News

Tuesday, 6 Jun 2017
Rising Above the Fog By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes   A couple of weeks back there was some excellent photography in the media of Melbourne and Brisbane in foggy conditions. The fog was lying densely across each city like a heavy doona and in each case, there were several buildings projecting above the fog into the sunlight. (I’ve been unable to find any links to these recent photographs to share with you.) I imagine on that day walking the streets of Melbourne – it would have been misty, dewy and with low vision – whereas on the upper floors…
Wednesday, 3 May 2017
Icebergs and Progressive Learning By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes A recent news item tells of an iceberg running aground over this Easter weekend, just off the small town of Ferryland (Canada). The berg rises about 15 storeys high above the waterline, which is only about 10% of its mass. “Most folks can’t wrap their heads around how big it is,” a local commented. I’ve often found the metaphor of icebergs (10% above and 90% below the surface) useful to assist and remind me about much in life and education, conflict and communication, etc, etc. However, this newspaper story…
To celebrate the 40th birthday of the Uniting Church of Australia and Pilgrim Theological College, an Anniversary Scholarship has been established to cover 75% of the University of Divinity fees in 2017. Applications close Friday, 14 July. Further information is available here. If you are interested, download an application form.  
Wednesday, 5 Apr 2017
Continual Resurrection By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes How many years was Easter Sunday? This is the provocative question asked by John Dominic Crossan in his book Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. His question arises out of research from archaeologists who have been unable to find the town of Emmaus mentioned in the post-resurrection story in the gospel of Luke. Crossan concludes that the story of Emmaus, rather than a historical event, was a metaphor. Crossan provocatively concludes – Emmaus never happened, it is always happening! He further surmises that the little we do know of the writings of that time…
Wednesday, 1 Mar 2017
Traversing Pathways of Curiosity During Lent By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes I’ve written about the shame gap in a previous eNews however I want to remind us of that concept as we enter Lent. In adult education it is suggested that many adults feel the gap between what they know and what they think they should know as a ‘shame gap’ – something of which they are ashamed. Whereas children are more inclined to see such a gap as an opportunity or a curiosity gap – something to be delightfully explored. Lent, I read recently, is a season set…
Tuesday, 31 Jan 2017
A Pilgrim People: 40 Years On National Uniting Church History Conference 9—12 June 2017 This conference, to be held in Adelaide, is for anyone interested in and engaged with UCA history (academics, non-academics, local historians, archivists, former missionaries, members of UAICC, clergy, laity …) More information and registration Call for papers Yuróra 2017 NCYC 2017 Uniting Culture Yuróra 2017 has its roots in the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) which began in 1955. NCYC is a 5-day youth event, part of an ongoing program held by the Uniting Church in Australia. Every two to three years, hundreds of young people between 16 and 25…
Monday, 30 Jan 2017
Sean Winter, Academic Dean of Pilgrim Theological College and Robyn Whitaker from Trinity College Theological School respond to an article by The Age’s former religion editor Barney Zwartz, now of the Centre for Public Christianity.   Read their response here
Thursday, 24 Nov 2016
‘That’s how the light gets in…’ By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes My mantra for this year’s journey through Advent to Christmas is “Don’t be seduced by perfection”. There is a lot of noise around about “getting Christmas right”. If we believed the hype, there is the perfect gift, for our perfect families, to be delivered in the environment of a perfect Christmas Day. Not a goal I would ever imagine achieving! Leonard Cohen’s words from his song “The Anthem” lend some comfort to those who recognise our flawed humanity: Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in…
Wednesday, 2 Nov 2016
We know attending Yuróra will raise the passion, deepen the discipleship, and energise the faith of your young people by putting their faith into action in the world. Yuróra means ‘passionate’. To encourage and enable young people who otherwise may not be able to attend, UCA Youth and the Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM) are providing a limited number of $500 grants for NCYC 2017 participants. General admission is for anyone aged 16-25 who is ready to jump into an amazing 5-day festival experience at Stanwell Tops NSW from 8-12 January 2017. UCA Youth and the CTM will prioritise financial support…
Tuesday, 4 Oct 2016
A Small, Shy Hope By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes Many years ago I was introduced to the thought that many of us in the Uniting Church are not skilled at articulating our faith – we rely on the basics of our faith to be already known by the broader community. So much so, that a good proportion of us perhaps even struggle to find the words to speak out the faith because we have not had to learn the language. We have been carried along with the words from liturgy, hymns and ‘cliché’ faith language. So when it…
Thursday, 29 Sep 2016
The New and Improved CTM Resourcing Site CTM Resourcing (the revamped Unichurch Resources) is a rich trove of resources for supporting, encouraging and informing discipleship and ministry. The resources available include texts, products and materials, primarily UCA-based, some sourced from external publishers and others generated by the Centre for Theology & Ministry. We are committed to resourcing and facilitating learning opportunities across the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, and to the rest of the Church, available to groups, presbyteries and individuals, whether they are lay or ordained. There is no need to hold an account to purchase-it is optional. However, if…
Wednesday, 31 Aug 2016
Balloons Have Changed the World By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes From an early morning radio program I learnt of balloons and how they had changed the world. It was truly fascinating. One of the main characteristics of balloon technology was that it was available to all and sundry – it was not simply for elite engineers and scientists. The interviewee indicated that right from the start of learning the simple balloon was available for students with which to experiment and innovate. The discussion covered external balloons and internal balloons – ‘football pitch’ size balloons currently being inflated far above…
Thursday, 18 Aug 2016
The Kirk Robson Theology and Arts Memorial Prize The Kirk Robson Theology and Arts Memorial Prize supports artists and projects engaging faith through the arts. In recognition of the ground-breaking work of Kirk Robson (1978-2005), the fund supports projects characterised by Community Cultural Development principles and practice and an artistic engagement with theology. Reconciliation with Aboriginal people is a significant focus of the Fund. 2016 represents the 10th year since the fund was established. This year’s recipient is Gordon Traill, Veteran Peer Support Worker with Creative Ministries Network (CMN), UnitingCare, Armadale, for his proposal to establish a photography and art exhibition, focusing…
Wednesday, 3 Aug 2016
Control vs Participation By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes “The opposite of control is not ‘no control’ but rather participation” – so says Richard Rohr in his article “Grieving as Sacred Space” written in January 2003. I read this some weeks back when preparing for a service and it has stayed strongly with me. So much of life is about being able to shape and participate – to influence the outcome in some measure or form. Participation is when (rather than being in control or walking away) one stays connected and interconnected. So much seems uncertain on both local, regional and…
Thursday, 5 May 2016
As in previous Synod years, the staff at the Centre for Theology and Ministry have created a pack of worship resources for the Sunday of Synod (5 June). Anyone is welcome to use these; they may be particularly handy for congregations where the minister and lay leaders may be attending Synod. Synod Sunday Worship for Local Churches 5 June 2016.pdf Synod Sunday Worship for Local Churches 5 June 2016.doc (Perfect for cutting and pasting into your own order os service) Images for Synod Sunday worship June ’16. pdf Upcoming Events August 2016 12 Generate 2016 – Intergenerational Ministry Foundation 13…
Monday, 2 May 2016
Give your heart and soul and brain an opportunity to notice something different By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes Thousands upon thousands of pieces of information/stimulation flood our brains hour by hour, minute by minute. However, our brain only has the capacity to ‘take on board’ a small percentage of all that is available to us. Not so surprising is our tendency or habit to ‘take on board’ the things that reinforce our previous patterns of thinking and experiencing. Like doing a jig-saw – how easy it is to pick up the pieces we readily identify – that’s where…
Tuesday, 5 Apr 2016
Art at the Centre for Theology & Ministry and beyond The next three months are a busy time for the arts in the life of the Centre for Theology & Ministry. Three-time Blake Prize finalist Darron Davies’ work will be shown at the Centre for Theology & Ministry from 8 April to 10 May. Davies’ The Travellers: A Photographic Exhibition examines the play of light and spiritual meanings. Davies’ camera and its resulting photographs capture an extraordinary world at play within light and colour fields. The Art for Wellbeing Exhibition – part of the SacredEdge Festival – will be running from 29 April to 2 May,…
Thursday, 25 Feb 2016
Staying on course By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes I was lucky enough to see the Australian icebreaker the Aurora Australis a couple of years ago when visiting Hobart. It contrasted starkly with the many yachts that had just completed the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Aurora Australis looked strong and indestructible while the yachts looked fragile and dainty. It was newsworthy in these past days to hear of the Aurora Australis running aground during a heavy blizzard, it broke free from its moorings… the wind catching its bulk pressured the cable sufficiently for it to be run aground.…
Friday, 29 Jan 2016
Invest into 2016 By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes   Once again my name did not appear in the Australia Day Honours list. I discussed this with my local milk bar owner – who had also failed to find his name in the list of recipients. We contemplated our lives and given that we had not become famous, how else we might assess whether we are making an effective contribution to the local community as well as exercising good global citizenship. In the time it took to pay for my milk and newspaper we still had not resolved the…
Wednesday, 9 Dec 2015
Behold By Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes “Behold – I bring you glad tidings of great joy” – the good news of the Christmas experience. Beholding means to ‘thoroughly hold’, to perceive or apprehend. For us to behold means a relationship between the beholder and the one or thing being held – it’s a relationship that comes to life only in the relationship. We behold the mystery of God breaking into our lives. This has taken a stronger focus for me as I link the Kairos moment – a moment beyond our earthly time-keeping – breaking into my chronos…
Wednesday, 4 Nov 2015
Wandering but not lost Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes takes a wander and discovers the benefits of gently traversing the landscape.  I’ve stayed many times in this rural setting and looked across paddocks of changing colours with hills in the far, far distance. On enquiring of the destination of a trekker who walked past the front gate I was told to ‘just wander’ down the road through the paddock and follow the fence line for a kilometre or so. That afternoon I did so. A 20-minute wander with little planned purpose and lo and behold I came across a…
Monday, 5 Oct 2015
Welcome to the October 2015 edition of eNews Staying present to achieve our long-term goals Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes talks about the need to stay strong and focused during difficult or stagnant patches of work and ministry.  Steven Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, notes one of the seven habits is “begin with the end in mind”. Ministry experience may broaden that to suggest “work and minister always with the end in mind” – not just at the beginning! In further reading Sharon Welch suggests that this is a habit that Western society has interpreted in…
Sunday, 30 Aug 2015
Welcome to the September 2015 edition of enews What’s passionfruit got to do with it? Executive Director Rev Dr Jenny Byrnes draws on a teenage experience in the UK to understand the value of placing oneself in an open learning environment where perspectives from various points of view are shared and interrogated.  Interrogating reality sounds like an aggressive approach to life. My understanding is that it means not passively allowing life to happen around us, rather to be curious and inquisitive. Whilst living in England in my teenage years my family received a crate of passionfruit (like a food parcel!) from friends in Australia. My…
Monday, 10 Aug 2015
Leadership with integrity, influenced by the Spirit By Rev Dr Jennifer Byrnes Like many others, I have returned from the Assembly meeting – challenged, inspired, reflective. The matter of leadership is never far away from the surface as we discern ways forward through many issues. The biggest challenge in our polity as the Uniting Church is the sitting within the consensus decision-making process. The exercise of deep listening – and respecting that the Spirit may indeed be speaking through someone whose opinions I don’t easily agree with – is a challenge of patience, humility and, yes, at some points, surrender!…