Statement from Rev Ian Smith
On behalf of the Victorian Council of Churches
As the Churches approach our most sacred period, Easter, the Churches again affirm the Christian tradition of finding life in compassion, inclusion and in welcoming the stranger.
This tradition reminds us of how Jesus reached out to the weak and vulnerable, including those on the fringes of society, and that today, Palm Sunday, is an expression of his life and teachings and the gift of peace for all.
Also this Easter period reminds us that as followers of Jesus, the Church is called to reach out also; to show love, compassion and acceptance to all.
One of the saddening aspects of the current political climate in Australia is that there appears to be a lacking of this sense of human values, compassion or vision.
The rhetoric out of Canberra highlights that political ends are more important than the lives of people. The behaviour of recent governments in refusing to use names, or in anyway refer to those seeking asylum as people demonstrates a clear intent to dehumanise.
However, these are real people, just like us, people fleeing for their and their children’s lives, people living in desperate situations because of race, religious affiliation, political instability or gender, people not breaking any laws, people seeking security, comfort and a assured future.
It’s incumbent upon us as all, to ask, what sort of society we contributing to or ascribing to? One that has, as its hallmark, short term political gains, or, and this is my hope and prayer, a society based on the values of compassion, welcome, inclusion, hope and a fair go.
Rev Ian Smith
Victorian Council of Churches
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.
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.
NCCA - Act for Peace Development Officer for Victoria and Tasmania
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.