News on our partners in India, an update from our Sulawesi disaster response work and participants from our Gender Equality Theology workshops reflect on their experience. And lots more!
News on our partners in India, an update from our Sulawesi disaster response work and participants from our Gender Equality Theology workshops reflect on their experience. And lots more!
UnitingWorld welcomes the ‘Shaping the Path’ report on the prevention of sexual misconduct by ACFID members released today.
As a member of ACFID, UnitingWorld supported the commissioning of the Independent Review on the Prevention of Sexual Misconduct and participated in the review and interview processes.
While UnitingWorld had no reportable incidents, National Director Dr Sureka Goringe says UnitingWorld endorses all the recommendations made by the report.
The final report today found that of the 76 incidents reported by ACFID agencies, there were 31 substantiated sexual misconduct cases involving aid workers over a three-year period.
“As an agency committed to preventing harm to vulnerable people; those we serve, our partners and staff, we look forward to working with ACFID on implementing the 31 recommendations in the report,” said Dr Goringe.
“While we already have strong processes for preventing sexual misconduct, we are committed to learning from this review and improving our practices.”
“We want to echo the words of ACFID CEO Marc Purcell, that any case of sexual misconduct is completely unacceptable. Our sector must do better.”
UnitingWorld’s current prevention measures include: a complaints process that makes it easy for people to report misconduct; strong training and compliance processes for managing staff behaviour; regular surveys of our staff and partners providing an anonymous complaints process for discovering any issues or misconduct early; strong screening process for hiring staff, police checks and requiring a Working With Children Check; and a Code of Conduct that is included in the ‘ACFID Good Practice Toolkit’ as an example of good practice. Our staff receive refresher training and re-sign in the Code annually. We also require our Board, partners, volunteers and contractors to sign and be bound by the Code.
We do not send Australian-based staff overseas for long periods of time and instead work in close, long-standing partnerships with local churches.
Our close and vibrant relationships with our partner churches allow us to facilitate regional trainings with local staff about the Code of Conduct, compliance requirements and processes for reporting sexual misconduct. Our close partnerships also allow us to have clear and frank discussions about expectations for implementing the Code of Conduct across church-based partner organisations.
In addition, UnitingWorld regularly runs regional workshops in collaboration with local church partners and theologians to promote gender equity and address gendered power dynamics, an issue identified in the report as one requiring improvement across the sector.
UnitingWorld remains committed transparency, accountability and constant improvement of our systems to prevent sexual misconduct.
If you have any questions about the AFID report or UnitingWorld’s processes for preventing sexual misconduct please do not hesitate to contact us.
UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia. We connect people and communities in Australia, the Pacific, Asia and Africa to work together for a world where lives are whole and hopeful, free from poverty and injustice. Find out more.
UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe has responded to the Prime Minister’s recent pledge of $3 billion towards infrastructure investments in the Pacific.
“We welcome calls to strengthen Australia’s partnership with the Pacific but we are cautious about the motives and the means,” said Dr Goringe.
“Ramping up investment to out-bid China for influence in the region should not take priority over sustainable community development.”
UnitingWorld echoes the words of ACFID CEO Marc Purcell, who notes the large number of existing lenders to the Pacific and many Pacific nations already suffering debt distress.
We recall the Christian-led Jubilee 2000 movement in the 1990’s to cancel crippling dept that kept states in poverty for more than a decade.
“If a step-up means an overburden of debt in the Pacific, it would be a huge step back. Especially considering the disaster-prone volatility of the Pacific region and the increasing impacts of climate change,” said Dr Goringe.
There are also concerns about lack of consultation with Pacific leaders and omission of climate change in the initiatives outlined by the PM.
The government’s own Foreign Policy White Paper in 2017 committed Australia to work in partnership with governments in the Pacific to respond to climate change, bolster resilience, strengthen emergency responses and improve governance, education, health and gender outcomes.
“True partnership is mutual and multilateral – more basically, it listens to the concerns of other parties before acting,” said Dr Goringe.
“We hope the Prime Minister’s ‘Pacific family’ rhetoric plans to meet the road at some point.”
On 28 September, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake struck the Donggala District in Central Sulawesi, triggering a tsunami that has devastated coastal areas including Palu city.
At least 1,500 people have been confirmed dead and 70,000 people have been displaced from their homes. The death toll climbs daily.
The Indonesian Government and United Nations estimate at least 190,000 people now require urgent humanitarian assistance, and that the lives of more than 1.5 million people have been affected.
UnitingWorld launches appeal
UnitingWorld launched an appeal this week to support local churches in Sulawesi who are responding to the crisis with emergency shelters, food, water, clothing and fuel.
Our partner organisation, the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI) has been coordinating the emergency response activities of their member churches in Sulawesi: the Indonesia Protestant Church in Donggala (Gereja Protestan Indonesia di Donggala – GPID) and the Protestant Church in Central Sulawesi (Gereja Kristen Sulawesi Tengah, GKST).
Initial funds raised by the Tsunami Crisis Appeal have now been sent to support relief work coordinated by PGI. More funds are urgently needed.
Local churches act quickly
Immediately after the crisis, churches in non-affected areas around Donggala began collecting donations and emergency supplies to take to Palu and coastal areas that were hit. Travel was near impossible for days because roads were destroyed by the earthquake.
The GKST quickly opened an emergency shelter in one of their high school buildings near Palu. Relief efforts are being coordinated by three local ministers. They report that the people being served at the centre have been so traumatised by aftershocks that they prefer to sleep outside the buildings.
Many GKST and GPID buildings have now become emergency centres being used by church leaders and volunteers. They are asking for supplies and medical aid. The PGI is preparing to send a health team from Jakarta to support the emergency centres.
UnitingWorld partner church, the Evangelical Christian Church in Timor (GMIT) also has a presence in Palu through their development organisation, Tanaoba Lais Manekat (TLM), which has been running a large-scale microfinance project there for many years.
Up to 4,000 of their clients have now lost their homes and many gains made by the project have been lost. TLM staff in Palu have nonetheless been at the forefront of the disaster response work in their community.
(Below photos via TLM)
More aid needed
We are continuing to work with our partners on rapid needs assessments and determining how to best support them in the short and long term. They have indicated the initial needs they are aiming to address are food, water, clothes, fuel for transport and cooking; tents for refugees and help with burials.
Your donation will support local churches to help and serve their communities.
Pray for Sulawesi
Please join us in prayer
For our courageous church partners serving the people of Palu and Donggala;
For the people still missing and those trying to reach them;
For those bringing urgent relief supplies to those suffering;
For those grieving the loss of loved ones;
And for those who’ve lost everything, including their homes.
All photos via Gratia Djami Jusuf, Tanaoba Lais Manekat.
They’re the first words we learn, wherever we happen to be travelling in the world. Hello, and thank you. Sometimes, it’s all we’ve got. All we need.
Our work takes us to places where we might expect only suffering and hopelessness, and yet what we meet time and again is gratitude. Gratitude from people who are thankful beyond belief for opportunities they never thought they’d be given; a chance to study their way out of hunger; a toilet built with their own hands.
“Please tell them thank you – thank you for helping us, even though they don’t know who we are.”
The words are spoken with a kind of holy wonder. These are families who look after one another with a fierce love, but the idea that people in countries far away know and love them too is another thing altogether.
For us, gratitude leaps the banks and spills both ways. A smiling mother cooks us corn from her garden and we sit to eat with her husband, father and five children. Later, we find out she has gifted us everything she had to feed her family for the week. Tears in his eyes, a Pastor shares a story of the love that led him back to care for his church, even after feeling a loaded gun against his temple. A child slips her hand into ours and sticks close, her smile a mile-wide. She has never seen anyone with skin like ours before. In these moments, we’re not the powerful dispensers of donations and resources and knowledge. We’re just sharing the goodness of what it is to be alive; the grace of life in all its messiness and small mercies.
“In all things, give thanks.” Paul’s words to the church at Thessalonica have as much relevance today as they did two thousand years ago. Gratitude transforms our daily lives as we concentrate on all that is good and gifted rather than all that wearies us and wears us down.
To each of you, we give our thanks.
In the past 12 months together, we have reached hundreds of thousands of people with the practical love of Christ, providing:
Thank you for your love and prayers. We remain grateful for the faith that binds us together as we continue to work towards the world we all long for.
In hope and peace,
We just wanted to say THANK YOU! Read about some of the great things we’ve achieved together over the past year.
We’re also excited to introduce our new Global Neighbour program.
Plus news from Timor Leste, India, West Papua, and a reflection from UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe.
In the wake of the devastation of Super Typhoon Mangkhut, Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer has called on UCA members to pray for the people of the Philippines and our partner church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
Dr Palmer has written the below prayer in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Philippines.
God of mercy and comfort,
We pray for the people of the Philippines, whose lives, homes, food and water supplies and sources of income have been devastated by the impacts of Typhoon Mangkhut.
We pray for comfort for all those who are grieving, for those who have lost families and friends and whose communities have been severely impacted.
We pray for strength and support for all those responding to this disaster.
We pray for our partner church, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Thank you for their faithful and compassionate embodiment of your Gospel as they respond to the needs of those aﬀected by the Typhoon.
May they know your sustaining love and our solidarity with them as sisters and brothers in Christ.
Through Christ we pray,
UCCP has asked for support from their international partners. Your donation will make a huge difference, helping provide essential food and relief supplies to struggling families, many who’ve lost everything in the landslides.
UnitingWorld’s Rev Dr Seforosa Carroll and Marcus Campbell have contributed chapters in the recently published ‘Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South.’
One of the key transformations affecting global Christianity today is the shift of the ‘centre majority’ to the Global South, where Christian faith thrives.
The (imperfect) classification ‘Global South’ includes about two thirds of the world’s population, many of whom have less-developed or severely limited resources.
The two-volume Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South is a huge resource on the study of contemporary world Christianity, with a focus on regions and themes that reflect its actual geographical distribution.
Rev Dr Carroll contributed an entry entitled, ‘Feminism and Christianity,’ highlighting the ways localised forms of feminism have inspired and empowered women in much of the Global South.
She writes on the critical and unique contribution of women theologians to understanding “women’s multiple oppressions and their secondary and subservient role in church and society;” how Christianity is understood in the Global South alongside different indigenous religions; and how the Bible “inspires active involvement in the struggle towards a renewed church and transformed world.”
Marcus Campbell contributed the entry on the Indonesian provinces of West Papua and Papua, drawn from his recently completed thesis on the role of religion in peace and conflict there.
His entry charts the history of Christianity in West Papua, as well as the inspiring legacies of the indigenous Church in peacebuilding, nonviolence and grassroots human rights work.
The Encyclopedia of Christianity in the Global South is published through Rowman & Littlefield.
Greetings! It’s with delight that I share a little about how the Diocese of Amritsar is ministering to communities in Northwest India through the valued support of UnitingWorld.
We work in a unique context, among communities which have been systematically deprived of standard education and healthcare, severely impacting their development and growth. Education in the region has become mostly privatised and institutional, accessible by only a few. Infrastructure is failing, and there are not enough adequate teachers or books. Girls are most affected, as they are considered a burden to the family. They risk abuse and harassment.
Our church ministry, as well as social empowerment programmes, are aimed at breaking systems that dehumanize people and keep them helpless and despairing. With your help, the Church is able to go beyond its boundaries and walk with people in times of need, working together to transform unjust social structures, and provide hope where there is none. As we work alongside our brothers and sisters in the villages, our aim is to help them develop their strengths and capabilities and give them back their sense of identity and self-confidence. Young girls and boys in villages located near the Pakistan border now have more access to quality education and healthcare and are on their way to becoming agents of change for their own communities.
In all these efforts, we see God’s design in bringing people into deep friendships, connecting individuals who have joined the journey along with UnitingWorld to enable the Diocese to carry out this life-transforming ministry. Thank you for partnering with us in this work. Please continue to keep the ministry of the Diocese of Amritsar in your thoughts and prayers.
May God bless you!
Most Rev. P. K. Samantaroy
Bishop, Diocese of Amritsar
Your gifts to our HOPE HAS MANY FACES Appeal support Bishop Samantaroy and the work of the church in India – providing training for church leaders and education opportunities, especially for girls.
Widespread flooding across India’s southern state of Kerala has left up to 400 people dead and close to a million displaced.
Up to 100,000 buildings were destroyed and millions of hectares of crops were washed away in the worst floods to hit the region in more than a decade.
The rains have diminished over the past week, but a huge clean-up operation lies ahead as the floodwaters recede.
Our partners, the Church of South India (CSI) have been assisting people throughout the emergency, distributing relief kits and providing emergency shelter for thousands of people. In the early days of the crisis, the Kerala Diocese of CSI generously opened their schools, churches and parish halls to become flood relief centres.
CSI Moderator, Most Rev. Thomas K. Oommen praised the “fighting spirit” of the people of Kerala and their willingness to help one another through the disaster.
“The active involvement of the people, especially the fisherfolk from the coastal areas of Kerala, [government] rescue operations, and the support of the churches and other religious organisations for the relief work are helping millions of people in this time of grave disaster,” said Rev Oommen.
Amid the crisis, inspiring stories have emerged.
Over the past fortnight, hundreds of fishermen from Kerala and surrounding districts used their boats to rescue thousands of people from the rising floodwaters. They are now being celebrated as national heroes.
Youth have been using social media to share the locations of stranded people and to pass on details of landslides and places where supplies were urgently needed.
UnitingWorld has been in regular contact with our partners in CSI and they have asked for continued prayer.
“On behalf of the Church of South India, we express our deepest sincere thanks for your continued prayers of solidarity, for all those who suffered loss of life and livelihoods in the floods at the State of Kerala and in the district of Kodagu. Although our words often failed to comfort and console them, we together with all our trusted partners like you, do our best to provide the help for those who are in need,” said Rev Dr Rathnakara Sadananda, General Secretary of CSI.
“Continue to pray for God’s unfailing compassion upon the flood victims and those who are affected by the land slides. Your prayers of solidarity will be of great strength and consolation to those who are passing through the most difficult time.”
UnitingWorld has sent funds to support our partners as they respond to these devastating floods.
Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer has called all UCA members to pray for the people of Kerala and our partner church, the Church of South India. Click here to read Deidre’s prayer.