Assembly Update November 2010

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


Just a Thought

Rev. Terence Corkin, General Secretary

homeYesterday I was attending a meeting of the national Heads of Churches in Sydney. We began our meeting with prayers in the Cathedral of St Ephraim of the Syrian Orthodox Church. At the commencement of the prayers the Archbishop said that we were welcome to our home. He said that for any Christian any church is their home and we were welcome here. It was such a generous and open expression of Christian hospitality and deep understanding of the nature of the church.

Reflecting on that experience and the way that people from four different traditions were allowed to lead in the prayer service I was reminded of some other congregations I had visited. The first that came to mind was when I was a guest preacher at a Syrian Orthodox Church in Kuala Lumpur. Just for an added layer of difference the congregation was comprised of expatriate Indians. Having participated in the liturgy (although I was unable to partake in Communion) it came time to preach. I have to admit that at that time I have never felt more Protestant in my life. It was so clear that our ways of seeking to be present to God through the preached Word, our manner of presentation and the content of our discourse is so very different to the Orthodox way. No one said anything to me - it was just a deep feeling. Yet I retained a strong sense of fellowship with that community because like the Archbishop said I was at home.

Another memory that has come back to me was when I visited a Methodist church in my home town in England. It was a small congregation and the only people that spoke to me were the couple that asked to get past me in the pew and that was all they said. There was no sense of connection in that place even though I did not get as lost in the prayers and the liturgy as I do in other traditions. I always think of church as family, wherever I am in the world. Well I guess some church families can seem a little disconnected from their members just like biological ones.

You will not be surprised (but saddened I hope, determined that it not be true for your church community) to hear that I have had the same experience attending Uniting Church worship services. We all know people who it has happened to. I have a friend who went to a service where the President was preaching and despite standing around with a cup of tea in hand, open and hopeful for a conversation she was ignored. She left not feeling like she was at home even though it was her church tradition.

The Uniting Church self identifies as an ecumenical church. Yet all our local, national and international ecumenism will mean nothing if visitors to our congregations do not feel like they are at home.


From the President

Rev. Alistair Macrae, President

Ministers' Conference Exposure Trips to Tanna and Santo

Discover the “real” Vanuatu with a post-conference visit to the outer Vanuatu islands of Tanna and Santo.  Participants will stay in a village as guests of the local Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu and experience life and worship together with ni-Vanuatu families.

This is the chance to find out what life is like for local people and to experience some of the challenges of village life together with the rich community and culture they share.  Don’t miss this chance to experience faith in a cross-cultural context and to be challenged and inspired in new and different ways.  You will participate in worship with the community on the Sunday.

The program will include traditional meals and village accommodation on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th evening and an unwind and debrief back at a eco resort or local hotel Monday 17th and then Tuesday night stopover in Port Vila before returning to Australia on Wednesday 18th.

Participants will be staying in local accommodation for two nights and will need to bring a mosquito net, torch and insect repellent.  Cost will be $400AUD plus airfares and participants will be responsible for purchasing their own lunch and dinner on Monday and Tuesday.

Ministers conference Vanuatu accommodation options

You will need to book your own accommodation and you can check these options out online.  You will get the best deal if you team up with some other ministers and book together to share one of the beachside resort facilities.  There are plenty of other options available in the Port Vila and Mele area but these will be the easiest for transportation.

Click here for further information.



Jennifer Whyte, Research Officer 

Children and families to be moved out of immigration detention and into the community

The Australian Government recently announced that they would begin the process of removing asylum seeker families and unaccompanied minors from detention facilities and placing them in the community.

We welcomed this decision, and released a media release calling the policy change “long overdue”. You can read this media release here on our website. []

We have also written to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, congratulating him on this policy change.

UnitingJustice National Director, Rev. Elenie Poulos, has also written an opinion piece outlining the gospel imperative for improving our treatment of people who seek Australia’s protection from persecution.

This article, ‘Can Australia become a more hospitable country?’, is available here on the ABC Religion and Ethics website []


Elenie’s visit to Albania

Our National Director, Elenie Poulos, represents the Uniting Church on the World Council of Churches Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA).

The CCIA meets every eighteen months to advise and progress WCC work in the areas of public witness for justice, peace, human rights, inter-religious relationships and the environment. This year in October, on the invitation of the Albanian Orthodox Church, the meeting was held at the Church’s theological seminary at Durres.

Some of the issues addressed included: the continuing impact of the Global Financial Crisis on the poorest countries of the world; climate change and what needs to be done by countries like Australia to urgently address the effects of climate change already impacting on the livelihoods of people in South Asia, especially Bangladesh, and the small island states of the Pacific; the rise of inter-religious relationships as a geo-political force and the relationship between poverty, wealth and ecology in a globalised economy.

The Commission was addressed by the Archbishop of the Albanian Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Anastasios, Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania and Dr Bertrand Ramcharan, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Elenie was also asked to present to the Commission about the political advocacy work of the Uniting Church. The Uniting Church in Australia is a leader among WCC churches in church-based advocacy and lobbying and many churches look to us to understand how they can more actively engage in the political life of their countries.

You can read about Elenie’s impressions of Albania at her blog


UNHCR-NGO Consultations

Elenie represented UnitingJustice at the annual meeting hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Office in Canberra in the last week of October. The consultations, which run over three days, provided a timely opportunity for service agencies, legal groups and policy and advocacy specialists to share stories and discuss the latest developments relating to the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and offshore.


UJA Reference Committee

Our Reference Committee has just met in Sydney. At this annual meeting, we discuss UnitingJustice’s work for the year ahead. We thank our Reference Committee for their commitment, not just for this meeting, but throughout the year, and continued encouragement of our work.


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, the Rev. Manas Ghosh, can be viewed at

A new book review of The Case for God by Karen Armstrong can be viewed at

Looking Forward

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

In the next few weeks, greetings will also appear on the website to the Muslim Community for Eid Al Adha (16th November) and to the Sikh Community on the occasion of Guru Nanak Dev’s Birthday (21st November).

There are quite a number of interfaith events happening around the country. Find one near you 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:



Robert Lutton – Communications and Fundraising Manager

The Uniting Church invited to begin peacemaking in Timor Leste

As our politicians work to convince the Government of Timor Leste to agree to an processing centre for asylum seekers and our business leaders continue somewhat testy dialogue on the Sunrise oil and gas deal, the Uniting Church has been invited to begin peacemaking work.

One of the legacies of conflict in the area is suspicion among various elements of society.  This has also touched the Protestant Church in Timor Leste (ITPL) who after further divisions over the past year have invited UnitingWorld’s Associate Director for Peacemaking, Joy Balazo to begin the young Ambassadors for Peace program.

From November 3-10 Joy will bring key leaders from across the IPTL together for an intensive workshop geared to begin a year of reconciliation amongst IPTL communities, beginning with key leaders.

For more information on the way YAP works click here


Growing numbers of young people serving as Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) through UnitingWorld Kate Saxton from St Kilda, Victoria

Kate is from St Kilda, Victoria and has a background in social work and a passion for social justice and advocating for those who are marginalised.

Kate is assisting Tupou Tertiary Institute in Nuku’alofa, Tonga in the development of an accredited Social Work / Counselling course to equip students in the field of social services and fill the present gap in social support that exists in Tonga. Greater social support is vital in Tonga, as the country currently suffers from high levels of unemployment and rising crime rates.

Click here to read Kate’s full Experience profile

Matthew Oliver of Adamstown Heights, NSW

Matthew is from Adamstown Heights, NSW and has a background in environmental engineering, particularly in water sustainability. The Rural Village Water Project, currently underway in Papua New Guinea, provides safe and sustainable water and sanitation access to villages in rural parts of Papua New Guinea. A lack of clean, safe water has been detrimental to the health of these communities, Matthew is assisting the Rural Village Water Project in their mission to provide clean, safe water to those villages who do not yet have access these services.

Click here to download Matthew’s full Experience Profile


UnitingWorld is committed to best practices in people management, and is a full member of People in Aid.

People in Aid an internationally recognised management tool that helps agencies enhance their human resource management in an international context.

Click here to visit the People in Aid website


Adult Fellowship

Alistair Christie, Chairperson, Adult Fellowship

You never know…

On Sunday afternoon I boarded a local coach for the journey to Sydney. It was scheduled to take three and a half hours. As I settled into my seat, a woman with whom I had spoken very briefly waiting to board, asked if I minded company and ‘Would you mind if I join you?’ I had no objection, nor did I have any idea where our conversation might lead.

We talked a little about our reason for the trip. She was returning home after a few days with a friend in Canberra including a visit to Floriade. Twenty years ago she had spent a year in Canberra – seconded from university lecturing to assist in establishing a new agency of the Australian government. She had found it difficult to identify many of the places she had remembered. So much had changed. I was heading to Sydney for the national committee meeting, and explained a little of the ministry of the Uniting Church and Adult Fellowship over the last 33 years.

Her maternal grandfather, a minister of the Church of Scotland, came to Australia in 1880 serving the Presbyterian Church for many years in Sydney. She spoke warmly about her grandmother, her ministry in supporting her husband and the wider church. One aspect of that was the editing of the first ‘Cookery Book of Good and Tried Receipts’ compiled by the Women’s Missionary Association of the Presbyterian Church in NSW first published in 1895. (The 21st edition of September 1936 was 30,000 copies bring the total to 410,000).

Needless to say ‘Food for the Journey’ its purpose and ministry came up in the conversation. I agreed to send her a copy. She would like to add it to her collection of various editions of the PWMU Cook Book.

As my new friend spoke about her grandmother, I realised the strength of the older women’s faith and the nurturing of her granddaughter. I heard a confession of someone who had allowed other priorities to take over her life. I sensed surprise when I said I would pray for her and her relationship with God.

Coming home on Monday, my companion was an English gentleman, whom I discerned has been a senior member of the civil service – though he did not say so explicitly. He spoke of several countries in which he and his wife have served for a number of years. The most recent was the Falkland Islands. They are on a slow return home catching up with relatives and friends in several countries.

He spoke of growing years in boarding school, of ‘having to go to church’ almost everyday; of exploring and developing faith in teenage years, of the difficulty in maintaining a relationship with the support and nurture of a local congregation they had missed in all the years of service.

I heard of their church participation in places where they had been, the great range and diversity of liturgy they had experienced in traditions of the Christian Church. As they return home and settle into retirement they plan to become members of a local church, ready to be nurtured and learning how to use their experience in their witness. And these two also are in my prayers.

How do you allow God lead you in your conversations?



Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry

Tony Floyd, National Director, MCM

This month has seen the release in a Korean and English language version of Andrew Dutney’s study book “Understanding the Uniting Church in Australia”. Translation into other languages is being undertaken as quickly as possible. This is a very helpful study resource which takes participants on a journey into the history of the coming together of Methodist, congregational and Presbyterian churches in Australia. It also introduces the readers to many of the challenging ways in which the Basis of Union opened up the future for this new Christian movement in Australia. Further information is available from MediaCom: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

‘Moui Olaola – Healthy Living’ was the theme of the Niuean National Conference [NNC] at Ramsgate UCA in early October. The journey of exploration included personal and family life, spiritual and prayer life, life in local and UCA congregations, and culture. An exciting and extremely well presented program for youth and young adults was a highlight of the gathering and a good model for other UCA National conferences. Second generation youth and young adults are a very high priority for the NNC, and to underline this the NNC commissioned Pastor David Harris to coordinate this vital ministry. Further information can be obtained from the Revd liva Tukutama [Secretary/Advisor]: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Samoan ministry leaders from across the UCA met in Melbourne recently and a major topic of discussion was the proposed new Preamble to the UCA constitution. Introduced by the Revd John Rickard on behalf of the UAICC Victoria the story of its development and context within a larger journey of the UCA and its relationships with 1st Australians was profoundly helpful. As has happened in other minority ethnic communities when this discussion takes place, there was significant excited energy generated by paragraph 3 which speaks of the activity of God’s creative Spirit already present and active in this land long before European arrivals. Rather than causing the uncertainty and concern that some flagged at its introduction at the 12th Assembly, conversation and understanding releases energy and excitement about applying that same insight to the country and culture of origin of other second peoples. That will be a journey of great enrichment for the whole church – ‘at home’, and in the UCA.


Come on! Come on!

John Mavor served the Methodist and Uniting Churches as a Minister of the Word for over 50 years. 'Come on! Come on!' is a comprehensive and detailed account of his journey through those years. It is an important addition to the history of the life and work and the people of these two churches in Australia.

The book is available from the author for $45.00 plus $10.00 postage at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


New from MediaCom

SPECIAL OFFER FROM MEDIACOM........FREE FREIGHT on all orders until December 17, 2010. (Australia only)


Bringing the word to life - together

Themes for The Word in Lectionary Year A and ideas for congregational responses.

By Andrew Collis & Dorothy McRae-McMahon

MediaCom Education Incorporated
Paperback, 162 pages
Product code MC691


This book suggests a different way of proclaiming the Word at Sunday worship. Instead of the congregation simply listening to the preaching, it invites us to consider the option of the congregation being involved in how the Word is interpreted and how that response can be expressed. The word comes from two of the Uniting Church's most gifted Ministers of the Word who offer the churches the fruit of their ministry in the South Sydney congregation. They provide complete homilies for every Sunday of Year A that are practical, thoughtful, challenging and solidly scholarly. In addition, each Sunday has an invitation to the congregation to respond in some way to the Word that has been broken for them and usually involves people contributing their own insights into the Bible's message. In this way, the congregation can witness to the truth they have heard and connect it with their experiences of life in all its complexities and richness. The responses are practical and respectful. They invite honest reflection and prayer; and a renewed thirst for justice and connection, providing one way towards an effective proclamation of God's Word in our time.


Preaching the gospel of Matthew

Proclaiming God's Presence

By Stanley P Saunders
Westminster John Knox
325 pages
Product code WJK920

This commentary for preaching Matthew, works through every passage of Matthew's Gospel with exegetical insight and a keen sensitivity to the demands of preaching. Saunders' commentary follows the biblical text, divided into passages. After each passage, a number of possibilities are presented for how to preach that text. He includes a wealth of creative and pertinent tips to help preachers apply Matthew's narrative to the live of today's churchgoers.


The Abingdon preaching annual 2011

Includes Interactive CD-ROM

By David N Mosser, Editor
Abingdon Press
448 pages
Product code AB0701

The Abingdon Preaching Annual, always a trusted resource, is now the most comprehensive and useful aid for sermon preparation you will find. Pastors and other preachers have long turned to The Abingdon Preaching Annual for help with one of the central tasks of their ministry: sermon preparation. The 2011 edition of the Annual continues this fine tradition: Sermon Helps: . . . Lectionary-based sermons for each Sunday and special liturgical event of the year . . . Commentary on lectionary passages not used in the weekly sermon . . . Two-dozen topical sermon series on diverse themes Worship Planning Aids: . . . Four-year liturgical event calendar . . . Guide to liturgical colors . . . 2010 lectionary readings in one, easy-to-read table . . . Related worship aids following each lectionary sermon and each series sermon . . . CD with full text search provides ease of navigation and use . . . CD with full text of the print edition with linked table of contents . . . Offertory and pastoral prayers . . . Classical prayers . . . Classical and contemporary affirmations of faith . . . Classic sermon . . . Annotated Bibliography . . . Full text of every lectionary passage David N. Mosser, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Arlington Texas, is an adjunct homiletics professor at Perkins School of Theology (SMU) in Dallas. He frequently teaches and preaches in numerous United Methodist churches.


The Abingdon worship annual 2011

Includes Interactive CD-ROM

By Mary J Scifres & B J Beu, Editors
Abingdon Press
314 pages
Product code AB0681


The Abingdon Worship Annual 2011 offers fresh worship planning resources for pastors and worship leaders. What is worship but the proclamation of God’s great worth? The words we offer in our time of worship are meaningful and important. But finding these words can be challenging and time-consuming. And so, we give you The Abingdon Worship Annual . . . as a gift of words for the art of planning worship. Using a Theme Idea based on the lectionary readings, each week’s offering of prayers and litanies follows a basic pattern of Christian worship: ... Gathering and Praise ... Proclamation and Response ... Thanksgiving and Communion ... Sending Forth ... Alternative ideas for Praise Sentences and Contemporary Gathering Words are offered for those who work in contemporary worship settings. ... We have again included a number of Communion liturgies in response to reader requests. Searchable CD-ROM included with every book! . . . PDF format provides ease of navigation and use . . . Full text of the print edition with a hyperlinked table of contents . . . Music suggestions for each week, hyperlinked to the text . . . Full text of the print edition with linked table of contents . . . Annotated Resource List with links to helpful worship planning Web sites Now more than ever, The Abingdon Worship Annual is a must-have sourcebook offering countless opportunities for planning meaningful and insightful worship.


Pastoral prayers to share year A

Prayers of the People for Each Sunday of the Church Year

By David Sparks
Wood Lake Books
Paperback+cd, 256 pages
Product code WL585


So what are we about as pastoral pray-ers? We are about bringing ourselves individually and as a faith community into right relationship with God... What about a Revised Common Lectionary based book of pastoral prayers for clergy and lay leaders that provides responsive prayers for each Sunday of the year, including propers? David gets asked this question often when people recognize him as the author of the three volumes of Prayers to Share. So, acknowledging that the pastoral prayer is often overlooked and undervalued, and that clergy and lay leaders may be hard-pressed for time to compose a fresh pastoral prayer each week, he has put together a unique and comprehensive collection of prayers that can be adapted to present circumstances and used in a variety of settings. The prayers are responsive, written for one or two leaders and a congregational response. They all allow for the inclusion of local and worldwide current events, and individual and congregational concerns. David usually uses the weekly Gospel reading as the broad theme for the prayers and divides them into four easily identified sections: world suffering church ourselves The how to use section covers preparing to offer pastoral prayer, and offers 12 ways to do pastoral prayer, such as: two leader congregational response using people and objects to dramatize a theme using part of a hymn for a lead or a response using silence for effect Each week offers specific suggestions for two or three prayer formats. Other features include: Thematic Index Scripture Index Icons in the margin to enable quick identification of prayer sections and alternate suggestions Data CD with text files for Year A included with the print version


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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


Where the hell is God?

Richard Leonard

$17.95             9781587680601

Combines the best of experience and insight to speculate on how believers can make sense of their Christian faith when experiencing tragedy and suffering. Starting with a very personal story of the Australian author's sister being left a quadriplegic from a car accident twenty years ago, the book  gently leads the reader through ‘take home’ messages that are sane, sound, and practical.



Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas

Mary Deeley

$1.95               9780764819353

Respected biblical scholar Mary Deeley provides concise, easy-to-read inspiration for this holy time. She uses Scripture selections and reflections to ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ throughout Advent and Christmas in a way that's guaranteed to enhance faith and help establish a place of respite and peace amid the commercialism and hustle and bustle of the season.


New proclaimation year A 

Advent to Holy Week

Robert Hoch and others

$47.95                         9780806696317

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


The Ministers' Manual (with CD Rom)

The Minister's complete sourcebook

Lee McGlone

$27.95             9780470587867

For more than eighty years, The Minister's Manual has been the standard by which all other preaching annuals are measured. Still the single most comprehensive resource for preaching and worship available, the 2011 edition is more relevant, attractive and easy to use.


Abingdon preaching annual 2011

David Mosser

$41.95             9781426707018

Pastors and other preachers have long turned to The Abingdon Preaching Annual for help with one of the central tasks of their ministry: sermon preparation. The 2011 edition of the Annual continues this fine tradition: sermon helps and comprehensive worship planning aids.



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