September letters

The Major Strategic Review (MSR) lists its major points in the August Crosslight:
The Church is on a journey to continually seek new and better ways to express God’s mission;
The Church is the voice of those without a voice;
Love, justice, compassion;
Acceptance and equality;
Openness;
Help and guidance for people in times of need or those suffering disadvantage.
Understandably there is no mention of belief in Jesus Christ. A growing number of Christians think it is easier to dialogue with people of other world religions if they believe in God alone.
However, Christianity, and a huge number of Christians have always believed that belief in the God of Jesus Christ defines our Christianity.
Also, there is the question of how the points they list relate to the Spirit.
What could be more strategic than the person and work of Christ, as God’s strategy?

Rev Rowan Gill
Altona VIC

 

A letter by Aart A. Van’t Hof in the August Crosslight lamented the blurred vision of today’s Church, despite our forebears leaving us a rich legacy.

I am inspired by reading the book A Generous Orthodoxy:  Why I am a missional, evangelical post/protestant, mystical/poetical…Christian, by Brian D. McLaren [Zondervan 2004].

The Uniting Church is privileged to have a great treasury of devotion from different Christian traditions over the centuries which can be drawn upon to enrich, stimulate or provide variety to our weekly worship. By utilising these resources, we affirm the universality of the holy Catholic Church which has borne witness in many places and in many manifestations.  We are divinely inspired by the template of devotion found in Psalm 150.  We note that the Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to the infant Jesus. We note also the worship described in the later chapters of the Book of Revelation.

Most congregations do not have a choir.  A good substitute is to play a CD of the type of music which is most likely to be acceptable to the congregation. Many are available on Google. These could be African spirituals, folk, Anglican style anthems, evangelical choruses or recordings of soloists.
Similarly, reproductions of paintings based on Scriptural themes, or icons, are available on Google and could be projected onto the screen in the Church as the congregation arrives for worship.

As that letter writer comments, the Uniting Church has become a Church complying with all types of regulations.  We should reaffirm the sense of the transcendent and numinous, so that we can echo the words of the Psalmist:   “I was overjoyed when they said unto me:  let us go into the House of the Lord”, or, “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness”.  [Psalms 122 v1 & 96 v9]

Alan Ray
Mont Albert Vic

 

The Elders of the Stawell Uniting Church in Australia viewed with concern an article published in The Herald Sun, Tuesday 17th June, titled, “Our Game Kicks On,” which commenced with “Good Friday Footy approved with Kids in Mind.”  Is it really with kids in mind?  Or is it with the idol of football and AFL in mind?  It seems that we as a nation are forgetting what was done “With Kids in Mind,” (and indeed, all people) in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Easter.

As part of their marketing, the AFL suggests they contribute a significant amount to the Royal Children’s Hospital – a sentiment we applaud.  The fire brigades have long been supporters of this worthy cause as are many in our communities.  We are, however, concerned deeply that our Nation is moving further away from the foundational principles and gift of life as celebrated at Easter.

Good Friday is a Holy Day on our Calendar.  Can we not stop, reflect and consider what God has done, for one day of the year?  Christian Churches throughout Australia feature significantly in the financial and physical welfare of our Nation’s people; a commitment made more difficult with declining Church attendances.  Should Churches be unable to continue in this work would the AFL pick up the tab?  We think not, and certainly, our Government cannot afford to do so.

Let us do as suggested by Mr Keith Lockwood, in an excellent Editorial in the Wimmera Mail-Times, titled, “It’s Sacrilege,” Wednesday 18th of June, where he stated “If people do not want football on Good Friday, say so: make a stand, and speak up: tell the AFL, tell the Politicians, launch Petitions, call for a Referendum, and protest to the Sponsors” and keep Good Friday sacred.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

The Elders of the Uniting Church in Australia, Stawell
Stawell  VIC 

 

The July 2014 Crosslight article announced the fact that the Synod Standing Committee (without any previous hint of such a massively expensive plan) had already approved the “final negotiations with Leighton Properties as the preferred developer to restore and redevelop the Wesley Upper Lonsdale Street site” and, a “non-binding” document was executed with Leighton Properties in May with documentation and approvals expected to be in place to allow “final execution” in September.  In other words it is a fait accompli.

This is precisely what happened with the costly closure of the Acacia College by the Synod Standing Committee so no lessons have been learned from that event.

Before any further commitments are made by the Standing Committee there should be a full and true disclosure of all of the facts concerning the project.

I respectively recommend that the September Synod meeting, scheduled to be held in Bundoora from September 19 to 24, be comprehensively briefed with the following questions being fully answered:

Has planning approval been given by Heritage Victoria and the National Trust? If so, when was it obtained?
What is the current market value of the land being leased to the developer for 125 years?
Why was the Wesley Church complex and the Princess Mary Club allowed to deteriorate to such an extent that they would now cost millions of dollars to restore?
How much rent is to be paid by the developer?
Similarly, how much rent is to be payable by the Synod office, Uniting AgeWell and UCA Funds Management, and are they all committed to remain there for the 125 years?
Are bank guarantees being obtained to secure the performance of the lessor/developer for the 125 years?

Robert W. Parry
Yarrambat Vic

Ed’s note: The Wesley Upper Lonsdale project will be presenting at the Synod meeting.

 

THE exit of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from recent overseas operations offers the local church an opportunity to care for ADF personnel and their families. As UCA chaplains have served with such military personnel in the field, so the ministry of the whole church is now sought in engaging with defence people in the local community.

My plea is that UCA members will make an extra effort to engage, former ADF members especially, current serving members and their families, as a natural part of their ordinary Christian living. Operational UCA ADF chaplains need care also and are available to assist any church in the, “how to engage the defence worldview”, if required.  With the Gallipoli centenary next year (25 April 2015), all UCA churches are reminded to consider this remembering in their 2015 planning; worship resources will be available in the new year from UCA ADF Chaplains.

Rev Dr Murray D. Earl
Religious Advisory Committee to the ADF
Murray.Earl@defence.gov.au
GPO Box 221, Canberra ACT 2601

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