Review: The Struggle for Justice

The Struggle for Justice: Conversations with John Bottomley about transforming church community services, by Kate Dempsey, Coventry Press 2020

The Uniting Church, according to this book, is both “shrinking and ageing”. The congregational side of it certainly is. But the community services side is expanding. I have argued in my PhD on the Uniting Church’s future that if the Uniting Church’s community services were amalgamated and “quoted” on the Australian Stock Exchange, the new Uniting entity would be one of the exchange’s largest companies. As governments continue to privatise their welfare services, so the Uniting Church will be among the not-for-profits scooping up the additional work. Continue Reading

Moderator’s Column: Looking back, looking forward

Rev Steve Francis will step down as Moderator of the Uniting Church WA on Friday 11 September. He reflects on his time in this role over the last six years.

As my time as Moderator is coming to a close, I was asked to write a reflection looking back over the past nearly six years and looking forward into the future.

When I was first elected Moderator at Synod in 2014 someone shook my hand and said “Condolences”. It was like they thought I got the booby prize in a raffle or worse. The experience of being a  two term Moderator has had some dark and deep disappointments. There have been moments when I felt something of the pain and struggle of being a church that is in slow decline and in danger of reaching a tipping point when renewal seems almost out of reach. Continue Reading

Refugee Week 2020: academics and activism

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From 14 to 20 June we celebrate Refugee Week, welcoming those who have come into Australia and celebrating the valuable contribution refugees and people seeking asylum make to our society. The Uniting Church has always been a strong advocate for the rights of people fleeing persecution – but we are not alone in our calls for justice.

Wherever possible the Uniting Church seeks to collaborate with service providers to ensure we are reflecting the needs of people most in need. In the complex field of immigration issues it is also handy to have assistance from academic friends – like Dr Caroline Fleay. Continue Reading

Review: Saint Judy

Directed by Sean Hanish, 2020, Cannonball Productions

Saint Judy is a film based  on real life events of lawyer, Judy Wood, who’s thrown in the deep end in her  first immigration law case. Her belief that the truth and doing what’s right can overcome almost  insurmountable obstacles to forever change asylum law in the United States of America, as well as the lives of those around her.

Judy represents an Afghani woman, Asefa Ashwari who’s betrayed by her Tribal Leader father,  persecuted by the Taliban for ‘Crimes against God.’ She faces the certainty of being murdered by her  own brothers in an honour killing if her fight for asylum in the United States is unsuccessful, because she encouraged girls to think for themselves and to get an education by opening a school for girls in her  village. Continue Reading

Review: Climate Church Climate World

How people of faith must work for change, by Rev Jim Antal, 2018, Rowman and Littlefield

The national synod of the United Church of Christ, USA, passed a motion in 2017 that: “The climate crisis is the opportunity for which the Church was born.”

Jim Antal’s book opens with historian Lynn White’s words from 1967: “More science and technology are  not going to get us out of the present ecological crisis until we find a new religion or rethink our old  one.” Continue Reading