Assembly Update March 2008

The latest edition of Update is now available online and in PDF format. It includes the latest news from our Agencies and Working Groups as well as Uniting Church resources.


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Just a thought
UCA meets Brendan Nelson
National Ministers Conferences
Frontier Services news
Uniting International Mission news
Adult Fellowship news
Invitation to contribute to an ecumenical discussion
Positions vacant
Books and resources

Just a Thought

From: Rev. Terence Corkin
National Assembly General Secretary

Maybe I’m showing my age but the other day I was in a supermarket and was very conscious of the incessant background music — I found it annoying. It doesn’t matter where one goes today, there is nothing but audio and visual noise. It’s as though people are afraid of silence.

Twice over the last couple of weeks I have spoken to people, from very different experiences in the church, who have complained to me about the over abundance of words that assail them at worship these days. Has our worship got infected with the culture’s fear of silence?

What is it that makes many of our Ministers and worship leaders think they have to fill every gap with some witty or humorous interlude; or to bear witness to their flowery literary skills with long and involved prayers? Could we not, a little more than occasionally, be silent?

In the tradition of the church, silence is the place of opportunity — the space where we might meet God. Of course that can be a bit of a worry because we might also meet ourselves and that is not always fun. Is the church becoming anxious about what might happen in the silence, just as the wider community seems to be?

My personal spirituality is nurtured by silence. The hardest thing for the nourishment of my faith during my term as General Secretary has been the crowds of people, landscape and sounds. Silence is a space for God.

Perhaps in our worship the Uniting Church could resist the temptation of us having to manufacture opportunities to meet God and instead leave some silence — the space where God and people traditionally meet.

UCA Meets Brendan Nelson

From: Meera Atkinson
Assembly Communications Unit

Uniting Church President, Gregor Henderson, Assembly General Secretary, Terence Corkin, and National Director of UnitingJustice, Elenie Poulos, have had an encouraging first meeting with Dr Brendan Nelson, leader of the federal coalition.

“The meeting was held as part of UCA’s ongoing commitment to engage with the political life of the country via both the government and opposition,” said Elenie. “We’re hoping to meet with the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, in the near future as well.”

The meeting focused on developing the relationship between the Uniting Church and the coalition. Dr Nelson showed a keen interest in learning more about Uniting Church services and activities. “We’re also committed to meeting each other regularly and communicating Uniting Church responses to various issues of public policy and community life in Australia,” said Elenie.

Brendan Nelson expressed a firm commitment to ongoing dialogue between the Liberal Party and religious leaders of various traditions.

National Ministers Conferences

From: Gregor Henderson, Assembly President

The Assembly website is now open for registrations for each of the three national ministers conferences this year.

  • Bali 1-4 July
  • Darwin 15-18 July
  • Sunshine Coast 27-30 October

The Assembly has received expressions of interest from 84 ministers for the Bali conference, with a maximum of 100 places available; 73 for the Darwin conference, with a maximum of 100 places available; and 120 for the Sunshine Coast, with a maximum of 150 places available.

Information was sent to all ministers in December and further details are now available on the registration form.

Exposure visits are available to three different parts of Indonesia following the Bali conference, with a few places still available. Three exposure visits to Arnhem Land communities follow the Darwin conference, with that to Ramingining already full, but places available for Nhulunbuy/Yirrkala and Galiwin’ku. Full information about the exposure visits is on the website.

Please direct queries about registration to Penny Monger, National Assembly Communications Manager.

Queries about the exposure visits can be directed to Caroline Fletcher, PA to the President.

Four New Patrol Ministers

From: David Thiem
Associate National Director, Frontier Services

Frontier Services has inducted no less than four new Patrol Ministers in the past month.

Rev. Lesley deGrussa-Macaulay is the new Murchison Patrol Minister based in Meekatharra (WA). Lesley was formerly Minister to two congregations at Mandurah, south of Perth.

Frontier Services has also launched new Patrol Ministries in East Gippsland, in partnership with the Gippsland Presbytery. Rev. Bruce Gallacher is the new Snowy River Patrol Minister based out of Orbost and Rev. Alison McRae is based out of Omeo/Swifts Creek.

The inductions for the new Ministers took place in Buchan, where Frontier Services founder, John Flynn, was a Home Missioner in 1906 and 1907. It is the first time Frontier Services has been in a partnership in Victoria.

Meanwhile, on 2 March it was induction day for Dennis Cousens, the new Cunnamulla Patrol Minister based out of the Queensland town of the same name. Dennis was formerly CEO of the Hobart City Mission and has held leadership roles in ministry in Tasmania for many years.

News from Uniting International Mission

From: Jacqueline-Marie Bohm
Acting Communications and Fundraising Manager
Uniting International Mission

Joy Balazo Blog Joy Balazo is the Coordinator for the Young Ambassadors for Peace program, a Uniting International Mission peacemaking initiative. Joy is currently on study leave and you can follow her amazing experiences in Thailand during March and April via her blog at the UIM website.

People in Mission

From: Kathy Pereira
People In Mission Coordinator
Uniting International Mission

People in Mission (PIM) supports people to serve beyond Australia, short or long-term. PIM’s 2008 Training is now scheduled for July. This will allow time to effectively develop rigorous policies and procedures to support serving personnel, the UCA as a sending organisation, and our partner church hosts.

A stand-alone database, incorporating current personnel data, has been developed to manage volunteers in placement and returnees’ processes.

Contact continues with returned PIM personnel to ensure they have opportunities to reflect on their placement experiences (following on from the great work of Tim Hein). Also, an Alumnus is being established for past PIM personnel to ensure that they are supported and have opportunities for input and sharing.

Lent Event  

From: Kerry Enright
National Director Uniting International Mission

The number of congregations (494) participating in Lent Event is nearly double what it was last year. People have given up an optional item and donated the money saved to Uniting Church Overseas Aid. See the Lent Event website.

Adult Fellowship News

From: UCAF National Committee

Women Making a Difference in the Pacific

The Women's Department of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga will host the South Pacific Area Seminar at Queen Salote College, 14-19 September 2008. Australia has been allocated 50 places at the Seminar, which occurs every five years. It is an excellent opportunity to interact with women from across the South Pacific region.
The registration cost is $115 and accommodation and meals $455. Because of the timing of flights this amount covers all accommodation etc. for the extended time requirements.
For further information or registration forms please contact Angela Lester.

United Nations Millennium Goals
A focus of the WFM & UCW South Pacific Seminar (see above) will be the United Nations Millennium Goals. The UCAF National Committee is interested in hearing from congregations, groups and fellowships undertaking projects that assist with fulfilling these goals. Any information can be sent to Angela Lester.

What are the Millennium Goals?
The eight Millennium Development Goals — which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 — form a blueprint agreed to by participating countries and development institutions. They have galvanised unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest.

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger throughout the world.
2. Ensure that all children complete a full course of primary schooling.
3. Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five.
4. Halt and begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS.
5. Halt and begin to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases.
6. Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes; reverse loss of environmental resources.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction — nationally and internationally.

Invitation to Contribute to an Ecumenical Discussion

From: Terence Corkin
National Assembly General Secretary

Every six years the World Council of Churches convenes a meeting of United and Uniting Churches. The next meeting will be held in October this year. We will be represented at that gathering and will be invited to bring a paper.

The theme of the Conference is particularly timely for the Uniting Church In Australia: Going the Second Mile: towards an ecclesiology of United Churches. Some of the particular topics for discussion are:

  • the limits of diversity
  • criteria for unity
  • the exercise of authority
  • episcope

As preparation for the conference and as a way of encouraging this discussion in the UCA, I invite you to submit a paper on any of the above — or others that you consider are relevant to the topic. There are a number of possible uses that can be made of the submissions including publishing them on the Assembly website and making them into a resource for group discussions in various settings across the life of the church, such as Presbyteries.

However, there is one publication option that has already been negotiated. If there is sufficient material of the right quality then the Editor of Uniting Church Studies has agreed to devote an issue of the journal to this subject.

The writing requirements for articles to be submitted to Uniting Church Studies are:

  • 3,000 - 6,000 words
  • The writing is to be “scholarly, witty and wise”
  • The standard is as writing for a first year theological college student
  • There needs to be a methodology as well as opinions
  • Footnotes are required and the material will be peer reviewed.

Not all articles need to meet these more strict requirements, only those being submitted for publication in that journal.

All material is to be submitted by end August 2008 to Penny Monger, National Assembly Communications Manager.

Submissions must also include permission for use of the material by the Assembly.

Positions Vacant

Reception/Administration Assistant: National Assembly Office
The Uniting Church National Assembly seeks a full time person to fill the position of Receptionist/Administration Assistant to help with reception, mail, catering and other varied administration duties. Some knowledge of the Uniting Church in Australia would be desirable. The position is located in Sydney CBD.

Applications close 28 March 2008 and must include a covering letter addressing the essential criteria.

The full position description, including the essential criteria, is available from Merrilyn Laidlaw.

Theology Teacher: Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, Cairns
A challenging and fulfilling role managing the Diploma of Theology program for Indigenous students. The College is a partnership of the Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran and Uniting Churches. It trains Indigenous church and community leaders and ordinands for QLD Indigenous churches.

The position requires:

tertiary theological qualification
teaching and administration skills
member of partner church
Details from David Thompson.

New from MediaCom Education

Baptism Follow Up Cards
These Baptism anniversary cards are designed to be part of the Church's ministry to parents with children in their early childhood years. The cards in this pack are intended for use as a series to be sent on the anniversary of a child's baptism.

$14.95 per set

Praying With The Bible
By Philip Law
(Westminster John Knox)

In this beautifully packaged collection, Philip Law offers a superb assortment of prayers. Including examples of all kinds of prayers found in the Bible, from one-line “arrow” prayers to entire Psalms, Law has sensitively adapted key passages of Scripture into moving and lyrical prayers that will enhance both private devotion and communal worship.


Faith Builders
Bible Crafts for Children Ages 7-10
By Nadia Herbert

Faith Builders is a children’s ministry resource containing a whole year’s worth of Sunday school teaching in one volume. It features fifty exciting craft projects that children aged 7–10 will enjoy making while learning about the Bible and building their faith.


Lectionary Worship Aids
Series V111 Cycle A
Cradled in God’s Heart
By Thom M Shuman
(CSS Publishing)

In Cradled in God's Heart Thom Shuman provides a wide range of responsive and pastoral prayers that are sure to help busy pastors and worship planners strike the perfect chord in developing their own services. With a complete set of thematically unified worship material keyed to each week's lectionary texts, this is a resource that will be used again and again throughout the year to create truly inspiring worship experiences.


Books for Unitings
Books selected by Hugh McGinlay
These books are available from UCA bookshops and resource centres. For further information on any title visit the website.

Like catching water in a net
By Val Webb
UCA author explores the limits of what we know about God and challenges straitjacketed notions of the Divine.


The Whisper of Spirit
By Antony Campbell
Australian author considers Christian belief in God’s love and anticipates the shape of a future “phoenix” church to support and nourish that faith.


Organic Prayer
A spiritual gardening companion
By Nancy Roth
Teaches a form of contemplation that is as immediate and sensual as walking through a garden. Chapters include “spadework”: simple prayer exercises for body, heart and mind.


God and Bible
Exploring stories from Genesis to Job
By Antony Campbell
The texts and stories are succinct; they include an introduction and issues for reflection; based on contemporary biblical research by one of Australia’s foremost Old Testament scholars.


The Mary Magdalene Cover-Up
Sources behind the myth
By Esther de Boer
Brings an impressive array of texts from the 1st to the 6th centuries, helping us understand this most enigmatic of first century women.

$17.95 (special price while stocks last)