This weekend at the Chapel by the Sea we experienced Eco-faith in Action - panel discussion about what we can do. Some good points being raised. The main point is that climate change isn't going to go away so we need to take action as individuals and local communities.
Peter Ellyard was a keynote speaker at the very successful Future Dimensions conference organised by John Queripel this weekend. Peter is one of Australia's leading futurists and he spoke on developing a church for the 21st century.
This week we’re focusing on the power of music. There are some amazing musicians in our Bondi community who bring forth the diversity and creativity of music. In Australia music has this incredible capability of uniting people. When I’m at local gigs, it lifts my spirits to see the whole crowd enjoying themselves, listening to someone’s imagination represented in song.
At the Chapel I’ve met many amazing musicians, some who come from Norman Andrews House to play on our pianos. When there isn’t music being played in the Chapel, there’s a beautiful stillness for those who seek a moment of prayer and reflection.
Our mission here is ‘Creating Community for Good’. We welcome people of different faiths and backgrounds to our Chapel, especially for special events, because the good we do together is better that being separate. Next week we’re hosting an Interfaith Celebration, inviting a number of musicians and performers to introduce our little community to the sounds of their faith. There will be Sanskrit mantras, Islamic music, poetry and Hang music. It will be a wonderful event which I invite you to join.
Last Sunday I celebrated 30 years of ministry. 30 years is quite a milestone when you are in the ministry. I started off as a young man on the cusp of turning 30 and now I'm about to turn 60. It has been quite a ride! It has taken me from Wollongong, to Bondi Beach, on to Newcastle and Wauchope and then a full circle back around to Bondi again. The hair is thinner and greyer but the passion for my work still burns.
One of the projects I’m hugely excited about is the Future Dimensions Eco-Faith conference. It will be another example of bringing people together to discuss what we can do for climate change. I will be MCing the three panel discussions on Dominion over the Earth, Teaching Eco-Faith and Eco-Faith in Action. I can’t wait to hear the debates our panels will have over these topics. We’re offering an early bird discount for the conference which will end this Friday 2 May.
Last month charities around Australia were panicking as the Abbott government hesitated to announce whether it would continue funding the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. Despite our efforts, homelessness has risen by 15,000 people in 7 years (there were 105,237 in 2013). If you look past Bondi’s sunny beach atmosphere you’ll see there are far too many homeless here too.
Thankfully, the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness has been extended for another year, giving $115 million to 180 charities that help the homeless. Chapel by the Sea is currently not part of the agreement (maybe one day) thus we rely on support from the Uniting Church, Waverley Council and individual donations. We really wouldn’t be here without their help.
Our Norman Andrews House, located on Roscoe Street, provides free meals, showers, counseling and referrals for the local homeless population. We successfully applied for a grant through StreetSmart, an organization that has raised over $3 million for grassroots homeless projects. This $4,920 grant will pay for counseling services for our Norman Andrews House service users to get long-term professional care. Thank you so much!
We’d also like to thank St Anne’s Catholic Church, Thornleigh Hillcrest Uniting Church and St Jude’s Childcare Centre for their generous donations of food items and hampers. These donations mean so much to our community.
Also, a huge thanks to Streethearts for organizing the Free Community Easter Lunch on Monday. Streethearts have been funding our community Christmas lunches for the past few years and this is the first time we’ve united for Easter. Together we fed 40 community members and had a wonderful time.
Thank you again to all the people that support Norman Andrews House and our Chapel programs, we couldn’t do it without you. If you’re interested in donating, click here for more information.
Happy Easter everyone! The sun has come out for what will be a wonderful long weekend. We hope you will use this time to spend with your family and friends. And perhaps drop by the Chapel for our Easter services and community lunch.
I like to treat this time of year as a moment for reflection. If you’re like me, New Year’s resolutions have nearly gone out the window. But during Easter I like to remind myself of resolutions I can make, not for me but for the people around me, including the Chapel community.
There are many charities, religious groups and not-for-profits around Australia that do extraordinary work. It’s inspiring to hear of the change that is made, especially for people in need of a hand up. Last weekend I attended Wayside Chapel’s 50th anniversary celebration. There was a fantastic number of people there, thanks to their strong community network and media coverage throughout the week. Wayside gives a tremendous amount to the Kings Cross community. In a year they served almost 10,000 meals to the community. They provide counselling services, showers and clothes for the homeless, health support and organise social activities. Wayside is an inspiration to us as we try to do the same for our Bondi community.
We have a lot planned this year at Chapel by the Sea including community dinners, great speakers every Sunday, fundraisers, song circles and more. I hope you can be a part of it.
Liana Di Stefano
From time to time I get to see some inspiring things. Like yesterday, I was invited by Together for Humanity, an organisation that works to build understanding and connection between people of different cultures and faiths, to meet with 11-12 year olds from two schools - the Mount Sinai College (Jewish) and Arkana College (Islamic). We introduced each other to our faiths and prayers, and shared commonalities.
During this excursion, I was reminded of what Martin Luther King said in the midst of the civil rights struggles in the United Stated - "We either learn to live together or we will not live at all."
What Together for Humanity is doing stands in sharp contrast with the actions of some politicians at the moment in regards to the Racial Discrimination Act. The Abbott government wants to remove provisions making it unlawful for someone to publicly "offend, insult, or humiliate" based on race. The amendment will however ban racial vilification. The courts will be given the power to decide what situations constitute as vilification.
On another note, I'm excited to announce Peter Ellyard will be doing the keynote speech at our Future Dimensions conference in May. This conference will examine just what are the religious roots that has contributed to the current ecological crisis.
Peter has been a Senior Adviser to the United Nations system for more than 30 years including to the 1992 Earth Summit. He has been a senior consultant to the UNEP, UNDP and UNESCO and was Chief of Staff of an Environment Minister in Canberra for three years.
Book your seat at the conference before 2 May to get the early bird discount.
I hope you can join us.
Rev John Queripel
Last week I spent time with a delegation from the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) in Canberra visiting our politicians. I have to say that the ignorance around climate change was hardly encouraging. The government it seems is undoing carbon policies rather than improving them.
A group if us from diverse faith traditions met with a number if politicians from all parties. My group met with Barnaby Joice, Lee Rhiannon, Natalie Griggs, Simon Birmingham, Andrew Wilke and Tony Burke. The request we made was for politicians to do more to alleviate the effects of climate change.
A few days ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report. It scrutinised the efficiency of biofuels as a primary energy source. It's difficult to hear that the solutions we come up with in the effort to reduce carbon emissions are not solutions. Still, science must continue and examine other sustainable avenues despite constant knock backs.
We will be discussing the environment at our upcoming Future Dimensions conference here at the Chapel in May. Almost a dozen speakers have been invited to share their experience with 'Eco-Faith'; the integration of environmentalism and faith. We're very excited about the speakers we have on board, Peter Ellyard, Paul Collins and Anne Elvey, to name a few. Email me for conference and registration information.
Rev John Queripel
Bronte, a volunteer on our staff, told me that the other day she got off the train and had to cut across the platform, and travel ‘up-stream’ through a swarm of commuters heading in the other direction. She almost bumped into a man and in response he swore at her. It was the end of her workday and she said she could have brushed it off but his remark stuck in her head and bothered her for the rest of the night.
It’s tempting to get angry when someone is rude, takes your parking space, refuses to make room for you on a bus or kicks sand in your face at the beach accidentally or otherwise. These incivilities, whether big or small, happen every day and can turn thoughts sour, like it did with Bronte.
However studies show that kindness, positive emotion and social interaction directly influence long-term happiness, physical and mental health. Happiness can be shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and aid glucose regulation as well as have many other benefits.
What can we learn from the happiest people on earth? Relationships matter! Social support generates more happiness than wealth, age, gender or race. And working in fields we love (whether as a career or as a volunteer) and keeping busy, but not to the point of stress, are HUGE proponents of happiness.
Another study showed that Australians who volunteered between 100-800 hours a year were happier and more satisfied with their lives than those who didn’t. Sounds like another great reason to volunteer with us!
At the Chapel I meet new friends from all walks of life. Some we receive as speakers for our Cafe Church events every Sunday night, some join our congregation and some I meet while out for a walk in Bondi. When I get the chance to hear their stories, inspirations and goals I am truly impressed. Bondi has such a wealth of knowledge and hope.
Recently introduced to Uncle Brian Butler and his work Lateral Love, he invited our CEO Liana and I to attend a seminar last Friday. We were honoured to be invited and hear about his organisation.
The goal of Lateral Love is to share information about the true history of Australia, highlighting the impacts colonisation had on Aboriginal and Islander peoples, and the damage of Lateral Violence as a result. Lateral Violence is what happens when people who suffer oppression lash out laterally at those around them instead of at their oppressors. This is what is happening in indigenous communities. Uncle Brian promotes Lateral Love, a way to connect people with each other. Through his organisation he is also able to connect with many other colonised peoples around the world to share their histories, stories and successes, and enable universal healing.
Brian Butler and Nicola Butler are the individuals behind Lateral Love. It is the culmination of their life works spanning 60 and 25 years respectively. Through Lateral Love they are committed to making a lasting impact on social inclusion, and the spiritual, social and emotional wellbeing for all indigenous communities.
The Uniting Church this week is commemorating ‘A Destiny Together: Justice for First Peoples.’ This is a week of prayer and fasting for the justice of Aboriginals in response to the government's 'Stronger Futures' legislation. Chapel by the Sea will be marking the event during our 10am Sunday morning service.
Indigenous rights are truly a crucial issue for this land and the Chapel is committed to working with others in the pursuit for such rights.
In July 2012 in Adelaide, the members of the 13th Assembly of the Uniting Church listened to members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) tell stories about the effects of the Federal Government’s ‘Stronger Futures’ legislation on their lives and their communities.
The Assembly members were very moved by the stories of harm and exclusion and responded in two ways. The first was to ‘down tools’ and make a silent procession through the streets to the South Australian Parliament to pray and sing in a public vigil of lament. The second was to adopt a resolution calling on the Church to engage in a week of prayer and fasting for justice for the First Peoples.
Yesterday a public prayer vigil was organised outside Parliament House in Canberra led by the UAICC Chairperson and the President.
The heart of the week will be a nationwide movement of Uniting Church individuals, small groups and congregations exercising a daily practice of prayer and fasting. Worship materials and resources to support these activities are being produced, with UnitingJustice Australia working with Congress to plan the week.
Join us at the Chapel in our morning worship celebration 23rd March 10am to mark this event.
I have spoken a lot on climate change and how we immediately need to cut back carbon emissions if we are to avoid a climate apocalypse. It's one thing to write about it and another to experience the horrendous effects of climate change firsthand.
The city of Tacloban on Leyte in the Philippines and surrounding areas were struck in November by the strongest cyclone yet experienced spinning in from off the Pacific Ocean. Climate scientists have shown that the oceans of our planet are warming at an even faster rate than the land. They also inform us that warmer oceans generate cyclones both more often and more severe. Some 8,000 people are believed to have perished in the cyclone and sea surge accompanying it and it is a harrowing experience to visit some of the mass graves.
There were of course lighter times also on the trip, a first time being in South Korea, including a visit to the menacing border between the two Koreas. Travel should also be a teaching experience, one I got from the Silla civilisation of southern Korea. From the 1st century BCE to the 10th century this civilisation was at its peak and constructed buildings 80 metres high in a city of 1 million people. Impressive indeed!
Seoul is served by about 10 lines on an extensive underground rail system. It was only commenced in the 1970s. There could be a lesson there for our politicians devoted to constructing roads to nowhere, or even worse to bottlenecks!
Kyoto, the sacred city of Japan is always a fantastic experience and on my second visit it had lost none of its magic. There is something wonderful about a culture so rooted in both beauty and decorous polite behaviour.
I started on climate change and I will end there. Join us Sunday night with one of the world’s leading climate experts Prof. Steven Sherwood.