The national leaders of the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress have shared grief, outrage, and prayers of solidarity with civil rights protesters in the United States, where the murder by police of African American man George Floyd has sparked global anger against racism and police brutality.
Assembly President Dr Deidre Palmer and the Interim UAICC National Chairperson Pastor Mark Kickett have issued Pastoral Statements.
“I join with Christian leaders from around the world to express my outrage and deep sorrow over the murder of George Floyd, and the evil of racism, which gives birth to such acts of inhumanity,” said Dr Palmer.
“I offer prayers for the Floyd family and for all those in the US who live in fear and ongoing discrimination because of the colour of their skin.
President Dr Deidre Palmer has warmly thanked Uniting Church members for their creative responses to being the Church during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a special message for Pentecost, Dr Palmer said it had been "a joy to see the ways you have adjusted to these dramatically changed circumstances."
"I give thanks for all of you – members of the Uniting Church, sisters and brothers in Christ, who are faithfully expressing the ministry of Christ through this time of pandemic."
The Assembly Resourcing Unit has produced a National Reconciliation Week resource for 2020.
The resource includes reflections from UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and Interim National Chairperson of UAICC Pr Mark Kickett, and endorses the Reconciliation Sunday material produced by Tarlee Leondaris, Covenanting Officer at the Synod of South Australia.
“They showed us unusual kindness”
The theme for the 2020 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity comes from verse 28:2 in the Book of Acts. When the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked off the island of Malta, the local people greeted him with welcome and care. Paul reciprocates the kindness and compassion shown by the Maltese people, and we too are called to greater generosity for those in need.
President Dr Deidre Palmer has issued a Pastoral Letter to all congregations and faith communities encouraging people with disability within the Uniting Church to share their stories with the Disability Royal Commission.
“The 15th Assembly of the Uniting Church affirmed that all people are created in the image of God and along with all members, the faith, gifts, hopes and dreams of people with disability are to be valued and honoured,” writes Dr Palmer.
“To understand the prevalence and toll of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability, it is essential the Disability Royal Commission hear directly from people with disability, their families, and support people.”
The Christian Conference of Asia is working through the COVID-19 crisis by engaging its membership through a series of online conferences and webinars.
I attended the second of a series of CCA events "Churches in Asia responding to the COVID-19 Crisis" on 7 May 2020.
The virtual conference saw engagement from 100 registered participants and also had an audience of over 4,000 viewers who observed the proceedings via the CCA’s social media platforms.
This year due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Building Harmony Iftar Dinner hosted by the Affinity Intercultural Foundation and Uniting Church in Australia took place in a virtual format.
While people could not physically share the meal together, the spirit of friendship and hospitality was shared in abundance as people joined live via the UCA Assembly Facebook page.
The air we’re breathing in our most populated cities is cleaner.
We can see mountains unobstructed by the haze of pollution.
Our children are getting outside, and enjoying the beauty of creation.
There seem to be more birds and animals around, but perhaps we’re just noticing them more.
These are some of the stories we are hearing emerge as some of the positive outcomes to the safety measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A worldwide climate action led by school students is taking place on Friday 15 May.
UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer has offered a reflection and prayer for people to use in worship as a way of showing their support for the young people leading this global action.
“We have seen what can be achieved in a very short space of time to address a crisis that threatens us all," Dr Palmer said in her reflection, in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have another crisis that we need to face together – the crisis that our whole creation is groaning under the impacts of climate change, pollution, and degradation of our ecosystems.
The Assembly together with the UCA Synod of Queensland have taken the decision to discontinue long-standing plans to build a new Church at Mapoon on western Cape York in Far North Queensland.
The decision is due to changed circumstances in the Mapoon community, with the Mapoon Community Council advising that it has decided to build its own community-controlled church building.
The Council has secured funds independently of the UCA to do this.
As we experience an easing of restrictions, one thing the coronavirus pandemic has made clear is just how connected we are to each other.
Our responsibility for and dependence on one another has become critical to our own safety and wellbeing, in our families, in our communities, as a nation and as a global human family.