Learning, leading and passing it on

The chamber is full of representatives from countries located all over the globe. They mingle about the room, negotiating amendments to Resolution 2155  of the United Nations (UN) Security Council: The question of the rules of war. A young man with a suit and pony tail announces it is time to sit back down for the debate, and a representative from China stands and puts forth her case.

I’m sitting in the Legislative Assembly at Parliament House of Western Australia where 15 teams from schools across WA, including three teams from Presbyterian Ladies’ College  (PLC) a Uniting Church in WA school, battle it out in the finals for UN Youth’s Evatt competition – a model UN debate. Sam Herriman, a 19-year-old media and communications  student from the University of Western Australia, strolls around the room making sure everything is running smoothly and occasionally collects notes from members of the Council. Continue Reading

Could you eat like a refugee?

Burmese people have lived through decades of conflict. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homeland for neighbouring Thailand and now live in refugee camps along the Thailand– Burma border. Some have been living in the camps for decades.

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, works in the Thai/Burma border refugee camps and is challenging Australians to make a difference to the lives of these refugees. In a new initiative called the ‘Act for Peace Ration Challenge’ they are asking  members of the Uniting Church and communities around Australia to eat the same rations as a refugee from Burma during Refugee Week, 15-21 June, and get sponsored for doing it. Continue Reading

Celebrate the Harvest

Kids’ Camp Out (KCO) was all about celebrating the harvest this year, with children from all over WA coming together to spend time with their congregations and get to know people  from others. In a relaxed atmosphere, campers, junior leaders and leaders enjoyed a weekend of craft, games, Godly Play storytelling, worship and singing. The Feast, held on the  Saturday night with an extended welcome to people of all ages, was a vibrant celebration made all the more fun by the Byford Footprints Band who entertained dancing guests into the  evening.Continue Reading

Rugs for hugs

After receiving a rug while cold and studying interstate, Genevieve Blair decided she could help others who also needed a warm hug through her Rugs for Hugs program. Her initiative  has led her to win the Caring in the Community award at the 2013 Young People Who Care Awards. 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

Religion and spirituality: Finding God within

“I don’t go to church – I’m spiritual, but I’m not religious.”

It’s a phrase often heard and it’s being heard more and more. Research from the National Church Life Survey (NCLS) found that 44.6% of respondents to the 2009 Australian Survey of  Social Attitudes believed that there is something beyond this life that makes sense of it all. Of this, 24% have no religious affiliation.

So what does that mean exactly? As Dr Val Webb, theologian and author, explains, it’s a little hard to define – mostly because the term ‘spiritual’ is so full of baggage. Continue Reading

Challenging the language of fear

When we think about what we are scared of, what comes to mind? Debt? Crime? Death?

Dr Keith Suter, managing director of Global Directions and Uniting Church member, is a leader in global thought and a member of arguably  the most prestigious global think tank in the world, the Club of Rome. While you may not realise it, he believes that many Australians are  fearful of invasion. Continue Reading

Cipto: The love of Christ through peaceful action

 

The Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) Perth, a Uniting Church congregation in Mosmon Park, has much to celebrate at the moment with the commissioning, in December last year, of their new minister, Rev Ciptamartalu Sapangi.

Rev Ciptamartalu Sapangi comes to Perth from Bardung, Indonesia, with many years experience, including building interfaith relationships in Indonesia’s multi-faith society. 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

Wall of destruction

As I was about to complete high school, I remember watching footage and seeing photos of jubilant people clambering over what was once the Berlin Wall and taking chunks of cement as souvenirs. At the time I did not understand what this really meant for the people of Germany or what they had been through in the previous four decades. My recollection is only the smiles of joy and the moments of reconciliation. Little did I know that, in my life time, I would see another wall, twice as high and four times longer, constructed for similar reasons in another part of the world. In my travels to Israel and Palestine Territories last August I saw the monstrous wall of separation and heard stories of its impact upon the people.Continue Reading