12th Assembly 2009


Jesus Christ has been appearing before members of the Uniting Church’s 12th Assembly, just prior to the start of many of its sessions. On each occasion orange cards are raised to indicate almost unanimous affirmation for him.

This inspiring image of consensus comes in the form of a cartoon from the website WWJD@Assembly [www.assembly.burningsilicon.net], projected on a screen above Assembly President the Rev. Alistair Macrae.

The website, featuring “simple cartoons to amuse and question”, was created by young members of the Assembly to challenge church members and make people think.

Kim Anderson, from the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, described the project as “a community bonding thing between the younger members of Assembly and a way for us to express our views”.

Kim, a student and youth worker said, “It just started out as a joke between Bethany Bethany Hewitt and me.”
The idea for the cartoons originally came to her when “reflecting on the Assembly and how sometimes the processes of the church can become prohibitive.”

She said that getting caught up in doing the right thing often led the church to “miss the bigger picture”. She thought “it would be quite funny if Jesus appeared as part of the process”.

Kim asked her friend Bethany, a student at Flinders University, Adelaide, if she could draw something. When she showed the cartoon to other young members of Assembly it sparked their imaginations.

Kim believes that the younger members of the church are often “tokenised” and that their opinions are written off as “the youth way”. She said, “A lot of us also have opinions the same as any other member.”

The young women had no intention of appearing provocative. “My original idea was that we all blue-card Jesus because we weren’t listening to what he was actually saying,” Kim said. “But we thought the blue card too often represents negativity rather than questions.”

As a result, the finished cartoon features only one blue card.

While not wishing to be offensive or blasphemous, the girls do not want to compromise their message. “Originally, the cards were all orange because we didn’t want to offend anyone,” said Bethany. But the end result ended up getting a positive response overall. “The reaction I have seen is laughter which is really nice,” Kim said.

The website is starting to take on a life of its own, with suggestions pouring in from all types of people.

Bethany, who considered herself more of a realistic drawer of people and flowers, said, “People keep telling me, ‘I’ve got this thing on my mind.’”

The girls have set up an email address on the website to take feedback and suggestions.

They also posted links to the website onto the popular social networking website Facebook. Their friends have been able to follow what has been happening in the Assembly from there.

The girls are not sure if the website will have a life outside Assembly. But it certainly seems to have taken on a life of its own.

Bethany, amazed by the reception, exclaimed, “What have we created?”

Kim added, “It is good that something that came out of my crazy head and her wonderful fingers has actually generated response.”