Why Voting is a Complex Issue

Welcome to my first blog post of the year. It is a brand new month, season and I hope everyone has been well.

For this post, I will be focusing on our upcoming WA elections. Every day in this pre-election phase we are being bombarded with messages about who to vote for and why.

For Christian people thinking carefully about who to give their vote to is an important issue. I am reminded that perhaps the best known theologian of the twentieth century Karl Barth as a young pastor was appalled when he learned that many of his theological mentors at the beginning of the First World War had sided with the Kaiser and the war strategy. It led Barth to seriously question their ethics and theology.

It is possible to back the wrong party.

At election time, we need to ask lots of questions of our politicians and political parties. Several questions readily come to mind. How do your policies look after the most vulnerable in our society, the elderly, the unemployed, the First peoples, asylum seekers, those with disabilities and those on low incomes? Jesus clearly had a “bias” towards the poor, so should we?

Another question might be about the environment. How does your party care for our fragile, beautiful and sacred environment?

Last week I attended a gathering at St George’s Anglican Cathedral where farmers, scientists, environmentalists and a moral theologian spoke of the potential environmental damage that fracking can do. They called for a five year moratorium so that more independent consultations and science based reviews can be conducted before we plunge headlong into this industry. It made a lot of sense to me. Where does your preferred party sit on this issue?

Last week I also had the opportunity to attend a Youth Care meeting. I learnt more about the great work over 400 school chaplains are doing in our WA schools. They do not proselytise but rather they fill an important gap in the pastoral care of students, teachers and parents.  To do this work they rely on a combination of church, school, state and federal funding. It is important to ask if your preferred political party is supporting this much needed program.

Politics is a complex business and probably no party ticks all the boxes we Christians would like them to. In any congregation there will be a diversity of political opinions. The Uniting Church will never tell you how to vote, but hopefully we will help each other to ask good questions of those who seek to be part of our state’s governance.

Like the prophet Jeremiah said, we are to seek the prosperity of all our citizens and like Jesus we are to seek that God’s will be done on earth as in heaven.

May God give us wisdom, understanding and insight to this end.

Steve Francis

Bill Loader addresses New Testament scholars

Emeritus Prof Bill Loader, Principal of the Perth Theological Hall, addressed New Testament scholars at their Asia/Pacific gathering in Manila on 28 February to 2 March 2015. His talk “New Testament Exegesis as Cross-Cultural Encounter: Matthew and John on Soteriology as a Case Study” is available on http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/LoaderOpeningAddressManila

Bill is concurrently Assistant Secretary for International Initiatives of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.

Education Catalogs for 2015 are out!

CEDAL is releasing “Education Opportunities 2015”, a listing of recommended education events for Uniting Church congregation members. In her cover message, Bev Fabb, Chair of the UCWA Commission for Education for Discipleship and Leadership (CEDAL), encouraged Church Councils to develop an annual plan for membership education. The catalog emphasises mission and evangelism and growth in discipleship. Copies of the catalog are being mailed to Church Councils. Click on Continue reading

Hall For All Saturday Intensives

Perth Theological Hall 

Semester One 2015

The Hall is changing its ministerial formation program this semester to a Wednesday afternoon and Saturday Intensive format.

The Saturday Intensives are designed to not only meet the needs of candidates, but also enrich lay leadership and the continuing education of ministers so members of the wider church are welcome to attend.

Three Saturday intensives, 9.30am – 4.30pm (cost for each: $30 including lunch)

Sat   7 March    Intensive One: Worship in the UCA

with Bill Loader and Bev Fabb

Venue: Star Street Uniting Church, corner Star and Archer Streets, Carlisle

Sat 11 April    Intensive Two: Creative Liturgy   

with Cathie Lambert and Carolyn Gepp [venue to be advised]

Sat 23 May    Intensive Three: Worship with Children and Youth         

with Denise and Jeff Savage [venue to be advised]

 Please contact Kerry George to register for any or all of the Intensives –

tel. 08 9360 6880; email.  pthall@murdoch.edu.au

People are also welcome to attend the weekly Wednesday Eucharist service at the Murdoch University Worship Centre  

4 Mar – 27 May [excluding non-teaching breaks on 8 April and 13 May]

Murdoch Worship Centre              3.45 – 4.30pm

followed by afternoon tea.