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Author: UnitingWorld

As Zimbabweans go to the polls on Monday, it will be the first election in decades to be free of the influence of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, who was forced to resign in November.

While the run-up to the landmark event has not been marked by the violence seen in previous elections, there have been increasing reports of voter intimidation and coercion, including threats of violence.

The UN Human Rights Office has welcomed the “widening of the democratic space” in Zimbabwe since President Mugabe’s removal and has expressed “cautious optimism” for a peaceful election on July 30.

Our church partner, the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, has called for peace during the elections and voting rights to be upheld during the process.

Please join us in praying that peace prevails in Zimbabwe throughout this important election.

Please feel free to use the below text in your church or prayer group.

Prayer for Zimbabwe

Heavenly Father, we surrender the upcoming Zimbabwean elections into your mighty hands.

We pray that the gift of the Holy Spirit will guide everyone involved in this landmark election.

Give the Zimbabwean people the wisdom and serenity to choose their future leader,

A God-fearing leader who will respect and uphold human dignity and the laws of the land.

Zimbabwe has gone through many trials and tribulations over the years. Innocent people have lost lives through violence and indiscriminate killings. Lord Jesus, give people a spirit to forgive and reconcile with each other for the healing of the nation.

We pray that every person will respect and honour the outcome of the election. May your Holy Spirit touch every corner of Zimbabwe with love and understanding.

We pray that those who are not elected will humbly accept defeat, and that the winners will celebrate in peace, love and harmony.

We pray for peace amongst all the citizens, contesting parties, politicians and other stakeholders.

O God, we acknowledge you as the unifier for all the people of Zimbabwe.

We pray and trust that the election will be violence-free, and your Holy Spirit will prevail in the end.

Lord Jesus, you once said to your disciples, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you.” May these words echo in the hearts and minds of each Zimbabwean during the election period.

And may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard the hearts of the Zimbabwean people in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

(Prayer written by a Zimbabwean Australian UCA member who wished to remain unnamed)

“This is who we are. A pilgrim people. United by the love that calls us to each other and the world…”

Our new video was shown to the 15th Triennial Assembly meeting of the Uniting Church in Australia last week and we’re excited to share it with you!

Because you’re part of it.

None of this work could happen without your support, prayers and shared vision of a world free of poverty and injustice. Thank you.

The video is a great way to find out what we do, how we do it, and the impact we’re making.

Please watch, download and share in your church community and social networks!

Share video on Facebook

Click here to watch or download on our Vimeo channel.

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan and UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe have written to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) over the human rights conduct of the Philippine government’s so-called ‘war on drugs.’

The letter expresses concern over “gross human rights abuses that continue to take place in the Philippines” in the form of widespread extrajudicial killings carried out during police anti-drug operations since July 2016. The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) supports a joint statement made by 38 member states of the Human Rights Council in June, which urges the Philippine Government to allow an independent UN investigation into the killings.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines estimates there have been more than 13,000 extrajudicial killings linked to the anti-drug campaign. The Philippine National Police say less than 4,000 drug suspects have died in “legitimate police operations” from July 2016 to January 2018.

UnitingWorld is in regular contact with UCA partner church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) who have sent a word of thanks for UCA solidarity in their advocacy efforts.

Please continue to pray for our partners, human rights defenders and an end to the killings in the Philippines.

“We shall build peace through forgiveness and love one another. All the churches in South Sudan will pray for peace.” – South Sudanese church leaders.

Our church partners in South Sudan have been running peacebuilding and trauma healing workshops inside refugee camps in neighbouring Uganda and Kenya.

In the first week of June, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) held a peacebuilding and trauma healing workshop with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Over the three days of the workshop, participants tackled big-picture questions like, “what does healing of trauma look like?” and, “how can we forgive ourselves and build peace in our lives?”

The workshop focused on reconciliation and finding the root causes of conflict. The facilitators spoke about mercy, forgiveness and turning away from tribalism towards repentance. Following the close of the workshop, participants expressed their deep appreciation for the materials and asked for additional and more in-depth workshops to be held.

Rev Paska Aciya of PCOSS recently returned from the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, where she ran peacebuilding, trauma and reconciliation training.

“I have been in Kakuma Refugee camp to conduct training for our people there who ran because of the war. It was successful; attended by 32 women and some pastors. “As refugees, they have challenges; most are women and children, as most of the women’s husbands have been killed during the war.” – Rev Paska Aciya.

The workshop in Uganda was held as part of our Peacebuilding and Trauma Healing project with the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan. Rev Paska Aciya was also trained to be a facilitator as part of the project. These activities have been made possible thanks to the generosity of UnitingWorld supporters.

Related reading:

South Sudanese churches welcome top leader’s agreement, but warn conflict has expanded (WCC)

 

Photos / Top: Rev Paska and colleagues of PCOSS. Right: Men and women praying at the Peacebuilding and Trauma healing workshop in a Ugandan refugee camp

UnitingWorld will be holding a series of public seminars to connect our partners with supporters in Australia.

Across three events, representatives from eight of our international partner churches will discuss the unique challenges they face being the Church and addressing poverty and injustice in their contexts.

The events are free, open to members of the public. However, places are limited so please register to book your place here.

These events form part of UnitingWorld’s presence at the 15th Triennial Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia to be held in Melbourne, and Assembly delegates are enthusiastically encouraged to attend.

 

Event details for sessions

HOPE IN A TIME OF ADVERSITY (Mon 9 July, 1-2PM)

Our partners from Zimbabwe, Lebanon and Maluku discuss how they respond to these uncertain times in world affairs. In this seminar, Prof Andrew Glenn explores with them the challenges the church faces in these political hotspots and the Christian hope that sustains them.

BEING A MINORITY CHURCH (Wed 11 July, 1-2PM)

Living in the midst of Hinduism and Islam in Bali and Buddhism, Daoism and Islam in China, our partners from Bali and China discuss with Associate Director, Jane Kennedy, how the church is working to play a vital role building Christ’s kingdom.

THEOLOGY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Fri 13 July 1-2PM)

How does the church respond to the prevalence and severity of domestic violence? On average one woman is killed every week by a partner in Australia and the spread of the #MeToo movement internationally since 2017 attests to widespread sexual harassment and assault. Our partners in Vanuatu, Fiji and India discuss with Associate Director, Bronwyn Fraser, how they are working to address belief systems which perpetuate domestic violence.

 

Venue / Location

The Matsudo Room

Box Hill Town Hall

1022 Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill VIC

Parking on street, behind library or multilevel carparks nearby

 

Cost

Entry is free – BYO lunch.

Tea and coffee provided.

 

Register for a session

Registration is essential as seating is limited and the venue is secure.

Register online: https://www.trybooking.com/WEKP

Or call: 02 8267 4267  |  0412 875 656

 

More information/enquiries: assemblysupport@unitingworld.org.au

The Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) has issued a statement calling for peace ahead of national elections on 30 July.

The elections will be the first since longtime leader Robert Mugabe stepped down under military pressure, and it’s feared that intense partisanship in the nation could lead to violence. On 25 June, a bomb exploded as Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa was leaving a campaign rally, killing two people and injuring at least 49.

In a national newspaper article, the MCZ has urged all Zimbabweans “to uphold a peaceful environment where non-violent, free and fair elections are experienced.” The church also appealed to political leaders to respect voting rights and refrain from violence and hate speech in their campaigns.

Read their full statement here.

Please join us in praying alongside our MCZ brothers and sisters that peace prevails.

In this edition of Update, you’ll read about families in Indonesia, Maluku and West Papua who, with your support, have been trained in goat breeding, learned about family farming or used micro credit loans to start small businesses. They’re not just seeding a new future for their families, they’re contributing to a better future for all.

You’ll also read about the impact of using the Bible as a powerful lens through which to see the world and drive change for women in the Pacific.

Download here.

Read here:

“Since the conflict,” “after the conflict,” “during the conflict.” These phrases pepper almost every conversation.

It might be 20 years, but the violence that broke out between Muslims and Christians in Ambon, Indonesia in 1999 is still the watershed event that shapes all narratives.

People died, homes and businesses were burnt down and two communities that used to live intermingled were left segregated and distrustful. How do you come back from that?

Chickens. Garbage. Hydroponics.

Unlikely you say? Not so, says the church in Ambon.

They’ve been setting up community projects where groups of people work together on an area of common need – women raise chickens to generate income; students clean up garbage pollution in their local river; families without land start hydroponics to grow food.

The magic? Each group is half Muslim, half Christian. Friendships are made, trust is rebuilt, the poor have new income. They learn to depend on each other. When friction flares up between individuals, people step in and diffuse it.

Six years since the start of this initiative, the two faith communities are intermingling, doing business and socialising with each other. When there was a flare up of violence during a recent election campaign, it did not affect any of the villages where this project has been running.

If that wasn’t enough, our local church partner has been deliberately seeking out the involvement of people with disabilities to include in the income generating and peacebuilding collaborations.

So much hope! If you didn’t believe it was possible to turn swords into ploughshares, think again – the Protestant Church of Maluku, with our support is doing it with chickens and hydroponic kale.

Biblical training continues to help unlock chains of oppression for women in Papua New Guinea, one of the toughest places on earth to be born female.

Many of you have heard about our gender theology work for women’s equality. Last month thirty-four men and women from all seven of the mainline church denominations in Papua New Guinea met together to continue to champion the cause. Each received intensive training in gender equality from the Bible and is passionate about influencing gender awareness and equality among individuals, churches and government.

“The participants were pastors, theologians and people who are voluntarily committed to social change,” says International Programs Manager, Aletia Dundas.

“They all come from different theological and doctrinal backgrounds, but they’re all committed to working from their Christian faith to respect the dignity and human rights of all.”

As is the case across much of the Pacific, women in Papua New Guinea experience high rates of domestic violence, have few opportunities to earn incomes and are seriously under-represented in politics. But PNG is also a deeply religious society, and churches are leading the way toward challenging cultural practices that hold women captive. Our partners are working to train leaders in the ‘Ten Pillars of Gender Equality’ using the Bible, casting the relationship between men and women in a transforming new light.

“Each day the workshop began with Bible Study, led twice by Rev Dr Afereti Uili from Samoa and once by a team from the PNG Anglican Church,” Aletia reports. “The group was incredibly open to discussing tough topics like household codes and how culture influences gender roles.”

Participants spoke of the ways they have sought to share gender equality theology in their work or church. One participant from the United Church in PNG described the challenges of not being taken seriously as a lay woman offering to lead a Bible study. Others shared about confidently responding to challenging questions with equally challenging answers.

Your gifts are helping support this vital work. The group in PNG will continue to meet together, encourage each other and learn so that more people can be trained to strengthen the voices and roles of women.

UnitingWorld’s Gender Equality Theology work in PNG is part of the Church Partnership Program and is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea.

Dolores (name changed to protect privacy) has the most soulful eyes you could hope for on a cow.

Part of her earnest expression, I’m pretty sure, has to do with her confidence that not only is she saving the planet – she’s going to give families a chance to end poverty.  Most of her daily dump goes directly into a big tank where it ferments away, producing methane gas that runs along this pipeline into a gas cylinder. There are technical details here I didn’t catch, but from here it lights up a cooker.  And presto.  Fuel.

Dolores is part of a program being trialled by our partner organisation in Bali, MBM.  This bunch are no slouches when it comes to innovation.  They live in a country synonymous with tourism, although it battles to keep its place as the poster child of cheap Aussie getaways since the Bali Bombings and is in fierce competition these days with other exotic Asian destinations like Cambodia and Vietnam. Still, much of the Balinese economy relies directly on the wallets of international visitors.  Local small farmers without the skills to share in the tourism industry are doubly disadvantaged – prices pushed high by visitors; a system that cuts them out.  These are the invisible poor among whom our partners work, right across Bali’s length and breadth.  For these families, innovation is the name of the game.

Trialling livestock to produce fuel by way of methane; gathering rubbish to recycle and then resell; seeding community gardens where produce can be shared and sold; training people in small businesses and co-ops in which families invest their savings together in order to buy livestock – these are the skills that will help end poverty forever.

For the next two weeks, until June 30, you can help give them and many others among our partner churches up to six times the hand they need.

Combined with Australian Government funding, you’ll make a huge impact ending poverty.

Find out more and make your gift here.

Thanks for standing with us and our partners – we’re better together!