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President's Reflection

Praying with the World Council of Churches

This week on the annual WCC Ecumenical Prayer calendar the country focus is Aotearoa-New Zealand and Australia. Each day the staff of the World Council of Churches, including the ACT Alliance and other organisations located in the WCC Centre gather in prayer via zoom. This takes place at 8.45am Geneva time – 6.45pm AEDST.

I received an invitation to take part and pray on behalf of Australia. My particular task was to give voice to the prayers of Australians with an invitation for others to join in prayer. I did not know what to expect. 

So, ahead of my turn, I joined the group for two gatherings earlier in the week before my part in Thursday’s Morning prayer. The welcome was very warm. I was immediately engaged with some familiar faces and accents! The cultural diversity was apparent, as was the diversity of settings in which people were at prayer. The energy and joy people had in gathering was very apparent and wonderful to experience. 

I have been reflecting – what to name as our need and priority for prayer as Australians at this time and to do so in 5 minutes? Not everything could be included!

The prayers focussed on:

  • The desire we share for justice and reconciliation for Australia’s First Peoples and for their care and protection in this time of COVID.
  • That the invitation implicit in the Uluru Statement from the Heart might be taken up by governments and communities so that we might as non-indigenous people deeply listen to our First Nation peoples.
  • The incarceration of Indigenous people and deaths in custody – that transforming and healing change can come.
  • Courage to take the impact of Climate change seriously so that we as a nation might accept collective responsibility for the part we need to play in meeting challenging targets. 
  • For Australia to be a compassionate leader in the Pacific, acknowledging our own power and impact and serve with generosity, compassion and grace and so build relationships of healing and hope with Pacific nations.
  • COVID 19 has a continuing and rolling impact, and wisdom is needed by all community leaders in caring for those impacted directly or indirectly by COVID.
  • A change in the Australian Government’s perspective, words and action in relation to refugees and asylum seekers and that polarising language might change and end and a new narrative of inclusion and welcome emerge.
  • For the churches in Australia to grow as communities of openness and grace to those suspicious of, and hurt by, churches and our leaders.
  • That the vision of unity in the prayer of Jesus might be fleshed out in our living ‘that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me'  (John 17:21 NRSV).

This week let us be as one in prayer for the healing and renewal of Australia. 

The Benediction used was

Go in peace as those who tread a common way with the Christ;

and may each stone on the road,

be firm under your feet as God who is our rock,

the winds of the earth wrap you round with the breath of the Spirit. Amen. 

(Pilgrim Prayer, 200)

Rev. John Gilmore

NCCA President

(above- Screen Shot 2021-11-18 at 6.47.32 pm)

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