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Notes from the National Director

When Australia was asked to choose a new federal government last month, my husband Chris and I found ourselves investing time and energy into helping our children think about the decision we were facing as a nation, even though they’re not yet old enough to vote.

We talked about what it means to be part of a democracy and the responsibility it places on us. We explored their hopes for the future, using the 2019 Vision Statement of the Uniting Church, which dreams of a nation with a heart for our First Peoples; a thriving and equitable economy for all; a loving and hospitable attitude toward all races, genders and sexualities; stewardship for all of God’s creation and commitment to our global neighbours. We also used the ABC’s Vote Compass to discuss our voting options.

Most of all, we wanted our children to value the privilege and power it is to have choice in a world where so many are voiceless and shackled by their gender, poverty or the corruption of their leaders. In my work each day, I’m encouraged by the many ways your love and determination are putting power back into the hands of men, women and children who are created, like you and I, with the capacity to achieve so much if given half the chance. Thank you for choosing to use this power for such great good!

Recently, the team and I at UnitingWorld have been reviewing our programs, working out our focus areas for strengthening our work in the next financial year and beyond. There is always more great work we could do than we have resources, but we’re always guided by our partners within our five priority areas of Poverty Alleviation, Gender Equality, Strong Leadership, Climate Change/Disaster Preparation and Emergency Response.

What we’re hearing from the women and men who lead this work, is that they want trained staff and robust organisations that can support themselves long-term. They don’t want handouts or short-term fixes, they want the lasting skills to create the changes they know they can bring about on their own. This allows them, too, to share in the power of choice, making choices about how and where they invest without the need to rely on external partners.

This means we’ll be investing more in our partners to transfer knowledge, training them in good governance and risk management. It may not sound exciting, but it’s what makes the difference long term! It means you can rely on their accounting skills, their child protection policies and their long-term impact. In short, when you choose us as your partner, you’re choosing an investment of skills and knowledge for lasting change. Thank you! I’ll be writing more about this in future editions of Update, so stay posted.

With gratitude for the power of choice,

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director

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Notes from the National Director

Recently I started reading ‘Dare to Lead’ by Brene Brown. In the very first chapter, there was discussion of the brave and courageous organisational culture that is required to succeed in complex, rapidly changing environments full of seemingly intractable challenges and insatiable demands for innovation. They identified the #1 roadblock to creating such a culture: “Avoiding tough conversations, including giving honest,
productive feedback.”

Here at UnitingWorld, we’ve just done some professional development to help us tackle honest conversations together, learning to listen with curiosity, taking into account different personality styles and working to support each other with integrity during times of stress. From the boardroom to the kitchen, these are techniques that can help us to work in harmony to be more together than we are separately. However, it requires all of us to be brave – to step up in the belief that the risk is worth it.

Our partners constantly engage not just in tough conversations with each other in the workplace, but with their culture in general – challenging understandings of the roles of men and women; influencing attitudes toward the treatment of children; overcoming corruption and working toward peace. There is no way to avoid these tough conversations. They, too, require listening skills, the ability to know when and how to speak to avoid stress, and how to judge ‘personality’ differences.

And as author Maya Angelou writes:
“Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”

As we focus on courage throughout Lent, please pray for us as we learn to lead and listen to one another, and please pray for our brothers and sisters around the globe. Join us on the Lenten journey as we walk toward Easter, the ultimate revelation of a life courageously lived and given for others. Stories for your inspiration, both from Timor Leste and here in Australia, are available at www.lentevent.com

In hope and gratitude,

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director

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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.”

Read ACFID’s full statement.

 

 

UnitingWorld is the international aid and partnerships agency of the Uniting Church in Australia.

Thank you.

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:

  • Training to leaders of God’s church
  • Clean water and education to save lives
  • Loans to start small business
  • Emergency shelter, counselling and respite in disaster

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,

UnitingWorld.

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.

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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.

“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!

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Click here to watch or download on our Vimeo channel.

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.

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In a report to the Uniting Church in Australia’s 15th Triennial Assembly meeting in July, UnitingWorld has highlighted the success of a collaborative, network-based approach to community development.

In a sweeping review of three years, the report details the impact of UnitingWorld’s programs across an estimated 250,000 people in breaking down barriers to education, health, human rights and leadership; and strengthening the institutional capacity of Australian and partner churches.

National Director Dr Sureka Goringe attributes UnitingWorld’s successes to its strong identity as part of the Uniting Church, and championing a relational approach over the charity model of “handing out grants in return for timely reporting.”

“Effective programs need to be built on a foundation of strong, resilient relationships between partners,” said Dr Goringe.

“For us, good collaborations start with meaningful connections between people, where all recognise our equal place as children of God, learning from each others’ strengths and caring for each others’ needs.”

In an innovation conceived three years ago, UnitingWorld started using these strong relationships with partner churches to build regional networks, fostering multilateral collaborations; an approach Dr Goringe says was led by the partners themselves.

“In 2015, during a session of the 14th Assembly in Perth, 35 leaders from our overseas partner churches took the spontaneous and unprecedented step of penning a statement which was read out on the floor of the Assembly.”

The statement committed them to:

“Break through the boundaries of our denominations, in order to partner as God’s agents of transformation in the world” and to, “commit to develop, nurture and strengthen multilateral mission relationships by making our God-given resources available to one another, sharing our needs, joys, sorrows, achievements and challenges with openness and joyfully participating in the life of partners in a fruitful and effective manner.”

Following this landmark declaration, UnitingWorld recognised its value to church partners as a facilitator of new multilateral relationships, says Dr Goringe.

“Since then, UnitingWorld’s regional strategy over the past three years has been to create opportunities to bring together our church partners in meaningful ways.”

“We have hosted 11 regional conferences since July 2015, each one aimed at creating a community of shared learning, cultivating connections and relationships and encouraging collaboration between our partners.”

The connections formed at the regional conferences have resulted in partners sharing resources, expertise, management tools and policies on shared issues. These have ranged from the theology of community development to child protection and finance management.

The report also highlights the success of UnitingWorld’s collaborations with the Australian Government (DFAT) on the theology of gender equality, and identifies challenges to be faced over the next triennium.

UnitingWorld looks forward to continuing this journey alongside our church partners.

Read the full report on the Uniting Church in Australia 15th Assembly website.