Sharing God’s love through the Christmas Bowl

“The love of Christ can be made more vivid through Australian Christian concern, on Christmas day, the one great day of sharing.”   Rev Frank Byatt, founder of the Christmas Bowl c. 1956

As Christians, we are called respond to, and faithfully live out, the Gospel call to be generous in our love, and to participate in God’s mission to bring healing, wholeness and hope to those facing hardship and injustice. It sounds like an overwhelming task, but in fact we can reach people in need with the humblest of actions.           Continue Reading

A Light on Every Street

Rev Alison Gilchrist, Presbytery Minister Mission at the Uniting Church WA, is inviting Uniting Churches in WA to turn on a Light in Every Street. LED lights and postcards are available for churches to gift to members of their communities this Christmas. Alison shares her thoughts around what this campaign can offer.

‘Tradition’ has become somewhat of a dirty word in church circles. The last thing most churches want to be recognised as is ‘traditional’.

This understanding, or misunderstanding, has been a thorn in my side as both a church minister and as a missioner, so I have read extensive research and engaged in provocative missional discourse in this area to good avail in terms of church vitality and growth, and seen its beneficial results in many congregations.

What actually comes to mind when folk refer to ‘traditional’ is their particular version of what they like or are accustomed to, and not necessarily the broader or larger Christian tradition, where the neverchanging Gospel has always found a voice in ever-changing cultures. It’s a conversation I’m always up for, but that’s for another day. Suffice to say ‘tradition’ fares far better in other arenas.

Of the many who are investigating the benefits of traditions to promote better emotional adjustment, Dr Steven Wolin, a psychiatrist at the George Washington University, says, “If you grow up in a family with strong rituals, you’re more likely to be resilient as an adult.”

Traditions play an important role in shaping personal identity.

Another researcher, psychologist, Dr Marshal Duke, found those who have an intimate knowledge of their family’s history are typically more well-adjusted and self-confident than children who don’t. There’s something about understanding your past and knowing you belong to something bigger than yourself that instills confidence.

Traditions also have the ability to offer comfort and security providing the
antidote to the harried feeling that comes from our fast-paced and everchanging world. There’s comfort in having some constants in your life.

Traditions impart and reinforce values, as well as adding to the rhythm and seasonality of life, which is composed of cycles big and small. Sunrise and sunset; winter, spring, summer, autumn; Christmas, Easter, Pentecost; and traditions tap into the desire to follow this natural rhythm that is embedded deep within us, but which has been flattened out by a contemporary society that creates its own unremitting 24-hour timetable, concentrating only on the now.

Traditions provide a unique way to connect generations especially in the area of lasting memories. Positive childhood memories help make happier and more generous adults.

Psychologists used to consider nostalgia a sign of depression. Fresh research, however, has shown that reflecting fondly on those things in our ‘nostalgia repository’ actually provides a myriad of positive benefits including counteracting loneliness, boosting generosity towards strangers, and staving off anxiety.

As I said at the outset, tradition has fared well, and proven itself valuable, despite our church based misgivings.

The Church’s DNA includes being a catalyst for positive family and community values, we see it modelled in the New Testament and in our history through the ages.

A Light on Every Street has been developed for us to continue in that great tradition in a small, but not insignificant way, and to share something of the Good News of the hope of our faith, by offering a Christmas gift that has the potential to keep giving as those receiving it frame their own new tradition.

More information and resources for A Light on Every Street are available from
Alison by emailing Alison.gilchrist@wa.uca.org.au or call 9260 9800. To read
more visit revivemagazine.org.au/2018/10/31/a-light-on-every-street.

Creating a sense of belonging

Sarah* is a single mother of two children aged six and three. She lives below the poverty line on a government allowance and often doesn’t have enough money left at the end of each fortnight to buy medicine, pay bills, or put a proper meal on the table.

 While many of us are planning holidays, shopping for gifts, or deciding what size turkey we need for Christmas Day, all Sarah wants are the basics – to know the rent will be paid and her kids won’t go hungry. Anything else is a bonus.Continue Reading

More than a job: Celebrating 60 years of GSI

John Knowles, CEO of Good Samaritan Industries (GSI), welcomed me into his office with a big smile and an even bigger heart before announcing we needed to step out for a minute to sing happy  birthday to a staff member.

Out in the foyer, staff (and me) gathered for cake and well wishes, while a group of high school kids wandered in to one of the meeting rooms for job training. In the warehouse, employees sort and pack all sorts of donations, from clothes to bedding to shoes and accessories. And in the canteen staff are busy preparing food.

The place is a hive of activity where people genuinely seem to love their jobs. Continue Reading

WA’s first same sex church wedding

Wendy and Nicole Hendry have finally been married – by the church they love.

Eleven years ago the couple celebrated a commitment ceremony, and have now legally been wed within the church.

Uniting Church Minister, Rev Elenie Poulos conducted the wedding of Wendy and Nicole, regular attendees of Margaret River Uniting Church, on Saturday 27 October.  This was the first wedding between two people of the same-sex to be officially performed by a church in Western Australia.

At its national decision making meeting held in July, the Uniting Church in Australia decided to hold two equal and distinct statements of belief on marriage to honour the diversity of Christian belief among Uniting Church members. Since then, the church has published an additional marriage liturgy that will allow same-gender couples to get married in Uniting Churches, for those congregations that choose to host them.Continue Reading

VET training brings hope to Christian education

Dr Elaine Ledgerwood began her new role at the Uniting Church Centre in August as Presbytery Minister Education and Training.

Elaine will be working in the VET sector (Vocational Education and Training), helping people gain a Certificate 4 in Christian Life and Ministry. Initially, this will be through the Adelaide College of Divinity, tailored to suit the Uniting Church WA. The course is aimed at people who want to explore and deepen their Christian faith, as well as those who want accreditation as a lay preacher. Continue Reading

A holy place

The sun was shining, a gentle breeze waved through the trees and birds pranced around, busy making nests among the branches overhead. It was the perfect Spring day for the St Stephen’s School Carramar community to bless their new Bush Chapel – a space for all to reflect, set amongst the flora and fauna of the nature play space.

“You could really tell that God was amongst us on this beautiful day,” Donella Beare, St Stephen’s School Principal, said.Continue Reading