A tribute to Glen Banks

We, the Uniting Church Social Justice Commission, pay tribute to Glen Banks who was a compassionate and active member of the commission for many years, serving for several of them as Chairperson.

This was one of many avenues in which Glen lived out her Christian faith; because of her love for God she lived generously and selflessly, working with many different groups in caring for people. She was an integral member of Carramar Uniting Church and loved by all whose lives were intertwined with hers. For many years, she was involved with the Guiding movement, with the Emmaus Walks movement and with Kairos Outside. Glen Banks passed away suddenly in August.

Glen was fully involved in the large variety of work which engages the Social Justice Commission: work for peace, justice for First Peoples, the environment, poverty relief and so on. But she made an especially strong contribution to justice for those imprisoned or detained.Continue Reading

Challenged to see and hear

The annual Anti-Poverty Week Ecumenical Service was this year hosted by the Uniting Church WA at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth, on Tuesday 17 October. Opening with a free soup lunch provided by UnitingCare West’s Food Rescue program and members of Forest Lakes Uniting Church, the service brought together people of different faiths and Christian denominations to pray and reflect on the issue of poverty in Australia.

The service is an event of the Ecumenical Social Justice Roundtable, including The Salvation Army, Quakers Australia, the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, the Anglican Social Responsibilities Diocese of Perth, the Council of Churches WA, UnitingCare West and the Uniting Church WA Social Justice Commission. It is held each year during Anti-Poverty Week.

Mitchell Garlett, candidate for ministry with the Uniting Church WA and member of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), delivered the welcome to country.

“I’d like to recognise God for trusting my people to look after the land for all these years,” he said. “My heart is happy that we are gathered here today in this place.”

Amanda Hunt, CEO of UnitingCare West shared the keynote address, highlighting the struggle many people in Australia face as they live under the poverty line on Newstart or Youth Allowance payments. Continue Reading

Calls for peace and safety for Rohingyan people

According to the United Nation’s Refugee Agency the UNHCR, there are now over 412,000 Rohingya refugees estimated to have fled to Bangladesh since 25 August. This is a massive humanitarian crisis in our region and according to Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, a situation requiring the urgent attention and action of world leaders.

The Moderator joined with a number of faith leaders on Saturday 16 September on the steps of Parliament House to add his voice for peace in the Rakhine state of Myanmar.

“Aung San Suu Kyi has earned a Nobel Peace Prize for her work supporting democratic reforms for her people, so we know the capacity and willingness to work for peace is present – we now urge her to stand up for the Rohingyan people too. All people, no matter their ethnicity or religion deserve human rights,” Steve said.Continue Reading

Closing chorus for printed version of Together in Song

There will be no new printings or editions of Together in Song (Australian Hymn Book II), the hymn book most widely used in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA).

Publisher HarperCollins has told The Australian Hymn Book company, the ecumenical body that produces the hymnal, that it will not renew licence agreements with copyright holders when they  expire in 2018.

“Parishes, schools and other institutions contemplating introducing the hymn book, or those who require additional copies of congregational or full music editions would be well advised to place  new orders soon because the book will no longer be available once the copyright agreements have terminated,” the Australian Hymn Book company said.

Australian Hymn Book company director Philip Nicholls, said HarperCollins would have decided that it was not worth their while to renew the 12,000 copyright arrangements. He said when Together in Song (TIS) was first published in 1999 it would have been expected that the 20-year deal on licences would be renewed when the time came.

“No one foresaw so much of a move online. People worship in a different way now,” Philip said. Continue Reading

Newstart and Youth Allowance payments trapping people in a poverty cycle

The Uniting Church Western Australia has called on the Federal Government to make an immediate commitment to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance payments to allow thousands of vulnerable Australians to live in dignity above the poverty line.

The proposal was agreed at the church’s 41st Annual Synod over the weekend, with church members, congregations, schools and agencies urged to support the push and lobby their Federal Members as part of Anti-Poverty Week activities (Sunday 15 to Saturday 21 October 2017).

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, said the current rate for Newstart and Youth Allowance was significantly below the ACOSS poverty line and change was needed urgently to help people break free of the poverty cycle.

“At Synod we unanimously agreed to lobby the Federal Government to commit to an immediate process to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance payments to provide recipients with the resources to live above the poverty line,” Steve said.Continue Reading

York celebrates 165 years

On Sunday 20 August 2017 York Uniting Church celebrated 165 years of a worshipping presence in the Avon Valley town. A fairly chilly day, so typical of winters in York,  the congregation joined with many friends to celebrate and give thanks. And what a celebration!

We began with our normal 9.30am worship service which was led by Rev Ruth Vertigan, who is part of the Rural Ministry Team and is our regional co-ordinator. Ruth attended the York Wesleyan Methodist Church (as it was then known) as a child so it was fitting that she come and lead the worship service on the morning of the anniversary. After morning tea we rushed home to gather the ‘good food’ for the afternoon tea which was to follow our planned ‘Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Concert.’

This anniversary concert is a very popular event in York, and this year at 2.00pm the church rang with the sound of 130 people singing Advance Australia Fair – a rousing start to the program organised by June Dawson.Continue Reading

Mission Fellowship celebrates

Uniting Church Mission Fellowship (UCMF) celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia with three speakers: one who was at the inaugural service, one who was born into the Uniting Church, and one who came in from another denomination.

Rev Geoff Blyth gave us some understanding of the planning, the discussion, the argument and the scrutiny leading up to Union. It wasn’t all easy. The day of Union must have been so exciting with representatives from the Congregational, the Methodist and the Presbyterian churches meeting in different locations for official signings, then all processing to congregate together at the  Sydney Town Hall.

Our second speaker wasn’t even born forty years ago. Alexandra Bingham, Co-ordinator of Partnerships with UnitingWorld SA and WA, gave us an insight into some of the projects in other parts of the world. They are working together to help disadvantaged communities become more independent. What an inspiration! Continue Reading