Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We join in thanking God for the life and ministry of Rev. Dorothy Harris-Gordon, who passed away in Lismore in northern NSW late on Friday 7 August 2020.
Aunty Dorrie as she was known, was the first Aboriginal woman ordained in the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and the ACT, and was one of several women who forged the path to ministry for their sisters in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
In light of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases across Australia, Dr Deidre Palmer has announced significant changes to "Called by God" - her second President's conference in Adelaide in October 2020.
Dr Palmer writes:
It is with sadness that I advise that we have decided to defer the President's Conference until next year – from Thursday 29 April to Sunday 2 May 2021.
I have been deeply concerned for all of our communities that are being impacted by the growing number of COVID cases.
The decision to defer has been made as a response to continuing uncertainty that comes with the second wave of COVID cases , and the precautions our states and territories are taking to protect their communities from the spread of this disease, that involve border closures, travel restrictions and the quarantining of travellers at their own cost.
While we hoped that a combination of online and face-to-face options might make it possible to encourage participants in their faith and ministry at this time, we have decided to postpone in the hope that next year we may be able to gather together face-to-face.
We will of course be monitoring this possibility, as we see what emerges in efforts to control the pandemic.
Instead on the first weekend of October I will offer an opportunity for the Church to gather online at a series of webinars, to open up the conversation about God’s call to us in our everyday lives, as a ‘taster’ of the full Conference in April/May next year.
On Saturday October 3, three online panel discussions will showcase some of the Conference themes - Called by God, Every Member Ministry and Faith in Public Life.
It is free to register for the webinars and we will be sending sign on details in the coming week.
Please watch for them in the Assembly National Update and via Facebook.
I hope you might join us online for these sessions.
On Sunday October 4, we will also offer worship in two ways –
- Livestreamed through the Assembly Online Worship forum
- As a written liturgical resource and a short pre-recorded sermon that you may use with your own community.
The webinars will be recorded and they will be made available for you to use in any of the many forums you have for Christian education in your community.
If you decide to use them, I would be delighted to join with you online as you have this important conversation in your context.
As the Church we have been called into spaces that we had not expected.
This global pandemic on top of the crises caused by bushfire, flood and drought, has called us to deeply consider and reconsider how we might be bearers of God’s love, compassion, hope and comfort in this time of crisis.
I have been encouraged and inspired by the ways our Church, our local congregations, faith communities, community service agencies, aged care organisations, schools, and Councils of our Church have responded with such grace, generosity, kindness and hope.
I hope that you will save the date for next year and join us online for the webinar and worship on October 3 and 4.
In the meantime, thank you for being the people of God, pilgrims on the way with Christ who continues to be our Light, our Hope and our Risen, Crucified Lord.
Dr Deidre Palmer
President, Uniting Church in Australia Assembly
The Assembly Resourcing Unit held its second webinar on the Church and Covid-19: Ministerial Practices on 30 July 2020.
The webinar organised with the Being a Multicultural Church Circle explored the topic “Church Post-Covid-19: Ministerial Practices and Learning from Overseas Churches”.
The Convener of Being A Multicultural Church Circle, Rev. Dr Matagi Vilitama, chaired an eight-member panel.
Rev. Dr Vilitama noted that the pandemic had especially challenged ministerial practices, pastoral care, worship and outreach in CALD communities, but had seen younger people step up.
Uniting Vic.Tas and Uniting AgeWell have given an update on the face masks appeal story we published on 16 July.
The agencies write:
Thank you to everyone who has registered to make reusable, fabric face masks for Uniting Vic.Tas and Uniting AgeWell services.
We have received over 70 registrations and over 2000 face masks pledged – an amazing effort by all involved.
Our warehouse has already started receiving the homemade face masks and we are now working to distribute them.
Health authorities have now made it mandatory for all Victorian residents to wear a face covering when outside their home.
Due to the significant increase in demand for face masks, many vulnerable and marginalised people in our communities are still unable to access them.
If you would like to help, there’s still time.
For details on how to register and make face masks, click here.
Thank you in advance for your help during these trying times as we support people in need.
Members of Tuggeranong Uniting Church volunteering to sew face masks for Uniting community services in Victoria. From left to right – (back) Maxine Gray, Eva Yager, Mary Howard, (front) Anne Vorobieff, Leonie Ferber. (Photo: Kerry Ranner)
Around 200 people of different faiths from across the nation gathered online to pray for lasting peace, 75 years to the day after a single nuclear weapon wreaked mass destruction on the city of Hiroshima.
The Uniting Church co-hosted the virtual interfaith service in partnership with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to remember the devastation and lives lost in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Next Tuesday the Assembly is assisting a group of young UCA leaders to launch a virtual talanoa space to connect young people from our diverse UCA communities engaged in ministry in the life of our Church.
The first Lets Talanoa: Virtual Chat and Share will be next Tuesday 11 August, coinciding with the global ecumenical celebration of International Youth Day, and will focus on Mental Health and Wellbeing.
It was a joy to be part of a retreat with members of the Central Queensland Presbytery, who gathered at The Haven in Emu Park on Queensland’s Capricorn Coast for their annual retreat from 26-29 July 2020.
The retreat was a time of rest, renewal and reflection on our ministry contexts.
In the case of CQP participants these span the major centres of Gladstone, Mackay and Rockhampton, stretching out to Winton and Longreach in the west; Proserpine and Airlie Beach in the north; and Miriam Vale on the coast to the south.
Today marks 75 years since the most devastating deployment of weapons of mass destruction against civilian populations.
A whole human lifetime has now passed since tens of thousands of men, women and children in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were indiscriminately incinerated by two nuclear bombs dropped by the United States.
In the weeks, months and years that followed tens of thousands more died from radiation sickness or diseases caused by the blasts.
Seventy-five years after the nuclear bomb devastated the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) has joined more than 50 other faith organisations calling for Australia to sign and ratify the global treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The nuclear attacks on 6 and 9 August 1945 indiscriminately killed more than 210,000 innocent people and left tens of thousands injured. Many of the effects are still felt today.
Sadly, the world remains under the threat of nuclear weapons, with massive investment in existing and new nuclear weaponry and nuclear arms control agreements expiring, languishing or collapsing.
Representatives from Christian Churches and organisations across Australia joined an online roundtable to explore new areas of collaboration among Churches in a faith-led response to sustainability and climate change.
The virtual forum was coordinated by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) on 29 July recognising the common and deep calling among Christians of all denominations to care for God’s creation.
Rev. Tim Matton-Johnson, from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in Tasmania, was the opening speaker for the roundtable offering a First Nations perspective on how we might respond to climate change.
The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Dr Deidre Palmer has welcomed principles developed by five national governments to help organisations combat the sexual abuse of children online.
The Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse for online platforms and services seek to stop the viewing and sharing of child sexual abuse materials, the grooming of children online and the livestreaming of child sexual abuse.
The principles were developed by the “Five Country” Ministers (Ministers for Home Affairs, Interior, Security and Immigration) from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States in collaboration with digital industry representatives.
The Assembly Standing Committee met online on 18-19 July 2020.
President Dr Deidre Palmer led opening worship, reflecting on Jesus' words in the Gospel of Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest," noting the fatigue that many people are carrying as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Prayers of intercession were offered for those in Victoria and parts of NSW where a second wave of infections has broken out.