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

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

Vulnerability and ageing: recognising elder abuse

The Australian Government recently announced a national plan would be developed to address elder abuse in Australia. Many organisations in the sector have welcomed the announcement, which was one of the key recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2017 report on the issue, Elder Abuse: a national legal response.

Elder abuse is widely seen, rightly so, as an abhorrent crime. But sadly, the World Health Organisation (WHO) report that 15.7% of people aged over 60 have reported abuse, which means that
75 000 people in Western Australia are potentially affected. It is estimated that many cases go unreported. Most cases are forms of financial abuse; however, there are many different types of abuse. WHO defines elder abuse as “a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

As well as financial, reported types of abuse also include psychological, social, physical, neglect and sexual.Continue Reading

Deep Listening with those on the edge

The inaugural Deep Listening Festival is hitting the South West in April and is packed full of storytelling, art, music, workshops and time to reflect. It will be held at Margaret River Uniting Church from Friday 6 to Saturday 7 April.

The festival is inspired by the Sacred Edge Festival of Queenscliff Uniting Church in Victoria, which Revive has reported on in the past. However, it will have a local voice.

Rev Cathie Lambert, Minister at Margaret River and Augusta Uniting Churches, said the festival is designed to encourage us to listen to the stories of  people on the edge. The name is inspired by the Indigenous word ‘Dadirri’ which is a practice of deep listening based on respect.

“The way to get to know people and to get to know what their struggles are, to connect more as a community and to understand each other better is to listen to each other,” Cathie said. “The idea of this festival is not to problem solve, but to listen to the stories of people who are on the edge. In doing that we learn to appreciate their perspective and understand their situation better.Continue Reading

A new church of humility

Summer Spirit, a Uniting Church WA event, will be held on Saturday 17 February at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. This year, the event will explore ‘A  different church for a different world,’ in response to the Uniting Church WA’s new Strategic Plan.

Rev Lindsay Cullen, one of the new National Consultants in the Assembly Resourcing Unit of the Uniting Church in Australia, will be sharing his thoughts and expertise on how the Uniting Church WA can become that different church at this year’s Summer Spirit.

The world has indeed changed a lot over the last 40 to 50 years. Lindsay explained that in the Western World, the church has gone from having a strong  voice in the community, to now having a voice more on the margins.

“I think we see all around us that the world is constantly changing. And in particular, in the last 40 or 50 years, we’ve seen not only the changing of western societies, but also the changing place of the church in society,” he said. “In the past, the church was seen as one of the central pillars of society and a natural place where people congregated and where people would turn for spiritual sustenance or to ask big questions of life. I think, we’re seeing very clearly, that is changing and shifting and the church finds itself much more on the margins of society. Continue Reading