For Lent Event this year, Victoria Park and Districts Star Street Uniting Church decided to adopt the Sri Lankan Interfaith Pre-school Program, setting a target of $2400, which will feed 20 children for a year. The Uniting Church in WA agreed at its annual Synod meeting in 2013 to support the program which is run by the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka.
The simple idea of starting a music class in the Villawood Detention Centre, Sydney, has created a vast network of instrument donors for asylum seekers in detention. Sydney-based volunteer music teacher Philip Feinstein established classes inside the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre around two years ago. He has now expanded the Music for Refugees project to include almost all Australian immigration detention centres, including Christmas Island and Nauru.
Two weeks ago I was in Papua New Guinea visiting a UnitingWorld water and sanitation project in a picturesque village at the eastern-most point of the mainland. Whenever I travel, I always find it quite jarring to see such beauty and such struggle co-existing together. The people of Papua New Guinea are strong and resilient, their country one of the most beautiful and resource-rich in the world. Yet, we’ve heard much in the Australian media recently of their many challenges. While the tension between hope and hardship may be an ongoing reality for humanity, the lives of many of our Papua New Guinean neighbours could easily be improved.
There are seven great gifts that we can offer in a faith sharing relationship.
Don’t cringe. Let us not be afraid that witness is always heavy-handed. Instead, let us freely give the seven gifts, or any one of them. What are the gifts we are giving when we give witness?
Burmese people have lived through decades of conflict. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homeland for neighbouring Thailand and now live in refugee camps along the Thailand– Burma border. Some have been living in the camps for decades.
Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, works in the Thai/Burma border refugee camps and is challenging Australians to make a difference to the lives of these refugees. In a new initiative called the ‘Act for Peace Ration Challenge’ they are asking members of the Uniting Church and communities around Australia to eat the same rations as a refugee from Burma during Refugee Week, 15-21 June, and get sponsored for doing it.
The Strategy and Mission Planning Commission are in a process of conducting ‘scenario planning’ for the Uniting Church in WA. This is the second article in a series on this vital project.
Perth is a changing city. The Committee for Perth, a think tank and advocate group for the Perth region say that Perth is experiencing such a high rate of growth, that by 2050 the city will have a population of 3.5 million, up from 1.9 million. This obviously has major repercussions for the community, traffic and housing – but what about the church?
Rev David Kriel, mission planner for the Uniting Church in WA, believes the church needs to think seriously about this future.
Churches, organisations and individuals will be calling for humane policies for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia this Palm Sunday 13 April. Palm Sunday has been known as a day when churches march for peace as it is the day Jesus is recognised as the King of Peace. A Walk for Justice for Refugees will take place on the streets of Perth, organised by the Justice4Refugees WA network. They are calling for compassion, not punishment; an end to offshore processing and an end to mandatory detention.