Review: Metanoia

A Memoir of a body, born again, by Anna McGahan, Bible Society Australia, 2019

Anna McGahan’s book, Metanoia, is a gift to Australia and the Australian church.

The first recorded words of Jesus’ ministry included the command to ‘turn’, ‘change’ or ‘repent’. The Greek noun for this is ‘metanoia’. In her book, Anna tells of her own metanioa – a transformative change of heart. Her story is raw, engaging, exciting, true and above all, real.

Anna tells us how she arrived at “the safest place” and “the most dangerous place” she has ever been. She tells not only of the pain of sickness, loneliness, alienation, relationship breakdowns, missteps and of the right and wrong choices in her life, but also of her story of commitment, empathy, love, and her yearning for, and finding, ‘something more’.

Anna tells of how she eventually heard and responded to the Spirit’s gentle call. Anna learned to trust Jesus, and was, like all of us, loved into the discovery of the peace, joy and hope for which she was made. Continue Reading

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