffering is a universal experience, not simply targeted to ‘the bad’ and kept away from ‘the good’. In Romans 8, when Paul refers to the ‘groaning’ of creation, he uses a key Greek word three times, thereby indicating that God suffers alongside humans who suffer, and indeed creation itself also suffers in like fashion. This web of interrelationships strengthens our sense of the God who suffers with us in Jesus.

The ensuing discussion canvassed a wide range of theological, pastoral, and spiritual areas. It is a regular feature of these dialogues, that we converse in order to understand and explore (and not solely to convince or persuade).

The afternoon session was largely devoted to an opportunity for personal sharing by each member of the dialogue. This way of relating has been an important dimension of a number of meetings over recent years. The topic this time was ‘my favourite spiritual place’. Sure enough, from the 12 participants, no less than 25 different locations were identified!! Places of dramatic scenery in Chile, England, and Scotland; places of intense religious focus, such as a retreat monastery or the local synagogue; natural locations, sailing on the water, snorkelling in the water, listening to the waves beside the ocean; somewhat expected locations, in Jerusalem, beside the Sea of Galilee, and in the city of Sydney itself; perhaps unexpected places, such as the home vegetable garden, or the SCG, or Redfern Oval; and the location of ‘being with a spiritual person’, simply attending to them, and experiencing them fully.

Interfaith relations always take place within the larger context of social and political factors; of immediate concern to this group has been the recent call by Palestinian Christian leaders, in the Kairos Palestine statement, to boycott goods made in the territories occupied by Israel, and the subsequent discussion of this issue by the National Council of Churches in Australia. At the time of meeting, this was still a matter ‘under consideration’ and was being considered in discussions within the Uniting Church, and in wider ecumenical and interfaith discussions. The dialogue group determined that its next meeting, in May 2011, will focus on the range of the issues identified by the NCCA. Within the context of inter-faith relationships which are both respectful and enjoyable, the difficult issues involved in this dialogue will, it is hoped, receive careful and thoughtful consideration.


Working Group on Worship

Uniting in Worship 2 CD

The new updated version of the CD that accompanies Uniting in Worship 2 is now available from MediaCom. It contains a user-friendly menu structure, a number of new resources, a fully indexed .pdf version of UiW2, all the current Assembly liturgical guidelines and relevant Assembly doctrine resources on worship, all the current services on church ordering, and the translation of some complete services in Korean along with a range of resources in languages other than English. In addition, there are many of the resources provided on the original CD...the Treasury of Prayers, a Psalter, experimental services, powerpoint slides of key responses and music resources.

The 2010-2011 Lectionary Card

Several communications have been received from people believing that there is an error in the Lectionary Card for 2010-2011. The notation for the second Sunday after Pentecost appears as "Pentecost 8". The confusion this causes is understandable though the notation is, in fact, correct. The readings that are set for the Sundays between Pentecost and Advent are determined by working back from "Christ the King" Sunday and for the coming year (because Pentecost Sunday itself was very late this year) the readings begin at Pentecost 8. The notation, therefore, is in relation to the readings, not the actual Sunday. It is confusing, and the Working Group will consider how best to deal with this at its next meeting. In the meantime, use the readings as set because they are correct!



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


Rituals for life, love and loss

Prayers and meditations for marriage, birthdays, baby naming, loss and grief

Dorothy McRae-McMahon

$24.95             9780980721256

Uniting Church minister Dorothy McRae-McMahon offers spiritual rituals and meditations for the modern world, for times of celebration and grief; and for ceremonies for everyone, regardless of their faith. Now back in print.

Stepping out with the sacred

Human attempts to engage the divine

Val Webb

$34.95             9781441196422

Uniting Church theologian’s masterful and engaging account of how humans through centuries and cultures have engaged and experienced the divine. "Val Webb has convincingly shown that the vast knowledge of world religions can lead us to a new more inclusive appreciation of God, which can deepen our spiritual experience as well as forge bridges of understanding between faiths."  Dr. Rachael Kohn, Producer/Presenter of The Spirit of Things, ABC Radio National


Good and bad religion

Peter Vardy

$29.95                         9780334043492

Religion is a central aspect of culture, as is the critical evaluation of different types of religion. Yet, not all forms of religion are necessarily good for those who adhere to them and for others. Some types of religion are de-humanising and need to be resisted whilst others are profoundly humanising and good. Vardy, one of the leading moral educators in the UK, seeks to provide criteria to separate good and bad manifestations of religion.


Touching the sacred

Art and prayer to inspire worship

Chris Thorpe

$44.95             9781848250246

In this imaginative and rich prayer resource, words and images come together powerfully to create a versatile collection of contemporary liturgies. Fresh and strikingly relevant, these liturgies can be used for alternative worship, by individuals, prayer groups, by retreat and quiet day leaders looking for new material. In each liturgy there is a mono thumbnail of the image, which links to the CD colour images that can be projected on to a wall or printed for individual use.


Australian religious diary 2011

$32.00             9781863551366

This is an Australian, 13 month diary that covers both the full liturgical year and the full calendar year. Begins with the first Sunday in Advent (28 November 2010) and runs through to the beginning of January 2012, with Revised Common Lectionary details, as well as special commemorations for the Uniting Church; each double page spread gives


New summer reading from MediaCom


Preaching for church transformation

By Bill Easum
Abingdon Press
Paperback, 128 pages
Product code AB1062


You never have as much influence over the congregation as when you are standing in the pulpit; use that time to reshape your church for mission and growth. Before he was one of the best-known church consultants in the country, Bill Easum served a lengthy pastorate in San Antonio, Texas. When he arrived at the church it was in serious decline, with the possibility of having to close its doors beginning to loom over it. By the time he left, it was the most vibrant, fastest-growing congregation in its city and region. Shortly after he arrived, Bill preached a series of sermons on the book of Acts that challenged the congregation to become an authentic New Testament church. He called on parishioners to step out of their comfort zones, stop expecting their pastor to be a personal chaplain, and join together to reach their city with the message of Jesus. Preaching for Church Transformation provides updated versions of the sermons Easum preached as he issued this challenge to the congregation shortly after his arrival. Interspersed with the sermons is commentary telling the reader how to adapt them for her or his own situation.


Out of babylon

By Walter Brueggemann
Abingdon Press
Paperback, 160 pages
Product code AB1005


It was the center of learning, commerce, wealth, and religion. Devoted to materialism, extravagance, luxury, and the pursuit of sensual pleasure, it was a privileged society. But, there was also injustice, poverty, oppression. It was the great and ancient Babylon, the centre of the universe. Consumer capitalism, a never-ending cycle of working and buying, a sea of choices produced with little regard to life or resources, societal violence, marginalized and excluded people, a world headed toward climactic calamity. Where are the prophets, the Jeremiah, to lead the way out of the gated communities of overindulgence, the high rises of environmental disaster, and the darkness at the core of an apostate consumer society? Walter Brueggemann, a scholar, a preacher, a prophetic voice in our own time, challenges us again to examine our culture, turn from the idols of abundance and abuse, and turn to lives of meaning and substance.


In the sanctuary of women

A Companion for Reflection & Prayer

By Jan L Richardson
The Upper Room
320 pages
Product code TUR1030


The soft melodic story of women in scripture unfolds through the prayers and reflections crafted by an artist, a writer, a woman deeply aware of the need for women to connect to God in daily conversation. Each chapter of readings is based on a woman from Jewish or Chritian history and how her story intertwines with the faith journeys of women today.


Sacred breath

Forty Days of Centering Prayer

By J David Muyskens
The Upper Room
Paperback, 144 pages
Product code TUR1031


When life takes an unexpected turn that leaves you reeling, sometimes you have to remind yourself to just breathe. But God is closer than the air you breathe. Grounded in scripture and Christian tradition, Sacred Breath walks you through the practice of Centering Prayer and helps you breathe in deeply the presence of God. Learn how to present yourself to God in silence twice a day without any agenda. Forty days of practical, encouraging meditations will help you get started in the rich experience of living in the awareness of God’s love. The first 10 readings focus on receiving God’s love; the second 10 on obstacles to our relationship with God, and the last 20 on the rhythm of receiving and giving in our walk with God. Sacred Breath includes scriptures, breathing exercises, and an outline for group meetings. For an introduction to Centering Prayer, try Forty Days to a Closer Walk with God, also by J. David Mysckens.


Children first

Worshipping with the Family of God

By Mark Burrows
Abingdon Press
96 pages
Product code AB0775


Children First is a worship experience designed specifically for elementary-age children and their families. This resource offers an outline for a service that takes place the first Sunday of every month and usually lasts 45 minutes. Each service focuses on a particular theme, such as love, prayer, or thankfulness. Children will love the energy, the music, the interactive prayers, and Bible stories. Parents will love the relevant themes, the moments of quiet contemplation, and the teaching of some of the church’s cherished traditions. This helpful resource includes a CD-ROM featuring PowerPoint files with music and words that can go along with the services.


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