12th Assembly 2009

Assembly welcomes overseas partners

On the second day of the Uniting Church in Australia’s 12th Assembly meeting in Sydney, the president the Rev. Alistair Macrae welcomed 45 guests from some of the church’s partner churches overseas.

Mr Macrae said it was important to learn from other churches.

“It is part of the DNA of the Uniting Church in Australia that we are deeply connected with so many partner churches,” he said.

The Rev. E.F. Lyngdoh, Moderator General of the Presbyterian Church of India, said that India’s population size has disadvantages and benefits for the church.

“Thousands are homeless,” he said. “But we are one of the biggest countries, having the largest number of people wanting the living water.”

He said his church appreciated being able to attend the Uniting Church Assembly meeting and that he was encouraged by the president’s inaugural address.

assy_day2_intlvisitors_kcmeoAn emotional message on behalf of the General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma the Rev. Tuikilakila Waqairatu came to the Assembly from the Rev. Jovilla Meo.

Mr Meo, Chairperson of the Uniting Church’s Fijian National Conference in Australia, told Assembly members of the ban on the Methodist Church’s ‘Bose Ke Voti’ conference, the church's major annual event.

“As I speak church leaders are attempting to find a solution following the military government’s decision not to allow the conference,” he said. “It is imperative that permission is granted as soon as possible so preparations can begin.

Mr Meo said the Methodist Church in Fiji remains steadfast to last year’s resolution that a conference will take place in 2009. This stands in direct defiance of a decree by the military government.

“The church is well aware and fully understands the consequence of such defiance,” he said. “Your prayers in the past have been useful.”

Mr Meo said the Fiji Methodist Church’s priority is reconciliation with past leaders and those outside the church.

Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Zimbabwe Bishop Simbarashe Sithole said the church in Zimbabwe was “surviving”.

“Thank you for your prayers. Thank you to the Uniting Church for the support we have received over the years, especially in the drought prone rural areas.”

Mr Sithole spoke of the water harvesting project funded by the relief and development unit of UnitingWorld. “The church is very much involved in the national healing process,” he said.

He shared his “guarded optimism” because “in the past our expectations have been shattered”.

In response to civil unrest, the church encouraged people to admit to their crimes rather than just receiving blanket forgiveness.

“In the church we say we need an agreement and process where people own up to the violence before clemency can be claimed,” Bishop Sithole explained.

The Methodist Church of Zimbabwe is part of the process to develop a new national constitution and is seeking to ensure people’s views are considered.

“Thank you to Australia for a call for democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said. “We have been able to speak up knowing that you are behind us and supporting us.”

Mr Macrae thanked the representatives of the Uniting Church’s partner churches for giving Assembly members a glimpse of the life of their churches.

He urged prayer for all partner churches to keep them “courageous, faithful and joyful”.