Stories at the centre of life and work

If you get the chance to meet the Uniting Church WA’s new Presbytery Minister Mission, Rev Alison Gilchrist, you’ll soon find out that she’s ready to get into the thick of it and get the job done – she’s a ‘doer’.

Alison was ordained in the Church of England and came to Perth six years ago to work with the Anglican Diocese of Perth. Having started her role with the Uniting Church WA in September last year, Alison has already begun making her mark, with the introduction of the ‘Light on Every Street’ campaign. The campaign saw congregations sharing the light and love of God in the lead-up to  Christmas by giving candles and postcards with a message to people in their communities. Continue Reading

Church camps: time with God

For decades, kids and young people have attended church camps as a fun way to build community and grow in faith. While there has been a decline in church camping within the Uniting Church WA over the years, a number of new opportunities have also arisen.

Kid’s Camp Out (KCO), originally called KUCA Camp, is still going strong as the Uniting Church WA’s longest running camp, held annually since 1984; the second annual Messy Church Summer Camp was recently held in January; CampFIRE encourages families in their faith; some Uniting Church WA congregations have been organising their own camps; and the Uniting Church Campsite is back in operation after years of neglect.

Many Uniting Church members will attest to camps playing a strong part in their faith and spiritual identity. As Rev Greg Ross, minister at St Augustine Uniting Church, Bunbury, said, many members will often share how camps have helped shape them, or led them down certain paths.

So what is it about camping that creates so many fond memories? Continue Reading

Uniting Churches to observe Day of Mourning

Stuart McMillan, Assembly Consultant for Covenanting, shares his thoughts on remembering a Day of Mourning, annually on the Sunday before Australia Day.

This January, Uniting Church congregations across the country are being asked to hold worship services that reflect on the effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples. The observance of a ‘Day of Mourning’ was endorsed by the 15th Assembly at the request of members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).

Rather than seeking a change to the date for Australia Day as some propose, the UAICC asked the church, in the spirit of the Covenant between us, to declare the Sunday before Australia Day as a Day of Mourning. Assembly members enthusiastically agreed.Continue Reading

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

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