Planting trees strengthens life and community in Metro West

The Metro West Region held their first Church and Community Tree Planting Day in 2012. It was less than three months after I started as the First Third specialist  in the region. I needed an event that would be intergenerational and active, that could involve the local community and which would build relationships between people in my group of churches as well as making a difference. I settled on  planting trees at Lake Claremont with the help of the Friends of Lake Claremont, who are conducting a major volunteer revegetation program at the lake.

tree planting2On the day, about 25 people showed up to help restore the wetland and provide habitat for local fauna. Some of the children participating had never planted trees before, but they dived in with energy.  Everyone played their part. The ministers helped to plant, families worked together, children too young to plant collected the empty pots, and some older church members who couldn’t plant brought  delicious baked goods for the friendly morning tea afterwards. Continue Reading

Messages from the aether: Life-giving

What are people blogging?

How to stop procrastinating: 18 easy ways
http://www.prolificliving.com/18-radicalways-to-stop-procrastination/

Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone – Pablo Picasso. Everybody procrastinates. This article not only talks about the reasons why we tend to  procrastinate, but gives some easy ways to overcome procrastination, ultimately freeing up our time and aiding us in leading more productive lives. Continue Reading

Supermarket ministry

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. Continue Reading

Become a worm farmer!

Want to give more life to your garden and to the planet? One way to recycle our food waste is to make a worm farm. Composting worms will turn your old food into healthy soil that can  then be used to grow more food. By using worm fertiliser there is no need to buy chemical ones which can be bad for the environment.

1.Find a polystyrene box with a lid that sits  securely on top. Ask at your local fruit and veg store if they have any used broccoli boxes that you can have.

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2. Use a pen or pencil to put holes about 8cm apart. This allows air into your worm farm but won’t let the rain in.

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3.  Tear newspaper into strips and put it in a bucket and wet it with water. Once the newspaper is wet, tip out the water and put the wet newspaper in your box. You want the paper to be wet but not dripping.

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4. Add your worms. Make sure you buy ‘red worms’ or ‘composting worms’ as they are not the same as earthworms.

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5. Place the lid on your farm and keep it in a shaded place. Let your worms settle into their new home for a month before you start feeding them food scraps. They will begin to eat  the newspaper so will not be short of food.

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Happy worm farming!

Bonnie Wykman

Investment in fossil fuels off the table for WCC

During a recent meeting of the top governing body of the World Council of Churches (WCC), its Central Committee said “no” to investments in fossil fuels. Prior to this announcement  some member churches were already committed to the divestment of fossil fuels, including the United Church of Christ in the United States, the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New  Zealand and Polynesia and the Church of Sweden.

In April last year, the Uniting Church Synod of New South Wales agreed to divest in fossil fuels and created national news. Other  churches around Australia are in talks about how they  too can divest. And in May of this year, people from all over Australia withdrew their investments from Australia’s ‘big four’ banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – choosing  to invest their money in more sustainable methods as part of Divestment Day, organised by Market Forces and 350.org. Continue Reading

God next door

Recently, I had cause to re-read Simon Carey Holt’s book, God Next Door: Spirituality and Mission in the Neighbourhood. Holt argues that mission, in our current context, where the  overwhelming percentage of the population have nothing to do with the Christian church, should happen in our own neighbourhood (as opposed to in our churches).

Jesus’ designation  of two commands “love God” and “love your neighbour as yourself” as the essence of discipleship should have always given us a particular focus for ministry in our  neighbourhood.If then the church is to be in ministry and mission in the neighbourhood, what should we practice? Holt suggests four neighbourhood disciplines. Continue Reading

Editorial: Sharing life

How life-giving is the Uniting Church? It’s a pretty big question. I mean, what is a church if it isn’t life-giving?

In a declining church it might be hard for those on the outer to see the life. But for those within it, it can be the source of their joy. As Rev Karyl Davison writes on page 8 of the hard copy of Revive, the church is at its best when it’s  living and serving amongst the community. Rev Bronwyn Elvery writes on page 17 that we are perhaps the most life-giving when we are amongst those “on the discarded edges of community.”

When are we not life-giving? Often we hang onto things by a bare thread because we don’t want to lose the joy in something we once had. But when that something becomes a drain on the church or a congregation, it could be best to let it go. At that time and place, it is no longer life-giving. The joy of letting something go is, it’s likely something amazing will jump up in its place.Continue Reading

Choose life

It seems to me that the notion of some choices being ‘life-giving’ and others being the opposite is pretty well established in our secular context. I have heard the expression used in relation to lifestyle choices  concerning such aspects as diet, recreation, vocation and voluntary service towards others. Sometimes actions can be described as life-giving in the most literal sense, as when someone is rescued or revived  from an accident of some description, or helped to turn back from a path of self-destruction. Here, we do well to remember that many people have been robbed of all that is life-giving by the abusive actions of others towards them. In such circumstances, it may be something as simple as the  unconditional acceptance by another that is life-giving.

Through the gift of faith, and the guidance of scripture, we can learn much about the Christian understanding of what is life-giving. What we find  there is striking affirmation of these understandings that are widespread in the secular context. It is as if, as human beings, we are hard-wired to know what is good. The difference is, of course, that in the Christian understanding the source of life is God and that which is life-giving is that which accords with the kind of life that God intends for us. We find this spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy as Moses  speaks with the Hebrew people about how God expects them to live when they enter the Promised Land. “Choose life”, he concludes, “so that you and your descendants may live ….” (Deuteronomy 30: 19b) Continue Reading

Yearning for nature: Is there respect?

In Australia’s cities, it’s so easy to spend days or weeks without really connecting with the natural environment. Not only that, but how many of us actually know how the ecosystem works, or where our place in it is? Even in rural areas, it could be said that we dominate the land without really living with it.

Over time we’ve lost a vital connection to the earth and the natural system with which we once lived. Rev Dr Geoff Lilburne has a passion for theology of the land and has published works in the areas of contextual and eco theology. Geoff said that while we place a lot of importance on our history – or timelines – we also should be thinking about the space that we exist in.

“In our western tradition we have tended to think time and history are important, but we haven’t tended to think of ‘space’ or ‘place’ as important,” he said.

He continued, saying that it is important for churches to develop a sense of place by living locally and taking care of the spaces that we inhabit.

Part of thinking about this local space  means looking into how we consume our food. While the food we eat is possibly one of the most direct ways we interact with our natural environment, many of us have no real sense of where it has come from and the work and resources that have gone into producing it. We may rationally know that our beef is dead cow or  that our apple has grown on a tree, but for most of us, our minds simply don’t comprehend what that actually means for the producers, the economy and the planet. Continue Reading

Education journeys in the North West

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Just four weeks before this edition of ‘Revive’ went to print, Gail Cresswell packed up her things in Margaret River, in WA’s south west, and moved to Mowanjum, a remote Aboriginal  community in the north of WA on the outskirts of Derby. With a passion for education in Indigenous communities, she is starting up a Montessori program for kids under three.

Montessori is an alternative form of education that encourages independence by creating an environment for children to learn at their own pace. Gail said that the system focuses  heavily on learning by observation and involves lots of one-on-one interaction. “It’s about each child,” she said. “It’s a learning journey for each child.”

“It’s about the kids learning to be resilient and learning to be responsible to themselves.”

It is also a system that has been highly successful in Indigenous communities around Australia. Towards the end of August, Gail and her assistant, Daphne Gilbey, a member of the  Mowanjum community, will be attending the Thursday Island Montessori Summit where they’ll be exploring the benefits of the Montessori approach in Indigenous cultures. Continue Reading