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Uniting Church leader calls for action on global tension

Posted on: July 24, 2001 3:08 PM
Related Categories: Australia

The Federal Government needed to boost its role in giving humanitarian aid, advocating for troubled nations and accepting refugees, president of the Uniting Church in Australia, the Reverend Professor James Haire said on Sunday 22 July 2001.

Professor Haire made the comments in a sermon at the opening service for the 12th General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia at St John's Cathedral, Brisbane, today.

Bomb blasts today targeted Christian churches in Jakarta, Indonesia - a country in which Professor Haire has been active as an advocate of peace and reconciliation.

"It is absolutely the duty of the Australian Government to do even more now, in terms of international advocacy, humanitarian aid, and the reception of refugees," Professor Haire said.

"Let us remember the last words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German Christian martyr) - 'I believe in the principle of our Universal Christian brotherhood which rises above all national interests, and that our victory is certain'".

Professor Haire said Indonesia, Fiji and Solomon Islands all faced the greatest crisis in their histories as independent nations" and it was important for churches to take a global perspective.

"Much money, effort, care and diligence have brought us together here," he said.

"If we are self-serving, if we concentrate on our domestic arrangements, the world will not care.

"If, however, we concentrate on faithful witness to what God has done in our midst and our truly counter-cultural movement, the world will care greatly.

He said last year he preached one Sunday at a refugee camp in Sulawesi, Indonesia, for those displaced as a result of the violence in the Moluccas.

"Most of them I knew; many I had baptised in years gone by; many I had confirmed," Professor Haire said.

"All were traumatised by events too gruesome to relate.

"Afterwards we ate together, and talked of burnt homes, ruined schools, desecrated churches. Finally an elderly woman got tired of our conversation, and said: 'Look, we here are the church, the body of Christ. He is our peace. "Let us live it'. If she could say that, so can we."

Professor Haire, who is conducting Bible studies with the 250 Anglican representatives at the General Synod this week, challenged all Christians to move more quickly along the road to Christian unity.

"To remain divided, and thus each to point just to ourselves, is a blatant act of turning away from God," he said.

"Each separated denomination's Church headquarters is in itself a monument to the scandal of Christian division.

"Ask no longer: 'Is it safe to move into serious unity negotiations?' Only ask: 'Is it safe to stand before the Lord separated from my sister or brother?'

"Ask no longer: 'Which Church do I belong to?' Only ask, 'Whose Church do I belong to?'"

He deplored the estimation of life only in economic terms, which saw "the equivalent number of children it takes to fill 12 Sydney Cricket Grounds waking up in poverty each day".

Professor Haire said he was concerned that the issue of reconciliation between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community remained unresolved.

"We in this country cannot truly move on until we too have gone through our national rite of true reconciliation," he said.

"In this, let us truly have peace. Let us all abandon care for our own, self-centred, agendas - our calculating coldness."