More than 90 people came together for the second Middle East National Conference of the Uniting Church held in Bankstown in south-western Sydney from 4-5 November.
Representing a range of countries including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Palestine, people came to share in fellowship and worship, and to reflect on the theme, “Looking to the Future”.
President Stuart McMillan delivered this sermon at the closing service of the Middle East National Conference held at Bankstown District Uniting Church on 5 November.
The national leaders of the Uniting Church in Australia and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) have lamented the Federal Government’s failure to embrace greater national representation for First Peoples.
Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan has called on the Australian Government to ensure the safety of refugees on Manus Island who remain inside the main detention facility which was shut down on Tuesday.
Around 600 refugees have refused to leave because they fear their safety outside of the Regional Processing Centre.
“Australia cannot walk away from its responsibility to guarantee the safety of these men who have already suffered so much uncertainty and fear,” said Mr McMillan.
Water and electricity were turned off on Tuesday and food and medical services are no longer being provided. The men are surviving on stockpiles of food and water collected from rain.
The Australian Government plans to transfer the refugees to other accommodation closer to the island's main town of Lorengau.
However, the refugees are refusing to leave with some of the men repairing wire security fences to the compound to protect themselves inside the centre.
The UNHCR has also expressed its concerns about the lack of planning in the closure of the facilities and insufficient consultation with the Papua New Guinean community.
There remains no long-term solution for the refugees on Manus Island who are not included in the relocation arrangement with the United States of America.
“It is clear the refugees inside the Manus Island processing centre hold grave fears for their safety and security in the other locations,” said Mr McMillan.
“The Government must take immediate steps to ensure the refugees remain safe and continue to have access to water, food and critical medical and mental health services,” said Mr McMillan.
The Uniting Church has long advocated for refugees to be processed fairly, onshore in Australia and for an increase in Australia’s humanitarian intake.
“We pray for the safety of these men as the centre is shut down today and all refugees who continue to be deprived of hope.”
Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan has urged the Federal Government to end the despair and uncertainty for more than 700 refugees offered relocation from Manus Island to Nauru.
This sermon was delivered by President Stuart McMillan for the 200th anniversary celebration of Castlereagh Uniting Church in western Sydney on Sunday 8 October 2017.
Uniting Church in Australia President Stuart McMillan has urged the Federal Government to accept the recommendations of its scientific experts and reduce greenhouse gas emissions without any further delay.
The Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed hosted lunch for Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan this week, deepening the friendship between the two faith leaders.
South Sudanese members of the Uniting Church were united in faith and a joyful love of God at their national gathering in Melbourne over the weekend (22-24 September).
“First be Reconciled” (Matt 5:23-24) was the theme for the third South Sudanese National Conference of the Uniting Church which brought together more than 30 South Sudanese members from Brisbane and Adelaide and the Uniting Church communities in Melbourne.