We’ll take families out of detention, West Australians offer

Western Australian churches and leading non-government care organisations have offered support and housing in the community for families with infants being held in offshore detention, following reports of desperate mothers self-harming and attempting suicide on Christmas Island, and offers like this being made by organisations in Queensland and South Australia.

Organisations including the Anglican Diocese of Perth, the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, the Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD), and the Salvation Army have written to the Minister of Immigration to make this offer. The organisations have joined with other not for profits in Australia who are making this sort of proposal offering to house and support detained families with young children, allowing them to live in the Australian community while their claims are processed.

The Acting Moderator of the Uniting Church in Western Australia, Rev Ken Williams said, “We must always remember that asylum seekers are human like us. We find it deeply concerning that nearly 1000 children remain in detention and yet both major parties remain unmoved in their position on asylum seekers. What we are saying today is that alternatives are available. Detention is no place for any child and as a first step towards the release of all people in dehumanising detention, we offer to care for families with newborns and infants.”

At least 71 children have been born in Australia to women seeking asylum. Some mothers are brought to the mainland to give birth before being returned to off-shore detention, while others in the on-shore network have been deported to Christmas Island with their young babies.Continue Reading

Education journeys in the North West

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Just four weeks before this edition of ‘Revive’ went to print, Gail Cresswell packed up her things in Margaret River, in WA’s south west, and moved to Mowanjum, a remote Aboriginal  community in the north of WA on the outskirts of Derby. With a passion for education in Indigenous communities, she is starting up a Montessori program for kids under three.

Montessori is an alternative form of education that encourages independence by creating an environment for children to learn at their own pace. Gail said that the system focuses  heavily on learning by observation and involves lots of one-on-one interaction. “It’s about each child,” she said. “It’s a learning journey for each child.”

“It’s about the kids learning to be resilient and learning to be responsible to themselves.”

It is also a system that has been highly successful in Indigenous communities around Australia. Towards the end of August, Gail and her assistant, Daphne Gilbey, a member of the  Mowanjum community, will be attending the Thursday Island Montessori Summit where they’ll be exploring the benefits of the Montessori approach in Indigenous cultures. Continue Reading

Attacks on innocent civilians in Israel conflict must stop

International humanitarian and development organisation ACT Alliance and Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, have condemned the attacks on civilians and called on the international community to act immediately to stop the escalating violence between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. The alliance is calling for an urgent ceasefire, followed by intensive diplomatic intervention involving all parties including the international community, to deal with the actual causes of  the conflict. The call comes as the world witnesses the worst violence between Israel and Palestine in recent years. More than 500 people have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured with over 900,000 being displaced from their homes.Continue Reading

UnitingCare West celebrates 8 years

On 1 July 2014, UnitingCare West will celebrate its Founding Day and 8th Anniversary with an all staff and volunteer day. The event is a chance for all of those involved with  UnitingCare West to reflect on the work that has been achieved over the last year, and to celebrate the progress and growth the organisation has experienced since it commenced  operations as a newly formed community service agency of the Uniting Church in Western Australia back in 2006. Continue Reading

Forming a faith in new times

John Roberto, author of Faith Formation 20/20 and president of Lifelong Faith Associates, is coming to Perth in August to share his experiences, insights and ideas on faith formation.

John has a lifetime of knowledge in faith formation for kids, teenagers, young-adults and older adults. Faith formation is not just something that happens at the beginning of coming to  faith, it is an evolving process throughout a person’s life. He says that in the 21st Century we are in exciting times for faith formation, even though churches can be disconnected  because of rapid changes that have taken place over the last few decades. Because of these changes, many churches are operating in a world which is no longer relevant to a lot of  people. Continue Reading

Freo fiesta welcomes refugees

An energetic crowd took to the streets of Fremantle last weekend to show their support and welcome for asylum seekers and refugees in Australia.

The Refugee Fiesta, held on the Fremantle Esplanade on Sunday 15 June, was a family friendly affair with speakers, food, music and activities. Organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network (RRAN), the Uniting Church in WA joined other organisations such as Amnesty International,  Coalition for Refugees Asylum Seekers and Detainees (CARAD), Mercy Care, the Anglican Church Diocese of WA and Friends of Palestine as they showed their support.Continue Reading

Blowing in the wind

Can you see the wind? Maybe not. But can you see the effects of the wind? Can you feel the wind? In your hair or on your arms and face? During Pentecost, Christian’s celebrate the  Holy Spirit in their lives.

The Holy Spirit keeps us connected with Jesus and God. Living within us, the Holy Spirit inspires us to do things in the name of God. Many people find that the Holy Spirit comforts and helps them. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit can be compared to wind. In fact, in the Greek language, the same word, ‘pneuma’, is used for both wind and spirit. In John 3:8 it says, “The  wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”Continue Reading

Moments between you, God and the country

The sun is setting, the camp fire crackles and the silent wilderness surrounds. As a group sit around the fire they share stories, experiences and get to know each other through honest  conversation.

The annual Wilderness Retreat, from 6 –12 August, is a week including times of solitude, sharing and exploring spirituality in the open spaces of Shark Bay.Organised by  First Third and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress WA, the retreat is a time to get away from the stresses of life and get back to basics. Continue Reading

Hope and hardship: the gift of clean water

Two weeks ago I was in Papua New Guinea visiting a UnitingWorld water and sanitation project in a picturesque village at the eastern-most point of the mainland. Whenever I travel, I  always find it quite jarring to see such beauty and such struggle co-existing together. The people of Papua New Guinea are strong and resilient, their country one of the most beautiful  and resource-rich in the world. Yet, we’ve heard much in the Australian media recently of their many challenges. While the tension between hope and hardship may be an ongoing  reality for humanity, the lives of many of our Papua New Guinean neighbours could easily be improved. Continue Reading

Collective climate action

Rev Dr Jason John has devoted his life to environmental issues with university degrees in zoology and environmental studies. Add in an ordination and you  have a ministry with a passion to care for creation.

With a PhD in evolution, ecology and theology, Jason is well equipped as the keynote speaker at the upcoming God of Sea and Sky conference, this July. Eco-theology may sound like a  relatively new term to some, but Jason says the concept isn’t new – it’s just new to us as a culture born post-industrial revolution.

“Eco-theology, or eco-faith, is primarily the reminder that there are these very strong links between our relationship with our creator and our relationship with creation,” he said. “In  a sense, it’s not something new. It’s a reminder of something we’ve forgotten.”

There are plenty of references in the Bible to do with caring for creation, and many cultures – regardless of religion – did so for thousands of years. In our modern world, however, we  seem to have lost the way. It’s the creation story that Jason wants to shake up. He believes we have a new creation story: one where God is present throughout evolution and one  where humans, as we know them now, are not the end goal. In his book, Worshipping  Evolution’s God, Jason explains how science has taught us that life has existed billions of years  before us, and will exist for billions of years after we’re gone.Continue Reading