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  • Synod 2019

Pastoral letter from the Moderator

Moderator Denise Liersch reflects on how different the lives of Victorians and Tasmanians are at the moment and how Jesus calls us to be one community together.

August Crosslight now available

The August edition of Crosslight is now available in an easy-to-access, reader-friendly digital “flipbook”. It features an array of engaging stories and thought-provoking opinion pieces that will either inspire you, give you reason to reflect or encourage you to take action.

Twin bomb survivor’s remarkable and inspiring story

More than 260,000 people survived the twin attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of them was Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Incredibly, he reported for work the day after the second blast.

Coping with COVID-19: Lindsay Oates

Victorian Local Men’s Health Hero Award recipient Lindsay Oates talks about the life-saving work of the Men's Sheds.

Birthday message from the Moderator

Moderator Denise Liersch reflects on the Uniting Church's 43rd birthday and asks what is your wish for the UCA?

Coping with COVID-19: Ilaisaane Pongi

Ilaisaane Pongi says lockdown has given her “ample opportunity for deep reflection on my life”. She also shares a Bible passage that has provided much comfort during these “challenging times”.

Holy Communion: what to consider

Professor Stephen Burns and Reverend Fran Barber explore practises of sharing communion which reflect our theology and minimise the risk of infection.

Switched on knitters and Lego builders

Digital church was on for young and old last weekend with knitters and Lego builders strutting their stuff online.

Coping with COVID-19: Jamie Cameron

Lockdown restrictions have made Uniting Ballarat Social Enterprise Coordinator Jamie Cameron realise just how important community is. “I have been reminded of how … we contribute to each other’s lives,” he says.

Seeking a more just post-pandemic path

When the lockdown is lifted, will we return to what we knew, or will a ‘new normal’ emerge, one that embraces the poor, lonely, marginalised, disadvantaged and vulnerable?

Finding grace in the little things

Lockdown has forced us to reevaluate many of our rusted on thoughts and beliefs. For Ellaine Downie, that has meant saying thank you in a way she didn’t think she could.

Youthful enthusiasm earns AOM honours

A school principal with a passion for science education and a former Uniting Church youth leader, who is still mentoring others in his 90s, were recognised in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Coping with COVID-19: Dick Straw

Dick Straw has been living alone for the past 30 years, but during this time of enforced isolation, the 90-year-old has rediscovered the joy of an old hobby.

First Peoples connections too strong to sever

Leprena centre manager Alison Overeem believes the wisdom and resilience of the First Peoples will come to fore in healing the scars inflicted by the COVID-19 lockdown.

June Crosslight is now available

The June edition of Crosslight is now available in an easy-to-access, reader-friendly digital “flipbook”. The supersized 55-page special edition features an array of engaging stories and thought-provoking opinion pieces.

Coping with COVID-19: Ayla Williams

Isolation has been particularly challenging for our First Peoples, as has the closing of many national parks. But it’s nothing that a bit of Bon Jovi can’t fix, says Ayla Williams.

Compulsory Zoom update

After May 31, Zoom users will need to upgrade to the latest, more secure, version (5.0+) to use the video-conferencing program to conduct church services, meetings and other activities.

Coping with COVID-19: Dennis Cousens

Dennis Cousens is used to being constantly on the road as a patrol minister covering 10,000 square kilometres of rural Tasmania. He tells how his ministry has adapted to being forced out of the saddle.

Disability Royal Commission pastoral letter

Moderator Rev Denise Liersch has released a pastoral letter highlighting the Church’s response to the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Coping with COVID-19: Sandy Brodine

Now that churches are able to open their doors again, Rev Sandy Brodine hopes congregations maintain the connectedness and creativity that have emerged during lockdown. 

Coping with COVID-19: Natalie Dixon-Monu

While Victoria has been in lockdown, Rev Natalie Dixon-Monu and her team at BCO have provided about 5000 meals to vulnerable people in their community. She shares a note from one grateful recipient that will melt your heart.

Coping with COVID-19: Tanya Walker

Lay leader Tanya Walker says in this time of enforced isolation we can learn much from older people.

Synod qualifies for JobKeeper payments

As of April 24, Ministers and people in placement positions can be included in the JobKeeper scheme. Here is the latest update.

Coping with COVID-19: Julie McDonald

Bethel counsellor Julie McDonald says one of the benefits of the lockdown is it has given us a chance “to think about new ways we can be together”.

Coping with COVID-19: Reuben Edmonds

Reuben Edmonds this year moved from WA to study at Pilgrim in a class full of other students. He now finds himself isolated not just from them but his family.

Coping with COVID-19: Kelly Skilton

Kelly Skilton, founder and director of youth community The Sonder Collective, reminds us "God teaches us that beautiful things can grow during times that look and feel barren".

Appeal raises record amount for people in crisis

The 2019 Food For Families appeal donated 73 tonnes of food and other essential items to people in crisis last Christmas.

An alternative to traditional Holy Communion

Rev Jennie Gordon suggests fasting, rather than feasting, can foster “a deeper spiritual appreciation” given we can’t gather as one at the table for Holy Communion at present.

How to gather in spirit, if not in person, this Anzac Day

Army chaplain Andrew Delbridge says the ban on public gatherings will dishearten many veterans but is still hopeful Saturday will be “a very positive, poignant way for people to reflect”.

Pastoral letter from the Moderator

Moderator Denise Liersch says as new considerations for ministry practice emerge, they must be matched to the cultures and contexts of our Church.

Free classes to help alleviate stress and anxiety

Rev John Tansey is conducting daily mindfulness sessions for people who may be struggling with their mental health during this pandemic.

Coping with COVID-19: Robyn Nandan

Hobart mother/grandmother Robyn Nandan is feeling acutely the isolating effects of the current lockdowns. The 72-year-old says the fact she can’t see her eldest three children is “challenging”. “I’m finding this most stressful,” she says.

Focus on human rights, disability and ethics

Experts list five groups of people most at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic and give a six-point plan to ensure they are not discriminated against, as has happened overseas.

Is it OK to have Holy Communion online?

Absence makes the heart grow tender in these days of social isolation. And it also prompts the question: Is it OK to have Holy Communion online? Rev Dr Sally Douglas shares her thoughts.

Now I understand what Lent is all about

Ellaine Downie has always resisted participating in the spiritually nourishing sacrifices that precede Easter. But this year is different. “Unwillingly, I am experiencing what the disciples must have felt,” she says.

What does trusting yourself to God look like right now?

St Andrew’s Gardiner UC minister Rev Ajub Jahja reflects on the function of faith during this pandemic. “Faith is important, but so is reason,” he says.

Coping with COVID-19: Rev Alex Sangster

Rev Alex Sangster shares how St Andrews UC, Fairfield, a normally “low tech” congregation, has adjusted to church online and why she’s swapped the church building for her living room.

Coping with COVID-19: Jo Austin

Children’s support worker Jo Austin talks about her weekly Sunday FEASTs, which provide nourishment of a different kind for families, and what is the most challenging part of her job now that people are house-bound.

Moderator shares an Easter reflection

Moderator Rev Denise Liersch reminds us to look to Jesus for a way forward during this time of seismic upheaval.

Coping with COVID-19: Rev Beth Bear

What’s a “Chapel bite”? It’s one of school chaplain Rev Beth Bear’s clever innovations to help her keep in touch with the students at The Scots School, Albury.

Ellaine’s soothing song just the balm we need

Ellaine Downie has written a song which she hopes will bring people to a "quiet place to rest and pray for comfort".

Moderator says support one another and remember God is with us

Moderator Rev Denise Liersch asks us to think of Peter’s words as we struggle with the isolating and stressful effects of COVID-19.

Holy Communion temporary arrangements

The Assembly Standing Committee has approved temporary guidelines for congregations and faith communities to celebrate Holy Communion as part of online worship.

Guidelines for Safe Digital Ministry UPDATED

The following resources are prepared for ministry agents and volunteers to ensure digital ministry remains a safe experience for all people, including the most vulnerable.

Why you should ignore all that productivity pressure

Aisha Ahmad says we should "make ample room to allow for a mental adjustment" during this time of social distancing. "Given time, your brain will reset to new conditions, and your ability to do higher-level work will resume."

Letter from Moderator and General Secretary

Moderator Denise Liersch and General Secretary Mark Lawrence explain what the COVID-19 restrictions mean for church life – everything from weddings and funerals to use of church halls.

Coping with COVID-19: Rev Cameron McAdam

Rev Cameron McAdam says there was an unexpected delight from his church's first live streamed service.

Coping with COVID-19: Rev Claire Dawe

Manningham UC minister Claire Dawe speaks about how COVID-19 has affected her church and how they are worshipping online.

Letter from Moderator and General Secretary

Moderator Denise Liersch and General Secretary Mark Lawrence respond to the National Cabinet's announcement that places of worship are to be temporarily closed.

Pray, but stay away: holding on to faith in the time of coronavirus

"In this time of great anxiety, faith leaders have a responsibility to step up with words of comfort and compassion, drawing on the depths of their sacred traditions and texts."

COVID-19: Moderator’s pastoral letter

Moderator Denise Liersch has written a pastoral letter as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout Victoria and Tasmania.

COVID-19: Message from the General Secretary

This letter from General Secretary Mark Lawrence provides advice to congregations in relation to COVID-19.

How to live stream a worship service or church event

Here are some simple guides to help congregations or other church groups live stream worship services and other events during the Coronavirus crisis.

Coronavirus information for presbyteries and congregations

This letter provides guidance on how to best provide pastoral care and worship services as the spread of Coronavirus escalates.

Moderator’s Lent and Easter Offering

Lent is the season of the church year when we take time to reflect on Jesus’s journey to the cross and what this means for us, and for all people.

Church rallies to help bushfire-devastated areas

In partnership with Uniting Vic.Tas, our Synod continues to be actively involved in assisting communities ravaged by the current bushfires.

Wesley Church enters new era of worship and witness

The 161-year-old Wesley Church is welcoming back worshippers after a painstaking period of restoration.

On the frontline of East Gippsland bushfire defence

Longtime Bairnsdale UC member Alan Cracknell is typical of those prepared to swap their Sunday best for the yellow uniform of volunteer firefighters whenever the need arises.

Pilgrim students recognised at valedictory service

Pilgrim Theological College farewelled 44 departing students, six of whom were exiting candidates for ministry, at a Valedictory Service on 31 October.

Korea celebrations kick off with Pilgrim visit

The Presbyterian Church of Korea visited CTM as part of their Australian tour celebrating the 130th anniversary of Australian Mission to Korea.

UCA submission on new religious discrimination laws

The UCA has called for changes to the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill to ensure the legislation will not override other human rights or existing protections from discrimination. 

Resilient Women Project tackles religious prejudice

Muslim women are one of the most victimised groups in society. Synod has spent five years researching a booklet that aims to help eradicate the problem.

Moderator invites applications for 2020 Lenten Offering projects

Victorian and Tasmanian UCA congregations and other ancillary groups who are doing the mission work of the church are invited to apply for next year’s Lenten Offering grants to support innovative projects.

UCA members join global march demanding climate action

Scores of UCA members and Synod staff joined an estimated 100,000 people to march in Melbourne as part of the Global Climate Strike on 20 September, demanding action against climate change.

Bronwyn Pike to be new CEO of Uniting Vic.Tas

Bronwyn Pike will be the next CEO of Uniting Vic.Tas after stepping down as chair of the organisation.

Prof Allan Fels says Mental Heath Kit can reduce stigma

Professor Allan Fels has launched a Mental Health Kit for Uniting Church congregations with a call to fight stigma and discrimination.

UCA backs mandatory reporting laws for ministers

Moderator Denise Liersch has spoken out in support of making it mandatory for ministers of religion to report child abuse.

The harsh reality of having no place to call your own

Homelessness Week (4-10 August) is a time for us to stop and think about what life is like living on the street, particularly as temperatures continue to plummet.

Moderator’s pastoral letter on Voluntary Assisted Dying response

This pastoral letter from Moderator Denise Liersch was sent to congregations in Victoria and Tasmania following Synod's decision on how to respond to Victoria's Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation. 

See Synod for yourself with this video recap

The 14th Synod saw the installation of Reverend Denise Liersch as Moderator, a formal response to Victoria’s Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation, introduction of the new Disability Action Plan and much more.
Synod 2019 - Day4

Synod day four – recap

Today’s major order of business was to decide on the response to the Victorian Voluntary Assisted Dying legislation.
Synod2019 - Day3

Synod day three – recap

Day 3 included Agency and Assembly reports, NAIDOC Week presentations and the adoption of a Statement of the Heart.
Synod2019 - Day2

Synod day two – recap

The day began with a Bible study led by Dr Liz Boase, which was followed by reports from Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress Victoria, UAICC Tasmania, Walking Together Group and Synod Ethics Committee.

Synod day one – recap

Day 1 of Synod kicked off with a welcome by new Moderator Rev Denise Liersch. What followed was a mix of reports, proposals, Bible study, reflections and other activities, such as Choose Your Own Adventure.
New Moderator calls on Church to explore new ways of worship

New Moderator calls on Church to explore new ways of worship

Denise Liersch says “don’t cling to the status quo … look for where the Spirit of God is at work in unexpected places and ways”.

Narana swells with Indigenous surfing pride

Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre is preparing to welcome some of Australia’s top Indigenous surfers who are taking part in the eighth Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles.

UCA reaffirms same-gender marriage stance

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer has reaffirmed the Uniting Church's stance on same-sex marriage after the ABC published an article stating the church is divided.

A call for unity after Sri Lanka bombing

In the wake of the horrific bomb attacks in Sri Lanka, Uniting Church Reverend Dev Anandarajan has called for people to come together and reject violence and disunity.

Senior magistrate calls for removal of courtroom Bibles

A senior magistrate wants all Bibles to be removed from Victorian courtrooms because “they are relics from another time” that "belong in a museum, not a modern court".
UCA calls for end of gas tax loophole

UCA calls for end of gas tax loophole

Gas producers aren’t paying a fair share of tax and the government’s plans to cut back their future concessions do not go far enough, Synod’s Senior Social Justice Advocate Mark Zirnsak says.
UCA marchers join climate class action

UCA marchers join climate class action

Uniting Church members and staff marched through the streets of Melbourne in solidarity with about 40,000 striking students demanding action on climate change
A message to Uniting Church members about the decision on marriage at the 15th Assembly

A message to Uniting Church members about the decision on marriage at the 15th Assembly

Dr Deidre Palmer addresses members of the Uniting Church about the decision to hold two equal and distinct views on marriage.
Christmas Greeting 2017

A Christmas greeting from Moderator Sharon Hollis

  Message – Transcript Theologian Serene Jones often speaks of her congregation’s celebration of the Christmas story. Each year, as someone narrates, different members of the congregation act out the various parts. Serene tells how transforming this can be, both for…

Celebrating 40 Years

Moderator Sharon Hollis asked five previous moderators of the VicTas Synod what they hope for the Uniting Church in the next 40 years. This short video is to assist congregations consider what they hope for themselves and the whole of…