Sam Dinah, prison chaplain and member of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) recently conducted a smoking ceremony at Scarborough Uniting Church. Ben Tanner, congregation member, said, “It was a very moving ceremony and had the congregation examining their thoughts on the place of our Aboriginal brothers in our church and society today. Our love and prayers are for Sam and the work he has committed himself to at the prisons.”
While the congregation at Dowerin Uniting Church may be low in numbers, Shirley Hagboom, member of the congregation, is a life-giving member of the community – a ‘go-to-girl’ for spiritual needs.
Shirley is the chaplain for two days a week at the local school, Dowerin District High School, but said that her role reaches well beyond those walls. Often, while she is out running errands around town, people approach her in the street to talk about things which are troubling them.
“I thoroughly enjoy being chaplain,” she said. “It’s not always at the school site; it could be down the road. You just never know when God is going to use you. God uses us as a conduit to help people.”
These meetings in the street occur so often that Shirley has started packing a ‘chaplaincy grab bag’ which is full of pamphlets and bits of information that might be helpful to people she meets while out and about.
‘I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance’. (John 10.10)
‘What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.’ (John 1.1)
What is it about what we know of Jesus’ life that some of the closest people around him made these sorts of claims? That he ‘gave life’; that his ways among people were ‘lifegiving’? And of course within this, remembering that some of the more powerful and influential people around him experienced him as death-dealing. One of the most poignant and paradoxical stories of Jesus’ life as a life-giver is the story of his time in the wilderness – a place symbolically devoid of life – and the spiritual and physical challenges he faced there. The stories depict Jesus emerging from there ready for ‘life’. These truths or wisdoms now forged deeply within his soul, undergirded a way of life by which he ‘gave life’. These were not easily come by.
Is it possible that in the place of death-dealing wilderness, Jesus learned the secrets of ‘life-giving’? Contemplating the profound questions of sustenance, the nature of relationship and spirit? Are these the questions we must contemplate when considering what might be life-giving for our souls, and where and how we search for that? And what might come from ways of being in our spirits, being in our relationships and being in the world that are life-giving?
Uniting Church leaders from across Australia are joining interfaith and ecumenical friends today in a statement of solidarity with Australia’s Muslim community.
Uniting Church in Australia President Rev Prof Andrew Dutney is one of more than 150 faith and community leaders who’ve signed on to a declaration that “We’ll Love Muslims 100 Years.”
The statement is a reference to the banner headline in the Weekend Australian on 9 August “We’ll Fight Islam 100 Years.”
“Recent public statements and media coverage about Muslim-Australians in some sections of the Australian media have been inflammatory and divisive,” said Andrew.
“In our multi-faith society, Jesus’ call to love your neighbour means that Christians are called to meet, befriend and care about our neighbours who are Muslim.”
“Because of this, we can’t just stand by if they are unfairly insulted or marginalised.”
This year, Nedlands Uniting Church, in partnership with Mt Pleasant and Billabong Uniting Churches, embarked on the 28th annual State Youth Games. State Youth Games is run by Youth Vision (Churches of Christ WA) and is a sporting weekend for young adults aged 16-28. The Uniting Churches (known as ‘The U-Team’) took over 30 competitors to Bunbury for the annual June long weekend event. Tournaments are held in a range of sports including netball, soccer and basketball, as well as genuine sports such as Uno, chess, dodge ball and even tenpin bowling.
The U-Team placed 9th out of 20 different churches and were among the smallest teams in the top ten. We placed first in four events and in the top five in a total of eight events. We finished first in badminton and indoor soccer for the second time in our four years of attending, as well as first in tenpin bowling for the fourth consecutive year. We also won the inaugural orienteering competition.
Church groups in Western Australia have called upon the Hon Bill Marmion, Mines and Petroleum Minister to embrace renewable energies instead of thinking of uranium as the fuel of the future. The group said Mr Marmion’s recent comment was ill-informed and dangerous. All of the groups have expressed deep and abiding concerns about the social and environmental costs of uranium mining and the nuclear industry into which Western Australia’s uranium would be sent.
Spokesperson for the group Rosemary Hudson Miller, Associate General Secretary Justice and Mission, Uniting Church in Western Australia said, “Nuclear technologies that utilise non-renewable resources such as uranium, while at the same time producing toxic by-products that have been proven to interfere with human and ecosystem health, are not a sustainable way of providing energy for human consumption. Renewable energy technologies need to be given primacy instead.
Mukinbudin Uniting Church will be celebrating their 50th anniversary while also welcoming Rev John McKane as the new minister to the Eastern Wheatbelt Parish, which also includes Merredin, Bruce Rock and Southern Cross Uniting Churches.
Well before the union of the three churches which formed the Uniting Church, the Congregational and Presbyterian Churches were already worshipping together in Mukinbudin. Rev Terry Tero, the minister at the time, used to take services in the local Country Women’s Association (CWA) building, before encouraging the congregation to build their own church in 1964.
The church was named ‘Mukinbudin Pioneer Church.’ A Sunday School hall was built in 1973 to cater for a number of young families that were attending. The congregation are now looking forward to welcoming Rev John McKane. John, his wife Bronwyn and his two young children will be arriving in Australia from South Africa, where he has been the minister at Linden Presbyterian Church, Johannesburg. He was ordained in the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa around 15 years ago and has had a connection to our land prior to his move, his father being Australian.
Bob French, from the Eastern Wheatbelt Parish is looking forward to the fresh new faces in the region.
“It’ll be the first time that we’ve had a minister with school-age children in a long time,” he said.
The induction and anniversary service will be held at Mukinbudin Uniting Church on Sunday 24 August. Past and present ministers and members are invited to commemorate the occasion.
Top image: The assembled community for the opening of Mukinbudin Pioneer Church in 1964.