For two weeks in May I had the marvellous privilege of exploring a fascinating and beautiful country, rich in history and struggle, a place almost undiscovered by tourists: Armenia. When I told people I was off to Armenia on a self-funded trip most people looked puzzled and said, “Where exactly is Armenia?”
Armenia is in the South Caucasus region, sharing borders with Turkey, Russia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. The capitol is Yerevan, a city of over a million people, with the awesome snow peaked mountains of Mt Ararat dominating the skyline. The mountain forms an impressive background to Armenia’s ancient past. Continue Reading
What do Katanning WA and Lincoln NZ have in common?
During April, both hosted gatherings of people passionate about ministry in rural settings. One over-arching message is: small and rural matters!
Setting the scene for the 100 delegates in Lincoln for the International Rural Churches Association (IRCA), Dr Rosemary Dewerse told us the story of Parihaka. This Maori village was being claimed by colonisers. In 1881, as armed cavalry rode in they were met first by children sitting in the road singing, then teenage girls skipping and then gifts of food. Eventually two Maori chiefs, Te Whiti and Tohu, along with many others, were imprisoned, but their commitment to nonviolent resistance did not waver.
Te Whiti’s conviction was that taking up arms would lead to more deaths, so instead they persistently pulled up surveyors’ marker pegs, built their own fences and ploughed up the settlers’ roads. Continue Reading
With the full support of Rockingham Uniting Church, my home congregation, I flew to Melbourne to attend the Australasian Messy Church Gathering, in February. Having only a small idea as to what Messy Church was about, along with fellow youth leader, Kelly Crothers, I was keen to find out more with the hope of bringing this concept back to our church.
The gathering was held in the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Parkville, a magnificent heritage building that was itself inspiring. In attendance were people from all over Australia, New Zealand, UK and Malaysia. We were very blessed to have Canon Lucy Moore, the founder of Messy Church from The Church of England, as the special guest and keynote speaker. Lucy’s enthusiasm was infectious.
The other keynote speakers were Rev Greg Ross, a Uniting Church WA Minister who has a long established Messy Church in Bunbury; the talented Rev Brenton Prigge a former Uniting Church WA Minister who played guitar and sang hymns that he had written; and Rev Debbie Smith from New Zealand who spoke to us about maximising the potential of your Messy Team. At this point, I realised how important having help and working as a team will be.
We learnt the values of Messy Church and that it is not just for children. It is a Christ centred church in its own right for all ages, gathering together to enjoy creativity, celebration and hospitality. Sharing a meal isan important part, as Lucy said, “You can’t share the abundance of Godwith a biscuit.”Continue Reading
Colleen Geyer, General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia travelled across Canada last year with a group of seven Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (Congress) leaders, as part of the Moderator of the United Church of Canada (UCC), Rev Jordan Cantwell’s, Reconciliation Dialogue.
The purpose of the trip was to take a look at the way another church had worked through sovereignty and treaty discussions with its First Peoples, to better inform the conversation the Uniting Church is currently engaged in. She shared her experience with Revive.
Our journey began in Vancouver where we met students at the UCC’s Native Ministries Consortium Summer School and visited the Vancouver School of Theology. Continue Reading
Recently my wife and I walked part of the Camino, The Way, to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela; a city which has been destination for pilgrims for almost a thousand years. We walked for a week along the Portuguese Camino – long enough to get blisters, sunburn and be very grateful we arrived safely in Santiago.
My reflective task for the journey was to consider what was it like being a pilgrim, and what that means for our church as pilgrim people.
When one walks the Camino, the goal – Santiago – draws you forward. The intermediate goals of where you will get to that day encourage you to continue. The aches and stiffness and the trials of the journey are put to one side as you imagine what completing the pilgrimage will be like.Continue Reading
Rev Denise Liersch, Moderator Elect of the Uniting Church Vic/Tas, travelled to Germany as one of three Uniting Church representatives to the World Communion of Reformed Churches, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, from 29 June to 7 July. She shares her experiences with Revive.
A couple of months ago, I stood in front of the castle church in Wittenberg where, 500 years ago, Luther nailed his 95 theses to the doors. Well, not to these exact doors; they are no longer made of wood, and Luther’s 95 theses are now cast into the bronze of the doors. As I stood there in front of the doors, repair works were being undertaken to the old stonework around the new doors. The church as a whole isn’t quite the same as it was either; it has had a lot of work done to it since then… I hope. Continue Reading
It was with a sense of excitement that three Western Australians travelled to Adelaide to attend the inaugural Uniting Church National History Conference from 9–12 June 2017. With Sheena Hesse, Archivist at the Uniting Church WA, Rev Dr Alison and Robin Longworth joined the fifty or so archivists and historians at Pilgrim Uniting Church. The Conference was hosted by the South Australian Uniting Church Historical Society and focused on the history of the Uniting Church in this 40th anniversary year.
The Welcome to Country by Sean Weetra and the opening worship led by Rev Myung Hwa Park, Moderator of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT led us into the keynote address by Assoc Prof Renate Howe, who spoke on “Challenges for the Uniting Church in a changing Australia.”Continue Reading
Two years ago, Rowan and Jenny Berger set off to Vanuatu to work in the local medical industry. Jenny is a registered nurse, Rowan a paramedic. Revive reported about their plans with MED Project prior to their leaving, in June 2015.
The couple had originally planned to stay in Vanuatu for a year, but after receiving amazing support from individuals and churches they were able to stay 18 months, plus donate remaining funds to two local community projects: a domestic violence centre and a youth centre with a free sexual health clinic. A large proportion of funds raised was thanks to their own church, Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church, who put in a major effort for the entire 18 months, led by congregation member Dianne May.
Rowan and Jenny agreed that being able to spend an extra six months on the island was a great help, as it took around that same amount of time to settle in. Continue Reading
A recent advertisement in a church newsletter for free accommodation in return for providing Sunday services sparked an adventure from Queensland to regional WA. Ruth Duncan reflects on her experiences moving westward and how she struck gold in the faith community.
A small advertisement in a newsletter from the Uniting Church Queensland late last year popped up the day after hearing my last lecture in New Testament within the Lay Preacher’s course at Trinity College Queensland. The ad offered free accommodation in Kalgoorlie in return for providing Sunday services. What a great opportunity to see a different part of Australia and practise what I’d been learning over the course.
Among the jaw-dropping from my local congregation members, they managed to ask questions like, “Where will you stay?” and “What is the congregation like?”
To these questions and more, including those that were in my mind, I had to say, “I don’t know.” I just heard the voice of God saying, “Come and see.” Continue Reading
The January school holidays were a special time for 16 students from Derby District High School who spent 11 glorious days in sunny Perth. The students were members of the remote, Indigenous community of Mowanjum.
This is the fourth time Derby students have travelled from the West Kimberly to Perth to experience a different way of life, away from the bush. Their journey to Perth is a long one – 4 500km on a bus with several stops, which included an overnight stay at Port Hedland Uniting Church and Karalundi School in Meekatharra, before reaching their destination: Ern Halliday campsite at Hillarys, Perth.
The excursion was hosted by the Boab Network based at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, which have been running school holiday programs in Mowanjum for 10 years. There are many reasons why the trip is important for Mowanjum. Continue Reading