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

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

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