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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.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.’ Colossians 3:15
Lent is a time of repentance, fasting, and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of reflection regarding the suffering, death, and resurrection of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is also time for self-examination and reflection, for us to redirect and rededicate our attention and action, prayerfully, to the most crying needs in our society.
Let us heed Pope Francis’s call to a day of prayer and fasting for peace in South Sudan the Democratic Republic of Congo, to be held on 23 February, in the first week of Lent according to the Gregorian calendar. Let us join in prayer and fasting, as part of the global ecumenical movement in light of the ongoing social- political tension, violence, and the suffering of the affected peoples in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
In the DRC, 4.3 million people are displaced throughout the country and 13.1 million people will be in need of humanitarian assistance throughout the country this year.
In South Sudan, 2 million people have fled the young nation as refugees and about 1.9 million people are internally displaced, over the past four years of conflict- with 7 million people inside the country – that is almost two-thirds of the remaining population – still need humanitarian assistance.
Children, young men, and women have been among the most affected. Millions of women and girls are exposed to gender-based violence in these crisis-affected areas.
The churches and communities are dedicated and present in these communities, accompanying the affected people through these challenging times. We acknowledge the courageous and hopeful work that carries on each day to serve the people in need. May the prayers of all Christians on 23 February for the gift of peace be a sign of solidarity and closeness to those suffering in South Sudan and DRC.

May God bless you and your ministry during this season of Lent,

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary

See Original Prayer

At least 44 people were killed and more than 100 wounded after suicide bombers targeted two Coptic churches in northern Egypt during Palm Sunday celebrations.

The first blast was inside St George Coptic church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, north of Cairo, killing 27 people and injuring 78.

A second bomb was detonated in front of St Mark´s church in Alexandria on the country’s north coast after a suicide bomber tried to storm the entrance but was stopped by police. 17 were killed in the attack and at least 48 were injured.

As we grieve this tragic loss of life and attack on the Church body, we hold our Coptic brothers and sisters in prayer.

Prayer for the Coptic Church in Egypt

On this Holy Week,

As we journey with Jesus to the cross,

We hold our brothers and sisters in Egypt in prayer.

We pray for the congregations in Alexandria and Tanta,

We pray for Coptic Pope Tawadros II,

and the families of the victims.

May our condolences be a support in their sorrow,

May the passion of Christ be their solidarity

as communities in the process of counting of their losses.

If one part of the Body of Christ is suffering, all members are suffering.

We pray for Coptic communities in Australia,

In the face of this brutality, we speak faith-inspired peace.

Where there are hateful deeds, we pray for good will and actions.

In the world of religious diversity,

We pray for Muslims and Christians, and people of all faiths.

Be unified in the common good of humanity.

May their interfaith dialogue be a pathway towards understanding and respect.

We pray for national leaders to work in collaboration for the people

May they recommit to upholding religious rights.

We also pray for ourselves

In this Holy Week, we look to each other.

Where fear distorts people’s judgement,

Let us step forward and lay our burdens onto the Cross.

Where anger intensifies violence,

Let us put the sword away and proclaim compassion to all.

In this Holy Week, we look deeply into the Passion of Jesus.

Where hopelessness rests in the minds of many

Let us listen to the cry of Jesus.

In the emptiness of his forsakenness,

There rests the source of perpetual truth

– His passion is our path of salvation.

-Rev Dr Ji Zhang

Read more:

World Council of Churches condemns terror attacks on churches in Egypt, calls for end to violence

Egypt declares three-month state of emergency after Palm Sunday church bombings kill 44

16 August, 2016

Prayers for peace and reunification written on ribbons and tied together on the border of North and South Korea

 

The Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK) has published 100 Prayer Topics on Healing, Reconciliation, and Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Nation and invited partner churches to pray with them as they work for peace and unity.

The publication coincides with the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Korean Peninsula from the Japanese in World War Two, a date marked by the church as the beginning of the Cold War geopolitics that led to the division of the country.

The Presbyterian Church of Korea invites its church partners and all “friends of the Korean church” to join with them in prayer and have written the 100 Prayer Topics so you can be informed on the issues that face the people of North and South Korea.

They have also developed a mobile app that contains the prayers as well as promptings to help you remember.

“It has been a 71 year-long unfulfilled liberation for the Korean people who have been longing for healing, reconciliation, and peaceful reunification.” said PCK General Secretary Rev. Dr. Hong Jung Lee.

Download the 100 Prayer Topics document

Download the app

Read the PCK’s full invitation to pray below


12 August, 2016

Dear Ecumenical Partners and Friends of Korean Church,

Warm greetings from the Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK)!

This year August 15th marks the 71st anniversary of Liberation of the Korean Peninsula from Japanese Imperialism following the end of the World War II. But the Korean Peninsula had been divided into the two Koreas by the superpowers, particularly the U.S.A and the former USSR. The Division brought the outbreak of the Korean War which recorded 5.5 million casualties and fixed the division structure on the basis of the Cold War system. It has been a 71 year-long unfulfilled liberation for the Korean people who have been longing for healing, reconciliation, and peaceful reunification.

In this regards, the PCK published the 70 Prayer Topics on Healing, Reconciliation, and Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Nation both in Korean and English last year. Once again, we have updated it and come to publish 100 Prayer Topics on Healing, Reconciliation, and Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Nation in Korean and English. We have also developed an application for smart devices so that whoever wants to join the prayer can easily download and pray for the Healing, Reconciliation, and Peace.

By sharing these prayer topics with our committed ecumenical partners, we humbly and sincerely invite you to participate in remembering the 71st anniversary of the unfulfilled liberation of the Korean peninsula due to the division, and specifically to join in our special prayer movement for the Healing, Reconciliation, and Peaceful Reunification of the Korean nation.

I heartily wish that you will use the 100 Prayer Topics by downloading here, and the mobile application here at your own convenience, in your church. Thank you very much for your ecumenical friendship and solidarity.

May the peace of our Lord be with you all!
Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Dr. Hong Jung Lee
General Secretary
Presbyterian Church of Korea (PCK)

July 6, 2016

Heavy rain around China’s Yangtze river basin has left 128 people dead and scores missing, Chinese media says, with more damage feared from a typhoon expected to land this week. Our partner church, the China Christian Council (CCC) has today requested prayers during this disaster. In response, Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) President Stuart McMillan has written a pastoral letter to the CCC and called on the UCA to pray for those affected by the floods. Below is the letter from the CCC Department of Social Services, translated into English.

May love manifest among the people although the floods are ruthless. We appeal to sisters and brothers to pray in intercession for people affected by the nationwide floods in China.

Image via Wuhu TV

Since this year’s major flood period began, the overall amount of rainfall has increased rapidly. Starting from June 30th, the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River received heavy rains, affecting Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, and the eastern part of the southwest regions of China. In Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Guizhou, Henan, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces, hundreds of rivers have passed their alert water levels.

At the National Flood Prevention press conference of July 3rd, the State Flood Prevention Headquarters and Ministry of Water Resources reported that 26 provinces and 1,192 counties in China, together with 2,942,000 hectare crops, had been hit by the floods, with 3,282,000 people being affected, with 148,000 people being evacuated in emergency. So far 186 people are confirmed dead and 45 people are missing. The floods have caused the direct economic loss over 50.6 billion RMB. It is expected that in next three days the water levels of the main streams from Lianghua Pond to Datong River, Dongting Lake, and Boyang Lake will pass their alert water lines. The water level of Tai Lake will continue to rise as well.

Image via Wuhu TV

Let love manifest among the people, although the floods are ruthless. During this period of emergency, we seek support and cooperation from different sectors of the society and the Church. This year the CCC & TSPM will pay close attention to the disaster caused by these nationwide floods, and will make the appropriate response accordingly. Hereby we appeal to all churches and church members to be mindful of the disaster and pray for the affected regions and the people. May we all pray that the floods subside and the shared love is manifested through this time of emergency.

The request to pray was translated by Rev Zhao Chengyi, a PhD candidate from the CCC who is currently studying at Centre for Theology and Ministry in Melbourne.

 

Please pray for our partners the CCC and the people affected by this terrible disaster.
You may wish to use this prayer:

God of compassion, You are the source of all comfort and care.

Today we pray for the people in China,

for the lives that have been devastated by rain and flood.

Bring them safety and comfort,

Protect their homes and belongings,

Sustain them with care and love, we pray.

 

May our prayers strengthen the weak,

Keep the spread of disease within the limits of God’s compassion.

We pray for all members of the Chinese church,

As they support their brothers and sisters in this time of needs.

 

May our prayer strengthen the rescue workers and forces,

have mercy on them.

We pray for the local communities

as they feed the hungry and care for the homeless.

Give them your enduring care.

 

We pray that the peace of the Lord be with our partner church.

That our response to their suffering be compassionate.

May the Lord give comfort to all the peoples in suffering,

and our solidarity give them support in their needs.

For we ask it in Jesus name,

Amen. 

The Prayer of Intercession is written by Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Manager Church Partnerships – Asia.

Read More

Read the prayer request and prayer in full (including Chinese)

UCA President Stuart McMillan’s pastoral letter to the CCC

ABC: China floods leave more than 120 dead, scores missing, state media says

Prayer for the People in the Land of Papua

There is no place where you cannot reach,
God who made the heavens and the earth.

There is no journey which you have not travelled,
God who is with us, Jesus the Christ.

There are no people beyond your care,
God who is the Spirit, the Comforter.

Stay with the people in Papua now, with your love and kindness;
Lighten their darkness with your consolation and blessing.

When their voices and resources are taken away,
it is to the governments that they have turned with their questions

When their dignity and freedom are endangered,
It is to God and friends in Christ that they have turned for reassurance and comfort.

We pray for
eyes that are open to see what Jesus sees,
ears that are open to truly hear,
hearts that are open to love as Christ loved,
and lives that respond to our neighbour’s crying.

Today, we pray for ourselves
and all those with power to pray and help,
the local and national governments in Indonesia,
the companies that extract resources from the land
our partner the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua.
Let them walk together within God’s goodness,
act justly, relieve suffering, sustain life and rebuild the communities.

Hear our prayers this day
for we pray in the name of Jesus
whose arms were outstretched on the Cross
to embrace all people.
Amen.

This prayer was written in response to recent correspondence with the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua (Gereja Kristen Injili Di Tanah Papua ‘GKI-TP’) on political tensions in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua.

(Rewritten by Rev Dr Ji Zhang, Manager Church Partnerships – Asia. The prayer is adapted from Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Prayers for Life’s Particular Moments, p.99)

27 June 2016

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Stuart McMillan has called the people of the Uniting Church to pray for our Papuan brothers and sisters in Christ as the Evangelical Christian Church in the Land of Papua (Gereja Kristen Injili Di Tanah Papua ‘GKI-TP’) lead their people through troubled times.

“We ask for congregations across Australia to hold our partners in prayer as they lead their church towards God’s justice, peace and reconciliation”, said Mr McMillan. Mr McMillan was responding to a letter written to the Uniting Church in Australia and other international partners. In the letter, our partner the GKI-TP has condemned the increasing levels of political tension in the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua, and has asked for prayers and assistance from its international partner churches.

The GKI-TP outlines four issues it believes must be addressed to reduce political tension and avoid conflict in Papua:

1. Freedom of expression: Throughout May, more than 2000 people were arrested and arbitrarily detained across Papua, including the mass arrest of more than 1700 people in Jayapura for publicly stating their political views and requesting a dialogue with the Indonesian Government. The GKI-TP calls for a commitment to peaceful dialogue, the lifting of media restrictions and respect for freedom of expression.
2. The monopolisation of their region’s natural resources by transnational companies keeping the wealth out of the hands of indigenous Papuans and denying them the opportunity to determine their own development.
3. Alleged human rights violations including assassination, torture, rape and kidnapping, particularly directed against peaceful activists. GKI-TP is calling on the government to resolve cases of human rights violations through the independent national Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM).
4. Greater respect for the ongoing debate in Papua regarding the history of its integration into Indonesia. The GKI-TP requests that the expression of their political views not result in violent crackdowns and unlawful arrests.

“The Uniting Church celebrates Indonesia’s cultural diversity through our extensive church partnerships with Indonesian churches, and that diversity has enriched the life of UCA widely as many Indonesians have found their home in our Uniting Church,” said Mr McMillan.

“However, we are deeply troubled by the situation in Papua as expressed by our partner church.

“We express solidarity with GKI-TP, in its ministry of peace and reconciliation, and in its call for all Papuans to be granted an effective voice in determining their own futures.

National Director for UnitingWorld Mr Rob Floyd said the Uniting Church in Australia greatly valued the courage and commitment of its church partners in Papua.

“The GKI-TP provide wonderful ministry in Papua often under the most difficult circumstances.”

Echoing the concerns raised by GKI-TP, Mr Floyd said, “We call on the Indonesian Government and all parties to make a commitment to peaceful dialogue, an end to violence and a respect for freedom of expression.”

– 27 June 2016

Read More

Read Stuart McMillan’s response to GKI-TP President, Rev Alberth Yoku

UnitingWorld’s Rev Dr Ji Zhang has written a Prayer for the People in the Land of Papua on the blog

Briefing Paper on UCA relations with Papua – 23 June 2016

World Council of Churches declares solidarity with Tanah Papua (West Papua) -28 June 2016

UnitingWorld is praying for Papua New Guinea and our thoughts are with our partners as student demonstrations and unrest continues today in Port Moresby and in other parts of the country.

People have been showing their support online using the hashtag #PrayForPNG

Yesterday police opened fire on students from the University of PNG as they attempted to march to the national parliament to present the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill with a petition. For more than a month, students have been boycotting classes and calling on the Prime Minister to stand down and answer corruption allegations.

The United Church in PNG has publically called for people to refrain from getting caught up in the violence and to pray for peace. Join us as we stand with our partners as they take leadership at this time.

“LORD our God, we bring this issue of Government Leadership in your hands. We believe that by faith, all leaders will look to you for guidance and wisdom as we prayerfully work towards solving the problem that has affected many including the students, teachers, institutions, companies, Government officials – civil servants and politicians, the Church members and the international community” – The United Church in PNG

UnitingWorld calls for an end to the violence, commitments to peaceful dialogue and a respect for the human right to peaceful assembly and association.

Read more:

Australian: Papua New Guinea in chaos as police open fire on students

Guardian: Papua New Guinea shootings: university wins injunction banning further protests

BBC: Papua New Guinea moves to block more student protests

Featured pic: Women mourning of the shootings at UPNG campus (Story) via Loop PNG

Dear Partners and Friends,

Please find attached the Joint Easter Prayer which has come with best wishes from the Korea Christian Federation of the North and the National Council of Churches in Korea of the South of this beautiful but suffering Peninsula. We ask for your prayers to rise with ours.  Please share with your networks and use for worship.

Many blessings as you celebrate resurrection.

Rev. Dr. Kim Young Ju, General Secretary, NCCK and Rev. Shin Seung Min, director of department of Reconciliation and Unification

Oh God,

Thank you for letting us know, as we hear the trickling waters beneath the melting ice, that spring is not far away.

Thank you for showing us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that a new road lies beyond the one that ends.

Our people had shared joy, anger, sorrow, and pleasure, but for the last 70 years we have lived separated as North and South embracing our wounds and pains.

We have not ended division and conflict only to find out ourselves that such 70 years were not enough. How can it be that 70 years were not enough to end division and conflict?  And in fact a higher wall is rising in front of us. Amidst the vicious cycle of division, distrust, dispute and arms race, our land and sea has become a military experimentation field of weapons, not knowing when war will break out. The bridge that once yearned for peace and unification has crumbled and the bird that once flew over that bridge, wet with rain, is no longer able to fly.

God,

Have we stimulated misunderstanding and enmity even while speaking of reconciliation?

Have we aggravated conflict and confrontation even while speaking of ending the division?

Have we incited misunderstanding and distrust even while speaking of faith?

Have we been blind to our own self-interest even while speaking of co-existence?

Have we chosen the road that threatens our life even while speaking of our people’s survival and security?

God of grace,

Please let us see ourselves rightly, we who have gone against the path of life and taken part in destruction instead of peace. Have mercy on us and forgive us when we repent our foolishness and change our paths with tears in our eyes. When we fail to realize our wrongs and continue to drive community to the cliff, please stop our steps and with your whip of love lash our obstinacy and ignorance.

God,

We yearn that compatriots of the North and South unlock the latch of separation and mightly soar on two wings.

For this hope to be fulfilled, the churches in the North and South will

build a bridge of forgiveness and reconciliation where there is hate and division,

let rivers of dialogue flow where there is distrust and confrontation,

plant trees and create forests where there is violence and destruction.

God of resurrection,

let the churches of the North and South hunger and thirst for righteousness,

Lead us to cultivate such desires and will into courage and wisdom and become communions of faith that make peace.

In this cold and bleak season, let our people and our neighboring countries meet the tidings of spring and lights of life that break free from the icy ground.

In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Click below to read this prayer in Korean.

In Korean

National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK)    Korean Christian Federation (KCF)

Both the NCCK of the South and the KCF of the North worked together to prepare this Joint Easter Community Prayer.

Update: 8.30am Monday 22 Feb

Message just received from Rev Dr Cliff Bird in our Fiji Office:

Power supply has just come back on in parts of Suva, so able to send this brief email update on the aftermath of TC Winston.

The curfew is still effective and will be lifted at 5.30 a.m. tomorrow, Monday.

The very sketchy information received so far indicates that destruction has been widespread and very bad. The Lau group of islands, Koro Island, villages on Vanua Levu and their township Savusavu have been hit very badly. One village on Koro Island lost all homes. On Viti Levu, Rakiraki, Ba, Nadi, Lautoka, Sigatoka, and villages along Korovou and Tailevu were hit badly. Hundreds of homes have been lost, infrastructure damaged, farms and gardens destroyed, etc. Water and power supply to many areas are still down. Suva was not too badly hit comparatively speaking. So far 5 cyclone-related deaths have been confirmed.

Photo source ABC News

Minister for Education has given directive that all schools will remain closed for the entire week. Many schools have sustained damages. The USP and Fiji National University will remain closed tomorrow and may resume on Tuesday.

The President of the Methodist Church asked all congregations to stay home Sunday in light of the cyclone and curfew. The church office will not open today and will resume on Tuesday.

The General Secretary of the Methodist Church sent instructions to all divisional superintendents and their ministers to make available church halls as evacuation centres if necessary. He has also requested that they begin to do some initial assessment of damages and let the office know.

Will let you know more details when information come to hand. Thank you for your prayers, and continue to keep in your thoughts the thousands who have been badly affected in one way or other.

Update: 9.15am Sunday 21 Feb

We are slowly hearing back from our team members and church partners today. There are some very sad reports about villages, homes and livelihoods destroyed. One staff member texted just now: I am good. It was so bad last night. It is still blackout since last night. The curfew is still on. All shops are still closed, just found a canteen on another street to buy top up cards and water 5mins ago. We’ll see how today progresses. Trees have fallen so some people are cleaning up”. Thoughts and prayers with the people of Fiji.

You can read more here: www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-21/tropical-cyclone-winson-leaves-trail-of-destruction-across-fiji/7187104

Update 12.25 pm 20 Feb: Our National Director Rob Floyd has now spoken with friend and church partner Rev Tevita Bainivanua, President of the Methodist Church in Fiji. He let him know the Australian church community were praying for them – and offered future support, should they need it.

Previous updates:

Please keep our church partners in the Pacific, our staff in the Fiji Office and the people of Fiji in your prayers as they brace for Cyclone Winston.

ABC News reports that a powerful category-five cyclone is lashing Fiji’s outer islands with hurricane-force winds of up to 220 kilometres per hour.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston is heading westward and has already hit areas in the Lau group of islands as it tracks towards more populated areas.

The cyclone was about 320 kilometres east-north-east of Suva, the capital, at 5:00am (local time), travelling at 25 kilometres per hour.

The storm was carrying average winds of 220 kilometres per hour, with gusts of up to 315 kilometres per hour, Fiji’s Meteorological Service said.

Forecasters say there’s a chance the cyclone will whip up very strong wind gusts around the capital.

You can read the full article below.

National Director Rob Floyd was in touch with our Methodist Church of Fiji partner Rev James Bhagwan yesterday, and UnitingWorld staff member Rev Dr Cliff Bird at 10am this morning. Cliff reports that strong winds are hitting Suva right now, and people are prepared and in shelters with water and food supplies.

Please keep them in your prayers.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-20/category-five-cyclone-winston-bears-down-on-fiji/7186080