I vaguely remembering seeing a story about the Allens, however, little did I know then that by the end of 2017 I would have a sense of connectedness with them (‘Florence and Sheryil Allen avoid deportation’, February).
It was late November when I received an email, in my capacity as secretary to the church council at Wesley Castle Hill, from a newly elected church councillor. Bev said she had been contacted via LinkedIn by Jacqueline, an employee in the Victoria and Tasmania synod offices. Jacqueline was desperate – her mother and sister were under threat of deportation and she sought Bev’s assistance in making representations to the local federal member. Why was someone wanting Bev to approach a politician in another state?
However, the local member was also the then assistant minister for immigration and border protection. After a few email exchanges we agreed the church council should be asked to make representations. We took it to council who agreed and an email was sent.
It was then my personal connectedness with the family began. I contacted Jacqueline, advising we had made representations. I subsequently contacted my local federal member requesting he make representations to his colleague on my behalf.
I had never written to a senator, however, I did just that, contacting a NSW senator. The ensuing days brought forth emails and phone calls to her office. Unfortunately, this approach did not have a satisfactory outcome, the department closing the door on a further review of the Allen’s case.
Over Christmas/New Year I made regular contact with Jacqueline. It is pleasing the family now have some reprieve from the immediate threat of deportation. In all this my representations to my local member remain current.
The Uniting Church is a broad and diverse church. Despite geographical boundaries, its members have one thing in common – the Gospel of Christ. It is this Gospel that binds us together. Supporting one another, often beyond our own congregation, is a unique gift of the spirit available to each of us.
In an era of social media, being ‘connected’ to, or ‘friends’ with people we have never met can have surprising benefits in uniting us with one another. I will continue to follow Florence and Sheryil’s journey with a sense of prayerful hope.
Allan Gibson OAM
Ecumenical Relations Committee needs members
The development and retention of good ecumenical relationships with other Christians is known to be ‘in the DNA’ of the Uniting Church. The best way in which this happens is by the actions of individual congregations and members with the Christian friends they develop in their own community. It is also part of the responsibility of presbyteries to assist their congregations and members in this task.
The synod has a committee whose task is to foster those actions and to maintain connections with similar bodies in other churches and with the assembly.
The Ecumenical Relations Committee currently has six members who meet bi-monthly from 1pm to 3pm on the third Tuesday of the even numbered months in the synod office.
Simply put, we would like to find people who will be willing to assist us in our task.
Interested people can contact Ian Cayzer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Rev Ian Cayzer
Every month I look forward to a new Crosslight. However when I open up the ‘Letters’ page and see that some people still live in a place called ‘via email’ I get cross!
All letters are sent by people who live somewhere. Whether mail arrives by Australia Post, fax, email, Facebook, or pigeon post is not really important. Please correct this anomaly – it is ridiculous in an organisation such as the Uniting Church. Very occasionally there is a good reason for not including a writer’s address and/or name. In all other cases, if people want to remain completely anonymous, their letters should not be published.
Aspendale Gardens, VIC
Lack of trust
Firstly let me say how disappointed I am that Penny Mulvey is no longer the Crosslight editor. She has done an outstanding job and it is a pity that she has been replaced by yet more ‘chiefs’.
Secondly, congratulations to Rutherglen Uniting Church for expressing what most other (probably all) UC congregations are feeling – the Vic/Tas Synod is an example of bureaucracy gone mad. Filling in forms and being treated as though we can’t be trusted is killing local congregations. Why should mothers and grandmothers need police checks and WWCCs (Working With Children Check)? The community believes that they are not worth the paper they are written on. Where is faith, hope and love in all this paperwork?
I fear for the future of society where fear is being engendered in every facet of life, and has replaced trust. Who do you trust now? Certainly not the government but hopefully still your neighbours, friends and colleagues. What is trust? It is the confident expectation of something i.e. HOPE; it is the reliance on the integrity, justice etc. of a person
(Macquarie Dictionary). Lack of trust destroys hope, and where is society without that? What will take its place? I believe the result will be an increase in anxiety and depression, and that the void will be a space where undesirable behaviour such as bullying will flourish. The one bastion of trust which has remained until now has been the church.
With its acceptance of the dictates of government, there is now no organisation which is standing up against the culture of fear and mistrust. Shame on the church for not following its core tenets of faith, hope and love for all.
Facing mounting and condemning evidence of genocidal mass killings of Rohingya people, including women and children, in the most horrific of circumstances last August, the international community must act.
Tragically the international community failed the minority Tutsi people in Rwanda in 1994. Genocidal ideology is the tool of a government that believes it can get away with murder – literally. We also saw it in Nazi Germany, Serbia under Milosevic, Pol Pot in Cambodia and now Myanmar. When will ‘never again’ actually mean anything?
International pressure of the kind that saw Aung San Suu Kyi released from house arrest must be mounted immediately. The Myanmar generals cannot act in this barbaric way with impunity.
Let the thousands of mutilated and disfigured victims now being uncovered from mass graves speak from the grave. Theirs’ is a horrific story.
The Rohingya people might be Muslim in a Buddhist country, but that cannot justify their wholesale slaughter in the name of ‘ethnic cleansing’.
Myanmar will never cleanse itself of the stain of these events unless those responsible are brought to justice immediately. Justice delayed is justice denied.