Billabong: Not holding back

It has been fifteen years since the 1.6 hectares at 225 Campbell Road was purchased in hope for the new Canning Vale Uniting Church faith community. The consultation, planning and  crowd funding for The Billabong Community Centre has taken too long, the final piece coming through a generous grant from the Presbytery earlier this year. It was therefore with much  disbelief that the Billabong congregation met onsite on Sunday 15 June for a time of worship and encouragement together in preparation for the new building. It has been three and a half  years since the on-site tent we used to worship in was packed away.

The new building plan was marked on the ground using stakes and string and a balsa wood model helped people imagine what is about to be built. Everyone gathered on the ‘verandah’  for afternoon tea served from the ‘kitchen’. They were then invited into ‘Multipurpose Room 2’ to take a seat on one of the camping chairs. After a time of singing and prayer I  took up a  small trenching shovel that I was given at my induction as the church planter in February 2000. The battered looking shovel had seen a lot of work and was a great symbol to break the  dirt for the construction of the long envisioned Billabong Community Centre.Continue Reading

Supermarket ministry

While the congregation at Dowerin Uniting Church may be low in numbers, Shirley Hagboom, member of the congregation, is a life-giving member of the community – a ‘go-to-girl’ for  spiritual needs.

Shirley is the chaplain for two days a week at the local school, Dowerin District High School, but said that her role reaches well beyond those walls. Often, while she is out running errands  around town, people approach her in the street to talk about things which are troubling them.

“I thoroughly enjoy being chaplain,” she said. “It’s not always at the school site; it could be down the road. You just never know when God is going to use you. God uses us as a conduit to  help people.”

These meetings in the street occur so often that Shirley has started packing a ‘chaplaincy grab bag’ which is full of pamphlets and bits of information that might be helpful to people she  meets while out and about. Continue Reading

Perth’s top chefs cooking for a cause

Get down to Perth Arena for a unique pop up lunch event on Friday 29 August and find some of Perth’s top chefs cooking up a storm using food rescued by local organisation Food Rescue. Between 12noon and 2.00pm, four chefs will be creating a range of delicious take away lunches for Perth’s hungry CBD workers.

Russell Blaikie from Must Winebar, Don Hancey WA Food Ambassador, Vince Garreffa from Mondo Meats and Sophie Budd from Taste Budds Cooking Studio will all be drawing the crowds, and sharing their culinary skills by making four different, delicious treats for you to choose between – all while supporting an amazing organisation.

“As a chef it upsets me to see perfectly usable fresh food being discarded as landfill, when it could be put to good use in meals for people that may have suffered hardships in life. Food Rescue provides that fresh-food conduit to people who are in need of nutritious, fresh produce,” said Russell Blaikie.

“When I was asked to come on board, I felt compelled to help out in any way I could; in doing so I found a wonderful group of volunteers who make the organisation viable, they are the quiet heroes of Food Rescue, and it is deeply satisfying and humbling to lend a hand.”Continue Reading

Church leaders hold prayer vigil inside Josh Frydenberg’s Melbourne Office

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Advocates for children suffering in detention welcome today’s decision to release SOME of the children from detention, but intend to stay until they have a timetabled commitment from the Government for ALL children to be released.

Christian leaders concerned about all vulnerable children in Australia’s detention centres are holding a prayer vigil inside the Camberwell electorate office of Josh Frydenberg, Liberal Member for Kooyong and Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The group entered Mr Frydenberg’s office at 10.00am and say they intend to remain until they get a timetabled commitment from the Government that all children will be released from immigration detention centres.

The group welcomes today’s decision by the Government to release a small contingent of children and celebrate this as victory for the whole movement and is a step forward in the right direction.  However, there are still grave concerns for the 662 children outside the criteria of release who will remain in detention and we will not stop until every last child is released from the cruelty of detention. Continue Reading

West Australian Church Groups say: “Renewables not Uranium, Minister!”

Church groups in Western Australia have called upon the Hon Bill Marmion, Mines and Petroleum Minister to embrace renewable energies instead of thinking of uranium as the fuel of the future. The group said Mr Marmion’s recent comment was ill-informed and dangerous. All of the groups have expressed deep and abiding concerns about the social and environmental costs of uranium mining and the nuclear industry into which Western Australia’s uranium would be sent.

Spokesperson for the group Rosemary Hudson Miller, Associate General Secretary Justice and Mission, Uniting Church in Western Australia said, “Nuclear technologies that utilise non-renewable resources such as uranium, while at the same time producing toxic by-products that have been proven to interfere with human and ecosystem health, are not a sustainable way of providing energy for human consumption. Renewable energy technologies need to be given primacy instead. Continue Reading

Thinking big and breaking silos

Since the last edition of Revive, Rev David Kriel, mission planner at the Uniting Church in WA, has collected and analysed all the data from interviews with people around the church and the Listening Workshop, held in April. Some changes have been made to the process. The original plan of Scenario Planning has been postponed until after John Roberto’s visit to Perth, where some of his methods will be adapted to meet the needs of the Uniting Church in WA. The process is now moving to a method of System Thinking.

Using the data collected, David has discovered four key issues which members of the Uniting Church feel the church needs to focus on. They are: communication, lay education and leadership, community services and evangelism and discipleship. The next step is to identify the relationships between these issues, creating ‘loops’ of ‘cause and effect’. David has  created four loops all with interdependent relationships to each other. In responding to these loops, David said the church needs to be proactive, rather than reactionary. Continue Reading

Investment in fossil fuels off the table for WCC

During a recent meeting of the top governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), its Central Committee said “no” to investments in fossil fuels. Prior to this announcement  some member churches were already committed to the divestment of fossil fuels, including the United Church of Christ in the United States, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New  Zealand and Polynesia and the Church of Sweden.

In April last year, the Uniting Church Synod of New South Wales agreed to divest in fossil fuels and created national news. Other  churches around Australia are in talks about how they  too can divest. And in May of this year, people from all over Australia withdrew their investments from Australia’s ‘big four’ banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – choosing  to invest their money in more sustainable methods as part of Divestment Day, organised by Market Forces and 350.org. Continue Reading