Deaconess House Update   16 April 2019     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deaconess House  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     For over 125 years, Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) has been focused on raising up women with theological formation for practical and public engagement.  More than 100 years ago, several Deaconesses, along with the women and men who supported them, sought a permanent place for the headquarters of the ministries and 26-28 Carillon Ave, Newtown, (Deaconess House) was purchased.  Over this past century, Deaconess House has been an important investment in the preparation of women for the work of God, either in Australia or overseas, and a symbol of that same commitment. We are grateful to God for Deaconess House which has enabled so many women to be formed theologically and prepared for ministry and mission, in the varied ways in which that has occurred. Deaconess House was even the first place in Australia to offer accommodation to overseas students.   Since January 2008, ADM has leased the Deaconess House buildings to Moore Theological College to accommodate Moore’s single female students. Consistent with our organisational commitment, we leased the buildings to Moore College in good faith so as to support the theological formation of their female students.  To that end, ADM undertook $250,000 of works on the buildings prior to the lease, a lease which then included $1 per year rent for Moore College to pay. Under the lease, Moore also agreed to maintain the buildings and to comply with OH&S requirements to ensure the ongoing safety and comfort of its residents, while charging its single female students residential fees. The lease stated that ADM and Moore would equally share the cost of any major repairs over the value of $5,000.  On Friday 12 April 2019, ADM’s Board of Directors reviewed the findings and recommendations of an OH&S Report it had commissioned of the site, and which it had received just prior to the meeting. The findings of life-safety concerns highlighted in the OH&S Report necessitated a difficult decision and immediate action: ADM Board instructed the College to vacate the buildings immediately for the safety of the remaining five students living there and terminated the lease of 26-28 Carillon Ave to Moore College. (In October 2018 Moore had asked the rest of the student body to vacate these buildings for safety concerns and had been in dialogue with ADM’s Board regularly.)  ADM’s Board has made a one-time gift of $100,000 to Moore College to assist with transitional housing arrangements for their female students and those who would have been residents in the buildings this academic year.  Appropriate members of Moore College and ADM are continuing to work together to bring positive resolve and care to those involved. It is our hope that these actions will not compromise our partnership for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we look forward to continuing to support one another’s efforts in helping Christian women flourish in God’s Kingdom. 

Comment

Deaconess House Update

For over 125 years, Anglican Deaconess Ministries (ADM) has been focused on raising up women with theological formation for practical and public engagement.  More than 100 years ago, several Deaconesses, along with the women and men who supported them, sought a permanent place for the headquarters of the ministries and 26-28 Carillon Ave, Newtown, (Deaconess House) was purchased.

Comment

      Australia: The Good Neighbour?  ADM and Micah Foundation Co-Host Panel Discussion on Foreign Policy  In a time of global suffering and political unrest, how can Australia best serve its global neighbours? As the nation approaches a federal election, how can Christians think biblically about engagement in politics?   Anglican Deaconess Ministries and Micah Australia teamed up to explore these questions in an evening of public discussion with Christian thought-leaders and elected representatives, including Dr. John Dickson, Senator Jenny McAllister and Dr. Kate Harrison Brennan.     “Australia: The Good Neighbour, A Conversation on Our Foreign Policy Trajectory”   took place Wednesday, 27th March 2019, at ADM’s office, Level 1, St Andrew's House, 464-480 Kent Street, Sydney. Nearly 75 people attended the evening event.  “We are blessed and privileged to live in Australia, but this comes with a responsibility to prayerfully consider, and actively engage, how we want to shape our nation’s future. We have an incredible opportunity to be a nation known for compassion and leadership as a good global neighbour,” said Libby Sanders, ADM’s Program Manager of Mercy and Justice. “As Christians, this should excite and compel us to participate prayerfully in discussions such as this.”      
   
     “ We have an incredible opportunity to be a nation known for compassion and leadership as a good global neighbour. As Christians, this should excite and compel us to participate prayerfully in discussions such as this. ” 
   
  
 
     Dr. John Dickson, an author, speaker, theologian and the founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity, kicked off the event with reflections of what where he saw first hand during a recent trip with Australian Aid supporting Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.  Next, Senator Jenny McAllister, an Australian Labor Party Senator for New South Wales and the Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities, offered a few remarks. Senator McAllister then joined Dr. Dickson and ADM CEO, Dr. Kate Harrison Brennan, a former Advisor to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, for a panel discussion moderated by Micah Campaign Director Matt Darvas. (A representative from the Liberal party was invited to participate but had to send regrets.). Questions of foreign policy positions and Australia’s role as a global neighbour guided the conversation.   "This is an important moment for Christians to consider our responsibilities to the poor and the vulnerable who are on our doorstep as a nation,” said Darvas. “Even as we near an election that will be focused on domestic issues, this will be a night to talk about those who don't have a vote in this election and what our responsibility is to them."      
   
     “ This is an important moment for Christians to consider our responsibilities to the poor and the vulnerable who are on our doorstep as a nation ” 
   
  
 
     Everyone is welcome. Tickets and more information are available  here

Comment

Australia: The Good Neighbour? ADM and Micah Foundation Co-Host Panel Discussion on Foreign Policy

In a time of global suffering and political unrest, how can Australia best serve its global neighbours? As the nation approaches a federal election, how can Christians think biblically about engagement in politics?

Comment

      How to Care for Those with Mental Illness:  New courses provide practical help   – By Hayley Lukabyo   When friends confide about their struggles with a mental health challenge, it’s not always easy for Christians to know how to respond. Beyond dropping off a casserole, what practical ways can we offer genuine love and Christian care?  Considering almost half of all Australians experience a mental illness in their lives, the question is both timely and relevant, reflecting an ever-growing need for Christians to have biblical and practical ways to address such challenges. Sarah Condie, co-director of ADM’s Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute (MHPCI),  notes that  “with mental health challenges on the rise – whether depression, loneliness or more difficult illnesses ­– Christians are increasingly faced with questions of caring more deeply for those in our midst.”  Several new short courses, then, have been created with these questions in mind. Co-sponsored by the MHPCI and Mary Andrews College, a variety of upcoming short courses focus on equipping church members, ministry staff and leaders to care for those in their congregations facing mental health challenges:      Mental Health 101 on 27th March      Mental Health Masterclass on 3rd April     Times and fees vary and enrolment has filled up quickly for this term; however, some spaces are still available through:   www.mentalhealthinstitute.org.au/shortcourses    “There is great encouragement when a group of like-minded people gather around a topic that is significant for them, and that is why I’m excited to be a part of the short courses developed here”, says Kerrie Newmarch, ADM Director of Church Engagement and Training. “These new courses provide a great opportunity to develop our understanding and compassion of areas for well being, which can be difficult.”   The Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute takes a holistic approach to addressing various challenges and aspects of mental illness, combining elements of pastoral care with current research in psychology.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Rev. Dr Keith Condie  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     “Our starting point is God’s loving concern for the spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and social well being of all”, says Rev. Dr. Keith Condie, co-director of the MHPCI. “We are convinced that the Gospel of Jesus Christ speaks into all life contexts to provide grace and encouragement, and to alleviate distress.”    Mental Health 101  provides participants with an overview of common mental health disorders, how the mental health system works in Australia, the role of the church and how to respond to a crisis. Dr. Condie will conduct the course, which is open for all church members seeking to understand the needs of those within their communities.    Dr. Condie, alongside Jackie Stoneman, Director of Studies at Mary Andrews College, will also run a  Mental Health Masterclass  for ministry staff and pastoral care workers, which provides a theological and practical framework for navigating mental illness and church life with wisdom.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Rev. Jackie Stoneman  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Rev. Stoneman will teach  People Matters , introducing specific and practical skills for all church members who want to build effective and caring relationships that honour Christ. Grounded in biblical principles, the course deepens participants’ understanding of people and knowledge of what makes healthy relationships while carrying out God’s work in caring for others.   To find out more about the Institute’s ongoing short courses, or other new initiatives such as the Building a Safe and Strong Marriage course and the Raising Resilient Parents course, visit the website  here .

Comment

How to Care for Those with Mental Illness: New courses provide practical help

When friends confide about their struggles with a mental health challenge, it’s not always easy for Christians to know how to respond. Beyond dropping off a casserole, what practical ways can we offer genuine love and Christian care?

Comment

      ADM Celebrates Launch of “Building a Safe & Strong Marriage”   Five-Part Video Enrichment Course Highlights Research and Biblical Perspectives       by – Jo Kadlecek         Sometimes even the best marriages need a little help. Whether they’ve celebrated their first or their 25th wedding anniversary, many couples today live very busy lives and time to connect and talk openly and honestly can be missing.  To that end, Anglican Deaconess Ministries has created a new marriage enrichment course called,  Building a Safe & Strong Marriage , to be launched on 28 February and available for purchase through ADM’s BuildingMarriage.com.au. Drawn from the work of Sarah and Rev Dr Keith Condie—who have spent the past 15 years facilitating marriage workshops in churches, theological colleges and small groups— Building a Safe & Strong Marriage  is a five-part video course for couples in church or group settings or at home and includes accompanying workbooks and resources.       
   
     “ Building a Safe & Strong Marriage is a unique approach in that it draws on biblical truths and wisdom, as well as leading marriage research ” 
   
  
 
     “Building a Safe & Strong Marriage is a unique approach in that it draws on biblical truths and wisdom, as well as leading marriage research,” said Dr Condie. “We’ve brought these elements together for couples to strengthen and develop their relationships, but we’ve done it through an Australian lens and a Christian perspective.”  The course encourages couples to do “little things every day” to keep them well connected.  ADM’s Mental Health and Pastoral Care Institute developed the course in response to increasing challenges for today’s marriages. Statistics show that approximately one in three Australian marriages end in divorce.  “There has never been a more crucial time for Christians to lead the way in helping to build healthy marriages, both within our churches and in our communities,” said Dr Kate Harrison Brennan, ADM’s CEO.             The  Building a Safe & Strong Marriage  course was created by Keith & Sarah Condie, who have successfully helped thousands of couples build their marriage over the 15 years they have been running the course.         The video course is designed for flexible use in small or large groups. Facilitators are provided with a comprehensive manual for hosting a course in their local church or community setting.  During the course, couples have time to talk together on their own in response to the video content. Topics explored include: God’s design for marriage, what damages connectedness, building the positives of friendship, communication, sex, spirituality, and managing conflict gently.   Responses to the content in  Building a Safe & Strong Marriage  have already been positive. One couple said that though they have been married twenty years, the course “gave us a chance to set aside a night for five weeks to focus on ‘us’ and talk about things we don’t normally talk about. Our marriage was going well, but this course helped us not to take that for granted, to value doing the daily things that keep us connected.”   “The legacy of strong, healthy marriages will benefit children, church communities and the wider society,” said Sarah Condie. “We know from our own experience that building a strong marriage is not easy but with the right tools and support, it’s not only possible, it’s worth every effort.”       
 
	 visit www.buildingmarriage.com.au 
      Word is getting out about the course!  Read the Eternity News article and watch their interview with Keith and Sarah.

Comment

ADM Celebrates Launch of “Building a Safe & Strong Marriage”

Five-Part Video Enrichment Course Highlights Research and Biblical Perspectives

Sometimes even the best marriages need a little help. Whether they’ve celebrated their first or their 25th wedding anniversary, many couples today live very busy lives and time to connect and talk openly and honestly can be missing.

Comment

      Bernie Black’s Brave Foundation Supports Teen Parents to Become Healthy Families       – By Sophia Auld   Bernadette Black was only 16 when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She was living in Melbourne with her parents, devoted Catholics, and two siblings and she wasn’t sure what to do.  Her situation grew more difficult when she experienced first-hand the stigma and lack of support associated with a teenage pregnancy.   “Throughout my pregnancy, so many people looked at me critically and judgmentally and made me think I should be embarrassed and ashamed,” says “Bernie”, now 41. “I desperately needed help and inspiration from others who had been in my situation but I found none.”   As a result, Bernie established the Brave Foundation in 2009, a not-for-profit organisation that equips expecting and parenting teens with resources, referrals and educational opportunities for achieving a happy and healthy family. The national charity connects expecting and parenting teens with more than 500 outreach and educational services that exist to support them.   Such connections to local support “builds a village of acceptance around them and helps them have the same outcomes that any other young person in Australia would have,” Bernie says. Brave Foundation’s website also provides advice for young men, families, friends and professionals who are involved in a teen’s journey.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Bernadette Black (centre) with ADM Chair of Board Jenni Stoddart (left) and ADM CEO Dr Kate Harrison Brennan (right), at the ADM Annual Funding Event in September.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Thanks to this vision for supporting teens through the Brave Foundation, Bernie recently won the “Do” category and a grant at ADM’s Annual Funding Event in September 2018. She expects to use the grant for develop her leadership skills as she takes the Brave Foundation into its next phase.   The funding she received through ADM enables her to attend an intensive leadership program at the Harvard Kennedy school in Cambridge, designed to help women advance to top positions of influence in public leadership. Bernie says this will enhance her ability to influence policy in helping people experiencing heightened vulnerability in Australia and beyond.   While Bernie is thrilled with the opportunity this funding provides, she acknowledges it’s a long way from where she started. At 16, she promised herself three things: to be a good mother, complete her education, and write a book to encourage others in her situation. That book,  Brave Little Bear , is the story of Bernie’s experience as a teenage mother who goes on to qualify as a registered nurse and become the Barnardos Australian Mother of the Year.   Written in 2006, the extraordinary response to the book became the catalyst for the Brave Foundation. After its launch, Bernadette received emails from expecting and parenting teens Australia-wide asking where they could finish their schooling and find local support.   Bernie says her Christian faith has underpinned the journey from talking about her vegemite-smeared manuscript in churches to running a national foundation she hopes will grow in impact and resources in the $20 million mark.   But Bernie’s vision didn’t always look like it would come to fruition. In fact, she lobbied federal government for 12 years for better support for expecting and parenting teens while exploring ways to improve their lives before her work was recognised.  Finally, following 12 months of particularly intensive lobbying, the Brave Foundation was invited to develop a best practice strategy for expecting and parenting teens in Australia. Bernie and her team worked for 18 months with 30 people – including psychologists, nurses, school principals, federal and state children's commissioners and members of parliament – to create a 380-page document outlining a national pathway plan.  It worked. Last year, they were awarded $4.5 million to implement it.   “To see that in my lifetime . . . is nothing short of miraculous and amazing for these young women,” Bernie says. “They have high hopes for their dreams, aspirations and careers but often don’t know how to reach them – they haven't had a pathway.”   Bernie says that this lack of clear direction has led to 79 per cent of teen parents ending up on long-term welfare. But when young mothers are supported, they are “incredibly resilient and resourceful” and enabled to reach educational goals or enter the workforce. In turn, this helps break the generational cycle that can happen with the children of teenage parents becoming teen parents themselves, Bernie says.  In 2018, the Brave Foundation worked with 350 expecting and parenting teens through its intensive pathway plan. The foundation has employed 10 mentors, each of whom works with 25 expecting and parenting teens from pregnancy through their child's first year. Of the 150 enrolled so far, Bernie says, “60 are already meeting their first goals towards education, workforce participation and maternal and child health.”  While Bernie is deeply committed to seeing the Brave Foundation develop to its full potential, part of her journey, she says, has been learning “to surrender it to God. I am here to be a good steward of what I’ve been given for the period that I need to. I [want] to make sure that the legacy I can leave for . . . Brave Foundation . . . is one that is left for many lifetimes ahead of me. I'll just be a small part of it.”                          Find out more about the 2018 Annual Funding Event  here .

Comment

Bernie Black’s Brave Foundation Supports Teen Parents to Become Healthy Families

Bernadette Black was only 16 when she unexpectedly became pregnant. Her situation grew more difficult when she experienced first-hand the stigma and lack of support associated with a teenage pregnancy. As a result, Bernie established the Brave Foundation in 2009, a not-for-profit organisation that equips expecting and parenting teens with resources, referrals and educational opportunities for achieving a happy and healthy family.

Comment

      ADM Awards $60,000 in Funding for Initiatives to Christian Women Leaders     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Pitchers, panelists and ADM board members after our 2018 Annual Funding Event.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Anglican Deaconess Ministries has awarded over $60,000 to Australian Christian women from across the globe in its third Annual Funding Event on Wednesday, 19 September.  Selected women representing four states across Australia as well as Norway, Papua New Guinea and the UK received funding for a variety of unique Christian initiatives and ministries. Aligning with ADM’s 127-year old commitment to theological formation, mercy and justice and public engagement, this year’s 17 applicants presented projects within the categories of IDEAS, FORM, DO and ENGAGE. Applicants offered five-minute pitches in front of expert panellists and an audience of over 80 guests including church ministers, business women, lay leaders and artists.  “We want to affirm the innovative ideas and excellent work of Australian Christian women throughout the world, and our Funding Event is one way we can do that,” said ADM Director of Public Engagement Dr. Annette Pierdziwol, who oversees the event. “ADM's Annual Funding Event provides a unique forum for entrepreneurial Christian women to bring their ideas and initiatives before a panel and pitch for up to $25,000 in no-strings attached funding. It’s inspiring to see the breadth and depth of creative ways women are using their gifts to serve God and their neighbours. ”     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Overall winner, Jen Logan of Fer, was presented with her award by Rev. Jenni Stoddart, ADM’s board chair, via a video call as [from left to right] Sono Leone, Anna Weir, Bernadette Black and Dr Kate Harrison Brennan look on.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     After the pitches were considered, Dr. Kate Harrison-Brennan, CEO of ADM, and Rev. Jenni Stoddart, ADM’s board chair, presented the winners in each category. Capturing the overall award of $25,000 of the day, and winner of the ENGAGE category, was  Jen Logan, Director of Fer , an international visual arts initiative based in the U.K.   Bernadette Black, CEO & Founding Director of the Brave Foundation , an effort that assists teen parents, won $12,500 in the DO category.   Anna Weir, Founder & Leader of The Fireplace , a Christ-centred gathering for professional and emerging artists in the entertainment industries, won $12,500 in the category of FORM.  The People’s Choice award of $2,000 went to  Sono Leone, Founder and Director of Strong Women Talking , a ministry that addresses domestic violence within Indigenous communities.  All of the other women who pitched during the day also received $1,000.  In addition to cash prizes, the three category winners will become part of the 2019 cohort of The Hub at ADM. The Hub is a unique, year-long mentoring program designed to enable entrepreneurial Christian women to take their initiatives to the next level.       
   
     “ ADM is thrilled to support Christian women who are creative, innovative and passionate about serving the good of the world, ” 
   
  
 
     said Dr. Kate Harrison-Brennan, CEO of ADM. “It’s our privilege to come along side faithful women leaders in promoting theological formation as they engage with the public and do mercy and justice work, all in the name of Jesus.”              Find out about the category winners at our 3rd Annual Funding Event and read more about their initiatives…

Comment

ADM Awards $60,000 in Funding for Initiatives to Christian Women Leaders

Anglican Deaconess Ministries has awarded over $60,000 to Australian Christian women from across the globe in its third Annual Funding Event on Wednesday, 19 September….

Comment

       Half-yearly update: ADM Fellows share their progress    Four of ADM’s 2018 Fellows reflect on their progress over the past six months. Read what they’ve been doing, how ADM has supported them, and their plans for the next steps in their projects:         MONICA COOK       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              2018 ADM Senior Research Fellow, Monica Cook  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     When in life do you get to focus solely on a project of your dreams, receive regular mentoring and opportunities for Christian growth, have sharp minds to bounce ideas off and a dedicated space and resources to make it happen? The last six months have been a unique opportunity for all of this and much more for me as an ADM fellow putting together a unique course for couples in the area of sex and fertility called ‘What to Expect when you’re Expecting’.  Amidst speaking to professionals, reading books and articles, attending relevant conferences, and listening to podcasts, I’ve had the opportunity to do some of my own formative thinking on how to bring academic research and information related to sex and fertility into a theological framework. It's also helped me recognize the need to break a rather large topic down into four distinct sections aimed at slightly different audiences: (1) Natural Fertility; (2) Facing subfertility; (3) Preparing for the unexpected; (4) Back in the SAK – Sex After Kids.        
   
     “ Seeing the way ADM is a ‘garden in the city’ inspired me to start thinking about the way sexuality could also be viewed as a garden. In light of this, part of my project is now a practical exploration of our ‘gardens’ – its layout, its soil, its weeds and looking at the impact of weather and seasons.  The best thing about a garden is it is dynamic – always open to new growth and change and therefore a beautiful metaphor to use in exploring sexuality.   ” 
   
  
 
     In thinking through some key topical issues I’ve had the opportunity to draft a number of articles that I hope to publish in the near future on topics such as ‘desire discrepancy’ which I hope will help others in understanding how science, psychology and theology intersect on these matters. I’ve also had the chance to present part of my presentation on natural fertility to general practitioners at a conference, which was an exciting opportunity to test out some of my material with a key audience. As my courses get closer to completion I’m looking forward to interacting with churches and other local organisations, many of whom have already shown great interest in the topics.  In meeting with other Christians working in fields related to sexuality, I’ve also realised there would be great benefit in bringing everyone together so as to support one another prayerfully and practically, as well as to learn from one another’s different areas of expertise. To this end, I will be hosting the first of these gatherings next month and am very excited to see how they might serve to support Christians working in the area of sex and relationships.        KATE BRADFORD      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              2018 ADM Senior Research Fellow, Kate Bradford  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     The opportunities afforded by my ADM Fellowship so far have been invaluable in assisting me to extend the pastoral theology I am working on and engage with ‘my public’ – people who are working and ministering in areas of pastoral care.  As a researcher in pastoral theology, I have had many fruitful conversations with people in chaplaincy, churched based pastoral ministry, pastoral care and spiritual care working with churches, in the Defense Forces, aged care and hospital and prison settings concerning the nature of their Christian ministry. A reoccurring theme through these conversations is a limited understanding of holistic pastoral theology, particularly the inter-disciplinary boundary between theology and anthropology and over-dependence on  only  one school of thought – biblical studies, integration psychology, chaplaincy methods, spirituality or clinical pastoral training.     Through my Fellowship project, I am excited about developing a holistic pastoral theology. The opportunity to work in a full-time capacity on my research has deepened my appreciation of theological concerns, as I attempt to cohesively stitch together disparate disciplines to better equip the people of God in soul care ministries. Through this concentrated research and writing process, I have been able to focus my area of inquiry on the early to Mid-C20th, looking at four European and British Pastoral practitioners.  I have had the opportunity to be exposed to ‘world’s best practice’, attending five conferences in the US and Australia covering Christian psychology, secular spirituality, ministry and theology. These include: Christian Association of Psychological Research, both international and Australian Spiritual Care Conferences, Oxygen Ministry Conference and Theology Connect conference.      
   
     “ I have also taken up opportunities to present my research, which has lifted the quality of my output and engagement with various public audiences. Formally this has occurred through presentations at Moore Research Community, Engage Evening Sessions at ADM, and with papers to be delivered at the Evangelical History Society and the Australian Centre for Wesleyan Research Conference.  ” 
   
  
 
     I also plan to prepare one chapter of my thesis for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. In May I launched a website,  Pastoral Thinking   www.pastoralthinking.org  to engage with people ministering in various soul care roles. The website has blog posts, links frameworks, resource book lists, and a reading room, with links to interesting websites and articles.  Sharing the Fellow's room with other researchers has been an enriching and dynamic process with the added advantage that many of this year’s Fellows are working in integrative fields between theology and the humanities. I have benefitted in numerous ways from the skills and expertise of the other Fellows through conversations, sharing of articles, books and relevant conferences. It’s hard to believe that nearly half of the Fellowship has passed! It has been a time of immersion and engagement across a diverse range of experiences and development opportunities.        KIRSTY BEILHARZ      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              2018 ADM Senior Creative Fellow, Kirsty Beilharz  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     My creative Fellowship is to compose a folio of music that will serve as a vigil to support emotional and spiritual needs of a person at the end of life and their family and friends, to help them experience a serene, dignified death.  It may be surprising that there is almost no purpose-specific music of a reflective, calming, contemplative nature appropriate for living well until the very end and dying well – i.e. tranquilly, in a state of peace, reconciliation, and acceptance, quietly, without pain or regret, and with adequate spaciousness for spiritual preparation of one’s own – whether that be the prayers of a believer or spiritual growth and focus for any person. We are, after all, Spiritual Beings. When impending death strips bare all redundant material security and everyday distractions, what at the core helps us find meaning in life, in life already lived, purpose, and legacy for those who survive longer than us? Who are our family and community in this situation? What gives us a sense of value and worth as human beings?  We might be surprised how ill-prepared we are, that is until we realise that we live in a society largely in denial about the reality of death, the normalcy and indeed the spiritual right for final personal growth through that experience, because we don’t talk about what it means to have a good death, or about what we find genuinely and deeply comforting and important. Many people have not witnessed the bodily process of departure: its noises, changes, breathing, potential agitation and anxiety. The music will be there to underpin the simple presence of the friend or family member, patiently being, perhaps holding a hand, beyond words and superfluity, at this defining time that will also shape the memories for friends for the rest of their lives. I have noticed how difficult this stillness and waiting can be for families in my work in palliative care.  Music can reduce pain, agitation, anxiety, and provide an atmosphere for deep calm and emotional expression, especially if words have gone due to dementia, frailty, medication or disease progression – restorative and peaceful for the embodied soul.      
   
     “ Researching attitudes about meaningful and ‘good’ death in antiquity and in other cultures, I have discovered a wealth of art, wisdom literature, and ceremonies for appreciating and remembering a person that have been lost in ours. The Fellowship experience has provided a rare ‘oasis’ of time to seriously reflect, think, read, enter the creative ‘zone’, and deepen my own spiritual practice. ” 
   
  
 
     It is also impossible to think about humanity and frailty without also engaging fields of ageing, mental health, and general pastoral care. The Fellows collectively form a unique empathetic bond. We frequently engage in deep and theologically grounded conversations that traverse our pastoral interests, and in so doing, the experiences of others enrich our own and challenge assumptions in the healthiest way. The people at ADM are the jewel of the Fellowship, whom I couldn’t have anticipated beforehand: I feel certain that these people will be lifelong friends, connected spiritually and intellectually, and with whom networks are growing constantly. I’m deeply in awe of my fellow Fellows for the integrity and quality of their work, as well as encouragement and inspiration: it is a fantastic creative environment when traditionally composing is a hermetic, isolated activity.  The ADM Engage Evening Sessions are launch pads for hatching new ideas and building confidence to explore these hatchlings further afield. We have all submitted our work to conferences and publications. For me, the time at ADM has coincided with a keynote, several talks, working in dementia and palliative care community engagement intersecting with music and spirituality, and writing a few book chapters. The affirmation of interdisciplinary work as a vehicle for Kingdom expression has been tremendously encouraging for my theological studies, reinforcing the value of growing where you’re planted and harnessing the gifts you have, in the context of daily work, to further the Gospel and honour God no matter where that occurs.         YIXIN JIANG XU         I am writing this on the last day of my ADM Fellowship, with feelings of immense gratitude for my time here in the past five months. ADM has truly been a garden in providing me with the nourishment, inspiration, and encouragement for my project to grow.  In my first few months, I had the luxury of time to immerse myself in books about parenting, particularly from a Christian perspective. While I have engaged with psychology research on parenting and family relationships, this was a rare opportunity for me to pursue a deeper theological engagement with this topic area. I have read some fantastic books, including Harriet Connor’s  Big Picture Parenting , Tim Chester and Ed Moll’s  Gospel-Centered Families , and Ross Campell’s  How to Really Love your Child . These, and other books, have helped me start to form a good Biblical framework for parenting – which is important for my project and future work with Chinese Australian parents.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              2018 ADM Senior Research Fellow, Yixin Jiang Xu  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


       
   
     “ My Fellowship has also afforded me with opportunities to network with other people working in the area. This included corresponding with Harriet Connor, meeting Sarah and Keith Condie  (co-Directors of ADM’s Mental Health & Pastoral Care Institute), and other parenting education experts, as well as talking to Chinese Australian parents about their personal experience. I have also had wonderful encouragement working alongside my peer Fellows, as well as benefitting from project planning and detailing in the mentoring workshops led by Kara Martin from Seed. ” 
   
  
 
     In May and June, I ran a six-week Circle of Security parenting course (an evidenced-based course focused on parent-child attachment) at West Sydney Chinese Christian Church. Alongside this, I also attended a parenting course for Mandarin-speaking parents to gain insight into a Chinese parenting course.  Over the past months of the Fellowship, I have been able to refine my vision and project – how I can serve Chinese Australian parents over the long term, and what resources are needed. Achieving this greater clarity has been perhaps the most helpful aspect of my Fellowship.  While my work is far from complete, I have been able to finish a detailed book outline and draft the first chapter of my book on Christian parenting for the parent with a Chinese background. The Fellowship has allowed me to do this foundational work, and I hope to continue to work on my book and other parenting resources in the future. For now, I look forward to starting my own parenting journey in the next months!                  Find out more about ADM Fellowships . Applications are open 1 July, 2018 – 20 August, 2018.

Comment

Half-yearly update: ADM Fellows share their progress

Four of ADM’s 2018 Fellows reflect on their progress over the past six months. Read what they’ve been doing, how ADM has supported them, and their plans for the next steps in their projects…

Comment

      2017 Annual Funding Event recipient brings her project to fruition     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Liv (fourth from left) and the other winners at the 2017 Annual Funding Event.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     At last year’s Annual Funding Event, Olivia (Liv) Chapman pitched for funding on behalf of her organisation Emu Music. Liv and Emu were looking for funding for their second Emu Youth album, a compilation of worship songs designed to help teenagers praise God.  In early August, the album,  No Love Is Higher , will be launched at an event held at St Thomas’ North Sydney. Liv and the Emu Youth band are looking forward to sharing the album with the youth groups that will attend the launch, as well as the stories behind the songs and the scriptures that inspired them.  Liv recently sent us this update, sharing how the funding from ADM has made this exciting project possible:   We're in the final stretch of the album as we listen to and finalise the songs, and then we'll send it off to be mastered and pressed into CDs!       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Olivia Chapman, receiving her award from Annette Pierdziwol.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      It's a very exciting time to see everything coming together, but it's also when the bills start coming in. There are the musician's fees, producer fees, mixing and mastering fees, CD pressing, delivery, social media boosts, graphic designer fees, studio and equipment hire costs, and food while we were on the job (a girl's gotta eat!). It makes the $9.99 you pay for Spotify Premium seem like an absolute steal!     We really do make almost nothing from streaming sites, so ADM's support means that we could pay for those bills without taking money from other parts of our ministry, like making our conferences accessible for local church musicians.     It's our hope and prayer that the songs on this album will reach young people in a way that transforms them in their walk with Jesus. We want people to know him more, love him more and trust him more. We believe in the transformative work of Christian songs - not because of melodies and chords, but because when Christ's word is proclaimed, in speech or song, his Spirit is at work. It is such a gift that God has given us music by which to teach and encourage one another, and we hope that these particular songs will do that.           </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"                    To find out more about Liv, the new album, and the launch event, visit the  Emu Music website .   Find out more about ADM’s Annual Funding Event and apply . Application open 1 June, 2018 to 5 August, 2018.   

Comment

2017 Annual Funding Event recipient brings her project to fruition

At last year’s Annual Funding Event, Olivia Chapman pitched for funding on behalf of her organisation Emu Music. Liv and Emu were looking for funding for their second Emu Youth album, a compilation of worship songs designed to help teenagers praise God. Hear how funding from ADM has helped create their latest album No Love is Higher…

Comment

      Pranks, laughter and service: Deaconess Doreen Garrick   From spirited, mischievous college girl to dedicated, energetic deaconess, Doreen Garrick’s heart for the lost and vigour for the gospel has always been central to her identity. Her story reflects how God can work through the most ordinary moments and smallest decisions of our lives to bring about his glory.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deaconess Doreen Garrick  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Doreen is the kind of person who you would love to have a cup of tea with, and soak in the stories and wisdom acquired over her 85 years. She is retired and is an active evangelist in her community, making the most of the everyday opportunities that God gives her to spread his gospel. “I have met a lot of people at the bus stop who I’ve got to know. They know that I belong to the church and that I’m a Christian. One couple do come to church at Christmas, as a result of meeting them at the bus stop,” she says. “Going to the gym, I have met up with a lot of Jewish people and they know I’m a Christian. With some of them, we can talk about Christian things when there’s time.”  Doreen was baptised a Catholic, but attended All Saints' Anglican church in Woollahra. After she left school at 15 years old, she worked at a factory during the day, while attending business college at night. One day when she was at a Church Mission Society Summer School, Doreen felt the Lord calling her to the mission field. In response, she enrolled at Deaconess House (now Mary Andrews College) in 1957.  Doreen’s stories of her time at Deaconess House sound like an Enid Blyton novel, full of harmless pranks and mischievous laughter. She describes herself then as a “shy and obedient young woman”, but her own account of those years tells a very different story. During a social event at St Stephen’s Newtown in her first year at Deaconess House, Doreen covered herself in a white sheet and ‘haunted’ the graveyard next to the church, along with the minister’s daughter. “The rector was not amused,” she recalls.     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Deaconess House, in Newtown, is now known as Mary Andrews House  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Doreen also remembers sneaking out to buy fish and chips one evening, despite being forbidden to leave the college at night. When Doreen and the other two students with her were caught, “we explained we were motivated by hunger, and how the weevils came up from our cereal and said ‘good morning’ when we poured the milk. We were marched to the kitchen, all the cereal was tipped out and, guess what, no weevils!”  Of course, not every comical mishap at the college was caused by Doreen. She recounts how every Monday morning, the then-principal Mary Andrews would lead the chapel service. “One Monday she didn’t turn up and the service had to go ahead without her. When it finished, a student went looking for her. Upstairs was a large linen cupboard. We had been taught to close a cupboard door if we saw one open. A student had done just that – and had locked the principal inside.”  Doreen says her time at Deaconess House “certainly helped to bring me out of myself!” It also provided her with training for deaconess ministry. She was commissioned as a deaconess in 1960 and began to work full-time at St Paul’s Redfern. At St Paul’s, Doreen ran a Girl’s Club and taught Sunday school and Scripture. However, her favourite part of this ministry was parish and hospital visitation, and she contributed to the church’s work of caring for Indigenous Australians and homeless people in Redfern.  But there were some tasks in parish work that her training could never have prepared her for, like spending Saturday evenings assessing the motor of a 22-seat bus with the minister of St Paul’s, ensuring that it would run smoothly the next day. Or when she had to put on her “brave face” and investigate the bathrooms of the church before the children used them, in case there was someone lingering down there.  Doreen worked at St Paul's for five years before moving to Victoria to work for the Mission of St James and St John. She spent two years there, working with children from broken homes. She describes this as a difficult period in her working life. “We were truly tested in patience and understanding,” she says. Surprisingly, one of her trials there was learning how to prepare a roast dinner. “I don’t like cooking,” she says. “What I disliked most was having to learn how to cook properly – a job I hated.”  Following this, Doreen worked as an Anglican Chaplain at the Prince of Wales Hospital for seven years and then worked for the Architect’s Department of the Public Works Department for New South Wales, as she says that “there were no positions in the Sydney Diocese for women at that time”.  Upon her retirement, she moved into Goodwin Retirement Village in Woollahra, and was made President of the Resident’s Committee in 2005.  When asked how she would like to be remembered, Doreen says, “I’m a simple Christian person who was prepared to help those in need whenever the need arose.”                 Find out more about  ADM's History

Comment

Pranks, laughter and service: Deaconess Doreen Garrick

From spirited, mischievous college girl to dedicated, energetic deaconess, Doreen Garrick’s heart for the lost and vigour for the gospel has always been central to her identity. Her story reflects how God can work through the most ordinary moments and smallest decisions of our lives to bring about his glory…

Comment

      Helping churches support refugees     

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              An excursion to the Blue Mountains for refugees, run by St Andrew's Anglican Church, Lakemba  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      In early 2017, ADM was privileged to award over $50,000 in small grants to eight churches in the greater-Sydney region for ministries to welcome and support arriving Syrian and Iraqi refugees.     The grants were provided as part of the Syrian Iraqi Refugee Response led by Anglicare, in collaboration with five Anglican agencies, including ADM.    Around 1,200 refugees have been served this year by ministries funded through ADM grants. Churches have used the ADM grants – ranging from $1,300 to $16,000 – to create programs including welcome BBQs, homework clubs, ESL classes, playgroups, day trips, women’s dinners and employment support.      Now, reports have come back from some of the churches and we share a selection of their encouraging stories. God has certainly been at work!       Bankstown Anglican Church  received a grant of $4,000 to fund an English conversation class and to provide employment support to refugees and asylum seekers looking for jobs. The grant enabled connection with over 150 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.  Former Assistant Minister Rev. Grant de Villiers shared this encouraging story:   Majd* and his wife came to Australia with their young son. Majd is in his early thirties and is very eager to make a new life in Australia. When I met Majd and his family, he had been in Australia about two weeks. I asked,“   Majd, how can our church help you?”      He said, “I am a forklift driver. I need to get a license to work in Australia but it is very expensive”.     With the ADM grant, Majd was able to pay for the license and undertake the course. Not long after he messaged me and wrote, “Good evening Priest. I am so happy I passed writing test and verbal test. I got through forklift license. Thanks Jesus and thank you a lot”.    Soon after, Majd found a job locally and started full-time work. It has made many things possible. He has bought a car, found a better unit to rent and Majd’s English is improving all the time because no one speaks Arabic at work. In January, their family welcomed the arrival of a baby boy.    Majd and his family are Syrian Orthodox, yet they became some of the familiar faces at our Bible meeting and community dinners. The ADM grant made all of this possible.    *Name changed for privacy reasons             Gymea Anglican Church  received a grant of $4,100, which allowed them to renovate a church house in order to accommodate a refugee family. The refurbishing of the house was done (where possible) by church volunteers, with the grant helping to cover hiring a plumber and electrician.  Coordinator of the project, church warden Stephen Leitch, shared:  “This project brought the volunteers together – all were enthusiastic and worked well. All the family living in the house have now connected with the church and attend our services on Sunday, and also Bible study.”               Hoxton Park Anglican Church  received a grant of $16,000, which funded a range of activities and ministries. These activities met people’s practical needs for food, clothing, heating, and assistance in organising accommodation.  Hoxton Park has an Arabic language service, and Senior Minister Rev. David Clarke reported this wonderful story:   M is from Bagdad, Iraq, and came to Australia as a refugee. He came from a committed Muslim family. But over several years he had three dreams of Jesus, where Jesus reached out and pulled him out of the pit of mud that he was stuck in.     Once he got to Australia, he was curious about church but did not know what to do or where to go. An acquaintance invited him to the Arabic church service at Hoxton Park. He came and heard the gospel preached in his own language, and he put his faith in Jesus.     M now comes to church every week and rejoices in what God has done for him. He was baptised at the Arabic church conference in January, along with six other people. Join us in praying for the rest of M’s family, that they also come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.                

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              St Andrew's Anglican Church, Lakemba used their grant to reach almost 200 new migrants and refugees through programs and excursions, including this one to Palm Beach.  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     At  St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Lakemba,  a grant of $16,000 funded a variety of programs and opportunities to reach almost 200 new migrants and refugees! The church ran excursions for refugees to beaches and the mountains, a spring market, various community picnics and barbecues, and a Christmas dinner for approximately 80 women and their children.  Margaret Powell, cross-cultural worker, shared this exciting news:   “S has been part of our community with her husband and children for four years. They came via boat and Christmas Island, and continue to wait for news about their status in Australia. They hear stories of Jesus and take part in discussions about him regularly. At the women’s Christmas dinner, I told the story of Jesus’ birth from Matthew 1. S has heard this many times before and so, at this time, on this night, the light turned on and S realised that Jesus was special and she needs to follow him. She and her family were baptised last month!”                  Find out more about  ADM's Mercy & Justice work

Comment

Helping churches support refugees

In early 2017, ADM was privileged to award over $50,000 in small grants to eight churches in the greater-Sydney region for ministries to welcome and support arriving Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Now, reports have come back from some of the churches and we share a selection of their encouraging stories…

Comment

      William Cooper: a Yorta Yorta Christian and his Bible   (Edited extract from  The Bible in Australia: A Cultural History  by Meredith Lake – available at    www.newsouthbooks.com.au/books/bible-australia   )         

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


     In the aftermath of World War One, Indigenous Christians offered an urgent critique of white Australia’s track record of living out its professed faith. In the north of the continent, massacres continued – most famously at Forrest River, Western Australia, in 1926, and Coniston Station, Northern Territory, in 1928. In the south-east, a ‘Naboth’s Vineyard’ scenario played out again and again, as Indigenous land reserves were turned over to white farmers.  Yorta Yorta man William Cooper grew up in a world shaped by these realities, and spent decades of his adult life challenging its injustice. Cooper had learned to read and write, and converted to Christianity, at Daniel and Janet Matthews’ Maloga mission on the Murray river. As early as 1887, he was appealing to his local member of parliament with biblical arguments for land tenure: ‘As there have been no grants of land made to our tribe … I do trust that you will be successful in securing this small portion of a vast territory which is ours by Divine Right’.    In 1893, Cooper married Agnes Hamilton, one of the exiles from Coranderrk station, and joined the campaign against closing the reserves. When war broke out in 1914 their son Daniel enlisted, only to be killed in Belgium on 20 September 1917. Private Cooper was buried in Perth cemetery, Ypres, under a cross inscribed ‘Father’s Son’.  The bereaved William came to think that Australia did not deserve the loyalty of its Indigenous people: 'the Aboriginal now has no status, no rights, no land … he has no country and nothing to fight for but the privilege of defending the land which was taken from him by the white race without compensation or even kindness'.  Cooper devoted his own life to what he called the ‘uplift’ of ‘the whole dark race’. Paying tribute to the ‘generally unselfish … work of all denominations among the Aboriginal population’, he looked for missionary co-operation. At the same time, he insisted that his own people held the potential to achieve transformation: ‘The Aboriginal must be a partner in his own uplift … he must “work out his own salvation”’ (Philippians 2:12).       
   
     “ On 26 January 1938, as white Australians celebrated their 150th anniversary, Cooper and his colleagues gathered in Sydney to observe a Day of Mourning. This powerful political gesture made headlines, and instigated a public critique of Australia Day that remains potent decades later. In the 1940s, Cooper’s associated efforts to establish the nearest Sunday as a ‘National Aborigines Day’ was taken up by several churches, and eventually led to the designation of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week. ” 
   
  
 
     Crucially, for Cooper, the Bible helped expose the failures of settler Australia. It was a text that crossed cultural boundaries, that in his hands undermined imperial and nationalist conceits. At the same time, he found in the Bible an affirmation of the inherent equality and dignity of Aboriginal people, of their right to fair treatment, and of their ownership of the land as a God-given heritage. In Cooper’s hands, the Bible sharpened his critique of colonialism and nourished his vision for a more truly Christian community. He called on white politicians as Christians, to live out the principles of their shared Scriptures.  In March 1938, Cooper wrote to Prime Minister Lyons ‘from the standpoint of an educated black who can read the Bible upon which British constitution and custom is founded’:  White men … claimed they had ‘found’ a ‘new’ country – Australia. This country was not new, it was already in possession of and inhabited by millions of blacks, who … owned the country as their God-given heritage.  I marvel at the fact that while the textbook of present civilisation, the Bible, states that God gave the earth to man, the ‘Christian’ interferes with God’s arrangement and stop not even at murder to take that which does not belong to them but belongs to others by right of prior possession and by right of gift from God.  Every shape and form of murder, yes, mass murder, was used against us and laws were passed and still exist, which no human creature can endure. Our food stuffs have been destroyed, poison and guns have done their work, and now white men’s homes have been built on our hunting and camping grounds. Our lives have been wrecked and our happiness ended. Oh! Ye whites!  How much compensation have we had? How much of our land has been paid for? Not one iota. Again we state that we are the original owners of the country. In spite of force, prestige, or anything else you like, morally the land is ours. We have been ejected and despoiled of our God-given right and our inheritance has been forcibly taken from us.  When we learn … the history of the manner in which we have been treated these last 150 years, our confidence in the professed Christian nation – standing for good government, justice and freedom – is sadly shaken.  Are you prepared to admit that, since the Creator said in his Word that all men are of ‘one blood’ we are humans with feelings like yourselves in the eyes of Almighty God, that we can have joys and our sorrows, our likes and our dislikes, that we can feel pain, degradation, and humiliation just as you do? Will you … do your bit to see a great injustice at least mollified by agitating for us to get a fair deal before it is too late?   Cooper’s questions – his challenge to white nationhood – remain significant today. They go to the heart of what it might mean for the Bible to continue to shape the Australian nation.                 Find out more about  ADM Fellowships   Find out more about  NAIDOC week

Comment

William Cooper: a Yorta Yorta Christian and his Bible

“…Yorta Yorta man William Cooper grew up in a world shaped by these realities, and spent decades of his adult life challenging its injustice.” In this extract from 2017 ADM Senior Research Fellow, Meredith Lake’s book, ‘The Bible in Australia: A cultural history’, we hear about the life and work of William Cooper: a Yorta Yorta man, a Christian, and a man who fought injustice and was central to the founding of NAIDOC week…

Comment

      Because of Her, We Can!   Grief, hope and unity    Larissa Minniecon is on the frontline of a new pilot project by    AEF    and ADM that is bringing hope and healing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities. We are sharing this story as part of NAIDOC week. This year, the theme of    NAIDOC Week    is 'Because of her, we can!' and we wanted to celebrate the work of Larissa and the other women involved in 'Our Story'.      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Larissa Minniecon, project manager of  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


     Larissa Minniecon is a Christian Aboriginal woman, born in Sydney. Her father, Ray, is from the Kabi Kabi and Gureng Gureng nation, and is also a descendant of the South Sea Islander people. Her mother, Sharon, is from the Meriam Mer language group from Ugar Island, in the Torres Strait.  Early in her life, Larissa moved with her family to Western Australia, when her father was called to ministry there. Many of Larissa’s family live in far north Queensland. “We know a lot of Christian Aboriginal folks from all over Australia!” she says.  Larissa and her family, especially her parents, are prominent figures in the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship. They spend much of their time working alongside other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians to spread the gospel, support their people and push for a better future for Australia’s first inhabitants.    Being an Indigenous Australian is a joy for Larissa, but it’s also a great challenge. The weight of a traumatic and sad history is upon Larissa’s shoulders. Even today, she and her fellow Aboriginal sisters and brothers still face racism regularly.  The complexity of these issues doesn’t disappear in churches. “We believe the message of the gospel, but we couldn’t understand the messenger,” Larissa explains. “When white people came here, there were people saying from the pulpit ‘don’t kill your brother’, but outside, they were massacring my people.”  She continues, “Seventy-three percent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people call themselves Christians. This is because Aboriginal Missions were run by Christian denominations. The government moved my people off our lands and we were to be assimilated into white society, at the cost of our Aboriginal society."  “So though we are Christians, we don’t really have many Aboriginal churches here. I grew up in the Assemblies of God, and my grandparents, for over 30 years, started churches in Far North Queensland. Growing up in the church, I witnessed white ministers and pastors who’d discriminate and unfairly treat my grandparents, aunties and uncles, telling them they were not qualified enough to preach the gospel or run a church. But my grandparents, aunties and uncles were champions of the Christian faith, and they built their own church, their own denomination, called the Gospel Outreach Centre. It's in Ayr, QLD. It's the one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Church that I know of in Australia.”  "So even today, we’re still asking: what does it mean to have an Aboriginal church; to have Aboriginal ministers? They’re so very rare.”  But even as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to wrestle with what it means to be involved in, form or lead churches, Larissa is on the frontline of an exciting new, biblically-based project. This project provides a biblical foundation for understanding and responding to the loss, grief and trauma experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.  Titled  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief,  the   pilot project has been co-designed by the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) Women’s Fellowship (Eastern Region) and ADM. As Project Manager, Larissa has helped to run  Our Story  workshops in communities and enabled other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to implement this training in their local area.  The training content presents the historical and clinical context for the Aboriginal experience of loss, and provides a biblical foundation for understanding and responding to the loss, grief and trauma experienced by Aboriginal women – both historically and currently. The training uses story sharing, lamenting and culturally-appropriate creative expression as healing tools, embedded in the belief that hope and healing can be found in a relationship with the living God.  “It’s called ‘Sorry Business’, what we do when someone has passed on” Larissa explains. “There are a lot of cultural protocols that go along with it, depending on where the people are from. In some tribes and nations we don’t say the [deceased’s] name, in others there are certain families that will prepare the funeral on behalf of the grieving families, or a certain cultural songs or dance must be performed. So we just call it Sorry Business, which covers all those different things.”  Larissa says Sorry Business can be incredibly sad and difficult – and with the high mortality rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, it happens regularly, which perpetuates cycles of grief.  Other organisations have sought to bring assistance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people going through the trauma of regular deaths in the community. “All these health services and NGOs will come in to try and give us a medical model for dealing with our loss," Larissa explains, “but that doesn’t give hope, it gives labels and information.”  She notes the difference of the  Our Story  program, which is both “fully Indigenous and fully Christian”. Larissa says, “It breaks the cycle of loss, grief and trauma by giving the hope of a better life in knowing God. It reveals hope to women in the midst of challenge, and Aboriginal women overcome challenge by talking in community.”  The program has so far been trialled in Queensland, where Larissa shares, “The impact was so amazing. One of the ladies being trained, Aunty Tracy, said it beautifully:       
   
     “ The is the first time we’ve had a biblical model, and we can actually talk about loss, grief and trauma without feeling guilty about why we feel this way. In the end, we’re looking for hope for another day, and the biblical model gives us hope. God is there, in all the dark places. ” 
   
  
 
     As the program continues to be trialled and refined, Larissa hopes that it will continue to impact many – and even provide a cross-cultural bridge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. “My hope is that we get to do this together, because we are a community of Christians. You can’t do grief alone because you won’t survive. Hopefully one day, we will all be brothers and sisters under the same roof, as an Australian Church. We’ll all be together, and we’ll be able to say, ‘this is what church looks like’.”                  Find out more about  Our Story: Finding Hope Beyond Grief        

Comment

Because of Her, We Can!

Larissa Minniecon is on the frontline of a new pilot project by AEF and ADM that is bringing hope and healing to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and communities. We are sharing this story as part of NAIDOC week. This year, the theme of NAIDOC Week is 'Because of her, we can!' and so we wanted to celebrate the work of Larissa and the other women involved in 'Our Story'…

Comment