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Church Council Report 2012
Congregational Meeting (AGM)
South Sydney Uniting Church

June 3, 2012

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we are now gathered,
the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation,
and recognise that the land continues to be sacred to them.
We hail them: as guardians of the earth and of all things that grow and flourish in the soil;
as trustees of the waters the seas, the streams and rivers, the ponds and the lakes and the rich variety of life in those waters.
We thank them for passing this heritage to every people since the Dreamtime.
We acknowledge the wrongs done to them by newcomers to this land, including representatives of the Christian churches,
and we seek to be partners with them in righting these wrongs and living together in peace and harmony.

We support the young adult leaders of our Uniting Church in Australia, whose statement on justice will be presented to our National Assembly meeting in Adelaide this July and whose statement includes the following:

We stand in solidarity with the victims of injustice and discrimination, in particular the First Peoples of this land ... We believe in a God who seeks for the reconciliation of all people; we are also members of a church that is still 'Uniting'. We challenge our church, our government and our nation to listen deeply to the knowledge and cultures of our First Peoples ... We believe that recognition of the Indigenous peoples as the First Peoples in the Australian Constitution is essential for the continued reconciliation journey of all Australians. We must be open to continued conversation and dialogue if we are serious about pursuing genuine relationships with the First Peoples ...”

(This Statement, issued by the SSUC Council, was read by Rev. Andrew Collis at the Opening of the Portraits exhibition, curated by Miriam Cabello at the Orchard Gallery, Sorry Day, May 26, 2012.)

Mission Statement
Open to God at work in the world, we seek to be a Spirited community of peace and justice, faithfulness and respect for difference. With Christ we dare to be real and honest about our lives, sharing gifts of friendship and hope with each other and with our neighbours.

Church Council
Members: Heather Robinson (Chairperson), Julie McCrossin (Secretary and Acting Treasurer), norrie mAy welby, Miriam Pepper, Lyn Turnbull, Rev. Andrew Collis (Minister), Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon (Minister in Association), Rev. David Russell (Minister in Association).

The Council has met 8 times since the AGM on May 22, 2011.

The Council began meeting monthly from September 2011 (excluding January) in order to cover adequately all the matters brought before it on the agenda. This increases the frequency from the previous quarterly meetings and is an indication of the activeness of the church community. In addition to the formal meetings Council members also meet once a month for prayer, discussion of pastoral matters and peer support.

It is with great sadness that we record that Church Council member Trevor Edward Davies died suddenly on 14/6/2011. Trevor’s distinctive character, vision and love for the community of South Sydney continues to inspire us. Andrew Collis and Dorothy McRae-McMahon led the funeral (at Pitt Street Uniting Church, 800 attending), a service in Abercrombie Street for the neighbourhood, a prayer vigil at SSUC, cared for Trevor’s family and the church in our grief. Their sensitivity, compassion and ability to communicate and connect with a broad range of people in the church and community was, and is, a vital witness to God’s love. The comfort and help offered during their own shock and grief is greatly appreciated. It was a challenge to continue with the South Sydney Herald production and this brought a heavy workload to the editorial team. The responses from the many people who knew and loved Trevor, too many to mention individually, have helped enormously.

The April meeting of Church Council was postponed for two weeks. Council members were gathered in the church for the scheduled meeting on Thursday April 5 when news came of the death of Ali Blogg. The time was spent in reflection, prayer, fellowship and preparation for the evening’s Holy Thursday service. Our love and sympathy continue to be offered to Dorothy (Ali’s partner).

God,
We give you thanks for the life of Ali,
we give you thanks for the life of Dorothy,
and we give you thanks for your gift of Ali to Dorothy
and for their precious life together
a life lived honestly, passionately and wholly,
a life of loving care, in sickness and in health,
a life that has inspired so many others to cherish themselves
and to risk loving, truly loving.
God, bless Dorothy now and always.
Be near to her, help her to bear the pain of so great a loss.
In Jesus’ name we hope and pray. Amen.

Julie McCrossin took up the duties of Secretary in June 2011. Much thanks is given to our previous Secretary, Dorothy McRae-McMahon, who held this role for 10 years. The church has been blessed by her faithful service, wisdom and love.

Julie McCrossin filled an urgent need and became Acting Treasurer in December 2011. Julie’s exceptional diligence in this role is highly commendable and she is enabling the Council to bettter fulfil its financial management duties. The Council has also engaged Ron Brown (Chartered Accountant) as Accountant, and Julie is working closely with him.

Pastoral
Church Attendance: Average attendance: 26 people for Sunday morning worship (range 16-60). This continues a trend toward greater attendance and participation.
New members: Damien Patterson, Roberta (Reaffirmations of Baptism).
Baptisms: There were 5 baptisms: Ben Rylan Philps, Sahara Jordan Moana Cunningham-Baker, Douglas Sidney Cunningham, Jacob Andrew Lot Patterson, Maide Wood.
Commissioning: Congratulations to Margaret Vazey, who was commissioned as a Lay Preacher in the Uniting Church on January 22, 2012.
Parish Roll: Andrew Collis and Lyn Turnbull are collating details for an updated list of church members and adherents. Please see Andrew or Lyn to have your details included.
Farewells: Nicole Fleming and Eve Gibson were presented with beautiful items hand made by Lyn Turnbull on Sunday June 26 (a stole for Nicole and scarf and beanie for Eve). Nicole took up the position of Minister at Balmain Uniting Church. Eve remains an Associate Member with SSUC and is a valued member of the Arts Committee. Patricia Corowa has moved to The Rocks.
Weddings: Andrew presided at weddings for Jessica Lovell and Robert Tanner, Belinda Chen and Sam Kim. He also preached at the wedding of Esther Turnbull and Owen Butcher. Colin Drane and Katie Zuzek will be married at the Prince Henry Hospital Chapel on October 20, 2012.
Funerals: We are mourning the passing of Trevor Davies, Liz Ramage and Ali Blogg.

Bible Studies
Held on the second Thursday each month, 7pm at 173 George St Redfern. Topics covered: Space Invaders Following Jesus in Invaded Space: Doing Theology on Aboriginal Land by Chris Budden; Book of Revelation; Book of Job; From Stories to Scrolls to Sacred Book … and into the Digital Age. Stimulating conversation and fellowship are shared at these meetings. All are welcome. Come once, twice, every month, or whenever you can.

Prayer Meeting
Miriam Pepper and Heather Robinson meet fortnightly for early-morning prayer in the church. If you would like to join in or have a particular prayer request that you would like to share please speak to either Miriam or Heather.

Prayer and Support
If you would like someone to pray with you, or talk with you about a deep concern, please speak to Andrew, Dorothy, David or one of the elders to arrange a pastoral visit.

Musicians
THANK-YOU to Alison Clarke, Miriam Pepper and Heather Robinson for providing musical accompaniment during worship. Music lifts our souls!

Lunches and Birthday Celebrations
On the 2nd Sunday each month Naomi Ward brings a birthday cake to help us celebrate the birthdays for that particular month. THANK-YOU Naomi for the special way you acknowledge the unique beauty of each individual in your creative, masterful decorations and in the words you speak. Please help Naomi by letting her know when your birthday is, and also let her know if you are unable to be at church on the 2nd Sunday of your birthday month.

Parish Profiles
A new initiative this year, our monthly newsletter Parish News includes a personal profile of a member of the congregation. Over time, Julie McCrossin hopes to offer everyone the opportunity to be interviewed for a profile so that we learn more about each other. THANK-YOU Julie. We appreciate the six profiles published so far and look forward to reading more.

Morning Tea
Thanks to all who have helped clean up at the end of morning tea and thank-you to Lyn Turnbull and Dorothy McRae-McMahon who prepare the altar-table and morning tea every week.

Website
THANK-YOU to Scotty McDonald who faithfully and expertly maintains our website, updating each week the current homily and other appropriate information: Visit www.southsydneyuniting.org.au/.

St Lydia’s Library
Named after Lydia (seller of purple dyes) who was a first-century house church leader, a woman of hospitality and faith (Acts 16:14-15). Books may be borrowed on the basis of an honour system. Donations are welcome. There is an opportunity for involvement and leadership in the library, eg. Resourcing, promotion, tidying shelves, cataloguing.

Wordplay
A creative writing group started by the initiative of Adrian Spry in 2010. It meets 1st and 3rd Wednesdays, 6pm at the Woolpack Hotel, Chalmers St Redfern. This group has 7 regular members. In the last year 3 poetry booklets were produced, 2 launched in conjuction with an Orchard Gallery exhibition. Also, poems from group members are published each month in the SSH.

Ravens Running Group
Meeting Saturday mornings at 7am on the corner of Botany Rd and Raglan St. Ravens have taken part in the Sydney Half Marathon and Sydney Marathon, raising funds for the Cancer Council and Autism Spectrum Australia. Adrian and Andrew also took part in the SMH Sun Run on February 4, raising money for the Christmas Bowl. New members welcome. Call Adrian on 9690 1427.

Goals
Plans are underway to develop the inclusion of children in worship. Some excellent resources have been ordered and Julie Patterson, Naomi Ward, Heather Robinson, Miriam Pepper and Andrew Collis have agreed to meet as the initial Children’s Ministry team.

There are a number of repairs needed on the church and manse (eg. roofing on manse, interior church walls) and many smaller maintenance requirements. These are being identified and prioritised.

We have begun discussion on the development of policies on several matters in line with our theological beliefs and values. The theology underpinning the SSH is well documented (see Vision Statement & Guidelines June 3, 2012). Other areas identified are rental properties and welfare. For example these questions have been asked: What rents do we charge on our rental properties? Should they be as high as we can get, or standard market rent, or below market rent? Is there some way we might assist with the provision of affordable housing in our neighbourhood? How does our action in this matter reflect the Gospel and our worship? What is the best way to help people who come to us asking for money and resources, eg. groceries, train tickets?

Pearl Wymarra (Development and Outreach Officer with The Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) www.uaicc.org.au) is continuing to explore possibilities for a ministry activity of some kind with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. We are excited to be able to offer support to Pearl. She is a great blessing to us and to the wider church and community. Her experience, wisdom, creativity and humour are evident as she shares with us. Together we seek to discern God’s calling in the way we love our neighbours and ourselves.

Caring for Creation at South Sydney Uniting Church
SSUC is a church that seeks, in our worship, witness and service, the flourishing of all of God’s beloved creation. Some of the ways that we have learned and practised appreciation of and care for creation over the last year have included our Thanksgiving for Creation service, Ride to Worship, environmental improvements to our church buildings and grounds, Eden Garden, Food Connect, and our connection with Uniting Earthweb. All are invited to be a part of this developing ministry, and to contribute thoughts, ideas, passions and energies.

Special Services

THANKSGIVING FOR CREATION (Commemorates St Francis and St Clare of Assisi & includes Blessing of the Animals and Plants). For the last 4 years, on the Sunday closest to the St Francis and St Clare of Assisi Feast Day (October 4), SSUC has celebrated a Thanksgiving for Creation. At this service, we join in celebration as a part of God’s good creation, and give thanks for the Spirit of God that is in all life. We have many non-human and human visitors to church on this day whom we don’t see at other times of year. We are delighted to join with them in worship, and we are also glad that Finnegan, Bobby and Buffy come to worship with us on other Sundays as well. THANK-YOU Naomi Ward and Dove (gardener) for the wonderful display created at the altar table. THANK-YOU Miriam Pepper and Blair Silverlock for your help with the worship.

God of abundant life of lillies, eagles, hippopotamuses, crocodiles and humans may we see our lives and all life as gift, and be filled with joy and wonder.
God of compassion, may the love that we have for animals, plants and nature stir us to compassion and concern for all creation.
God of love, we remember with gratitude and longing loved ones, people and animals, who have died. We miss their companionship. May we be comforted.
God of relationship, may we appreciate our dependence on others and understand how human life is only possible in relationship with other life forms. Help us to live in unity and harmony.
God of earthquakes and storms, God of 70,000 million, million, million stars, may our smallness and vulnerability bring us to awe and to respect, rather than trying to dominate and control.
God whose image we bear, may we hear the call to touch the Earth lightly, and learn to use the Earth’s resources with care and wisdom for the benefit of all.
(Prayer by M. Pepper written for Thanksgiving for Creation Service, 2/10/11)

FOR YOUR DIARY: The next Thanksgiving for Creation service is September 30, 2012.

RIDE TO WORSHIP During Ride to Worship Week, people are encouraged to cycle, walk or use other environmentally friendly forms of transport to and from worship/religious activities as an expression of care for the earth and concern for those most impacted by climate change. SSUC took part in 2011, together with people of all ages from over 40 faith communities and places of worship, including about 10 Uniting Churches across four Synods. The President of the National Assembly, Rev. Alistair Macrae, expressed his support for Ride to Worship Week appearing in Insights with his bike, bike helmet and clerical collar, and inviting people to take pleasure in God’s creation. In the coming months, our Church Council will discuss installing a bike rack outside the church. Ride to Worship Week is inspired by Ride to Work Day and is an initiative of multi-faith organisation Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). Miriam Pepper is secretary of ARRCC, and one of the organisers of Ride to Worship Week. The third annual Ride to Worship Week runs from Friday 5 to Thursday 11 October 2012. All are invited to join in. To find out more, please speak with Miriam.

FOR YOUR DIARY: We have the opportunity to participate in Ride to Worship Day on October 7, 2012.

FORGET-ME-KNOT WORSHIP SERVICE In 2009 we were approached by the national charity Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) to write prayers that could be promoted for use by churches all over Australia at the time of their inaugural day of raising awareness called Forget-me-knot Day. We met the challenge and have since held an annual prayer service and have encouraged and continue to encourage other churches to hear the cry: “Please pray for and with us.” For each of the 3 services held to date, blue ribbon has been tied across the front of the church building. A blue knotted ribbon is the symbol of Forget-me-knot Day, representing the knot of pain and the tangled mess of life that is carried into adulthood by children who are abused. During the worship service, knots are symbolically untied. Through our collaboration with ASCA we were introduced last year to the Alliance of Forgotten Australians (AFA). We look forward to continuing to work with both these groups and strengthening our ties with them.

So, what is prayer about? I think it is indeed an invitation to honestly cry out into the universe in our pain, grief or distress and to feel that we are held in love as we do that.
It is also about daring to go down into our pain, anger or grief and to believe that we are safely accompanied into that darkness by our God. We are not required to ‘be positive’ as some people imply. We can be honest, real and raw. When we ask, seek, knock or weep and cry out, we are promised the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is this gift? Above all, as I said, I believe that it is the assurance that we have the loving company of our God, both within us and around us. It is also about the receiving of often and unexpected gifts. We cannot determine what they should be, but are invited to open our hearts and lives to look for them and receive them. The Holy Spirit surrounds us with love and, if we look, we will see signs of that” (Extract from homily by Dorothy McRae-McMahon, Nov. 14, 2010).

ASCA (www.asca.org.au) is an Australian national charity which advances the health and wellbeing of people and communities affected by child abuse, for this and future generations. Survivors need to be listened to and heard, to be validated and respected. As communities we can be there for those whose childhoods have betrayed them, to empathise and understand. AFA (www.forgottenaustralians.org.au) is a national, peak group of organisations and selected individuals from across Australia that promotes the interests of the estimated 500,000 people who experienced institutional or other out-of-home care as children in the last century, many of whom suffered physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.

FOR YOUR DIARY: The next Prayer Service for hope and healing for Adults Surviving Child Abuse is November 4, 2012. This will coincide with ASCA’s national awareness day, renamed Blue Knot Day, and our own Swimming Upstream Visual Arts Installation and play reading on November 3 (see below).

CELEBRATING COMMUNITY (REIGN OF CHRIST) FOR YOUR DIARY: November 18, 2012. This annual event (worship and lunch) will be a gathering of all our community/ministry partners and will involve contributions from various community choirs. Thanks to Saucepan Cafe & Restaurant in Darlington for catering in 2010 and 2011.
   
There is opportunity for interested people to be involved in the planning and preparation of one or more of the annual special services, and for Advent, Christmas and Easter Services. Please let one of our ministers or elders know if you would like to help.

Garden Shelter
In partnership with Cana Communities (www.cana.org.au) the church hall is used as a safe place for homeless men to stay on Wednesday nights. The ethos of Cana Communities is expressed in this statement from its Constitution: “In companionship with Jesus and inspired by His Gospel, we recognise the unique and mysterious value and beauty of each person. Our focus is on people who are most in need, who are suffering from loneliness, mental illness, addictions, homelessness and other factors which alienate them within society. Those with least options and who are most alienated are our special care.”
A Volunteers Mentoring Seminar was held in the church on Tuesday nights in May 2012. There were on average 30 Cana volunteers and others each week. Andrew helped with one of the presentations, on the topic of “fear”.

We affirm our partnership with Sister Anne Jordan (Director of Cana Communities), Janelle Jordan (Coordinator of the Garden Shelter) and Cana Communities as giving expression to our commitments to ecumenism and ministry in our neighbourhood. We rejoice that Cana volunteers feel so at home in our church, and look forward to deepening friendships in the coming year.
 
Cana Communities has recently opened a retreat and training facility at Orchard Hills called The Farm. FOR YOUR DIARY: Open Day for The Farm on June 17, 2012, from 10am, 100 Kingswood Rd, Orchard Hills.

Food Connect
Food Connect Sydney (www.sydney.foodconnect.com.au) is a social enterprise that connects local farmers to city folk through an organic fruit and vegetable box subscription service. It sources organic and chemical-free produce from local farms within five hours of Sydney. Food Connect Sydney provides three box sizes ($35, $50, $65), and 40 per cent of the box price goes to the farmers.
 
SSUC has been a “City Cousin”, a local pickup point, since late 2010. Chapel by the Sea Bondi Beach and Cafe Church Glebe are also City Cousins. Each Wednesday evening, approximately 10 people who live and/or work in the area come to the church to collect their boxes. Miriam Pepper, who looks after the boxes most weeks, has been enjoying meeting and getting to know our neighbours. One of our Food Connect subscribers is a WIRES carer, another is a fantastic cook who has worked on vegetarian cooking workshops with Miriam, another is part of Voices from the Vacant Lot (Wednesday evening choir), another works at Weave (South Sydney Youth Services) and is interested in the paper. Our youngest subscriber has been collecting his box together with his mum or dad since he was born.
 
Through Food Connect, subscribers don’t just get fresh, tasty, healthy, seasonal produce. They also have the opportunity to visit farms and come to appreciate directly the challenges that farmers face in difficult times (eg. in recent months we sometimes haven’t gotten the produce we expect due to unfavourable weather). It is good to know that we are supporting farmers with a fair price and encouraging ecologically sensitive farming.
 
Miriam says a big THANK-YOU to Lyn, Adrian and Andrew for their help with looking after boxes. If you would like to learn more about Food Connect or become a subscriber yourself, please speak with Miriam.

Events 2012

SWIMMING UPSTREAM
Alana Valentine approached Church Council with a concept to further our work of supporting Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA www.asca.org.au). It was agreed to proceed with Alana’s idea, which has the title
Swimming Upstream. It is a combined visual art and performance activity which will be held on Saturday November 3.
 
It involves: (1) the weaving of thousands of small “ribbon fish” with both blue ribbons and ribbons of text gathered from the stories and statements of adult survivors of child abuse and (2) the gathering, transcribing and presentation of stories and statements of adult survivors of child abuse.

The thousands of woven ribbon fish will be “hung” in the SSUC as a visual art installation and would also serve as a “set” for the public reading.
 
This initiative seeks to facilitate members of the community coming together to help untangle the knots of child abuse. The telling of stories and weaving of communities together helps us unite in bringing messages of hope and recovery.
 
Alana Valentine, Heather Robinson and Andrew Collis will co-ordinate: (1) the Swimming Upstream research with already established ASCA contacts; (2) the making and weaving of the “ribbon fish” and (3) the participation of our Wordplay group and art group. The public presentation of the stories, songs and poems will be co-ordinated and directed by Alana, with participation and reading by congregants and others. Alana has the skills to find both the humour and the poignancy in these stories, both the suffering and the triumph, so that the reading does not itself become an unmitigated trauma for the attending audience. An application has been made by South Sydney Uniting Church to the Cultural Grants and Sponsorship Program of the City of Sydney to fund the proposal.
 
THANK-YOU Alana for undertaking this task. Your vision, compassion and artistic skill are beautiful gifts that you share willingly and lovingly with us. We value the arts very highly as a means of communicating, exploring, developing, affirming and expressing who we are in relation to God.

FOR YOUR DIARY: A weaving workshop was held (in May). The next weaving workshops will be held in the church and/or church hall 2-5pm on Saturdays June 16, July 21 and August 18. If you would like to share aspects of your story for anonymous presentation please call Alana Valentine 0416 003 798.

The creative rationale of using woven ribbon fish and the theme Swimming Upstream is to introduce a new element of hope to the commemorations held over the previous three years for Forget-me-knot Day. Many of the adult survivors of child abuse speak about how they never quite “get over” their experience but, instead, learn to carry it with them and be healed by their (and the community’s) acknowledgement of their suffering. We have translated this idea into the notion of fish swimming upstream always, metaphorically, swimming against the current and therefore struggling against powerful forces pushing them the other way, but, nevertheless, eventually making it upstream, prevailing against the negative strength of the current and finally making their way forward. The idea of weaving the stories and statements of the survivors into the fish is a symbolic act of letting go of the stories, making them public, weaving them into the fabric of life and community and locating them in a context of many other survivors also doing the same thing, indistinguishable from their fellow survivors and yet each individual a separate acknowledgement of pain. We also like the idea of taking the tangling and untangling metaphor and moving it on in this project the idea of the “tangling” being more controlled and deliberate ... so that the threads are still tangled but now there is some sense of the survivors taking control of how this story of their survival and pain is “woven” into their bigger life story. The notion of taking a statement and making it into something more “beautiful” and “functional” in some small way.

Events 2011

JUVENILE JUSTICE FORUM, titled “Young People and the Law”, was held at The Factory Community Centre (Raglan St) on November 1, 2011. The Hon. Greg Smith Attorney General was the Speaker, Chaired by Karen Bevan (Director UnitingCare Social Justice Unit Children, Young People and Families). Attendance apx. 35 from various sections of the community. Good discussion took place, the event was recorded in the December issue of the SSH, and some networking took place.

The concern for Juvenile Justice is: The introduction in 2007 of Section 22A of the Bail Act has seen the number of young people held in a juvenile justice centre on remand jump nearly double in five years. About four in five of these young people won’t end up getting a control order when they go to court, meaning they are in jail unnecessarily. 90 per cent of young people in juvenile justice centres have at least one psychological disorder and 40 per cent have been in out-of-home care. On average they left school under the age of 15. Perhaps most concerning of all is that about half the young people in juvenile justice custody are Aboriginal, despite only making up about 4 per cent of the population. The NSW Government has committed to a 5 per cent reduction in re-offending rates for both juveniles and adults by 2016. Currently more than 50 per cent of young people reoffend within two years and more than 70 per cent reoffend within five years. They are also reviewing the bail laws with a view to reduce the number of young people held on remand.

Ideas for a forum in 2012 will be brought to the June Church Council meeting.
 
SYDNEY UNTANGLES THE KNOT OF CHILD ABUSE A ceremony was held in Redfern Park on November 12, 2011 (attendance apx. 40). This event was held in collaboration with and support of Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA). A blue ribbon was tied around the gum tree near the children’s play equipment. Several speeches were made and the Lord Mayor Clover Moore ceremonially untied one of the knots in the ribbon. Cathy Kezelman, President of ASCA said: “An essential part of recovery for many, is knowing your community supports you in helping to break the taboo surrounding child abuse. Survivors need to know they are not alone in this difficult, often life-long journey. The more support, the greater the hope for survivors to move forward and reclaim their lives. We would also like to thank the South Sydney Uniting Church and supporting partners for showing the power of community in coming together in support.”
We asked for and were given support from St Vincent de Paul Society Sydney, the Wayside Chapel, Souths Cares, Lions Club Zone 5 Sydney, Alliance for Forgotten Australians and Babana. Irene Doutney, Greens Councillor for City of Sydney, also attended and gave her support.

The ribbon remained on the tree for one week, with a sign explaining the significance and promoting Forget-me-knot Day, the national day to raise awareness for adults surviving child abuse.

CHRISTOLOGY WORKSHOP (II) OCT. 2011 Rev. Dr Clive Pearson led a small but focused group of participants who enjoyed an engrossing time exploring different images of Jesus in terms of hymns, creeds, scriptures, the Basis of Union, and in our own lives. We greatly appreciate Clive’s time and care, and the way he shares his passion for Christ. THANK-YOU Clive, you have helped us grow in our understanding of who Christ is and who we are.

FILMS Al Nakba was shown on Sunday August 14, 2011. This film told the story of dispossession and oppression of the Palestinian people over four centuries. The film generated feedback and discussion and excellent resources for further study and action were circulated. These may now be found on our SSUC website, under “Resources”.

Entertaining Angels, about the life of Dorothy Day (journalist/activist/co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper and houses of hospitality) shown on the evening of Good Friday (16 present). This DVD is available for borrowing and is highly recommended (see Andrew).

NATIONAL CHURCH LIFE SURVEY We participated in this survey in November and results are expected in coming months.

Property

Refurbishment
Refurbishment of our hall and bathrooms will be carried out in June 2012. We will install a shower in one of the bathrooms (with solar hot water) and clean and paint the bathrooms and hall. These improvements will bring immediate benefit to guests of the Garden Shelter, participants in Saturday Art Classes and all users of the facility. THANK-YOU to Miriam Pepper, Stephen Creak and Louisa Dyce for helping to oversee what has been a lengthy and challenging process. THANK-YOU to generous donors who have made contributions of money and time for planning and building. FOR YOUR DIARY: Working Bees on June 9 and 23 from 10am-4pm (any help with cleaning and painting etc. greatly appreciated please see Andrew).
 
John Harkins Trio Fundraiser and Silent Art Auction
This event was held on November 28. Five artists (Hayley Megan French, Jo Tracy, Gabriel Azzi, Gaylene Smith and Johnny Bell) donated works. John Harkins (piano), Alex Boneham (double bass) and Andrew Dickesan (drums) played a swinging two-set gig to 40 people. $1,000 was raised towards our bathroom and hall.

Church Buildings and Grounds
Our Church Council has been looking at ways that we can make the operation of our buildings and grounds more environmentally sensitive. A rainwater tank collects water from the hall roof for use in the Eden Garden (installed in July 2011). The last Water Bill showed that water usage has almost halved in comparison to the same period last year (Jan-Apr 2012 usage 0.22 Kl, same time last year 0.41Kl). A solar hot water heater (Endless Solar Evacuated Tube system) will provide the hot water to our new shower. Church Council has decided to make some improvements to our recycling and waste management processes, so that food wastes can be better directed to the community garden, and recycling bins are easier to use. These changes will be made over the coming month. For find out more, to give suggestions for more improvements, or to get involved, please speak with Miriam.

Cleaning
THANK-YOU to the many people who lend a hand in maintaining our property and grounds. A special thank-you to Adrian Spry who vacuums and cleans the church and hall each week.

Eden Garden
Keith Ferguson is our most regular gardener and keeps our grounds tidy, safe and productive. Keith and Reece, Dove, Stephen and John have contributed a great deal and are a blessing to us. We affirm the dedicated team of gardeners and their generosity to us and the wider community.

Microphones and New PA System
These were installed in October 2011 at a cost of $4,124.58. We are getting used to the practice of microphone use which enables everybody to hear what is said.

Together in Song Hymn Books
We have agreed to purchase more hymn books.

Community Groups
Voices from the Vacant Lot, the Cleftomaniacs, Voices & Violas, El Coro, I Cantarini and the Camdenville Community Choir all use the church for music practice and performance. FOR YOUR DIARY: The Camdenville Community Choir will perform on
June 3 here in the church at 7pm all invited.

A women’s stretch and exercise group has met during the year on Tuesday mornings in the church and is currently in abeyance. Andrew is in contact with them.

Wider Church

Bringing the Word to Life together
Two books, one for each Lectionary Year (A and B), have now been published by MediaCom Education Inc. They are resource books offering themes for a homily and congregational response each Sunday. The back cover has this to say about the authors, Rev. Andrew Collis and Rev. Dorothy McRae-McMahon: Bringing the Word to Life “
comes from two of the Uniting Church’s most gifted Ministers of the Word who offer the churches the fruit of their ministry in the South Sydney congregation”.

Uniting Church Studies
Andrew helps Rev. Dr William Emilsen with design of this journal (twice a year) produced by United Theological College.

Out and About
Andrew helps Rev. Dr Clive Pearson with editing and design of this quarterly magazine produced by United Theological College.

Synod Communications Committee
Andrew is a member of this committee, meeting quarterly.

Uniting Earthweb (www.unitingearthweb.org.au)
SSUC is connected with other churches in our Synod through Uniting Earthweb. Uniting Earthweb (UEW) is a network of Uniting Church people within NSW and the ACT who work for a greater connection between ecology and Christian faith and practice, including through theological study, the arts, worship, and practical projects and campaigns. UEW seeks the “earthing” of the Christian gospel, the proclamation and embodiment of God’s reconciliation and renewal of the whole of creation. UEW shares stories, learnings, resources and support, and works for connections between city and country, between justice and ecological integrity, and between reflection and action.
 
In late May 2011, SSUC hosted approximately 25 visitors from Uniting, Anglican and Catholic churches across Sydney as a part of a tour of community gardens that was organised by Uniting Earthweb.
 
Miriam Pepper is a part of the Uniting Earthweb steering group and provides support to people who are looking to run projects and initiatives in their churches. If you would like to learn more about Uniting Earthweb, subscribe to the monthly e-bulletin, or get involved, please speak with Miriam.

Uniting
All Uniting Churches belong to a Presbytery. We are part of the
Sydney Presbytery (www.sydneypresbytery.org.au) and pay a yearly levy to the Presbytery. Heather Robinson is the Representative for SSUC and attends quarterly Presbytery meetings along with Andrew Collis. The Sydney Presbytery belongs to the Synod of NSW and ACT (www.nsw.uca.org.au) which belongs to the Uniting Church in Australia (www.uca.org.au).

Occupy Movement
The Council declared its support for this movement, “human need, not corporate greed”, at its meeting in October. Support was given expression in the Editorial published in the November issue of the SSH: “Inspired by the boldness of St Paul’s Cathedral on whose grounds, in spite of false reports in the British tabloids, the Occupy London protest continues, the South Sydney Uniting Church Council has passed a resolution in support of the Occupy Sydney movement. We did so because it is important to critique a socio-economic system that pits a very wealthy elite (‘one per cent’) against the majority (‘99 per cent’). It is important to critique big corporations’ disregard of neighbourhoods, nations, the earth and its limited resources. Governments, on behalf of citizens, have a responsibility to regulate markets and to put limits on the profit-seeking activities of corporations …”

THANK-YOU TO EVERYONE FOR BEING PART OF SOUTH SYDNEY UNITING CHURCH! We are who we are because of GOD and YOU!

Heather Robinson
Chairperson