Stories at the centre of life and work

If you get the chance to meet the Uniting Church WA’s new Presbytery Minister Mission, Rev Alison Gilchrist, you’ll soon find out that she’s ready to get into the thick of it and get the job done – she’s a ‘doer’.

Alison was ordained in the Church of England and came to Perth six years ago to work with the Anglican Diocese of Perth. Having started her role with the Uniting Church WA in September last year, Alison has already begun making her mark, with the introduction of the ‘Light on Every Street’ campaign. The campaign saw congregations sharing the light and love of God in the lead-up to  Christmas by giving candles and postcards with a message to people in their communities. Continue Reading

Church camps: time with God

For decades, kids and young people have attended church camps as a fun way to build community and grow in faith. While there has been a decline in church camping within the Uniting Church WA over the years, a number of new opportunities have also arisen.

Kid’s Camp Out (KCO), originally called KUCA Camp, is still going strong as the Uniting Church WA’s longest running camp, held annually since 1984; the second annual Messy Church Summer Camp was recently held in January; CampFIRE encourages families in their faith; some Uniting Church WA congregations have been organising their own camps; and the Uniting Church Campsite is back in operation after years of neglect.

Many Uniting Church members will attest to camps playing a strong part in their faith and spiritual identity. As Rev Greg Ross, minister at St Augustine Uniting Church, Bunbury, said, many members will often share how camps have helped shape them, or led them down certain paths.

So what is it about camping that creates so many fond memories? Continue Reading

More than a job: Celebrating 60 years of GSI

John Knowles, CEO of Good Samaritan Industries (GSI), welcomed me into his office with a big smile and an even bigger heart before announcing we needed to step out for a minute to sing happy  birthday to a staff member.

Out in the foyer, staff (and me) gathered for cake and well wishes, while a group of high school kids wandered in to one of the meeting rooms for job training. In the warehouse, employees sort and pack all sorts of donations, from clothes to bedding to shoes and accessories. And in the canteen staff are busy preparing food.

The place is a hive of activity where people genuinely seem to love their jobs. Continue Reading

Learning lessons and making peace

As a General Practitioner in the medical field, Dr Sue Wareham has long held compassion for her fellow human beings. When she began learning of the effects and scale of global nuclear weapons in the late 70s and early 80s, she became passionate about ridding the world of them.

Since then, she has worked tirelessly to campaign for the abolishment of nuclear weapons through the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Sue has been awarded an Order of Australia, and last year, ICAN was recognised with a Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr Sue Wareham will be one of the speakers at the upcoming conference, ‘Making Peace: exploring the practice of peace in today’s world’, held from Saturday 10 to Sunday 11 November, at St George’s Cathedral, Perth. The conference is organised by the Social Justice Commission of the Uniting Church WA, and will be held over the centenary of the Armistice of the First World War.

Sue has been involved with MAPW since its foundation in 1981. She said the aim of the association is to draw attention to the health implications of warfare and armed conflict.

“We draw attention particularly to the health impact on civilians, partly because civilians form the majority of the victims of war these days,” Sue said. “When we go to war, modern warfare is often  an attack on civil society itself. So it’s absolutely imperative to find other ways to resolve conflicts.” Continue Reading

Remembering the Moore River Native Settlement

It looked more like a concentration camp than a residential school for Aboriginal children.

Back at their dormitory the girls were trying to snuggle down in their cold, uninviting beds. Molly, Daisy and Gracie began to talk normally amongst themselves, not whispering, but speaking in their own relaxed manner.

“You girls can’t talk blackfulla language here, you know,” came the warning from the other side of the dorm. “You gotta forget it and talk English all the time.”

Text taken from Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence, by Nugi Garimara, 1996.
Follow The Rabbit Proof Fence tells the true story of three girls who escaped the Moore River Native Settlement in 1931.Continue Reading

Grace in abundance, hope liberated

Members of the Uniting Church’s 15th Triennial Assembly have returned home to share the news of the landmark decisions made at the meeting.

Over seven days, from Sunday 8 to Saturday 14 July, more than 260 Assembly members shared prayer, worship and Bible studies with ecumenical and interfaith friends, church partners and each other. Dr Deidre Palmer, past Moderator of the Uniting Church South Australia, was installed as the Uniting Church’s 15th President in a joyous service before shepherding a meeting in which Assembly members voiced a wide range of strongly and faithfully held views on a range of issues, from different biblical, theological and cultural perspectives.

Following are some of the important decisions reached.Continue Reading

Deidre’s discipleship

Dr Deidre Palmer chooses her words carefully when asked about her call to church leadership.

“I’m probably more called to discipleship than leadership,” she says. “As an educator, as someone who contributes to people’s formation in faith, I see leadership arising from inviting people into a deeper relationship with God. So, I actually think leadership grows out of discipleship.”

Youth worker, Christian educator, academic, theologian, social worker, counsellor, Assembly Standing Committee member, Working Group Chair, Moderator. From 8 July 2018, Dr Deidre Palmer will extend her invitation to discipleship to the whole of the Uniting Church in Australia and beyond in the role of President. When Deidre receives the symbols of ministry from outgoing President Stuart McMillan at St Michaels Collins St in Melbourne, she will become the Uniting Church’s 15th President and the second woman to take-up the role. Dr Jill Tabart being the first, serving as President from 1994 to 1997.

‘Abundant Grace Liberating Hope’ is the theme Deidre has chosen for her term. Continue Reading