Rally for refugees at home

On Palm Sunday this week (5 April) people across the country will urgently raise their voices so that refugees and asylum seekers will not be forgotten in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

A great justice tradition in Australia is that on Palm Sunday every year thousands of people take to the streets to call for a more compassionate response to refugees.

This Sunday, instead of gathering for rallies and marches in major cities, people are finding new and creative ways to raise their voices together.

Many of the organised Palm Sunday rallies are going ahead as online events and advocacy will take place across social media.

In the last week, refugee advocates have appealed to the Federal Government to ensure protections against COVID-19 extend to refugees and asylum seekers, and in particular that people in crowded detention centres are moved to places where physical distancing can be observed.

President of the Uniting Church Dr Deidre Palmer has written to the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to seek his assurance that the 1.5 million people living in Australia on temporary or bridging visas will have access to healthcare and income support.

In particular, Deidre stressed the importance of ensuring asylum seekers in the community have access to Medicare so they can and will seek help if they think they might have the virus.

“The situation for people living in Australia on temporary or bridging visas during this health crisis is urgent, and a direct response to their plight by the Australian Government will be an important measure to complement the strong measures already taken,” Dr Palmer wrote.

These concerns were echoed in a letter from the Australian Churches Refugee Taskforce and National Council of Churches in Australia, noting that many of this cohort are already dependent on charities for necessities.

The Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) called an extraordinary meeting with organisations across the country to bring together their concerns. Their most urgent priorities were:

  1. Move people urgently out of crowded immigration detention facilities
  2. Ensure a financial safety net and Medicare access for all in Australia
  3. Prevent people losing legal status and access to support
  4. Move refugees and people seeking asylum from PNG and Nauru.

RCOA Chief Executive Officer Paul Power noted, “With the international movement of people grinding to a halt, we need to take care of everyone now in Australia, knowing that the health of all of us is directly connected to how we treat the most vulnerable.”

How you can still participate in Palm Sunday for Refugees

This article was originally published on the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly website.

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A Christian response to racism

President of the Uniting Church in Australia Dr Deidre Palmer has called on Australians to respond with love, hospitality and inclusion to a surge in anti-immigration rhetoric in Australian public life.

“Jesus’ great commandment to his followers was to love God and love your neighbour. As Christians we believe all people are created in the image of God and deserving of respect and dignity. Racism is incompatible with the Christian faith,” said Deidre.

In recent weeks, inflammatory opinion pieces have suggested a ‘foreign invasion’, a neo-Nazi has been allowed to air his views on a news channel; there has been more fearmongering about so-called ‘African gangs’, and a Senator has used his maiden speech to honour the White Australia Policy and call for future migration to “reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society.”Continue Reading

Messages from the aether

This year, Anti-Poverty Week runs from 15 – 21 October. Elsa Samuel shares her picks of poverty fighter campaigns.

Unitingworld.org.au
UnitingWorld is an agency of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia that connects people and church communities in Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa to create strong partnerships in overcoming poverty. Their website is brimming with fundraising opportunities and online donations. My personal favourite is their cleverness to craft powerful anti-poverty stories and campaigns such as the Freedom from Poverty in West Timor, Bali and Zimbabwe.

Caritas.org.au/learn/blog
If you are looking to learn more about causes and where you’d like to pitch in, Caritas Australia (CA) is worth checking out. CA is the world’s largest humanitarian network and has partnerships with local communities in 35 countries, 195 long-term programs and 143 partnerships throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, Indigenous Australia and the Pacific. In short, they are big fighters of poverty and basic human rights regardless of ethnicity, political beliefs or religion. Their blog is an awesome way to find out more and how you can help, for example through volunteering, fundraising, monetary donations and causes that might interest you.

unitingcarewest.org.au/services/foodrescue
Help reduce hunger in Australia by checking out Food Rescue, a UnitingCare West program dedicated to feeding the disadvantaged and alleviating hunger. You can make a donation or volunteer to support this service. A common misconception is that only homeless people living in poverty require food relief. High risk groups include people with disabilities, refugees and Indigenous Australians – 33% from these groups are children. According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), more than 730,000 children are living in poverty, which is about one in six children in Australia.

Respectful conversations on marriage

As this edition of Revive hits the stands, Australia is in the midst of the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the non-binding, non-compulsory survey asking the public whether Australia should allow same-sex marriage. Your postal vote needs to be received by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) by Tuesday 7 November for it to be counted in the survey.

There is a lot of diversity within the Uniting Church regarding this issue, and the church has been in conversation for many years about its formal position. One thing its leaders do agree on is the need for respectful conversations. At the recent Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA, members of the Synod took part in small group conversations about what marriage meant to them. They also  had the opportunity to prayerfully send a written message to the Uniting Church in Australia on the issue.

Rev Steve Francis, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, acknowledged the pain members of the church were feeling and felt this method of conversation was much more helpful than the traditional consensus model, guided by a proposal and debate on the floor of the meeting. 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

Bible Society bicentenary

This year, the Bible Society Australia turns 200. A number of celebratory events have and will be taking place over the year, including the widely talked about and controversial partnership with  Coopers Brewery.

The company had created a commemorative Coopers Premium Light Beer to celebrate the bicentenary. After the Bible Society Australia produced a video as part of their ‘Keeping it Light’  campaign, which featured two Liberal MPs having a ‘light’ discussion about marriage equality over a Coopers beer, Coopers found themselves in the midst of a boycott. Coopers have since stated that they have cancelled the commemorative cans. Continue Reading

Sit, chat and wander at Campfire

Over the September long weekend, 125 people from Uniting Churches around WA descended on the small, Wheatbelt town of Lake Yealering for Campfire 2016.

Campfire is run by the Pastoral  Network of Evangelicals Uniting in Mission Action (PNEUMA) with the express aim of encouraging and resourcing people for mission. It is also a fantastic weekend of relaxing and hanging out  with friends – old and new.

Andrew Hamilton, part-time retic guy and part-time pastor of Quinns Baptist Church, was guest speaker this year with his three sessions focusing on ‘The practices of sent people,’ ‘Living lives that are different’ and ‘Speaking of Jesus.’ Andrew’s sessions were engaging and practical with plenty of time for discussion. Continue Reading

Cornish and Co pump organ

Juniper, an agency of the Uniting Church WA providing residential and community aged care, are replacing a Cornish and Co Pump Organ at their St Andrew’s residential site with a new digital piano. The pump organ is estimated to be more than 100 years old and is in working order.

Juniper are happy to give the organ away to anyone who can pick it up from Balcatta.

For more info contact Adrienne Inch at adrienne.inch@juniper.org.au.

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The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the revolutionary message of the Lord’s Prayer, by John Dominic Crossan

The Greatest PrayerThe poetic parallelism of The Lord’s Prayer creates a vibration of thought, a metronome in the mind which is why we remember it. But Crossan’s book tells us that Christianity’s greatest prayer is also its strangest.

It is prayed by all Christians, but never mentions God, Christ, church or Sunday. It is prayed by fundamentalists, but never mentions the inerrancy of the Bible, virgin birth, miracles, atoning death, or bodily resurrection. It is prayed by evangelical Christians, but never mentions the evangelium or Gospel. It is prayed by mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics, but never mentions congregations, priests, bishops or pope.

Is it then a Jewish prayer?

There is no mention of covenant or law, Temple or Torah, circumcision or purity.Continue Reading