On Monday 15th August, it will be 70 years since the start of the Lund Conference, where the important principle now known as the Lund Principle was articulated for ecumenical relations between Christian churches.
After “earnestly request[ing] our Churches to consider whether they are doing all they ought to do to manifest the oneness of the people of God”, it continued: “Should not our Churches ask themselves whether they are showing sufficient eagerness to enter into conversation with other Churches, and whether they should not act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel them to act separately?“
This means that, instead of doing ecumenical things, Christians and churches should try to do things ecumenically, in particular, to do things together which are already a part of their normal life, i.e. to share a common life.
The real challenge of ecumenism is to share a common life; that is, to do together whatever we do not need to do apart.
There are many questions for us, here in 2022, including:
How can churches in Victoria collaborate more in mission? How might churches in Victoria plan for mission together? What examples are there in city/county ecumenical bodies? How can we move from “doing ecumenical things” to “doing things ecumenically”? How can the churches think of “ecumenical” as liberating, enriching and a real sharing of common concerns and opportunities? What can churches share, and what stops them from sharing? In what ways are relationships and mutual trust built up and deepened so that there can be respectful and truthful conversations, in order to express more visibly the unity we have in Christ as churches journey together? How can we serve the wider community better, together? How might our collective voice be amplified in the public arena?
Dialogues happen between Churches. As well, we need:
to find ways of delighting in diversity
to feel that we belong to one another
to develop our inter-dependence
to be mutually accountable
to become truly reconciled with one another … so that the world may believe, and so that the divisions of the Church may not be a stumbling-block to faith
O God, Holy and Eternal Trinity, we pray for your Church in all the world. Sanctify its life; renew its worship; empower its witness; heal its divisions; make visible its unity. Lead us, with all our brothers and sisters, towards communion in faith, life and witness so that, united in one body by the one Spirit, we may together witness to the perfect unity of your love.
In a landmark speech to the Garma festival in Arnhem Land, PM Albanese said that the Australian people should be asked a “simple and clear” yes or no referendum question regarding whether an Indigenous voice to parliament should be enshrined in the constitution.
One of the objectives of the Victorian Council of Churches is to encourage and enable the Member Churches in the light of the Gospel to be a prophetic voice to each other and the community “by acting in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People“.[Constitution 5.1 (b) (iv)]
The VCC website will continue to make links to resources that will be helpful for Member Churches and congregations including:
Statement from the Heartresources (study guide, facilitator’s guide produced by the Vic/Tas UCA Synod)
A voice in the wilderness 8 part study guide on the Statement from the Heart (free downloadable PDF) written by Celia Kemp, Anglican Board of Mission’s Reconciliation Coordinator. As well there is a leader’s guide.
The NCCA (National Council of Churches in Australia) has signed a joint resolution in support of the Uluru Statement, 27th May 2022.
Yoorrook Justice Commission – the first formal truth-telling process into injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria, which will look into past and ongoing injustices experienced by Traditional Owners and First Peoples in Victoria in all areas of life since colonisation. (Can subscribe to an email for updates)
International Prisoners’ Justice Day is a solidarity movement that takes place annually on August 10 in support of prisoners’ rights and to remember all the people who have died of unnatural deaths while incarcerated.
‘I was in prison and you came to visit me’ (Matthew 25:36)
Please remember these Chaplains in your prayers as they work in sometimes challenging circumstances in the prisons, providing spiritual, emotional and practical support. They are able to support everyone regardless of faith or religious affiliation or background, and may also provide support to the families of prisoners and people in their circle of care.
Today is Hiroshima Day, when the US dropped a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, killing 140,000 people. Three days later, on August 9, 1945, it dropped another bomb on Nagasaki, killing nearly 74,000 people. On August 15, the same year, Japan surrendered to the allies, ending World War 2.
But this is not just about history.
Here we are, 77 years later, and the world continues to be endangered by massive nuclear arsenals. There are over 13,000 nuclear warheads in 9 countries (given secrecy around ‘national security’ there could well be more warheads). The US and Russia combined own nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
ICAN Australia (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)* is leading the movement for Australia to end its disarmament doublespeak by signing and ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It says Russia has 6,255 nuclear warheads, the highest in the world. It is followed by the US with 5,550 such bombs. And China comes in a distant third place with 350 nuclear warheads. The US and Russia combined own nearly 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Today is a sobering day looking back to August 1945.
Today is a sobering day knowing that the potential for even one of those nuclear warheads to be used in conflict is very real.
Let us be agents of peace and transformation, and lend our voices to call for a world without nuclear weapons, and to advocate for Australia to sign on to and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Let us continue to courageously work and faithfully pray for peace and for a world free of nuclear weapons.
A prayer of remembrance O God, the Creator of this beautiful planet and all that dwells in it, we now pause to remember the souls of those who perished in the atomic bombings and those who suffer from radiation even now. We join our hearts and voices together to pray for peace everywhere. May the deadly power of nuclear arsenals never be unleashed again upon your sacred creation. May such weapons of mass and indiscriminate annihilations be forever banned and eliminated from the face of the earth. Forgive our silence, O God, and enable your Church to raise its prophetic voices to speak against the madness of nuclear pursuits anywhere. Renew our commitment to be faithful stewards of your beautiful creation and vehicles of peace. In the name of Christ, our Prince of Peace. Amen. (Source: Rev. Nobu Hanaoka)
More prayers and resources for Hiroshima Day here.
Saturday 6 August Singing for Peace on Hiroshima Day 2022 2.15 pm, Victorian Trades Hall, Lygon Street, Carlton 3 Melbourne choirs will lead the audience in songs for peace Speaker: Dr Margaret Beavis, ICAN Co-Chair.
Sunday 7th August, 10am Hiroshima Peace Day service Venue: St Paul’s Cathedral The Consul-General of Japan and members of the Japanese community will be guests to mark Hiroshima Peace Day, and pray for peace in our world and a future without the threat of atomic weapons. Members of the local Ikebana Chapter will be providing specially created floral arrangements for the service and the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Andreas Loewe, will preach. All are welcome to join the service in-person or online.
* ICAN was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. ICAN is a coalition of civil society organisations in over 100 countries working for a world free of nuclear weapons. ICAN works for all nations to join and implement the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Children’s Day is a time for celebration and affirmation, to celebrate the strength and culture of Aboriginal children.
The 2022 theme is ‘My Dreaming, My Future‘.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are born into stories of their family, culture, and Country. They carry with them the songlines of their ancestors and culture, passed down by generations. Their Dreaming is part of our history, while their futures are their own to shape.
This year, Aboriginal children will be invited to reflect on what Dreaming means to them, how they interpret this in their lives and identity, and what their aspirations are for the future.
Children’s Day is a time for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities and all Australians to celebrate the strengths and culture of Aboriginal children. It is an opportunity to show our support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, as well as learn about the crucial impact that culture, family and community play in the life of every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child.
A prayer* Great and Holy Mystery, known and unknown, We thank you for the blessing of this day. We thank you for the blessings of this land: for its great beauty, for the power and the majesty of the land and the waters. And we thank you especially for the people who live here, for our friends, our families, and our neighbours. Today we wish to lift up our prayers to you for the children and the youth of our First Nation peoples. We dare this day to dream for their futures. We dare to dream that their futures will be wonderful. That they will all be able to lead full lives, that they will have a wide variety of good experiences over the course of their lives and grow up to do things that will amaze us and amaze them. Holy One, pour out your spirit of wisdom upon us. We are looking for guidance, courage, and your healing power to help all of us do everything possible to love, to encourage, to nurture, and at all times to look out for the safety and security of the children and young people who live among us. We pray for our own children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and young siblings that all children and youth in our community may grow up in safety and in friendship together, growing in mutual understanding and mutual support as reconciled peoples. Lead us, heavenly Spirit, to protect the children and youth and keep them safe from harm, in the loving embrace of a community that seeks to love all, as you so deeply love each and every one of us. In Jesus’ loving name we pray. Amen.
The date – 4 August – was historically used to communally celebrate the birthdays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who were taken from their families at a young age, without knowing their birthday – the Stolen Generations. Prayer for the Stolen Generations.
It is especially poignant this year with the recent passing of Uncle Archie Roach, whose song Took the Children Away tells a very personal story that resonates deeply with the stolen generations. “This story’s right, this story’s true…” (Also ‘From Paradise‘)
In 1988, the first National Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day was established on 4 August and was set against the backdrop of protests led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their supporters during the bicentennial year. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples felt a day was needed to celebrate Aboriginal children, to give them confidence and make them feel special and included.
Children’s Day has grown every year, becoming a major event in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and community organisations, with hundreds of events around the country.
Every year on the first Sunday in October ( October 2 this year), Christians around the globe celebrate World Communion Sunday. It is a day to remember that Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and that every Christian Church and any denomination that promotes Christian unity are one. It celebrates our oneness in Christ with all our brothers and sisters around the world. On this day, people draw faith and inspiration from seeing that they are part of a community that boasts millions of believers and worshippers.
Paul tells us that we are to “discern the body” when we partake of Holy Communion, mindful that we note our relationship to all our brothers and sisters in Christ in the celebration. One is not to go hungry while another is drunk! (I Cor. 11:21). This is scandalous behavior opposed to the Way of Christ. Thus it is appropriate that World Communion Sunday is also a time when there is a special appeal to support ministries of compassion and care, as a way of continuing the ancient Christian practice of sharing what we have with brothers and sisters in need.
It may be a new idea for some, but perhaps the idea could be part of a service on 2nd October 2022.
Perhaps you could arrange a pulpit swap?
Swap greetings with churches in your neighbourhood and read those greetings out in the service?
Swap greetings with churches you know interstate or overseas, and read those greetings out in the service?
Invite your congregation to send postcards with greetings to churches they personally know (or know about) within Victoria (perhaps thanking them for their mission and ministry or offering a word of support or prayer). Or interstate or overseas?
Homelessness Week, 1st – 7th August 2022 MEDIA STATEMENT
Homelessness Week is held annually in the first week of August. It aims to raise awareness of the issues homeless people face and the action needed to achieve long term solutions. The experience of homelessness, even for short periods, can have serious, long-term effects on a person’s mental and physical well-being. It can contribute to premature ageing through earlier onset of health problems and robs people of dignity and self-worth.
There are about 25,000 people living with homelessness across Victoria, with a reported 43% increase in homelessness over the last ten years. Crisis and emergency housing is stretched, and inadequate to meet the demand. The vast majority of homeless people are not usually ‘rough sleeping’ on the street, but may be living in a car or tent, or temporary accommodation, or ‘couch surfing’ with friends. It largely renders their plight invisible from public view. Even working people can find themselves homeless when they are unable to access accommodation because of the housing crisis and must come up with temporary solutions.
The COVID pandemic has pushed more people into poverty and homelessness, many for the first time. At the same time, escalating rents, limited rental vacancies, the housing affordability crisis, job uncertainty, and family and domestic violence have all contributed to a rise in homelessness. Older people are also at greater risk of homelessness, with women over 45 the fastest growing group at risk of homelessness due to family and domestic violence, lower retirement savings and superannuation and cost of living expenses.
The 2022 Homelessness Week theme is: To end homelessness we need a plan.
Years of inadequate investment has left Australia facing a shortfall of social housing dwellings. In March 2022, the number of households on Victoria’s social housing waitlist grew to 54,945. The Victorian government has pledged to build 12,000 social housing homes by the end of 2025, but is not enough to keep up with demand. Homelessness Australia released data showing that cuts to social housing funding and homelessness services over the last ten years will soon exceed $1 billion. At the same time house prices have gone up by 50% and rents by 31%.
Census data has revealed a million houses are sitting empty in towns where, just metres away, working families are being forced to live in tents. Government policies and the taxation system has led to housing being treated more as an investment rather than a basic human need. More needs to be done so all have access to safe housing.
Dr John Falzon, in a 2021 article in Eureka Street, said, “Homelessness is caused, not by poverty, but by wealth, especially speculative wealth, concentrated in the hands of the few, to the detriment of the many. It is one effect of a disastrously structured housing market that makes of housing a speculative sport rather than a human right. If we want to address homelessness, we need to begin to carve out a space for social and economic security in the midst of the current uncertainty. This, of course, means a massive boost to social housing, but it also means a reimagining of what really matters in our lives”.
There are many community-based initiatives to support homeless people including the Wang Night Shelter and the Maroondah Winter Shelter. These are ecumenical activities, where churches in an area partner with volunteers, community groups and local businesses. They use empty buildings like community halls and churches as temporary overnight accommodation for the less fortunate.
The Wang Night Shelter began as a pilot project in 2019. It was named ‘Project of the Year’ at the 2022 Australia Day awards by the Rural City of Wangaratta. It provides shelter and food for those experiencing homelessness in winter. Project coordinator Di Duursma reports that there is an increasing need for the night shelter as more people lose their jobs and struggle with their finances. “We’ve seen lives changed – our own and also those who come and stay with us. We see that we can make a difference by providing a place that is safe for people to sleep, providing them with a warm meal, and providing them with a place they feel like they can belong. Together with the local churches, Zac’s Place (drop in centre), Wangaratta Inter-Church Council, Victorian Council of Churches, Stable One, local businesses and groups and individuals, we are a collective response to homelessness, loneliness and heartache.”
The Maroondah Winter Shelter is another community-based project that began in 2018 in the Ringwood/Croydon area to support homeless men. In 2022, churches in the area will open their doors for 4 nights a week, from July to September, to provide shelter, food, and support. This project was awarded the 2020 Maroondah Australia Day Community Event of the Year. Noting that some of the guests return from year to year, an Advocacy Group has been established, to advocate for permanent housing for the homeless in the Maroondah area. The Advocacy Group has met with both elected and non-elected representatives of the three levels of government, made submissions to both the State and Federal government inquiries into homelessness and housing affordability, organised a housing forum and has taken all occasions that have presented to increase the understanding of why people become homeless.
The welfare of people living with homelessness is an issue that should concern us all, as is the more critical question about why homelessness exists at all.
Christian faith holds up service as an inescapable response to the Gospel, compassion as the response to the vulnerable, and advocacy to seek justice for the disadvantaged.
Matthew 25: 35, 36, 39: “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me. Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me – you did it to me.’
Everything hurts, Our hearts shadowed and strange, Minds made muddied and mute. We carry tragedy, terrifying and true. And yet none of it is new; We knew it as home, As horror, As heritage. Even our children Cannot be children, Cannot be.
Everything hurts. It’s a hard time to be alive, And even harder to stay that way. We’re burdened to live out these days, While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.
This alarm is how we know We must be altered — That we must differ or die, That we must triumph or try. Thus while hate cannot be terminated, It can be transformed Into a love that lets us live.
May we not just grieve, but give: May we not just ache, but act; May our signed right to bear arms Never blind our sight from shared harm; May we choose our children over chaos. May another innocent never be lost.
Maybe everything hurts, Our hearts shadowed & strange. But only when everything hurts May everything change.
Amanda Gorman is a poet and the author of “The Hill We Climb,” “Call Us What We Carry” and “Change Sings.” Many will know her from her recitation of a poem at President Biden’s inauguration.
National School Chaplaincy Association commends Govt’s wellbeing budget
Media Release 15 July 2022
The National School Chaplaincy Association (NSCA) has commended the Federal Government on its decision to consider the health and wellbeing of Australians when planning the upcoming budget.
NSCA spokesperson Peter James said the announcement by Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers shows that Australia is prioritising holistic outcomes when considering policy.
“A society that is healthier both physically and mentally doesn’t just benefit Australia socially but it makes economic sense, as it is always cheaper to prevent problems than fix them,” he said.
He cited the National School Chaplaincy Program as an example of a preventative measure, and said he supports it being evaluated against wellbeing outcomes.
“The school chaplaincy program is sometimes misrepresented by those with an ideological bias, but the fact is that chaplains are fully qualified in the youth work model of care that underpins both chaplaincy and student welfare work.
“Within this model chaplains are trained to national standards in how to recognise mental health issues, and how to ensure students with such issues connect with other care professionals.”
Mr James said the model is tested and proven, and revealed that a recent independent study by respected academics, which will be released publicly soon, demonstrates that Australia’s school chaplaincy program contributes to internationally recognised youth wellbeing outcomes.
The study, conducted over four years by academics attached to the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Policy Practice Research and Development considered student wellbeing outcomes chaplains achieve for government schools.
The outcomes reported are mapped into the Nest framework of the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth – a wellbeing framework with international standing used nationally to promote youth wellbeing outcomes for the whole child in the context of family, education, health, and culture.
The findings demonstrates that chaplaincy contributes to the six interlocking areas of wellbeing of the Nest framework.
It found 87% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their student’s sense of being valued, loved and safe; 78 per cent felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ health; 81% felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ participation; and 75% felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ sense of culture and identity.
“School chaplaincy meets Australian schools’ wellbeing criteria which is what makes it a vital support program for schools and why a 2016 Kantar Public report, commissioned by the federal department of education and training, found that 91 per cent of parents support chaplaincy services and activities in schools,” Mr James said.
He also noted that importantly, chaplains are qualified to meet the spiritual dimension of care and personal development that is a recognised part of Australia’s educational goals.
Details of the study’s findings:
* Being loved and safe – 87% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their student’s sense of being valued, loved and safe. Children and youth who are loved and safe are resilient, can withstand life’s challenges and respond constructively to setbacks and unanticipated events.
* Having material basics – 76% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ lives by supporting their basic material needs. Children and youth who have material basics have access to the things they need to live a ‘normal life’ and to participate in education and training pathways.
* Being healthy – 78% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ health. Healthy children and youth achieve their optimal developmental trajectories. They have access to services to support their growth and development and have access to preventative measures to redress any emerging health or developmental concerns.
* Learning – 69% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ learning. Children and youth learn through a variety of formal and informal experiences within the classroom and more broadly in their home and in the community. Children and youth who are learning participate in and experience education that enables them to reach their full potential and maximise their life opportunities.
* Participating – 81% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ participation. Participating includes involvement with peers and the community. In practice, participating means children and youth are supported in expressing their views, their views are taken into account, and they are involved in decision-making processes that affect them.
* Positive sense of culture and identity – 75% of respondents felt that chaplains had made a positive impact on their students’ sense of culture and identity. Having a positive sense of culture and identity is central to the wellbeing of children and youth, and is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other culturally and linguistically diverse children and youth.
Media Contacts: Lyall Mercer – 0413 749 830 Barbara Gorogh – 0479 062 782
The Korus Connect vision is one of supported communities with thriving people – engaged in their local area, collaborating with one another and concerned for the welfare of their neighbours. We desire to see communities that are connected, supported and whole. ‘Korus’ is a union of the Greek word khora – which means space, and ‘chorus’—which refers to the harmony and wholeness that comes from connection. ‘Korus’ speaks of a space for people to unite, join together, and be supported and inspired.
On 22 July, the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of St Mary Magdalene, one of the most important and prominent women in the Gospels. On June 10, 2016, the liturgical celebration honouring St Mary Magdalene was raised from a memorial to a feast, putting her on par with the Apostles.
Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, in the letter announcing the change, said the decision means “one should reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the New Evangelisation, and the greatness of the mystery of Divine Mercy”.
Mary was the first recorded witness to the resurrection of Jesus, his most ardent and loving follower. She had stood with Mary at the foot of the Cross on that brutal Good Friday afternoon and had been by the side of Mary during these difficult hours. On Easter morning, Jesus appeared to her in the garden by the tomb. Mary had been weeping bitterly over the death of Jesus, yet he appears as a gardener; he speaks her name and in hearing it spoken she recognises him. In response she cries, ‘Rabbuni!’ (John 20:16-18).
It was she who brought the news of the Resurrection to the Apostles, and Peter and John raced to the tomb to see what had happened. St Thomas Aquinas referred to Mary Magdalene as the “Apostle to the apostles” because she was the first person to announce the good news of Christ’s resurrection.
Christian Bergmann, a staff writer for Melbourne Catholic, reflects on this further: “In Mulieris Dignitatem, Pope John Paul II said that this scene in the Gospels is what ‘crowns’ every other interaction between Jesus and the women around him: he trusts her as a witness, trusts her to give testimony, and trusts her with ‘divine truths’ (§16). Even though it is not stated explicitly, there is something scandalous going on here: in the ancient world, even in Jewish law, women were not always seen to be reliable witnesses in a court of law. Their testimony was an inherently compromised one. What Jesus does here is entrust a woman, as a disciple, with bearing witness and testimony to him. It is a remarkable and moving moment in the Gospels”.
Author and artist, Jan Richardson has written the following blessing in her honour. “As we celebrate the Magdalene’s feast day, I offer this blessing to you. Wherever you are, whatever threshold you are on or are approaching, may courage and grace attend you…”