It’s been a scary and anxious week in Sydney’s leafy northern districts.
On 3 March, a 95 year-old resident of the Dorothy Henderson Lodge aged care facility at Macquarie Park became the first person who contracted the virus in Australia to die of the disease.
An 82-year-old man from the same facility has since passed away as well. Both residents tested positive for the COVID-19 virus after coming in contact with an aged care worker.
The former Assembly Associate Secretary for Aboriginal Work and Mission and early supporter of the Uniting Aboriginal and islander Christian Congress Rev. Bernie Clarke passed away in Adelaide on 23 February 2020. Tributes have flowed for an inspiring and prophetic advocate for social justice, particularly in his solidarity with Australia’s First Peoples.
The World Council of Churches and the UCA Assembly renewed our commitment to share resources and work together on important global issues earlier this week.
The 57th session of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Commission of Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) met in Brisbane from 19-21 February.
Founded in 1946, CCIA is comprised of 35 commissioners drawn from WCC's member churches around the world. It carries the responsibility for providing advice to the WCC on pressing issues in international affairs, including environmental issues.
CCIA Commissioner Rev. Gunilla Hallonsten from the Church of Sweden and CCIA Director Peter Prove met with the President Dr Deidre Palmer and staff to discuss areas of shared interest in the work we do.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be bearers of God’s peace. We are called to be an alternative voice to narratives of violence, destruction and hatred, It was in the light of this vocation for peace, that the Uniting Church hosted an interfaith roundtable on the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on Monday 24 February.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) began in Australia and grew into a global organisation that was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for their ground-breaking efforts towards achieving a global treaty that will ban nuclear weapons.
President Dr Deidre Palmer has voiced the Uniting Church’s concerns about the latest draft of the Religious Freedom Bills on the ABC’s national radio program Nightlife.
“We have concerns that this Bills may establish a hierarchy of rights so that religious expression is privileged over other human rights,” Dr Palmer told Nightlife host Philip Clark.
“The Uniting Church believes in the protection of people’s freedom to express their religious faith. So where this legislation seeks to strengthen and protect that we support it, but we don’t support a bill which may undermine the human rights of other people.”
By Colleen Geyer
Leadership and Theology Symposium, Adelaide, February 2020
The Uniting Church was built on an innovative and forward-looking idea, though built in a particular time and context. Still only a young church, it has grown and become more than could have been imagined at its birth and faced many challenges along the way. As we look to the future what type of leaders do we need and what challenges will they face? Can we as the Uniting Church be bold enough to listen to our history, step away from what has always been, be open to where God is leading us and step aside for the leaders who will take us there?
An increasing number of congregations and agencies marked the Uniting Church’s Day of Mourning in January.
Since 2019, the Church has asked its members to set aside a day to lament and acknowledge the ongoing impacts of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples. People gathered for worship in a variety of ways on Sunday 19 January 2020 and in the week leading up to 26 January.
I recently attended the annual Refugee Alternatives Conference in my capacity as Chairperson of the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce.
Hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia, the event gathers advocates and organisations supporting refugees together with people with the lived experience of seeking asylum. The two-day program facilitates conversation about how Australia can do better in providing refuge and safety in our nation.
It was great to be there as part of the Uniting Church. Creating a more welcoming community and better outcomes for refugees is an important part of our vision for a just Australia.
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer has expressed heartfelt thanks to overseas partner churches for their extraordinary compassionate response to the recent bushfire crisis.
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity and compassion from churches all around the world, who’ve kept us in their prayers right through the bushfire crisis,” said Dr Palmer.