Moderator’s column: Renewal begins in worship

Occasionally people ask me what is the best part about being Moderator of the Uniting Church WA. Usually, quick as a flash, I say “Sunday mornings.” That’s because I have the enormous privilege of visiting, preaching and worshipping at many different congregations across the state.

Sometimes, I find myself in a small rural community, meeting in a home, hall or sanctuary. On other occasions, I am in a suburban gathering of the faithful with pipe organ or guitars and drums. I also receive the great honour of worshipping in other languages in our migrant ethnic, intercultural communities.

As celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Uniting Church in Australia reminded us, “All of this is us.” Continue Reading

Editorial: award celebrations

It’s been a big month for us here at Revive.

In late August, I was lucky enough to travel to Auckland, New Zealand, for the Australasian Religious Press Association (ARPA) conference and awards. Not only did I get to catch-up with editors and colleagues from Uniting Church publications from around the country, but I also had the opportunity to spend time with editors of Christian publications from various denominations – including our counterparts from WA religious press.

This year, Revive won two awards.We won a bronze award in the Best News Category for the article ‘Medicinal Cannabis: new legislation a helpful step,’ written by Elaenor Nield. This article celebrated the legalisation of cultivating medicinal cannabis in Australia, which the Uniting Church WA had campaigned for.

Revive also won a gold award in the Best Feature Single Author  category for an article I wrote titled ‘Embracing weirdness as a disciple of the Way.’ This article explored the role spirituality can play in living with mental illness. One of its strengths, I believe,  was the honesty in which Paul Montague, Uniting Church WA ministry candidate, shared his story with readers.

We’re thrilled to have won these awards among such well-respected colleagues and peers.

Revive wasn’t the only Uniting Church publication to win awards this year. Journey, Uniting Church QLD; Insights, Uniting Church NSW/ACT; and Crosslight, Uniting Church Vic/Tas all also won deserving awards.

In September, members of the Uniting Church WA also met for the 41st Annual Meeting of the Synod. A lot of news came out of the meeting, and you can also check out our Facebook or Twitter feeds for more news from the event.

Heather Dowling

Review: The Church Guide to Making Decisions Together

By Terence Corkin and Julie Kuhn Wallace, Abingdon Press, 2017

In an Easter article, former Uniting Church President Jill Tabart ruefully observed, “The consensus model is not being used to its best effect across the entire church.”

I agree with her.

What a pity not to use, dare I say to waste, the primary means of discernment that groups of people have available to them. Discernment is a community process of listening to each other and the Spirit, whereas the traditional western rules of meetings are there to facilitate arguments.

In a world which is now more divided, and decisions more difficult, our former General Secretary of the Assembly, Terence Corkin, was so convinced we needed to revisit consensus decision making processes that he, with an American Methodist Julia Wallace, has written this helpful how-to book, The Church Guide for Making Decisions Together. The book is a timely opportunity for leaders to re-visit the importance of the way we make decisions. Continue Reading

Review: The Magnificent life of Miss May Holman

by Lekki Hopkins, Fremantle Press, 2016

If you wander around the Pioneer Women’s memorial fountain in King’s Park, you will find a winding path down the hill. On that path are the names of women’s organisations which have been significant in civil society in WA.

Nearby is the Centenary of Western Australia Women’s Suffrage Memorial. It commemorates the hundredth anniversary of women achieving the right to vote equally with men in Western Australian elections. For many of us, this place is just a pretty place to have a picnic or take the kids during the school holidays. How many of us know the story of the struggle to achieve the vote for women? How many know how the first women to be elected to parliament struggled to achieve in a male dominated environment?

I found the biography of May Holman, written by Lekkie Hopkins, to be an interesting portrayal of an impressive woman, whose achievements and interests were wide ranging. The list of  organisations she was serving as secretary or president, whilst being a serving Labor parliamentarian and representative for the seat of Forrest (elected five times), was enough to make me want to lie down for a rest in a darkened room. Some of these are the organisations named on the Kings Park memorial pathway. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: Living out the ethics of Christ

I heard a story recently about a fight between two wolves, which were both fierce and competitive. The question was asked ‘which wolf will overcome the other?’

The simple answer is whichever wolf we feed.

Ethics is rather like this. There is a growing awareness that ethics matter. We live under the shadow of the tragic findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. There has been story after story of the most horrendous misuse of power and of the failure to bring the perpetrators to account.

As a Uniting Church, thankfully we have become much more conscious of the essential need for the church to be a safe place for everyone, especially children. We have a strong Code of Ethics for  people in ministry and a Code of Conduct for Lay Leaders that guides us in areas where there is ethical ambiguity, and points us to ethical wholeness. Ethics must matter to all of us. While the Gospel offers grace and forgiveness, it comes with the call to discipleship, to live a holy life; to pursue a lifestyle of behaviour that models the highest Christian standards of ethics. Continue Reading

Editorial: towards tolerance

A few weeks ago I did something I’d never done before; I visited a Jewish Synagogue.

Our profile story this edition is Rabbi Dovid Freilich, who is leaving the Rabbinate after 45 years of service. During our interview, he specifically asked me not to use the term ‘retire’ as he has plenty of life left in him to get involved in a host of other interests.

Our Moderator, Rev Steve Francis, actually alerted me to the story, as he had heard the Rabbi speak the night before on ‘tolerance versus respect’ and thought it was a story worth sharing. I have to agree.Continue Reading