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Uniting Church in Australia Assembly - News

For immediate release

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=nuclear+warhead&page=2Uniting Church in Australia President, Reverend Gregor Henderson, has on the occasion of the United Nations International Day of Peace, this Sunday 21 September, called on Australians to believe in peace.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Ministry of Pastor Rules now available

In August the Ministerial Education Commission has finalised the Rules for the Ministry of Pastor. The Rules can be found on the Ministry of Pastor page.

The Uniting Church was today one of 50+ organisations from across the country to call on the Federal Government to engage in a public consultation on human rights protection.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

UCA consults with federal opposition

Continuing the UCA’s dialogue with leaders in the National Parliament, the UCA President and General Secretary have met with the Liberal Party leader. 

The Uniting Church has been one of the key instigators of a multi-faith call for action on climate change.

Church leaders from across Australia, including the Uniting Church, gathered in Canberra last Friday to keep poverty on the agenda in the lead up to the Federal election.

Vote [1] No More Poverty is a joint campaign of the Uniting, Anglican and Catholic Churches and their social services agencies and aims to raise awareness among members of our community and our political leaders about the growing rate of poverty.

The Uniting Church was represented at the launch by UnitingCare Australia National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds and National Assembly ex President, Rev Prof, James Haire.

Ms Hatfield Dodds, said poverty is a growing problem in Australia and not just among unemployed people.

“While Australia has experienced economic growth in the last two decades much of this prosperity has passed by many Australians. Today, we have the dubious honour of being ranked fourth on the OECD list of countries with the highest percent of population living in poverty,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“Today, 852,000 Australian children live in jobless households and 3.6 million Australians live on a household income of less than $400 a week.

“Agencies like UnitingCare which deliver the majority of community support in this country, see the despair and deprivation of Australia’s poor every day.

“Each year more and more Australians are suffering an unacceptable standard of living and poverty is no longer just about unemployed people.

“Many working Australians now find themselves struggling with poverty and as a caring church it is time we took a stand to see something done. That’s why we started this campaign.”

The campaign was launched at Parliament House in Canberra on June 24 following a national newspaper advertisement in the Australian that day.

Church leaders, including Prof Haire, told politicians and media representatives of the desperate need for the Federal Government to take a national leadership role in tackling poverty.

“Our faith and ethical traditions call us to ensure the health and well being of our communities. With this in mind we believe all Australians have the right to a decent life including access to work, education, housing, food and recreation.

“The message that we sent to our political leaders was that sadly, for more and more Australians, this is a pipe dream.

“There are no easy answers to solving poverty – it is a multi faceted problem often caused by more than one factor. However, the first step is to acknowledge the problem and work together at all levels of government to find real solutions.

“We called on the Federal Government to take a national leadership role on this issue and work through the Council of Australian Governments with State and Territory Government’s to develop a well resourced national action plan working across government and in partnership with the broader community.

“This is an issue we all need to be concerned and we are asking church members for their help to make politicians and political candidates aware of this issue. Please, in the lead up to the next election take the time to write to them or call them and ask …‘Do you care about poverty in Australia and what will you do to address it?”

The importance of good relationships between Indonesia and the Australia and transparency on all sides was the focus of a meeting between Uniting Church Officials and the Indonesian Ambassador in Canberra recently.

Uniting International Mission Reference Committee Chair, Professor James Haire and UIM Executive Secretary, Rev John Barr were received by Indonesian Ambassador, his Excellency, Mr Imron Cotan.

Rev Barr said the meeting focused on the need for transparency from all sides and on developing a good working relationship between the Uniting church and the Indonesian Government.

“Ambassador Cotan indicated his willingness to engage in further dialogue with the Church on issues of concern, especially those which concern out partner churches in Indonesia.

“He listened to our concerns about Ambon and the concern relayed to us by our partner church the Protestant Church in Maluku that Ambonese Christians as being portrayed as separatist and seeking to undermine the unity of the Indonesia Republic.

“Professor Haire and I reaffirmed the GPM's support for the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia and our Churches support for the GPM’s position. He also indicted he would voice these concerns with official in Jakarta,” Rev Barr said.

He said another pleasing aspect of the meeting was Mr Cotan’s generous offer to make himself available to the Uniting Church in Australia to further dialogue with us or to speak at a meeting or a gathering.

“This meeting was an important and strategic meeting. The Ambassador indicated that he is available for further meetings and I believe this may provide strategic opportunities for the Uniting Church in Australia to be an effective advocate on behalf of our partner churches in Indonesia; an effective educator and a positive facilitator concerning the development of positive relationships between Australia and Indonesia. “


Last Saturday (18 September) Julia Baird wondered “why the religious left are such pussycats when it comes to politics”. While she offered several explanations for why this may be the case, she failed to consider that the premise itself may be wrong.

Those of us who stand for a more progressive Christianity and who might be regarded as ‘religious left’ (or just ‘mainstream’ if the point of reference is the ‘religious right’ Christianity made famous by Jerry Falwell) try hard to little effect – the Uniting Church has made a number of public statements every week of the election campaign only to be ignored by the media.

It is distressing that the most prominent Christianity that figures in public consciousness these days is the reductive faith Julia writes about – faith concerned more about personal morality and judgement than caring for our neighbours. While this brand of Christianity may indeed find expression in party politics, most of the mainstream churches express their politics from within the church—speaking to government as the church—and in the day-to-day non-party political work of making life better for people. Through church agencies such as UnitingJustice we also work to encourage people’s participation as active citizens in our democratic state so that we don’t just have ‘leaders’ speaking out but local congregations and individuals enabled to discuss and raise issues in ways appropriate for them. In his piece ‘Labor blunders in bidding war’ (20 September), Robert Manne remarks on ‘the absence of any vision of the future’. It is not a point he comes back to as he assesses the effectiveness of Labor in the bidding war that is this election campaign. So maybe another reason that the mainstream churches appear absent is that we are calling for visionary leadership and this is obviously not what election campaigns are about.

What we do have in this election is a small-minded battle for the same tiny garden – the choice is between two gardeners working with the same plants but with slightly different methods of watering and feeding. The aim is to convince us to trust one or other of them to deliver more produce from that tiny garden.

The social, political and economic agenda that defines contemporary Australia is an agenda held without question by both major parties. This is why there are so few differences between the major parties and why talk about vision is unnecessary. The Church, however, does question the values and ideological assumptions behind this agenda.

When the potential prime ministers are fighting about who will fight better, who wants to talk of peace? When they are fighting over who can put more money into our pockets each fortnight, who wants to hear about homes for the homeless? Who wants to hear about justice when economic growth is what matters most? The pussycats are growling, Julia, but no-one is listening.

Rev. Elenie Poulos
National Director
UnitingJustice Australia