Sunday, September 26, 2010

New beginnings

The local Uniting Church congregation where I worship has undergone a significant renovation. Presenting a somewhat forbidding and unwelcoming face to the world ('abandon hope all ye who enter here' may be a tad harsh!) and difficult for anyone infirm or disabled to enter, the old church has undergone a transformation. Hopefully the building now more effectively communicates the inclusive welcome of the gospel that community seeks to share. Anyway, yesterday marked the first Sunday back in the church after a few months worshipping in the adjacent Hall. Fittingly, the return to the church building coincided with a service to celebrate one (adult) baptism and four confirmations. A group of us lead an 9 session program (5 week night sessions and one weekend away) for 10 young people. We discovered a paucity of contemporary resources and cobbled together various sessions ourselves (leadership team included four Ministers and a lay Chaplain so something would be wrong if we couldn't come up with something half-decent!) but it's got me thinking - what 'information' needs to be conveyed in such a process? how might such an experience of Christian community offer opportunities to get to know God better rather than merely learn about God...Anyway, it was a great occasion and an encouragement to all present about the call to 'turn to Christ', to reorient, realign our lives regularly to the weird and wonderful way of Jesus.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New government

What a wait, let's hope it will be worth it! It may be true that the Gillard government will struggle to claim a 'mandate' for much but the clear message from the Australian people is that we want principled and consultative leadership from the new government.

Listening to the decision yesterday afternoon and the decision making process of the Independents, I was reminded of the Uniting Church’s inaugural statement to the nation back in 1977. It clearly outlines what we will be seeking from this new government. It encapsulates our social values and indicates what informs our wide range of community services and underpins our advocacy. Amongst other things:

“We affirm our eagerness to uphold basic Christian values and principles, such as the importance of every human being, the need for integrity in public life, the proclamation of truth and justice, the rights for each citizen to participate in decision-making in the community, religious liberty and personal dignity, and a concern for the welfare of the whole human race.

“We pledge ourselves to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur. We will work for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond. We affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, freedom of speech, employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available. We will oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms.”

That for me sums up our approach. I will be writing to the newly formed government to advise them of our eagerness to work with them on these crucial indicators of health, justice and well-being in the Australian community.