Where does forgiveness sit?

In the struggle to understand what makes for peace, we often confront the demand for justice, and the struggle for forgiveness.

The 19th Annual Hawke Lecture at the University of South Australia was given this year by The Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth on Wednesday 15 June 2016 at the Adelaide Town Hall. The Reverend Canon Mpho A. Tutu is an ordained Episcopal Priest and the founding Director of the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation.

This page has both a podcast and a YouTube video available of this speech, in which this refrain is repeated:

Forgiveness is not forgetting.
Forgiveness is not weakness.
Forgiveness does not subvert justice.
Forgiveness is not forgetting
Forgiveness is not quick.

Naming her experience of South Africa, says the Rev Cannnon Mpho A Tutu, is that “Making peace is infinitely harder than making war”.

The speech ends with these words:

“We cannot begin again
We cannot make a start as though the past has not passed
But we can plant something new
In the burnt ground
In time we will harvest a new story of who we are
We will
Build a relationship that is tempered by the fire of our history
You are a person who has hurt me
I am a person who could hurt you
And knowing those truths we choose to make something new
Forgiveness is my back bent to clear away the dead tangle of hurt and recrimination
And make a space, a field fit for planting
When I stand to survey this place I can choose to invite you in to sow seeds for a different harvest
Or I can choose to let you go
And let that field lie fallow”

Take some time to listen to the podcast or to watch the YouTube clip, and think of the way in which peacemaking is harder than war.

peace dove
Diversity dove of peace

When you wear black on Thursdays

Here’s a lovely report from WCC associate general secretary Isabel Apawo Phiri about the conversations and solidarity that can be initiated by the simple gesture of wearing black on Thursdays:

“I am taking a course for a Certificate of Advanced Studies in modern management for non profit organizations in the Geneva School of Economics and Management at the University of Geneva. On Thursday I came to class wearing black with the Thursdays in Black badge. The majority of the group wanted to know what the campaign is all about. The following day I brought Thursdays in Black badges and book marks for distribution. On the following Wednesday one of the classmates reminded the class that on Thursday we should wear black. The photo shows those who have been inspired to be part of the Thursdays in Black campaign. I was amazed with the way the group quickly associated themselves with the campaign despite our diversity in countries of origin and faiths. The counties represented in this class are: Saudi Arabia, Afghan, Mongolia, Palestine, Italy, France, Switzerland, Australia, USA and Malawi. What we have in common is a desire to see the end of rape and any form violence”.

More information: http://www.oikoumene.org/thursdays-in-black

The Justice and Mission Unity of the WA Synod has Thursdays in Black badges. Contact justice@wa.uca.org.au for yours!

Can we imagine a nuclear weapons free future?

The Uniting Church in Australia is a member of ICAN- the International Campaign to ban nuclear weapons.   ICAN, is a campaign coalition consisting of over 440 non-governmental organisations in over 98 countries. You can read Rev Gregor Henderson’s 2008 statement on the stance of the church regarding nuclear weapons here.  As Church’s President he said:

“We must also commit to dealing with the greatest threat to peace – the continued existence of nuclear weapons in our world.

“Nuclear weapons are an obscenity and an expression of the brokenness in our world. They breed relationships of distrust, difference and fear.”

Recently (May 2016) ICAN addressed the UN’s Open Ended Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament on the potential of a nuclear weapons ban treaty:

A treaty banning nuclear weapons would have a normative impact. It will strengthen the global norm against the use and possession of nuclear weapons. It will clarify that, in the view of the international community, nuclear weapons are unacceptable.

“But it could also have some very concrete and practical implications. Many of such provisions of the treaty have been discussed here, such as stopping financing of nuclear weapons production and victim assistance.

“And any nuclear alliance states joining the treaty will have to cease to host nuclear weapons on their soil, the weapons would need to be dismantled or returned. They would need to stop participating in nuclear war planning, stop contributing to nuclear weapons modernization programmes and many other very concrete disarmament activities.” Read more 

There are now 127 countries supporting the ban. Obviously the countries which now have nuclear weapons are opposed to the ban.

You can read the latest ICAN newsletter here

We will continue to pray for the end to nuclear weapons, and the strengthening of the work of peacemakers everywhere. ICAN summarises the talks this month like this:

“Despite the convincing presentations from experts on the huge risks inherent in the continued possession of nuclear weapons and the fallibility of “deterrence”, several states took the floor to defend the nuclear weapons as being integral for their security. These states were nevertheless unwilling to acknowledge the tension between this claim and their oft-repeated commitment to working towards world free from nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of states at the OEWG were united around the proposal for a new legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons even without the participation of the nuclear weapon states. Given the strong support expressed in the OEWG over these past few weeks, it is clear that states are gearing up to start negotiations on such a treaty.

The OEWG will reconvene in August for a final session to negotiate a final report with recommendations for the United Nations General Assembly”.

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

On the 25th of April Australia remembers the ANZACs and their sacrifice at Gallipoli in the First World War. On the 24th of April, one day before ANZAC Day, Armenians remember the martyrs of their nation, victims of a Genocide that was fuelled by political and cultural hatred.

Armenians also remember the ANZAC soldiers who saw the injustice that they were suffering and stopped to help them. The ANZACs created the first relief for the victims of the Armenian Genocide and provided them with the much needed medical care, and in many instances, keeping them safe from the hands of the Turkish soldiers.

The 14th Assembly held in Perth in July, 2015 unanimously passed the following:

That the Assembly resolve to

  1. Acknowledge that the Armenian massacres and forced deportations of 1915-1923 constitute a Genocide.
  2. Commend the NSW and SA governments in acknowledging the Armenian Genocide and encourage the Federal and other state governments to do the same.
  3. Affirm the value of recognising a date on or near the anniversary of the Armenian genocide, as a day of observance and commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and request the National Consultant Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship to prepare
  4. a prayer to be provided for all congregations of the UCA for use on the day; and
  5. in consultation with others, educational and liturgical resources for congregations to use

The prayer is found, with other background material, at this link:

https://assembly.uca.org.au/cudw/resources/item/1841-remembering-the-armenian-genocide

God of remembrance,
help us this day to remember the sacrifice of the first ANZACs at Gallipoli.
In your hands are the destinies of this and every nation.
We give you thanks for the freedoms we enjoy in this land
and for those who lost their lives to defend them.
We pray that we and all the people of Australia,
gratefully remembering their courage,
may have the grace to live in a spirit of justice, of generosity, and of peace.
We pray that people around the world,
remembering their sacrifice in providing aid to a people being massacred,
may have the compassion to reach out to those in need.

God of love and grace,
we praise you
for all those who stood firm in their Christian faith in the face of persecution, exile and death;
for all those who endured the Armenian Genocide.

Hear our voice as we pray
for all those Armenian men, women and children who were deported, driven in death marches, and massacred mercilessly;
for all those who continue to trample on truth, justice and human rights.

We pray
that this nation may not perish but prosper under your care;
that you may uproot from our hearts every trace of hatred and the spirit of vengeance;
that those who are the descendants of those noble martyrs may have a deep sense of gratitude and a deep sense of responsibility.

Grant that
we may value the freedom and security we are privileged to enjoy in this beautiful country;
that your power of resurrection may inspire us to live as a righteous people
prepared for every good work;
that we may be a compassionate, forgiving and loving people.

Amen.

Following the Prince of Peace?

With Palm Sunday coming up on 20th March this year (2016) I have been reflecting on an icon of the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem.  You can see the image I mean here https://www.flickr.com/photos/monasteryicons/7036525475.  One one side there are the crowd of disciples and townspeople, who are not looking very happy, and on the other side are the people of Jerusalem, including a mother with a young baby. Only the mother and baby look like they want to welcome this donkey-riding Prince of Peace.

In mimicking (and mocking) the Roman authorities who rode into towns as conquerors on horses, Jesus arrives in humility, seated at eye level, with no weapons to enforce his rule.

As the Social Justice Unit of the Uniting Church Synod of Western Australia, we have a focus on peace making and peace building. I therefore want to share a couple of articles with you, which make me reflect.

The first comes from the World Council of Churches: “Many Christians today believe idolatry to be a thing of their pagan past. (Stephen) Sidorak says, however, there is new idolatry “as we now worship the power we have to destroy creation much more than we worship the God of creation.  We bow down and worship weapons of mass destruction and the source of their power, nuclear energy,” he notes.”

 

You can read the the whole article here: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/press-centre/news/us-pastor-recounts-pilgrimage-to-japan-warns-of-idolatry-with-weapons-of-mass-destruction

The second contains some very disturbing information:

https://newmatilda.com/2016/03/16/imprecise-automated-deadly-why-australia-shouldnt-buy-into-the-drone-war/. The article describes how ‘automated’ war actually kills and maims people and ends like this:

“when the Australian Department of Defence’s 2016 White Paper boasts that “scientific and technological sophistication” will create “a capable, agile and potent” future force, we need to think about what this means in reality for those living in war zones. The Government’s potential investment in drone technology should not slip by unnoticed. To remain silent about the horrors of the US-led War on Terror and our part in them facilitates their continuation”.

I encourage you to read these two articles, and contemplate with me just how seriously we trust in the Prince of Peace, or how much we as citizens of this nation, are actually relying for safety on weapons systems which are incredibly destructive and damaging to people -often innocent bystanders not combatants- and to our environment.

Eira Clapton

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November

  • white ribbon
  • Violence against women is a human rights violation
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic.

Read an article about family violence in our own Revive magazine here http://revivemagazine.org.au/2015/10/12/family-violence-change-the-conversation/

From UnitingWorld these words: “On White Ribbon Day, we remember women everywhere who are impacted by violence and pray for those who support and encourage them. We think especially of our sisters throughout the Pacific, where women and girls experience domestic violence at rates higher than almost anywhere else in the world.

UnitingWorld 4 white ribbon

Here, UCA President Elect Dr Diedre Palmer, a tireless educator about family violence here in Australia, meets Cyrilline Baniuri, the General Secretary of the Presbyterian Women’s Mission Union in Vanuatu. Our sisters across the Pacific work with both men and women to teach about the God-given equality of women and men, counsel and support those who’ve experienced violence and work for just, healthy family relationships. We think they do an amazing job and send them all our love today and always. ‪#‎whiteribbonday‬.”

white ribbon

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 25 November 2015 (White Ribbon Day)

  • Violence against women is a human rights violation
  • Violence against women is a consequence of discrimination against women, in law and also in practice, and of persisting inequalities between men and women
  • Violence against women impacts on, and impedes, progress in many areas, including poverty eradication, combating HIV/AIDS, and peace and security
  • Violence against women and girls is not inevitable. Prevention is possible and essential
  • Violence against women continues to be a global pandemic.

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

The West Australian Uniting Church’s online magazine “Revive” has a great article on family violence which includes an interview with Rosie Batty, family violence http://revivemagazine.org.au/2015/10/12/family-violence-change-the-conversation/

Working for peace

The Uniting Church’s Synod of Western Australia’s Social Justice Board has identified Peace as one of our three major areas of work for the next 3 years from 2014 to 2017. During this period our country will mark the various 100th year commemorations of the First World War. These commemorations cause us to reflect upon Australia’s experience of war and peace, its costs and its long lasting effects.

When we think of peace we think of the absence of war. Certainly there is a lot written about the on-going conflicts around the world in which Australia is a participant -including Afghanistan and Syria. Peace is more than an absence of war, however.

In our work we want to think about:

  • violence -its causes, its logic, its language, its results
  • non-violence as an alternative choice for human communities
  • gender-based violence (also called domestic or family violence
  • what makes for peace and how we can promote it
  • being welcoming and inclusive as a community and as individuals

We are inspired by our faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, to take up the work of making peace.

In this site we will have many resources for you to download, and activities for you to join. Please see the menu at the top of the page for more.

buddingolive

Olive tree buds -a symbol of peace.