Making a bold statement

It is forty years this month since the Uniting Church in Australia was formed. The coming together, on 22 June 1977, of three denominations (Congregational, Methodist, and Presbyterian) was  the culmination of many years of prayer and hard work. Rev Dr John Squires, Director of Education and Formation at the Uniting Church WA, celebrates this union and explores some of the Uniting Church’s founding documents.

The Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches joined together as one Uniting Church in response to the prayer of Jesus, which is reported biblically in John 17: “May they be one.” There, Jesus prays for his earliest disciples, and then he prays for those followers who come after them, “that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me  and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

The unity of the church gives expression to this final prayer of Jesus and bears witness, to all people, of God’s love for the world. This prayer is also important for the international ecumenical  movement around the world. Not only was the Uniting Church formed in Australia in 1977, but last century also saw the formation of the United Church of Canada (1925), then the Church of   South India (1947) and the Church of North India (1970), the Church of Pakistan (1970), the United Reformed Church in the UK (1972) and the Indonesian Christian Church (1988).

The worldwide umbrella organisation for churches, the World Council of Churches (WCC), was formed in 1948, and this body includes churches from the Anglican Communion, many Orthodox  churches, the Lutheran Church and many other Protestant Churches (including the Uniting Church). The Roman Catholic Church is not an official member, but sends observers to each meeting of  the WCC.Continue Reading

Amanda Hunt: Connecting passions and building potential

Amanda Hunt has always been passionate about community services. As a 16-year-old, she volunteered with a Catholic agency providing care for people living with an intellectual disability. From there began a lifelong passion for creating difference in people’s lives; a passion which has led her to become the new CEO of UnitingCare West, the Uniting Church WA’s community services provider.

Following a career in arts management, Amanda has 20 years of experience working in the community sector, having come to UnitingCare West from the role of State Director at Mission Australia  for WA and SA. She has also been CEO of Gowrie WA, an early childhood organisation, and the Recreation and Sport Network, now known as Inclusion WA.

Amanda’s passion became cemented further when family illness showed her the importance of community care. While working with Recreation Network, Amanda’s dad became unwell with Parkinson’s disease, a battle which lasted 12 years. After an accident resulting in a head injury, he became frail and the family rallied around to support him. Continue Reading

Crafting for the greater good

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Once upon a time, crafting and mending was a necessity for many women. These days it can be a pleasant hobby – but for some it is so much more.

Creating a connection between women and their ancestors, there is a new generation of crafters who use their heritage to fight for what they believe in. While not necessarily a new phenomenon,  mixing craft with social activism has recently hit the spotlight in a big way. Inspired by the rise of the Pussyhat, Heather Dowling explores the world of ‘craftivism’.

In the United States of America (USA), a sea of pink could be seen at women’s marches all over the country following the announcement that Donald Trump would be their next President. In  response to Trump’s “Grab them by the pussy” line, thousands of people around the world have bonded, marched, sang, laughed and yelled to get the message across that women are not objects.

A simple pattern, written by Kat Coyle, the Pussyhat is a hot pink beanie with little cat ears. It may be cute, but its message is fierce: don’t mess with a woman who knits.

In the lead-up to womens’ rights marches in Washington and across America in January, and the global International Women’s Day in March, knitting groups around the world have been meeting for the sole purpose of creating the hats to pass on to others, so that as many women, and men, as possible could wear one at these events. An image of a lonely hat even made the cover of Time  Magazine.

While the campaign originated in the USA, co-founded by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, the concept has resonated with people around the world, including in Australia. Continue Reading

A home away from home

During Easter, we often reflect on ‘new life’ or ‘new beginnings.’ At Trinity Residential College, a Uniting Church WA college for university students in Perth, staff and students are all too familiar with the stress and excitement that a new beginning can offer.

Trinity Residential College is located across the road from the University of Western Australia, and provides accommodation for students studying at any university in Perth.

Hayley Winchcombe and Ben Perry are resident advisors at Trinity College. This means they live and study at the college and, having spent a few years there, are now working as advisors to new   students who are just coming in. They help new residents with any queries that might come up, from how to use the airconditioner, to where they can buy a sim card for their phones. They know  all too well how hard it can be to adjust to this kind of change; moving away from home, family, friends and high school, to a new city and a new self-determined study routine.

Hayley moved to Trinity from Dunsborough to study French, and politics and international relations. Ben hails from Albany and is studying psychology. They both said that activities organised  during ‘O Week’ or Orientation Week, were important for building their new life at Trinity. Continue Reading

Working together to reinvest

In Western Australia, our current criminal justice system is costly, hurting our families, and despite its claims, not effective at keeping our communities safe. Latest data shows that 40-45% of people released from prison return within just two years.

Social reinvestment, on the other hand, is a model that works with prisoners and those who are at-risk of entering the criminal justice system to reduce recidivism and to break the cycle of incarceration in those families affected.Continue Reading

Faith amongst pirates

For the last few years, Paul ‘Werzel’ Montague, a candidate for ministry with the Uniting Church WA, and Rev Chris Bedding, rector at Darlington-Bellevue Anglican Church, have been known  around town as Pirate Church. Since the comedy duo was created, many have caught the Pirate Church bug. The show has toured around the country, and in 2015 won Best WA Comedy at the  FringeWorld Awards.

On the back of Yurora NCYC 2017, the Uniting Church in Australia’s National Christian Youth Convention, and in the lead-up to the Perth Fringe Festival, Paul and Chris sat with Heather Dowling, editor of Revive, to chat life, faith, comedy and pirates.Continue Reading

CPE: no place to hide

Rev Michael Hertz came to Australia almost two years ago from the USA to a Uniting Church WA placement at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH). He co-ordinates the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program there, and claims he has the best job in the world.

Michael describes clinical pastoral care as learning how to be present with someone in their spiritual distress. At Royal Perth Hospital, that can be during some of the most challenging experiences people will face.
“We don’t do surgery. We don’t do helping people have an appropriate hospital bed in their home. We don’t administer medications, but we’re part of all that activity and we’re right there providing emotional, spiritual, relationship and care,” he said.

As a young adult, Michael was working towards a career in medicine. But a moment of clarity about where his life was heading careened him in a different direction.

“I became the person I did not want to be in my attempts to get the top grades. I was taking the medical college admission test and I looked around the lecture hall and I realised I would not want to be cared for by any of the people I had been studying with and, worse than that, I would not want to have been cared for by myself.”Continue Reading