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President's reflection

ANNUAL REPORT 2020 to the Annual General Meeting 

Unity is both the vision and the necessity of the hour. 

We see this from every angle.

Our greater unity as one human family on this beautiful planet of God’s creation is necessary if we are to survive the climate and biodiversity crisis as well as the consequences of tribal divisions which manifest, for example, as racism and as nation- state rivalries. The latter includes current arms races -the opportunity costs of which cause more of the poor to starve; the actuality of which produces more refugees for whom there are less places, including in Australia as a consequence of the recent Federal Budget.

Meanwhile everyone everywhere lives under the absurd but real threat (even by mistake) of nuclear obliteration.

If the idea of work for unity once seemed romantic and naïve it is now the moral and pragmatic imperative. 

Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluded. Some who do think this way are, as we know, actually in charge of large nations.

Accordingly, our work for unity is therefore dangerous.

WHERE TO FROM HERE?

In his new encyclical on “Fraternity and Social Friendship”, Pope Francis gives us our ecumenical roadmap for the period ahead.

Signed at Assisi, in the footsteps of St Francis, the encyclical enunciates the necessity of friendship and unity in this fragmented world. 

As disciples of Jesus, our responsibility is to be risk- takers in building unity. 

During the past year, I know personally how the Holy Spirit has directed me into places and meetings I had not planned or imagined. This is uncomfortable. Often it is misunderstood, even opposed (always with the possibility, as one tries to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, that one is wrong).

Pope Francis’ timely encyclical compels our closer study together and then our further conversation so we offer our contribution to its implementation here in Australia.

The encyclical concludes with an appeal to all people of goodwill in our one human family  to “declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.” 

This is a perfect framework as we strive to make the contribution for which purpose the NCCA was brought into existence. 

It may be that we will look back on this 2020 and realise that all the effort of those before us - their prayers and good works in the establishment and early decades of the NCCA - came together for a crucial task in this hour. 

Assuming that our best and most important work still lies ahead, it is a blessing that we have the organisational vitality; the right staff, board and church leaders for our unifying responsibilities. 

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the important foundational work of Bishop John Henderson of the Lutheran Church of Australia who has completed his term of Director on the NCCA Ltd Board. His knowledge of our NCCA story has been so valuable as we have tried to find our way forward in this new era. 

With Liz Stone now in place as our General Secretary, we have reached a stable point in our new era. 

The time ahead, of course, will be complex because of the pandemic and the recession. 

Assuming that our best and most important work is ahead, it is a blessing that we have the organisational vitality; the right staff, board and church leaders for our unifying responsibilities. 

With gratitude to you all and with prayers,

Bishop Philip Huggins, NCCA President

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