Messages from the aether: Beyond your circle

From ‘ordered liberty’ to ‘holy shambles’: a journey in Christian worship
https://andrewfdutney.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/from-ordered-liberty-to-holy-shambles-ajourney-in-christian-worship/

President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney shares his journey, experiences and impressions of the many faces, shapes and forms of Christian worship during his  term as president. He highlights the diversity of communities in which he has led worship and describes how his ‘worship diet’ has evolved from full to rich and spicy. Continue Reading

Papuan students experience WA’s wheatbelt

Eleven students who took part in the Australian Papuan Cultural Exchange Program, hosted at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church, took a weekend away from their studies to travel up to the northern wheatbelt town of Coorow in March and experience some of Australia’s rural lifestyle. The program hosts students from West Papua in Perth while they build up their English skills.

Inez Davies, a member of Coorow All Saints Uniting Church, learnt about the program whilst attending a Summer Spirit event years ago in Perth. The Coorow congregation, a joint Anglican and  Uniting Church, have followed its progress and offered support – this year by hosting the group in their home town for some time out from their busy schedule. The students arrived for  lunch on Saturday 29 March at Inez’s farm, followed by a drive around the property to see some of their crops. Dinner was provided in town by the congregation before an evening of music and  joy.

“We were all just sitting around talking and they all burst into song,” said Inez. “My son took his guitar and he yodelled for them and they were absolutely ecstatic.” Continue Reading

Scarves for a brighter future

Bindy Taylor has seen first-hand the effects of modern day slavery on those working in India’s lucrative clothing production industry. She shares her story with Revive.

My first experience of travelling to India was with a group of 24 women on an eight-day human trafficking educational trip in August 2013. As a group, we travelled to the remote region of  Tamil Nadu, the hub of the estimated $115 billion textile industry in India’s central south region where approximately 2,000 spinning mills employ between 50 and 2,000 workers.

Whilst in  Tamil Nadu I met a group of factory workers who had been employed at local spinning mills. These girls and women shared stories of being coerced into one, two and three year, live-in  employment contracts which found them working in prisonlike conditions, earning less than $4 Australian a day. They were forced to work seven days a week, 16-hours a day with just three  meals, which often consisted of bland, semi-cooked rice.

Their breaks were timed and lateness was greeted with cuts to their already meagre wage. Daily abuse by supervisors, poor health and inhumane living conditions forced the workers to break  their contracts early. At least 80% of factory workers never meet the end of their contracts. This breach results in workers missing out on the lump sum payments promised to them at the  beginning of their employment. These girls and women face uncertain futures with few job options, no modes of transport and little money for basic needs. Continue Reading

A year to give back

Having always wanted to give back to those less fortunate, Jenny and Rowan Berger, members of Victoria Park and Districts Star St Uniting Church, are about to spend 12 months abroad,  putting their skills to good work in Vanuatu. This young couple left Perth in late June to give their time and skills to work with Vanuatu’s local people in the medical industry – Jenny is a  registered nurse, and Rowan is a paramedic.

Working through Medical Santo, a Churches of Christ organisation partnering with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health to build the local capacity for healthcare in Vanuatu, they’ll also be working  on their own project – the Medical Equality and Development (MED) project. After travelling to Vanuatu late last year to volunteer short-term, the couple realised they had so much more they  could offer to help the people of Vanuatu to build up their health system.

The couple, who have been married for two years, have always had a plan to give back.

“We met at a young age and our aim was always, that once we were fully qualified, to go and help people less fortunate than ourselves overseas,” said Jenny. Continue Reading

WA Ecumenical and Inter-faith Award

The Uniting Church in WA Ecumenical and Inter-faith Award will recognise an ecumenical or inter-faith project which has been initiated by a local Uniting Church member, congregation, faith community, school or agency. The award will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Synod and Presbytery, in September this year, with the winning entrant receiving $500 towards  their project.

Dorothy Carey, convener of the Ecumenical Affairs Committee, said that the award will acknowledge and encourage people or groups who are thinking wider than their own circles.

“It’s trying to get people to think outside their local church, and thinking about the wider religious community,” she said. “The only way you can actually get to appreciate and love other people  is to get to know them. You only get to know them by doing something with them, working beside them.”

Nominations are to be received by the Ecumenical Affairs Committee by 31 July; send a 500-word description of the initiative or project to Dorothy Carey at dcarey@westnet.com.au.

Editorial: a whole new world

It’s not easy to break out of your circle. Whether it’s your circle of friends, your career path or moving to a new place; it takes guts. In some circumstances, it’s hard to know whether it’s a good  idea to try something new or if it’d be better to just keep things the way they are. When it comes to challenging yourself to move beyond your normal activities and attitudes, sometimes our  only fears are of failure, or of the unknown.

One of the biggest joys of going beyond your circle is the new encounters you’ll face; meeting new people and seeing new places. It’s a chance to learn more about the world, other people,  cultures and new ways of doing things. Some of the best experiences I’ve had in life have been the ones I was terrified of going into. Continue Reading

Moderator’s column: beyond the circle to neighbour and stranger

Bono is the lead singer of U2, one of the biggest rock and roll bands in the world. In an interview he describes how he and his wife visited an orphanage in Ethiopia. For a month he and his wife  Ali held babies, helped nurse them back to health, and then donated money to equip the orphanage.

When he returned to Ireland he noticed that the tone of his prayers began to change. They  became more defiant and he found himself accusing God of not caring about the children in Africa. Slowly his accusations began to fade as he sensed God speaking back to him a rebuke, “Bono I  do care… get moving, you do something.”

A little like Moses who protested when God called him, Bono called back to God “I am a rock star, not a social worker!” Eventually, Bono came to see that, rock star or not, God was calling him  to do something about poverty and injustice. This began a remarkable journey that led him to universities, parliaments, Presidential interviews and on a massive campaign to elevate the plight  of the poor. Continue Reading

Ramadan: a spiritual journey

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From Thursday 18 June to Friday 17 July, our Muslim friends will be celebrating Ramadan. Our non-Muslim readers may be wondering ‘What does that have to do with me?’ In a multicultural, multi-religious society, it’s all too important to move beyond our circles to love and understand those we might normally walk straight past.

As one of the biggest events in the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is an important time for people from the Islamic faith. Even though Muslims only make up 2.2% of the Australian population,  there is a lot of fear in the community at the moment as we hear stories about extremists and terrorists around the world. It is right to abhor these events, but it is also right to work towards  building strong relationships with people from all faiths. Most Muslims themselves disapprove of these acts, which go against the teachings of Islam.

While this year, Ramadan is taking place in June, the event is based on the Islamic Luna Calendar and so, like Easter, moves date each year. Muslims believe that their holy book, the Qur’an,  was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad during this month, so it is a holy month which is full of God’s blessings. Traditionally, many Muslims also believe that during the month of Ramadan the  gates of heaven are opened, and the gates to hell are closed – so it is a time where people are encouraged to get closer to God.

Muslims take up this opportunity in a range of ways, the most common being fasting. Continue Reading

Taking the challenge to live God’s call

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Kris Halliday is the kind of guy who lives his life for others. Whether he’s giving out hot meals on the street, chatting with someone whose preparing to sleep it rough, or working with the  Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees (CARAD) when he sees need, his automatic response is to help out where he can.

As a Salvation Army officer at the Perth Fortress Corps  in inner city Northbridge, Kris works with some of the city’s most vulnerable people out of an intense understanding that this is where  God wants him to be. He knew from a young age that he was called to be an officer with the Salvos.

Growing up in a loving non-Christian family, Kris began attending a youth group organised by the church and was drawn to its values, soon becoming a committed member. As a young adult in the 1990s, he approached the organisation about entering training for ordination, but was told that there was no place for him as an officer, as an openly gay man.

“That was devastating for me. That broke me,” Kris said. “While things were tough at school, three things kept me going; a loving family, a welcoming faith community at the local Salvos and  knowing that I had my one calling in life – which was to be a Salvation Army Officer.

“When that was taken from me because of something I had no control over, nothing in my life made sense any more. So I really hit the wall and found myself experimenting with drugs and  drinking and a whole lot of stuff I wouldn’t normally have done because there was no reason not to, and I just had no hope.” Continue Reading

Set your hearts on fire: childrens’ choir forms for Assembly

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Coming up in July, the Uniting Church in Australia will hold its national meeting, the 14th Triennial Assembly, which is held over a whole week, but only once every three years. Members of the  Uniting Church from all over Australia come together to discern with each other, and with God, on the future of the church until the next meeting. The theme for this year’s meeting is  ‘Hearts on fire.’

At the opening service of this event, on Sunday 12 July, children from Uniting Church in WA congregations and schools are invited to take part. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people  to be involved in this important meeting. The opening service will also include the installation of the new president of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stuart McMillan, and it will be held at  Scotch College in Swanbourne.

A children’s choir will be performing on the night, and children from across WA are invited to join in. The choir will be performing one song, and singing another one from the stage with the  congregation. There will be two rehearsals before the big event, plus a run-through before the service starts, so everyone involved will know exactly how it’s all going to work. Kids from rural  areas who want to take part are invited to get in contact with organisers to possibly arrange an alternative time and venue for rehearsals. Continue Reading