The letters editor
The Daily Telegraph
In his rush to discredit those concerned at the appalling treatment of David Hicks it seems Piers Akerman has misrepresented the substance of a press statement I issued yesterday (Trials, tribulations of life in free Hicksville - Daily Telegraph, 6 Feb 2007).
In an attempt to paint me as ignorant and somehow unaware of the imminent charges, he jettisons the introductory paragraph of my statement, where I acknowledge that draft charges have been prepared against David Hicks, notwithstanding the fact Hicks has been incarcerated for five years with no charges and no trial.
Then through his gratuitous comment - “Hallejuah Henderson, Hallejuah Thomson” (I think he means “Hallelujah”) – Mr Akerman grossly misrepresents me by implying that I somehow support the atrocities committed by the Taliban. That’s offensive.
For the record let me make my views and those of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church very clear:
- We continue to be astonished that the Australian Government supports an Australian citizen facing trial before the flawed processes of an American military tribunal when other countries, including Britain, have not deemed those processes suitable or appropriate for their citizens.
- We believe David Hicks should be returned to Australia to be charged and face trial under Australian or international law, and if no such charges can be laid then he should be released into the community; if he is deemed dangerous to the community under our current anti-terrorist laws, then he could be placed under a control order.
- We believe that the conditions in Guantanamo are inhumane and cruel (5 years of detention without trial; 22 hours a day locked in solitary in a windowless cell when he’s not been found guilty of anything; no access to books or educational programs etc).
- We condemn terrorism, we believe that terrorists should be brought to justice under right and proper legal procedures.
- In no way do we support the Taliban and their atrocious attitudes and actions.
Rev. Gregor Henderson
Uniting Church President
Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest Canberra
For immediate release
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia has today written a letter of congratulations to the newly consecrated Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Perth, the Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy.
Rev. Henderson said the appointment of Australia’s first Anglican Bishop was an historic occasion.
“The Uniting Church in Australia has long been committed to gender equity in all areas of life and society,” said Rev. Henderson.
“We therefore particularly rejoice that the Anglican Church in Australia has taken the key step to include women in its three orders of ministry.
“It fits very well with the ecumenical commitments of the Anglican Church and with ecumenical developments across the worldwide Christian communion.
“We are certain that the gifts Bishop Goldsworthy brings to her appointment will enrich the life of the Anglican Church in Perth, WA, and beyond.”
In his letter, Rev. Henderson offered the ongoing prayers and support of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Rev. Henderson is available for comment.
Penelope Monger, Assembly Communications Manager: 02 8267 4233 / 0417 416 674.
For immediate release
Rev. Gregor Henderson, President, Uniting Church in Australia
EASTER IMPACTS ON PEOPLE OF ALL FAITHS… AND OF NONE
Despite walking this earth 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ continues to make more impact for good on people in the world today than any other single human being.
We hear much these days about the tension, competition and conflict between people of different faiths. This Easter it is worth noting that the stresses that can occur between those of differing religions are generated by a very few people. The far more common story, not often told, is the good relationships that are being nurtured, together with a commitment to maintaining peace and harmony, by the vast majority of people of faith.
In the Indian city of Machilipatnam, thousands of Hindus and Muslims come to the city cathedral every Christmas Eve to pray, in respect for the Christian faith and in commitment to community togetherness. Further, each visitor drops a few rupees into the cathedral’s offering boxes and, on that one day, they contribute more than 10% of the cathedral’s annual budget.
In Jerusalem last year, a new Council for Religious Institutions was established. Membership includes the Jewish chief rabbis; the Christian heads of churches; and the Muslim supreme judge and mufti. They are particularly working on the very sensitive issue of the long-term future status of Jerusalem.
In Australia the leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths are planning a joint visit to Israel and Palestine in 2009, in order to see the conflict there from all sides and to work out together how faith leaders may contribute to peace in the region.
None of these things would be happening were it not for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to live out and teach God’s love for the whole world, not just for his particular followers. That is why people of many faiths celebrate Easter.
Whether you are of the Christian faith, another faith, or a person of no religious faith at all, we encourage you to at least enjoy the Easter holiday season and to give thanks for Jesus; a man who promoted peace and advocated for justice for all humans; and the man whom we Christians worship as Son of God and Saviour of the world.
Media enquiries to:
Penelope Monger, National Assembly Communications Manager 02 8267 4233 / 0417 416 674.
For immediate release
As the tragic reality of the Burma cyclone continues to emerge, Uniting International Mission, through its relief and development division Uniting Church Overseas Aid, has launched the UCOA Burma Cyclone Appeal.
This has followed discussions between Kerry Enright, Director of Uniting Church Overseas Aid and Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Christian World Service, the International and Development arm of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).
“For many years the Uniting Church has stood with the Burmese people and many refugees as they have suffered at the hands of, or fled the repressive military junta. We commit ourselves anew to supporting them in this moment of need,” said Rev Gregor Henderson, President of the Uniting Church National Assembly.
“As the doors of Burma open to aid agencies, the UCOA Burma Cyclone Appeal will be a central contributor to the efforts of partners through Christian World Service in responding with the compassion of Christ to a devastated nation.”
Christian World Service will work with the Myanmar Council of Churches which has a fine record in delivering emergency aid and longer-term rehabilitation assistance to people and communities hit by natural disasters.
The Director of Uniting Church Overseas Aid, Kerry Enright has also urged members of the Uniting Church to pray for the leadership and members of the Presbyterian Church of Myanmar, the Methodist Church (Upper Myanmar), the Methodist Church (Lower Myanmar) and the Myanmar Council of Churches. Contact has been made with the leadership to express our solidarity at this time of devastation.
People wishing to make a donation to the UCOA Burma Cyclone Appeal can do so by visiting www.overseasaid.org. Gifts of $2 and more are tax deductible.
Donations can also be posted to:
PO Box A2266 Sydney South NSW 1235
P: 1800 998 122
F: 03 9262 7936
The Uniting Church in Australia has initiated an ecumenical prayer service on Wednesday 13 February 2008, to mark the National Apology by the Federal Government to the stolen generations.
The Ecumenical Prayer Service will involve prayer for the continuing journey of healing for Indigenous Australians and action to end Indigenous poverty.
Attending the service will be Reverend Professor James Haire, former President of the Uniting Church in Australia and current Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University.
He will be joined by members of the Uniting Church in Australia, including:
- Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) National Executive;
- Rev. Niall Reid, Moderator of the NSW Synod;
- Rosemary Hudson Miller, Associate General Secretary (Justice & Mission), WA Synod.
15 Blackall St, Barton ACT 12.30pm
Uniting Church representatives, including NSW Synod Moderator, Rev. Niall Reid and Past President, Rev. Prof. James Haire are available for comment.
ContactPenelope Monger, National Assembly Communications: 02 8267 4233 / 0417 416 674.
In an historic move, a group of Australia’s religious leaders have banded together and signed an open letter to the Federal Government, calling for immediate and decisive action on climate change.
Signed by 31 leaders from various faith groups and organisations, the letter draws specific attention to the communities across the globe facing devastation through climate change, including the small island nations and low lying areas of the Pacific.
The collaboration coincides with a visit to Australia by Pacific Church leaders, who are deeply concerned about the effects of climate change on the region. In countries such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands, climate change is an urgent issue, with rising sea levels already endangering many of their islands.
“As people of faith, we affirm the fundamental value of the whole of creation, and assert that the responsibility to safeguard human flourishing and ecological integrity extends beyond economic considerations of costs and benefits,” the letter states.
The open letter has been facilitated by the independent research organisation, The Climate Institute, and the signatories represent faiths including Christian; Baha’i; Jewish; Muslim; and Hindu.
All of them are committed to working for ecologically sustainable living and advocating for communities, both in the Pacific and worldwide, affected by climate change.
Open Letter from Australian Religious Leaders to the Australian Government
National Council of Churches in Australia
Level 7, 379 Kent St, Sydney NSW
8 August 2008
Available for interview
Mr Fe’iloakitau Kaho Tevi, General Secretary, Pacific Council of Churches
Imam Riad Galil, Chairperson, Jewish Christian Muslim Association of Australia
Gregor Henderson, President, Uniting Church in Australia
Human Resources support materials are now available from each synod, for the Ministry of Pastor. A list of contacts is provided on the Ministry of Pastor page. These Synod contacts can assist employing bodies with HR advice and documentation.