Welcome to the latest edition of the National Update, from today delivered to your inbox every week.
We hope this gives our readers a more timely and engaging experience of the national work of the Uniting Church, our ministries and agencies.
New UAICC Leadership
I warmly welcome the new leadership appointments made at last month's National Conference of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
The Rev. Dennis Corowa is the new National UAICC Chairperson. Dennis has been involved with Congress since 1985, working in congregational ministry, school and prison chaplaincy. I've got to know well over recent Assembly Standing Committee meetings. Welcome too to new Deputy Chairperson the Rev. Garry Dronfield of NSW-ACT Congress. Garry is a Bundjalung man, presently ministering at Sylvania Uniting Church in Sydney.
In welcoming Dennis and Garry I would like to pay tribute to outgoing Chairperson the Rev. Rronang Garrawurra.
I have been honoured to stand side-by-side with Rronang at key points during my term as President, on our march to a prayer vigil at the SA Parliament during the 13th Assembly, at Parliament House during our week of prayer and fasting for justice and reconciliation between First and Second Peoples, and many other places along the way. The Uniting Church has been truly blessed by Rronang’s service as a church leader and public theologian, and I have the Holy Spirit’s presence in the land, revealing God to Aboriginal and Islander people.
On 29 May this year it will be 30 years since the Assembly endorsed the establishment of Congress. So I am also looking forward to working with Dennis and Garry as we move towards an important milestone in our relationship.
It's an important time to acknowledge the past, and reflect on how we have followed through on the promises we made in 1985: celebrate our achievements, and confess the ways in which we have fallen short and recommitting to our covenantal relationship within the body of Christ.
Rev. Sunil Kadaparambil joins the Frontier Services family
After being a Catholic priest for nine years in India, Sunil Kadaparambil has been commissioned as a Uniting Church Patrol Minister in Cunnamulla. Rev. Sunil has always had a passion for mission, particularly out in remote and regional Australia.
"That was the main reason for me joining the Uniting Church and Frontier Services: to work in remote Australia. The Uniting Church is open. I felt it worked for the community, is open to all people and welcoming to all cultures. Social or charitable activities present the best opportunities to establish good relationships with other religions. After all, we are all the creation of the same God. I'm excited to meet everyone in Cunnamulla Patrol. Frontier Services does some wonderful work, especially in the outback. That is the area I can help: practically. Where there is need," said Rev. Sunil.
Sunil has been involved in every community that he's worked in. In India he started St Thomas' School in Mumbai, which grew to accommodate over 2,000 students. He has also worked in jail ministry and was involved in coordinating ecumenism efforts in Mumbai. More recently in his parish in Goulburn, Sunil began a youth group to form a soccer team now 21 strong. Rev. Sunil not only plays soccer and volleyball, but is a bit of a cricketer. He describes himself as more of a batsman than a bowler, but he’s looking forward to the next match with the locals.
Welcome to the Frontier Services family, Sunil!
Gallipoli is on our mind as a nation in 2015. The centenary of ANZAC reminds us that 100 years ago Australian and New Zealand troops landed on that barren shore, capturing our attention and imagination. The work of the Uniting Church Australian Defence Force Chaplaincy in defence has never been easy because our natural inclination as Christians is for peaceful coexistence. Peace, we believe is the mind of Jesus.
Military chaplains have a long history. While representing the church as ordained ministers, military chaplains live in a seemingly ambiguous world and do so with élan, deconstruction and benefit. In various iterations clergy have served military personnel for hundreds of years. Some chaplains have died in battle, been repatriated or blossomed in a ministry of their own. Military chaplaincy is a niche ministry, particularly the case at Gallipoli where Australian chaplains found themselves interpreting unfolding events in an extraordinarily new ANZAC context. Chaplains still go to Gallipoli to lead the dawn service regularly attended by many Australians. As part of their duties, they also attend many other Australian war cemeteries around the world.
At every memorial service there are memories of chaplaincy colleagues who stood in the very same spot - confirming an inspiring continuity of the churches ministry over time. At ANZAC Day this year UCA Chaplains will again recall, reflect and remind the nation that freedom is never free.
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