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Author: UnitingWorld

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.

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.

 

Education is a gateway towards a fulfilling future, equipping the next generation with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to lead a life of their choosing. But for children with disabilities, one of the most marginalised minorities in Sri Lanka, accessing an inclusive education is difficult. As a result, these children are less likely to access the healthcare facilities and schemes, and the economic opportunities and social prospects they need to both survive and thrive.

Through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), UnitingWorld is supporting Deaf Link* to coordinate with government Special Education Units and ensure that children with disabilities can access mainstream schools. Deaf Link facilitate school enrolments, and support teachers and staff to improve education practices and accessibility for students. As a result, there are now more children with disabilities enrolled, literate and at essential learning capacity than ever before.

Sahasra** chose to send her son to a Deaf Link-supported school in a nearby town after hearing it was involved in the program. Seeing the change it made, she has chosen to relocate her family to the town permanently to give her son the greatest hope for his future.

“(My son) is studying at this school for almost a year now and I can already see so many encouraging improvements in him. As a result of the inputs provided at the school, my son now responds to queries, speaks [a] few words and is making efforts to walk, spacing few steps, playing and taking care of himself.

“The school and the special education unit here have truly been able to bring actual change in the lives of many children with disabilities like my son giving them and their parents hope for a better future. I regularly attend the parent’s meetings and can see the change in the attitude and perceptions of fellow parents towards their children. We often share our happiness collectively. This school has now become a centre for change, hope and development for the children affected by disability.”

*Deaf Link is a centre committed to work with people with disabilities, established by the Methodist Church Sri Lanka.

**Name changed for confidentiality.

Header image caption: Children in an inclusive education class run by Deaf Link using the AUSLAN signal for applause.

 

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Thanks to ANCP, we’re making a huge difference together; lifting families out of poverty and helping people improve their lives.

 

An estimated 202,000 people are experiencing poverty in Bali, and as COVID-19 continues to take its toll, that number is only expected to rise. With limited funding going to local governments, many people struggle to access the housing, electricity, water and other basic services they need. But for the most vulnerable groups, including women and people with disabilities, their voices often go unheard in village decision-making processes, further compounding the challenges they face.

That’s why UnitingWorld is working with Maha Bhoga Marga Foundation (MBM) to build the confidence and skills of vulnerable groups to participate in village governance and advocate for their rights.

By equipping vulnerable people to monitor the funds allocated to their village through the Village Development Program, and investing in vocational training, health services and grassroots advocacy, this project has seen greater representation of women, people with disabilities and poor families in targeted villages and increased distribution of local government budgets towards their specific needs.

Across 29 villages, at least 13,300 people now benefit from this work. Kadek is one of them. With the support of MBM and UnitingWorld, Kadek advocated on behalf of a group of poor families to receive goats and pig cages so they could earn a living. Doubling his income through the program, Kadek has now bought a home for his family and is ready to send his two children to college.

“Before joining in a group, I never attended or being invited in any village meetings,” Kadek said. “Now, I am invited as a group leader. My confidence is growing since I also received some training from MBM and I often lead group meetings.”

Photo caption: UnitingWorld partner MBM hosts monthly group meetings for community members who are often overlooked, providing training and technical assistance to help them participate in village governance.

Read more about this project

 

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Thanks to ANCP, we’re  making a huge difference together; lifting families out of poverty and helping people  improve their lives.

Our neighbours need your help.

Kengen was eight months pregnant when armed men attacked her village in South Sudan. She managed to escape with her life and delivered her baby in the bushes. 

But there was no home to return to, and Kengen’s farm and harvest were destroyed.  

Now, unable to produce enough milk without a food source or home, Kengen is afraid that she won’t be able to feed her baby daughter. 

And she’s not the only one. 

Right now, an estimated 49 million people are on the brink of famine.  

Conflict, COVID-19, climate shocks and now the war in Ukraine have created the perfect storm for an unprecedented global hunger crisis. 

From South Sudan to Afghanistan, Syria to Yemen, this is a crisis like we’ve never seen before. And with COVID-19 doubling the number of people living with life-threatening hunger, the worst may be yet to come. 

That’s why we need your help. 

Together with a coalition of community and humanitarian organisations, we need you to join us in calling on our new federal government to help fight famine. 

We encourage you to contact your local federal member and urge them to: 

  1. Save lives now through an urgent Famine Prevention Package of $150 million to avert catastrophe in the worst-affected hunger spots in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. 
  1. Tackle the root causes of the global hunger crisis through investing in a long-term targeted Global Food Strategy. 
  1. Strengthen the resilience of the Asia Pacific region to climate change, disasters, and economic shocks by increasing Australia’s development assistance. 

We know that together our voices can make a big difference in the lives of our neighbours just like Kengen.  

Click here to write to your MP and learn more about the campaign.

*Story provided by Micah Australia 

If you have strong governance experience, a love for social justice and want to make a contribution with profound impact, you may find this a richly rewarding opportunity.

We are seeking expressions of interest from people who would like to join the UnitingWorld Board in the role of Chairperson. Our current Chair needs to step down from the role due to a change in their personal circumstances, so we are seeking someone to lead our Board in its vital role of strategy and governance.

UnitingWorld is a small high-energy organisation that punches way above its weight in transformative international development. We have a highly engaged skills-based Board, with members who are diverse in their personal and professional backgrounds, as well as gender, age and ethnicity. The Chair of the Board leads the work of the Board, creating space for innovation in strategy and diligence in governance.

If you:

  • are a member of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA)
  • have some years of governance experience, and
  • have a few hours a month you can devote to supporting UnitingWorld

you may be a good fit for this role.

Beyond a track record of Board level leadership, experience in any of following would be highly valuable:

  • international aid and development
  • international church to church relationships
  • government relations and advocacy
  • institutional fundraising
  • leadership and networks within the UCA.

About UnitingWorld

UnitingWorld is an agency of the UCA. We collaborate internationally to address the causes and consequences of poverty, injustice, and violence. We work with partners in Asia, Africa and in the Pacific in poverty alleviation, gender equality, disaster readiness and leadership development.

We work with and through churches, but our programs include all people regardless of their faith, sexuality, ethnicity, ability, or gender. Our programs are initiated and implemented by our partners.

We translate rigorous sustainable community development principles through the lens of our Christian faith. We help to build leadership and organisational capacity. We partner for the long haul. We strive to build an international community, helping connect our partners with each other and our own church.

We maintain the highest standards for international development in Australia by being a member of the Australian Council of International Development (ACFID), a signatory of their Code of Conduct, and by being accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to receive Australian Aid funding. We are also members of the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA), and of the international ACT Alliance network.

You will be required to implement and adhere to the agency’s policies and procedures in compliance with the DFAT and ACFID code of conduct, and follow FIA and Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) requirements.

More information

About the UnitingWorld Board

About the role of Chair

Our latest Annual Report

Please send your resume and expression of interest to EA@unitingworld.org.au at your earliest convenience.

In the final months of the financial year, you, our supporters, raised more than $520,000 to support the life-changing work of our partners!

Exceeding our target means more families lifted out of poverty; more people earning an income, getting an education or better access to clean water and sanitation; safer communities for women and girls; more people prepared for a changing climate…

It means God’s love and hope made real for people struggling through crisis. People like Ranjit and her family in India, whose story we told as an example of the impact our partners are having.

Thank you so much for sharing our vision of a more just and hopeful world, free from poverty. We look forward to updating you about what God is doing through our work in partnership over the coming financial year.

During the worst economic crisis in Sri Lanka’s history, our partners have been reaching out to help vulnerable communities.

With inflation now above 50%, the cost of everyday goods like food, fuel and medicine has skyrocketed. Essential services have shut down and there have been widespread power cuts. As frustrations boil over and protests escalate, our partner, the Methodist Church Sri Lanka (MCSL), has called for people to refrain from violence and called on leaders to facilitate a swift return to electoral democracy (read full statement).

The human suffering is difficult to comprehend.

Early in the crisis, our partners pledged to do everything in their means to alleviate suffering.

They’ve been doing exactly that. Much of it is happening through Deaf Link and the disability outreach work of the church.

Established by MCSL, Deaf Link is a centre committed to providing access to education for children with disabilities and occupational training to adults with disabilities.

Despite the difficulties of public transport, the Deaf Link team of Rev Gnanarajah and Rev Kandeepan were able to travel in June to visit participants of the Empowering People with Disabilities project in rural areas identified as most vulnerable. They delivered dry ration packs to project participants and to other families identified as needing assistance.

“Due to the present economic crisis in our Island, many people are affected,” said Rev Kandeepan.

“We gave help according to our capacity, but the local Rural Development Society said there are many more families who need help. Hopefully more can be provided as soon as possible.”

“Those who received dry ration packs expressed their gratitude to Deaf Link  and UnitingWorld,” said Rev Kandeepan.

The Deaf Link team also visited self-help groups run by the project, which connect people with disabilities to share knowledge and encourage each other through the crisis. The project also promotes home gardening by providing seeds, training and assistance to market their produce.

A member of the self-help group who lost one of his hands during the civil war was keen to show his home garden and how he can cultivate it with just one hand (pictured right).

The Deaf Link team were planning to visit projects in the Eastern Province this month, but due to exorbitant costs of transport they instead met with the Coordinator in the region to get updates.

Please pray for their important work.

You can help our partners reach the most vulnerable during this unprecedented crisis. All funds raised will support the work of the Methodist Church Sri Lanka providing assistance through through their church and community networks.

People with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable people in Sri Lanka. Without support, disabilities can become a huge barrier to accessing appropriate education, employment and full participation in community life. Because of this, people with disabilities are up to five times more likely to live below the poverty line.

The Deaf Link project mentioned is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) and impacted the lives of 2,625 people with disabilities in Sri Lanka in FY 2020-21.

More

Previous Update from Partners in Sri Lanka

Calls for prayer as Sri Lanka faces deepening economic crisis