Recently, a religious organisation has called for a religious exemption to the Disability Discrimination Act, arguing that people with mental illnesses could disturb the “sacred activities” in church services. Rev Andy Calder comments.
Crisis in South Sudan
By Bindy Taylor
Posted in Culture
This Refugee Week (18-24 June), Rev Amel Manyon is asking Uniting Church members to reflect on what being a refugee means and the poor conditions being faced by many across the world – in their own countries and in those where they seek refuge.
“I am asking the Uniting Church community, this Refugee Week, to think about those people who have migrated to South Australia, and what their experience might be like in adjusting to a new community,” she says.
Amel recently visited her mother in a refugee camp in Uganda where she has been living for four years. She was overwhelmed by the scarcity of food in the camp – no new supplies arrived during the five weeks she spent with her mother.
Although she is incredibly saddened by the poor conditions of the Ugandan refugee camp, Amel also realises there is even wider devastation in South Sudan where a state of famine was declared in February 2017. The United Nations has announced that approximately 100,000 people are facing starvation and one in three children area acutely malnourished. Four million are facing alarming levels of food insecurity and are at increasing risk of starvation.
The crises facing so many South Sudanese people has been a cause of great distress for members of the Uniting Church SA’s Northern Suburbs Dinka-Speaking Faith Community, where Amel serves as Minister of the Word.
“I urge you to think about the ways we can offer support. How the community can provide strength to new migrants and refugees who have come from situations of pain, conflict and trauma,” says Amel.
“These people feel called to support their family and friends who are still experiencing trauma, death and starvation back in their home land of South Sudan and in refugee camps.”
The community receives daily news about family and friends experiencing conflict, death, illness and starvation. Beyond this, they are also concerned about the needs of their own faith community.
In thinking on these issues, Amel also reflects on the Uniting Church SA’s strong multicultural community.
“Refugees are part of the 40 year journey of the Uniting Church,” she says. “The Uniting Church has a growing profile of multicultural communities but they need our support into the future. I encourage you to ask how you can support refugees.”
Uniting Church SA Moderator Rev Sue Ellis also urges church members to reflect on the multicultural church and the plight of refugees over the course of Refugee Week.
“During Refugee Week, we remember the stories of those who have risked their lives to come to Australia to find a new freedom and a new life,” she says.
“There are many ways that people in our churches and faith communities can support refugees and asylum seekers – through fundraisers, listening to stories and campaigns like Love Makes a Way and the Act for Peace Ration Challenge. I know many of our congregations also offer English-language classes. All of these efforts are significant.
“How does your congregation support refugees here and overseas?”
To share your congregation’s story with Rev Sue Ellis, please email email@example.com
An online fundraising account* has recently been established to help meet the immediate needs of South Sudanese communities and to contribute to the work of the Northern Suburbs Dinka-Speaking Faith Community in South Australia. Uniting Church SA communities are invited to hold a fundraising event or to make a donation to the fundraising account:
Account name: South Sudan Refugee Account
Account number: 239209
*Please note: donations to this fundraising account can only be made online and are not tax deductible. Funds are distributed at the discretion of the Northern Suburbs Dinka-Speaking Faith Community.
UnitingWorld have established an Africa Famine Appeal to support South Sudanese communities. Visit unitingworld.org.au/Africa-emergency-appeal to make a tax deductable donation.
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