National Gathering

Click here to register

As a spiritual venture, boldly follow the initiatives into the heart of God’s vision for the church and creation. Then, in response to growing insight about God’s nature and will, continue to shape communities that live Christ’s love and mission.

Doctrine and Covenants 165: 1b

Friends,

Like a labyrinth, we are called to venture into the heart of God’s vision to discover and discern where the church is called to be. It is there we will find insights about who we are as a people, and how we must respond to the world around us to create communities of joy, hope, love and peace. But there we must not remain. Receiving, discerning and learning is only half the task; action, application and mission are essential if we are to follow the path of the disciple. If we walked into the centre of the labyrinth and discovered love but did not come out, how could we experience love fully?

The spiral of the temple, the patterns of the seasons, the cycle of the sun and moon – all remind us that as a people we are best when we are moving and changing. If the sun were to stop, there would be no life; if there was only winter, there would be no life. Movement is critical, and if we stand still for even a moment, we risk falling out of step with the rhythms of creation.

This National Gathering we will explore this idea, moving into the heart of God’s vision for the church on a deeper level. Then, using newly found will and testimony, we will shape new expressions of community, binding us closely with our mission as a people of peace and justice. Through debate, moments of reflection, laughter and love, we will write, share and create exciting possibilities for the church to live its purpose. The return to Tiona has provided us with a new set of challenges, yet I believe it draws us back to what matters most for us as we take a break from the ordinary to explore our core mission. 

Will you join me in creating the future for our movement? 

Ben Smith

President, Australia Mission Centre

Strategic Plan

We're excited to release the Australia Mission Centre Strategic Plan! It has been developed over the last 12 months through many hours of discernment and contribution. It is now time to progress with its message, living it out across the nation. The leadership team will be facilitating sessions in many different areas around Australia over the coming months to help further its understanding, so look back here soon for more details on that.

 

In the meantime, share the word that the Spirit is on the move! Let us embrace that as we employ our understanding that all are called, it's up to each and every one of us as disciples to live our calling and respond to God's beckoning. 

Grace and peace!  

 

It's available here for an online magazine version (click the middle for a full screen version), or downloadable by the arrow on the top left below:

Religious Freedom Review Submission

On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an Expert Panel to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion. In undertaking its Review, the Prime Minister has instructed the Panel to:

  • consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights
  • have regard to any previous or ongoing reviews or inquiries that it considers relevant
  • consult as widely as it considers necessary

The Mission Centre Leadership Team felt it was prudent that we voice our perspective as a faith movement, through the lens of our enduring principles. The team underwent a process which included voice and approval from the Mission Centre Council, and the resulting submission is found through the link below. 

Click here to download submission

Statement on Weapons Exports

Statement of opposition to the Australian government’s decision to increase the export of weapons

For decades Community of Christ has voiced its opposition to the use and proliferation of weapons that are designed to kill. It is our belief that there is sacredness in all of creation, and tools that are designed to remove life are not in concert with that principle. In 1991 the Australian church called upon political leaders to refrain from the sale of armaments and weapons, a call renewed in 1999 by a motion encouraging members to renounce their own use of firearms (which was then adopted by the 2000 World Conference), and again in 2015 when the church affirmed the notion that sacred space is unarmed space. Our understanding of peace is that it can only be experienced fully when violence is absent.

Community of Christ in Australia calls on the Australian government to immediately reconsider its decision to increase its budget to fund weapons exports.

- Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team

Marriage Equality

Official Policy Change

Click here for the transcript of Ben Smith's announcement 

This week, after a meeting of the Australia Mission Centre Council and subsequent approval from the First Presidency, Community of Christ in Australia has changed its policy on the sacrament of marriage. Effective 18 December 2017, the sacrament of marriage will be available to all people eligible under Australian law, regardless of gender or sexuality, and celebrants of Community of Christ will be authorised to perform these marriages as they so desire.

We are called to be a people who uphold the worth of all persons. To truly live out their roles in the Australian community, all faith communities must work together to forge a path towards justice and inclusivity. Members of Community of Christ believe that God loves all people. Through the example of Jesus, Community of Christ ministers will continue to stand with those who are persecuted, oppressed and who are voiceless. The change to the Marriage Act, and the change in the policy of the Community of Christ, reflect that stance. We celebrate the change.

While unique in our movement to have a policy change of this regard that has not involved a National Conference, it is believed that the parts of our community most affected by this change have endured enough. Church leadership both locally and globally are of the opinion that previous discussions surrounding ordination of individuals in same-sex relationships reflected an overwhelmingly positive consensus, and with the addition of the postal survey and considerable public debate, it was considered unwarranted to hold another vote on this matter, choosing instead to live boldly into our enduring principles.

This step upholds the value the church places on the sacrament of marriage. We believe the relationship of marriage is founded in principles of Christ-like love, mutual respect, covenant, faithfulness and justice. For generations, this sacrament has not been open to all people. Now, gladly, it is.

 

In the next few weeks, more detailed resources and policy documents will become available.

 

Tiona News

Re: Assignment of Tiona Lease

 

Dear Friends,

After months of negotiations, I am pleased to announce that the Tiona Management Lease

has a new owner. Southern Cross Parks have purchased the existing lease from Sundowner

Tourist Parks and will take over operations immediately. Southern Cross Parks have a

portfolio of five caravan parks throughout NSW, QLD and Victoria, and have extensive

experience in the caravan and camping industry.

 

I’d like to acknowledge Sundowner for their contribution at Tiona, and wish them well in

their future endeavours.

 

Further thanks must be expressed to the Tiona Management Committee for their tireless

work in assisting Mission Centre Officers, the Mission Centre Council and the Presiding

Bishopric in ensuring this process was smooth and comprehensive, while maintaining

professionalism and upholding the church’s values and policies.

 

I look forward to many more years of fellowship and activity at Tiona, a place where so

many of us experience a deep sense of connection with the Spirit. May we continue to be

good custodians of this sacred ground.

 

In Peace,

Ben Smith

President, Australia Mission Centre

 

Tiona Management Committee:

Fran Breen, David Henricks, Ken Archer, Julie Crittenden with the assistance of Allan Walshe

Love Wins

Today’s announcement that Australia has voted in favour of legalising same-sex marriage is the perfect example as to how a community embodies the worth of all persons. It symbolises that as a nation we support those who love each other, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. As a denomination, we have some work to do to encapsulate this right in our policies. Steps are being taken to provide voice to the people for how we move forward in creating communities of joy, hope, love and peace in our community of faith.

May we continue to look for opportunities to stand together, showing the world what a blessing it is to be a community that stands for justice and peace. May this outcome be a reminder to us all that when love is at the centre, we experience true joy.

In Peace,

- Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team

Statement on Manus Regional Processing Centre Humanitarian Crisis

Dear Friends, 

It is the role of the disciple to rise up when oppression and suffering is occurring, using our voice to assist those without. In our nation today, neighbours who knocked on our door asking for help are living in conditions we would not wish upon our enemy, and we as followers of Christ cannot sit by without action.

Attached is a statement from the Australia Mission Centre Leadership Team about the current humanitarian crisis on Manus Island.

I encourage you to share it with neighbours, friends, politicians and business leaders to join together with thousands of others in protest.

Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a reminds us that “God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering. Such conditions are not God’s will. Open your ears to hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children. Do not turn away from them. For in their welfare resides your welfare.”

Let us join together in this mission as one people in love and compassion.

Ben Smith, President, Australia Mission Centre

Tiona Reunion - Registrations Open!

Dear Friends,

Tiona Reunion planning is well underway and it’s full steam ahead. It promises to be a joyful and uplifting experience…

Full registrations are now open and here is the link: https://campscui.active.com/orgs/CommunityofChrist0#/selectSessions/2186304

I am grateful that we continue to be able to provide the opportunity to come together and know community in a way that touches human hearts so profoundly. At Tiona Reunion we can refresh our spirit and listen to the voice of God speaking directly into our own hearts. We are inspired and touched by hearing each other’s stories… each other’s challenges… each other’s passion. We are strengthened by being in relationship with one another… finding our connection, our sisterhood and brotherhood, in amongst our diversity.

Tiona Reunion is unique in that you can tailor a Registration package to best suit your budget and your needs. (See the full fee schedule below). Everyone pays the standard Event fee cost, then you add the accommodation of your choice and optional dining packages. Below we have listed the breakdown of costs for this year – heavily subsidised by the Tiona Lease Management income.

As many of you will be aware, each August we must pre-select our accommodation for the upcoming Reunion and many took the opportunity to reserve their preference. If you have not already reserved accommodation and wish to book cabin style accommodation for 2017 Reunion please contact me IMMEDIATELY to discuss the options.

Also make sure you tell us if you need to match your Reunion booking with a private booking at Tiona before or after Reunion. You can call Karen at Tiona office on 02 6554 0291 if you would like to make or confirm a private pre- or post-Reunion booking. You can also tell us if there are special circumstances impacting your choice of Tiona accommodation. If you have any questions please drop me an email at tionareunion@gmail.com OR text or phone 0411 473835. Remember, there are limited supplies of some cabin types so the sooner you tell us what you want the better we can negotiate to find a win-win solution.

 

- Jan Thompson, Tiona Reunion Director

 

 

2017 Full Fee Schedule

 

Registration Fee

The registration fee goes towards morning teas and suppers, and special events, Community meals like Carnival lunch on 27th and New Year’s Day brunch, all scheduled activities, program materials and resources, and guest ministry.

 

Whole week

Adult (19 +)

$100

Youth (16 to 18)

$50

Child (5 to15)

$20

 

Accommodation

 

 

Powered Camp Site

$50

 

Lodge Room

$90 per room

 

Lakeside Ensuite Cabin

$820

 

Beachside Ensuite Cabin

$665

 

Beachside Convent’l Cabin

$500

 

Beachside Spa Cabin

$1500

 

Eco Spa Cabin

$1550

 

Sand Dunes Family Cottage

$1480

 

Sand Dunes Cottage

$1300

 

Lake House

$1800

 

 

*The prices listed for cabin accommodation are show the 10% discount provided for booking made PRIOR to 26 August (under the terms of the lease). This discount may not be available for late cabin bookings..

 

Catered Meals (optional)

You can book meals for the week, or if not attending the whole week you can pay the daily rate for the number of days needed.

 

(Please note: Lunch on 27th Dec and 12noon Brunch on1st Jan are included in Event fees).

 

Following are the OPTIONAL dining packages you can choose to add:

 

Lunch and Dinner = 4 Lunches + 6 Dinners

16 & over                    10-15yo                       5-9yo

$135 (all week)           $98 (all week)             $68 (all week)

 

Dinner only (6 Dinners)

$85 (all week)             $66 (all week)             $48 (all week)

OR

$15 (per day)              $11 (per day)              $8 (per day)

 

Lunch only (4 Lunches)

$50 (all week)             $32 (all week)             $20 (all week)

OR                              OR                              OR

$12.50 (per day)         $8 (per day)                $5 (per day)

 

 

Announcement: Official Alcohol Policy

To the Church,

Official Policy - Consumption of Intoxicants by Priesthood: 

For the well-being of individuals and the church community, especially the most vulnerable, disciples and priesthood members are urged to refrain from drinking intoxicants.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Here are two documents relating to the review the First Presidency has conducted, as requested by the 2013 World Conference, with regard to the policy of drinking intoxicants. The Pastoral Letter from the First Presidency, contains their interpretation of Doctrine and Covenants 152:4b, a new official policy on the consumption of alcohol by priesthood, and a new official policy on the consumption of alcohol at Community of Christ events and on Community of Christ property.

Here is an outline of the application of the Official Policy in Australia. It’s important to note that the new policy is a worldwide policy, and that the application of the policy is adapted to suit each nation.

I encourage you to prayerfully study the material personally and in your congregations.

Shalom,

Ben Smith
President, Australia Mission Centre

 

 

Announcement Regarding Buladelah Congregation

Dear Friends,

On Saturday 9 September, the Bulahdelah congregation met to have their annual general meeting, where it was regretfully decided to close the congregation. With only a few members in regular attendance, their decision was based on stewardship and reality. As we met for communion and reflection, a deep spirit of gratitude was present.

Generous disciples of this congregation have given their lives in service for the church over many decades, leading to countless moments of witness in the community. There is no doubt in my mind that the church has had a major impact on Bulahdelah as a community, and I give thanks for the commitment and service of members and friends, both past and present.

A celebration service will be held on Sunday 19 November commencing at 2pm. All are welcome to attend the celebration.

May we be transformed by the courage the Bulahdelah congregation has shown through its decision, which will bless the church into the future.

Shalom,

Ben Smith
President, Australia Mission Centre

Have you registered for C+ Experience yet?

When: 4pm Sunday 1st Oct to 10.00 am Thursday 5th Oct, 2017

Who: Youth (High School) and Young Adults

Where: Kallara Conference Centre, 332 Boundary Hill Rd, Boho South, Vic

Community Plus is a group of loving, accepting people that strives to create a place where all feel welcome and valued. We are an innovative community that aims to provide a counter-cultural perspective for each person and an opportunity for their unique expression of discipleship and spirituality.

Come join us for our week long camp in which we get the opportunity to experience community and the blessings that it brings through fellowship, worship, craft, sport, discussion, and so much more…

How much: $300 per camper,  It gets cheaper again if you bring a sibling. 

WE DON’T WANT COST TO BE A REASON FOR ANY CAMPER NOT TO ATTEND CAMP!!! So please let us know if this is the situation. We will also be setting up a payment plan option to try to reduce hardship on families.

Register Here

Announcement from the 1st Presidency

Apostle Marea Arnaud shares the following announcement from the First Presidency.

To the church,

Time to Act!

Live Webcast to the International Church

The First Presidency invites you to a live webcast in three languages on Wednesday, September 20, at 7:30 p.m. (Central Daylight Time). ie Thursday 21 September in Australia @ 10.30am AEST.

There is an urgent need for us to work together to address significant financial challenges that will impact the future of the church.

Specific steps to meet the church’s financial needs will be announced.

The video archive will be available online in English, French, and Spanish as soon as the closed captions/subtitles are finished.

Date:           Wednesday, September 20 / Thursday 21 September in Australia

Times:         7:30 p.m. (CDT) 10.30am AEST

Place:          www.CofChrist.org/live-webcast<http://www.CofChrist.org/live-webcast>

Nepal Flood Relief Update and Hurricane Harvey Announcement

Julie Crittenden, Mission Centre Financial Officer, shares the following announcement:

Nepal Flood Relief Update and Hurricane Harvey Announcement

The World Church advise that the initial $15,000 (US) goal for the flood relief efforts in Nepal has been exceeded. World Church will continue to monitor the needs in Nepal and aid will be provided as necessary.    

Hurricane Harvey, which hit the United States over the weekend 26 – 27 August, continues to cause devastating conditions. The church is committed to providing relief for members in Houston and surrounding areas. An initial goal of $25,000 (US) has been identified and will be reassessed as specific needs are made known. 

Coastal Bend USA Mission Centre President Cheryl Saur said at least five Community of Christ families are affected. The Pasadena congregation likely will be hardest hit, Saur said. Most members’ homes have taken on water, but everyone is safe in shelters. One family from the Bay Area congregation was evacuated. Efforts to contact members continue.

If you wish to support the relief efforts in Texas and surrounding areas, you can give now through your offering envelope or direct to the Mission Centre Office

What will the response of AUSTRALIA MISSION CENTRE be?

For the entire month of September all giving to Abolish Poverty, End Suffering over and above the usual donations received throughout the Australia Mission Centre will be designated for helping the Nepal Flood Relief and Hurricane Harvey Relief appeals as The First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric deem appropriate.

Please be generous and give by either using your offering envelope, credit card online at www.cofchrist.com.au/give (please include ‘Disaster Relief’ in the ‘More Information’ section) or by making a direct deposit to: Account name – Community of Christ World Church, BSB – 032 182, Account number – 790627. Please include on the bank reference line ‘APES + Your name’ e.g.  ‘APES V.Generous‘.

If you choose direct deposit, please email accounts@cofchrist.com.au when payment is made, advising the date of payment, amount, your name and that the payment is to go to Disaster Relief.

 The first $25,000 (US) received will go to Texas Flood Relief efforts.  Additional funds received will either be used for these relief efforts as needed or will go to Worldwide Mission Tithes.

Please continue to uphold the people in Nepal and in the path of Hurricane Harvey in your prayers.

Tiona Accomodation Update

Dear Friends around Australia (and beyond!)

Tiona Reunion 2017 planning is well underway and it’s full steam ahead. It promises to be a joyful and uplifting experience…

I am grateful that we continue to be able to provide the opportunity to come together and know community in a way that touches human hearts so profoundly. And here it is on our very doorstep. At Tiona Reunion we can refresh our spirit and listen to the voice of God speaking directly into our own hearts. We are inspired and touched by hearing each other’s stories… each other’s challenges… each other’s passion. We are strengthened by being in relationship with one another… finding our connection, our sisterhood and brotherhood, in amongst our diversity.

ASSISTING PEOPLE TO PLAN TO BE THERE IS AN IMPORTANT STEP. Last year we introduced an early booking system which was extremely successful in allowing people to select their preference before we finalised our Reunion booking with the Lease Managers. 

RIGHT NOW – until 24Th August – YOU CAN DO THAT AGAIN! You can make your choice and ensure your preferred option is available for you when registrations open fully next month.

Tell us what you want and help us make the best selection.

We have significantly improved the system from last year and the RegisterNow accommodation system is a quick and easy process to make your choice and pay your deposit for your preferred accommodation. Click on this link to go straight there: https://www.registernow.com.au/secure/Register.aspx?E=2685

By the way, if you plan to select a tent/van site WITHIN the Lakeside section ie along the avenue between office and Green Cathedral, it is NOT necessary to pre-book as you can wait until the main registrations open – we block-book this camping area. You can however pre-book if you wish.

Tiona Reunion is unique in that you can tailor a Registration package to best suit your budget and your needs. Everyone pays the standard Event fee cost, then you add the accommodation of your choice and optional dining packages. See the full Fee Schedule below – heavily subsidised by the Tiona Lease Management income. Event registration and meal packages will be available to select when the main Registrations open in September.

As many of you will be aware, we are unable to increase our booking selections after the end of August. Please understand that using this early booking system is the way to ensure you can register for Tiona cabin-style accommodation.

RIGHT NOW all you have to do is say what accommodation you would like to reserve, and pay a deposit to secure your choice – before 24 August.  

  • You can also tell us if you need to match your Reunion booking with your private booking at Tiona before or after Reunion. 
  • You can tell us if there are special circumstances that mean you need access to a particular type of accommodation.

If you’re not sure – don’t wait – drop me an email at tionareunion@gmail.com OR text or phone me 0411 473835. Remember, there are limited supplies of some cabin types so the sooner you tell us what you want the better we can negotiate to find a win-win solution BEFORE you make a commitment.

With love,

Jan Thompson (volunteer Reunion Director)

 

2017 Full Fee Schedule

Registration Fee

The registration fee goes towards morning teas and suppers, and special events, Community meals like Carnival lunch on 27th and New Year’s Day brunch, all scheduled activities, program materials and resources, and guest ministry. 

Whole week

Adult: $100

Child (16 & under): $50

*Family rate (single parent): $180

*Family rate (two adult parents): $220

*Please note “Family rate” applies to adults with own dependent children

 

 

 

 

Letter Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

Friends,

As Community of Christ, it is our desire to become a people that reflect God’s love for us. Our principles of the Worth of All Persons, Unity in Diversity and Blessings of Community are values we believe also reflect Australian values, where our community strives to create a place where respect, fairness and compassion are deep in our conscience.

Recent debate in the Australian community has caused many to feel distressed and concerned about their worth as equals in our society, and some debate has been contrary to our values. The opportunity for couples in same-sex relationships to experience the joy of marriage may be considered by the public through a plebiscite, and it is important to recognise that although there may be varying perspectives among us, we must respect each other in a way that upholds the worth of each individual.

Jesus stood for justice and compassion. When he saw acts of government or religious leaders preventing humanity to be at one with each other and with God, he spoke out. Although it was unpopular at times, he wept with those who wept, he sat with those who hurt, and represented those who were persecuted. As his disciples, this becomes our role.

As you consider your response, we encourage you to contemplate how your actions will promote a community embodying joy, hope, love and peace. We are reminded in Doctrine and Covenants 163:7c that “it is not pleasing to God when any passage of scripture is used to diminish or oppress races, genders, or classes of human beings. Much physical and emotional violence has been done to some of God’s beloved children through the misuse of scripture. The church is called to confess and repent of such attitudes and practices.”

Let this reminder frame our response in a compassionate and just way as we show our neighbour that they are loved.

With Peace,

Australian Mission Centre Leadership Team

International Youth Forum 2018

Plans are underway for 2018 International Youth Forum-USA (IYF USA). This special event will be held 19-20 July 2018 for youth who have finished grades 9-12 (or ages 15-19).         

Following IYF USA 2018, SPECTACULAR begins on Saturday, 21 July-Saturday, 28 July at Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. 


If you are between the ages of 15-18 in 2018 please email Alicia Turner or Kassandra Unger for an application to register your interest in being part of the Australian Delegation.

 

 

 

Letter of gratitude for Christy Pratt

Dear Friends, 

It’s with somber gratitude that I write to you and advise that Christy Pratt, who has been serving as a Congregational Support Minister in Perth for the past 4 years, will finish her employment with the church in September. Due to changes in the skilled workers visa (which we have used for quite some time for a number of non-Australian employees), the classification of “Religious Worker” has been removed from the approved skills list, meaning the church can no longer sponsor workers coming from overseas. This will mean that at the end of Christy’s sponsorship she will be returning to the USA.

While she has only been with us here for four years, her contribution to our movement will be unforgettable. Her sensitivity to the Spirit, her flair with art and expression, together with her ability to enthuse any group of people with her zest for life will remain her gift to us well beyond her physical presence. I feel we have also left a permanent mark in her life, having educated (and convinced!) her of the benefits of Australian life and culture.

We will miss you Christy, and look forward to hearing more about your journey wherever the Spirit leads you.

Please join me in expressing gratitude to Christy and let her know how much she has meant to you, her email is cpratt@cofchrist.com.au. 

With Peace,

Ben Smith

President, Australia Mission Centre.

Updated Graphics for Mission Initiatives

The First Presidency has approved updates to the Mission Initiatives. Here is a link to the Dropbox folder where they are publicly hosted. Please delete any old files and download the new ones from this Dropbox folder. 

 

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/w1dsdpw96igq82q/AADIvCWfUhzWxe89gG_NS5Fda?dl=0

 

The World Church is also working with the First Presidency to approve icons for the Enduring Principles.  Files will be shared as soon as the approval process is completed.

Announcement regarding Kallara Reunion

29 June 2017

Dear Friends,

The Victoria Network Pastors recently met at Kallara during Family Camp to consider the future direction for Reunion. The context to their discussion was that Reunion has experienced decreasing attendance over the past decade, with participants citing that the time of year was becoming less available for retreat, with most choosing to spend valuable time with family and friends. Contrasting that is the higher attendance at shorter camps such as Family Camp and congregational retreats.

It was decided that Mission resources previously allocated to Reunion be shifted to Family Camp, resulting in Reunion no longer being held at Kallara, with last year (2016) being the final reunion experience in Victoria for the time being. It is a bitter sweet decision, with many life changing experiences taking place at either Mountain Hut
or Kallara which will never be forgotten. A more in depth reflection will be published
in the coming months that recount some of those experiences.

It is a reminder that as the world changes, so must our ways of connecting with each other. Adapting and evolving can be difficult, perhaps even painful at times, however
it is through these experiences that we grow together and with God to enrich the lives of the community around us. May we always look to the purpose of our meeting – sharing the Good News, and continue to find new ways of experiencing God’s grace.

 

Ben Smith,

Australia Mission Centre President