In the latest edition of Just Act*, the magazine published by the Justice and International Mission unit of the Uniting Church, Claire Dawe provides a rundown of who she is and what she stands for.
She reveals that she was attracted to become a minister of Manningham Uniting Church (MUC) because of the interest it has in being more than a meeting place for its local worshippers.
She said the Chelsea Uniting Church (now called Uniting by the Bay) which she led formerly, had a strong interest in social justice, one of her passions.
“I was in the parking lot [of MUC] and saw there was a huge banner that said, ‘we welcome refugees’, and I thought ‘OK’ and then saw the shared garden. They, MUC, are about social justice and are involved in community groups and, for example, hold English classes for refugees. They volunteer a lot and set up LinC, a network of different churches working together to help [needy] people.
“A new project [MUC is] working on is ‘Building Bridges Through Stories’ which will start in October. This is about groups that are vilified in our society; refugees, indigenous people, LGBTIQ people, and listening to them through stories. It is open to all to come and learn and listen. Manningham City council is supporting this program as well.”
Claire said she has strong feeling about Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. She said, “Incarcerating anyone on those islands in offshore detention is not the way to go. The international community has been explaining why this doesn’t work. I don’t want people thinking that … the way asylum seekers are treated in this country is OK. I am persistent.”
Asked how churches are best able to participate in non-secular society, she said, “Being vocal, being seen, [to] get out there and not be scared to do our theology in public: let’s be proud of who we are and what we do. I stay doing this work because I am motivated by my faith; my faith tells me or leads me to believe that God wants creation as a just and righteous place, and we haven’t got that. We sometimes forget why we are getting involved, why we are participating in social justice issues as a church. It’s because of our faith that we have to. The message of hope and God’s grace is for everyone, it’s not just for us, we must share it.”
*Justact is published bi-monthly; contact the JIM website http://www.justact.org.au
The JIM Unit (now referred to as the JIM Cluster) of the Victorian and Tasmanian Synod, may be contacted through The Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville, Victoria 3052; phone: (03) 9340 8807; email: firstname.lastname@example.org