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The VCC draws readers' attention to the following communique from the World Council of Churches:

Prayers for peace in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and beyond

24 March 2015

This Lenten season, the World Council of Churches (WCC) invites its member churches to pray on Sunday 29 March for those affected by wars in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt. The season of prayer is meant to revive hope from hopelessness, taking into account the vulnerability of minority communities and the threat of losing the diversity of the social fabric in this region.

“Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, in a letter of invitation to prayer addressed to the churches, issued on 24 March.

For the full communique and for the liturgical resources common prayers for peace in Syria and beyond, please point your browsers here.

The Christian Conference of Asia is shocked and dismayed to hear the sad news that two churches in Youhanabad, a predominantly Christian area of Lahore city in Pakistan, were attacked by suicide bombers simultaneously on Sunday, 15  March 2015, right after Sunday service. So far, we heard that 18 people have died and about 80 persons, including men, women and children are severely wounded.

For the full letter please read on, here.

Tropical Cyclone Pam, one of the strongest and deadliest cyclones ever to hit Vanuatu made impact on Saturday causing widespread devastation. 8 people have been confirmed dead, thousands are still unaccounted for, and it is expected that the death toll will rise significantly. Please give generously today to provide relief to people devastated by this deadly cyclone.

 

The Act For Peace Appeals page can be found by clicking here.

Further to A Christian Approach to Criminal Justice, the Inter-Church Criminal Justice Taskforce have made a Submission Concerning Investigation into the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Prisoners in Victoria.


We include here, in pdf format, a covering letter and the submission itself.

MEDIA RELEASE
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE MULTIFAITH ADVISORY GROUP AND FAITH COMMUNITIES COUNCIL OF VICTORIA IN RESPONSE TO THE TRAGIC EVENT IN SYDNEY:
FAITH LEADERS CALL FOR PEACE AND UNITY


The members of the Victorian Multifaith Advisory Group (MAG) and the Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV) would like to offer our deepest condolences and sympathies to the victims of the Sydney hostage crisis and their families. We also extend our sincere gratitude to the police and emergency services personnel who put their lives at risk in the service of others.


 For the full Statement, please click here.

Christmas Bowl provides a major context and the resources for churches to work together for the communities most affected by conflict and disaster. It is an outstanding way to witness to the unity of the churches, and the hope that that brings, to the local community. The leaders of many of the member churches of the National Council of Churches in Australia have indicated their support for the Christmas Bowl Appeal. This year Christmas Bowl has its 65th anniversary and through Act for Peace we are providing many ways that you can be involved.


An exciting new development is the formation of a network of speakers on Christmas Bowl. These generous volunteers will soon receive training and resources to enable them to be ready to speak to churches and other community groups. We ask for your prayers to support them in their preparation and work. This will be an opportunity for your church to hear about the history of the Christmas Bowl Appeal and the heroic, passionate people it supports. Please contact the Act for Peace office in Melbourne on 03 9650 6811 or in Sydney on 1800 025 101 if you would like to invite a speaker.

Many churches and groups of churches are planning events such as combined carols nights, street collections, festivals and dinners for the Christmas Bowl. We love to hear about what you are doing and have a range of resources to help you.

Two special events are: the Inaugural Frank Byatt Lecture to be held at the Electra St Uniting Church in Williamstown on 16th November at 7.30pm. This will be presented by Rev Dr Sandy Yule and is in honour of the founder of the Christmas Bowl. Please use the attached flyer to promote the event.

The other special event is a performance of The Fourth Wise Man as a musical production. This was advertised previously and we are pleased to say that one church, the Southern Community Church of Christ, is performing it, and two other churches are considering it. We will have details of the performances shortly and will send them out.

There are exciting online resources available at www.actforpeace.org.au/christmasbowl . These will add to the resources you should already have received.

The familiar large Christmas Bowl posters will be available at the Rural Conference. They are also available at several Uniting Church Presbytery offices, particularly via their meetings. Otherwise please contact our office if you would like one or are able to offer assistance in transporting them.

Our aim this year is not only to increase giving via the Christmas Bowl Appeal to support our partners, but also to involve more people and to share with them the wonderful work that can be achieved by passionate people working together.

Jeff Wild

NCCA - Act for Peace Development Officer for Victoria and Tasmania

E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.       T: 03 9650 6811

Act for Peace working through its international partner organisation Act Alliance, have currently appeals for Syria, Gaza and West Bank projects.

 

To read more, please go to www.actforpeace.org.au

 

At this difficult time, when globally and locally, communities are reeling from the violence of extremism, we the Victorian Council of Churches Leadership, stand in support of all those who contribute to our rich, multicultural community in Australia, and also wish to retain their religious heritage and practices.

 

Please click here to read more.

The Gaza Children's Emergency Appeal is a joint initiative of St John Ambulance Australia and Hadassah Australia. Both organisations have long been at the forefront of efforts to provide a medical response to the needs of Palestinian children in Gaza and the West Bank.


Please click here to read more and respond to Appeal.

‘I was in prison and you visited Me’ - A Christian approach to criminal justice

 

i was in prisonThe Inter Church Criminal Justice Taskforce, comprising senior Victorian Anglican, Catholic, Salvation Army and Uniting Church leaders, has released this brochure to give a Christian perspective on current issues of punishment, imprisonment and rehabilitation, and to offer effective and just ways to reduce crime and increase community safety.

 

In a related development, Victorian Church leaders have written to all Members of Parliament, calling for a 'restorative justice' approach to crime and offending, with a focus on prevention of crime, support for victims of crime, diversion from prison, and rehabilitation of offenders.  Click here for a copy of the letter.

 


Actions you can take to support a fairer approach to victims of crime and those who break the law

1.    If your church congregation has a social justice group, attend meetings and discuss criminal justice issues. See if there are initiatives the group can undertake to support prisoners and their families in your community. Invite speakers to address the group.

2.    Talk to your family and friends about how to build safer and more just communities. Find out more about the needs of vulnerable people in your local community, see if there are ways you can help.

3.    Write to politicians including your local Members of Parliament, ask them for their views about criminal justice, tell them you do not support the ‘tough on crime’ approach.

4.    Give your support to faith-based and other community organisations which help vulnerable groups, prisoners and those recently released from prison.

5.    Contact prison chaplains for your faith community, ask them what you can do to help.

6.    Further Reading and Links

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The attached more detailed paper was written to inform the development of materials prior to the November 2014 Victorian State Election. It is provided as background information for other advocacy purposes.  Drawing on discussions of the Inter-church Criminal Justice Taskforce, the paper seeks to

  •     Reflect best practice policies in each area of concern (refer to the Table of Contents for the policy areas)
  •     Show how government can migrate from current practice to where we would like criminal justice policy to go
  •     Provide cogent argument for policy change – the government is seeking better, more cost-effective ways than the present way. The paper outlines alternative approaches to current problems.
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