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from the National Aborignal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission

Several hundred people converged today in Alice Springs to demand the roll back of the Northern Territory Intervention.  Speakers at the convergence had a clear message - the Intervention has brought shame and humiliation to Aboriginal people across the Territory and has done little or nothing to protect children as it was supposed to do. 

Executive Secretary of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC), Graeme Mundine, who attended the convergence said “we have known all along that this Intervention has serious problems. Any legislation that can only exist if the Racial Discrimination Act is amended has fundamental flaws.”

“Today we have heard the same message from Elders from all over the Northern Territory: the Intervention is causing severe hardship and is curtailing people’s rights.

Some of the impacts on every day life that people spoke about include:

People are feeling humiliated by the income management system. The system is discriminatory and everybody is subject to it, even if they have no children, or have no reason to be included.
An inordinate amount of time is spent trying to get the system sorted out. People have to drive long distances into a town just to spend three hours in a Centrecare queue.
Families are struggling to meet their commitments such as burying their dead as their quarantined income does not leave enough to deal with emergencies or other needs such as petrol. Freedom of movement is also therefore curtailed.
The alcohol bans are causing social dislocation as people head to towns to avoid the bans. This is placing unreasonable pressure on town camps, which are not being supported to deal with these extra people and the issues they bring with them.”
Mr Mundine said “It is heartbreaking to hear people say they have been discarded by Government, yet again. Aborigines feel their rights have been taken away and that gains won through many hard fought battles over the years have been undermined or removed”.

“The Federal Government must stop throwing more money at bad policy”, said Mr Mundine. “It’s time to stop spending millions of dollars on administering flawed policy that does not deliver adequate services where they are needed. Stop flying in Bureaucrats from the South, stop experimenting with Aboriginal people and start listening. Start treating people with the dignity and respect they are entitled to and then maybe we can develop some good policies and programs.”

“NATSIEC is calling for urgent action by the Federal Government to:

Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act;
Ratify the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People;
Rollback and rethink the NT Intervention;
Implement the recommendations from the Little Children are Sacred Report.
“The honey moon is over for the Federal Government, Aboriginal people need action and they need it now,” Mr Mundine concluded.

For further comment: Graeme Mundine 0419 238 788

Wednesday, 17 September 2008 00:00

You’ve Said Sorry, Now Sign the Declaration

from the National Aborignal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) today called on the Federal Government to unequivocally declare its support for the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous people.

“In February this year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were impressed with the leadership shown by Prime Minister Rudd in making the longed for Apology. Now though we are questioning why the Government has yet to formally ratify the Declaration despite their rhetoric about Indigenous Rights” said Mr Graeme Mundine, Executive Secretary of NATSIEC.

“Supporting the Declaration is not a symbolic act; it provides a framework for establishing meaningful partnerships and ensuring equality and non-discrimination. The Declaration affirms the unique contribution the diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples bring to the world and ensures that justice, respect and democracy are enjoyed by Indigenous peoples” said Mr Mundine.

“The Government should not hesitate to support this Declaration as it contains no new rights. It simply elaborates on existing International human rights and applies them specifically to Indigenous peoples”.

“Mr Rudd has shown he is committed to addressing the injustice, marginalization, poverty and exclusion experienced by Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders and signing this Declaration would be a significant and tangible sign of that commitment which would result in practical outcomes for Indigenous peoples.”

NATSIEC urges the Federal Government to explicitly show its support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to ensure that its principles are entrenched within our domestic law and the policies and procedures of Governments.  

For further comment: Graeme Mundine 0419 238 788

from the National Aborignal & Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission

Chair of NATSIEC and Anglican Bishop of the Torres Strait Islands, Bishop Saibo Mabo, and his wife Sanya, together with NATSIEC Commissioner and Aboriginal Bishop James Leftwich and his wife Lala, celebrated the ‘Coming of the Light’ with the Council for World Missions (CWM) on the 1st July, in London.

The ‘Coming of the Light’ celebrates the day in 1871 when Missionaries from the London Missionary Society (LMS) arrived on the shores of the Torres Strait bringing Christianity with them. Every year this day is celebrated by re-enacting the arrival. The London Missionary Society is now known as CWM.

Bishop Saibo Mabo said, “It is a special day for us to remember the coming of the word of the Lord into our lives. We were reborn. This day is like Christmas Day for us, a time of great celebration, of song, dance and feasting”.

“We are very happy to celebrate here with the old London Missionary Society, and to talk about how Christianity is very much alive in the Torres Strait. It is also good to hear what has happened to the LMS because we never knew they still worked to bring the word of the Lord to many people in the world”.

“We were interested to be told about the great work that CWM continues to do particularly their work with the poor and disadvantaged”, Bishop Saibo Mabo said.

Bishop James Leftwich also remarked on the significance of meeting with CWM, “we were once the mission field, but now we are the mission force. It is important for us to share our faith with those who once shared theirs with us”.       

Both Bishops thanked CWM for their hospitality and the opportunity to share with them how the LCM sowed the seeds, but Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples now express and experience Christ through their own cultures.

For further comment contact: Graeme Mundine + 44 (0) 7900426161

Wednesday 2nd July - Bishops Mabo and Leftwich will meet British MPs at the House of Commons.

from the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations

The Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) welcomes the Australian Government’s statement of concern about the recent arrest of Baha’i leaders in Iran and the continuing discrimination and harassment of the Iranian Baha'is on the grounds of their religion.

APRO’s Baha’i community representative, Natalie Mobini-Kesheh, said six of the seven members of the “Friends in Iran”, the national coordinating group for Baha’is in Iran, were arrested in early morning raids on 14 May 2008. The seventh member has been in detention since 5 March 2008.

“They do not have legal representation, have not been allowed to communicate with their families, and their whereabouts is presently unknown,” Dr Mobini-Kesheh said.

APRO Convenor, Professor Abd Malak said APRO shared the Government’s deep concern for these Baha’i leaders, made in a recent public statement.

“Freedom of religion and belief is a right guaranteed to all people under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a state party,” Prof Malak said.

“Their detention is in clear breach of the rights to which they are entitled under international law,” he said.

“They must be allowed to communicate with their lawyers and their families, and their place of detention and the exact charges brought against them must be made known,” he said.

“Members of APRO call on the Iranian authorities to release the Baha’i leaders, if they are not to be charged with a recognisable criminal offence and allowed a fair and prompt trial.”

The following members and organisations add their support for APRO’s statement and call the Iranian government to respect and protect the right of all Iranians, including Baha’is and other religious minorities, to profess and practise the religion of their choice:

Professor Emeritus Gary Bouma, UNESCO Chair, Inter-religious and Intercultural Relations - Asia Pacific.
Dilip Chirmuley AM, Hindu Society
Eugenia Tsoulis, National Council of Migrant Resource Centres and Migrant Service Agencies
Abeselom Nega, the Federation of African Communities Council
The Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Inc.
John Henderson, National Council of Churches in Australia
Jeremy Jones, Executive Council of Australian Jewry
Josie Lacey, The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia - interfaith advisor
Kulbir Singh Malhotra, Sikh Association
Australian Baha'i community

Media comment:
Abd Malak, APRO Convenor: 0417 489 066
Natalie Mobini-Kesheh, Australian Baha’i community: 0414 603 145 

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

The Anglican Church, Catholic Church, Uniting Church and National Council of Churches in Australia support the call by the religious leaders of Zimbabwe for immediate international action to prevent an imminent crisis in Zimbabwe. We express our deep concern over the deteriorating political, security, economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe following the 29 March 2008 national elections and the failure of the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission to release the results of the Presidential election.

As religious leaders in Australia we support the appeal this week from religious leaders in Zimbabwe (attached) which:

  • warns the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing atrocities similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi;
    .
  • calls for the immediate end to political intimidation arising from the desire to influence how people will vote in the anticipated run-off in the presidential poll;
    .
  • calls on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to release the true results of the presidential poll of 29 March 2008 without further delay; and
    .
  • commends the people of Zimbabwe for exercising their democratic right peacefully and urging them to maintain and protect their dignity and their vote.

We also:

  • commit ourselves, and encourage all churches in Australia, to pray and increase our support for the people of Zimbabwe (the churches, with their considerable networks across Zimbabwe, are one of the vital networks in getting assistance to those most effected by the economic and political crisis).
    .
  • call on the Australian Government to provide additional emergency assistance in response to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country.

 
Archbishop Philip Wilson, President, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Primate, Anglican Church of Australia

The Revd Gregor Henderson, President, Uniting Church in Australia

The Revd John Henderson, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia

For Further Information:
Mr Alistair Gee, Executive Director, NCCA Christian World Service, 0417 672 650
Archbishop Philip Wilson, President, ACBC, 0417 284 831
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Primate, Anglican Church of Australia, 0420 970 606

                                       
__________________________________________________________

HEADS OF CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS IN ZIMBABWE

CONCERN OVER THE DETERIORATING SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE:  MESSAGE FROM THE HEADS OF CHRISTIAN DENOMINATIONS IN ZIMBABWE

As the shepherds of the people, we, Church leaders of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC) and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), express our deep concern over the deteriorating political, security, economic and human rights situation in Zimbabwe following the March 29, 2008 national elections.

Before the elections, we issued statements urging Zimbabweans to conduct themselves peacefully and with tolerance towards those who held different views and political affiliation from one’s own.  After the elections, we issued statements commending Zimbabweans for the generally peaceful and politically mature manner in which they conducted themselves before, during and soon after the elections.

Reports that are coming through to us from our Churches and members throughout the country indicate that the peaceful environment has, regrettably, changed.

Given the political uncertainty, anxiety and frustration created by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC’s) failure to release the results of the presidential poll 4 weeks after polling day:

  • Organized violence perpetrated against individuals, families and communities who are accused of campaigning or voting for the “wrong” political party in the March 29, 2008 elections has been unleashed throughout the country, particularly in the countryside and in some high density urban areas.  People are being abducted, tortured, humiliated by being asked to repeat slogans of the political party they are alleged not to support, ordered to attend mass meetings where they are told they voted for the “wrong” candidate and should never repeat it in the run-off election for President, and, in some cases, people are murdered.
    .
  • The deterioration in the humanitarian situation is plummeting at a frightful pace.  The cost of living has gone beyond the reach of the majority of our people.  There is widespread famine in most parts of the countryside on account of poor harvests and delays in the process of importing maize from neighbouring countries.  The shops are empty and basic foodstuffs are unavailable.  Victims of organized torture who are ferried to hospital find little solace as the hospitals have no drugs or medicines to treat them.

As the shepherds of the people, we appeal:

  • To the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to work towards arresting the deteriorating political and security situation in Zimbabwe.  We warn the world that if nothing is done to help the people of Zimbabwe from their predicament, we shall soon be witnessing genocide similar to that experienced in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and other hot spots in Africa and elsewhere.
    .
  • For the immediate end to political intimidation and retribution arising from how people are perceived to have voted in the March 29, 2008 elections and arising from the desire to influence how people will vote in the anticipated run-off in the presidential poll.  Youth militia and war veteran/military base camps that have been set up in different parts of the country should be closed as a step towards restoring the peace and freedom of people’s movement that was witnessed before and during the March 29, 2008 elections.
    .
  • To ZEC to release the true results of the presidential poll of March 29, 2008 without further delay.  The unprecedented delay in the publication of these results has caused anxiety, frustration, depression, suspicion and in some cases illness among people of Zimbabwe both at home and abroad.  A pall of despondency hangs over the nation which finds itself in a crisis of expectations and governance.  The nation is in a crisis, in limbo and no real business is taking place anywhere as the nation waits.
    .
  • To, finally, the people of Zimbabwe themselves.  You played your part when you turned out to vote on 29 March 2008.  We, again, commend you for exercising your democratic right peacefully.  At this difficult time in our nation, we urge you to maintain and protect your dignity and your vote.  We urge you to refuse to be used for a political party or other people’s selfish end especially where it concerns violence against other people, including those who hold different views from your own.  It was the Lord Jesus who said, “Whatever you do to one of these little ones, you do it unto me (Matthew 25:45).

We call on all Zimbabweans and on all friends of Zimbabwe to continue to pray for our beautiful nation.  As the shepherds of God’s flock, we shall continue to speak on behalf of Zimbabwe’s suffering masses and we pray that God’s will be done.

We remain God’s humble servants:

The Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ)
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC)
The Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC)

From the National Council of Churches in Australia

Australian Celebration from May 4 to May 11

2008 marks 100 years of ecumenical prayer for Christian Unity following the example of Jesus when he prayed, ‘that they may all be one…so that the world may believe’ (John 17.21).

The 8 days before Pentecost – May 4 to May 11 - are a great opportunity to renew and deepen our unity in the one God which we share through Jesus Christ.  The theme is ‘Pray without Ceasing’ (1 Thess 5.17).

As part of the worldwide historic celebration this year, the National Council of Churches in Australia has launched resources for the 2008 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Across the country a series of special occasions are being planned to mark the occasion.

This year's resources come from the Ecumenical Institute in Graymoor, USA, where the ‘Prayer Octave for Christian Unity’ began in 1908.  Adapted for use in Australia, they offer a fresh opportunity to worship together locally, to witness to our unity in Christ, and to pray and act for a greater visible expression of that unity.  All Australian Christians are encouraged to link them into daily and weekly prayers, and into other special occasions (such as the forthcoming World Day of Prayer and National Day of Thanksgiving).

Resources are available at www.churchestogetherinprayer.org.au and include orders of service (congregational and leaders’ versions and MSPowerPoint), the 8 Days prayer and reflection materials, and a range of background information and further links.  Prayer cards and posters (for local advertising) are also available from the NCCA or state ecumenical council offices (contact information available at http://www.ncca.org.au/partnerships/state_councils).For more information, please contact:
the NCCA office, (02) 9299 2215 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.,
or the Revd Dr Jonathan Inkpin (02) 9299 2215
or your local state ecumenical council

 

From the National Council of Churches in Australia

Over the centuries, as they have scattered over the face of the earth, Christians have developed different dates for the festival of Easter.  This collection of Easter messages from Australian Church leaders is timed for March because Australians mostly follow the Western tradition, when there is a national public holiday.  Other Australians, however, following the Eastern tradition, will not celebrate Easter in their Churches until the end of April.

Whatever the date over 2 billion Christians around the globe agree on what Easter is – the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It is the original Christian festival, and the highest point in the Church’s calendar.  Easter – or more properly the three days from the death of Jesus on Good Friday to the resurrection on Easter Sunday – is more than a commemoration.  Christians really celebrate Easter every week, every Sunday, but this special festival makes sure we never forget what God has done for us.  In these few days humanity itself dies and is born again to a new life with new possibilities.

This is a vast claim, and it lies at the heart of Christian faith.  Is Jesus really the Son of God?  Did God raise him from the dead?  All around the world every year, Christians celebrate with a resounding, ‘YES’.  And they are sure to do it again this year, on March 23 and again on April 27.

John Henderson
General Secretary
National Council of Churches in Australia

 

Anglican Church

The Christian Easter message is a message of new life.  This new life is offered to all by God, through Christ, and is to be found even in death.

In recent weeks and months Australians have caught glimpses of new life emerging from situations that have been painful and threatening.  Thanks to welcome rains some parts of Australia are beginning to break free from the devastating cycles of drought.  Last month’s bi-partisan apology to the nation’s indigenous people, especially members of the Stolen Generations, was given and received in a spirit of graciousness that prepares the way for the healing of some of the most painful chapters of our national life.  Australia’s signing of the Kyoto Protocol signals our intention to be part of an international response to the dangers and injustices of global warming.

These are promising beginnings.  Much will depend upon actions that are taken now and in the coming months.

My prayer for us all this Easter is that we might know God’s life-giving Spirit, even in the darkest places of our own lives and of our nation and our communities.  May we be enlivened by that Spirit to participate in God’s transformation of death into life and may we constantly rejoice and give thanks to the Lord our God who gave his only Son that we might have life and have it abundantly.

The Most Reverend Dr Phillip Aspinall
Primate
Anglican Church of Australia

 

Assemblies of God / Australian Christian Churches

As a committed disciple of Jesus, the scene at the foot of the cross that first Good Friday must have been horrific.

Their promised Saviour, Jesus Christ, hung battered, bruised and dying, and they were left despondent, disappointed and downtrodden by the events that unfolded that day.

But the words uttered by Jesus with His dying breath, ‘It is finished’ were not those of a defeated man. They were words of triumph and victory because Jesus knew that Sunday was coming.

The pain and anguish He suffered on that dark and lonely Friday would be surpassed by the freedom and celebration that resurrection Sunday would bring for all of humanity.

Friday is only half of the Easter story, and I thank God that we have the privilege of seeing the powerful events of that day through the veil of God’s promise fulfilled on Easter Sunday.

His was a selfless act. His blood spilled that each of us could know life, love, hope and freedom.

It’s both His sacrifice and supernatural resurrection that we remember and celebrate each Easter.

Wishing you and your family a truly wonderful Easter weekend.

Brian Houston
Senior Pastor – Hillsong Church &
National President – AOG/ACC

 

Baptist Union

Easter Message: Don’t ‘crucify’ vulnerable Australians

Federal and state political leaders should reflect on the Easter story and ensure they do not ‘crucify’ innocent victims of social and economic injustice, according to the President of the Baptist Union of Australia, Rev Dr Ross Clifford.

In his Easter message, Dr Clifford observed how political leaders in first-century Judea had overlooked injustice and allowed Jesus Christ to be wrongly sentenced and crucified.

He urged policy makers not to make the same mistake and ignore the needs of the poor and vulnerable in Australian society.

“We hear of concerns about government budget cuts, carer bonus payment cuts, acute housing mortgage stress, unavailability of adequate dental health for hundreds of thousands of Australians, macular degeneration growing with little support for thousands of Australians losing their vision, and uncertainty on workplace relations.

“In particular, the housing, health and education needs of Indigenous Australians must be at the forefront of our national and state concerns.

“What Australia needs today is ongoing strong leadership that safeguards economic growth, upholds human rights, and provides better care for the less well off,” he said.

“Jesus came to help the poor and vulnerable, the hurting and the meek in our society. The death and resurrection of Jesus has implications for our social arrangements as well as our spiritual destiny.”

Also the first Easter was a challenge to religious leaders, and it remains so today, Dr Clifford said.

“Surveys indicate that a majority of Australians believe in an actual resurrection of Jesus, and it is time to reconnect with God. Most people I talk with are open to spirituality. The problem lies with the institutional church. The message of Easter is not primarily a call to join the institutional church, but to respond to the person of Jesus and explore the forgiveness and new life that Jesus offers.  However, religious leaders need to ensure that the church is free of all forms of abuse and theological uncertainty.

“I talk to numerous people on my weekly radio program who tell me they can’t connect with the church because of the hurt and rejection they have experienced. Some are not sure what gospel resurrection hope the church proclaims today.

“Don’t ‘crucify’ Jesus afresh this Easter. The death and resurrection of Jesus offers an opportunity to experience and share the love, joy and peace of God,” Dr Clifford said.

Reverend Dr Ross Clifford
President
Baptist Union of Australia

 

Catholic Church

“The celebration of Easter every year is a reminder to us that Our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection gives hope to the world.

In the world today, violence seems to be on the increase and the possibility of peace seems ever more distant as the days go on.

Everywhere we turn, senseless violence is influencing the lives of poor and innocent people and one can be tempted to think that in the midst of all this there is no way for us to make a difference.

But at the same time, there is another message, another story and we see that exemplified in the lives of so many people who in the ordinary circumstances of their daily lives are peacemakers. People seeking reconciliation within their own family life, people seeking to make peace with others, people engaged in humanitarian works and charitable works.

Such actions make the world a better place and are what the Lord requires from those who honour him in his death and resurrection. These actions are true to the power of His love which was revealed so clearly at His death and so resplendently at the moment of His resurrection.

So while we wish everyone a very happy Easter and all its blessings, we must see it also as a call to us to belong to Christ, to renew our commitment to him and to work for peace in the world.”

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson
President
Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

 

Churches of Christ

Australia proudly celebrates a multicultural society in which many customs and traditions merge. We declare that Australia is a religious country where several faiths also merge. Christian declare at this time the uniqueness of Jesus who claimed that His death and resurrection provided the way to God. Christians believe that by putting one's faith in this Jesus we can be saved from an eternity of punishment for our sins and given an eternity with God.

Christians do not seek to impose their faith. In fact we acknowledge a common heritage with other faiths. But a we claim a unique message in and through Jesus who died for the sins of the world. We claim a special relationship with the Son of God is possible if we acknowledge him as Lord and Saviour because of his sacrifice. It is through this relationship we are given access to God the Father.

At Easter it is this Jesus we celebrate and it is in acknowledging His death and resurection we find the answer to the world's problems.

Richard Menteith
National President
Churches of Christ in Australia

 

Lutheran Church

An empty tomb on Easter morning does not prove that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified on Friday, rose on Sunday morning. A physical resurrection however, would demand an empty tomb.

History has never argued about the empty tomb. What has been postulated through the ages is that the body was stolen. Obviously a concern from the beginning as a guard was placed at the tomb in case someone got brave and took the body.

From a stolen body theory to a wrong tomb theory, there were those who suggested that it was another tomb, mistakenly visited, which was empty that caused the excitement for those who went early to the grave on Easter morning. Of course there was no satellite navigation facility at the time!

Perhaps Jesus only appeared to die or under a narcotic spell looked like he was dead.

Or maybe the discoverers so wished for an empty tomb and for a resurrection they deluded themselves into believing it.

Or was it the gardener who, tired of his plants being trampled, removed the body and buried it elsewhere?

When the followers of Jesus claimed he had risen, no one took them to the tomb and said ‘there is the body, you are wrong!’

This resurrection, the most incredible claim in history, is no mystery for Christians. Christ is risen! Everyone is now invited to celebrate new starts, new life and hope as he rose not for himself, but for us.

Reverend Dr Mike Semmler
President
Lutheran Church of Australia

 

The Salvation Army

We tend to identify Easter with symbols of the cross, and rightly so. It represents the extent of God’s love for humankind. It reminds us of His plan that all might be saved.

Every believing Christian can look beyond the cross to the empty tomb. It represents God’s power over death. It brings to us the hope of eternal life.

May you be challenged by the price Christ was prepared to pay for your sin and may you be encouraged in your faith journey as you realise the hope of the resurrection.

May God Bless you,

Commissioner Les Strong                       Commissioner James Knaggs
Australia Eastern Territory                      Australia Southern Territory

 

Seventh-day Adventist Church

EASTER IS ALL ABOUT LOVE BEING STRONGER THAN HATE and it is about God’s love at that!

At such a time as this with global turmoil, you and I need God’s love.

Human hatred brings death.  Human hatred brought about the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Yet it was love that drove Jesus to allow men to kill Him.

If there were no resurrection it would mean hatred had conquered God’s love.

But Jesus is alive!  Death could not hold Him. Jesus has risen from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus is the triumph of God’s love over all that human hatred could and can do. 

Why not, right now, call on God to cover you with His love.

Pastor Ken Vogel
General Secretary
Seventh-day Adventist Church

 

Uniting Church

Easter Impacts on People of All Faiths… and of None

Despite walking this earth 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ continues to make more impact for good on people in the world today than any other human being.

This Easter it is worth noting that the stresses that can occur between those of different religions are generated by a very few people. The far more common story is the good relationships that are being nurtured by the vast majority of people of faith.

In the Indian city of Machilipatnam, thousands of Hindus and Muslims come to the city cathedral every Christmas Eve to pray, in respect for the Christian faith. Their offerings that day make up more than 10% of the cathedral’s annual budget.

In Jerusalem last year, a new Council for Religious Institutions was established, with members from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, to work on the long-term future status of Jerusalem.

In Australia the leaders of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths are planning a joint visit to Israel and Palestine in 2009, to consider how faith leaders may contribute to peace in the region.

None of these things would be happening were it not for the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to live and teach God’s love for the whole world, not just for his particular followers.

This Easter we encourage you to give thanks for Jesus; a man who promoted peace and advocated for justice for all humans; and the man whom we Christians worship as Son of God and Saviour of the world.

Reverend Gregor Henderson
President
Uniting Church in Australia

from the National Council of Churches in Australia    

At a national meeting last week, the National Council of Churches in Australia passed a series of resolutions on the situation in the Holy Land.  It is the first time the Council has taken such a stand.  It follows a visit to the region last year by a delegation of Church leaders, as well as international ecumenical developments, such as the new Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum.  By passing these resolutions the Council wants to take a Christian perspective on a land and its peoples who have endured longstanding and intense suffering – on both sides.

During their 2007 visit the Australian Church leaders spent time with Christian leaders from Jerusalem and the West Bank who are experiencing a mass exodus from their communities.  “People are exhausted by the intimidation and daily restrictions on their personal and commercial activities.  Christians are emigrating in larger numbers, not because of religious persecution, but because life has become intolerable as they are caught between harsh Israeli policies on the one hand and those who engage in terrorist acts on the other,” said the Revd John Henderson, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, and a participant in the visit.  “People have had their fill of violence and threats, and they see no future for themselves or their children, so they leave.  If this trend continues, within a decade or two these communities, which have been there for millennia, will have been driven out of the region.”

“As Christians in Australia, who live comfortable lives some distance away, we are not trying to propose armchair solutions,” said Mr Henderson.  “Collectively, however, the Churches feel that they must respond to the call of their fellow believers who have worshipped in that area since the time of Christ.  They asked us not to be silent, but to speak out when we arrived home.  That is what we are now doing.  We are not choosing ‘sides’ between Israel or the Palestinians, because there is right and wrong on both sides, just as there is in every human situation, especially in such a polarised place as the holy land.  Above all we want to pray and work for a just and lasting peace for everyone, so that this holy place can be a model for the rest of the world, showing us how people can live together in the way God intended.  While the conflict is very complex with many layers, and there is no simple solution, there is hope, and it is important that the international community supports the current peace efforts as much as it can,” said Mr Henderson.

In its adopted resolutions, the National Council of Churches in Australia:

Recognises the special interest of Christians in the Holy Land as the homeland of Jesus Christ and the birthplace of the Church, the special interest of Jews in the Holy Land as the Biblical “promised land”, and the special interest of Muslims in the Holy Land as one of the sacred places visited by the prophet Muhammad.
Affirms the right of the state of Israel to exist, and to exist within secure internationally-recognised borders, without the threat of terrorist attacks from Palestinians or from any others, and without threats to its existence from any other state.
Affirms the right of the people of Palestine to be freed from more than 40 years of military occupation by Israel, to live within secure internationally-recognised borders without harassment or violence perpetrated by any state or by any others, and to determine democratically their own future.
Encourages the Australian Government to:
do all it can to support the current peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel, in the interests of ending the occupation and bringing a just and lasting peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine;
increase its allocation of aid money to assist community development in Palestinian communities which have been impoverished by years of economic and social disadvantage.
Encourages churches in Australia to pray for a just and lasting peace for the peoples of the Holy Land, and to support initiatives for peace between Palestine and Israel including visits by Australian Christians to the Christians of the Holy Land.
Supports the principle that Jerusalem should be an ‘open city’ for all faiths and all peoples.
Supports a joint visit to Israel and Palestine in 2009 by leaders from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths in Australia.
For further comment, contact
Debra Porter, NCCA Communications Officer – (02) 8259 0802 or 0427 789 410

Friday, 22 February 2008 01:00

A Welcome Change of Thinking

from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission of the NCCA

The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) welcome the decision by the new Federal Government to support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Rudd Government’s commitment to this, and other issues of importance to Indigenous peoples, is a breath of fresh air that is blowing out the cobwebs of more than a decade of antagonist policies. The signing of Kyoto, the Apology to the Stolen Generations and now confirmation that Australia will support the Declaration, are positive signs that auger well for a much needed change in the relationship between Government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.

From the outside, Australia is regaining some of its credibility and lost reputation for fairness and inclusion. From the inside, Indigenous Australia is experiencing more hope than has been seen for a very long time. There is hope that these first actions by the new Government indicate a willingness to work together on fixing some of the pressing issues affecting Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. We urge the Rudd Government to continue the positive path on which it has begun.

Now, more than ever, is the time for all political parties to continue to rectify the wrongs of the past and ensure that they work together to proudly defend the rights of Indigenous Australians and support self determination into the future. All human beings have a right to self determination why should Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples be denied this right?

NATSIEC commends the Government on its decision to ratify the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Further, we encourage them to continue along the path they have commenced and continue to carry forward the advancement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples with proper consultation and respect.

For further comment: Graeme Mundine 0419 238 788

Friday, 15 February 2008 01:00

Historic Apology Celebrated by the NCCA

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Stephen_Kaye_Cheryl_and_copyThe NCCA welcomes the apology offered to the Stolen Generations by the Federal Government last Wednesday in Parliament. The Churches have long held hope that our Federal Parliament could acknowledge the past and the pain that many of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters have suffered.

The Stolen Generations have held a special place in the heart of many of our faithful. We rejoice with them that finally their life experiences have been recognised and that we, as a nation, can accept our failures of the past.

This apology has created an atmosphere of hope and forgiveness that, at more than any other time in Australia’s history, allows for the possibility of real advancement along the journey to Reconciliation.

Words of course we’ve heard before, but what is needed now is to back them up with action.

The Prime Minister’s plan for action, as outlined in his speech, is therefore welcomed. In particular, we congratulate the Prime Minister on recognising the need to set time bound and measurable goals, which has been the position of the NCCA through its campaign to Make Indigenous Poverty History.

We applaud the Prime Minister’s leadership and hope that he will continue to consult with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to ensure that past mistakes are not repeated and that Indigenous peoples are enabled to create their own solutions. At last Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices are being heard and their life experiences validated.  Their voices must never be silenced again.

We churches must also play our part. We cannot ignore our role in the events of the past. Many congregations have already offered their apologies to the Stolen Generations. We too, as people of faith, must move beyond words and convert our recognition of the plight of our fellow Australians the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples into action.

We call on all our faithful to reflect upon the words of the Prime Minister last Wednesday and to honestly examine our own heart and conscience to recognise where we continue to fail our fellow Australians. We too must act to diminish the many disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous in our common lives. As people of faith and good citizens it is our responsibility to ensure that our elected representatives remain true to their words.

We pray that this new beginning can be carried forward with the same good will and bi-partisan spirit that was shown in parliament and all around the nation on Wednesday morning.

For further comment please contact Graeme Mundine 02 9299 2215 or 0419 238 788