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Media Releases
from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Easter is running into the unexpected

"The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. ...
Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; "
(John 20:4,5, 8)

The first century events that are recalled at Easter are filled with people being met by the unexpected. Jesus repeatedly surprised people with the unexpected, talking to the outcast and healing the sick. These events started to open people’s eyes to see Jesus as one who transforms situations. Then when he raised his friend Lazarus to life it pointed to what was to come. That first Easter morning as the disciples went to the tomb to grieve for their friend they ran up the path into the unexpected. The grave clothes lay there and Jesus was not.

Today we also encounter the unexpected yet as people of faith we know how often that leads to situations being transformed. Easter reminds us that when all hope appears lost the unexpected happens.

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

Australian peace and conflict agency urges UN: Don’t miss historic opportunity to reduce armed violence

United Nations negotiations to agree on an Arms Trade Treaty, starting today, could result in fewer deaths from armed violence and stop the flow of arms that fuel conflicts in countries like Syria, according to Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
Thursday, 14 March 2013 08:32

Humble man welcomed as 266th Pope

The announcement early this morning that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio from Argentina has been elected the 266th pope for the Roman Catholic Church has been welcomed by the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).  He has taken the pontifical name of Francis I.

Born December 17 1936 in Buenos Aires he entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and Archbishop of Buenos Aires since 1998. Bergoglio has a master’s degree in chemistry, a licentiate in philosophy and has taught literature and psychology.

As cardinal he has served in several administrative positions in the Roman Curia including, the Congregation of Clergy, Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Congregations for Institute of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has written to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity assuring that it will uphold the Roman Catholic Church in prayer at this time as the news of the resignation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is received by the world.

The Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary said “It is with surprise that we hear the news from the Holy Father recognising that both his poor health and concern for the leadership of the Church has led to the announcement that he will  retire from office on 28 February. This is a time to uphold the Pope’s health in prayer and also the Conclave as it convenes to elect the next Pontiff.”

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

International aid agency Act for Peace’s support of communities in Fiji has helped them to be better prepared for the worst tropical cyclone to hit Fiji in 20 years. Communities have been assisted as part of the Pacific Community-focused Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction (PCIDRR) program to develop disaster action plans and minimise harm to people and property.

Act for Peace’s Anthony Blake, who has been running the program in Fiji for four years, says, “Communities in the north, areas we have visited as recently as last week, after first training them in 2010, have evacuated well ahead of time with food and supplies. This is a great result, and an early indication that communities are better off now than they would have been if we were not able to work with them to develop response plans. We hope — and expect — similar responses from other communities we have assisted in Fiji.”

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Discovering God with us

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4.4-5)

Christmas is a time to rejoice and look at the world with fresh eyes. We see signs all around that remind us how Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Nativity scenes are seen at community carol services, school plays and in churches. These signs help us discover God with us.

After hearing the message of the angels on the hills outside Bethlehem the shepherds responded;

“Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. (Luke 2:15-16)

They discovered not only that the Lord is near but that God in Jesus was there embracing the frailty of humanity. The Christmas message is discovering God with us and in Jesus’ life we see God’s love and desire for justice and peace.

The National Council of Churches in Australia wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and our prayer is for justice and peace to fill the world. 

The Reverend Tara Curlewis, General Secretary
National Council of Churches in Australia

(NB. In the Western Church, Christmas is celebrated on December 25.  Most Orthodox Churches will celebrate the Feast of the Nativity on January 7.)

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

The Reverend Harvey L Perkins who is remembered by the National Council of Churches in Australian (NCCA) as a “devoted ecumenist” died on 25 November in Canberra.

Harvey Perkins was the sixth general secretary of the Australian Council of Churches (ACC) (1956-1967). He is remembered for the way he identified the major issues confronting the Australian churches in the mid 1960’s as the need for more Christian presence beyond the institutional structures of the Churches. For Perkins it was essential that the Australian Churches find new ways of both communicating the gospel and living a life that authenticated its message. In his 1967 report to the ACC he said "This constant struggle does not mean that we are changing the faith we confess. We are appropriating it, relating it, bringing out the emphases required for our situation.

"New situations and new issues require new expressions of the same faith.”

International aid agency Act for Peace is alarmed at the escalation of violence in and around Gaza following the death of a senior Hamas figure, and deeply concerned about the worsening humanitarian plight of the people of Gaza as a result of the violence. Act for Peace denounces all forms of armed violence, including the rockets from Gaza and the strikes from Israel.

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has supported partners in Gaza providing emergency relief and health care services for more than 20 years.

Act for Peace’s Misha Coleman has been working on projects in Gaza for the past three years, responding to the escalating humanitarian situation caused by the Israeli blockade.

“The residents of Gaza are living in jail-like conditions and die waiting for access to medical treatment that is only available on the other side of the wall. They suffer daily from the effects of the Israeli blockade, from shortages of water, electricity and fuel to severely restricted access to essential medicines and medical equipment.

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

The current plight of the Syrian people was a point of concern for the church leaders as the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) met in Sydney last week. Archbishop Malki Malki of the Syrian Orthodox Church told the council that many Christians have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and peace.

The NCCA Executive, representing 19 Australian Churches issued a statement of support recognising the presence and witness of indigenous Christians in Syria, their contributions to Syrian society and their desire for a society based on mutual respect, justice and peace.

The Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary said “We have real concern for the people of Syria in light of the current violence, increasing loss of life and the destruction of places of worship”

From the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Renowned Christian leader, ecumenist and former president of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) His Eminence Archbishop Aghan Baliozian OAM, Primate of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Australia and New Zealand died on Saturday 22 September 2012 in Sydney.

Archbishop Baliozian was held in high esteem both in Australia and around the world for his wisdom and commitment to Christian unity, interreligious dialogue and peace building.  He arrived in Australia in 1975 to serve as Vicar General of the diocese before being appointed as Primate of Australia and New Zealand in 1982.

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Responding to growing calls from churches for increased collaboration and engagement in Australian public policy and debate on refugees and asylum seekers, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) has formed the Australian Church Refugee Network (ACRN).

Representatives from a wide range of church organisations, including service, advocacy and policy agencies have come together as the ACRN to better coordinator our service to refugees and to advocate for humane, fair and just refugee policies in Australia and the Asia Pacific region.

Rev Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary said “the inaugural meeting confirmed that the Network will play a key role in monitoring developments in the refugee field, sharing information and analysis, developing policy and undertaking joint advocacy.”

For media comment, please contact either Tara Curlewis 02 9299 2215or Alistair Gee on 0417 672 650.

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

Efforts to end the irresponsible and poorly-regulated international arms trade are at risk of failure as month-long negotiations at the United Nations enter their final days, campaigners have warned. 

Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, is urging the Australian Government to stand firm, alongside the overwhelming majority of states, on its commitment to the strongest possible deal. 

From The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) of the National Council of Churches in Australia

“The theme for National Reconciliation Week “Let’s talk recognition” is also relevant to Christians as we start the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation,” said Bishop Saibo Mabo Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission (NATSIEC) the peak Indigenous ecumenical body and commission of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA).

“We as Australians need to be united in one mind, one heart, and in one action as we continue on the journey of Reconciliation. Reconciliation is all about positive and respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and all other Australians.

Reconciliation needs to be fair and include justice and proper recognition. True reconciliation is not to just talk about recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and culture but it is to act. We need to start at the policy level and start at the top with the Australian Constitution.”

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

 

Australia cannot break the bi-partisan promise to those in extreme poverty in the upcoming federal budget.

Alarmed by recent reports that this is likely, the governing body of Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has written to Prime Minister Gillard urging her Government not to break the promise. The promise of reaching 0.5 per cent of national income by 2015 was reaffirmed by her Government, and the Opposition, ahead of the last election.

The UK Government, which has now entered a second recession, retains its commitment to increase its aid budget to 0.7 per cent, the agreed global target. The UK Government has repeatedly said it “will not balance the books on the backs of the poor.”

“We will all be changed by the Victory of our Lord Jesus Christ”  (cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58)

WOP_2012Australian Churches will observe the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 20-27 May 2012. The theme chosen for 2012 is "We Will All Be Changed by the Victory of Our Lord Jesus Christ." (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58). The theme for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2012 comes to us from the churches in Poland, who have reflected upon their own experience as a nation, and in particular how, as a nation, they have been changed and transformed by the many upheavals of their history, and sustained by their faith.

Each day of the week has a theme, a reflection, Questions to consider and a prayer. The daily themes are;
DAY 1 Theme: Changed by the Servant Christ
Text: The Son of Man came to serve (Mark 10:45)