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Wednesday, 10 November 2010 14:48

Christmas Bowl Delivers Aid as Crises Loom

From Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia

Download a pdf of this release

Australian christians who support Act for Peace’s Christmas Bowl program in 2010 will offer a life-line to thousands of refugees who are suffering through the unfolding crises in Burma (Myanmar) and Sudan.

Burma’s military dictatorship has announced victory in Burma’s first elections in 20 years. Based on reports on the ground, the process was dominated, restricted and manipulated by the military junta. The elections have left the country more volatile than ever, with eruptions of violence causing citizens to seek refuge.

From Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia

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Today, a Bill was introduced into the Federal Parliament to give effect to the Convention on Cluster Munitions which makes it illegal to assist in the production of cluster munitions.The ANZ bank currently provides loans totaling $135.8 million to cluster munitions manufacturers.

In light of the Bill, Act for Peace (the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia) urges Australian banks which currently fund cluster munitions manufacturers for any reason to now cancel their funding.

From Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia

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During United Nations (UN) Disarmament Week (Oct 24-31), a bill to enact the Convention banning Cluster Munitions is reported to be tabled in the House of Representatives, though it is unlikely to contain a provision prohibiting financial institutions from funding manufacturers of cluster bombs.


from Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches

Two prominent Palestinian community leaders will arrive in Australia this week to encourage Australian churches and individuals to engage in community action for peace in Palestine and Israel.

from Act for Peace the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches

Two outspoken and prominent Palestinian Community Leaders arrive in Melbourne this Sunday to call for unequivocal action to end the blockade of Gaza and justice for the Palestinian people.

The visit is set to coincide with the scheduled release of the Israel Defense Force Report, investigating the bloody attacks on the Gaza aid flotilla.

From the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC)

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The World Council of Churches Living Letters visit to the Northern Territory (NT) in Australia has commenced in Darwin. The Living Letters Team is visiting Australia at the invitation of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC). The invitation was extended to show solidarity with Aboriginal people and to share insights and helpful approaches to achieving Just Peace. Specifically, the visitors will listen to Aboriginal people talk about their experiences of the NT Emergency Response (The Intervention) and other social justice issues.

Australian Partnership of Religious Organisation (APRO)

In light of reports that seven Bahá’í leaders in Iran have been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) joins the Australian Government in expressing deep concern at the treatment of the Iranian Bahá’í community.
These seven leaders – Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Mahvash Sabet, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm – were charged with espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and the establishment of an illegal administration, among other allegations. They have already endured more than two years of “temporary” detention under harsh conditions, in clear breach of the rights to which they are entitled under Iranian and international law.

Monday, 06 September 2010 15:37

General Secretary's Address

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Let us hold fast to a confession of hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Let us
consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
Hebrews 10:23-25

We often recognise that as the people of God we are on a journey, in a way our theme implies that for if
we are shaping footprints then we are moving somewhere to be making them. Our churches often use
words like pilgrimage and indeed that word is part of our basis, part of our reason for existence.
The NCCA gathers together in pilgrimage those Churches and Christian communities which confess the
Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour according to the Scriptures and commit themselves

[i] to deepen their relationship with each other in order to express more visibly the unity willed
by Christ for his church, and
[ii] to work together towards the fulfilment of their mission of common witness, proclamation
and service,
to the glory of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Each one of us has journeyed a long way since the last time we as Australian Churches met together in
Alexander Headland. Some of us were there. At that time I was in attending my 3rd Forum and sat in a
table group with Philip Wilson, Philip Huggins, Cecil Schmalkuche, who are here as well as Aimee
Kent and Tanya Richards by the end of the Forum we had grown in our fellowship and as friends. Back
then I was also one of the six elected to the Executive for what was to be a second term not realising that
by the 7th Forum I would not be seated around the tables listening but sitting or standing on this side of
the room.
14 months ago when I commenced as General Secretary I received greetings cards and letters from
people some I knew and many I had never met. One letter remains fresh in my memory, from the hand
writing I knew it was from an elderly person who recalled how he and his wife were in St Christopher’s
Cathedral for the Inauguration of the NCCA. He commented how wonderful the event was and said as
the Mantle passed over the congregation we felt that we were apart of what all that the churches were
doing. There was energy and a hope of the unity for which our Lord prayed.
Hebrews reminds us Let us hold fast to a confession of hope without wavering, for he who has promised
is faithful. Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the
assembling of ourselves together.
During this past year I have wondered what has happened to the enthusiasm and the hope that was in the
churches then last Saturday I went out to Wattle Grove to St Thomas’ Cathedral of the Indian Orthodox
Church, for St Thomas’ Feast Day Celebrations, the timing was perfect for I was able to share with the
members of the church something about the NCCA and I discovered a joy and excitement from young
and old that their church was about to be part of something exciting.
But the same excitement doesn’t seem to be present or stirring in all the other member churches. As
General Secretary I am attempting to spend time with each Head of Church. In recent months I have
heard these comments, I am trying to help my church to understand what it means to be in the NCCA
and how we can be ecumenical. Another told me in the last two weeks “we don’t really have people that
are able to attend the Forum they don’t have the sort of experience that is required.” Yet another on a
real positive note said being involved in the NCCA and in Dialogue with other churches has helped me
understand and appreciate them better.
So thinking about our theme what is the shape of our Ecumenical foot print? As I see it is visible in
some way in our covenanting together. Last night there were comments about it not taking off but its
ecumenical shape we are still growing into. About two weeks ago I was talking with Ray Williamson
and he said what do you thinks of this and read me an outline for a covenant. I commented that it
sounded good, some of it was part of our NCCA covenanting together and some of it was very
adventurous in the area of recognising each others ministry. Ray then told me this was a draft discussed
in 1978 by the Australian Council of Churches nearly thirty years before the one signed in Adelaide in
Clearly God’s Spirit is at work in our Churches inspiring and guiding us into closer relations. So as
NCCA churches we have the task still ahead to discover how we grow into our covenanting in ways that
praying for each other and with each other is natural and a deep desire for assembling together.
One of the most significant assembling together that I have experienced in this role was in January when
the churches in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane came out and stood side by side our brothers and
sisters in the Coptic Orthodox Church displaying the Ecumenical footprint as they participated in peace
marches through our cities streets and displaying a glimpse of visible unity.
During these last three years the Executive has watched an exciting new development in the Safe Church
Training Agreement. The Training agreement is all about resourcing, facilitating, sustainable, quality
and accessible Safe Church Training with the aim of making the Australian church a safer place for
ministry. The financial resources of the NCCA are limited yet this training agreement is taking off with
new regional church bodies signing up nearly every week. This has grown to the extent that it can now
afford to fund Peter Barnett as a part time National Coordinator. The activity of the training agreement is
shaping a distinctive ecumenical footprint.
The NCCA like any council of churches exists to serve the churches. We serve by providing the space
for you the churches to meet together in order that the churches may deepen their relationship so as to
express more visibly the unity found in Christ. Possibly the biggest challenge in providing the space of
this Forum was in getting people to be here and sadly this forum is all the poorer for the absence of
many of our heads of church as well as many of the Orthodox. In the last few days illness and even a
family death means that two who were coming have been unable to attend.
The NCCA also provides a n ecumenical space so that you the churches may work together in the
churches witness of proclamation and service. It is unfortunate that this aspect is becoming increasingly
more difficult to do. The NCCA relies on the resources provided by the churches which includes the
time and gifts of your people. At times people say yes to be part of the NCCA working team but then
due to a variety of other commitments the NCCA moves further away from their priorities. This then
leaves us in the office attempting to complete the projects that have been started but with inadequate
resourcing. The Growing Churches in the Australian Context working group is just one example of this.
Good work is produced when the churches work together. This is evident through the work of the
Social Justice Network. The enthusiasm and experience of the members of the Network is amazing and
each year it produces an excellent resource with which to promote discussion and hopefully responses in
the churches. Last year they produced Hope for the Common Good – Beyond the GFC. This year the
resource will be addressing witnessing to peace in a violent world.
Resourcing is also limited by finances and in the last three years the financial situation has meant the
inability to fund the position of youth officer which for a variety of other reasons has also seen the
disbanding of the youth network. Recent budgetary restrictions will impact further on our resourcing
with us no longer able to support the honorary role of the Secretary to the Faith and Unity Commission.
In the papers you hopefully picked up that the Executive has identified the need to change the shape of
our meetings so that a better hopefully more fruitful ecumenical space may be provided. That is why
tomorrow we will be working in the three areas Faith and Order, Mission and Public/social issues. I am
thrilled at the direction and the vision coming from the churches to reshape in this way but it possibly
means that the NCCA needs to look seriously at its structures their shape and how these will be
realistically resourced.
The pilgrimage of more visible Christian Unity is only achieved by the churches together taking one step
at a time. What steps do you see in your church and what is perhaps the next step that needs to be taken.
What is the next step for the NCCA member churches to take together?
Let us hold fast to a confession of hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Let us
consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves
Tara Curlewis
10 July 2010
This report was accompanied by a power point slide show.

Monday, 06 September 2010 15:08

Minutes 7th Forum

 Download a PDF  of the full Minutes of the 7th Forum of the National Council of Churches in Australia

Numbering of Resolutions has been finalised and is included in the attached PDF of the full 7th Forum Minutes.

 Below are the Resolutions brought to the 7th Forum by the Churches
these resolutions are included in the PDF downloadable above

Moved by the Anglican Church
Seconded by the Catholic Church
Supported by the Uniting Church
.......and the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

It was resolved that:

this Forum requests the Executive, until the next Forum, to

  1. Give priority in its meetings to matters of
    ....a) Faith and Order / Unity and in particular
    ...........i. developments in national and international dialogues
    ...........ii. obstacles to progress in dialogues and means to overcome them
    ....b) Mission, and in particular
    ...........i. strengthening member churches as they go about mission in Australian society and globally
    ...........ii. facilitating cooperation in mission among the churches
    ....c) Significant public issues and the shape of Australian society in global context, and in particular
    ...........i. Promoting understanding of key issues through research, analysis and study
    ...........ii. Formulating joint statements to convey the views of member churches to the wider community
    ...........iii. Developing shared plans for advocacy and action
    ....d) Indigenous issues and concerns as guided by NATSIEC.
  2. Consider whether, and if so how, changes in NCCA structures, processes and resource allocation might
    better serve these priorities;
  3. Implement pilot changes where appropriate; and
  4. Report to the next Forum with any recommendations

Member Churches
Moved by the Anglican Church
Seconded by the Mar Thoma Church

It was resolved that

the Forum, rejoices as we receive Churches into membership of the NCCA; and

  • recalling that the trust and friendship which mark relationships among the member Churches
    developed through intentional conversations in years gone by; and
  • seeking similar bonds with those Churches which have more recently become members

therefore recommends that the NCCA Executive consider establishing a framework for conversation in
areas such as our various church structures, our worship life and the different gifts we can bring to the
life of the NCCA.

Moved by the Armenian Apostolic and Coptic Orthodox Churches
Seconded by the Indian Orthodox and Mar Thoma Churches

It was resolved that

  • member Churches be encouraged to include young people in their delegation.
  • future Forums have member Churches nominate two youth members as observers to accompany

the church delegation so to encourage the preservation of the Ecumenical youth footprint.

Moved by the Indian Orthodox and Mar Thoma Churches
Seconded by the Armenian Apostolic and Coptic Orthodox Churches

It was resolved that

future Forums have time allocated for the youth delegates and observers to discuss current issues facing
the youth of churches today.

Refugees & Asylum Seekers
Moved by the Uniting Church
Seconded by the Churches of Christ

It was resolved that

the NCCA, while affirming the Australian Government’s right and responsibility to ensure legitimate border

  1. Request the major political parties
    ....a) to stop engendering fear and anxiety in the Australian population by using asylum seekers,
    ........vulnerable people fleeing conflict and persecution, for political advantage;
    ....b) to work for a humane, bipartisan approach to this issue that fulfils our international obligations
    ........and enhances Australia’s reputation as a just and humane global citizen; and
    ....c) to meet Australia’s responsibilities by:
    ............i.  treating asylum seekers humanely,
    ............ii. processing asylum applications expeditiously, and
    ............iii.accommodating and processing in Australia asylum seekers who reach Australian territory .
  2. In making this request we remind all political parties
    ....a) that asylum seekers are not illegal immigrants and have rights under international law to seek
    ........protection from persecution; and
    ....b) that Australia has committed, as a signatory to the Refugee Convention, to assess each asylum
    ........seeker case according to agreed criteria
  3. the General Secretary be asked to send this proposal to all Federal Parliamentarians; and to issue a
    media release to this effect.

Moved by the Roman Catholic Church
Seconded by the Uniting Church

It was resolved that

  1. it be noted that article 22.02 of the Constitution states that “Each member Church shall make
    financial contributions to the NCCA according to guidelines approved by the Executive.”
  2. the Finance Committee be asked to bring appropriate guidelines to the next meeting of the
    Executive for approval.

Rights of Indigenous People
Moved by the Anglican Church
Seconded by the Catholic Church

It was resolved that

  1. the NCCA notes the Australian Government has adopted the United Declaration of the Rights of
    Indigenous Peoples (DRIP).
  2. the Executive Committee be requested to consult with NATSIEC and bring to the next NCCA Forum
    for approval or, if possible introduce beforehand, proposals for an appropriate response to DRIP in
    the day to day work of the NCCA.

Palestine & Israel
Moved by the Uniting Church
Seconded by the Anglican Church

It was resolved that

the 7th National Forum

  1. Reiterates the decisions of the NCCA Executive in March 2008 to “affirm the right of the state of
    Israel to exist, and to exist within secure internationally-recognised borders”2 and to “affirm the right
    of the people of Palestine to be freed from more than 40 years of military occupation by Israel, (and)
    to live within secure internationally-recognised borders”.

  2. ....a) Welcomes the Kairos Palestine document of December 2009 prepared by Palestinian Christians
    ........and supported by the 13 Jerusalem Heads of Churches as the “Christian Palestinians’ word to
    ........the world about what is happening in Palestine”.4
    ....b) Notes that the Kairos Palestine document provides a serious theological reflection on the
    ........situation facing the Palestinian people, and on the basis of that reflection addresses requests to
    ........Christians and churches throughout the world, to the international community, to Jewish and
    ........Muslim religious leaders, and to Palestinians and Israelis; and concludes with a cry of hope,
    ........believing that “God’s goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still
    ........persist in our land”.
  3. In a spirit of repentance for past silence and indifference:
    ....a) adds the voice of the National Council of Churches in Australia to Christian voices throughout
    ........the world calling for an early end to the occupation of Palestine through a freely and peacefully
    ........negotiated solution in accordance with international law and United Nations resolutions; and
    ....b) adds the voice of the National Council of Churches in Australia to Christian voices throughout
    ........the world condemning all acts of terrorism.
  4. In particular the National Council of Churches in Australia:
    ....a) affirms the solidarity of the National Council of Churches in Australia with Palestinian Christians
    ........and assures Palestinians that the National Council of Churches in Australia will continue to
    ........advocate and act for an end to the occupation and for an end to the injustice and suffering borne
    ........by the Palestinian people;
    ....b) in response to the requests in the Kairos document, calls on the member Churches of the
    ........National Council of Churches in Australia and the wider Australian community to consider a
    ........boycott of goods produced by Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories;
    ....c) requests member Churches to advise the NCCA General Secretary of the outcome of their
    ....d) requests Act for Peace to provide regular information to the member Churches to assist ongoing
    ........actions on the boycott; and
    ....e) welcomes the easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza in recent days and calls for an immediate
    ........end to the blockade.
  5. Requests Christians involved in inter-faith conversations among Christians, Jews and/or Muslims to
    include the subject matter of these resolutions in those conversations.
  6. Requests the General Secretary to convey these resolutions to the Prime Minister, the Minister for
    Foreign Affairs, the Leader of the Opposition, the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, all members
    of Federal Parliament, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Australian Federation of
    Islamic Councils and other individuals and groups as the General Secretary and the President so
  7. Requests the General Secretary to issue a media release relating to these decisions as soon as


From Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia

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Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, is responding immediately to assist the flood ravaged people of Pakistan with emergency assistance as the death toll soars beyond 1,100 and disease outbreaks emerge.