Friday, November 24, 2006


A wise man emailed me this quote today, and I wanted to share it. It comes from Thomas Merton.

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.

Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate...Returning violence for violence multiples violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


After four long terms of denial, the Howard Government has made its anticipated back flip on climate change with a million dollar giveaway for 'clean' fossil fuels and even some renewable energy. It's official: the Prime Minister can no longer afford to ignore climate change. And we can't afford to be fooled.

Join Australia's growing movement to stop climate change. Make your mark on the Climate Action Map today, and ask friends to join you.

With all the gas being emitted from our politicians, it's going to become harder to sort the real solutions from the spin. So GetUp has gone straight to the leading environmental policy experts in the country - from Greenpeace to the Climate Institute and the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change - for their blueprint for tackling the climate crisis. Here's what they agree we need to do:

1) Legislate aggressively to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions. In California, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced targets of 80 per cent emissions reductions by 2050. Meanwhile Australia's emissions have increased 10 per cent in the last decade, and are set to rise by an additional 17 per cent by 2020.

2) Establish economic incentives to reduce pollution and encourage energy efficiency and innovation. From abundant sun to wind and even geo-thermal power, Australia has enormous potential to reduce our dependence on polluting fossil fuels. But until we take into account the true cost of pollution and price carbon appropriately, clean energy just won't make sense to industry's bottom line.

3) Be part of the global solution by signing the Kyoto Protocol, the only international treaty that addresses climate change. Signing Kyoto immed iately gives us access to an annual global carbon trading market forecast to be worth $2.6 trillion by 2012, and makes the transition to a carbon-constrained world far easier on Australia's economy than going it alone.

4) Meet our energy needs from clean and renewable sources. We need clear, binding targets to drive renewable energy to at least 20 per cent of our total energy use by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2030. The global clean energy market was worth $74 billion last year, while the proportion of electricity Australians receive from renewable energy is in decline.

5) Kick the coal addiction, and provide a just transition for miners and their communities. We cannot keep investing in polluting, limited sources of energy and hope technology provides the 'silver bullet' solution in another decade to come.

It may be inconvenient, but politicians from every level of government must deliver us a believable, clear and realistic plan to significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and stop climate change. Join the movement - and the experts. Get on the Climate Action Map now to demand the real deal.

Thanks for being part of this,
The GetUp team

Friday, November 10, 2006


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: January 18-25, 2007

Open our ears and loosen our tongues. --Mark 7:31-37

“When the world is at war in so many places and the forces of violence, war and oppression seem to be increasing, praying for peace (and unity) may seem to be a futile exercise. But we Christians believe both in the power and in the promise of peace -- and we also believe in the power of prayer.”

--Dr. Sam Kobia, General Secretary, World Council of Churches

Dear Friends of Christian Unity,

Materials, prepared jointly by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity in the Vatican, were developed from a draft written by an ecumenical group in the township of Umlazi, near Durban in South Africa. Based upon the healing story in Mark 7: 31-37, the materials extend a twofold invitation to Christian communities worldwide: to pray and work for unity among Christians, and to join together in responding to situations of human suffering. As noted in the “Introduction to the materials, these two tasks are deeply intertwined as two threads of a single fabric – each focusing upon healing the wounded body of Christ.


Two websites provide the 2007 Week of Prayer resources in different formats:

First, the full documentation (introduction to the theme, the origins of the material from Umlazi, a proposed worship service, biblical reflections and prayers for the eight days, and additional resources from South Africa) may be found at: HERE

Second, the website of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute that has adapted these materials and posted copies of the worship resources (poster, background resources, worship bulletin, etc.) that can be printed from the website or ordered HERE.

Plan to make use of these resources in your local communities and congregations during the 2007 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, joining with Christian throughout our world “to break the silence that oppresses” as together we seek to receive God’s gift of oneness, reconciliation, and healing in Christ.

The week of Prayer for Christian Unity was initiated in 1908 by the Rev. Paul Wattson, co-founder of the Society of the Atonement. Its observance has changed over the years, in accordance with developments in the ecumenical movement: the universal week of prayer advocated by Abbé Paul Couturier in Lyon, France in the 1930s; the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948; the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Ecumenism in 1964; and the formation of the Joint Working Group between the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the World Council of Churches. A world observance, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an important expression of ecumenical activity at the local level.


This November 20 of the world’s largest nations, together with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will meet in Melbourne to discuss global economic issues. On the weekend of the G20 Summit –get informed, be inspired and take action at the *Make Poverty History Festival.*

Come to the Festival and enjoy feature bands & world music including, David Bridie, Telek, Bad Boys of Batucada, Simon Nugent and Vox Congo, sample Fair Trade & Sustainable products, see Workshops International Speakers and MPH info stalls or just sit back and enjoy the music, the Global Beats Chill Zone, International Food, Children's Activities and Roving Performers.

This a great opportunity to learn about how to address global poverty and how we can create a world that is fair and sustainable for all, in a fun, celebratory and interactive atmosphere. Now is the time, during the G-20 meeting, for Melbourne to show our leaders that we support the next step in the fight to *MAKE*POVERTY*HISTORY*.

This November Be Inspired, Get Informed, Take Action!
Festival queries


A Global Petition to Call Upon the US-led Coalition to Withdraw from Iraq
With a newly elected US Congress, the world has a unique opportunity for a global public outcry to change the course of the war in Iraq. Today is the perfect time to act. To seize this opportunity, ads will be placed in US and UK papers with a new global petition calling upon the Coalition to accept a larger role for the international community and a phased withdrawal of all its troops from Iraq. The number of signatures will be published in the ads, so please add your name and make it count. This is our chance to make sure the pressure of global public opinion is being felt by Coalition governments as they rethink this war in Iraq, pressing them to accept a larger role for the international community and to withdraw their troops.
The Global Petition...
The pursuit of a Coalition military victory in Iraq is driving the country to ruin and a vicious civil war. Thousands of Iraqi civilians are dying every month. The Coalition must accept that there will be no military victory in Iraq, and that it long ago lost the legitimacy necessary to bring peace. We call upon the Coalition to accept a larger role for the international community in bringing peace and stability, and to implement a phased withdrawal of all Coalition troops from Iraq.

Sign the petition at

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


World AIDS Day

1 December

Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise

Your church, youth group, women's group, prayer circle, club or school is encouraged to join people all over the world in prayer as we observe World AIDS Day. Plan a special order of worship on World AIDS Day or the weekend before or after. Several worship services prepared especially for this year can be used or adapted You can find them at or or

World AIDS Day is the international day of action on HIV and AIDS which takes place every year on 1 December. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is encouraging faith communities worldwide to hold special worship services to mark World AIDS Day and is promoting an ecumenical liturgy and action ideas on “Keep the Promise”. The theme of accountability, with the slogan, “Stop AIDS: Keep the Promise”, was chosen in consultation with civil society campaigns to stress the critical need to meet current commitments to increase the global response to AIDS and reach universal access to treatment, care, and prevention by 2010.

World AIDS Day is about reminding us all that HIV is an issue for everyone. Hundreds of thousands of new cases of HIV are being diagnosed around the world and the only way we can stop it spreading is by creating a more AIDS Aware society in which everyone takes action. It is up to us to provide HIV/AIDS education in our churches.

Links for resources on World AIDS Day (December 1):

The theme for World AIDS Day 2006 is accountability. The theme of accountability was developed by the World AIDS Campaign support team based on their ongoing work around World AIDS Day, and based on the outcomes of the London HIV and AIDS Campaigning and Advocacy meeting in February 2005. A number of lessons have been learnt from previous work on World AIDS Day, and far more energy is being invested early in the year to make World AIDS Day 2006 a success. The most significant aspect of this World AIDS Day is the degree to which it has been based around the inputs of a wide range of civil society partners.

Around forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world - and that number increases in every region every day. In the UK alone, more than 60,000 people are living with HIV and more than 7,000 more are diagnosed every year. Ignorance and prejudice are fuelling the spread of a preventable disease. World AIDS Day, 1 December is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV and AIDS. This year, it's up to you, me and us to stop the spread of HIV and end prejudice.

UNAIDS: Uniting the world against AIDS...The renewed commitment to universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support undertaken by countries across the world, has paved the way in West and Central Africa to scale up national programmes.

Actions taken by governments this year will determine the global response to AIDS for years to come,” states Marcel van Soest, executive director of the World AIDS Campaign.

Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance offers excellent and varied World AIDS Day resources at

Our partner in mission, the United Church of Christ USA, offers several liturgical items for use on World AIDS Day Sunday at

Monday, November 06, 2006



With our eyes on Columbia through the Global Women Connecting Columbia Network Project, our taste buds can be directed toward Columbia, too. At the recent Women’s Ministries Heartline Conference, Jackie Bunch, President of Global Women Connecting, lifted up the plight of our Columbian Sisters in Christ and the need for us to learn more about the situation in Columbia and to identify ways we can make a difference in the lives of people there. Purchasing Fair Trade Columbian coffee is a great way to start! Consider this, with every sip of your morning cuppa, you can be making a statement of can help shine the light of God’s love into Columbia! Get your church to purchase and serve Columbian Fair Trade coffee, and help everyone in your congregation be part of this important ministry.

So, here’s some information to use to educate yourself and your congregation, excerpted from an article by Lutheran World Relief. Having that Columbian cappuccino or cuppa is up to you!


The Coffee Crisis in Columbia

In Colombia, the effects of the global coffee crisis have been devastating. During the 1970’s, coffee accounted for well over half of Colombia’s legal exports. The average price on world commodities markets was nearly $3 per pound. By 2000, coffee accounted for less than 10% of Colombia’s legal exports, and by 2002 the price dropped to only 45 cents per pound. At that price, for a $2.00 cup here in the Australia, less than one cent went to the farmer who grew the beans. The coffee crisis, combined with economic policies begun in the early 1990’s that removed protections from other agricultural products like corn, left thousands of farmers with few options to make ends meet or hold onto their farms by growing legal agricultural crops.

A Dangerous but Profitable Cash Crop: Coca

This crisis has caused many Columbian farmers to switch from growing coffee to coca, the plant used as raw material for producing cocaine. A farmer explained his decision to grow coca: “When it comes down to watching my children go hungry or growing coca, I’ll break the law.”

The Civil Conflict

Drug money fuels all sides of Colombia’s war, with tragic consequences, but it is not at the root of the conflict. The conflict in Colombia began almost 30 years before the drug trade took hold. The war pits leftist guerillas against the government and right wing paramilitary groups. However, the majority of victims in Colombia’s conflict are not members of these armed groups, but civilians caught between them—especially poor, rural civilians. More than 3 million Colombians have been displaced from their homes, and over 70% of the country’s arable land is now owned by just 3% of the population.

In sum, war, poverty, displacement and coca production leaves farmers caught in a vicious cycle: violence leads to displacement and poverty, and displaced and impoverished farmers are forced by a lack of options into coca-production or into armed groups. Much of this destructive cycle is fueled both by drug-trafficking dollars and, since 2000, by $4 billion of U.S. aid, 80% of which has gone to the Colombian military. U.S. aid has also been spent on aerial fumigation of coca plants, but these plants are often located near subsistence food crops which fumigation also destroys, causing further hardships for poor farmers.


Fair Trade

Fair Trade shares the profits of the coffee trade with those who grow the crop, helping them to build a better future for themselves and their communities. By working together in democratically organized cooperatives, farmers can sell their coffee directly to international Fair Trade buyers. They receive a price that covers their production costs and guarantees them a living wage.

Only the most organized communities, those practiced in the arts of local democracy, dialogue and cooperation, have been successful in taking a peaceful stand against the conflict. Fair Trade cooperatives strengthen these qualities. The reasonable wages allow farmers to resist planting coca or joining an armed group, and can allow communities to become models of sustainable alternatives to the conflict. As economic stability and fairness take root, they nourish the community’s growth and make it possible for peace to blossom.

Learn More

Find an explanation of Fairtrade at: OXFAM

Order Fair Trade coffee today and start making a difference

Find a list of places to buy Fairtrade in the Melbourne area via OXFAM

To order Fairtrade in the Eastern Suburbs (to use or sell at your church or workplace) contact People for Fair Trade at 03-9511 0152 or e-mail click on the link in the side bar to visit the Fairtrade website.

by Ana Gobledale


Make Poverty History campaign hits Melbourne

This November a range of events have been organised by both the Make Poverty History and Micah Challenge campaigns to coincide with the G20 forum of finance ministers who are meeting in Melbourne. These events include a public forum, concert, festival and ecumenical service.

1 Public Forum
Thursday 16 November, 10am
Melbourne Town Hall, Cnr Swanston and Collins Streets, Melbourne

A free Make Poverty History forum featuring leading national and international speakers: Kumi Naidoo, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane of Cape Town, Lidy Nacpil, Sharan Burrow and Father Frank Brennan.

ENQUIRIES: email or call Lisa Bates on 03 9289 9495

Music, Workshop, Speakers, Food
Saturday 18 November, 10am
Alexandra Gardens, Melbourne

A family festival to educate and inspire you to create change in the world and help make poverty history. Featuring world music and dance with David Bridie, Vox Congo & Bad Boys Batucada; international speakers working in poor communities, as well as workshops, children's activities; educational MPH stalls, art & photo exhibits, fair trade food and crafts and a sustainable living market. Speakers include the Archbishop of South Africa, Kumi Naidoo and Tim Costello.


Saturday 18 November, 5pm
St Pauls Cathedral, cnr Flinders and Swanston Streets, Melbourne

This November, Melbourne will host the G20 Forum – a gathering of finance ministers from the world’s richest nations to discuss “Building and Sustaining Prosperity”. But who are the richest countries building prosperity for? And will this prosperity be sustainable? In November, take the opportunity to learn, pray and speak up for economic policies that reflect biblical values of responsibility, equality, justice, and sustainable prosperity for all.

This is a reflection and prayer service for all during the G20 Forum.

The main speaker will be Archbishop Ndungane of Cape Town. A powerful speaker, Archbishop Ndungane dreams of a world where “every individual would be able to smile together in complete freedom, in unity, in peace, in prosperity...a world where every human being can fulfill their potential as God created them to be.”

Also speaking will be

  • Shobie Owen, UNOH
  • Tim Costello, World Vision
  • David Pargeter, Uniting Church
  • Amanda Jackson, Micah Challenge
  • Pastor Brian Birkett, City Life Church
  • Bishop Christopher Prowse, Catholic Church
  • The Richmond AOG Choir



Another petition for Peace and Justice around the world

This petition encourages our church members to follow the Prince of Peace and sign.

This is a great site, "Women for Peace" listing lots of opportunities to sign petitions and take other actions for peace and justice around the world.


Have your say on Climate Change

It's official: the Prime Minister can no longer afford to ignore climate change. And we can't afford to be fooled.

Join Australia's growing movement to stop climate change. Make your mark on the Climate Action Map today, and ask friends to join you. CLIMATE ACTION NOW

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


We have received a petition from the Australian Christian Lobby seeking support for a petition against the motions being brought to the federal Parliament by Senator Patterson to allow the implementation of the recommendations handed down by the Senate committee established to investigate and report on issues related to embryonic cloning. These motions will be voted on in the next week, so if you wish to participate in the petition, you will need to act speedily.

As we do not have a specific position as Churches of Christ in Vic/Tas on this issue, it has been decided to make the petition available through the Social Justice Network website for ministers and congregations to access if they wish to sponsor the petition or if you wish to investigate it further (the petition has links to the Report). It is also suggested that you read the document on cloning written by Dr. Trevor Banks from our Belmont church on the issue.

Cloning is a complex issue and Christians have taken quite different positions on the issue. So it is suggested that the issue be thought through carefully with a view to both profound respect for human life and to the potential for healing, both of which are central to the teachings of Jesus and the traditional stance of the Christian church.