Introduction to theme
We have forgotten how to talk about our faith in simple words. Speaking about our faith has never been a practice that came naturally to most Australians, particularly those of us from Anglo-Celtic backgrounds.
The Uniting Church loves to talk; we have found our feminist voices, our justice voices, our multicultural voices, and more. As a church we value teaching, prophetic speech and theology, but as individuals we have a fear of speaking publicly on the one topic we should be most excited about, which is our experience of God in our day to day lives.
As a church we have a willingness to speak out boldly on how faith ought to be lived out, but are reluctant to talk about our faith itself. The same church which passes resolutions on gay marriage and proposes solutions to conflict in the Middle East and First and Second Peoples issues suddenly shrinks in silence on the subject of sharing our faith lest we offend someone. How ironic!
Meanwhile direct talk about faith and following Jesus is left to fundamentalist Christians. We need to stand up and take responsibility. Because if we proclaim that God is still speaking, as we do, then we’d better remember that we need to be speaking as well. Yes, proclaim a gospel that is justice-seeking and welcoming of all people. But it’s time to acknowledge that those characteristics are not the gospel itself, but merely the fruits of it.
We must learn again to speak the language of faith and find a vocabulary for we who follow Jesus and have experienced God in our lives. Because we have and we do. We just need to recover our voice and learn how to talk about it.
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Ian Robinson has a passion to see people take a fresh look at Christian faith, walk the talk and connect deeply with God. He is the author of “Makes you wonder”
He has authored/edited several books and is currently the Alan Walker Lecturer in Evangelism, Mission &Leadership at United Theological College in Sydney, supported by Uniting Mission & Education, Uniting Church in Australia, NSW/ACT Synod.
“Makes You Wonder” author Ian Robinson is a keynote speaker at the coming Field Days being organised by the presbytery. Ian has a passion to see people take a fresh look at Christian faith, walk the talk and connect deeply with God.
Makes You Wonder helps people to find their own voice for their own faith in their own situation.
It does so through authentic friendship, prayer, respect and caring.
The Makes You Wonder workshops and exercises truly, slowly, and strongly empower people. It is a unique, international resource, going where no other faith-sharing course goes.
The Makes You Wonder workshops take you beyond an awareness for the need of a fresh, culturally relevant way of faith-sharing. It takes you there. It relieves the burden of tired guilt, contracting leadership, false smiles and failing public events. It began in a high density city, worked great at the beach, grew a few churches and has been used with twenty two language groups that we know of.
Ian’s presentations will introduce the Makes You Wonder approach and provide an opportunity for us to consider how best we could roll out some follow up sessions across the Presbytery.
Mark Zirnsak, is the senior social justice advocate with eLM. He is a member of the Victorian Responsible Gambling Ministerial Advisory Council, the Victorian Alcohol Policy Coalition and Chair of the Victorian Inter-Church Gambling Taskforce. Mark is also a member of the Secretariat for the Tax Justice Network in Australia and is actively involved in anti-corruption movements. On the Friday Mark will provide an overview of the work of the Justice and International Mission (JIM) cluster. The JIM cluster works with congregations and social justice networks to shift and shape public policy towards a fair and just world. It provides regular opportunities for you to be an active voice for justice in the wider community.
Mark will also give a keynote address on Saturday on the issue of migrant workers in Australia. Each year thousands of Pacific island workers come to Australia to work on farms. Allegations of mistreatment are worryingly reminiscent of the era of bonded labour ‘blackbirding’, campaigners say. A recent Senate inquiry heard evidence from unions in Australia, Pacific countries and Timor-Leste that “indicates the exploitation of workers participating in the seasonal worker program is common”. “Complaints include the provision of substandard accommodation, deductions of up to 60% of wages for lodging and board, long hours and excessive or unpaid overtime, and lack of access to health care. ”Church and community groups provide food, clothes, and health care to seasonal workers. The Senate inquiry found that “these organisations are effectively subsidising employers, by fulfilling the requirements that are set down for employers participating in the program”.
The workshop on Saturday afternoon will be on ‘The church’s role in curbing online child sexual abuse’.
Technology corporations have developed products that have revolutionised our lives, creating a new virtual reality online. This has had significant impact on our behaviour. As one psychologist described it ‘We are living through the largest unregulated social experiment in history’. Unfortunately the new online world has created significant opportunities for online child sexual abuse. The Uniting Church has committed itself to curbing child sexual abuse wherever it occurs. This workshop will examine what role the Uniting Church and congregational members can play in creating a safer online reality.
Chris Barnett is the Uniting Church facilitator for Children and Families Ministries in the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania. He is a master of clear thinking, effective strategy, thorough planning and efficient execution. He relentlessly pursues the mobilisation and empowering of teams of volunteers and staff into collaborative best practice ministry among people of all ages. Chris will give a keynote address and run two workshops on the themes of Intergenerational Worship and Messy Church.
Introducing Intergenerational Aspects into Worship
Now that people are convinced of the value of being more intergenerational in church life, the present challenge is how to become more intergenerational. This session will equip and encourage you for the task of becoming more intergenerational across your church community – with a focus on three important things and four big tips.
Messy Church – What it is and what it offers
Exploring what Messy Church actually is and why it has been such a phenomenon, this session is suitable for those who are interested in finding out about Messy Church and those already engaged in Messy Church. In addition to great in-put, there will be plenty of opportunity to ask your Messy Church related questions.
Mission and Discipleship – What we can learn from Messy Church
you’re already engaged in Messy Church or not, there’s much learning that can be taken from Messy Church and applied to other contexts. Connecting missionally with those around you, developing discipleship practices and growing together as a community are three of the areas that will be explored in this workshop.
Friday Day Program
10.00 Registration and morning tea
10.30 –12.00 A participatory session led by Ian Robinson looking at the public, political, congregational and personal dimensions of speaking our faith.
12.00 –1.00 Lunch
1.00—2.30 No easy solutions: Ian Robinson
2.30—3.00 Afternoon Tea
3.00—4.00 Finding our voice for Social justice: Mark Zirnsak
4.30—6.00 Free time
6.00 Registration and nibbles
6.30 Two Course Dinner: Roast, Desert
Guest speaker: Ian Robinson : Recovering our voice
9.00 Worship: Chris Barnett—InterGen Worship
9.30 – 10.45 Chris Barnett : Unpacking InterGen to worship
10.45 –11.15 Morning Tea
11.15 -12.30 Mark Zirnsak: Social Justice for seasonal workers
1.30 –4.30 Workshops choose two.
- Makes You Wonder—Ian Robinson (double session)
- Messy Church – What it is and what it offers – Chris Barnett
- Mission and Discipleship – What we can learn from Messy Church – Chris Barnett
- The church’s role in curbing online child sexual abuse. – Mark Zimsak
- Singing our faith—LouAnne Stabb
- Caring for Church Records and Archives —Joan McRae
- The PNEV Learning Hub and Lay Learning Units —Joan McRae and Brian Spencer
- Leadership – building my community -Tony Davies
- Coaching and Mentoring – Richard Franklin
- The Sonder Collective – Ministry with Young Adults
4.30 Closing Worship
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List of top 10 accommodation options per Trip advisor
Prices twin share
Park View Motor Inn $125
800 metres from church
Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway $189
Advance Motel $145
Hermitage Motor Inn $155
Garden View Lodge Motel $97
Warby Lodge Motor Inn (Best Western) $107
Central Wangaratta Motel $120
Big 4 North Cedars Holiday Park $ 127
Wangaratta Motor Inn $124
Billabong Wangaratta $119
Ryley Motor Inn $150
Painters Island Caravan Park
Many others available on trip advisor and on Air BnB
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Download Registration Form (Click here)