Breaking the tradition and connecting with God

Sunday 2 November 2014

IMG_20120429_094340Five people are on the veranda outside Melville Uniting Church hall tie-dying t-shirts. Inside the hall, others are sticking strips of coloured cloth to wooden dolls while another group is painting pictures of stars and wheat. Meanwhile there is deep discussion all around the building about the story of Joseph: about humility, ambition, and favouritism in families.

This is Craft Church, an all age worship experience where art and craft provide the means for genuine engagement with the scriptures, with each other, and with God.

One Sunday each month at Melville Uniting Church, we don’t sing hymns or hear a sermon. We begin together with prayers and the Bible reading, but then we split into groups to talk about the story as we do our different craft activities (a diversity to suit the different interests and abilities) before joining back again for a big group discussion, a closing prayer and a sending out. The basic elements of worship are still there, but they look a bit different.

So how did this come about? Let’s rewind.Continue Reading

Two become one

In 1977 the Uniting Church in Australia came into being when the  Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregational churches joined together. Since that time, Albany Scots Uniting Church and Albany Wesley Uniting Church have continued to lead independent lives.

After several years of working closely together the decision was made to become one congregation under the name of Albany Uniting Church.

Extensive discussions discerning the future role of the church led to mutually agreeing that worship should be held in the Duke Street property and endeavour to use York Street to raise an income.Continue Reading

Wanted! A nuclear free future

Rev Steve Francis, Uniting Church Moderator says, “At Christmas, I am reminded of the angelic choir on the Galilean hillside, who in anticipating the birth of Christ sang a chorus of “Peace on Earth”. Uranium mining can lead to the growth of nuclear weapons, thus making the world a more dangerous place and a less peaceful world in which to live.”

Steve made the comments following the decision of the General Council of the Uniting Church in Australia, Western Australia on Monday 8 December, to call on the Federal and WA State Governments to ban the production, deployment, transfer and use of nuclear energy and weapons and reintroduce the uranium mining ban in Western Australia.

The Council also re-affirmed the commitment of the Uniting Church in Western Australia to divest from businesses and financial institutions involved in the production of nuclear weapons or nuclear energy and related exports, including uranium.Continue Reading

Uniting Church mourns Sydney siege

The Uniting Church in Australia mourns the deaths of those caught up in the hostage-taking incident in a café in Sydney’s Martin Place. Rev Myung-Hwa Park, Moderator of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT, has offered prayers and condolences on behalf of the Church.

“We continue to pray for those caught up in the terrible events at Martin Place yesterday and today,” said Myung-Hwa.

“Our thoughts are with the families of those who have been lost in this tragic event. We commend and thank our police, emergency services and community leaders for their strength in handling such a difficult situation.

“We pray for our community, that we will be closer and we will be tolerant. We stand side by side with people of all faiths, upholding cultural diversity and harmony. Together we will continue to pray for peace as our community grieves,” said Myung-Hwa.

NSW Police have confirmed that three people including the hostage-taker were killed and four others injured when police stormed the Lindt Café in Martin Place in the early hours of today. The police intervention ended a 16-hour siege during which a man with a shotgun took hostages. The hostage-taker has since been identified as a self-styled Islamic cleric facing serious criminal changes. Continue Reading

Government makes Australia one of the world’s least generous nations

The Micah Challenge coalition strongly condemns the Government’s deep and unprecedented cuts to Australia’s aid program announced in today’s mid-year budget update by Treasurer Joe Hockey.

The cuts of $3.7 billion over four years come on top of $7.6 billion of cuts made by the Government in the May Budget. The aid budget will be cut by $1 billion next year, which is the largest ever cut made to aid in Australia’s history.

“We find it absolutely disgraceful that for the third time in 15 months the Abbott Government has broken its promises on aid and turned to our poorest neighbours to find their budget savings,” said Ben Thurley, Political Engagement Coordinator for Micah Challenge Australia.

By 2017-18 when the cuts come into full effect, Australia’s development assistance will fall to its lowest ever recorded level of just 21 cents in every $100 of national income.

This cut will make Australia one of the least generous aid donors in the world and further undermine the predictability, stability and effectiveness of Australia’s aid program.Continue Reading

Uniting Church condemns strip searching of Christian protesters

The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has condemned WA Police for strip searching Christian asylum-seeker advocates involved in a protest in Perth yesterday.

Several ministers of religion and lay workers including two from the UCA were detained by police after a prayer vigil at Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s office in Subiaco. The protesters from the group Love Makes a Way were part of a national day of action in MPs’ offices calling for all children in immigration detention to be released into the community.

After their arrest, one of the protesters involved says police at the Perth Watch House told them they would be forcibly stripped and searched for weapons or drugs if they refused a strip search order before being placed in a holding cell. A number of those searched were visibly distressed.

Moderator of the UCA Synod of Western Australia Rev Steve Francis says he’s appalled at the protesters’ treatment.

“WA Police have deliberately humiliated people engaged in a peaceful act of civil disobedience,” said Steve.

“Strip searching is an outrageous and offensive response to Christian concern for the vulnerable, and I will be seeking an urgent explanation from the WA Police Commissioner.”Continue Reading

Love makes a way holds national day of action

Christian leaders across Australia are right now holding nationwide sit-ins inside the electoral offices of 7 Government politicians in 6 cities. In Perth, a sit-in prayer vigil is currently underway at the office of Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop. Included in the sit-in is two leaders from the Uniting Church in WA, Richard Telfer, First Third specialist, and Rev Bev Fabb chair of the Commission for Education for Discipleship and Leadership (CEDAL).

Today’s peaceful action of more than 50 church-goers is in response to reports that the Government is planning to send 25 babies — who were born on Australian soil to families seeking safety — to the Nauru detention centre. These Christian leaders come from the full breadth of the Australian church (including Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Anglican and others).

The Christian leaders are committed to remaining in the MPs’ offices until the Government publicly promises that no children will be detained offshore, and that all asylum-seeker children will be released into the Australian community with their families. Sit-ins are occurring in the Sydney office of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, as well as 6 other Government representatives in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.Continue Reading

A day of great moral failure

The Uniting Church in Australia has expressed its dismay at changes passed to the Migration and Maritime Powers Acts which will cause greater suffering for those vulnerable people seeking refuge in Australia.

“Today is a day of great moral failure for Australia,” said Uniting Church President, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney, in response to legislation that passed the Senate in the early hours of Friday morning.

“The Federal Government has now made it legal to punish the strangers that Jesus called Christians to welcome, simply for seeking our protection.”

These measures will only cause more suffering for refugees who have already suffered so much,” said Andrew.

The Uniting Church has long-standing concerns about the policies of successive governments which aim to punish and deter rather than protect people in need.

The legislation passed by the Senate grants unprecedented powers to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, placing the Minister’s decisions out of reach of the courts and giving him permission to act contrary to international law.Continue Reading

A letter from Australian religious leaders to the ABC

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney has joined with 28 other Australian religious leaders and their supporters to protest against the ABC’s cuts to religion programs.

As the ABC’s Board meets today to consider the proposed cuts to staff and programs, leaders such as the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne the Most Revd Dr Philip Freier and the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed have sought an urgent meeting to discuss how the proposed cuts will affect the place of religion on the national broadcaster.

In a letter to ABC Managing Director Mark Scott and Chairman Jim Spigelman, the leaders say they believe, “the faith and values we hold will always occupy a central part in the formation of our Australian national identity.”Continue Reading

Update: 5 Christian leaders arrested at MP Kevin Andrew’s office in Doncaster after prayer sit-in

Advocates for children suffering in detention have been arrested after sitting in the office of MP Kevin Andrews to request the release of all children and families from immigration detention.

Five church leaders have been arrested after a prayer sit-in in at Cabinet Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews’ electorate office. The group were requesting a timetabled commitment for the release of all children and families from immigration detention centres.  They asked that Kevin Andrews become a public champion for the immediate release of children and families. Despite an invitation to respond to their message, Kevin chose to remain silent and decided to arrest the church leaders and close his office early today at 3pm.

Those arrested included local clergy and Christians from different denominations. One of those arrested, former disability nurse Leonnie Wickenden had this to say about her participation in today’s action: “I’m here today because the evidence of over 15 years of bipartisan asylum seeker policies, show us that vulnerable children continue to be put at immeasurable and unacceptable risk of life-long developmental disruption. Having over 20 years of service to people with disability, my faith determines that we owe children immediate freedom from detention so they can thrive in all aspects of their development, away from the bars of hopelessness and despair.”

The group made this request of Kevin Andrews because he is both a Cabinet member and a vocal public advocate for children’s welfare.Continue Reading