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Media Releases

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)

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

“on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they[the women] came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.” (Luke 24:1-3)

Easter is filled with surprise and amazement. In the first Easter we recall the women coming to the tomb of Jesus and saying “but when they went in, they did not find the body”. As they stood there perplexed they heard the message “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”(Luke 24:5)Today people still go to the tomb, recently I attended a service at the site the church remembers as the tomb where Jesus was laid in Jerusalem. The words that struck me then were “we stand here today not because of what is here but because of what is not here. We are here because Jesus has risen from the dead.”

In this place where history has been shaped the morning light shines through the dome illuminating the tomb. The light points to the place where we remember the resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus points to the Christian hope and the capacity of God for newness in the world transforming sadness to joy and death to life.

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

By-elections in Burma / Myanmar this Sunday will not change the balance of power in the nation, but could be an important step in its struggle towards democratisation, according to Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia.

Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party will stand for national parliamentary elections in Burma / Myanmar for the first time since the party was prevented from taking office in 1990. The decision of Aung San Suu Kyi and her party to stand in these by-elections, and the possible influence she may have in the parliament, will continue to be hotly debated inside the country.

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

Tens of thousands of children around the world, including over 500 in Australia, are currently estimated to be held in immigration detention simply because they do not hold the right documents, the International Detention Coalition reveals in a new report.

The report, Captured Childhood, is being released today at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, is a founding member of the International Detention Coalition, which produced the report, and is supporting the global campaign for an end to child detention.

From the National Council of Churches in Australia

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) supports calls for one dollar maximum bets on poker machines.

The NCCA Executive, representing many of the Christian Churches in Australia, issued a statement from a meeting in Sydney this week.

Many of the churches support the mandatory pre-commitment measures sought by Andrew Wilkie MP, which have now been abandoned by the Federal Government.

Mandatory pre commitment and $1 maximum bets will, as part of a raft of measures help prevent people from developing a problem in the first place.

Council spokesperson, The Reverend Alistair Macrae, said “the National Council of Churches believes the Federal Government still has the opportunity to deliver change and reduce the human harm caused by poker machine addiction.”

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Saturday, 03 March 2012 00:31

Stronger Futures or Stronger Policing

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

The Stronger Futures Legislation is disproportionate with the peoples wishes and catapults Indigenous communities back to the micro-management of Mission days is the message from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission(NATSIEC). NATSIEC, as the peak Indigenous ecumenical body and commission of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) requests that the Government heed the message of the Northern Territory Elders, communities and service providers in their quest for authentic consultation and negotiation to gain stronger and better futures for themselves.