Uniting Spring Congregation Connect and Supporter Newsletter

Uniting staff (left to right) Jeremy and Paul unload a delivery
of goods for bushfire-affected communities in Gippsland.

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Spring edition of Congregation Connect.

In this edition, you can read about our recent submission to the Victorian Government’s Inquiry into Homelessness, a property sharing opportunity between Uniting Vic.Tas and Shepparton Uniting Church and the fantastic national response to our making masks initiative.

It also talks about the Coffee Cup Challenge which officially launched on 1st October however It is still not too late to get involved.  All funds raised from the Coffee Cup Challenge will support people experiencing crisis, vulnerability and disadvantage.

For more information or to register your congregation to join the Coffee Cup Challenge, please visit https://www.unitingvictas.org.au/coffee-cup-challenge/

I have also attached a copy of our Spring Supporter Newsletter, which features stories of hope in the face of crisis. On page 5, there are examples of just some of the ways our dedicated teams have kept our support going during these challenging times. You can also read about the difference your giving has made this past winter and discover new ways to get involved.

Uniting Christmas cards are now available to order with 4 new additions to the range. Each design has been thoughtfully selected by members of the Uniting Church to reflect the joy and hope of Christmas and all proceeds will support people in crisis.

As current restrictions have made it too difficult for many of you to complete orders for your members by consignment this year, I have attached a copy of the Christmas Card poster and a PDF order form for you to pass on to your members. Please note we have made the order form fillable for anyone wanting to complete and email it back to us without printing. Alternatively, they can pre-fill the details prior to printing for mailing it back to us if they prefer this to manually writing their details.

Cards can be also be ordered by calling our Supporter Services on 1800 668 426 or visiting our Christmas Card site.

If you need paper copies of the newsletters, poster or order form to distribute to your members, please call us on 1800 668 426 or email fundraising@unitingvictas.org.au.

Kind Regards,

Dale

Congregation Connect Spring 2020

Spring Supporters Newsletter

 

Climate Change Taskforce

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Climate change taskforce

The Justice and International Mission Cluster is asking you to be part of a taskforce on climate change action. The taskforce’s purpose is to identify, encourage and support the implementation of measures across the Synod to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. To lodge an expression of interest, contact Mark Zirnsak at mark.zirnsak@victas.uca.org.au or on 0409 166 915 by October 28.

 

Worship Online 27 September 2020

This week we joined together with Belmont Uniting Church and Western Heights Uniting Church in this reflective service, to start exploring a recent book by N. T. Wright.

Following the insights of Tom Wright’s book “God and the Pandemic: A Christian reflection on the Coronavirus and its aftermath”, today we reflect on the question of God and suffering. As we are confronted with evil and suffering in the world, we should not be asking why suffering happens but how do we respond? The readings from Deuteronomy and Matthew’s gospel (the beatitudes) provide guidance in how the Christians should respond, with care and generosity.

And keep an eye out for Karen and the Western Heights puppets, and I think our first virtual choir!

You can find more on the book and where to get a copy by this link.

Led by:
Rev. Paul Stephens (St Lukes) and Rev. Bruce Waldron (Western Heights)

And enjoy a new rendition of “God of Creation” by Craig Mitchell, just released.

 

Worship online – Sunday 13th September: Exodus and Us – Part 3

Recently we have been dipping into the epic story of the God’s liberation of the people of Israel as recorded in the book of Exodus.

This week we will be looking at perhaps the central event of this grand narrative … indeed perhaps of the whole of the Old Testament … the crossing of the Red Sea.

Did you notice in the text that Moses was dealing not just with the rampaging army of Egypt but those who were moaning and groaning in his own camp who thought whips and slavery did not seem to bad compared with the situation they were in?  (Humans are humans … nothing changes in 3,500 years.)

Secondly, let’s be clear that the members of Pharaoh’s army are victims … real people with families … caught up in Pharaoh’s nefarious doings … sacrificed like so many before and since in a pointless battle.

Yet let me say it again core to this passage is an understanding that God overcomes the forces of chaos … represented both by Pharaoh and his army, and the deep scary Sea.

God is a God of new creation and liberation who confronts and deals with the dark forces.

This sisters and brothers is not a purely theoretical affirmation … to know that God will not allow evil to prevail is a statement of profound hope.

For an inspirational listening song, you might enjoy “Baba Yetu” – the Lord’s Prayer, in Swahili:

In our congregation we have people who have come to Australia via the UNHCR refugee program.  We have others who came seeking asylum however they could, using all their resources to escape persecution.  Happily, many of our people seeking asylum have had protection visas granted to them.

But there are still asylum seekers in our community who are being left behind.  Here is Fatma’s story, produced by the Refugee Council of Australia, encouraging us to do what we can to urge the government not to exclude these people from the basic supports that others have taken for granted.

Perhaps this week if you are stuck at home alone with too much time on your hands, you can make contact with the Refugee Council and find out what you can do to help advocate for people in need.

Some of the music from our worship video today was composed and performed by a group called The String Contingent.  If you liked their music, which they freely gave permission for us to use,  I encourage you to visit their webpage and find out more about them here.

Speakers in Spring for Seniors

SPEAKERS IN SPRING FOR SENIORS

A Free Talk Each Tuesday in September at 11am via Zoom

1st     Your Rights Your Safety
8th     Your Home and Adult Children
15th   Your Choices Your Values
22nd  Your Medical Decision Maker
29th   Your Powers of Attorney

Each talk will be for 30 – 40 minutes with 20 minutes for questions and discussion.
Book for one Tuesday, book for some, book for all.

All sessions are free. Numbers limited to 15.
To book or further information Email: or telephone Gary Ferguson 0407 329 290
Hosted by Seniors Rights Victoria

Staying Safe Online

Now that so much of our community life is happening online, you may find that this environment has a few traps for new players.  Certainly criminals are taking advantage of our new reliance on technology.  Both the VicTas Synod and the Australian Government have produced some helpful resources to keep you informed about how to protect yourself, your friends and your family online.

An Update from Synod:

COVID-19 has seen a dramatic escalation in cyber attacks and we urge you to remain vigilant in protecting your digital assets, particularly your email accounts. Some of the hackers are very sophisticated and are using COVID-19 themed emails to try to trick people out of money. The Government’s Scamwatch has received more than 3060 COVID-themed reports, with more than $1.3 million in reported losses. IT Services has compiled a resource explaining some of these recent attacks and also tips on how to protect yourself from scams.

Cyber Security Information

E-Safety Commissioner

If you are an older person and new to the online environment, the eSafety Commissioner also has some great resources for helping you to stay safe online and avoid the scammers.

https://www.esafety.gov.au/seniors

 

 

Vote for Peter in the Westfield Local Heroes Awards

Peter Wheeler. Photo: Hadeel Al Badhran

Dear Volunteers and Supporters of Uniting Barwon,

Uniting Barwon Volunteer Peter Wheeler is one of 6 finalists in the Westfield Local Heroes awards with the chance to win a grant of $10,000 for Uniting Barwon Norlane.

Peter needs your vote!

Please forward this link to your network of family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.

To vote for Peter, click on this link:

https://surveys.reputation.com/surveys3/run?tenantKey=7afa4106785&templateId=5e5d972a8cdc3757b64dcb04&locationCode=supportoffice&property-value-heroID=921&property-value-centrecode=geelong&locale=en_US

Volunteer Peter Wheeler has created an Op Shop and community space that offers much more than second-hand clothes and household goods. With his vision and drive, Uniting Barwon’s new Norlane Op Shop is also a safe place for disaffected locals to socialise and seek help. There are comfy sofas where any members of the community can read a book, have a chat, relax and enjoy a cuppa, plus a kids’ corner with toys, books and puzzles. Thanks to Peter’s dynamic and inclusive approach, there has been a surge in volunteers and shoppers as word of mouth spreads. He is proud that the Op Shop has saved several tons of goods from ending up in landfill each month, while helping those in need.

“We have community members who, by volunteering and participating, have gained an improved level of self-worth,” Peter says.

Peter is driving further initiatives, before COVID-19 restrictions, including a community arts program and literacy and numeracy programs, conversational English for new arrivals (in conjunction with Diversitat), Messy Mums group (an evening program for parents and kids), an evening wellness program (some yoga and relaxation), community internet café, a vegie garden supporting provision of free light lunches from our approved kitchen, community engagement events, including community movie nights and regular car boot sales with sausage sizzles.

“Any profit made from the shop goes to our Emergency Relief Program for those in greatest need in our community.”

Voting closes on 14 September.

Thank you for your vote!

Sunday 30th of August is Share Sunday for Uniting

Dear Friends,

The focus of Share Sunday this year is on Youth Homelessness, with the theme ‘A place to call home.’

Your congregation was sent a pack that shared the story of Bronte and how Uniting supported her through a challenging time in her life.

Unfortunately there have been delivery delays with Australia Post, meaning many of you have not received these resources to use on Sunday.

If any members of your congregation would like to make a donation as part of Share Sunday, we have created an online page where members of your congregation can securely make donations directly to our Share Sunday Appeal – https://www.unitingvictas.org.au/share-sunday/donate/

Many thanks for your ongoing support.

Kind Regards,

Dale