Margaret and Haileigh face a different future

Hobart woman Margaret Collis admits she was quickly struck by the lack of blame for past white atrocities she felt laid at her feet by Aboriginal community members in Northern New South  Wales, she met during her participation in the About FACE program at the beginning of this year.

“I have heard of places where some Aboriginal people are [understandably] still very angry with white people and want to hold it [what happened in the past] over them,” she said. “But, that was  not my experience. There were no accusations directed at us.”

Margaret, who worships at Bellerive Uniting Church on Hobart’s eastern shore, was one of 17 participants in About FACE 2015 which was organised by the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania’s Commission for Mission, running for 16 days in January. She was one of 3 aged over 50, with the remaining 14 under the age of 30.

About FACE stands for Faith And Cultural Exchange and has  been an activity of the Uniting Church in Australia since 1984 with the aim of building meaningful relationships with Uniting  Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) communities. It celebrates the covenant relationship between the Uniting Church in Australia and the UAICC, and encourages participants  and those supporting them to be actively involved in covenanting and working together for reconciliation in the church and in the wider community. Continue Reading

GKI on the move

One of the outcomes of our recent Annual Meeting of the Presbytery and Synod of the Uniting Church in WA was the commitment to continue our partnership with the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI).

The partnership began over two decades ago and has led to the growth of the GKI Perth Uniting Church congregation in Mosman Park and a special Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that points to various ways we can co-operate and learn from each other.

IMG_0043Rosemary Hudson-Miller, acting general Secretary of the Uniting Church in WA, and I, moderator of the Uniting Church in WA, were very privileged to be able to visit Indonesia in September to  attend the GKI West Java Synod and sign the MOU. This was a tremendous privilege and richly rewarding for us. We were able to witness a church that is growing and dynamic in many areas of its life.

We stayed in the climatically cool Zuri Resort and Convention Center, owned by GKI, about three hours out of Jakarta, near Bogor in the mountains. It was very special being part of their synod  meetings. About 270 members attended from eight presbyteries across West Java.Continue Reading

The challenge of Kokoda

It had long been one of my bucket-list items to trek Kokoda. Not just for the physical and mental challenge of it, not just because of the iconic place it will always have in Australian wartime history, but also  because my late father Alan spent over two years in New Guinea during World War II.

I’ve been fortunate that God has blessed me with reasonable health and fitness, but as I was approaching 63, I needed to get Kokoda done. So, with my 61-year-old mate Jim Armanasco, who was happy to  takeup the challenge as well, we trained for the trek. On 22 May this year, we flew from Perth to Port Moresby to meet our trekking leader Andrew Johnson (AJ) and four other fellow trekkers. We then  headed off to our rooms to rearrange our belongings into backpacks and enjoy sleeping in a real bed for the last time for eight nights. Continue Reading

Taking time to look

For a long time now I have had a fascination with Antarctica. So much so that I did some research into working there. Not being much of a call for teachers down in Antarctica, I realised  the only way I was going to get there was as a tourist.

Most tourists visit Antarctica via the Antarctic Peninsula, a couple of days sail from Argentina – this was not the experience I wanted. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of the great  explorers of the Heroic Age; Scott, Shackleton and Mawson. If I was going to make the journey, I wanted to go below the Antarctic Circle and really experience the remoteness of this  southern world.

For me, the experience gained in travelling is something that needs to be shared, so I convinced my Dad to take this journey with me. Our journey began in New Zealand and then it took  us seven days by ship to reach the Ross Sea. The Ross Sea is south of Australia and New Zealand in East Antarctica. The reactions of people when you tell them you are going to  Antarctica vary greatly. Some say, “How exciting!” Others say, “Why? It’s so far away and there is nothing there!” Continue Reading

This is Africa: On travelling happy

It might have been taken as a compliment: the minister for mining in Zambia offering me a job in government (never mind my training as a Speech  Pathologist) as I stood in a cemetery car park between two black land rovers with my friend and a multitude of government officials, wearing my  backpacking sandals and a skirt that didn’t meet the knee…

“Welcome to Zambia, TIA (this is Africa)” exclaimed my friend…. and so began my journey through South East Africa, Morocco, Southern Europe and across to Turkey.

When I was approached to write a brief article for Revive about my trip, I was told it didn’t have to be churchy or religious. ‘Good!’ I thought to myself, because the purpose of my trip  was a big holiday; a big self indulgent adventure! Continue Reading

So all may see a destiny together

The invitation to travel to Canberra to attend a vigil on the lawns of Parliament House on 18 March 2014 was extended to Uniting Church people throughout Australia. I was on long  service leave pending retirement at the time, so I was free to travel to this national event. My husband Robin and I travelled to Canberra as representatives of the WA Synod.

The vigil was part of ‘A Destiny Together: A Week of Prayer and Fasting for Justice for First Peoples. It was planned by the Uniting Church Assembly in response to the stories of  suffering from Indigenous people affected by the government Intervention in the Northern Territory and the subsequent Stronger Futures legislation.Continue Reading

Travelling with your eyes open

The Hallelujah Chorus with (l-r) John, Ellen and Bill Lemen.

The Hallelujah Chorus with (l-r) John, Ellen and Bill Lemen.

G K Chesterdon, writer and Christian apologist is quoted as having said “The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”

Travellers may be regarded as pilgrims – literally those who have come from afar – who are on a journey to a special place. Over the past six weeks I have had the opportunity, while  visiting family and friends in Canada and The Netherlands, to reflect on what I have seen and how this seeing impacts on my sense of, and experience of, church, creator and  creation. Continue Reading