Commitment as a citizen

I am intrigued by the visceral response many of my fellow citizens have to Tanya Plibersek’s suggestion this weekend that Australian children learn about the pledge of commitment.

On January 26 2007 I stood with people from around the world, and with my family took the pledge of commitment as a new citizen of Australia. The process of becoming a citizen involved learning about rights and responsibilities, such as voting in federal, state and local elections, taking part in the country’s legal system, potentially serving on a jury, working as a public servant. Taking the pledge of commitment included respecting the rights and liberties of others, and upholding the laws of Australia and its people. Responsibility as a citizen included questioning, challenging or working to change unjust laws and practices. And it also went with a sense of being part of the global community. I was able to vote in the 2007 elections. And I’ve been given access to educational opportunities as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia.

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Starting again in Melbourne

After five years living in North Parramatta, Ennis and I have moved to live in Melbourne. We’re no strangers to moving. Together we’ve lived in Invercargill, Katikati, Dunedin, Tokoroa and Wellington in New Zealand, and on the Gold Coast (Queensland), Canberra (ACT) and North Parramatta (NSW) in Australia. Sometimes it’s been three years, other times it’s been five or ten years. We’ve grown used to clearing out, packing and cleaning up as we’ve loaded moving trucks and hit the road. It’s still hard work, particularly when there’s any level of uncertainty involved. It takes hard work, patience and hopefulness to start again in a new place.

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Built for Change

Wow. It’s almost a year since I posted anything here on the Postkiwi blog. I’ve come back to start a new series on books I’m reading in relation to my work as Uniting Learning Network Director for the Uniting Church in Australia, NSW/ACT Synod. First on the list is Steve Taylor‘s Built For Change: A Practical Theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership. Steve recently took up the role of Principal at the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa’s Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, based in Dunedin. That’s where I trained as a minister (1989-1991). Previously Steve was Principal and Director of Missiology at Uniting College of Leadership and Theology in Adelaide. This book’s grounded in the change process he led while Principal in Adelaide, and extends to stories of innovation and change in Australia and New Zealand.

Built for Change book cover

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Disillusionment Reality and Rejuvenation

Tonight in Being The Church, the subject Chris Walker and I are teaching at United Theological College this semester, we looked at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s reflections on disillusionment in his little book “Life Together”. Bonhoeffer must have gone through his own experiences of deep disappointment as he watched colleagues buy into the Nationalist Socialism version of positive Christianity. Here he writes about the challenges facing not only institutional bodies like the German Evangelical Church, but also locally formed communities such as the underground seminary he had formed in Finkenwalde.

Bonhoeffer-header

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On Assembling in Perth

It’s a week now since I returned from a week spent at the Uniting Church in Australia’s triennial Assembly, held at University of Western Australia. I was there as a member elected by the NSW/ACT Synod, joining approximately 265 members of the Uniting Church in Australia, along with office holders, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress members, youthful members. Here’s a few personal highlights and reflections from the week, weaving together experiences from Australia and NZ.

Voting at Assembly

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Who do we say that you are?

Here’s the prayer of adoration and confession I used in the opening worship service at United Theological College on Monday. The gospel reading was Mark 8:31-38, including the questions Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am” and “Who do you say that I am?”. I took on the challenge of writing a prayer of confession that rounds out the the sense of “acknowledging with” God. I think we’ve become far too narrow in our approach to confession, focusing largely on shortcomings, sin and forgiveness, and overlooking the transformative work of the Spirit in communities of Christ. The final section of the prayer could be strengthened further.

Who Do You Say That I Am?

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