Congratulations to Rev Alistair Macrae and eight other members of the VicTas synod who have been honoured with awards in today’s Australia Day Honours List.
The former President and Moderator has been named an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) “for distinguished service to the Uniting Church in Australia through executive and ministerial roles at state and national levels, and to the promotion of ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and reconciliation.”
Church members, Mavis Rowlands of Burnie, Stewart Coutts of Benalla, Heather Hewett MBE of Horsham, Keith Irvine of Mount Waverley, Rosalind Leigh from Ceres, Janet Morris of Horsham, Thomas Morris of Beaumaris, Alan Stafford of Benalla, have all been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
A slightly embarrassed Mr Macrae said he accepted the award because it captures the work of the whole of the Church, not just his own.
“The way that I rationalise accepting the nomination is that it was very much on behalf of the Church,” he said.
He believes the award is an acknowledgement of the Uniting Church’s courageous stance on important social issues such as rights for the LGBTIQ communities, the preamble to the UCA constitution recognising the First Peoples and refugee activism.
Mr Macrae hopes that all Uniting Church members will have a sense of sharing this award, and remember that Christian churches still have an important and distinctive role to play in their communities.
“Every day I am with people who are practising Christ’s love with other people, often for no financial reward and very little public recognition,” he said.
“These people are my heroes. They are breathing God’s hope and love into the community.”
Mr Macrae is currently minister at the historic Wesley Church Lonsdale St in Melbourne’s CDB.
When asked if he had set his sights on an Australia Day award when he first went into the ministry, he jokingly replied, “no, I went into it for the money”.
Mrs Heather Hewitt received an OAM, on top of a previously awarded MBE, for service to the Indigenous community of the Northern Territory. Mrs Hewitt has spent the last seven years working on a translation of the Gospel of Mark into Maung, in partnership with the Northern Regional Council of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress and the Northern Synod.
Alan Stafford was recognised for the coordinating role he has played in the Fire Fencing Recovery Project with the Benalla Uniting Church since 2009, along with other fundraising activities.
There will be more on the awards in Crosslight Online over coming weeks.