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

Ten years of growth

On 1 July this year, UnitingCare West will celebrate its 10th anniversary. UnitingCare West is an agency of the Uniting Church WA, delivering a range of community services to some of the most vulnerable people in WA.

The organisation has experienced a huge amount of growth in these years, and has become an important part of life in Western Australia. Of course, the history behind UnitingCare West goes back long before 2006, as many of the services run by the agency began their life in Uniting Church WA congregations. Some go back prior to the 1977 union of the Uniting Church in Australia.

In 2005, fourteen Uniting Church WA congregational community services considered joining together to become UnitingCare West, with eight finalising the agreement. Over the years, more have come on board and services have grown. Chris Hall was the first Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UnitingCare West, with Rev Des Cousins the first chair of the UnitingCare West Board.

As our social environment changed, three of the original programs which came into UnitingCare West at its formation have ceased, two of which because government picked up the service and it was no longer needed.

Sue Ash AO, current CEO of UnitingCare West, came into the role in 2011. She explained that the formation of the organisation has been successful in its intention to grow service delivery in WA.Continue Reading

Love hurts; love anyway

In 2010, Revive interviewed Ashley Macmillan as a young teenager, after she and a friend had spent two and a half years raising $5,000 for a community in India, through TEAR. Since then, Ashley has grown as a person, living out her faith day to day, and is wise beyond her years.

As a co-convener for the refugee group of the Perth branch of Amnesty International, Ashley  as recently returned from a conference in Sydney, bringing together refugee advocacy groups from across Australia. She is often seen at community events handing out balloons and lollypops, and talking to people about Australia’s abhorrent treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.

Not only does she serve in this voluntary role, she also volunteers with Fusion, as a live in  house parent’ for teenage girls who can’t live with their parents; she makes regular visits out to the Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Northam; serves on the Social Justice Board of the  Uniting Church WA; and is studying a Masters Degree in social work, after having  completed an Undergraduate Degree in politics and philosophy. For paid employment, Ashley works in child care.

The weaving thread in all of Ashley’s work and passions is building relationships and loving people through all their pain.Continue Reading

A woman of influence: Deaconess Dr Cath Ritchie

This International Women’s Day, Revive asked three Uniting Church leaders to share their stories of the women who have influenced their lives. Rev Bev Fabb writes:

The woman who has had the most profound impact on my life is Deaconess Dr Cath Ritchie. Born to a farming family in Gippsland, Victoria in 1909, educated in a one teacher rural school, she eventually graduated from the University of Melbourne. Raised in a Scottish Presbyterian family, her Christian faith was always central in her life. In 1937 she responded to a call from the Foreign Missions Department to serve as a teacher missionary in Korea, then under Japanese rule. When Japan entered the war in 1941, all Australian missionaries were recalled from Korea.  Cath dreamed of returning once the war was over, but this was not to be. After a time as a youth worker in rural Victoria, riding her bicycle between towns, she was asked to become Principal of Rolland House, the Presbyterian Deaconess and Missionary training college. She remained in this position for 23 years.Continue Reading

A woman of influence: Mary Belshaw

This International Women’s Day, Revive asked three Uniting Church leaders to share their stories of the women who have influenced their lives. Rev Dr Alison Longworth writes:

My childhood recollection of Great-Aunt Mary Belshaw is of an old woman who was losing her memory. Ironically, I almost forgot Aunt Mary, and yet her influence in my life has grown since 1986 when my Mother showed me an article describing the unveiling of a memorial stone at the site of the former Badjaling Mission. The plaque commemorated two missionaries, Mary Belshaw and May McRidge and the thirty-nine Nyungar families who lived at Badjaling from 1930 – 1954. The following year I visited the site with my family. It was the beginning of my research in Australian religious history, focused initially on Belshaw and her encounters with Nyungar people.Continue Reading

A few great women: reflections on women of influence

This International Women’s Day, Revive asked three Uniting Church leaders to share their stories of the women who have influenced their lives. Rosemary Hudson Miller, associate general secretary (justice and mission), writes: 

International Women’s Day always gives me a chance to reflect on the women who have influenced me. My maternal grandmother Kathleen Annie so wisely spread the message of ecumenical tolerance in a time of great sectarian divide in country Australia of the 1950’s when my parents came from different denominations. She took up this stance well before Vatican 2 and continued to support her grandchildren as we engaged in a range of ‘Protestant’ activities.Continue Reading

Uplifted in faith and hope

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To coincide with International Women’s Day, Tuesday 8 March, Bindy Taylor shares with Revive the story of Khadija Gbla, executive director of No FGM Australia. Khadija will also be the keynote speaker at the UnitingWomen conference to be held in Adelaide this April.

Spending time with Khadija Gbla is an uplifting experience – she is as passionate and as vocal one-on-one as she is speaking to a gathering of 1,000 people. Khadija has squeezed a lot of life into her 27-years, and she feels compelled by God to share her life experiences, both the ups and the downs, to instill hope in others.

At the age of nine, Khadija underwent female genital mutilation (FGM), an unnecessary and cruel act of violence. At the time, Khadija had no idea what was happening to her, but she is now able to name it for what it is – human rights abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse. It is an experience she wants no other girl or woman to go through.

FGM, also known as female circumcision, has no known health benefits and is largely practiced in countries within Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Common reasons given for performing FGM include social acceptance, hygiene, ideas relating to female sexuality, purity and modesty, religion, and cultural identity. While it has been restricted or outlawed in many of the locations where it is practiced, FGM procedures continue to be performed. The dangerous act can lead to ongoing health problems, inability to conceive a child and complications during childbirth.Continue Reading

Coral Richards on life and service

For Coral Richards education is more than a job; it’s a vocation. Born into a family of teachers, and as a high school teacher herself, Coral said that, while growing up, every moment was an opportunity to learn. “Teaching for my parents was a vocation,” she said. “Every opportunity was an opportunity to teach in our family when we were growing up. Everything was a learning experience.”

This year, due to budget cuts, Coral has moved from tutoring into a full teaching load, teaching English, careers and art at Coodanup College in Mandurah. For the past eight years she has worked as an Aboriginal tutor and family liaison officer at the school, which has 20% Indigenous population. She will, in part, return to this role in the new year. Coral has also worked for 15 years as a Primary Extension and Challenge (PEAC) teacher, supporting academically gifted children in years five and six.Continue Reading

Life stories from the barber’s chair

Everyone has a story. That’s the take-home message after spending time chatting with Craig Hollywood at the RTRFM studios in Mt Lawley, where he hosts the Full Frequency program every  Tuesday afternoon.

Who better to listen to our stories than the local barber? There’s something about sitting with a total stranger as they cut your hair which allows you to open up and share some of your life. Craig  isn’t a barber; but he is one of the founding members of a new charity giving dignity to people doing it tough. Teaming up with local music producer, Ta-ku, and mates Justin Howley and James  Howe from Weston’s Barbershop in inner-city Perth, Short Back and Sidewalks is a simple idea having big impacts on the lives of people living rough on Perth’s streets.

With their hipster vibe and good-guy attitude, these ordinary lads have shown that anyone, anywhere can get up and start something to make a difference – however big or small. Working with  local community service providers, Short Back and Sidewalks gives free haircuts to people most in need. It may sound like a trivial idea, but Craig believes that the benefits of a simple haircut and  beard trim can mean much more than we could imagine to someone with no regular access to these kinds of ‘luxury’ services.

“The fact of the matter is, that in the world that we live in, first impressions are really important,” he said. “But also from a mental perspective; if someone looks good, then they feel a bit better about themselves – which is just the way that things are.”

While he recognises there can be many more pressing items of need for people, such as food and shelter, Craig wanted to work with local community service providers to help provide that extra  boost. Continue Reading

Living life and faith cross-culturally

Rev Dr Apwee Ting found wonder in diversity from an early age.

“Growing up in Indonesia was such a happy time for me,” recalls the Uniting Church in Australia’s (UCA) newest national director.

“I remember playing outside from morning to night – flying kites, playing soccer, badminton and marbles. We had many friends of different ethnicities and everyone always left their doors open.”

Half a century later Apwee will be looking to share that same sense of wonder across the Uniting Church in the area of Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry (MCCM).

While Apwee’s national role commenced in July, his preparation for the role has been a lifetime in the making, and begins with his own migrant journey.

The Ting family settled in Solo in Central Java in the 1950s.

“My parents were farmers who migrated from Fujian Province in China looking for a better life,” he explains. “For them the diversity of Indonesia meant opportunity.”

There was hardship too. By 1962 when Apwee was born, Java was gripped by severe poverty and increasing political tension ahead of Suharto becoming Indonesia’s President. The chief concern of Apwee’s family was day-to-day survival.Continue Reading