Messages of Hope

Month: July 2019


Published / by Sandy

Intersectionality has become a buzz word in the diversity, equity, and inclusion space. While the theory (coined in 1989 by Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw) has been used in the academic and social justice context for some time, it has gained more traction in corporate diversity and inclusion practice. Organisations have been intentional in using intersectionality as part of their common language around diversity, affirming the need to create space for and see employees as their ‘whole selves.’ There have been studies that create the case for organizations to replace traditional diversity and inclusion efforts that subscribe to a “check one box,” monolithic approach to difference and identity, with strategies that take into account the complex nature of our intersections.
(Making it real: equity is intersectional, by Brittany J.Harris)

Intersectionality acknowledges that our social identities overlap and intersect and form new, more specific identities with new implications. The individual identity groups we belong to – race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, etc – do not exist in a vacuum, and cannot be compartmentalized. Intersectionality acknowledges that a person can simultaneously belong to multiple historically marginalized groups, and that social identities converge with interlocking systems of power and privilege (sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, nativism) and in turn foster engaged, activist work toward social justice.

It’s a lot to get one’s head around, and especially when the common narrative from political and community leaders seems to be in the realm of binary, polarised, ‘us’ and them’, and dualistic thinking.

In her book, Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide, Grace Ji-Sun Kim applies the concepts and questions of intersectionality to theology, highlighting that intersectionality demands attention to the Christian thinker’s own identities and location within systems of power and the value of deep consideration of complementary, competing, and even conflicting points of view that arise from the experiences and understandings of diverse people. Her book challenges readers to imagine an intersectional church, a practice of welcome and inclusion rooted in an ecclesiology that embraces difference and centres social justice. We were privileged at Pilgrim to have Grace speak at a service a few weeks ago, and she also enlarged upon intersectional theology at a special event at UCLT (theological college).

At the recent UCA President’s Conference in Fiji which I attended, Rev. Dr Sef Carroll spoke about using the lens of intersectionality to respond to issues of justice to ensure that we seek the liberation of all, including all of creation. Creation itself can be considered as marginalised by the utilitarian use of the earth’s resources, especially by big companies.

Earth Overshoot Day each year is the date that indicates when we have used more from nature than the planet can replenish this year, when people will have used up its allowance of natural resources such as water, soil and clean air for all of 2019. It happened this on Monday July 29th, 2019. The so-called Earth Overshoot Day has moved up by two months over the past 20 years and this year’s date is the earliest ever, according to a study by the Global Footprint Network.

In the Psalm reading last Sunday, we read, ‘steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky’. But the fecundity of precious earth has been damaged. Farmers are now trying to find way to grow drought proof grain crops. The mining giant Adani plans to take 12.5 billion litres of water from the Suttor River every year, nearly as much as all local farmers combined. The company has been given a licence to take water at a rate of up to 11,600 litres per second – a rate that would fill an Olympic swimming pool in about 3.5 minutes. This is a world where some gain wealth at the expense of their own workers who are simply trying to make ends meet. This is a world where every hour 300 football fields of precious forest in South East Asia are being ploughed to the ground to make way for palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in everything from snack foods to soaps. It is found in over half all packaged items on our supermarket shelves. In just the last 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of Indonesian and Malaysian forest have been destroyed to make way for palm oil. Almost 80% of orangutan habitat has disappeared in the last 20 years. Over 6,000 orangutans are lost each year.

By using the lens of relational and inclusive justice and intersectionality, we can ensure that no one, including the earth itself, is left out. As Sef said, ‘this is a call to discipleship that is both rewarding and costly’. Indeed.

The God of Love had a really bad week

Published / by Greg Elsdon

The God of Love had a really bad week.

by Diana Butler Bass

Diana Butler Bass is the author of 10 books on American religion and cultural trends, including her most recent, Grateful: The Subversive Power of Giving Thanks (2018). She is currently writing a book about images of Jesus.

Shock is not the right word when I heard the crowd at a Trump rally chanting “send her back.” There has been so much shock recently that it is hard to know what to call it anymore.

As the crowd continued to chant, I watched them: They were almost exclusively white, wearing T-shirts and polos, with blonde hair peeking from under MAGA hats. Familiar-looking middle class white people — like my neighbors, classmates, friends, and family. I assumed most were probably Christians. Trump’s “base.”

 “Where,” I blurted out to my husband, “did these people go to Sunday school?”

He stared. “You are worried about Sunday school?”

“Yes. Sunday school,” I insisted. “That song — the one we all learned. Jesus loves everybody.” I quoted what may well be the Protestant Sunday school national anthem:

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow

Black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children

Of the world

I sang it in Methodist kindergarten, the teacher displaying a picture of children of every color holding hands. “Jesus said we are all equal,” she instructed, “God loves everybody and you should, too.” It would take me awhile to figure out that the Declaration of Independence was not in the Bible, but it sounded right at the time.

As the chant died down, the rhetoric of division went on with new words from the President’s speech. That familiar audience — mostly white, probably mostly Christian — continued to howl its approval.

As many have noted, “send her back” is racist, sexist, and un-American. It is also the expression of a certain view of God, one that has slowly shifted the priorities and teaching in far too many American churches, and made it possible for those who would have once sung ‘Jesus Loves the Little Children’ to join this hostile liturgy. How did they get there? Slowly, perhaps imperceptibly, hymn-by-hymn and sermon-by-sermon, one theological step at a time.

I do not feel shock. I feel grief. I do not recognize this Christianity, even if the faces in the crowd were familiar.

Not all Christians support Donald Trump. The president remains wildly unpopular among Christians who are persons of color. A majority of white Christians continue to approve of him. Of white Christians, according to Pew, evangelical support for Trump hovers around 70%; white mainline Christians are split with 48% approval; and around 44% of white Roman Catholics support him.

These numbers demonstrate the strength of white Christian base, but they also suggest something else: America’s white churches are roiled by political division. Although pro-Trump evangelicals are a solid majority, the divides in other white Christian groups are fairly even. Many white Christians are struggling with fractured families and frayed friendships. White clergy friends have reported to me that angry congregants have intimidated them after preaching a political sermon with threats to rescind donations or to have them fired. A recurring feature of progressive Christian Twitter has become white people bemoaning the fact that their relatives and friends have turned away from Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbor.

White Christianity right now is a dumpster of discord; internecine warfare has not been this bad since the 1920s when controversy ripped American churches apart on whether human beings evolved from monkeys.

In the last three years, Donald Trump has replaced Charles Darwin as troublemaker-in-chief in many white American churches. Scholars have offered sound theories as to the cause of this sharp divide, especially around issues of race and gender. There are excellent books on how white supremacy shaped American Christianity; and equally solid work regarding misogyny in churches, particularly around abortion politics. The media publishes stories about Christian Democrats pushing back against Trump with liberal renderings of faith and politics.

All are helpful. But none seems to get to the heart of the matter: Too many white Christians have a God problem.

I recently mentioned to someone that my brother had not spoken to me since Charlottesville when we argued about white nationalism and racism. My friend asked, “’How is that possible? That you and your brother could be so different?”

My brother and I grew up in the same Methodist Sunday school. We were confirmed together in the same Methodist church. Same parents, same school, same church. We sang how Jesus loved all children. We learned Golden Rule – “Do unto others” — and the Great Commandment – “Love God and love your neighbor.” Ours was not a scary God threatening sinners with hell. It was the God of the peaceable kingdom.

My brother, as an adult, traded that God for a tougher, stricter one who exercises judgment against all who refuse to bend the knee, a kind of Emperor-God, enthroned in glory. This God has often shown up in Christian history; including in American fundamentalism. But from 1980 onward, he underwent a revival in several strands of American religion including Pentecostalism, neo-Calvinism, traditionalist Roman Catholicism, and some Orthodox communities. He is a masculine Sovereign, and a winner-God for people feeling displaced in a pluralistic world. And after 9/11, this militaristic God became more real.

Meanwhile, the God of Love was not having a particularly good run. In the political age bookended by Ronald Reagan’s culture wars and a devastating terrorist attack, the God of Love began to look like a loser, one fit for liberation theologians, do-gooders, and feminists. The churches that still preached a God of Love declined; those seminaries closed.

In 1865, Abraham Lincoln ruminated on how Americans had read the same Bible and prayed to the same God. Poetry aside, Lincoln was wrong. My brother and I read the same Bible and wound up praying to different gods. His God thunders about lawless mobs and unbelievers. Mine is the mysterious Word, present before the beginning of creation, calling all to compassion, and who welcomes little ones.

This was true in Lincoln’s day as well. In the 1840s and 1850s, major denominations split over the issue of slavery and a deeper political crisis bound up with different visions of God: the God of the Master versus the God of Love. All theologies might come from the same Bible, but they were not then and are not now equally true.

Even as trends point to the decline of religion, Americans are still living with this theological argument — one playing out among Christians of mostly European descent. This argument shapes our politics, its dogma chanted as liturgy in Trump rallies and offered up in pulpits across the land. This is an ancient conflict that never quite seems to go away. For whatever reason, western Christianity has a hard time sticking with a God of love.

But, as a minority of white Christians know, and the majority of Christians of color never need be reminded, the God of love is always hanging around, the brown-skinned Jewish rabbi preaching about the poor being blessed and the broken-hearted comforted. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others. Let the little children come. Faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.

For original CNN article and related links go to:

Climate Change – a UCA statement

Published / by Sandy

A statement from the President’s Conference, Fiji 2019

“For God so loved the cosmos” (John 3:16)

The good news of Christ is for the whole of creation 
and we are one with all creation in Christ. (Col 1: 23)

We, the participants of the 2019 President’s Conference, gathering in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Fiji have drawn together to bear witness and to draw courage from each other – here where climate change is most clearly seen, most clearly felt, by the people least responsible for its progress.

We acknowledge:

Our connection to Moana, Waitui, Wansolwara people, whose lands and hearts are bound by deep, blue Pacific waters.

We are part of the Pacific, a liquid continent where islands are connected and sustained by the ocean currents.

The need to listen again to the voices of our sisters and brothers, our friends, fellow members of the Body of Christ, the most vulnerable and most impacted, who also demonstrate great resilience, determination, hopefulness and commitment to work for change.

This has inspired us and challenged us to hear God’s call to costly discipleship and we lament the effects of the human sin of greed and particularly its effects on this planet, our home.

Together we affirm:

The Uniting Church’s commitment to the wellbeing of the environment arises out of our belief that God is the Creator of the world in which we live and move and have our being.

This ‘groaning creation’ is God’s ‘good’ creation.

Through our discerning of Scripture, we acknowledge the gospel of creation: all things were made in, through and for Christ and are being reconciled in Christ.

The Uniting Church believes that God calls us into a particular relationship with the rest of creation, a relationship of mutuality and interdependence which seeks the reconciliation of all creation with God.

The Basis of Union expresses this hope and situates it at the very heart of the church’s mission:
“God in Christ has given to all people in the Church the Holy Spirit as a pledge and foretaste of that coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation. The Church’s call is to serve that end.”

Together we recognise:

The ongoing concern of the Uniting Church in Australia since its formation in 1977 for the wellbeing of our planet that has been expressed in numerous statements.

The unique place and wisdom of First Peoples of Australia in relation to the land. The Preamble to the Constitution of the Uniting Church recognises that:

The First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God before the arrival of the colonisers; the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the First Peoples and gave them particular insights into God’s ways.

The Churches of the Pacific, with whom we are a part of the Body of Christ, and the Pacific Conference of Churches, to which we belong, are leading the response to climate change. We hear their call and witness to us; and recognise their prophetic, practical and pastoral actions among their people.

Dominant forms of the Christian tradition have been complicit in the abuse of creation, often accompanied by the belief that the world is given to use as we please, and the perspective that “more is better”.

The island nations in the Pacific are being disproportionately harmed by climate change, and are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and climate change induced natural disasters

Climate change induced displacement is already a significant challenge, and grief both to Pacific countries and across the world; disconnecting people from their homes, their culture and their identity.

Climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific and across the world, and to all of creation including plant and animal life.

The intersectionality of issues – how climate change disproportionately impacts the poorest communities and on women and children, people living with disabilities, people with different gender identities – calls for relational and inclusive justice.

As participants of this conference, we are called to be God’s co-workers, participants in the work of reconciliation and renewal for the whole creation. We believe that we have a moral responsibility to act, and that God is calling us to be bearers of hope.

Because of this, we commit to:

Working with First Peoples in Australia particularly through the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, sisters and brothers in the Pacific and other communities of faith to understand the impacts of climate change on traditional and contemporary ways of life and pay attention to the Indigenous Peoples’ wisdom of living in right relationship with land, sea and sky.

Being compassionate, active listeners to the environment and people living with the reality of climate change.

Being thankful for all we have, recognising we have enough, enjoying the beauty and bounty of God’s creation, resisting the pressures of consumerism and idolatry of material possessions.

Being responsible for our own actions and our impact on the environment, and calling for a renewed repentance, turning away from seeking more, towards a just sharing and harmony of all life.

Being a green Church by finding creative ways to engage our own communities in climate action, raising aspects of the environment in our worship, replacing disposable with sustainable products, reducing energy use and moving to renewable forms of energy.

Boldly raising our voices to advocate to governments to act on climate change and its effects in Australia, in the Pacific and the global community.

Participants at the UCA President’s Conference: For the whole of creation

For the whole of creation

Published / by Sandy

The UCA President’s Conference in Fiji, 13th-17th July 2019, ‘For the whole of creation’ was a thoughtful, engaging time for participants.

The panel on gender justice at the UCA President’s Conference

On one of the evenings, a panel made a presentation on gender justice. Gender justice is actually a huge issue in the Pacific and the UN has implemented a Gender Action Plan (GAP), liaising with church and government.
‘Women commonly face higher risks in responding to natural hazards and greater burden from the impacts of climate change. Although they have intimate local knowledge and are managers of common natural resources, they are often left out of the picture when decisions on climate action are made. Gender equality and women’s empowerment is a pre-requisite to effective conservation, climate action and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. International agreements on biodiversity and the Paris Agreement present new opportunities for engaging women and accelerating equitable action, and climate change gender action plans (GAP), governments, businesses, churches and civil society are now embracing gender-responsive solutions to address the world’s most pressing development challenges, to ensure that women can influence climate change decisions, and that women and men are represented equally in all aspects of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, as a way to increase its effectiveness. The UN Development Program’s Pacific Multi-country office, which covers 10 Pacific Island countries, aims to ensure that Pacific women become full and equal partners, and leaders and beneficiaries of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation efforts and overall sustainable development (Vineet Bhatia, UN Development Program)
The Methodist Church in Fiji has implemented a gender action plan, with a dedicated team providing education and training programs. It has been great to learn about this, and that so much great work is happening in relation to addressing climate change.
To finish: the greeting used in Fiji for thanks – Vinaka Vakalevu

The 25th Anniversary of the Covenant

Published / by Greg Elsdon

Twenty-five years ago the Uniting Church in Australia formalised our commitment to walk together in solidarity with the First Peoples of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) by enacting the Covenant statement.

On Sunday 10 July, 1994, the Covenant Statement was read by then President of the Uniting Church Assembly, Dr Jill Tabart, to the Chairperson, the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, Ps Bill Hollingsworth.

As we mark the anniversary in NAIDOC Week 2019, President of the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly, Dr Deidre Palmer, and President of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, Rev Garry Dronfield, reaffirmed the commitment to be in covenant.

 “We renew our commitment to walk together with our Congress brothers and sisters towards a nation where First Peoples are celebrated at the centre of what it means to be Australian,” said Dr Palmer.

 “We continue to grieve and lament the dispossession, and ongoing injustice for First Peoples.”

 “We continue to seek to journey together in the Spirit of Christ and acknowledge that we are still on a journey of learning what it means to be bound to one another in a covenant.”

 “Walking together means at times putting the interests of the other ahead of our own. It is a particular challenge for us as Second Peoples to preference the needs of First Peoples, thereby enabling justice, equity and healing to be realised in the relationship.”

The Uniting Church has affirmed the Statement from the Heart and its call for Voice, Treaty and Truth – the 2019 NAIDOC theme.

 “In living out our covenantal relationship, we will advocate for First Australians to be given a Voice,” said Dr Palmer. “We seek to be a healing community which fosters truth telling, and we support the treaty negotiations of First Nations Peoples with various governments.”

Rev. Dronfield is a member of the Sovereignty Affirmation Task Group (SATG) established to work through the implications of the 15th Assembly’s 2018 decision to recognise the Sovereignty of Aboriginal and Islander Peoples. For their work, they have developed the understanding that ‘Covenanting is the relationship that shapes how we have conversations about sovereignty and its implications.’

Rev. Dronfield said, “It all comes down to relationships. The need to commit to the relationship, to invest in it, and spend time with one another, to grow the relationship.”

“As the community of Christ this is not foreign to us, this is the way a loving community is able to nurture one another.”

The years between UAICC formation in 1985 and the 1994 Covenant enactment were a time of healing and a growing relationship.

This covenantal relationship was represented beyond the words exchanged through the presentation of a sacred painting.

Dr Palmer and Rev Dronfield gave thanks for those who began to walk together, in solidarity and covenant, so many years ago.

UCA resolutions about recognition and treaty with First Nations Peoples

In 1988 the Assembly resolved:

88.22.22. d. To support efforts to work beyond the concept of the compact proposed by the Australian Government towards a form of treaty – that is an enforceable agreement obtained through formal and full negotiation between Aboriginal political structures and those of the wider Australian community, an agreement which Aboriginal people can use to protect their interests;

In 2000 we resolved:

00.11.02.b. To endorse the idea of a legislated process of negotiation between the leaders of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous people of Australia towards a formal agreement dealing with the ‘unfinished business’ of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation’s process of reconciliation;

In 2015 we resolved to:

15.22.02.b. Continue to support Recognition as long as the form of recognition offered can be seen as a step towards and not a blockage to the larger issues of sovereignty and treaty,
c. Commit to work with Congress to educate membership of the Church about the need for a treaty.

In 2017 a UAICC National Executive Meeting endorsed the Statement from the Heart.

The Statement from the Heart includes this paragraph:

“We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history.”

NAIDOC Week 2019

Published / by Sandy

NAIDOC (National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee), 7th to 14th July.
The Australian Indigenous story has many chapters, some coloured with discovery and some blacked out with dispossession, some heartwarming and some heartbreaking, some hidden and some heralded. NAIDOC Week is an annual week-long celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, culture and achievements and is an opportunity for us to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society.
The theme for NAIDOC Week 2019, “Voice. Treaty. Truth. Let’s work together” is a reference to the Statement from the Heart. The Statement was made by the First Nations National Constitutional Convention in May 2017 at Uluru. It was a historical moment in Australian history as the coming together of 250 First Peoples’ leaders to articulate the nature of reforms desired by First Peoples.
NAIDOC week 2019 is an opportunity to explore the true story of colonialism and its lasting impact; to engage with the Statement; listen to the voice within it, and work together towards true reconciliation in Australia.

Statement from the heart
We, gathered at the 2017 National Constitutional Convention, coming from all points of the southern sky, make this statement from the heart: 
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tribes were the first sovereign Nations of the Australian continent and its adjacent islands, and possessed it under our own laws and customs. This our ancestors did, according to the reckoning of our culture, from the Creation, according to the common law from ‘time immemorial’, and according to science more than 60,000 years ago. 
This sovereignty is a spiritual notion: the ancestral tie between the land, or ‘mother nature’, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who were born therefrom, remain attached thereto, and must one day return thither to be united with our ancestors. This link is the basis of the ownership of the soil, or better, of sovereignty. It has never been ceded or extinguished, and co-exists with the sovereignty of the Crown. 
How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years? 
With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood. 
Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future. 
These dimensions of our crisis tell plainly the structural nature of our problem. This is the torment of our powerlessness. 
We seek constitutional reforms to empower our people and take a rightful place in our own country. When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country. 
We call for the establishment of a First Nations Voice enshrined in the Constitution. 
Makarrata is the culmination of our agenda: the coming together after a struggle. It captures our aspirations for a fair and truthful relationship with the people of Australia and a better future for our children based on justice and self-determination. 
We seek a Makarrata Commission to supervise a process of agreement-making between governments and First Nations and truth-telling about our history. 
In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future. 

First female lecturer a win for equality in the Solomon Islands

Published / by Greg Elsdon

by UnitingWorld News, Partnering Women for Change (Pacific Region), Women in Ministry (Pacific Region) June 17, 2019

“90% of people in the Solomon Islands believe in God. When a message about women comes from the Bible, their eyes are open, they feel it has more weight. And that’s why we will see a reduction in gender-based violence and increased respect for women in our society.”

If anyone has the insight to comment on what might make a difference to violence against women in the Pacific, it’s Pastor Lima Tura. 

The sole female lecturer at Seghe Theological College in the Solomon Islands, Lima has a Bachelor of Theology from Pilgrim Theological College in Melbourne, she is a single parent and now teaches theology and biblical studies in her home country. It’s not been an easy journey.

Feeling the call to pastor several years ago, Lima was offered a scholarship in partnership with UnitingWorld and the United Church of the Solomon Islands to study at Seghe. A trailblazer, she literally burnt the midnight oil or read under lamps powered by generators, studying third-hand textbooks from Australia as she worked her way through her Certificate. She completed a Bachelor of Theology in Melbourne and has now returned to her college determined to overcome its many challenges.

“We are lucky right now – we have power connected and two light bulbs in most of the homes,” says Lima.

“Our library is small, and we have no Wi-Fi for internet research – we can sometimes use data on our phones but it is very expensive.”

Despite scarce resources, Lima describes her lecturing position as wonderfully inspiring.

“There are fourteen gentlemen and one woman in my classes,” she laughs.

“The men are really great, very open to equality. I mean, sometimes it is probably hard for them. I’m not sure if they have been taught by a woman before except in school when they were younger.”

The first woman to lecture at the college, Lima is bringing new perspectives to students and existing clergy both by example and through her teaching, which draws on gender equality theology work developed by UnitingWorld as part of the Partnering Women for Change program.

Pastor Lima with Solomon Islander Theologian Rev Dr Cliff Bird

“For both the men and the women here, this message of equality and dignity is so liberating,” Lima says. “We held a workshop to teach from the Bible about respect for women and to share what the scriptures have to say about women and men’s roles. People are very excited. When they hear messages from secular women’s rights organisations they can be suspicious and confused. But when it comes from the pulpit, from the church who they trust, it has much more power and influence.”

In July, a group will meet in Fiji to discuss how Bible study material can be brought alive for students in colleges and within church circles. Lima will be among the attendees.

After years of groundwork, our theological workshops with church partners in the Pacific have attracted funding from the Australian Government.

“The Australian Government recognises that overcoming poverty and ending violence against women in the Pacific is about working to see women’s rights and gifts recognised,” says UnitingWorld Associate Director Bronwyn Spencer. “They’ve also realised that in cultures where Christianity is central, churches hold the most influence and authority to create change. As a result, they’ve been funding our work with partners to explore biblical gender equality, so that local leaders are equipped to preach and teach it and help to open opportunities for women in church leadership. That’s actually pretty radical.”

Leaders of women’s fellowship groups at a Gender Equality Theology workshop in Fiji

For Lima, the support of people here in Australia through UnitingWorld is incredibly precious.

“I can’t thank you enough for the scholarship to study and for the prayers you have offered for me,” she says. “Without you, I could not have answered this call. My dream for the students is that they go back to their communities with the wisdom to address through a theological lens all the challenges they face – social, economic and spiritual. We experience so much good here, but so many difficulties as well.”

THANK YOU for supporting our church partners to lead this transformative dialogue among their communities. Pastor Lima’s story is one thread in a fabric we see being woven from country to country, where God’s powerful message of freedom and dignity for all is shaking and sheltering lives.

See original article from UnitingWorld