Women in Church leadership were the focus of this year’s gathering of the Niue National Conference (NNC) of the Uniting Church.
Women led the worship and bible studies from start to finish and for the first time Holy Communion was presided over by a woman minister, Rev. Fieta Ikitoelagi-Faitala of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), assisted by Niue women Church Elders and Pastors.
More than a thousand Tongan members of the Uniting Church came together in a joyful celebration of faith and fellowship for the 2019 Tongan National Conference (TNC).
With the theme “Liberating by faith in Jesus Christ”, the annual gathering was held in Katoomba NSW from 27-29 September.
The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has made a submission to the Federal Government’s proposed Religious Discrimination Bill.
UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer said the Uniting Church supported the Government’s efforts to improve protections against religious discrimination for all people in Australia.
The Australian newspaper has published an article today on the Uniting Church’s decision on same-gender marriage. Regrettably, the story includes a number of allegations in relation to a congregation in Queensland which are untrue.
WARNING: This story includes the name and image of a deceased Aboriginal person.
The Uniting Church and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) are mourning the passing of Indigenous rights “warrior” Tauto Sansbury this week.
The Narungga elder, who was born at Point Pearce Mission on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, dedicated his life to advocating for justice for First Peoples.
The Uniting Church in Australia has co-signed a report that was sent to six special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council regarding recent violent crackdowns of anti-racism demonstrations in Papua and West Papua, Indonesia.
Local churches have documented that during one demonstration in Deiyai Regency, at least eight indigenous Papuans were killed and more than 50 protestors sustained serious injuries when security forces fired into the crowd using live ammunition.
October 22 marks the first anniversary of the historic National Apology to Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
A year on from the landmark apology to survivors and their families, the Uniting Church in Australia acknowledges and laments the role of the Uniting Church in causing harm to children and renews its commitment to be a Church that is safe for all people.
President Deidre Palmer acknowledged the Church’s ongoing role in correcting the wrongs of the past.
“We must continue to hear the voice of survivors, so that these terrible things never happen again,” Dr Palmer said.
“The Uniting Church is committed to redress for survivors and the safety of children continues to be at the forefront of our Church’s work with children and families.”
Uniting Churches across the nation have been invited to mark the anniversary with a Liturgy of Acknowledgement and Lament to be adapted and used on or near 20 October.
“This liturgy has been developed to mark the anniversary, to acknowledge and lament the role of the Uniting Church in causing harm to children,” said Dr Palmer.
“It acknowledges the terrible breach of trust and the damage done to individuals, communities and relationships. This is part of our story that we will continue to acknowledge so that we never forget and never become complacent.”
“Through this liturgy, we also look to the future, renewing our commitment to living the Gospel of Christ by being a Church that is a place of safety for all people.”
“We are living this out daily, by our participation in the National Redress Scheme, by our establishment of the National Safe Church Unit, by the commitment of resources to child safety in our Synods, congregations, schools and agencies,” she said.
President Palmer said, “While it is difficult and distressing to talk about and it can be hard to hear, it is important that we engage in these conversations.”
“The Royal Commission showed that for too long, these harmful acts took place in the dark with survivors being dismissed or silenced. It is only by continuing to speak openly and honestly about the abuse and its impacts that there can be growth for survivors and communities, and ongoing diligence in protecting children in the future.”
The Liturgy of Acknowledgement and Lament can be downloaded below along with a letter from President Dr Deidre Palmer. Please feel free to draw upon this resource and adapt to your local context.
If individuals in your communities are distressed, it is important to remember that specialised services are available at https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/contact.
More than a thousand people from across the Uniting Church took to the streets joining more than 300,000 people all over Australia as part of the Global Climate Strike on Friday 20 September.
Huge crowds of people, young and old, spilled onto the streets in more than 100 locations across the nation in an historic show of support for stronger action on the climate crisis.
Hearings have begun for the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, with the first hearing taking place in Brisbane on 16 September 2019.
The Uniting Church in Australia has welcomed the Royal Commission and its inquiry into what must be done to build a society in which people with disability feel included, supported and have their human rights respected.
The Uniting Church is home for many people from a Pacific cultural background, and those voices were elevated at a theological symposium dedicated to the stories and theologies of the Pacific.
The Tagata Pasifika Theological Symposium was held at Parramatta Mission in Sydney from 13-14 September, co-ordinated by Rev. Dr Matagi Jessop Vilitama, the Advocate for the Assembly Being a Multicultural Church Circle, and UCA theologians Rev. Dr Clive Pearson and Rev. Dr Seforosa Carroll.
The aim of the Symposium was to highlight and open for discussion works completed by Pasifika theologians, highlighting their understandings of God, life, church and culture.
The event showcased 11 papers presented by theologians from the UCA and three from partner Churches on related themes, presenting topics such as the “Liquid Church” and “Remigrant” theology.
Matagi said he felt inspired by the two days because it provided an opportunity to raise the voices of Pasifika theologians on “very real issues” that were not being heard in wider society and especially in the Church.
The Symposium highlighted the rich theological perspectives of the Pacific and the gifts they bring to our Church and created the opportunity for passionate discussions It is hoped some of the papers might be published. You can read the abstracts here.
Matagi said it was hoped other cultural groups in the UCA might also have the same platform to share theological perspectives.
Watch this video of the highlights from Day 1
It has been an historic week with First Peoples Leaders from UnitingCare Australia’s network and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) meeting together for the first time in Canberra.
It marked a new beginning for a Uniting First Peoples Voice within the Uniting Church of Australia.