The church in the midst of change

UnitingWorld hosted three lunches at the recent 14th Triennial Assembly which discussed the work of our Uniting Church international partner churches.

At one such lunch, two presenters from church partners in the Pacific joined Dr Deidre Palmer, moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia in a discussion about gender equality. Later in  the week, Deidre was voted by the Assembly as the president-elect of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Deaconess Martha Yamsiu – the gender officer for the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu spoke of the many challenges women faced in her community. She outlined the disregard of women as religious leaders in the community and the ongoing issues around gender violence – a silent issue for many women living in Vanuatu. Martha spoke of the successful workshops UnitingWorld and  The Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu have been undertaking in Vanuatu to educate and inform men and women about respectful relationships.

The second speaker Rev Maleta Rumaroti, secretary for mission, Kiribati Uniting Church, presented on climate impact and rising sea levels in Kiribati. Changing environmental factors due to  climate change have magnified issues of gender inequality with women bearing more of a burden as a result. High tides have led to increased illness with mosquitos breeding and causing dengue  fever. This has resulted in increased workloads for women, as they take care of their partners, children, elderly, sick and the disabled.

The community also continues to grapple with their  understanding of climate change. Embedded theological beliefs mean the community strongly believes in the rainbow covenant and that God will make everything right. Biblical interpretation is something UnitingWorld is assisting church partners to rethink.

The final speaker, Dr Deidre Palmer began her presentation with some disturbing statistics relating to family and domestic violence in Australia. One woman per week in Australia loses her life to  family and domestic violence and one in three women will experience family or domestic violence in their lifetime. Deidre mentioned some of the campaigns she has been involved with, including  the White Ribbon Campaign and a campaign of her own instigation, Beyond Violence. This campaign aims to educate and bring awareness of domestic violence to individuals, people in placement  and pastoral carers.


To obtain resources including a Domestic Violence Handbook for clergy and pastoral workers visit For more information regarding UnitingWorld’s Pacific:  Climate Change Response Program visit

Other UnitingWorld lunches included a discussion on the church in crisis; and on the church in times of growth. You can read about these events and more at

Image: Guests at a UnitingWorld lunch listen intently.

Bindy Taylor

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