Review: Opening Doors

A seeker’s reflections on the rooms of Christian living, by Kevin Treston, Coventry Press, 2019

Kevin Treston, based in Brisbane, has written many books to assist adult faith formation within the Australian Catholic church. This is a short, readable book that is ideal for any Christian discussion group or for individual reflection.

The eleven ‘doors’ are different aspects of Christian living. Each chapter opens with a key question, such as “how does your faith life touch your everyday happenings?” “How might our Christian  faith be fully integrated within the whole web of life in the universe?” “What are key issues in Christian moral teachings today?” “How is your membership of the church significant or not significant in your faith life now?” And “How do you see the role of a Christian in the world today?”

Each chapter ends with group conversation starters and is well written and bound to provoke discussion. Indeed, it is amazing how much content is packed into each short chapter. Continue Reading

Advice for ministering in disaster affected communities

Following recent bush fires just north of Perth, in which 86 homes have been lost, the Uniting Church WA Disaster Relief and Community Recovery Working Group have released this informative video, detailing the role of the working group and how they can support congregations and faith communities as they minister to fire-affected communities.

For more information, contact the working group on 0438 418 303 or de.jackson@bigpond.com. Continue Reading

Review: Gift of Music, Songbook and CD

by Nelson Varcoe, Adelaide Congress Ministry, 2020

Nelson Varcoe remembers his Uncles singing old gospel songs around the camp fires at Point Pearce Mission, Yorke Peninsula, the music echoing across the plains on hot summer nights. As a 12-year-old, he salvaged choke wires from an old Model T-Ford to cobble together his first guitar. “It sounded pretty good,” he says.

Now, after a lifetime of ministry and service, Nelson has published his first collection of 25 original ‘Godinspired’ songs in country-gospel style, dedicated to his mentors: “Aboriginal Christian Pioneers who travelled all across this country on the smell of an oily rag, to bring the gospel to our people.”

Melody lines, guitar chords and full lyrics are included in the book, but the CD brings the songs to life and makes the music accessible to all people, regardless of their musical skills. Nelson’s lyrics arise from a range of faith experiences: a retelling of the story of Nehemiah, or the disciples in a storm, a longing for ‘a Moses-moment’ on the mountain, the reassurance of the ‘Shield [of the] Most High’ for someone running ‘like a rabbit in the field’ or the call to stop and meditate in the quiet beauty of ‘Meroo’.

The title song: ‘Gift of Music’ – a catchy tune like so many of the others – expresses Nelson’s personal joy and gratitude for the gifts God has given. These songs have grown out of Nelson’s ministry as a pastor and chaplain, educator and artist. In the Foreword, his colleague writes, “Nelson has the capacity to tune into what is going on in the atmosphere of a certain event, confrontation or encounter, and to find music and words which somehow embody, enunciate or express the deep things of that moment.” Continue Reading

16th Assembly goes online

The Uniting Church’s triennial Assembly meeting will take place online for the first time, due to continuing risk factors around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the Assembly Standing Committee (ASC) took the historic decision at an extraordinary meeting on Saturday 30 January 2021.

“Putting the safety and wellbeing of members of the 16th Assembly first was the key driver in this decision,” said Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer.

“ASC members believed that a face-to-face meeting simply could not be planned with sufficient certainty.”

“Despite a drop in community transmissions, the emergence of new, more contagious strains of the virus in Australia is concerning. There are also many other risks to consider that are out of our control.

“So less than six months out from the triennial meeting, we are putting the safety of Assembly members and staff first.”

A shortened 16th Assembly will take place online from 17-18 July 2021 with a view to reconvening the Assembly meeting in 2022 when a face-to-face meeting is possible.

“More details will be provided in the coming weeks in a timely and transparent manner, in particular to Assembly members,” said Colleen.

“Work is already well advanced to ensure that the 16th Assembly meeting will be an accessible, joyful and hope-filled event that addresses the necessary church business and governance requirements.”

The 16th Assembly meeting was originally scheduled to take place at the Queensland Synod’s Alexandra Park Conference Centre on the Sunshine Coast from 15-19 July 2021.

”The Queensland Synod has been very supportive in our initial planning, even as we have lived in this time of uncertainty,” said Colleen.

Assembly President, Dr Deidre Palmer reflected on the loss some Assembly members may feel at not meeting in person.

“It will be different not being in the same room together. We will miss the community that grows when we worship and pray together in person . We will miss those wonderful conversations that happen informally. I think many will feel a sense of loss,” said Deidre.

“As the church, we have all been adapting to the impacts of the global pandemic, and guided by the Spirit we have responded with creativity and care.  Our online Assembly meeting in July will gather in worship, give thanks for God’s blessings, build community and discern the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in guiding our life and mission.”

Assembly General Secretary Colleen Geyer reassured Uniting Church members that the 16th Assembly meeting would still be a high point in the life of the Uniting Church.

“We will still be incorporating program elements that showcase the breadth of our achievement as a church deeply engaged in transforming lives and the communities we live in.”

“Most of us are a lot more familiar with video conferencing than we were at the start of the pandemic, to the point that a number of UCA Church Synods have moved their meetings online.”

“As a pilgrim people on the way we will be resilient and make the best of the current circumstances.

“Please keep us in your prayers as we work through the remaining planning and preparations,” said Colleen.

More details on the 16th Assembly meeting arrangements will be published on the Assembly website as they become available.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

 

The road to Badjaling

Rev Dr Alison Longworth, retired Uniting Church WA Minister, shares her experience of revisiting Badjaling, while traveling from Perth to Quairading to lead worship.

After the easing of restrictions due to COVID-19, Western Australians were being encouraged to ‘Wander out Yonder’ and I was preparing to travel into the wheatbelt. On the Sunday morning I was committed to lead worship with the Quairading Uniting Church and in the afternoon I had arranged a visit to the Ballardong Noongar community at Badjaling, a few kilometres east of the town.

My connection to Badjaling began in 1987 when I visited the former Mission site with my family. The recently erected memorial plaque acknowledged two missionaries, and the thirty-nine Noongar families who lived on the Reserve near the railway siding from 1930 to 1954. My Great Aunt Mary Belshaw was the founding missionary, hence my initial interest.Continue Reading

Respect, learning and welcoming

When the Uniting Church WA gathers, we often share in a Welcome to Country or an Acknowledgment of Country. Both are significant ways the church can acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land, but there are some important differences.

A Welcome to Country is only led by Traditional Custodians; whereas an Acknowledgment of Country can be led by anyone, and acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of that place. A Smoking Ceremony is a process of cleansing and healing, which can also take place with a Welcome. Continue Reading

Day of Mourning 2021

On the Sunday before Australia Day, Uniting Church congregations across the country hold worship services to reflect upon and lament the effect of the invasion and colonisation of this nation upon First Peoples.

The observance of a Day of Mourning was endorsed by the 15th Assembly arising from a request of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). All Uniting Church in Australia congregations are invited to hold worship services that reflect on the effects of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation.Continue Reading

Wesley College student creates a buzz

Wesley College Year 12 student, Luke de Laeter, has been awarded the prestigious 2020 Beazley Medal: Vocational Education and Training (VET). Wesley College is a Uniting Church WA school in South Perth.

Luke also graduated as the inaugural VET Dux of College in 2020. His Vocational Education Training (VET) pathway included a Certificate III in Beekeeping, Certificate III in Business and a Certificate II in Design and Technology.Continue Reading

Remembering Past Saints at anniversary celebration

On December 13, Dongara Uniting Church celebrated 136 years of the church building.

The Methodist congregation of the 1880s had acted to construct the church on land that was donated in the town centre. The building has been maintained, renovated and repaired at regular intervals in that 136 years, however, the basic structure remains intact, and is a cool and welcoming space in which we gather to worship and celebrate.Continue Reading