Many Uniting Church congregations use their noticeboards to capture the public’s attention and raise awareness about refugees, climate change and intolerance towards Muslim communities. The bold, sometimes provocative, statements challenge passerbys to reflect on Australia’s attitudes towards the most vulnerable people in society.
Give Us A Sign is an ecumenical project that began last year. It emerged out of conversations between the Uniting, Catholic and Anglican Churches in the Hunter and Central Coast regions of NSW.
The 2015 campaign focused on promoting compassion for people seeking asylum. This year, it examines the theme of ‘peace’.
Churches, schools and organisations are encouraged to post a message of peace on their noticeboards at least once a week during May. They can take a photo of their sign and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. A member of the Give Us A Sign team will then upload the photo onto Facebook, Instagram and their website.
The theme of peace is important as stories of war, civil unrest and violence continue to dominate the daily news. The Syrian conflict has been described as the largest humanitarian crisis in a generation. It is now entering its sixth year, with no end in sight.
The ongoing civil war in Central African Republic has displaced thousands of people and contributed to numerous human rights violations.
In Australia, fear and bigotry threaten to create division in the community. Now more than ever, a message of peace is needed to stem those inciting violence and hatred.
In the Uniting Church’s Uniting For Peace statement, the Assembly reaffirmed the Church as a “peacemaking body” and encouraged congregations “to embrace creative approaches to peace building which are constant with the spirit of the gospel”.
Rev Stephen de Plater, chairperson of the Uniting Church’s Hunter Presbytery, explained why his church is involved in the campaign.
“We live in fragile world where peace and justice are not guaranteed. Yet we are called by God to be peacemakers,” Mr de Plater said.
“Being true to that calling means that we must constantly seek to find creative ways to speak and act together as participants in our community and beyond; being bold to live out our call in word and action. Give Us A Sign for Peace is one way we can make that commitment real in our own lives day by day.”
Visit the Give Us A Sign website for more photos of church noticeboards. They also have template messages you can use for inspiration.