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Author: UnitingWorld

As fires burn throughout Australia and flooding takes the lives, homes and livelihoods of people all over Europe, Africa and the Pacific, we’re reminded again of our deep vulnerability. We’re grateful to our Uniting Church ministers and partners in places where people cling to hope by a thread – managing drought, stretched finances and in places like Tuvalu, lack of fresh water and food.

Adamstown Uniting stepped up to acknowledge the global need to support people at the mercy of a changing climate by hosting ‘Songs for Tuvalu,’ a concert that raised over $1,000 for disaster relief and recovery work.

“It was so timely to be able to speak about the importance of UnitingWorld’s climate change and disaster readiness work,” says Roslyn, coordinator of the event at Adamstown. “At $15 a ticket, we’re delighted to have been able to raise $1,000 – and so many people spoke to us afterwards about how worthwhile the work is.”

UnitingWorld’s disaster relief and readiness work helps prepare Pacific communities for the impact of increasing storms, cyclones, dry seasons and other disasters. It includes equipping leaders to carry out assessments to determine people and places at risk; increasing awareness of safe evacuation places and helping people understand the biblical call to take responsibility for their environment.

A series of Bible studies have been developed by Pacific theologians to answer questions about God’s role in suffering and disaster and people’s responsibility as stewards of the earth. You can see a copy of the resources on the UnitingWorld website here.

 

A huge thank you to Adamstown for their fundraising effort and to all who’ve been supporting our climate change and disaster readiness projects. If you know people who are enthusiastic about the work, buy them a gift at www.everythingincommon.com.au!

Jane Kennedy, Associate Director, has recently returned from visiting our partners in South Sudan, where we help facilitate trauma healing and peacebuilding projects.

Jane writes: “Peter Gai is the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Until recently, he was also the Chair of the South Sudan Council of Churches.

This year he took South Sudanese political leaders to meet the Pope, who kissed their feet.

While there he experienced the joy of a cappuccino. He has learnt to eat when there is food and to go hungry when there is not.  He doesn’t eat three times a day. He once knew abundance and lived off the land and rivers in South Sudan for 23 years with no income. He had all he and his family needed. He has six children and 12 grandchildren but doesn’t live with them because of the war. He told me even the wild animals have crossed the border running from the gunshots, but they will come back. There is no electricity where he lives in Juba and no work.

He is about to retire from decades of service that has brought conflicting tribes together and is pleased about his legacy. He has travelled the world finding partners in peacebuilding and he is tired.

The church he leads has a dispersed 1.5 million members across the country, as well as in Sudan and Egypt. They are brokenhearted but many are hopeful, against all odds. Peace will bring South Sudan to life; he believes he will see it prosper again in his old age. He prays and works for peace. He laughs and says there are a lot of women at UnitingWorld, but he likes women as they are merciful – men cause trouble and then don’t fix it.

He says whether we are rich or poor we need friends, and we are friends.”

Jane also visited the office of the All Africa Conference of Churches in Nairobi. “They represent 200 million people and speak into policy at the African Union. They lobby governments on issues of peace, gender justice, youth leadership and climate action. They told us about the challenges of non-Africans treating climate change as a hoax while ignoring their experience. They spoke of the urgency around addressing violence against women. Churches here have to be political and loud to bring about change,” said Jane.

With your help, UnitingWorld has assisted the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan to run peacebuilding and trauma healing workshops this year. Thank you!

In September we asked you to help support Pacific women in the fight against inequality and violence. And you responded, donating over $58,000 so far, and sending beautiful words of encouragement for your Pacific sisters!

Throughout the year we’ve been heartened to see more men attending workshops that address equality, hear more stories of changes in family and community life and a gradual take up of biblical messages around the equality of women and girls.

If you want to inspire your congregation with a real-life story of change, watch Pastor Nipi’s testimony from Vanuatu at www.unitingworld.org.au/pacificwomen 

“I never knew what gender balance was or what it meant in relation to the Bible,” Pastor Nipi said. “At first I thought – what is this ‘gender balance’ they are talking about? We never believed men and women could be equal. But as I made my studies and we talked, I realised there is something there for me to learn! It has infected me! I like it!”

Thank you for the $58,000 you’ve given so far for this project. Your gifts will:

  • Pay trainers for workshops for advocates against violence against women
  • Help develop and distribute Bible study material to be used in difficult to reach places in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands

We continue to need funding to provide places for women and men to attend training for anti-violence advocacy in Kiribati and Tuvalu, where our work is just beginning and critically needed. In these communities, women are still unable to practice leadership even if they are trained for the positions, and the issue of domestic violence desperately needs to be addressed. If you’re still planning to give, we’d gratefully receive your gift for this work at www.unitingworld.org/pacificwomen

Here are a few of the messages of support we’ve been delighted to pass on to our friends in the Pacific:

Dear Sisters in the Pacific, I encourage you to remember John 10:10 “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.” Please believe and discuss the biblical understanding that men and women are equal. I am sorry that earlier church teaching has disempowered women. I encourage you all to follow your dreams, to claim equality with all people, to take up any opportunities for learning and employment, to know that you are not alone. Women in Australia support and pray for you. 

–Jennifer

Keep going. Stay strong. I admire your bravery

– Aasha (11yrs)

I look forward to receiving news about how my friends in the Pacific Islands are going. I was very excited to read the account of Past Lima Tura and activities in Timor Leste. I like to show the photos to my grandkids. One of my favourite verses is Philippians 4:19. It says “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 

– Anon

Hello my sisters in Christ, I encourage you to continue to make the gospel of Jesus Christ known, sharing His love and His power to transform lives. There is no male or female in Christ so do not think yourselves inferior in any way, for you were created in His image to give Him glory. Your brother in Christ.

– Gordon

Thank you everyone who sent messages!

*Header Photo: Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer with emerging leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu

Many of you will have chatted with Rev Paul Bartlett over the past few years, a faithful advocate for our work who encouraged people far and wide to pray for, support and learn about our church partners.

With a genuine heart and gift for mission, Paul has been a cherished part of our team.  He has hung up his boots this December for the final time after having been coaxed out of retirement twice before! UnitingWorld and our partners are grateful for the love and service he’s offered over many years.

Paul at his farewell in December

Reflecting on his work, Paul writes:

“My parents, Rev Dr Warren Bartlett (OAM) and Mrs Lorraine Bartlett (pictured in header image), grew up within the life of the Methodist Church in Victoria. They were deeply influenced by its central commitment to support overseas mission with ‘their prayers and their resources.’ The minister at their church in High St Preston in Melbourne during the 1940’s, the Rev Alfred Guy who served in Papua New Guinea, as well as the Rev Stan Weeks who served in India, kept alive their desire to make a difference with all that their Lord had given them. As a result, they decided to include a tithe or 10% of their estate to the mission work of the church.

Forty-five years ago, they let their three children know of their intention. Thirty years later my wife Janene and I decided that we too would leave a tithe of our estate to the wider work of the church, including to UnitingWorld, and we too have told our three children!

My parents hope that their example might inspire others to this life of sacrificial giving, keeping alive the vital work of UnitingWorld and bringing abundant life for all beside God’s global Church.”

Our gratitude to Paul for his faithful service encouraging so many to consider God’s call to generous prayer and giving, as well as to Warren, Lorraine and many other faithful supporters who choose to give in this way.

 

Your gifts can provide the foundation of ministry for years to come.

Please get in touch with Rick on 02 8267 4267 if you’d like information about leaving a bequest.

Up close, you can see the brush marks in the walls of Attika’s house. The rendered concrete has been painted by hand – pink inside, bright blue outside.

All over Ambon, Indonesia, the houses are a defiant dazzle in a place where you might easily expect pain to have completely stripped the colour from life. It hasn’t.

Conflict between Muslims and Christians here in 1999 killed 5,000 in hand-to-hand fighting and left 70,000 people homeless. Attika, who fled her village during the conflict and lived for years in a refugee camp, could scarcely imagine ever speaking with a Christian again, let alone working beside women who have since become her closest friends. The transformation is the work of the Protestant Church of Maluku, who’ve been running projects in Ambon that bring Muslims and Christians together to beat poverty and build peace. Their story is one for the ages.

Attika’s smile is radiant as she shows us the home she built with $5.00 a week saved from a business built as part of a group of Christian and Muslim women run by UnitingWorld’s partner in Ambon, the Protestant Church of Maluku. Expressed differently but closely held, the women’s faith in God bound them together as they rebuilt homes, lives, each other’s churches and mosques.

Rev. Jeny Elna Malupane, who coordinates the project in Ambon, says that the work of peacebuilding is central to our identity as God’s children.

“I see the way life is changing for people in the community,” she says. “This is how I see God at work in humanity. It is incredible, actually. It is like nothing else, this grace of God bringing people together.”

A month after we return from Ambon, a series of devastating photographs arrive here in our office. They show Attika’s home completely destroyed by three earthquakes that hit the island in September; in one photo, Attika sits among blue and pink rubble, still selling her home-cooked snacks.

We gaze in silence at the two sets of images of Attika’s home, side by side, and I struggle with the idea that in both, God is present – in and through the relationships that have been built. Jeny’s team, through the Church’s Sagu Salempeng Foundation (SSF), is already on hand providing supplies to people living under tarps in the forest, too frightened to return to their homes. Jeny’s own family are among them.

“People are resilient,” Jeny says. “They dig deep. And they see God providing for them, even in this tragedy. The women’s groups have already been there for one another, sharing their food and resources: Christians, Muslims. They have become like family.”

And again, I’m reminded that in a world of pain and suffering, God’s intimate and powerful act was to come close as a child named Emmanuel: “God with us.” Born into the reality of our lives, sharing our existence, experiencing our hunger, sorrow and even our death. This is the God who is ever-present. This is the God who also, ultimately, overcomes.

God does not do this work alone. ‘God with us’ calls us alongside in partnership as we work toward the love that conquers death. For Attika, for Jeny, for every person digging deep to rebuild a life of dignity: please join us in giving the hope that holds us together this Christmas.

Everything in Common gifts change lives by ending poverty and bringing hope

They’re available at www.everythingincommon.com.au and you can send digital gift cards to loved ones right up until Christmas. Call us on 1800 998 122 to order gifts or donate this Christmas season.

Read about the work of our church partners in Ambon helping communities recover from the devastating earthquake that hit in September; an update about how your donations are supporting our Pacific church partners in their work to address inequality and violence against women; the unique fundraising efforts of Adamstown Uniting Church to support disaster readiness in Tuvalu and other small island nations; updates from Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Timor-Leste; a ‘Prayer During Times of Disaster’ and lots more.

Click to read the latest UnitingWorld Update

Download Update Newsletter as a PDF

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Every Christmas, we release a catalogue of gifts that represent many of our projects with overseas partners. It’s called Everything in Common.

In it you can find great poverty-fighting gifts like goats, pigs, clean water, education and livelihood opportunities, as well as gifts that support peacebuilding gender equality and climate action.

Check out our new gifts and shop online!

You can also read about the impact of the gifts here.

New Christmas card Designs!

We also release new Christmas card designs every year that support the work of our overseas partners fighting poverty and building hope in their communities. Sending our Christmas cards to your friends, family and loved ones is a great way to support people striving to be free from poverty and also inspire others about the work of our overseas partners.

Just $12 for a pack of eight!

Send Christmas greetings

Mum / Dad / grandma / loved one happy

Fight poverty

 

Click here to order online

or call 1800 998 122 (business hours only)

Are you a passionate advocate for justice?

Do you like telling stories and building relationships?

UnitingWorld has an opening for a Sydney-based person to help us grow a movement of people who are committed to supporting the global church as we fight poverty and injustice. Work with passionate supporters across NSW and build strong relationships with individuals and groups who financially support, advocate for and prayerfully connect with UnitingWorld’s partners and programs.

We have a flexible opportunity in the UnitingWorld supporter relations team. With the right passion, leadership skills and experience, the role could extend to include the oversight of our nationwide team of relationship managers. Your goal would be to develop and implement strategies to deepen people’s understanding of the transformative work that God is doing through churches in Asia, Africa and the Pacific; inviting them into a deeper engagement with UnitingWorld.

Click here for the Position Description

How to Apply

Please email your resume and a cover letter to info@unitingworld.org.au

Applications close 30 Nov 2019

80 dozen lamingtons walked out the door as part of North Rockhampton Uniting Church’s Market Day recently, central to a fundraising effort that will see $1,000 sent to support women in Kiribati.

The friendship between the two churches has been growing since early 2018, when North Rockhampton committed to helping UnitingWorld provide resources for women dealing with issues of poverty and domestic violence in the Pacific. The church was especially keen to provide money to build raised gardens in Kiribati so that women could grow vegetables untouched by increasingly salty soil. By the end of 2018, street stalls, ‘Bring and Buy’ stalls at women’s meetings and a Market Day had yielded $2021.75 to assist the work in Kiribati.

“Our recent event was wonderful,” co-ordinator Ros told us. “The ladies sold a cuppa and two slices for $5 and made $210. Our craft stall made $299. When we sell the left over lammies, we’ll have more than $1000. Most importantly, the event was happy and fun. We are really pleased.”

We’re right in the middle of a Campaign to boost funding for our women’s work in the Pacific, and we’re inspired by stories like these from our congregations. Thank you! While the work in Kiribati continues, we’re excited to begin rolling out gender equality workshops in Tuvalu, where the ordination of women is yet to be approved.

Thank you to everyone who has already given to our ‘Achieving Equality and
Ending Violence’ appeal

Find out more and make a donation at www.unitingworld.org.au/pacificwomen

Theology can’t prevent disasters, but can help people and communities prepare for them and lessen the impact. That’s why we’ve been supporting our Pacific partners to develop a theology of disaster resilience and share it across their churches and the wider Pacific. Our church partners work among communities who have been taught to believe that natural disasters are an unavoidable punishment for personal or societal wrongdoing.

This understanding of the nature of disaster sometimes means people haven’t thought through the practical steps they can take in their communities to avoid and lessen their impact. These new resources are written by Pacific theologians and designed to be shared as Bible studies as widely as possible with people in their own language. They teach about the nature of disaster and suffering, God’s call to care for creation, our role as stewards, and preparedness and advocacy as acts of discipleship. The Bible studies will work alongside teaching about evacuation plans, risk assessments and the provision of pastoral support.

The Framework paper was the result of a Working Group of twelve Pasifika theologians and practitioners gathering in 2018. Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll was lead writer.

The Bible studies were written by Rev Koloma Makewin (PNG), Rev Geraldine Wiliame (Fiji), Dr Afereti Uili (Samoa) and Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll (Fiji/Australia).

In the face of increasing threats from drought, fire, flood and storms in our region, we’re doing everything we can to equip our partners to respond with determination and hope, starting with foundations of faith.

Read more about the project and access the resources here.

This project is made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the Disaster Ready project of the Church Agencies Network – Disaster Operations (CAN-DO).

*Header pic: Theology of Disaster Resilience Working Group meeting in Fiji, August 2018


How can you support this work?

Give a Christmas gift card to a loved one! The Whole World in Your Hands gift card will support our partners to prepare vulnerable communities and reduce disaster impact.

Buy it now online.

Shop online for other gifts that fight poverty and build hope at www.everythingincommon.com.au