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

A heart for encouragement

Priya Cooper is a Paralympian World Champion Swimmer who also earned the title of Young Australian of the Year for Sport in 1999. She won an amazing nine gold medals spanning Paralympic Games in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996, and Sydney in 2000. She’s also competed in a range of other sporting events, winning medals and breaking world records across the globe.

Since her time on the swimming circuit, Priya has become an inspiring leader in disability services, having sat on a number of high profile boards and as an Ambassador for various organisations. She is currently Deputy Chair of the Disability Services Commission, part of this role has been working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS); President of WA Disabled Sports Association; and on the Board of the Ability Centre.

She is also a Perth suburban mum of two with a heart for encouraging mothers to live their best lives.

Born with Cerebral Palsy, Priya has had limited use of her legs for her whole life. Cerbral Palsy is a neurological disorder which affects a person’s movement. It can affect people in many different ways and there are also many different types of the disorder.Continue Reading

God’s love breaking confines of the church

The 2016 Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey, which released its  findings in February this year, found that Australian school principals are increasingly under stress due to their workloads. YouthCARE, a WA organisation providing chaplaincy in our public schools, is looking to address this problem through its new pilot program aimed at providing chaplaincy to principals.

There are currently two School Principal’s Chaplains employed in this program, both in regional areas of WA. Jill Clements is one such chaplain, working in the mid-west region; the other is based in the Great Southern. The pilot program began in term three of 2016 and will run until the end of2017, when it will be reassessed.Continue Reading

Imagine a rainbow

According to Rabbi Dovid Freilich, ‘tolerance’ is a bad word.

“There’s been so much conflict, sadly, in the world because of religion. The world creates something in order to stop this conflict: a word being ‘tolerance’,” he said. “Tolerance means agreeing to sit together; you really can’t stand the fellow you’re sitting with, but you’ll tolerate them. It’s not a good word.”

For 30 years, Rabbi Freilich has been the Chief Rabbi of the Perth Hebrew Congregation, a Jewish Synagogue in Menora, Perth. He has also been the Chief Rabbi of WA and one of the Presidents  of the Council of Christians and Jews WA. Preferring not to use the term ‘retire’, Rabbi Freilich left the Rabbinate in July to take-up other interests after 45 years of service.

The Rabbi believes that rather than tolerance, respect should be our priority.

“We should respect each other,” he continued. “Respect involves two things. One definition of respect is you actually feel happy in another person’s happiness. So, respect implies that even though you might be one religion and you see somebody happy and contented in another religion, you’re happy for them. 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

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

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

Walking together over the Rainbow

Over cups of tea, bickies and cake in a beautiful old Nedlands home, three dedicated women shared with me their passion for creating supportive, safe and open places for people living with mental illness, through  the Rainbow project.

Rainbow runs in five locations around Perth offering, fortnightly or monthly social gatherings, including lunch and a time of sharing.

Ruth Reid has been patron of Rainbow in WA since it began in 1998, and still offers her time each month, despite ageing into her 90s. Marian Hillam is the co-ordinator for the Claremont/Nedlands Rainbow   group, which has been running for around 11 years, and Sarah Robson is a new recruit, having recently started volunteering at Claremont/Nedlands.

Ruth and Marian are members of Nedlands Uniting Church, while Sarah found Rainbow through Volunteering WA. Sarah loves cooking, and was looking for a way to be able to share her gifts with people in the community – Rainbow provided that perfect space. Rainbow now comes under the umbrella of UnitingCare West, after its formation in 2006. Volunteers take on a range of roles and all receive mental health training.

According to Ruth, the Rainbow journey all began with a phone call from Rev Joyce Wilkins, who was minister at Manning Uniting Church at the time. Joyce and Ruth, along with Audrey Frances, another Rainbow pioneer, got together to discuss how to offer friendship and support to people in congregations, and the wider community who were feeling isolated, as a result of mental health issues. Ruth said that it started as a  place of friendship, which hasn’t changed. Continue Reading

Julie McCrossin: finding acceptance with the Uniting Church

Former ABC broadcaster Julie McCrossin is a familiar voice to the Australian public.

A self-described “refugee from Sydney Anglicanism”, Julie McCrossin has found a home in South Sydney Uniting Church. Her appearance on ABC TV’s special all-Christian Q&A panel and facilitation of the UnitingWomen conference Q&A discussion in April show her willingness to engage publically with theological issues in a fair and respectful manner.

Perhaps best known for her role on the comedy quiz show Good News Week, Julie has garnered a strong public profile from her work across radio, television and print journalism. However, to pinpoint her to one occupation would be a disservice. At 61, she is an in-demand emcee, comedian, activist and all-round passionate educator and student.

“I have an arts degree, a law degree, two educational qualifications and now I’m studying theology, so I’m crazy for university,” laughs Julie.

“I love the exchange of information and ideas with a group of people who are curious.”

Now self-employed, Julie has been everything from a board member of her alma mater SCEGGS Darlinghurst, to the voice inside your headset on Qantas’ Radio Q and an Australian Red Cross ambassador. She is also an elder, treasurer and church council member of South Sydney Uniting Church.Continue Reading