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

Volunteers Making History

Every Monday and Friday, the Uniting Church Archives Centre comes alive. The front doorbell rings, volunteers arrive, archive materials are brought out and their contents spread across working tables, the rhythm of keyboard clicks punctuates the air, telephones ring – and laughter and camaraderie echo across the Centre.

At the core of this simmering activity are volunteers – Betty, Reg, John, Nancy, Joan, Julie, Di, Linley and Brian – who, led by Marissa Krajcar, Archivist and Archives Co-ordinator, manage and drive the organisation and preservation of Western Australian Uniting Church materials and objects for posterity.
Many of the team have been volunteering together for over 10 years, some for 30 years, and several still remember when the Archives Centre was located at Westminster House on Pier Street. Since then, and after a grand move co-ordinated by many of the volunteers who still help out today – the Archives are housed in spacious, purpose-created premises in the Uniting Church Centre on Edward Street, Perth.

The Archives Centre receives and collects materials and artefacts associated with the Uniting Church, its agencies, schools and former missions in Western Australia. On a regular basis, records and items which are no longer in use are sent in for depositing from church ministers, congregations and other affiliates. Some materials at the Centre are contemporary in nature and others much, much older – dating back from the Church’s origins in the Swan River colony, its existence as separate Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches, Union as the Uniting Church in 1977- right up to the present day.

A browse of the Centre’s dedicated library and display cabinets reveal a fascinating array of collectables, including vintage bibles, published biographies on Church founders, original history books, vintage hymn books, local Church histories and books on the institutions of the Church.

The Archives volunteer team researches and identifies materials of significance, prepares them for archiving, then categorises, collates, digitises and registers the information as required. The diverse range of items coming through the Centre over the years include: birth, marriage and death certificates, church baptismal rolls, wedding registers, parish newsletters, minute books, annual reports, journals, diaries, local
church histories, church title deeds, architectural plans, sheet music, vintage Bibles, old handwritten letters, historic photos, and artefacts such as stained-glass windows, vestments and antique communion trays.

Every year the Archives Centre sends an annual deposit of archival materials to the Battye Library, the repository for documentary heritage material relating to the history of Western Australia. This year, volunteers produced some 17 boxes of history to add to the Uniting Church’s Collection at the Library – the largest private collection. The Collection is open to any researcher, however some records have restricted access due to personal and sensitive reasons and until enough time has elapsed for them to be accessible to the wider community.

Whilst the Archives Centre is not open to the public, except by special request, Archives Co-ordinator,
Marissa explained, “We receive all sorts of enquiries by phone or email from interested persons – for family history records, for information on the architecture of our historic church buildings and their pipe organs, and to help identify documents. The public and church community have also assisted our appeals on social media to identify bygone buildings and people in photos.”

“We are proud to be part of such a wonderful enterprise,” said Betty Pearson, Archives volunteer researcher. “Over the years, volunteers have come from a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Some of us are motivated by a love of history or genealogy, others by our long association with the Uniting Church and wanting to remain of service and others by the longstanding friendships we have formed here.” Current and former volunteers include retired ordained ministers, librarians, schoolteachers, a headmaster, an electrician, an economist, lay preachers, secretaries and writers. “Many bring with them a detailed knowledge and background of Uniting churches from all over the state because they have attended a church at one location as a child; and then as an adult, have gone on to worship at Uniting churches in other places,” Betty finished.

Over the years, the Archives Centre has worked with WAGS (the WA Genealogical Society, now called Family History WA),the WA Newspapers, Redress WA and the Battye Library. Some major projects included: creating a digitised record of more than 72,000 baptisms from 1840 to 1999; Archive volunteers assisting at the WA Newspapers to identify and list old photographs relating to the Church; assisting the Battye Library to accession archival material that the Church has deposited there; and a more recent
project of one year to record names of children who had lived at former missions of the Church.

In this edition of Revive, we acknowledge volunteers and contributors to the Archives, both past and present – for their dedication and commitment to document, shape and preserve the history of the Uniting Church. “We would like to thank all individual volunteers, previous voluntary committees, former
honorary archivists and others who have contributed to the success of the Archives Centre,” said Marissa. “Without their determination, commitment and creativity over the years, we could not have succeeded.”

Tracey Paul

A Special Memory of Betty Matthews

Kalamunda Uniting Church was recently privileged to hold the memorial service to celebrate the life of Rev. Betty Matthews – her own church, St Martin’s Forrestfield, being seen as too small to cope.

Indeed, the Kalamunda Church was packed! Those attending heard eulogies from her son, her grandchildren, her friends in the Deacon community, a representative from YWCA, and a wonderful speaker who had been a refugee from Africa. The Tongan community spoke lovingly of Betty and then sang, a cappella, a very moving song.  (There may have been other speakers as the Zoom recording I viewed a few days later was incomplete.)

We heard of Betty’s passionate involvement with an enormous range of pursuits such as refugee advocate, YWCA executive director, very efficient organiser of conferences of all sorts of groups and, above all, a deacon, a role she had over many decades.

Betty worked very much in tandem with her husband, Rev. Alan Matthews. Both were committed to seeking justice, building bridges, seeking the truth.

A phrase used during the service, summing up so much of Betty’s motivation in life was “seeking the transformation of our broken world”. In following in the footsteps of Christ, this was her aim.

I well remember Betty and Alan doing something most ministers of religion would avoid like the plague! They organised a political meeting in the lead-up to a Federal Election, probably 2010!

Organisational skills were very evident. All candidates were invited and all attended at a small Forrestfield venue. The public was invited to meet their candidates and ask questions.  There was standing room only. This event had the potential to be truly incendiary!

Those attending were encouraged to write on paper the questions they wanted to be answered. These were collected and while the eight candidates each gave a short, timed summary of their lives, the questions were sorted into themes.

Alan then read out the question and again each candidate gave a strictly timed answer. The mood was surprisingly respectful probably in deference to the elderly couple who were the organisers.

We went home pleased to have seen and heard from all our Hasluck candidates.

It was only later I thought, “How on earth did Betty and Alan Matthews pull that off so successfully”.

 It was just one of their efforts to seek truth, seek justice, build bridges and assist in the transformation of our broken world.

Well done, Betty. Alan, you can be proud of your joint achievements.

The link for the Zoom recording of Betty’s Memorial Service is available from Kalamunda Uniting Church.

Marcia Maher

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.

Ministry Expo 2022 – Is God Calling you to Ministry?

Ministry Expo is back again in 2022 with a bang and promises to be both an inspirational and informative event to explore God’s calling on your life and the interesting options and opportunities to express it through the Uniting Church.

Are you looking for a fulfilling vocation that spreads the Christian gospel of justice, love and hope? Are you feeling called to ministry but don’t know how to make the jump? Have others discerned skills and gifts for ministry in you? Are you curious? Do you want to be inspired? These are all motivating reasons to attend the Expo.

At Ministry Expo you will hear about the pioneering ministries of the Uniting Church in Australia, a church known for its work in social justice and community care. As well, you will meet others who have walked and are walking the path to ministry. You will hear about the different expressions of ministry in the Uniting Church such as: Minister of the Word, Deacon, lay leader, Pastor and Lay Preacher. You will also learn more about the journey to Ministry, including preparation, theology study, training options and a lot, lot more.

Ministry Expo 2022 is on from 7.00-9.00pm on Thursday 28 April at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 182 Bennett Street Perth. Attendance is free but registration is needed for COVID and catering purposes. If participants are not able to attend the Expo in person, the event will also be available via Zoom. To register, email candidates.ministry@wa.uca.org.au and request the Zoom link also if you need it.

The exciting programme is below.

Welcome to St Andrews – Rev Sione Lea’aetoa

MC and Opening Prayer and Acknowledgement of Country – Rev Bev Fabb

Presenters

What is the role of a Minister of the Word? – Rev Ruth Vertigan

What is the role of a Deacon? – Rev Andy Broadbent

What is the role of a lay leader? – Sophie Li

What is the role of a Pastor? – Pastor Marilyn Price

What is the role of a Lay Preacher? – Doug Burtenshaw

What is involved in doing a Period of Discernment? – Mike Roberts

What is involved in preparing for ordained ministry? – Samuel Annan

What are the options for studying theology? – Rev Dr Anne Wright

What is it like moving from another church into the UCA? – Rev Rob Douglas

Questions are welcome after each presentation

Closing Prayer                                                                                                                                                  

Supper will be served!

 

For more information, visit the Candidating for Ministries webpage at Candidating for Ministry – Uniting Church WA

On this webpage you will find:

  • A series of videos about a range of ministries in the Uniting Church.
  • The Period of Discernment Handbook- which explains what is involved in a POD and includes the registration form for a POD
  • The Lay Preacher Handbook- which explains how to apply to become a candidate for the ministry of Lay Preacher and what education and formation is involved.
  • The Application to Candidate Handbook- which explains how to apply to become a candidate for one of the ordained ministries.

A Chat with Pepe Halatau, Worship Leader of the Tapu Niue Faith Community

After the Welcoming Service for the Tapu Niue Faith Community last Sunday at Gosnells Uniting Church, Pepe Halatau, Worship Leader, shared with us her journey of faith and Church.

I still remember the year I arrived in Australia from Niue. It was 1998. It’s hard to believe that it is now almost 24 years ago.

Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world’s largest coral islands and I can confirm it is as stunningly beautiful as it looks in pictures.

I settled in well in Australia but soon found myself longing for connection with family, the community and the culture I enjoyed back in Niue. Fortunately, I met other Niue people in my area who felt the same and we decided to form a community group for socials and other events. Amidst all of this, the one thing we seemed to lack was a spiritual gathering. It was then, in 2014, that we decided to meet up for Church meetings.

We had no idea how to conduct our Church meetings. Lucky for us, Niue elder, Tina Siakimotu Versteeg, stepped in. We couldn’t have done it without her. She introduced a worship format, the lectionary and prayer calendar to our meetings. Sadly, Tina is now late but we cherish her memory and hold her deep in our hearts.

We started meeting at the Gosnells RSL Hall and continued there for a few years. It was not easy. We did not have powerpoint facilities and we had to set-up and pack away after each service. It was a lot of work but we felt we had a purpose and connection, so we continued. I became Tina’s assistant. In retrospect, this was quite extraordinary because whilst I was a young Christian, later on I was a bit of a rebel and going to Church was not a priority. Now here I was reconnecting again with my faith.

In July 2018, a meeting was held at Dome Café in Gosnells between elder Tina, leaders of our Niue community and the Uniting Church’s multi-cultural representatives, Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama and Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, to discuss the possibility of a deeper, more formal relationship with the Uniting Church. We followed this up with a written request. Rev Bev Fabb, Convenor of the Uniting Church’s Multi-cultural and Cross-cultural Network, put us in touch with the Uniting Church’s Presbytery of Western Australia. We then started preparations to become a Faith Community of the Presbytery. Our Welcoming Service was on Sunday 6 February 2022 at Gosnells Uniting Church.

 

Being a Faith Community of the Uniting Church’s WA Presbytery is truly special. We have better access to resources, training and support. We are not alone and belong to a broader Christian community and network. We have a space at the Gosnells Uniting Church building to grow our church. “Tapu”, by the way, is the Niue name for Church.

I would like to acknowledge the Tapu Niue Working Committee, the elders Poi & Povi Kauhiva, Niue Perth Community who have contributed a lot – without their support we would not have come this far to becoming a faith group. We value the support from the Uniting Church in Australia’s Niue National Conference. I would also like to thank my mentors during this process – my siblings, Rev Falkland Liuvaie and Birtha Togahai, and also the Rev Dr Matagi & Jo Matagi and Elaine Ledgerwood from the Uniting Church WA. Thanks also to the Presbytery of WA. To anyone not mentioned, my heartfelt thanks to you too.

When I look back now, I pinch myself. I remember back in 2014 being tasked with saying the Sunday prayers. I was distressed and sent an urgent email to my cousin in New Zealand to ask her what should I say! We still laugh about it because now I am the Worship Leader of the Tapu Niue Faith Community! You never quite know what God has got planned for you!

 

Note: The Tapu Niue was formed in 2014. In 2018, they approached the Uniting Church to become a recognised Faith Community. After a long period of preparation, the day finally arrived on 6 February to welcome this very special community to the Uniting Church’s Presbytery of Western Australia.

Article by Tracey Paul

A Hopeful Journey Through Homelessness – Josh’s Story

We thank Uniting WA for sharing this article with us.

A personal story – Josh’s journey through homelessness

Josh* spent time as a Uniting WA Beds for Change participant last year.  Beds for Change was a supported transitional accommodation service for people experiencing homelessness which was established during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was so successful that the program now forms part of Uniting WA’s ongoing strategy to address homelessness.

Josh shares his story here.

*****

I was born in a big city and spent the first 2 years of my life there before my family moved states. I then spent my childhood living in regional towns.

I was an only child and my Mum was a single Mum. She was an alcoholic and I had to look after her a lot. Since the age of 10, I used to have to nurse her outside the pub at two in the morning. A lot of the time I was on the street, drinking at a very young age. I wasn’t really socialising with good people and I was taken advantage of a lot. As a result, I don’t put up with anything these days.

When I got a bit older, I got into drugs and had issues there with methamphetamine for a while.  That wasn’t good so I left where I was living and moved states again. I still had drug issues, but it wasn’t as bad. 

Then I moved to be near my grandparents and that kind of sorted me out.  I reconnected with them in early 2020 and I started sharing things with them.  They were really supportive and good about everything, and they helped me out through a lot of the alcohol and drug issues.  They helped me gain more self-confidence – that was my main issue and the main reason I used drugs and alcohol. I don’t drink nowhere near as much now, and I don’t touch drugs anymore.

My grandparents taught me that I can really do anything.  They were hard on me, but I needed it. With them, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was 27 years old when I came over to WA thinking that I had a legitimate job in the South West, but it turned out it wasn’t. The boss wanted to pay me in cash. I had a letter of offer saying that I had a job, but he kept avoiding putting me on the books, so I ended up leaving after three months. That’s how I ended up being homeless in Perth.

I didn’t know anyone in Perth, but I thought my probability of getting ahead with housing and work would be a lot better in Perth than it would be in the South West.

That was the first time I went to Tranby (Uniting WA’s Crisis Support and Engagement Hub).  I came in and let them know what was happening. I was in survival mode and just spent the bare minimum I needed to get by.  I was looking for jobs as well, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless. Every time I applied for a job, I used Tranby as my address and I never got any call backs from anyone because they would figure out I was homeless.

I spoke to the team at Tranby and they told me I could apply for Beds for Change. They helped me get through all of that and I got a place at Beds for Change, re-did my CV and asked them if I could use that as my residential address.  They agreed and two days later, I had a job.

Beds for Change housed me while I started working.  It allowed me the time to save up money so I could then get a share house.  I would also go to Tranby so I could use the computers and the internet for work stuff.

I started doing factory work and then decided I wanted to go to the mines.  I started off doing shutdowns but am working towards full-time work now. I did three of four shutdowns with my employer and then they offered me a probationary period for a permanent job, which I’m doing now.  I work two weeks on, two weeks off and I really like it.

I’m living in a share house at the moment but am looking to move closer to the airport and the city soon. I’m looking for a one-bedroom unit so I can have space and come home to my own things.  I like jiu jitsu and kick boxing, so I’m also looking forward to being able to do a class.

Beds for Change was awesome, it’s a program that should be done more often because it really helps people.  The service was more personal, instead of having a format where ‘this is how it runs’ – it adjusts person to person and understands that everyone’s circumstances are completely different. Instead of just having one program and one model where you’re only going to get a percentage of people who will be able to make it through that model, Beds for Change is more flexible, which it should be – because that’s how life is.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to think back to all the things you’ve done well in your life and remember that you can do it again.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

Fostering a Child through Uniting WA – A Rewarding Experience for All

Our thanks to Uniting WA for this article.

It’s always heart-warming to hear happy news about the children we support at Uniting WA but even more so in the lead up to Christmas. At the end of last year, a 9-year-old child who had been living in a Uniting WA family group home moved into the home of his new foster carer just before Christmas.

The new carer came onboard with Uniting WA after a foster care recruitment campaign, which ran in November and December 2020. The person completed the application and assessment process and was approved to become a foster carer a month or so before Christmas.

At the same time as the carer’s recruitment, it was determined that a foster care placement would be more suitable for the child who needed one-on-one support. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The child and carer were introduced and spent time getting to know one another before moving into the carer’s home.

Their first meeting was held at a park where they played football, and they eventually progressed to visits to the carer’s home. The child fell in love with the carer’s dog and was given their own wooden bed to decorate. The carer and child formed a strong bond, and both asked if the child could move in earlier.

The carer has an interesting background, having worked as a paramedic and teacher, and now as a drug and alcohol counsellor. A calm and nurturing person, the carer is skilled in managing stressful situations and helping people through challenging times – ideal qualities and skills to support the child with a trauma background.

There was much positive collaboration behind the scenes with our Family Group Homes and Foster Care teams, working together to organise meetings and to ensure both parties felt supported through the journey.

Christmas was a special time for the child and carer who enjoyed a family celebration.

Have you ever considered fostering a child with a disability or high support needs? If you’re interested in learning more about foster care placement, please contact Fiona Cafferty on 9355 9149 or at fiona.cafferty@unitingwa.org.au.

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.