Letters to the editor – April

Mardi Gras march

On Saturday 5 March, Sydney’s Oxford Street was awash with rainbows and glitter and filled with music for the annual Mardi Gras parade. On one float, 70 people marched with Uniting Network – the LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer) members in the Uniting Church and our friends, families, and supporters.

Marchers met in Pitt Street Uniting Church beforehand to pray and hear from Steve Teulan (Uniting Ageing NSW/ACT) and Peter Worland (UnitingCare NSW/ACT CEO). Then, the group made its way to Hyde Park.

On the way, they were drumming (to demonstrate anger) and holding lanterns (as a symbol of light). This is because the theme of the float was more sombre than the typical Mardi Gras celebrations – “LGBTIQ Refugees Are Welcome Here.” The float was a protest directed towards the Australian government’s treatment of people fleeing persecution overseas because of their LGBTIQ status. There are currently numerous LGBTIQ people having their claims of asylum in Australia slowly processed; some are detained on Manus Island.

The parade followed a forum held at Pitt Street on 24 February with the theme ‘LGBTIQ Refugees: Australia Can Do More’. Speakers included Gillian Triggs of the Human Rights Commission, Imam Nur Wasame of ‘Marhaba’ for LGBTIQ Muslims, and Che Bishop COO of Asylum Seekers Centre. The forum was well-attended by church members and community groups, and finished with new avenues for concerned people to take action together.

After a hectic, exciting, and humbling experience preparing for Mardi Gras, Uniting Network now looks forward to the national gathering in Melbourne in June: ‘Daring to Reach Out: Honouring Our Diversity’.

Keith G Gerrard
Uniting Network NSW/ACT Co-Convenor

You can find out more about Uniting Network at: http://www.unitingnetworkaustralia.org.au/


Where is Jesus?

I have just finished browsing through the March 2016 edition of Crosslight; stopping here and there to read a few stories.

Unfortunately, I believe there has been a glaring omission.

Where was the feature article or any article for that matter that celebrates the resurrection of the Lord?

Surely as we journey through Lent the Uniting Church should/could/ would want to have an article that focuses our thoughts and attention on the Cross and selfless sacrifice that Jesus made for us all; as well as celebrating the power and victory of the resurrection.

The resurrection of our Lord gives us hope, it gives us victory over death and there is the promise of eternal life for those who accept Jesus as Lord.

The crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord are pivotal days in the Christian faith but what did Crosslight give us – nothing, zero, zilch! – It could only advertise itself on the front page as the ‘Publication of the Year 2015’.

What is more important, the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ or being the ‘publication of the year’? Not to acknowledge the death and resurrection of Jesus is an affront to members of the church.

I must ask the question, is the death and resurrection of our Lord not important to the Uniting Church?

Perhaps this is why people are leaving in their droves!

Wayne Bounday
Elder Uniting Church


In defense of the ACL

I am sure Lyle Shelton would agree with your headline “ACL does not speak for all Christians” (March Crosslight Page 3), just as you would doubtless agree that neither does Crosslight nor Rev Dr Avril Hannah Jones speak for the whole UCA. As a statement, your headline echoed Mr. Shelton’s own made on ABC television’s Q & A on 29 Feb. when, as ACL’s managing director, he was “thrown to the Q & A lions” (The Australian 1/3).

I thought it was a very poor choice of wording for a lead-in to an article primarily dealing with the plebiscite on same-sex marriage planned by the federal government.  In the circumstances, I thought Mr Shelton performed admirably and graciously presented views with which I and many other Christians would find little fault. The major portion of Q & A that night was devoted to discussing the Safe Schools Coalition program being introduced in schools around Australia.

While it is claimed to be aimed at the elimination of all forms of bullying in schools it concentrates almost exclusively on bullying related to sexual preference and gender issues, which constitute a small proportion of total recorded bullying incidents. Further, it goes on to encourage any gender confused boys and girls to dress how they feel, to choose to use whichever  traditionally segregated toilets /change rooms they prefer, and to explore homosexual activity if they feel inclined.

The emphasis placed on homosexual bullying in this program tells victims of other more prevalent bullying (e.g. related to body shape, grades, race, dress or speech) that their suffering is not as significant as that which may be endured by possible LGBTI students.

School communities should foster courtesy and respect for all students not just some. If not abandoned completely, I believe the program should be substantially re-written.

Dennis Litchfield
Mount Waverley, VIC.


Jesus vs Muhammad

In the review Jesus vs Muhammad, March Crosslight,  Larry Marshall says “There is nothing in Islam that is more violent than Christianity.”  That is incorrect as Muhammad led his followers in war. Jesus’s example was to die for others. Christians, who fought in for instance the Crusades, were disobeying Jesus’ teachings.  They were acting according to their human nature rather than as Christians.

However Muhamad taught that war had its limits such as 9:5: “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.” Penguin Classics The Koran Translated by N J Dawood  pp133/134.

Marshall said: “There was nothing in the Muslim world like anti-Semitism.” The Koran includes statements against Jews and to a less extent against Christians. For instance  9:30 the Jews say Ezra is the son of God, while the Christians say the Messiah is the son of God. Such are their assertions, by which they imitate the infidels of old. God confound them! How perverse they are!

Marguerite Marshall
Eltham, VIC


Creating confusion

I write with regard to Dr David Merritt’s review (February) of my new book ‘Made on Earth: how gospel writers created the Christ’.  I was surprised, to say the least, to see the heading Crosslight gave the review: ‘Creating Jesus’!  Given that the book’s subject is how gospel writers created the Christ! – how they turned Jesus into Christ – the headline is not only inaccurate, it is misleading as to the book’s subject and intention.  I am grateful that the review was published, but it’s amazing how much can be read into a headline.

Rev Dr Lorraine Parkinson
Doncaster, VIC


When women were supposed to keep quiet 

There was an article in Crosslight last month about women getting the vote in Victoria.

Victorian women were among the first in the world to gain the right to vote – 1908.

This was despite opposition from churches and many men, who thought giving women the right to vote would make them ‘masculine’ and interfere with their home duties.

My grandma, Harriet Gollan, her cousin, Lizzie Fleming, and Lilian Gollan, my mother, were members of the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union).

They attended regular meetings and the two older ladies signed a mammoth petition to Parliament, which was kilometres long and was rolled into The House.

Members of the WCTU saw the harmful effects on home-life of some men’s excessive drinking of alcohol and the ‘pub’ culture.

The badge they wore was a small white enamelled bow brooch. Quite lovely.

What has this got to do with women’s suffrage?

Your article said “Energy for their campaign gave the WCTU a national network through the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian churches”.

Their thought was that putting the vote into the hands of the mothers and homemakers would   guarantee social stability.

The seeds were planted for more participation in community and national life – radical renewal.

Harriet, Lizzie and Lilian were still attending WCTU meetings in Kew in the 1950s.  As a teenager, I guess I sniffed at this old-fashioned group.

Now I realise the great history behind their efforts.

Wendy Hebbard
Via email


The future could have looked so different

The one constant in life is that the future, although unknown, holds its intent to the history that came before it.

There is no more striking example of this than the history of the Uniting Church, built on almost 40 years of union.

However it goes back much longer. The forebears who in faith throughout the different parts of Victoria and Tasmania made the call to set up, build and create the churches that dot our cities, towns and country side.

The hard work, the enduring faith, the trials and the tribulations are the foundation of our church today.

These are the building blocks on which all the programs that are a part of The Uniting Church can find their history.

I note with sadness that unfortunately, as we move further into the 21st century, some of our churches have disappeared and sadly more will follow. This is largely due to lifestyle changes and people moving on. I pray as we move towards 40 years of union that we don’t forget those who still worship in our cities. But more importantly, we don’t forget those in our remote towns who are doing it tough, not only in work but also in church numbers. Because all of these congregations and their forbears are the foundation of who we are and the future that is in front of us.

Let’s all hold them up and pray for them as they seek God’s call, not only as their forbears did but as they are now doing and will be doing in the future regarding their church.

Mark Porter
Chelsea Uniting Church


God’s gift to women

I have just read the new Crosslight, while I appreciate the article on women in leadership it could have gone much further. Paul in Galations 3;26->28 clearly explains that God sees no difference in the giftings on men or women’s lives. God puts His giftings where He chooses. The scripture that was quoted 1 Corinthians 14; 34, 35 the word we have in our English translation ‘speak’, in the original Greek implies ‘to shout out, to make a disturbance’. At that time the women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other. Was the woman shouting out to her husband asking a doctrinal question or was she saying to her husband that the baby’s nappy needs changing? We don’t know. We must allow the Gifts of God to function where He has placed them.

Harry West
Paynesville, VIC

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