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The Pacific Conference of Churches’ annual Pacific Day of Prayer will be observed this year on Friday 8 May.

The liturgy and worship resources for 2020 have been prepared by Kiribati Uniting Church (KUC) with a reflection by KUC Secretary for Mission, Rev Maleta Tenten (pictured above left).

Under the theme ‘Christ our Living Hope’ (1 Peter 1: 3–12), the worship resources reflect on the global challenge of COVID-19 and the impacts of Severe Tropical Cyclone Harold, which recently devastated parts of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga.

Rev Maleta finds encouragement in Peter’s letter to Christians suffering persecution under the Roman Empire and encourages Christians today to consider how COVID-19 has put more pressure on those who were already suffering injustice before the crisis.

“There are existing empires in our midst and from outside our regions who continue to control and exert power over the powerless,” says Rev Maleta.

“The Easter message speaks to us to ‘Rise with Christ and not to be afraid’ to start afresh. We have to examine ourselves and our roles as Christians to see and to hear the cry of those who continue to suffer, the oppressed, those deprived of their human rights and dignity, the poor, women/girls and children being abused and violated, those with bleak future for their children and generations because of climate impacts…”

Read Rev Maleta’s full reflection and find the worship resources for the Pacific Day of Prayer below.

Website (Pacific Conference of Churches)

PDF Download


Prayer points for the Pacific Day of Prayer 2020

For the impacts of Coronavirus

  • Victims of Covid-19
  • Families who had lost their loved ones
  • The safety of health care/service providers/volunteers
  • Safety of our countries from this life threatening disease/virus

The effects of Cyclone Harold and other natural disasters

  • Victims of natural disasters
  • Families who had lost their loved ones
  • Support to victims who lost their homes, livestock, farms etc…
  • Children‟s of families affect and for their education

For those who continue to suffer in our societies

  • The poor
  • Women and girls from sexual abuse
  • Violence against women and children
  • Disabilities/disabled people including elderly
  • Gender inequality

For victims of climate change and sea-level rise

  • Those in coastal and low lying islands
  • Poor health due to water shortage and brackish water
  • Poor housing especially those alongside the coastal line due to strong wind and king tides

For West Papua

For the impacts of globalization in our countries

Header image by Natasha Holland: (from left:) Rev Maleta Tenten – KUC Secretary for Mission, Rev Dr Tioti Timon – Principal of Tangintebu Theological College, Bairenga Kirabuke – RAK (Women’s Fellowship of KUC) Project Coordinator and Gender Focal Point.

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). The UCA is a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches.

Recently I visited Sri Lanka, where I was born and had my early childhood. I was there with my mum for family stuff, but I took the chance to catch up with the leadership of the Methodist Church, who have a strong presence throughout the country.

“What exactly is the Prayer Department?” I asked when I saw it on the organisational chart.

The answer was an introduction to two women. Shy and softly spoken, one of them read from a script she’d written, and the other quietly asked that her story be told for her. They both spoke of personal tragedy; of loss and death and plans come undone. But it’s from this experience of pain that they’ve both discovered the power of prayer and they’ve committed themselves to nurturing it as widely as possible.

The Methodist Church of Sri Lanka (MCSL) has a serious commitment to being a prayerful church. These two women lead a program of initiatives to inspire and educate communities across the country, calling people to their knees. They also personally support the leadership in prayer, being available to pray with or for people in complete confidence.

I don’t know why I find this so deeply moving. It’s not a story of outcomes and impact. But I think it was George MacDonald who suggested that prayer is like a child coming to her mother because she feels hungry. The child thinks she needs food; what she really needs is her mother.

That hits home. Four years ago, when I first met the current MCSL President, I asked him why their church was experiencing renewal, and he said to me, “Oh, we started praying.” Truth!

Please continue to pray for our partners, many of whom are dealing with COVID-19 in extremely difficult circumstances. In times of global crisis, people in poverty are always hit in the most devastating ways.

Please, if you’re able, do make a special gift to support our work in work in Sri Lanka, Maluku, Bali, India, Zimbabwe and around the globe. Right now people everywhere are hurting, and we need each other more than ever.

In love and hope,

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

Click here to donate to our COVID-19 Appeal

Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people living in extreme poverty in Zimbabwe rose from 29% to 34%. That’s an extra million people living on less than $1.90 a day in the span of just one year.

An El Nino-influenced drought and Cyclone Idai has reduced agricultural production over several seasons, worsening the situation across many rural areas. The economic contraction has caused a sharp rise in prices of food and basic commodities and one tenth of rural households currently indicate they are going without food for a whole day. The unemployment rate has been estimated at 90%. All of this was before COVID-19 hit the world.

These pressures are exacerbating problems for the most vulnerable in Zimbabwe, creating higher rates of human trafficking, child abuse, gender-based violence and discrimination against people with disabilities.

Despite the huge challenges, the Zimbabwean people remain generous and resilient.

Our partners the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ) and its relief and development agency, the Methodist Development and Relief Agency (MeDRA) play a vital role in serving their communities and advocating for the people in national politics.

COVID-19 response and MCZ project update

Our partners MCZ acted early to help flatten the curve with a campaign to raise awareness across their communities.

COVID-19 could not have come at a worse time for Zimbabwe, exacerbating already incredibly difficult conditions outlined above. Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate soared more than 500 percent in February, the unemployment rate remains over 90 percent, medicines are scarce and over half of the population is food insecure.

Zimbabwe began a lockdown on 30 March, but many people who rely on being able to go out on the streets to sell produce just to meet their daily needs will face a choice between going hungry for days on end or putting themselves and others at risk of the virus.

At a time when handwashing is one of the best ways to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, there are many households who don’t have access to running water; in the capital city Harare alone this amounts to one million people.

This is the context our partner MCZ is working within and the enormous challenges being faced in Zimbabwe’s efforts to reduce the spread of the virus.

The lockdown requirements mean that MCZ is unable to continue some of their scheduled activities under the Leadership Training project, such as delivering workshops for lay and ordained leaders. However, many project activities are able to continue despite the situation and MCZ is focusing their efforts in these areas.

One of the activities is obtaining baseline information about church and community awareness relating to child protection, gender based violence, disability inclusion and human trafficking issues. Until in person consultations can be completed, MCZ will obtain information using email, telephone and social media platforms like Whatsapp. MCZ will also focus on developing church-wide policies relating to safeguarding and disability inclusion and in developing training resources that will be valuable once workshops are able to take place.

We continue to support their work and stand with them during these extremely hard times.

Please pray for Zimbabwe and the work of our church partners there.

Click here to support our urgent COVID-19 Appeal

Click here to read a letter we received from our partners on World Prayer Day.

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

When a crisis like COVID-19 hits, it is the poor who are hit hardest.

I bring you love and greetings from our global church partners and the team at UnitingWorld.

In this distressing time of uncertainty and change, if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a mix of emotions – anxiety and hope; grief and determination.

Thank you for being our faithful supporters. Your generosity and compassion has changed so many lives. Every person you have helped out of poverty is in a better place to fight COVID-19 because of you.

Watch the full message below.

Want to share this with your church community? Click here to download via Vimeo.

Please remember our partner church communities in your prayers. They face the challenge of COVID-19 often without healthcare, sometimes without clean water or food.

This crisis will come and go, and we must survive it together. We need to be there for the long road to healing and recovery. Because we are people of hope.

Though we may be walking through the valley of shadows right now, let us do it hand in hand with God’s people everywhere. Because we know God walks with us, and that dawn will come.

I pray that you and your family be strong and courageous during this time, holding onto hope and health. And I beg that you stand with us, and remember the poorest and most vulnerable in our global neighbourhood. Now more than ever, they need your prayers and your support.

We’ll continue to keep you updated in the coming weeks.

In hope and determination,

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

Click here to donate to our COVID-19 appeal


Video transcript

Hi. Like most of you, I’m stuck at home. I’m trying to get work done and stay connected with my colleagues, my family and my friends.

The COVID-19 pandemic means we are all facing a distressing level of uncertainty and change right now. I know that many of you are facing tough times, worrying about the health of your loved ones and what the next few months might bring.

And if you’re like me, you’re probably feeling a mix of emotions too – anxiety and grief; but also hope and determination.

If you’re watching this, you’ve probably been friends of UnitingWorld for a while. I’m grateful for our partnership in faith and service. We at UnitingWorld are praying for you. And our brothers and sisters overseas are praying for you. We know, because they write and tell us so.

I want you to know that the team at UnitingWorld are all safely back in Australia, and while we’re all working from home, they are doing a marvellous job looking after each other and staying connected with our partners.

Last week we shared public health information from the World Health Organisation with our partner churches – hoping they’d be useful for distribution in their churches.

The hardest thing I had to do this week was to read an email from my friend Rev John Yor from South Sudan. He wrote…

Dear Sister – Thanks for sending the information 

We are living by the grace of God because no awareness material has come from the government.

So I will copy the materials you sent and give some awareness to staff as well as groups who were displaced and are not aware of the Coronavirus or how to prevent it. But we have problems with the internet to send information and materials to others.

I am working now at night and water is a problem because it is carried by tanks not pipes lines. Hand washing is very difficult. Many are not able to stay at home because they will die by hunger if they do. They force themselves to go out to work, because there is no food stored at home. Even I don’t have food stored where we are living.

John’s words broke my heart.

When a crisis like COVID-19 hits, it is the poor who are hit hardest.

The people that our partner churches work with everyday are facing the challenge of COVID-19 without health care, internet or Newstart. Sometimes without clean water or food.

Now, more than ever, they need us to stand with them.

This crisis will come and go, and we must we survive it together. And we need to be there for the long road to healing and recovery.

Because we are people of hope. Though we may be walking through the valley of shadow right now, let us do it hand in hand with God’s people everywhere. Because we know God walks with us, and that dawn will come.

So, stuck at home we might be, but we’re rolling up our sleeves and digging deep. And we need you with us.

We’re in urgent conversations with our partners. Many of the projects you support have been put on hold, so we’re working with partners to redirect money and people to help prepare their communities and pass on critical health advice using their church networks.

We are assuring them that UnitingWorld and the people of the Uniting Church have not forgotten them, and are holding them in prayer. Please make that true, won’t you?

We’re planning how to keep ourselves and are partners fit and ready for the long road to recovery.

We’re talking with other international aid organisations and the Australian Government to prepare for what may happen in our region, to make sure that we can work together for best results.

We’re doing all we can to keep people safe. We have stopped all travel, and are no longer going into the office to work. While we will still respond to your emails and phone calls promptly (possibly in our pyjamas), responses to your post mail be delayed. It’s kept safe, and we will get to it, but we can’t access it every day.

Thank you for being our faithful supporters, for your generosity and compassion that has changed so many lives. Every person you have helped out of poverty, is in a better place to fight COVID-19 because of you.

I pray that you and your family be strong and courageous during this time, holding onto hope and health. And I beg that you stand with us, and remember the poorest and most vulnerable in our global neighbourhood. Now more than ever, they need your prayers and your support.

Thank you.

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, collaborating for a world free from poverty and injustice. Click here to support our work.

As protests escalate across West Papua in Indonesia this week, the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) has called on member churches to pray for justice and peace in the region.

In a statement released yesterday, the PCC condemned “institutional racism against the indigenous people of West (Tanah) Papua,” and reiterated calls for an urgent investigation into ongoing human rights abuses.

The protests were sparked by an incident in the Javanese city of Surabaya on Saturday. Indonesian authorities raided a university dormitory and arrested dozens of Papuan students over allegations that an Indonesian flag had been damaged by one of them.

During a long standoff leading up to the arrests, nationalist groups gathered and called the Papuan students “monkeys” and other racial slurs, demanding authorities “kick the Papuans out.” Many of the racist taunts were captured on video and were seen throughout West Papua, sparking anger and large demonstrations in major cities.

“In the context of the Pacific family, to call our Melanesian sisters and brothers in West Papua ‘Monkeys’ is to call all Pacific Islanders ‘Monkeys,’” said the PCC statement.

“We call on Indonesia to immediately allow access to Papua by the UN Commissioner for Human Rights and other UN mandate holders.”

The call comes after PCC General Secretary, Rev. James Bhagwan visited West Papua as part of a World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation earlier this year. It is understood to be the first time that such a large and diverse international delegation has visited the territory since its integration into Indonesia in 1969.

During the visit, the WCC delegation received a joint appeal from the leaders of four churches in West Papua calling for “international ecumenical support for a comprehensive political dialogue for the resolution of the situation in Papua.”

In response, the WCC Executive Committee released a statement of concern and solidarity for West Papua, supporting the church leaders’ joint appeal for a comprehensive political dialogue, and calling on the Government of Indonesia to allow access to human rights organisations and journalists.

The statement also invited all WCC member churches “to pray and act in support of the witness of the churches in West Papua – and that of PGI, PCC and CCA – for justice and peace in the region.”

The Uniting Church in Australia is a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

Image: Totem standing on the site of the first church in West Papua ~1855 | Marcus Campbell

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.

Donate now

 

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)

TLM staff and volunteers resting in a makeshift shelter

Road damage has severely restricted relief efforts

70,000 people have been made homeless by the earthquake and tsunami

 

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.

Click here to donate now.

 


 

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.

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,

Amen.


 

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.

Support our partners as they respond to this crisis.
Donate now

Relief goods ready for distribution to 300 families in Loacan, Philippines. UCCP staff and volunteers are working urgently to get supplies to struggling families. (Photo credit: Mishell Valdez)

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.

You can support our important partnership with the Church in India by donating here.

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.

Last week, the President of South Sudan and the leader of the main rebel group signed a new power-sharing peace agreement, after an earlier ceasefire failed last month. Our partners, the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) are cautiously optimistic about the newest peace agreement. PCOSS are calling for Christians everywhere to join them in prayers for a sustainable peace.

Believers in refugee camps across South Sudan and neighbouring countries will join faith communities across the world to pray together on Sunday, August 12.

Please join PCOSS and UnitingWorld in praying for:

  • God to intervene in the hearts of leaders so that they may truly embrace the agreement
  • Peace to be sustainable amongst all who are affected, from refugee camps in South Sudan and neighbouring countries, as well as diaspora communities around the world
  • Strength and wisdom to the peacebuilders who work tirelessly towards peace in their communities
  • Healing in the hearts and minds of those who have suffered most from violence and trauma
  • Assistance from the international community that is generous and appropriate to the needs of South Sudan

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia. UnitingWorld supports the Presbyterian Church of South Sudan (PCOSS) to train ministers and lay leaders and equip them with the tools they will need to teach reconciliation and peacebuilding skills in families and between tribal groups throughout South Sudan. Read more | Meet the peacemakers of South Sudan (video)

 

In the aftermath of the powerful earthquake that struck the Indonesian island of Lombok, UnitingWorld and the Uniting Church in Australia mourn alongside our Indonesian partners at the tragic loss of life.

Since the magnitude-6.9 earthquake hit on August 5, the death toll has risen to 347 according to local Indonesian media, and tens of thousands have been left homeless by the damages.

Bali also experienced strong tremors on Sunday night but thankfully no deaths were recorded, and damage was minimal.

UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe has expressed heartfelt sympathy for those who have lost loved ones and commended the work of the Bali Church in helping their neighbours in Lombok during the crisis.

“We’ve been close contact with our partners and we are heartened to hear that their congregations are raising funds to support the recovery work in Lombok,” said Dr Goringe.

“We celebrate our partner’s prompt and compassionate response and offer our prayers for all in Lombok who have been tragically affected. We also pray for all the professionals and volunteers helping the affected communities.”

MBM, the social work foundation of the Protestant Christian Church in Bali is working with other non-government agencies and helping to mobilise volunteers to support the recovery. The Indonesian Communion of Churches is also responding with funds for the rescue and recovery efforts.

Our partners are not currently seeking donations from abroad.

Uniting Church in Australia President Dr Deidre Palmer has invited all congregations to pray for the families of the victims and the recovery efforts.

Please pray alongside our church partners in Indonesia for those who’ve lost loved ones, those who’ve lost homes, and for all the people responding to this disaster.

Prayer

Rev. Dr Apwee Ting of the Uniting Church Assembly Resourcing Unit has written this prayer for Lombok in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

 

Berdoa buat Lombok

 

Ketika bumi menggeliat

membangunkan manusia yang terlelap

oleh mimpi mengejar hidup

 

Ketika isak tangis kepedihan manusia

yang ditinggal oleh yang terkasih

 

Kita tersentak, merenung dan bengong

kekasih hati, mutiara hidup telah hilang

kembali kepada Sang Empunya hidup

 

Kesunyian, kesenyapan dan kesendirian

sekarang menguasai hidup

hidup tidak lagi bermakna seperti kemarin

 

Dengan doa dan solidaritas

kuulurkan cinta dan kasih yang ada

merangkul engkau yang sendirian ditengah reruntuhan

 

Lombok, kusebut namamu

didalam doa ku kepada Sang Pencipta hidup.

 

Lombok, kuulurkan tanganku

bersama berjalan dan berbagi derita

 

Lombok,

Kepada mu ku berdoa kepada Tuhan kita.

 

Amin

Prayer for Lombok

 

When the earth writhed

waking up people

from their dreams of pursuing life

 

When we heard of human pain

who has lost their loved one

 

We gasped, pondered and stunned

sweetheart, the pearl of life has been lost

back to God who created life

 

Silence,

emptiness and solitude

now master life

life is no longer meaningful like yesterday

 

With prayer and solidarity

I extend love and care

embracing you

who are alone in the midst of the ruins

 

Lombok, I said your name

in my prayer to the Creator of life.

 

Lombok, I extended my heart and hands

Let us walk together to share our pain

 

Lombok,

To God we pray together.

 

Amen

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia. Our partner church in Bali is the Gereja Kristen Protestan di Bali (Protestant Christian Church in Bali), who we work alongside on projects to empower women and alleviate poverty in rural Bali. Read more | See more (video).