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

Rethinking plastic: local action on a global issue

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In 2016, the world was warned that if we continue to use and discard plastic the way we do, plastic rubbish in the ocean will outweigh fish by 2050.

The report, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the future of plastics, was launched at the World Economic Forum, and includes strategies to help tackle this problem, which involve innovative ideas around packaging design, reusing and recycling. In 2017, 40 global industry leaders, including The Coca-Cola Company, MARS, Unilever and Veolia, endorsed the action plan; and time will tell how this will play out.

What began as a groundbreaking resource in the 20th Century is now used and discarded as if it were worthless. But considering some types of plastic never breakdown, plastic is far from worthless. With the lightweight plastic bag ban set to be introduced in WA this July, now is the time to change the way we use single use plastic.

Piers Verstegen, Director of the Conservation Council WA, said that plastic pollution is a global issue.

Continue Reading

Louise Pekan: living the love of Christ everyday

Pastor Louise Pekan loves babies, families and communities. She’s also passionate about encouraging others to be leaders in their own contexts, so it’s no surprise she’s begun working with families and children in and around Melville as the new Community Engagement Pastor at Melville Uniting Church.

After hearing at a Presbytery of WA meeting recently that the Uniting Church WA has been in steady decline for a number of years, Louise – alongside the Melville congregation – is ready and  prepared to try a new way of being church. While these ideas may be new to some, Louise has already seen the success of community engagement projects she’s run in Perth, as well as been a part of in Chicago in the United States of America, where she lived on and off for five years.

As Melville Uniting Church started thinking about selling up and joining other nearby congregations, Louise, with the help of Rev Mark Illingworth, Pastoral Relations and Placements Co-ordinator at the Uniting Church WA, will instead work with them to create meaningful networks with the local community. And as I sat with her over coffee, it was pretty clear she not only has the  experience to do this, but also has a deep passion for hospitality and building a space where all are welcome. Continue Reading