Messages of Hope

Month: February 2022

The eyes of the wise

Published / by Peter


Sunday 13 February 2022 marked the 14th Anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations.

On 13 February 2008, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd publically apologised on behalf of the Federal Government to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children forcibly removed from their families, communities, culture and country under a series of government policies from the early 1800s to the mid-1900s. This period in Australian history caused deep, enduring trauma and grief for First Peoples.

It remains a day that calls us to truth about our history and commits us to the ongoing struggle for justice and healing.

Alison Overeem, Leprena UAICC Tasmania Manager and Advocate of the Assembly’s Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle has shared this poem reflecting on the Anniversary.

“We must be proactive to ensure there is no need for further apologies,” said Alison. “We do this by advocating for self-determination and justice, systemically and at the grassroots. We are called to justice. The Creator has called us all to this moment to stop, listen, learn and act as a result of the layers in the apology and what it calls us to, not just the apology as a moment in time.”

The original artwork in the background of the poem is by Grace Williams.



Don’t rush the Religious Discrimination Bill

Published / by Peter

(Press Release) President of the Uniting Church in Australia Rev Sharon Hollis has urged Federal Parliamentarians not to rush the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 through the Senate this week.
This comes as two reports from Parliamentary Inquiries on the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 were released last Friday, both of which supported the passage of the Bill with the addition of only minor and technical amendments.

Rev Hollis expressed her disappointment at the findings, after a Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) Assembly submission to the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 expressed concern that the Bill fails to strike the correct balance between people’s rights, protections and responsibilities.

“We have appreciated the opportunity to make submissions and to appear before both Inquiries,” said Rev Hollis. “However, the reports do not address our concerns that some provisions in the Bill could embolden discrimination in the wider community and give implicit permission for discriminatory or demeaning statements and actions.”

“Rather than building harmony and tolerance it could have a corrosive and divisive effect.”
“We urge all Federal Members to not react in haste to the short time frame that has been given to this third and final draft’s passage through both Houses, but take the time that is needed to fully examine the issues and reach out to community groups who have expressed genuine concerns.”

The Uniting Church Assembly has resisted the idea that its members are the subject of discrimination on religious grounds, maintaining that its primary concern is for others who are or may become vulnerable to discrimination under the legislation.

In its submission and appearances, the Assembly expressed particular concern for the safety and wellbeing of LGBTIQ people, people with disabilities, women, and people of minority faith communities should the Bill be passed in its current form.

The Assembly has long advocated that necessary protections from religious discrimination would best be made through the mechanism of a comprehensive Human Rights Act, within which the competing claims and values inherent in this discussion may be grounded in a holistic approach to human rights.
Rev Hollis reiterated previous statements that the Uniting Church does not seek to discriminate as an organisation or an employer, and its firm commitment to diversity and inclusion in community life and employment practices.

“I want to reassure all people that whether or not this Bill passes into law, the Uniting Church in Australia and its wide network of service agencies will continue to be places of welcome and inclusion for all people.”

Read more here . . .

What kind of Church is God calling us to be?

Published / by Peter

by Rev Professor Andrew Dutney

God is calling us to be a Church shaped and reshaped in the covenant between the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and the Uniting Church. The Church is called “to be a fellowship of reconciliation” (The Basis of Union, par 3) and nowhere is reconciliation more needed in this nation than between First and Second peoples.

Congress, the covenant, sharing property and paying the rent, our new preamble, the week of prayer and fasting and About FACE are a start but we still have much to achieve in reconciliation and fellowship in Christ. It’s hard and it’s taking a long time, but this is the kind of Church God is calling us to be.

God is calling us to be a Church which is culturally and linguistically diverse at its core – not essentially British with add-ons from other cultures. The Church is called to be “a body within which the diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole” (The Basis of Union, par 3) and that includes the “diverse gifts” showered upon us through being a multicultural church.

To release this diversity of gifts we’ll need to grow the UCA “ethos” to reflect the wisdom of our whole fellowship – giving prominence to faith sharing and outreach, to prayer and Bible study, to the dynamic of church planting and church growth. The stuff that our members and congregations from the Pacific, Asia and Africa know is at the heart of Christian identity.

We’ll need to address the Euro-centric assumptions we bring to matters like recognising new congregations, receiving ministers from other denominations, and educating our leaders both lay and ordained. We’ll need to address the accident of history that almost all the material resources the Uniting Church has inherited is in the hands of one cultural-linguistic group, the English-speaking community. There’s nothing easy about this, but this is the kind of Church God is calling us to be.

God is calling us to be a Church oriented towards the growing, flourishing, suffering church of the global south. The church is called to be “an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself” (The Basis of Union, par 3) like that vital, inspirational Church of the global south where most of the world’s Christians now live.

Our deepest personal relationships are there already – with our partner Churches in the Pacific, Asia and Africa. But our imagination is still captive to the global north – causing us to constantly defer to the insights and agendas that come from Britain and North America.

Personally, I’m going to “fast” from the theological books from the global north to allow my imagination to be nourished by the theology drawn from the life of the Church in the global south. It’ll probably be uncomfortable, but this is the kind of Church God is calling us to be.

God is calling us to be a Church which receives its diversity as the precious gift of the Holy Spirit that it is; a foretaste, sign and instrument of “that reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation” (The Basis of Union, par 3).

Reconciliation doesn’t mean everyone being the same.

It doesn’t mean one version of being human or being Christian replacing all the others.

It means people and groups that are different and divided from each other being brought together in Christ to respect, value, trust and serve one another – in all our annoying, embarrassing, frustrating and sometimes frightening diversity.

That’s profoundly challenging. It’s sharply counter-cultural. But it is the kind of Church God is calling us to be.

Taken from an article originally published in 2015 but so still relevant today.


The content of Messages of Hope is to inspire and kindle imagination
and provide new insights and hope for the pilgrim’s journey.