- Just a Thought
- From the President
- Outback Care and Community Services
- Relations with Other Faiths
- Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship
- Formation, Education and Discipleship
- Cross Cultural and International Ministry, Relief and Development
- Justice and Advocacy
- UnitingCare Australia
- Other Assembly News
- Synod news
Rev. Terence Corkin, General Secretary
"Look at me. Look at meeee!” To followers of Kath and Kim this phrase will be familiar as Kath’s last effort to get her daughter Kim to pay attention and really listen to what she has to say. Sometimes talking alone is not enough to get through to Kim and so Kath has to use a complementary strategy of getting Kim to focus on the person and not just rely on words.
What is your response when you have something important to say and people don’t listen? I am sure that there are quite a few options – some of which are probably more relationally healthy than others! Read more
When we have something important to say one thing for sure is that we don’t just shut up and stop trying to communicate. The Gospel and its implications for society are certainly something worth talking about and many who read this piece will be regularly engaged in this important task. But from the very beginning there has been the experience that people don’t listen. In the letter to Timothy the writer encourages perseverance in delivering the good news: 2 Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (NIV)
One area where the Uniting Church has been very faithful in its proclamation has been in support of Aboriginal rights including self-determination. Tragically it remains the case today that the Commonwealth and other Governments refuse to listen to the experience, perspective, wisdom and advice of Aboriginal people as they establish policies that radically affect their wellbeing. Governments need to listen to Aboriginal people. Governments are not listening to Aboriginal people or to those who support them on this issue. So what to do? Walk away and give up?
This is a message that we need to speak out in season and out of season – when it is heard and when it is rejected. However the Uniting Church is not just going to use words next time. We are trying to get people to look us in the eye so that they can hear us better. Through the Assembly’s instigation of a week of prayer and fasting under the heading A Destiny Together the church is doing something visual in the hope that it will help to get the message across.
So I would like to add my voice to the President’s call for your support for A Destiny Together, by participating in a time of prayer and fasting; by attending the prayer vigil in Canberra, by financially supporting the participation of Congress members from across the country or by organising a prayer vigil in your congregation or faith community.
I urge your participation in this important act of proclamation in the life of our country.
Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney, President, Assembly
A Destiny Together – a Week of Prayer and Fasting for justice for First Peoples
I am encouraging all members of the Uniting Church nationwide to join me for a week of prayer and fasting for justice for the First Peoples, taking place from 17 to 23 March this year.
This event is an expression of our grief at the continued injustice experienced by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters in Christ. At the 13th Assembly meeting of the Church in 2012 members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress shared their experiences of pain and disempowerment caused by the Federal Government’s ‘Stronger Futures’ laws (a continuation and extension of the ‘Northern Territory Intervention’). In response to this testimony, the Assembly resolved to call the whole Church to a week of prayer and fasting, as an act of solidarity with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sisters and brothers. Read more
I have put together a short video message, available at https://vimeo.com/85304244, which gives a further insight into the Church’s commitment to the process of reconciliation and renewal and the motivation for this Week of Prayer and Fasting.
There are many ways you can participate in the week – by joining me at the public prayer vigil on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra on 18 March, by undertaking daily personal fasting and prayer, by holding a prayer vigil or worship service at your church, or by donating to the Travel Fund which will assist members of the UAICC to travel to the Canberra vigil from remote areas.
The Assembly has produced a range of prayer and worship resources which can be used throughout the week. You can access these resources, register for the Canberra prayer vigil, and find a range of other helpful information on the Assembly’s website www.assembly.uca.org.au/adestinytogether.
I look forward to you joining with me in what I hope will be one of the most significant acts of public prayer and witness in the history of the Uniting Church in Australia.
National Ministers' Conferences
I am overwhelmed with the response to the 2014 National Ministers’ Conferences so far. I am looking forward to sharing what is sure to be a special time with you in Jerusalem, Sydney and Charleville.
The Jerusalem Conference has now filled its registration, but there are still places open for the conferences in Charleville and Sydney. You can find out more about the conferences and register here (Sydney) and here (Charleville). Information about payment will be emailed to registered participants.
I hope to see you there!
Rev Alan White, Interim National Director, Frontier Services
New Patrol Ministers for Cobar/Nyngan & Parkin Patrols
Frontier Services welcomes two new Patrol Ministers to the family in February. Pastor Gary Ferguson is the new Patrol Minister for Parkin Patrol in South Australia. Gary Ferguson has family connections to the region he will now be working in and also rescues joeys.
And Rev Jo Smalbil joins us in the Cobar/Nyngan Patrol. Rev Jo is a recently ordained minister and looks forward to serving the community in her new Patrol. Jo has worked for many years in childcare and is a keen fisherwoman.
The February edition of Frontier News has just been released. In this quarter's edition we focus on 'Family'. While 2014 is the United Nations International Year of Family Farming, at Frontier Services, we believe that every year is the year of family farming. Read more
In this edition of Frontier News we look at family farm succession planning.
Farming is a tough existence, and planning for the future is often a challenge. Read all about the Reynolds family and how they've been navigating this tricky issue.
We also take a snapshot of just one of the volunteer groups who donate to a number of charities – a part of the Uniting Church family.
Read about some of Frontier Services' family too: our childcare workers with the families they look after daily, our new Patrol Ministers joining us, and some wise words from our former Frontier Services' National Director, Rev Gray Birch. He shares one of his stories and a reflection.
For more see: http://frontierservices.org.au/news/frontier-news
Frontier Services’ 2014 Order of Service is now available. If you would like some copies for your congregation please contact the Frontier Services National office on 1300 787 247
Calling out for former Australian Inland Mission Nurses. Frontier Services is interested in your photographs, biographies and memories of your time working in remote Australia. We’d like to publish your photographs on our website to honour the work that you have done with us.
Rev. Glenda Blakefield, Associate General Secretary, Assembly
The Relations with Other Faiths National Executive Meeting was held on 6 February 2014.
Items on the Executive’s Agenda included the development of property sharing guidelines for UCA Congregations with those from another faith, our ‘Friendship in the Presence of Difference’ resource, and the development of the Interfaith September resource. Read more
The Relations with other Faiths Working Group in cooperation with the Multicultural and Cross Cultural Reference Committee is delighted to be supporting the President Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney’s National Ministers Conferences in 2014, in particular the conferences in both Parramatta and Jerusalem. There will be more news to come from ROF on these conferences throughout the year and we look forward to sharing the ROF story with you.
You can find out further information about the Assembly’s work in Relations with Other Faiths by visiting the website: www.assembly.uca.org.au/rof.
Rev. Dr Chris Walker, National Consultant, Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship, Assembly
The 2012 Assembly determined that UCA liturgies for Ordination, Induction and Commissioning should be amended to include reference to the commitment required by our ministers, deacons and pastors to the Covenant entered into between the UAICC (“Congress”) and the UCA. This has been done by the inclusion of an additional sentence into the “Charge” delivered at Ordination services, and an additional question into the relevant sections of the Induction and Commissioning Services. The amended services can all be found in the “Ordering of the Church” section of the Working Group on Worship website: Read more
- The Service of Ordination for a Minister
- The Service of Ordination for a Deacon
- The Service of Ordination and Induction for a Minister
- The Service of Ordination and Induction for a Deacon
- The Commissioning of a Pastor
We will also be producing a new resource over the next month, outlining possibilities of Christian Worship in Congregations. We hope this will provide ministers and those engaged in worship with some fresh and interesting approaches to worship. These materials will be advertised on the Assembly website and through the Assembly’s social media channels when they are ready.
I encourage people to consider attending the Mission and Evangelism conference, “A Clear Call” to be held in Adelaide from Friday 28 – Sunday 30 March, 2014. For further information and registration please see: www.clearcall.org.au.
Craig Mitchell, National Director
Craig Mitchell is the new National Director - Formation, Education and Discipleship. Based in Adelaide, Craig commenced a five year placement with the Assembly in January 2014. He has been in ministry with the Uniting Church for just over 30 years, in Christian education, leadership development, mission planning, and ministry with children and young people. Craig’s blog “Growing Disciples” is here.
Rev Dr Ian Price chairs the new Formation, Education & Discipleship (FED) Working Group. Information about this area of work can be found on the Assembly website here.
Connecting through Facebook and Twitter
The Formation, Education and Discipleship (FED) area provides several ways to connect through Facebook and Twitter. Read more
UCA Formation, Education and Discipleship - https://www.facebook.com/UCAFED
Twitter - @UCAChristianEd
UCA Uniting Youth - https://www.facebook.com/ucaunitingyouth
UCA Childrens Ministry - https://www.facebook.com/UCAChildrensMinistry
Discussion Group - Forming Faith, Growing Disciples https://www.facebook.com/groups/formingfaith/
Discussion Group - Multimedia in Ministry https://www.facebook.com/groups/multimediaministry/
Lay Leaders and Educators Network
The network held its meeting from 10-12 February at the UCA Synod offices in Brisbane. Representatives from the Assembly and the Synods of Queensland, NSW/ACT, VicTas, SA and WA talked about how we foster growth in discipleship in congregations and collaborate in adult education.
A particular focus this meeting was the training and assessment in lay specified ministries - Lay Preacher and Lay Pastor.
A Clear Call - National Mission and Evangelism Conference
“A Clear Call” is being held in Adelaide 28-30 March. The conference will explore opportunity to engage in how we share our faith contextually where we each live, love and have our being. Speakers and elective leaders include John and Olive Drane (UK), Peter Armstrong, Vicky Balabanski, Stu Cameron, Andrew Dutney, Age Greenwood, Lu Senituli, Steve Taylor, Deidre Palmer and more. More information here.
Rev. Dr Kerry Enright, National Director, UnitingWorld
Young leaders: Maturing in Christ
The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe plans to educate its many young people to be so grounded in Christ they can act wisely and freely in challenging circumstances. For that, they need young leaders who are maturing in Christ and who understand the influences shaping young minds. Read more
Those influences are powerful and pervasive. A country where 64% of the population is aged less than 24 is deeply vulnerable. Young people need education. They need stable homes. They need jobs and steady political leadership to create the change that will allow them to contribute to their nation. By contrast, less than half of all secondary age children in Zimbabwe are attending school. A whole generation has been affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, leaving many young people living alone or with relatives. Unemployment runs at 80%.
In the absence of strong, ethical leadership, a culture of political disaffection and violence has grown among young people. It’s unsurprising that two thirds of new conflicts over the last 20 years have been within nations like Zimbabwe with high youth populations.
In such situations, the power of Christ is a significant antidote. Christ gives people an identity that engenders service and justice and a commitment to the common good. He frees people of self-serving attitudes and feeds a spirit of wide concern, overcoming violence.
The Methodist Church wants young leaders to experience that power so they’ll lead in building a positive future for Zimbabwe. That means learning skills for building a people movement, enabling young people to keep growing in Christ and reaching out to others with hope and love. Young people are helped to understand the issues facing their country so they can act with greater freedom and deeper wisdom.
“Zimbabwe is in a volatile situation right now”, said the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Rev Amos Ndhlumbi. “That’s why leadership training for young people is so vital – we’re equipping them for the future. They need to be aware of the situation that surrounds them. They need to learn to think outside the box and prepare for all the challenges they’ll meet in life.”
In partnership with UnitingWorld, the Methodist Church Youth Ministries program trains young leaders to:
- Grow in Christ and lead other young people to grow in Christ
- Help others know the life and hope Christ brings
- Engage social and political powers, reducing violence
- Guide young people in developing skills for employment
- Understand the causes of conflict and how to address them
- Learn how to avoid the risk of infection from HIV/AIDS
“When you come to church you need to benefit spiritually and practically”, said Tairo Nehonde, a young leader in the Methodist Church who has taken part in training over many years.
“I did wonderful training… we learnt about how to protect ourselves from HIV, we learnt about entrepreneurship so that youths can learn to do good. And if we get support from our neighbouring countries – if we get the funding we need as well as the knowledge from the training - then I am sure we can do something good for our whole nation.”
In partnership with UnitingWorld, the Methodist Church of Zimbabwe aims to train hundreds of young leaders this year. In the coming months we’ll let you know how you can get involved in this inspiring partnership.
Lent Event is back in 2014 – your opportunity to connect with our partner communities overseas, reflect on Jesus’ ministry of good news to the poor and act by giving up items from everyday spending and donating the money to vital relief and development projects through UnitingWorld.
And this year, we’ve developed some exciting new initiatives and resources to make your experience even more engaging. Read more
Give it UP for Lent is a program for youth groups over the weekend of 7-9March. Created in collaboration with South Australia’s Uniting Young People, resources include a video, bible study and simulation games to explore the issue of poverty, encouraging young people to reflect on their lifestyles and learn more about what it’s like to live with less. The ultimate challenge is to give something up for the weekend – technology, furniture, cutlery, talking… the choices are endless! Register yourself or your youth group online at www.lentevent.com/giveitupforlent/
Children’s Resources this year have been prepared by Grant Maynard, who spent a year volunteering with his family with UnitingWorld’s partner in Zimbabwe. Drawing on their experiences, Grant has developed thought-provoking and creative games, imaginative stories, simulation activities and crafts. The resources explore the themes of peace, poverty, healthcare, gender and change.
“We just can’t recommend these children’s resources highly enough”, said UnitingWorld’s Cath Taylor, mother of two. “They’re so creative and original – the work of someone who understands the issues our partners are facing and knows what opens the minds and hearts of children. The stories, games and activities are so hands-on and intriguing that not only your Sunday School but your whole congregation may well get involved!”
This year’s Lenten Bible Study, Finding Light Within Darkness, is authored by Uniting Church in Australia past President Rev. Alistair Macrae and provides us with insightful commentary on the Old Testament passages that complement the lectionary readings for Lent. This year we’ve also included video clips of Alistair introducing the themes of each study, themes which include finding our vocation, hearing God’s voice and exploring freedom within limitations.
Your gifts to Lent Event this year support projects including:
- Education in North India
- Training Midwives in South Sudan
- Partnering Women for Change in the Pacific
- Peacebuilding and Advocacy in Papua New Guinea
- Women’s Empowerment in Indonesia
For more information and resources, visit www.lentevent.com
Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry
Rev. Dr Tony Floyd, National Director of Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry
Over the Christmas and New Year break I had the pleasure of joining Vietnamese congregations for their annual conference. The theme of the conference was “seek and find” from Jeremiah 29:13 “When you search for me, you will find me… says the Lord.”
National Conferences are a vital part of our national commitment to cultural and language diversity in the UCA. They provide settings for mutual support, encouragement, sharing and learning about life in and coming into the Uniting Church. They provide opportunity to dig deep into faith and life, personal and communal, in the first languages of the communities (much of the time) and often with parallel programs for adults and youth/young adults. Read more
The Vietnamese UCA congregations are doing fantastic work around the country in their congregations and communities. Some of the ministries undertaken by the Vietnamese congregations are truly inspiring, including music ministry with autistic children, and cross-cultural team ministry with the Tongan community.
I would like to thank the team in Queensland who ran the event with good humour and grace, as well as Rev Hung Ly and Nga Ly along with the community of Footscray Vietnamese Congregation for their support, assistance and encouragement to the committee.
Thank you to all those who came and participated, their contributions enrich the entire Vietnamese UCA community and the wider church.
Rev. Hung Ly said: “Our National Conference was blessed enormously. We had Rev. Dr Tony Floyd as our honoured speaker, Rev. Allan Thompson from the Royal Commission Task Group and Rev. David Becker to be with us. We had over 160 attendants came from over states and a group of Christian musicians and singers from Vietnam who contributed a lot to the worship at the conference.”
“We also had special activities for different peer group such as young people, women, men, and children. Generally, everyone was quite happy and joyful during this four day-conference.”
Relief and Disaster Recovery
Rev. Dr Stephen Robinson
The extreme fire conditions of this summer are proving to be trying for many people. Fire emergencies in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria in particular are causing a great deal of grief, damage and uncertainty for many communities. In South Australia the Barossa Valley has been hit hard. There the Synod has been hard at work organising pastoral carers to accompany assessment teams from government agencies, following up on physical and emotional needs of property owners who have been fire-affected. Read more
In WA I had the privilege of meeting with the Synod’s Disaster Response working group to develop their disaster response strategy and see that expressed in a direct way to, and through, three congregations in the fire-affected hills outside Perth.
This week I’ll be travelling to Ararat in Victoria to meet with local ministers who have been working in fire-affected communities in the Presbytery of Western Victoria. There have been significant losses in houses, property and stock in these places. On the border of NSW and Victoria joint teams from the Victorian Council of Churches’ Emergency Ministries and NSW Disaster Recovery Chaplaincy Network (which I oversee) has cared for evacuated families in the town of Delegate as fires progressed through the Victorian Snowy mountains and towards NSW.
Currently many fires are burning in each of these states, and there will be more before summer ends. Please remain prayerful for all concerned with welfare through the churches, and be mindful of the Assembly’s National Disaster Relief Fund which remains open to receive donations.
I was pleased to start this year connecting with the ongoing work of Springwood Uniting Church in its kids’ program during the summer school holidays. This took place on Wednesdays over three weeks of January at the Winmalee Public School in cooperation with the local neighbourhood centre and some local service clubs. It was an example of a well-integrated community focussed project supported by the National Disaster Relief Fund.
We have well and truly entered into the weather-driven disasters of summer. Following the early fire emergency of October 2012 to the North and West of Sydney, this year has begun with record temperatures over extended periods across our southern states. This heat wave culminated in bushfires affecting communities in West Australia (particularly East of Perth), South Australia and Victoria, as well as a number of rural communities in New South Wales.
These Synods have all actively been involved in supporting people affected by the fires, and the National Disaster Relief Fund remains open for donations to reinforce this work. An important part of my work, is in working with Synods and ministry agents in Presbyteries and Congregations to build strong and lasting disaster recovery processes, bring educational material, and care for the carers in these areas. I also have been working to better integrate what the church brings with the government arrangements unique to each state. Accordingly, I am visiting WA, Victoria and South Australia through to the end of March. Your ongoing prayers for this work are much appreciated.
Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director, UnitingJustice
A Destiny Together: Justice for the First Peoples - A Week of Prayer and Fasting 17-23 March 2014
In July 2012 in Adelaide, the members of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church listened to members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) tell stories about the effects of the Federal Government’s ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation (and the ‘Intervention’ before that) on their lives and their communities. Read more
The Assembly members were very moved by the stories of harm and exclusion and responded in two ways. The first was to ‘down tools’ and make a silent procession through the streets to the South Australian Parliament to pray and sing in a public vigil of lament. The second was to adopt a resolution calling on the Church to engage in a week of prayer and fasting for justice for the First Peoples.
The week, set down for 17-23 March 2014, will include a public prayer service on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra, to be held on Tuesday 18 March and to be led by the UAICC Chairperson and the President.
We would love as many Uniting Church members as possible to come to Canberra to be a part of this historic public witness to justice and reconciliation. You can register for this wonderful opportunity here: http://assembly.uca.org.au/news/events/a-destiny-together
You can also make a donation to assist UAICC members from remote communities to travel to Canberra to fully experience this event here: http://assembly.uca.org.au/adestinytogether/donate.
Lin Hattfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia
Although it’s only February, 2014 is already proving a busy year for UnitingCare Australia.
UnitingCare Australia welcomes to the national office Ian Holland as the new Director of Services Development. Ian comes to UnitingCare Australia from a position as a Senate Committee secretary, and his experience will prove valuable for the national work of UnitingCare. In particular, Ian will take a lead role in our aged care work. Read more
During January the Federal Government announced a review into the sustainability of Australia’s welfare system. One possible feature of the review, flagged by the Minister, is the option of a universal welfare payment. We continue to engage with Government on this issue, and I spoke to Jay Basik on 2GB’s Sunday Nights about the proposed reforms. Audio and a transcript of the interview are available from our website.
Also during January, UnitingCare Australia made submissions to two Senate Committees:
- the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Inquiry into the role of public transport in productivity outcomes; and,
- the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications Inquiry into the Government's Direct Action Plan.
We are also preparing submissions for several other Committees, which are due this month. All UnitingCare Australia submissions are made available when public here.
UCA Australia Defence Force (ADF) Chaplaincy
The UCA and its predecessor churches have a long commitment to the military in Australia, primarily through chaplaincy. The original Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Church and the Government is a century old. This MOA is expressed through the Religious Advisory Committee to the Services (RACS) committee. This body is represented by all other major Christian denominations, the Board of Jewish Deputies and affiliated Religions. Rev Dr Murray Earl, after almost 23 years as an Air Force Chaplain, has been nominated by the Assembly, appointed by the Minister of Defence and inducted by the President into this position, replacing Rev A. Gale Hall. Read more
Rev Dr Earl is also convener of the Assembly Defence Force Chaplains Committee (DFCC), which is based in Canberra. The DFCC administers chaplaincy for Navy, Army and Air Force, recruits chaplains and pastorally cares for this ministry of the Church. Thirty UCA chaplains are serving the church through ADF Chaplaincy. Chaplains are continually being sought for the Navy, Army and Air Force to fill this important role.
Rev Dr Murray Earl can be contacted on 0427470636 or by post at GPO Box 221, Canberra ACT 2601.
A number of new employment oppotunities are now available within the church and beyond.
National Director, Frontier Services
The Uniting Church Assembly is seeking a dynamic leader with passion for the mission of Frontier Services to care for the people of remote & rural Australia.
The issues of distance, isolation and access to services continue to challenge Australians living in remote Australia. Almost 100 years ago, John Flynn (“Flynn of the Inland”) pioneered medical and other programs to try and address these issues. Frontier Services carries on that work and is a major provider of community services and pastoral support to people in remote Australia.
We are looking for a National Director to provide professional leadership within Frontier Services… Read more
The Synod of Victoria and Tasmania is seeking an experienced administration and finance expert to join their team as the Executive Director - Administration and Finance… Read more
National Director, UnitingWorld
UnitingWorld is looking for a National Director to provide leadership and vision for its work in international mission, the development of Church partnerships and its relief and development programme. The person appointed will find satisfaction in both theological and strategic thinking, be well-versed in contemporary missiology and enjoy both a good understanding and experience of working cross-culturally. Find out more here.
To find out about what is happening across the country visit the Synod news sites below:
To learn more about employment and other Assembly news go to www.assembly.uca.org.au
Visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UCAAssembly