Music moves the City’s heart

Strolling down William Street at lunchtime on a Friday, your ears may perk up to the mellifluous notes of a flute or the majestic sounds of a pipe organ emanating from Uniting Church in the City, Wesley, just across from the Hay Street Mall. The music is part of a free lunchtime recital series which runs from March to December, every first and third Friday at Wesley and every second Thursday at Ross Memorial in West Perth.

Since its establishment over a hundred years ago, the recital series has become a central feature of the cultural heart of the city. Evocative themes such as “Love and Loss” and “One Hand, One Heart” and others like “Beethoven and Shostakovic” give clues as to what mood and music to expect.

Regular comers, spontaneous visitors, tourists and others seeking an alternative lunchtime experience gather in the pews to enjoy the beautiful music, historic venues and illuminating aesthetics. The recitals last some 45 minutes with spare time at the end for applause and a catch-up chat with the performers.
Pre-COVID this catch-up occurred over coffee and cake, with Wesley hoping to reinstate this hospitable tradition again from the end of July.

Angela Currie has been the Director of Music at Wesley since 2012. She explains that the aim of the recital series is to share Wesley’s strong heritage of music with people in the city, while at the same time offering a performance platform to rising stars such as the Wesley Scholars, Wesley Alumni and other musician friends of the church.


The Wesley Scholars that Angela speaks of are part of an annual Wesley scholarship program, now in its 15th year, through which the church offers performance opportunities to undergraduate music students to enhance their musical development. Angela says that the program gives its Scholars the opportunity to perform for the love of the music, rather than to pass an exam or assessment.

Throughout the scholarship year, Scholars may play at Sunday services, the recital series and other special concerts, at several venues, including Wesley, Ross Memorial and Trinity church.

Angela is fully aware of the influence that carefully selected and well prepared music has on a worship experience and works with the Scholars to select music appropriate to the lectionary of the day which they then skilfully deliver alongside the regular pattern of hymns and choral music. “Their music enhances our worship and at the same time offers them invaluable solo performing experiences to develop their craft and thrive in the world of music,” she says.


The current Wesley Scholars possess a wide range of musical gifts and skills and were selected from The University of Western Australia’s Music Department through a competitive selection process. They are: Martin Baker (trumpet), Elyse Belford-Thomas (soprano), Alexis Chin (guitar), Jude Holland (piano), Helena O’Sullivan (violin) and Verity Hagen (flute).

After their scholarship year, many Scholars continue to give back to Wesley and become part of the
Wesley Alumni. “After growing and developing with us, they return to perform time and time again and
we all continue to enjoy the benefits of our expanded music family,” says Angela. “Whilst our program
is primarily about the music, it’s also about the longstanding friendships and support that grow
out of it. Members of our choir and congregation regularly attend the performances of our Wesley
Scholars and Alumni here and at other venues – so our #teamwesley grows beyond the church and into
the external world.”

Angela has always had a passion for helping young people develop their musical talent to become exceptional artists and performers; and she feels particularly privileged to do this through Wesley’s scholarship program. As a child, her love of music eventually led her to study pipe organ and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. After graduating, she went on to enjoy a rich and varied career in Scotland before moving to Western Australia where she has worked as a music tutor, organ recitalist, choral director, accompanist and now Director of Music and organist at Wesley. In the past, she has performed at prestigious venues such as St Giles Cathedral, Palmerston Place Church, Greyfriars Kirk, Dunblane Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral – however the recital series holds a special place in her heart.


“At every recital, I am reminded about the special quality that music has in bringing people together. People from all walks of life, who don’t know each other, come together to enjoy the experience of
listening to beautiful music – that feeling of community is unmatched, it transcends so many barriers.”

Over the years, the recital series has gained a strong following, but attendances have dipped slightly since COVID. However, Angela is positive, “If you haven’t been to one of our recitals, there is no better time to visit. We have an exciting line-up of classical, folk and jazz recitals to come this year. I always look forward to catching up with our guests after a performance.”’


Rev Hollis Wilson, Minister at Wesley, added, “I am thrilled that our current music program is part of a long commitment to the arts and also that its availability to the wider community has continued to remain free of charge. As we transition into the post-COVID era and move confidently towards the 20th
anniversary of the Wesley Scholars, I look forward to what lies ahead in 2027. Brava/Bravo!”

Tracey Paul

Vale Rev Deacon Betty Matthews

The Uniting Church lost one of the great pioneers of diaconal ministry when Rev Deacon Betty Matthews died on 19 July 2022, aged 93. Betty was the first Deacon to be accredited in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) at Cannington Uniting Church in Western Australia on 15 December 1992.

Betty faithfully served for more than 68 years since she was ‘set apart’ as a Deaconess at Fremantle Scots’ Presbyterian Church on 3 February 1954.

Betty arrived in Perth with her family in 1944 and joined Subiaco Presbyterian Church where she was active in the Presbyterian Fellowship of Australia (PFA), ran Easter camps and supported Australian Inland Mission (AIM) Patrol Padres. Betty worked as a typist at the “West Australian” newspaper, but heard the call to diaconal ministry when she met a Deaconess from Victoria who told of a new area where John Flynn was planning to send a Deaconess with a nursing sister to hospitals in the outback.

In 1951, Betty moved to Melbourne, where she lived in a community of diverse woman at Rolland House, the Presbyterian Deaconess Training College, while studying theology at Ormond College. It was while she was there that she became engaged to Alan Matthews, a candidate for ordination as a Minister of the Word.

Betty returned to Western Australia in 1954 when she was “set apart” as a Deaconess based at Fremantle. Her ministry was to establish a church in the newly developing suburb of Kwinana. She visited migrant families as they moved into their new homes, travelling to Kwinana on a Lambretta scooter dressed in her blue Deaconess uniform. A photo of Betty dressed in her uniform on her scooter graced the cover of Women in the Church: A Memoir by Jean Yule.

In 1956, Betty and Alan married and moved to Birmingham in England where they worked in an inner city church. They returned to Victoria in 1957 where they served in Morwell and Ringwood East in the Presbyterian Church. Their son, Ian was born in 1957 and Christina in 1960. Betty was very involved in children’s and youth ministry in church and community, establishing an Infant Welfare Centre in Morwell and a Referral Centre in Ringwood.

In 1970, the Matthews moved to the Northern Territory where the new town of Nhulunbuy, a remote mining town and Aboriginal community on the Gove Peninsula, was being built. They established a congregation there, with services held at first in a marquee, then the recreation hall, before the church was built. Initially the family lived in the nearby Aboriginal community of Yirrkala, where they learned a lot about Aboriginal culture and formed strong friendships with Aboriginal leaders. Betty worked to establish a community kindergarten, co-ordinated cyclone emergency relief and established the Good Neighbour Council.

During Alan’s long service leave in 1976, Betty and Alan visited many grass roots churches in South Asia. They returned to Perth in 1977 where Alan served in ministry at Swan View and at Cockburn Hilton. Betty worked for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) for 13 years, 10 years as their Executive Officer, pioneering many services to benefit young women – Big Sister program, Emergency Housing for single women, Step Family support, as well as serving on the board of the Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) and the Youth Affairs Council.

Through this time Betty was also active in the Uniting Church, serving as Chairperson of Presbytery, Pastoral Relations Committee (PRC) Convenor, Candidates Convenor, and on three occasions, Acting General Secretary of the Synod. She was also a strong social justice advocate, especially on the rights of refugees and First Peoples.

Betty was at the 6th Triennial Assembly in 1991 when the decision was made to renew the diaconate in the UCA. Betty was always a great mentor and encourager of Deacon candidates and loved to catch up with Deacons at their regular lunches.

Betty and Alan have always been passionate about ministry with refugees, so when in retirement they moved to Thornlie they bought a house with a self-contained flat so they could house refugees. Many of the refugees they hosted consider Betty and Alan to be their family.

As their health declined Betty and Alan moved into a retirement village in Forrestfield and later to a nursing home at Midland. Until very recently, Betty had been a regular attender at many UCA events as Betty said, “Sitting at home isn’t our scene.”

Betty’s call to ministry was “one of service to the community – the needy, the lonely, the newcomer. As well as working with people to build up their own community whether in the church or outside.” All through her ministry, Betty endeavoured to encourage others and often asked, “And what do you need me to do now?”

Betty is remembered with great affection and will be deeply missed. Deacons around Australia honour her as one of our saints.

We hold her husband, Rev Alan Matthews, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our prayers at this time.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Betty’s life will be held at 10am on Wednesday 3 August at Kalamunda Uniting Church in Western Australia.

Revive Magazine Survey – March 2022

With the Revive magazine survey closing soon, we invite you to participate and tell us what you think about the publication. We are seeking your views on new and existing content, your reading preferences and more. The survey is anonymous and takes only 10 minutes to complete. You can access it here.

Revive is the Uniting Church WA’s flagship publication. It has a long history, being borne out of the Uniting Church’s inaugural magazine, Western Impact, which was first released in 1977. Revive has the widest reader distribution of any of the Uniting Church WA’s publications.

Revive is a uniting publication in that it features stories, not only of the Uniting Church Centre, but of Uniting Church agencies, schools, churches, faith communities and individuals – as well as topical news and feature stories of the moment. It is the Uniting Church WA’s only regularly published interface with the wider community.

The last review of Revive was in 2019. This resulted in a brand-new design and changes to the structure and layout of the magazine, as well as to the distribution. We made these changes at your request and we were delighted that they were all very well received. However, the trends and preferences of our readers continue to evolve and we have decided to seek your views yet again to continue to stay relevant and competitive.

Even if you are satisfied with the current Revive format, we still encourage you to complete the survey. Doing this is a vote for the magazine!

Carols for Climate Action – Perth faith groups join criticism of new gas projects.

Members of the WA chapter of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) gathered outside the Wesley Uniting Church in the City on Friday 17 December 2021 to sing reworded Christmas carols to highlight the need for stronger climate action.

Geoffrey Bice, President of ARRCC WA said people were keen to get creative with the words of well-known carols as a fun way to make an important point.

“While we may be singing some light-hearted carols today, we hold deep concerns about the lack of action in WA to prevent the worst climate impacts.

“WA has major expansions of the gas industry on the cards, while at the same time the International Energy Agency this year called for no “new fossil fuel supply projects” and the IPCC modelling requires an immediate decline in the use of gas to keep within a 1.5 °C temperature rise.

“How then is it morally responsible to forge ahead with expansions of the gas industry? When will the WA Government draw the line and stop approving new fossil fuel developments?”

The Uniting Church have always held particular concerns about the most vulnerable in the community as well as minimising impacts on the environment.

Susy Thomas, Moderator of the Uniting Church WA said, “How can we justify to our children, to the people of the Pacific, to the vulnerable in our community who will continue to suffer through heatwaves and other weather extremes, that it is morally ok to expand a practice we know is going to cause harm?”

Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia, said that, “Perth plays host to head offices for some of the biggest polluters in the country. It is disturbing to us and to many Western Australians that, on the back of international climate talks, Woodside have announced their plans to open a huge new gas field.”

The group said they were encouraged by the recent news that the WA Government are soon to set 2030 targets for its own activities, particularly in relation to emissions from the South West Grid. However, the group fears that any gains made in reducing emissions will be simultaneously undermined if approval is also given to open new fossil fuel developments like Woodside’s Scarborough gas proposal.

Ann Zubrick said, “We are here today to show that people of all stripes in our community take the climate crisis really seriously. We are representatives from diverse faith groups and we, along with many Western Australians, want to see our state become a global leader in renewable energy, not a laggard of fossil fuel expansion.

“We have already seen with fires and floods what happens when the science of climate change is not heeded.”

“By contrast, we’ve seen during this pandemic that good outcomes are achieved when scientific advice is followed, but when governments do the wrong thing it’s the poor who are hurt the most.”

Geoffrey Bice

5 minutes with… Rev Dr Andrew Williams

Rev Dr Andrew Williams will be the new General Secretary of the Uniting Church WA, beginning his role on 1 January 2022. From his current role as General Secretary of the Northern Synod, he spends 5 minutes with Revive to introduce himself.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about ministry – I have been in ministry all my adult life and it has been the driving force and constant reference point that I can hold on to. Also, I like riding my bike. It has been a good day when I ride my bike and at the moment that is far too infrequent.

Who do you look up to?   

I would name St Francis of Assisi as top of the list; he is a constant source of inspiration. It was a high point in life to visit Assisi a few years ago.

Second would be Desmond Tutu. I first encountered him in 1987 at a NCYC (National Christian Youth Convention) in Ballarat. I was left with the impression that being a minister was a good life choice. Every subsequent meeting with him has left me equally inspired.

How would you describe your journey in ministry?

Convoluted is the first word that comes to mind! WA will be the fourth Synod I’ve worked in, as well as two stints in overseas roles. I often say I could not have written the script of my life that worked out this way. Local church ministry, Synod roles, General Secretary roles and overseas mission engagement work – it has been varied to say the least. I have seen the world, and I have always had the feeling that one role has led on to the next and I could build on experiences learned.

What are your hopes for your time as General Secretary for the Uniting Church WA?

This is the hardest question. I will need to get to know the Synod and earn people’s trust. Our moment in the church is difficult on many fronts – a reality which has been brought home to me as I have undertaken the interim General Secretary role here in the Northern Synod. I hope that the church can reclaim some boldness rather than stagnating or merely marking time.

That will need courage. I hope to find a courageous, risk-taking church in WA.

Perth faith groups join global demonstration for climate justice

Increasingly impatient that governments, corporations, and financial institutions have not addressed the climate crisis despite decades of warnings from scientists and mounting climate impacts, the Uniting Church WA joined with the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and diverse faith communities around the globe in a co-ordinated action under the banner of Faiths 4 Climate, in October.

Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia joined the Western Australian branch of ARRCC as they gathered outside the office of Federal Member

for Swan, Hon Steve Irons MP. Supporters in Bunbury also gathered outside the office of the Federal Member for Forrest, Hon Nola Marino MP.

“We have already seen with fires and floods what happens when the science of climate change is not heeded,” Ann said.

“By contrast, we’ve seen during this pandemic that good outcomes are achieved when scientific advice is followed but, when governments do the wrong thing, it’s the poor who are hurt the most.

“Climate scientists are urging the strongest action possible to mitigate climate change, hence our call for much stronger action by 2030. Governments like Australia’s need to wake-up out of their complacency.”

Geoff Bice, Executive Officer: Social Justice for the Uniting Church WA and President of ARRCC WA said, “Western Australia needs to play its part in reducing emissions too. There have been some encouraging developments in renewable energy, but the State Government seems to avoid talking about emissions from the gas industry which is by far our biggest polluter.”

The action in Perth was part of a global series of events organised by the GreenFaith International Network, a global, multi-faith alliance. Actions took place all over the world, including in New York City, London, Jakarta and Sydney.

The worldwide action gave voice to a set of demands developed by grassroots people of faith which surpassed those included in a statement issued by the Vatican and high-level religious leaders on 4 October.

These demands include: an immediate end to new fossil fuel projects and tropical deforestation; universal access to renewable energy; policies creating green jobs and a just transition for impacted workers and communities; support for those forced to migrate due to climate impacts; and reparations from countries and industries responsible for the lion’s share of historic greenhouse gas emissions.

Over 200 high-level faith leaders and 100 religious groups representing more than 100 million members have signed onto these demands.

Find out more about ARRCC WA on their Facebook page.

Hospitality fundraiser for the IDPC – Leeming Uniting Church

The Uniting Church WA International Partnerships and Development Commission (IDPC) is engaged with four key partners: in West Papua, Timor Leste, West Timor, and Sri Lanka.

During COVID-19, all the partners have had to adapt to the crisis to promote health advice, support access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and basic sanitation and hygiene, as well as support access to emergency food supplies due to broken supply lines. With the impact of COVID-19 on our international partner churches, there was a call for more support.

Leeming Uniting Church responded by donating the money from our annual fundraising dinner to be held in February to this worthy cause. The congregation also agreed to match all money raised dollar for dollar.  Sadly, due to a COVID-19 shutdown this was postponed to later in the year. Due to the need for urgent funds, Leeming donated $2 500 in anticipation of raising that amount. 

The event was eventually held on Saturday 9 October with Rev Brian Thorpe and Lyn Callaghan, members  of the IDPC, speaking at our service prior to that, inspiring us with stories of IDPC projects.

At our annual fundraising dinner, held at Leeming Uniting Church member’s Shirl and Roy Francis’ home, we normally aim for 60 guests where we serve a three-course meal with alternate plate drops. We ask for a minimum donation which is collected on an honour basis. With raffles and the generosity of those attending who enjoy their meal and are willing to pay more, we are usually able to raise a generous amount of money. 

Although this is a fundraiser it is also an opportunity for us to build relationships with those in the community as we invite our friends, family and neighbours to share a meal with us. A team of volunteers under the co-ordination of Shirl Francis work hard to make this happen. We have chop-slice-dicers, those who help set-up, those who plate up, serve, clean-up and of course those who spend the time to invite their friends – as without that we would not raise much money. 

Our attendance numbers were down to 41 in October due to many various circumstances. All we could do was place it in God’s hands and hope that we could raise the $2 500 already gifted.

God never disappoints. Despite our low numbers we exceeded all expectations and made a profit of just over $3 200. This means that the IDPC can expect the balance of about $3 900 shortly.

Thank you to all those that attended and helped, and to Brian, Jan and Lyn who volunteered to help serve. Never underestimate the gift of hospitality. God can use that in a powerful way.

Aussie Divinity Candy

Christmas is just around the corner! This Australian version of an American treat makes for great, sugary homemade gifts, or addition to the Christmas spread.

The ‘Divinity’ candy is believed to have originated in the south of the United States of America as early as 1915, when corn syrup started to become widely used as a substitute for sugar.

It’s unclear where the name came from, but a popular theory is that when first tasted it was declared to be ‘devine’. We invite you to make up this sweet treat and experience the sugar rush for yourselves! 

Ingredients (makes 16):

1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups castor sugar

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup glucose syrup

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

1/2 cup glace cherries, roughly chopped

rice paper sheets (optional)

Method

Place egg white in bowl and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare mini cupcake tray with mini patty pans, or line the bottom of a loaf pan with rice paper, cutting to fit.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, and glucose syrup; bring to the boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 146°C.  Just before the temperature is reached, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff peaks form.

Slowly add hot sugar mixture in a thin stream over egg white, beating constantly and scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add vanilla. Beat until mixture holds its shape, about 5-6 minutes. (Do not overmix or mixture will get stiff and crumbly.) Immediately fold in macadamias and cherries.

Quickly drop heaped teaspoons onto prepared patty pans. Let stand at room temperature until dry to the touch. Store between baking paper in an airtight container at room temperature. If using rice paper, pour into prepared pan. Press firmly into the base. 

Top with the remaining rice paper sheet. Set aside in a cool, dry place for 4 hours to set. Turn candy onto a chopping board and cut into 3cm squares to serve.

Alternative:

Use chopped Turkish Delight and pistachios instead of cherries and macadamia nuts.

We want to share your recipe! If you have a recipe you’d like to share, send it in to  revive@wa.uca.org.au.

Maid

Netflix’s ten-part series Maid is an uncomfortable watch, portraying what feels like a hopeless cycle of poverty and family abuse. While set in America with its very different welfare systems to Australia, the underlying themes of hardship certainly ring true here too.

Adapted from the 2019 memoir of Stephanie Land, the series casts real-life mother and daughter, Andie MacDowell and Margaret Qualley, in what comes across as an honest portrayal of the relentless hard work living in poverty can be.

What struck me about this show was the way it tackled issues around emotional abuse – abuse that doesn’t leave any physical scars. Alex becomes a single mum with a two-year-old daughter after fleeing her abusive boyfriend in the middle of the night. When offered a space at a domestic violence shelter, she is genuinely surprised that her experience is classed as abusive because her boyfriend, Sean, never physically attacked her.

The series explores why women return to abusive partners, without judgement, but with a sensitivity that teaches the viewer compassion and understanding of a highly complex situation.

On top of dealing with an unreliable mother who suffers undiagnosed bipolar disorder, her ex, unstable living conditions, and the laborious work of cleaning rich people’s houses for minimum wage, Alex is met with red tape in the welfare system at every turn.

As soon as she makes some progress in one area, she is knocked back in another. We can literally see her bank balance decline on screen as she makes a purchase or pays a bill, and feel her confusion of legal language as the fate of her daughter’s care rests in the hands of a lawyer and judge who’s fast-talking make for even faster decision-making.

The series does also portray hope, while sparing the viewer of a traditional ‘happily ever after’.

Alex meets some amazing women through a domestic violence shelter she lives in with her daughter who give this story something to hold onto.

While trying not to give too much of the ending away, she also makes friends with a wealthy client after supporting her through her own struggles. Highlighting the all-true concept of ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’, Alex’s hope for a brighter future only begins when her wealthy client offers to help  with legal support.

Maid is beautiful, hard, viewing, which led me to the verge of tears too many times to count.

Heather Dowling

Making room for all the colours of Christmas

What is the colour of your Christmases past? 

As a child, the Christmas colours I recall are mainly green, red and white. There were cards with snowy scenes, holly and evergreen trees and table decorations in these colours.  Most people decorated pine trees. Santas were red and white (influenced by Coca-Cola).

I was still a child when I knew a person who bucked the trend. He had an orange flowering Western Australian Christmas tree, or Moodjar. 

Not everyone approved. It seemed that most people thought we ought to use northern hemisphere – English and North American – colours.

The colours of our Christmases may not suit us as we conform to family expectations or traditions which we might otherwise not follow. 

What colour do you associate with Christmas present? 

For many, Christmas this year is bright. 

In some places, especially where it is celebrated in the shadow of COVID -19, Christmas is muted or dark.

This may affect us if presents do not arrive because of world supply chains and the sheer volume of post and parcels. This may affect us if those dear to us have had a hard time or continue to live with deprivation, uncertainty or consequences of the times that are hard to manage.

I know some for whom a dominant Christmas colour is blue.

‘Blue’ symbolises Christmas being sad or hard, including for those feeling losses keenly or a particular reminder of some distressing experience, such as a gap in our gatherings for Christmas. 

Not everyone finds this a ‘wonderful time of the year’. Over time, a deep blue Christmas may become lighter, yet never stop having a bluish tinge. One Christmas letter I received last year said the person had known over 20 people who had died in 2020.

The message of Christmas is for those for whom Christmas is blue.

What colour do you associate with Christmases yet to come? 

The good news of God’s work is that the season when we celebrate the coming of the light has the power to encompass all the colours of the spectrum. 

At times the colours shift and different ones dominate – that is inevitable. A time that is bright for us may not be bright for everyone around us. John’s gospel reminds us that the light of Christ shines in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it. 

So, we hold to the Christmas hope, peace and joy whenever we can and remember that the core of the season is a message of God’s love for all. This is a gift we can always offer each other.

“Joy to the world… Let every heart prepare him room…”

The love of God which is embodied in Christ and the Christmas stories has a particular focus in the gospel for this year.

For Luke, God was revealed not to the powerful, the confident or comfortable, or people central to social life or the power structures, but to those whom others saw as inferior or not to be included in the circle. 

‘Shepherd’ in some minds in the first century meant ‘unclean,’ dirty, smelly, crooks and cheats, even when the poverty they lived with was beyond their control. In Luke’s story, these are the ones who have a central place. 

There are many ways of experiencing being outside the circle. It may be that our colour doesn’t fit with some others’ expectations, it may be that we feel unable to share what is really going on with us. 

There are many versions of Christmas, many experiences of Christmas. Different versions speak to different people. 

Some enjoy the frills, and some prefer plain. Some may attract us, and some repel. As there are many different colours of Christmas, there are many dimensions to  be explored. 

What about you?

We are invited to come with hearts prepared to make room – for the joy – and for whatever is real for us, whatever colour or combination of colours are ours this year.  Making room means allowing for God to reveal new dimensions of Christmas to us.

Rev Ian Tozer