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Media Releases

Joint Media Release from the National Council of Churches in Australia & the NSW Ecumenical Council

“…and should I not pity Nineveh, that great city…” (Jonah 4:11 NKJV)

`Genocide’ is how Bishop Daoud Nikdomios a Syrian Orthodox Bishop from Mosul described what has happened to the Christian people in Mosul, an Ancient City of the faithful people, near Nineveh, from the Apostolic times for nearly 2000 years.

``Everything is taken from us: churches, houses, clothes, money, even the babies nappies”. Bishop Daoud Nikdomios described how the crosses from the churches were removed, and how ISIS wanted to remove all the history of the church from Mosul.

Houses were marked with the letter `N’ in Arabic, - for “Nasarah” signifying they are homes for Christians. These homes are appropriated once people flee.

Wednesday, 04 June 2014 18:48

Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level

From National Council of Churches in Australia Eco Mission Project

This World Environment Day, the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) Eco Mission Project invites members of the community to reflect on this year’s United Nations theme of ‘Raise your voice, not the Sea level’ and what this means to us as Christians living in God’s love.

The NCCA Eco Mission Project was formed to build a network amongst the Churches to explore the spiritual, ethical and social questions posed by the ecological crises we face as a nation and as a global community. Through education, dialogue and advocacy the NCCA Eco Mission Project supports the understanding that the earth is fragile and beautiful and as an expression of our faith, we are called to care for the earth.
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) issue a renewed call for the safe return of the two archbishops of Aleppo, Syria who were abducted on the Turkish border on 22 April 2013.

The Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi were both advocates for peace and against all forms of violence.

Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary said “Since their abduction there has been no news of their location or the identity of their kidnappers and the churches around the world continue to hold concerns for the health and well being of both archbishops. Now would be a good time for their release with Christians having just celebrated Easter.”

from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Easter: the time to celebrate new beginnings.
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.(Matthew 28:1-6)

Easter is the time to celebrate new beginnings. Easter commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and is the most significant Christian celebration. It is the time that is at the heart of Christianity. Good Friday recalls the death of Jesus on a cross and then being laid in a tomb. When his closest friends went to the tomb very early on the Sunday morning they encountered the unexpected and the news that Jesus was not there. Jesus had been raised from the dead. 
The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) pays tribute to Bishop Michael E Putney D.D AM, an outstanding ecumenist, who ended his journey with cancer in the early hours of 28 March 2014. Diagnosed with cancer in December 2012 Bishop Putney was the sixth President of the NCCA.

Last week Michael Putney acknowledged that his ecumenical journey began as a 16 year old when he entered Pius XII Seminary, Banyo. As a student he participated in an oratory competition where he spoke on the life and message of Paul Couturier who is the father of the modern form or the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Michael won the competition but he says more significantly he found ecumenism as a deep spiritual commitment for his life.

“Bishop Michael Putney has been an ecumenical giant who has championed the importance of dialogue between churches both in Australia and internationally. His contribution as the Co-chair of the International Roman Catholic – World Methodist dialogue has been greatly valued for many years .Equally significant is his four years as President of the NCCA where he upheld the importance that the ecumenical space is the place where the real agenda of the churches was able to be discussed together” said Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary.
National church leaders have expressed their deep sorrow at the news of the loss of all lives on Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370.

At a recent meeting of the national Heads of church, prayers were offered in the hope of finding the location of MH 370. Now that the location has been identified as the southern Indian Ocean and families have been notified the churches uphold all who have lost loved ones in prayer.

The church leaders recognise the great loss to the 14 countries with residents on the flight and particularly the significant loss experienced in China and Malaysia and their respective communities in Australia.

It is with deep sorrow that news of the death of His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Zakka Iwas, supreme spiritual leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church, is received in Australia. The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA)gives thanks for the life and leadership of Patriarch Zakka Iwas.

Patriarch Zakka Iwas was born in Mosel Iraq 21 April 1933 and died 21 March 2014 in Germany. Although he had been battling illness for some time his death has taken the church by surprise. He was enthroned in Damascus in 1980 as the supreme spiritual head of the Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East.

"We thank God for his life, witness and leadership that has given stability during the unrest in Syria." said NCCA general secretary Rev Tara Curlewis.

God with us

“A young woman is with child, and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

The birth of any child fills the parents, family and friends with awe and wonder. It is truly an amazing event. Often the name chosen for the newborn is of special significance, it may be a traditional family name or connect with someone special, it may be chosen for its meaning and with a hope that shapes the future of the young life.

At Christmas Christians recall the birth of one born long ago in Bethlehem, the scriptures pointed to this child and proclaimed that the child would be called Immanuel.  This name means “God with us”.  The real significance of Jesus’ birth is that he is born as we are and he is the Son of God with us.

In the early years Jesus’ life was threatened, his family sought asylum in Egypt until it was safe to return home, clearly Jesus as God with us knows the experience of those seeking asylum in another land.   He knows the experience of the poor and the homeless.  Jesus is God with us in all life’s experiences.

May we in Australia know and see “God with us”.

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

Australians from across the country came together on Saturday to send a strong message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott to stop cuts to overseas aid on the United Nations International Day of Peace, 21 September. Act for Peace, the International aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, coordinated the national action.

Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Act for Peace says:  “On International Day of Peace we saw an overwhelming display of support for overseas aid that helps save lives. Communities took to the streets to collect signatures, held inter-faith forums and special church services to mark the day and encourage people to sign the petition calling on our government to stop cuts to the aid budget and invest in peace-building projects.”
from the National Council of Churches in Australia

At this crucial time, the people of Syria and the Middle East need peace not war. Weapons or military action can not bring peace to Syria is the firm conviction of Middle Eastern Church leaders meeting this week in Amman, Jordan.

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) expresses concern for the people of Syria and condemns the use of chemical weapons. “This crime needs to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted.” said the Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary. “External military intervention will only increase the suffering of the people and increase the risk of escalating sectarian violence”
From the Eastern Orthodox Bishops

Heads of the Eastern Christian Churches

In Australia and New Zealand

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.”  (Matthew 5:11)

We, The Bishops and Representatives of the Eastern Churches in NSW- Australia who are gathered today, Friday 23rd of August 2013 in the Office of the Coptic Orthodox Church Diocese of Sydney, are following closely the unfortunate incidents occurring in the Middle East. We have been witnessing the wide spread targeted attacks on churches and Christians over the past few years, and which sadly have escalated to levels unknown till now.

We express our total rejection of all kinds of violence and we are deeply concerned by the spread of armed groups and dark malicious forces which are brutally attacking public entities and churches; terrorizing the civilians and destroying our original homelands. These attacks by the extremists and fanatics are unprecedented. We condemn these actions which stand against the basic notions of freedom of religion, morals, and human rights.

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

Australian churches gear up for the International Day of Peace: a global day of action and prayer for peace

Each year, on 21 September churches across Australia and the world mark the International Day of Peace through prayer and action. Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council for Churches in Australia (NCCA) is inviting churches to join this year’s action to call on our political leaders to invest in direct peace-building projects and keep their promises on the amount they spend on overseas aid.

Alistair Gee, Executive Director of Act for Peace says:  “We are bringing churches together because we know that they, and their congregations, are an influential voice in Australian public life - and this is our big moment to put peace and aid on the national agenda. We’re very encouraged by the response so far with events busily being planned in churches across the country.”
from the National Council of Churches in Australia

The Reverend Dr Mike Semmler from the Lutheran Church in Australia was commissioned as the President of the Natiosemmler-m-2006_2nal Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) last week. The service took place on Sunday 7th July, in St Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church, East Melbourne. Dr Semmler is the 7th President of the NCCA, following Bishop Michael Putney of Townsville.

Dr Semmler has been the National President of the Lutheran Church for the past 13 years as he enters retirement in his own church he embraces the leadership of the NCCA with great enthusiasm.
from the National Council of Churches in Australia

Today over 200 million Eastern Orthodox Christians worldwide commence Holy Week as they prepare to celebrate the greatest feast of the Christian calendar - Easter.

Many Orthodox Christians continue to observe the Julian calendar and this year Easter Sunday will be celebrated on May 5. Western Christians observe the newer Gregorian calendar where Easter was celebrated on March 30.

This year in Jerusalem, even though the two dates for Easter are separated by 5 weeks both the Eastern and Western churches will celebrate according to the Orthodox calendar. The Jerusalem Heads of Church agreed last year to celebrate together.
from the National Council of Churches in Australia

The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) and the whole ecumenical community is horrified at the news that two archbishops from Aleppo, Syria were abducted and their driver killed earlier this week.

“Churches around the world are concerned for the safety of Archbishop Mar Gregorius Yohanna Ibrahim, Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Boulos Yazigi, Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and all the East, who were intercepted by armed men as they travelled from Turkish border areas where they were undertaking humanitarian work.” said Reverend Tara Curlewis, NCCA general secretary.
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