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Serve church and community with your unique skills.

UnitingWorld is the agency of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) driving international church partnerships to address poverty, injustice and violence. It is funded by faithful supporters in the UCA and accredited to distribute aid funds from the Australian Government.

Our skills-based Board has oversight over governance and strategy and has membership drawn from a range of professional fields within and outside the UCA.

We’re looking for up to four passionate members of the UCA to join the team. 

Basic skills in governance and strategy are vital, but we are also looking for a rich diversity in life experience.

We are keen to attract people who reflect the social and cultural diversity of the communities we partner in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.

Experience in international/community development, fundraising, finance and law are particularly valuable.

Click here for a full description of the opportunity.

Contact Dr Andrew Glenn, Chairperson of the UnitingWorld Board to express your interest.

andrewroderickglenn@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

The people of Fiji are bracing to be hit by Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa, a destructive category five super-storm in the Pacific.

General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches Rev James Bhagwan has written today about what it means for his nation and the Pacific region.

Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasa remains at Cat 5 and continues to track towards us bringing destructive winds, storm surges and swells in coastal areas of at least 10metres in height – probably more, and heavy rain and flooding.

The cyclone is coming in from the West and so will severely damage the Yasawa and Mamanuca island groups which are already struggling because of the collapse of the tourism industry. It is currently tracking to go between the two main islands and then down through the middle of the group. This is a huge system so Suva will take a bigger hit than in 2016 with Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, and as you know, the many squatter and informal settlements in the greater Suva area have very ill-constructed homes so this is a major worry. 

Yet our faith, our traditional knowledge and wisdom and experiences of the past keep us resilient. We have been expecting this weather since the early and abundant breadfruit season and prolonged mango season (see how God through His creation speaks to us and provides for us). 

Thank you for keeping us in prayers. It will be a tough Christmas. We really need to shift gear on Climate Change as these are all climate change induced extreme weather events. When we talk about loss and damage in climate negotiations – this is part of it. 

At times like this I question your government’s commitment to their Pacific family. How much of the support that will flow in after this cyclone in terms of relief is to their “Vuvale” Pacific Partnership and how much is a guilt offering on their failure to be the world leader they could be on climate change. 

It breaks my heart that the Pacific Church Partnership of DFAT will engage on many things but we are not able to leverage it on the urgent matter of climate change. Nevertheless we will remain the persistent widow until things change. 

We’re standing ready to support our partners the Methodist Church in Fiji in their emergency response and we’ll keep you informed about how you can help.

Please continue to hold Fiji in prayer as they make final preparations and lock down for the storm.

Header image: Boy living in an informal settlement near Suva, Fiji

The Uniting Church in Australia is a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches.

Thank you so much to all those who signed the pledge to urge the Australian Government to provide vital support to nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

You were among more than 25,000 Australians whose signatures were passed on to government to let them know we care about our neighbours. In the 2020-21 Budget announced in early October, the government committed $304.7 million of additional money for the Pacific and Timor-Leste to help them recover from COVID-19. This is critical assistance for nations whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic and a real win for the campaign you’ve been a part of. Thank you!

Your support and action has helped make announcements like these possible:

Micah Australia has released a video to say thank you and highlight the achievements of the campaign. Click the post below to share the good news!

“Together, we are showing what it’s like to be a generous nation and to step up,” said Tim Costello, Executive Director of Micah Australia.

“Together we are going to End COVID for ALL”

It’s critical that we keep speaking up for aid and collaborating for a more just world in these challenging times.

Thank you for standing with us.

The End Covid for All campaign is an initiative of Micah Australiaa coalition of churches and Christian organisations raising a powerful voice for justice and a world free from poverty. Click here to visit the campaign homepage.

Our partners, the United Church in Papua New Guinea (UCPNG), have been running a successful behaviour change campaign for many years, teaching thousands of people about the importance of clean water and good hygiene. When the pandemic hit Papua New Guinea, they were ready to expand this work to include COVID-19 awareness and prevention, and they’ve been out in force educating communities about the threats of COVID-19 and the importance of regular hand washing.

With the permission of the PNG Government, over the past six months the UCPNG team (along with volunteer change agents) have:

  • educated 14,500 people on best practice water hygiene and sanitation
  • distributed 687 pamphlets, 2505 posters, six banners and 3840 bars of soap
  • worked with 11 congregations, 14 communities and six schools along the East Cape Coast

A team of three theologians also shared COVID-19 safety messages to help people understand this and other disasters from a theological perspective. One of them was Kerron, a recent Master of Theology graduate of Raronga Theological College. “Every home now is implementing the tippy tap approach to wash hands in the villages we visited, church seats are marked a metre apart and masks are sewn by women to help with schools and public,” said Kerron.

Thank you for supporting the work of our partners UCPNG and helping them make a huge impact in their communities!

 

The United Church in PNG Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

 

 

 

 

 

Header image: A Volunteer with UCPNG’s ‘Rait Mama’ behaviour change campaign.

Australia’s recent experience of lockdowns, home schooling and economic downturn have been tough. How do these things play out in places where cases of COVID-19 continue to grow? We talked to one of our partners, Om Prakash (OP) in Amritsar, India, to find out.

UW: What’s the situation in India at the moment OP? We’ve been hearing that maybe the cases have peaked?

OP: Yes, we feel a little hopeful. We had up to 90,000 cases a day a few weeks ago but numbers have dropped in the last two weeks. The rate of testing is still not high enough though and we are very worried about winter coming.

UW: What’s happening with the lockdown? How much has opened back up?

OP: Pretty much all parts of society are open again except for colleges and schools. This is a big danger period for us with shops and malls operating again, but still many people don’t wear the masks, and it’s hard to enforce. But there has been such an economic impact, we can’t afford the lockdown. Many, many people have no work, no income, no food.

UW: What government services are available to help people survive and recover?

OP: Workers and other vulnerable people registered with the government have been allowed a small pension during the pandemic. Two payments of 3000 rupees ($A57.00) have come through. But the problem is that most people are not registered. There is very low awareness in the community of the social services that are available, and people don’t know how to go about getting registered.

UW: That’s a huge challenge! How has your team responded?

OP: Even before the pandemic, we were running education workshops with communities to help people get registered for support. We still do that but we have to be smart and careful about social distancing. We do more door-to-door than in groups, and we use posters and social media. Our main practical impact right now is in education. School is online, but most families don’t have a smart phone to use for their children – there might be only one in each family. Our study centres are allowed to open even though schools can’t and so our staff are helping children who wouldn’t otherwise have access online to keep up with their schooling. Government teachers are in contact with our staff to provide resources; we’re even helping students sit their exams this way. Without these centres, so many children would have lost almost a year of their education, maybe even more.

UW: It’s an incredible role to play – and the church has also been providing income generating opportunities for parents?

OP: Yes, we started with sewing masks and women were gaining skills and some cash to buy food. We have a huge order about to go out to a Motorcycle Rally we have planned for the city to raise awareness about COVID-19 safety protocols. But we have also been helping women make and sell paper bags – plastic bags were due to be made illegal last year right across India because of the environmental impact, but that didn’t end up happening. We’re still committed to providing an alternative and an income opportunity at the same time.

UW: OP, your team’s commitment and innovation is really inspiring! We’re praying for you all.

OP: Please pass on my love and thanks to UnitingWorld and to the people of the Uniting Church in Australia. We are very grateful for your prayers and your investment in our work.

 

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and this year it’s especially important.

Global progress on ending poverty is one of the greatest human achievements of our time.

Since 1999, nearly a billion people have escaped extreme poverty. At the beginning of 2020, the global poverty rate was lower than it has ever been in recorded history.

That progress is now under threat.

The pace of change has been slowing in recent years and now the COVID-19 crisis risks reversing those decades of progress.

More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, still live in extreme poverty today and the World Bank recently estimated up to 150 million more people could be added by 2021.

“COVID-19 is a humanitarian crisis that is far from over,” said UnitingWorld National Director Dr Sureka Goringe.

“The pandemic is pushing more people into poverty and vulnerability every day. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a reminder that we all have a role to play.”

The theme for 2020 is ‘Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all, and it aims to highlight the dimensions of poverty beyond income deprivation, including the rapidly growing impact of the environment. A more holistic approach is needed (like what our Pacific partners are creating for their context).

“No one should be deprived of what they need to live with dignity and each of us can choose to work together to create a fairer, more sustainable world for all,” said Dr Goringe.

Some ways to take action:

 

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been marked on 17 October since 1992. Learn more.

The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) and UnitingWorld have joined Christian organisations around the world to stand in solidarity with the Filipino people and call attention to the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines.

The VIC/TAS Synod is running a letter-writing campaign and has released a helpful resource with background information on the situation on the Philippines, who you can write to and helpful information to include in your letters.

Click here to read more and write a letter.

Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer is encouraging UCA members to join the campaign, and has also written to the Philippines Ambassador in Australia and to Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Marise Payne about the issue.


Context

Following a global virtual meeting convened by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and International Ecumenical Convocation for the Defense of Human Rights, a ‘Unity Statement for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Philippines’ was drafted.

The statement highlights serious ongoing human rights violations that have been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A militarized response to the COVID-19 pandemic … has unravelled lingering social inequalities and has further deepened economic misery in the country,” reads the statement.

“The proliferation of extrajudicial killings, including the killing of thousands of people under a so-called ‘war on drugs’, is reprehensible. We are concerned that a general climate of impunity has been synergized with the Philippine president’s unabashed incitement to violence and regular calls for state forces to punish legitimate dissent by the citizenry.”

The statement is also a call for international solidarity and a commitment to action.

“Continuing violations of human rights under the COVID-19 pandemic … accentuate the urgent need for intensified accompaniment and solidarity from Church formations and people of goodwill within and outside the Philippines,” the statement reads.

“In continuation of our historic commitment as faith-based bodies within the wider ecumenical community worldwide to peace, justice and the integrity of creation, we hereby join to keep watch and bear witness to the hopes and struggles of the Filipino people.”

“We call for an end to these killings. We stand with the Filipino citizenry in denouncing state impunity and the wanton display of violence and brutality by state forces.”

Read full statement.

Our partner, the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), is among the many civil society organisations routinely targeted for their human rights and social justice work.

In July this year UCCP’s Rev. Dan San Andres Sr, known as a human rights defender, was arrested a week after the passing of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Act.

UCCP mission workers in Davao who have provided sanctuary to displaced indigenous peoples since 1994 had their building raided and closed earlier this year. They are now facing a series of outrageous charges instigated by the government anti-insurgency agency, the National Task Force to End Localized Communist Armed Conflict.

In August last year, 51-yr-old UCCP Pastor Ernesto Javier Estrella was gunned down by men on motorcycles in Antipas, Cotabato Province without an apparent motive. Investigations focused on whether he was assassinated for alleged ties with “left-leaning groups.”

Please pray for and end to the violence and persecution, our church partners and all those working for peace and justice in the Philippines.

Don and Sylvia Wright, from Hervey Bay in Queensland, have been running Everything in Common gift stalls for UnitingWorld at Christmas for a few years now.

It’s a simple concept: buy a card for a loved one that represents a ‘gift’ to help someone overcome poverty: a goat, clean water, school books…

The Wrights send gift cards every year to their children who live overseas, and they love having the chance to put into practice the call to love their global neighbours through practical help and generosity. But they also get a kick out of learning from others.

“Everything in Common focuses on the needs of our partners in non-Western cultures, and we’ve learnt so much from hearing about them and how they’re meeting the challenges facing their communities,” the Wrights say.

“But we also love the chance to chat with others in our congregation and hear about their experiences travelling or supporting communities outside of Australia. We’ve developed some really strong friendships through running the stalls!”

UnitingWorld supplies everything you need to run an Everything in Common gift stall, like cards and promotional posters. It’s easy and the funds you’ll raise have a big impact. Over the last five years, people like the Wrights have helped us inject more than $2 million into projects that provide clean water, education, small business start-ups and much more.

“Consider getting involved in running a stall as you’re able, or plan to help promote the gifts in other ways if congregations are still unable to meet,” say the Wrights. “You can be part of talking with others about the needs of the wider world and experience just how effective accountable giving can be.”

Click here to register a stall as an Everything in Common Coordinator

Alternatively, you can call  us on 1800 998 122 or email info@unitingworld.org.au to get your gift stall up and running from October through to Christmas.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT

UnitingWorld has relocated our office just a short walk down the street to Pilgrim House, next to Pitt Street Uniting Church. We’re loving the new environment, even though most of us still aren’t back full time in the office due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We made the move to cut overheads and we’re sharing the space with the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia. We’ll still get all your mail and calls, and when things are back to normal and you’re in Sydney sometime, do drop by to say hi at Level 3, 262 Pitt Street, Sydney.

The mural on the side of Pilgrim house (by artists Monk, Humphries and Taylor, 1984) was commissioned by Rev Dorothy McRae-McMahon and Pitt St Uniting Church on the theme ‘Peace Justice and Unity.’

With international borders still closed, and far fewer tourists visiting places like Bali, we spoke to our partners in Indonesia to find out what life is like in the grip of the pandemic.

“People here are more worried about having no food and no jobs than about the pandemic,” says our Southeast Asia Regional Coordinator, Dr Debora Murthy.

“While that’s understandable, cases in Indonesia are still growing – there are more than 3,000 cases in Bali alone, with almost 100,000 across Indonesia. The threat is very real and we’re doing everything we can to share information about stopping the spread, especially among people who rely on traditional markets, where community transmission is highest.”

Our partners the Protestant Christian Church in Bali and their development agency MBM have been working hard to respond to food insecurity as well as safeguard against disease.

Here is what your gifts have been achieving in their capable hands:

  • Food assistance for 8,062 vulnerable women, children and especially those living with HIV/AIDS
  • COVID-19 prevention education for 2,237 families via brochures and social media
  • 1,000 fruit and vegetable plants helped 31 communities supplement their dwindling food supplies
  • Packages of masks, soap and vitamins to protect against disease for 806 families
  • Hand washing videos sent directly to
  • 61 children in targeted communities
  • Quarantine support and care for 20 health workers serving COVID-19 patients in a local hospital
  • Sewing training for 12 women to make fabric masks; 3,890 purchased by MBM
  • to distribute
  • Training for ten Bali church leaders so they can become COVID-19 volunteers in their communities
  • Marketing support for six villages so they don’t have to physically travel to produce an income.

THANK YOU

to everyone who has helped men, women and children stay safe and avoid hunger in Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and across the Pacific.  You’re amazing!