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