Encouraging swift and peaceful action

The abduction of more than 250 young women by the Boko Haram fighters in Nigeria has prompted “profound concern” from the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary, Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. In his letter to Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, Olav, encouraged “swift and peaceful” action to restore these students back to their homes.

The letter from the WCC general secretary was issued on Monday, 5 May. “This tragic situation is devastating not only to the immediate community, but also to all Nigerians praying and working for peace. It touches the World Council of Churches directly, as many who have lost their daughters are members of our church families in Nigeria,” said Olav.

Assuring the WCC’s support to the Nigerian government, Rev Dr Tveit said that the WCC is ready to assist in “mobilising the inter-religious and international communities to seek effective and peaceful means towards safely restoring these students to their homes, loved ones and communities.”

Sport, faith and friendship

This winter sees a new camp arrive in Perth. Sports Plus is a six-day specialist sports coaching camp for school students in years 7–12 who love competitive sport. The camp will offer  high quality coaching while getting young people to consider the Christian faith and what it looks like to be a Christian in the sporting world.

Organised by the Churches of Christ Sport and Recreation Association, Sports Plus will also promote mateship – standing shoulder to shoulder through the joy and challenges of sport.  God created us to be in relationships. Sport has always done just that: drawn people together. 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

Nonviolence on the streets

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On Wednesday 16 April a group of 11 Christian leaders from a range of denominations were arrested in Subiaco, Perth. Their crime? Speaking up for over  1,000 children who are held in indefinite detention in Australia. Otherwise known as trespassing.

The group, including Paul Montague, First Third specialist for the Metro South Region of the Uniting Church in WA, were arrested in the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, as they prayed and asked for a response to the question: why are kids in detention?

A similar event was also held in Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s office a few weeks prior, and just days before going to print, two nonviolent sit-ins were held resulting in  arrest, one in Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office, the other in the office of the leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. Included in these arrests was the moderator of the New South  Wales/Australian Capital Territory Synod, Rev Dr Brian Brown, past president of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Alistair Macrae, and three more Uniting Church ministers. 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