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Uniting Church in Australia Assembly - News
Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Unity and mission

World Council of Churches LogoThe Uniting Church has presented a paper on ‘Unity and Mission’ at the World Council of Churches Uniting and United Churches Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Joy Balazo speaks on her PNG work

Uniting International Mission's Joy Balazo recently travelled to the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, where she witnessed 32 warring tribes sign peace agreements. On her return to Australia Joy has been interviewed for both print and broadcast media across the country; you can hear some of her interviews by following the links on the Young Amabassadors for Peace website.

Friday, 24 October 2008

PM listens to UCA concerns

Representatives from the Uniting Church in Australia have met with the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, for the first time, speaking with him on issues of climate change, human rights and the death penalty.

Constitution & RegulationsThe 2008 edition of the Constitution and Regulations is now available to purchase. It includes the legal constitution of the Uniting Church, with the Basis of Union, Code of Ethics, Alternate Regulations for Korean and Small Congregations. Click here for more details and to purchase this vital resource from MediaCom.

Image © Nicolas Raymond: www.morguefile.comThe Uniting Church in Australia has today reaffirmed its opposition to the death penalty, amidst speculation that the execution of three men responsible for the 2002 Bali Bombings is imminent.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Appalled by ABC axing

ABC LogoGiven that Australia prides itself on being a multicultural and multifaith society, the axing of Radio National’s Religion Report is a very short sighted and extremely poor decision.

Monday, 19 December 2005

President's Christmas message

The Census which sent Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem for the first Christmas was the first in the region of Syria.

It was part of Emperor Augustus’ plans to develop the first empire-wide budget for the Roman Empire; the productivity of each region could be assessed and taxed. It was then possible to work out what each person and region could contribute to the Emperor. What was new then seems so familiar now. The more you have, the more you are worth to the Empire. It was the first installment of economic rationalism! It was a preferential option for the already wealthy to make more.

But not even Caesar Augustus could imagine the challenge to this Empire from one impoverished baby born in a back room stall. Jesus was God’s mission to replace the power of money with the purposes of God.

In the midst of all the perplexing and the unforeseen Christmas is the reminder to us that the purposes of God unfold in and through the birth of this child, the Prince of Peace, “bringing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven,” as he later taught us.

It is a reminder that we are not loved because we are of financial worth. Instead we are of worth because we are loved by God. Of course money has its place, but it is not the first place, nor the only way to evaluate a society. Jesus calls us to build societies of peace and justice, which is so much more than greater economic prosperity. He gives himself for fairness, growing depth in relationships between individuals, groups and cultures, deeper understanding of the ‘other’ who is different from us and resources for the benefit of all within borders and beyond. What is the use of a greedy and divided society at war with itself and others? Silence about these matters simply misses the mark.

He stands against all the systems of race, and religion, and power. For him, just like us, it started in a cradle, so that we might follow from the cradle through life to the grave and beyond, so that we might live our lives in the loving and just perspective that he shared with us.

No wonder we come with reverence to the cradle. For the baby was not to be silent. Before him all the illusions of who we are fall away and we see the Christmas message so plainly. In vulnerability the living God comes into our presence and our deepest longings can be realised.

There is a movement of people within society who are searching for a vital spirituality and rejecting the dry rationalism of the past, whether religious or secular, ecclesiastical or modern.

Whatever the environment – be it meditation and prayer or a search for meaning or happiness - it is evident there is a lot more bubbling in the lives of people than most have been given credit for. Let this Christmas be a time when all of us can reflect on the meaning and implications of a God who comes into our presence through the Christ child, offering hope, peace and justice.

Media Contact: Gavin Melvin, Manager, National Media and Communication – 0417 416 674

Uniting Church President, the Reverend Dr. Dean Drayton has responded to criticism of his participation in the Workplace Relations debate by Senator Santo Santoro by reminding him that the Uniting Church has always been on the side of justice and equity particularly for the poor and the marginalised.

“In 1977 when the Uniting Church was formed it said in its inaugural Statement to the Nation: ‘We pledge ourselves to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concerns for the welfare of all persons everywhere.’

“We have a history of speaking out against policies which we believe damage the fabric of Australian society regardless of which party is the source of that policy,” Rev. Drayton said.

“The Uniting Church Submission to this inquiry was based on the 1994 National Assembly Call for Justice Concerning Employment, which stated that: ‘the market is not an adequate way of organising paid employment, since not everyone has equal power in the market.’

“We do not take party political positions; we take positions that stem from our understanding and commitment to the gospel. The Uniting Church remains concerned at the plight of Australians under the Industrial Relations Reforms being proposed by the Government. We are concerned the Government is unwilling to concede that employers will always hold the balance of power over vulnerable and low-paid workers.

“While it’s pleasing to see the head of the Fair Pay Commission is a committed Christian, it’s plainly wrong in a multi-faith, multicultural society that anybody should be asked to rely on their faith to make decisions that affect the wages of every Australian. It should never be that the personal religious convictions of the Chairperson are a substitute for clear legislative guidelines when it comes time to make just and fair wage decisions on behalf of all Australians.”

Rev. Drayton said that while Senator Santoro is correct in asserting there has been job creation since 1996 he has failed to acknowledge that many of these have been part time or even worse, low paid casual jobs.

“In our submission the Uniting Church argued for people in these very positions – it’s these people we are most concerned for under this legislation, because they could be forced to bargain for their very livelihoods from a position of weakness.”

As Rev. Drayton said at the inquiry, there have been two representations to the Government in the last two years by the National Council of Churches on behalf of the 800,000 Australian children who are growing up in jobless households.

“The combined churches poverty awareness campaign started last year reminded us that despite talk of economic growth and prosperity, there are still 3.6 million Australian households struggling to get by on a combined income of less than $400 per week.

“With this in mind it’s difficult to see how the job creation and ‘greatly increased welfare support measures’ Senator Santoro cites have had a real impact on the lives of the most vulnerable in this country.”

Dr. Drayton affirmed that Christianity not only be expressed as an individual response to God’s love and care but also in terms of its implication for the way in which our whole society is structured.

“While not all Christians will come to agreement on these matters, this is a public discussion we are obliged to have. As a Uniting Church attendee, I would hope that Senator Santoro also shared this view.”

Media Contact: Gavin Melvin, Manager, National Media and Communication – 0417 416 674