fbpx
1800 998 122Contact

Author: UnitingWorld

Our church partners in Fiji, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Solomon Islands are reaching out in faith to shift community norms and behaviours that allow or excuse family violence, to prevent it long before it has the chance to happen. They are doing it using the heart language of the Pacific, where upwards of 90% of people identify with a Christian faith.

Since 2012, we’ve been supporting our Pacific partners in a unique and powerful approach, addressing the root causes and breaking cycles of violence that go back generations, through gender equality theology.

The results are incredible. There’s exciting change happening in our partner churches: hearts moved, lives transformed away from violence, families and communities made safer. Read more

Here, some of our partners share about the impact of gender equality theology in their lives and communities.

And you can see it for yourself! Download our Gender Equality Theology Resource Pack here.

We need your support to continue this life-changing work.

This program was previously supported by the Australian Government, but the grant expired in 2021. Your support will help us continue this powerful and unique work to end family violence, led by our Pacific partners. We hope to raise $90,000 to keep it going strong. 

Donate now

Mereani Nawadra, Methodist Church in Fiji and Pacific Conference of Churches

“What does peace mean to me as a woman? Peace is gender equality. Peace is education. Peace is freedom from violence and oppression. Peace is being able to walk on the streets of Suva without the fear of being sexually harassed or assaulted.”

Pastor Lima Tura, United Church in the Solomon Islands (centre)

“90% of people in the Solomon Islands believe in God. When a message about women comes from the Bible, their eyes are open, they feel it has more weight. And that’s why we will see a reduction in gender-based violence and increased respect for women in our society.”

Pastor Nippy Aiong, Presbyterian Church Vanuatu

“Many people don’t believe until they study the Bible notes we make [on gender equality] and then they say, ‘Oh! There is something here for us!’ And they are accepting women as equals. I cannot tell you what a change this is for us.”

Rev Dr Cliff Bird, United Church in the Solomon Islands

“Statistics on violence against women and girls and children are shocking… they must lead [us] to actions that counter the evil head on. It is people who construct cultures, it is also people who can and must change cultures that dehumanise and deny certain groups of people their God-given humanity, dignity and equality.”

Bairenga Kirabuke, Kiribati Uniting Church

“Rates of violence are too high, and people need to choose a more peaceful way. It starts with small things: men being more helpful, sharing the load, considering others. That can be a good first step. I hope we can take the message of Gender Equality Theology to all the outer islands of Kiribati.”

Religious and caste discrimination is one of the leading causes of poverty and social exclusion in India. This has prevented access to basic services, including education, health facilities and other government services and schemes for large sections of society.

UnitingWorld supports the Church of North India’s Diocese of Durgapur and Diocese of Amritsar, to run study centres for children of vulnerable families. The projects operate in the urban slums and tribal villages of West Bengal and in Amritsar near the Pakistani border.

In Durgapur, skills training is also offered to marginalised women and farmers to build livelihoods and provide communities with access to and information about government services and schemes.

In Amritsar, the project also seeks to empower people from marginalised communities to advocate for their rights and entitlements and support women to generate income.

The result of this project is empowered, organised, educated and healthy communities, who are involved in local governance and capable of accessing government services and schemes.

Good news from 2021-2022

In Durgapur, over 3000 people were directly impacted by this work. This included:

  • 365 parents/carers took part in seminars on the importance of childhood education
  • 441 children took part in non-formal education and alternative education pathways
  • 585 people were helped through community health and wellbeing programs, including nutrition, infection control, and access to health care
  • 262 people received better access to essential medicines, health services and commodities
  • 2846 men and women gained access to various livelihoods and social empowerment schemes and services.

In Amritsar, over 7000 people were directly impacted by this work in the last financial year, including:

  • 954 children attending study centres received remedial education from trained teachers
  • 1400 parents attending monthly meetings on their children’s education, encouraging and motivating parents to keep their children in school
  • 425 adolescent children gained awareness on the value of higher education and increased knowledge in career options
  • 140 teenagers attended career guidance camps to help them identify future education and career opportunities
  • 28 teachers participating in training to strengthen teaching skills
  • More than 1200 people accessed their first COVID-19 vaccine
  • 2070 people participated in sessions on health and hygiene
  • 765 people were trained in how to access government services and schemes
  • 97 women involved in self-help groups accessed training on financial management and income generation

Work has also been done to help the Diocese of Amritsar strengthen their organisational systems and processes. The assessment was undertaken by a very helpful local agency.

You can read personal stories from our church partners here on our website.[/vc_column_text]

2022-23 plans

Both the Durgapur and Amritsar projects are changing to reflect new needs of their communities. Some of the activities that will be undertaken in the 2022-23 financial year include:

  • Supporting 467 children in Durgapur and 920 children in Amritsar to continue their studies, including providing healthy snacks, remedial education and training teachers.
  • Capacity building of staff and study centre teachers.
  • Supporting women’s self help groups to build skills and livelihoods.
  • Raising awareness among communities of available government services and schemes, through community workers, notice boards and Village Development Committees.
  • Supporting these communities and community leaders through advocacy, training and leadership development to advocate for the rights and entitlements of their community.

The Durgapur project also supports daily wage labourers and other migrant workers to set up and improve farming practices, building food security and income and enabling them to stay with their families. Vocational training is planned for teenagers to improve their career options.

The project is working to improve disability inclusion. So far, disability analyses have identified 40 people with disabilities in the villages. The project design process will include consulting with local Disabled Persons Organisations, as well as specialists in addressing violence against women.

In Amritsar, the key work continues but with a focus on sustainability and community ownership of the project. Local communities will, of course, need to be supported in a transition to make sure this great work continues without extra support from our partners or UnitingWorld. To no longer be needed is the goal of most projects we work on. The Amritsar project is also increasing their focus on teenagers to support them (as well as encourage their parents to support them) to pursue higher education and career goals.

Thank you for your partnership.

Recently we were privileged to share a zoom conversation with Rev Geraldine, one of the PhD students supported by UnitingWorld’s Women in Ministry project. The recording is now available to view (below) if you missed the call, or would like to watch it again.

Rev Geraldine is awesome!

You can find out more about this project here or make a donation here.

A major delegation of women Christian leaders has urged all sides of politics to back a $150 million emergency package to save lives from starvation in Africa and the Middle East.

With Somalia teetering on the brink of a catastrophic famine, the Micah Women Leaders Delegation met with senior government ministers, key opposition figures, cross bench MPs and minor party representatives in Canberra on Wednesday.

The group of 40 women made the case for Help Fight Famine, a coalition of Australia’s leading aid and development organisations, which is campaigning for Treasurer Jim Chalmers to spend $150 million on the hunger crisis threatening almost 50 million lives in 45 countries.

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought in four decades. But the added pressure from climate change, Covid and the war in Ukraine has made this hunger crisis unlike any other.

UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe was part of the delegation, alongside Uniting Church in Australia colleagues, Rev Amel Manyon, Rev Charissa Suli and former UCA President Deidre Palmer.

Reverend Amel Manyon is a South Sudanese community leader and minister in Adelaide. She came to Australia as a refugee in 2008.

Food insecurity has reached its most extreme levels in her home country since independence in 2011. Three quarters of the population – 8.3 million people – are facing severe food insecurity.

Rev Manyon recently visited relatives in a Ugandan refugee camp, where a family of 10 receives 5kg of grain to feed them for a month. That barely lasts a week. Some leave the camp in search of food.

“While I was there I was told there would be not enough food, especially after Covid and the war in Ukraine,” she said.

“Many children have died, women, vulnerable people – they died because they went searching for something to eat.

“I’m asking the government in Australia, please do something now.

“People are dying because of hunger and it’s not good for us to sit and listen to their stories and not do something.

“I believe the government of Australia which helped me come to Australia to have this opportunity to support my family will do something right now because that’s the government I believe in.”

A decade ago the world was slow to act in Somalia and 260,000 people – half who were children – died of starvation.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths overnight gave a “final warning” we are in the “final minute of the 11th hour” in Somalia.

During the 2011 famine in Somalia, Australia contributed $135 million in today’s terms.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade evaluation found Australia’s contribution was commendable, but would have been more effective if delivered earlier.

Help Fight Famine is calling for $150 million to address the unfolding catastrophe in the worst-affected hunger hotspots in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen.

The Micah Women’s Delegation consists of senior women in the Australian Church across the different denominations and Christian women from leading aid and development NGOs. UnitingWorld is a member of Micah Australia.

TAKE ACTION

Donate now to our emergency appeal

Write to your MP via the #HelpFightFamine campaign

Are you:

  • Motivated to work in a values-driven, high-impact, international aid organisation where you can make a lasting difference?
  • An excellent communicator and good at relationship building?
  • Looking for a flexible and rewarding part-time role as part of a great team?
  • Familiar with the Uniting Church

We have a part-time (0.5) permanent remote position based in Melbourne (VIC).

The Donor Relations Coordinator is part of our Communications and Fundraising Team. Reporting to the Donor Relations Manager, you will be responsible for nurturing a cohort of major and mid-range donors by building strong respectful relationships with the aim of increasing loyalty and financial support. Developing connections and networks within the Uniting Church, you will engage individuals and regularly present about UnitingWorld’s work to congregations. The role is broad and covers many aspects of fundraising so will suit a keen and enthusiastic individual who is willing to jump in and thrive.

Full Job Advertisement

Position Description

About UnitingWorld

For further details regarding the role, please contact Suzanne Cullen atea@unitingworld.org.au using the subject line: Donor Relations Coordinator.

A great new resource is available from the Pacific Conference of Churches for the Season of Creation 2022, 1 September to 4 October 2022. The downloadable resource contains liturgies, reflections and action suggestions for each week. Themes include gender, children and youth, leadership for justice, and a call to action by Pacific Churches.

 

The Pacific Conference of Churches encourages all Christians and nonbelievers to celebrate and listen to the voices of creation. Because we are all called to live in harmony, to be responsible stewards of our shared home, which entails that we must all devote ourselves to caring for life in all its forms, knowing that caring includes loving, meditating, and feeling part of God’s creative work.

Season of Creation aims to:

1. Renew our prophetic voices to action for creation.

2. Gather all religious and non-religious communities to share a common voice for our creation and take action.

3. To reflect on the importance of ecological conservation and its integrity by remembering that the voices of creation are the reflection of the voice of its creator.

4. To call out the damaging impact of our earthly development on God’s creation and voice our cry for change as humans living together under one home.

 

New UnitingWorld Global Neighbour, Renata, began donating to international charities when her only income was $5 a week pocket money.

“I could see that even $1 per week would make a difference to people living on less than $2 per day.”

She says, “There are people in this world living on a scale of poverty that I cannot even begin to understand, and it’s only luck that I was born here instead of there. As God has given to me, I feel obliged to pass some of that on to others.”

Renata became a Global Neighbour recently, and chose to support UnitingWorld because she likes the values we hold and the way we work with local communities. “There is a delicate balance between promoting equality and justice vs forcing your beliefs/principles onto someone else, and I trust UnitingWorld to handle that balance. I particularly value UnitingWorld’s programs on gender equality and disability empowerment.”

Renata’s regular giving means we can commit long-term to our partners and they can plan ahead with confidence. We can also save money on fundraising.

Renata says it also helps her be more intentional and sustainable in giving. “I’ve set up my regular giving so it comes out of my account on the same day that my pay goes in so I don’t even notice it going. Regular giving enables me to plan in the same way I manage my other expenses.”

Thank you, Renata and all of our Global Neighbours! You are making a huge difference by making a regular donation.

Become a Global Neighbour today.

Your regular gift will empower our partners to make sustainable change and equip their communities to live free from poverty and injustice. Find out more and sign up at www.unitingworld.org.au/globalneighbour or by calling 1800 998 122.

“When a tree falls in the forest, you hear the sound. When a tree is growing, you hear nothing.”

This wisdom was shared at the Pacific Church Partnership Advisory Network (PCPAN) meeting in Canberra recently, where I had the great pleasure of listening to Christian leaders from across the Pacific region as they expressed their hopes, joys, struggles and dreams for the future. It was the first meeting of its type in-person, where the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) facilitated the gathering but allowed the agenda and conversation to be guided by the participants, particularly Pasifika and First Peoples.

Naturally, it followed a “talanoa” and “yarning” process of dialogue, which meant deep listening, reflection and then speaking. The government representatives mostly listened in from the sidelines. The conversations were rich and comprehensive, expressing the need for the sector to move away from paternalistic interventions based only on human needs and towards partnerships that allow families and people groups to determine their own futures.

There was an outpouring of compassion about the injustices suffered by Australia’s First Peoples after reflections from Rev. Mark Kickett and Alison Overeem from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and ‘Aunty’ Pat Anderson, co-Chair of the Uluru Statement. I looked around and there was barely a dry eye in the room. It reinforced the desires of Pasifika church leaders to centre the voices of First Peoples in all their engagements with Australia. We can each learn from that approach as our nation continues to grapple with issues of justice and reconciliation.

I also recently made a visit to meet three groups of amazing UnitingWorld supporters in Queensland. Meeting face to face for the first time in years, it struck me anew that the Uniting Church is filled with people whose lives seem ordinary, yet are utterly extraordinary.

It brings me back to the quote I picked up at the PCPAN meeting. The dozens of people I met on my trip are not public or loud. They dodge acclaim and recognition, but the depth of their commitment to leaving our world in a better place than they found it is truly inspiring.

Quietly but surely, people are making positive change, big and small, local and global, through community outreach and supporting our international partners. Though we may not hear it or perceive it, the tree is growing. It is a hopeful and motivating thought.

With thanks for all you do with us.

Dr Sureka Goringe
National Director
UnitingWorld

 

After a fire ripped through Glebe Road Uniting Church in Ipswich, QLD, the congregation did not expect to receive help from people in one of the poorest nations in our region.

In May this year, a fire caused extensive damage to Glebe Road Uniting Church’s auditorium, initially forcing the congregation to meet at other Uniting Churches in the Ipswich area.

Glebe Road Uniting has maintained a partnership with Ekaristi Church in Dili, Timor-Leste since 2011. Even before that, they were building a relationship with our partner, the Protestant Church in Timor-Leste (IPTL). Through the partnership, Glebe Road Uniting has built strong relationships through exchange opportunities, allowing members of each church to experience the life, faith and community of the other. They also generously fundraise to support UnitingWorld projects with partners in Timor-Leste and beyond.

After the fire, Glebe Road member and UnitingWorld Ambassador Noel Rothery shared pictures of the damage to his friend Soffian at Ekaristi Church via WhatsApp. Soffian offered prayerful support in return. “That was really appreciated, as we were all coming to terms with the impact that the fire would have on our community life,” said Noel.

A few days later, to his amazement, Noel received a call from Soffian who told him that Ekaristi Church, along with its small school and kindergarten, had pooled funds and decided to send USD $2,300 (about AUD $3,600) to Glebe Road Uniting to assist in the rebuilding process.

Noel was quite emotional about such a sacrificial gift from friends who have so little. He acknowledged the gift was made in response to the need of the Glebe Road congregation, but also as an act of appreciation for the support Ekaristi Church has received through the partnership over the last ten years.

“They have always given back to us from their hearts in love,” said Noel. “Their faith in God and his provision for them is evident in their willingness to share what little they have.” “Our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Timor-Leste has never been one way. What a privilege it is to walk side by side with them.”

Read more about the partnership between Glebe Road Uniting and Ekaristi Church: www.gleberd.com.au/team-timor

 

Relationship between Glebe Rd Uniting in Ipswich and Ekaristi Church in Dili – “What a privilege it is to walk side by side with them”

Growing up, Rev Noa Turaganivalu had a typical life for a boy in Fiji.

He was raised in a rural village on a small, remote island, played a lot of rugby and went away to a boarding school (where he played more rugby). And as the only son in a family of six, he was always regarded as ‘first’ and ‘above’ his three sisters.

“It’s been a cultural and traditional norm for the male to come first and be at the top of everything we do. That’s how I was raised. … I was taught that being a man meant to be strong, and women were inferior to men,” says Rev Noa.

It is no secret that such norms can be a factor in the prevalence of violence against women everywhere. In the Pacific, where the vast majority of people identify as Christian, Pacific churches have a huge role to play in ending violence.

Today Rev Noa is an ordained minister and, supported by UnitingWorld, is a champion of gender equality for the Methodist Church in Fiji (MCIF). But it’s been a long journey to where he is now, Rev Noa admits.

The patriarchal mentality he grew up with continued into his marriage.

“Back then I tried to take ownership of my wife. I was abusive and she can tell many stories of how I used to treat her,” Rev Noa says.

The journey to change for Rev Noa started at theological college but wasn’t fully developed until he was confronted by the theology of gender equality expressed by Solomon Islander theologians Rev Dr Cliff Bird and Rev Siera Bird, and others.

Before embracing his post as Gender Equality Theology (GET) Minister for MCIF, Rev Noa spent an entire year grappling with the gender equality Bible studies and other resources, first reading and meditating on the ideas, and then starting to enact them in his life.

“As I looked deep into the theology, it was something that transformed me: The way I see the world, the way I see my wife and my children and the way I see others,” says Rev Noa.

“When we go out from the right interpretation of the Bible, that men and women were created in the image and likeness of God, that does not allow you to do any harm or abuse to anyone.”

Rev Noa says his life has changed in a way that makes him proud as a husband, father and grandfather.

“I can now respect my wife for who she is, her dignity and also my children and grandchildren. They can tell the story of my transformation in the way I speak and the way I act now.”

Supported by UnitingWorld, Rev Noa has been travelling throughout Fiji, preaching at churches and fellowship groups, running workshops, training ministers and lay leaders and changing hearts with his powerful testimony as he teaches the biblical basis for gender equality and anti-violence.

It’s busy, hard work. But Rev Noa says things are changing before his eyes.

“The ball is rolling. Slowly, because this work is countercultural and counter-traditional,” he says.

“Thank you all in the Uniting Church for your partnership. We need your prayers and support as we try to bring peace and stability to our nation and our world.”

We Need Your Help!

This program was previously supported by the Australian Government, but the grant expired in 2021.

Over the coming months, we will be sharing stories and fundraising to continue this powerful and unique work led by our Pacific partners. We hope to raise $90,000.

To donate and find out more, visit www.unitingworld.org.au/endviolence We look forward to keeping you updated about this life-changing project!

Top photo caption: Rev Noa and his family “I can now respect my wife for who she is, her dignity and also my children and grandchildren.”

 

Rev Noa, Gender Equality Theology Minister for Methodist Church in Fiji, preaching about the biblical basis for gender equality and anti-violence.