Sharing God’s love through the Christmas Bowl

“The love of Christ can be made more vivid through Australian Christian concern, on Christmas day, the one great day of sharing.”   Rev Frank Byatt, founder of the Christmas Bowl c. 1956

As Christians, we are called respond to, and faithfully live out, the Gospel call to be generous in our love, and to participate in God’s mission to bring healing, wholeness and hope to those facing hardship and injustice. It sounds like an overwhelming task, but in fact we can reach people in need with the humblest of actions.           Continue Reading

All we have in common

Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, there’s something about Swedish blondes in flares. The moment I find ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’ in my playlist, smiles light the faces of my four young companions and for a brief moment during the chorus, we’re in perfect sync. At the other end of the clinic, our photographer and videographer bust a few moves in between the serious business of filming the testimony of clinic manager Albert, who has limited English and dreams of a blood pressure machine for his patients. Continue Reading

Just #BringThemHere

President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, has called on the Federal Government to take moral leadership and resolve the status of refugees on Manus Island in mainland Australia.

Hundreds of men who remained in the offshore detention centre after its closure on 31 October have been transported to new facilities by Papua New Guinean authorities. Their removal follows a tense stand-off in which the men initially refused to leave.

“Haven’t these people suffered enough? After all this time, is it still impossible for the Federal Government to show some compassion and bring them here?” said Stuart.Continue Reading

5 ways UnitingWorld gets big change from small change

UnitingWorld is the Uniting Church in Australia’s agency for working with people in Asia, Africa and the Pacific as they build lives free of poverty, and share the good news of Christ. UnitingWorld believe the two can’t be separated; they keep this work connected through ecumenical partnerships with churches in their communities, caring for people regardless of religion, politics or other boundaries.

Cath Taylor, from UnitingWorld, shares with Revive how this overseas community services agency is making big change from small change.

Australian Aid Funding

Right now, UnitingWorld is combining donations with Australian Aid Funding to give your gift up to six times the impact for people freeing themselves from poverty. In recognition of both the generosity of Uniting Church donors and the success of UnitingWorld projects, the Australian Government has made special funding available to select programs. UnitingWorld must first raise $1 for every $5 available in Australian Aid Funding.

Building solidarity

UnitingWorld doesn’t believe in charity – we believe in solidarity. We do everything in partnership with others who are committed to building on their strengths, long-term. This means there’s no expectation of a ‘hand out’ and everyone we work with is striving to make the most of their opportunities. This is the mindset that truly yields big change.

Investing long term

Our approach is to invest long-term in people: providing them with business training and solutions to poverty that give practical tools to take control of life. We help people start their own small businesses like breeding livestock, growing vegetables, selling second-hand clothes and repairing furniture or mobile phones. Once the loans we provide are paid back, they’re used again to kick-start someone else’s future.

Wise use of resources

We don’t waste money building things communities can’t use, handing out items that will need to be resupplied again and again, or using staff from Australia when local people can do the job themselves. We listen to and respect our partners because we’ve known them for years and have good relationships with them – they tell us what they need to make changes, and we get them the resources.

Accreditation

We’re accredited with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) through the Australian Government and we pay a decent wage to our administration staff, rather than relying on the goodwill of volunteers. This may sound boring, but it actually means that not only are we using the best ideas to get things done, you can also be sure that the money you give is accounted for, our staff are well-trained and properly recompensed, our partners have sound business practices and no resources are wasted.

To give an end-of-financial-year donation to UnitingWorld call 1800 998 122 or visit www.unitingworld.org.au/freedom

The presence of Christ in the Middle East

A delegation of Uniting Church leaders travelled to Lebanon in January with the aim of building relationships with churches in the region.

The delegation included Stuart McMillan, president of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rob Floyd, national director of UnitingWorld, and three Uniting Church ministers from the Middle East,  including Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, multicultural ministry co-ordinator for the Uniting Church WA.

The group met with the leaders of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon and the National Evangelical Church of  Beirut. They also visited a range of historical sites, including one of the ancient jars from the biblical story of the Wedding at Cana (John 2) and one of the earliest memorial sites of the Armenian  Genocide in Antelias.

While in Lebanon, the group also spent some time at Fondation le Grain de Ble, a program for local refugee children which provides camps, clubs, sport, literature, games and entertainment for  refugee children in Lebanon, with an aim to share God’s love. Continue Reading

English immersion for global communication

Two female ministers from the Gereja Kristen Protestant Bali, the Protestant Church of Bali (GKPB), are visiting Perth from 30 July to 8 October as they take part in a ten-week English immersion experience.

Rev Ayu Wandira and Rev Betha Meidywati had quite a large English vocabulary when they arrived in Australia, but needed assistance to put those words into full sentences. With support from the WA Uniting  Church Adult Fellowship (UCAF) and the GKPB Women’s Fellowship, Ayu and Betha have grown immensely in their English language skills while staying in Perth.

Rev Janelle McGregor, chairperson of the WA UCAF, has been teaching the pair English using work sheets, exams, Bible reading and other methods. Janelle has a teaching background with experience in teaching  English as a second language (ESL). She said that the recent Bishop of GKPB has been keen to support women in ministry. Bishop Suama has taken on the role in September, and is equally as supportive.

“He’s particularly conscious of the fact that women, female clergy, don’t have the professional development opportunities that men have because women have all those sorts of social issues in a very patriarchal  society, even as professional women. So he is very keen to have an ongoing program,” Janelle said. Continue Reading

Emily Evans elected to WCC Executive Committee

The Uniting Church will be represented by a youthful voice at the World Council of Churches (WCC) with the election of Emily Evans to the WCC Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is the top governance body of the WCC and implements strategic objectives set by the Central Committee. It meets twice a year and oversees council finances, monitors ongoing program work and appoints leadership staff.

Emily was one of 11 new members elected to the Executive Committee at a meeting in Trondheim, Norway in June. She has worked with the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Justice and International Mission unit and has been a member of the WCC gender advisory group. She was elected to the Central Committee in 2013 and is on the WCC’s ECHOS Commission, which consists of 20 young Christians involved in the ecumenical movement.

During the week-long meeting, the Central Committee approved a range of reports and decisions. These included statements on the global refugee crisis, the human rights situation in West Papua and a call for prayer following the recent Brexit vote. As a relative newcomer to the international ecumenical movement, Emily hopes to achieve greater understanding of the role and responsibility of the WCC.

“This includes learning about the lives and lived experience of other member churches, gaining a deeper understanding of what true Christian unity means in the world today and bringing back to the UCA new learnings and insights,” she explained.Continue Reading