Going home: a bittersweet journey

In October last year, we travelled to England for a holiday. This visit was primarily to visit our daughter Alison and family, but as usual when we visit England we caught up with various members of both of our families and some friends, as we both grew up there. Upon reflection, this visit was a mixture of both good and sad experiences.

On the way to England we met with Floss’ cousin and her husband in Amsterdam. Both couples celebrated Golden Weddings in 2018 and we had our own special time of celebration together. They travelled to Holland in their car and so we had a new experience of travelling overnight on a ferry – the nearest we have had to a cruise! We docked in Newcastle-upon- Tyne which is where our daughter, Alison, lives.

For Floss, the trip up the north east coast was special, being the part of England where she was born and lived for her first 42 years. Watching familiar landmarks from the sea was an exciting experience and brought some tears. Continue Reading

Working with our sisters and brothers in Bali

When you’re going to Bali, it’s rather cool to be able to say you are going “on work!” Especially when talking to other West Australians going there for the usual reasons.

Rev Marie Wilson and I were able to say this as we fronted up to the Jetstar flight out of Perth on a recent Saturday night. We had a job to do! Our task was to introduce some of the senior clergy of the Balinese Protestant Church (Gereja Kiristen Protestan di Bali – GKPB) to the discipline of professional supervision.

We soon discovered they knew a lot about ‘supervision’, but that what they knew was more about top-down management than professional supervision, and anyone who has experienced that kind of top-down management tends to steer clear of supervision. It’s a common misunderstanding, even among our enlightened Uniting Church ministers.Continue Reading

Kokoda mateship: an enduring tenet

At midnight on Thursday 26 July this year, seven Scotch boys and two staff flew out from Perth enroute to Papua New Guinea to embark on the world-famous Kokoda trail.

All the months of preparation were over, there was no chance to fill in the gaps, and in reality, most of us had very little understanding of the challenges that lay ahead. Seven days later, we walked through the trail’s finishing arch in the town of Kokoda. The physical and emotional challenges faced throughout the seven days of trekking had left an indelible and lifelong imprint on the  spiritual psyche of us all. Continue Reading

Suffering, scenery and the sacred

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

A mandarin is not a failed orange

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

Being messy, being church

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

Polar parallels on a journey of the heart

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

Walking the walk

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

Òngoing renewal in the spirit of the Reformation

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

A pilgrim people: 40 years on

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