The church in the midst of change – UnitingWorld lunch

UnitingWorld hosted its first lunch of the 14th Assembly with two church partners from the Pacific and Dr Deidre Palmer, Moderator of the Uniting Church in South Australia.

Rev Seforosa Carroll, UnitingWorld’s Church Connections Manager, Pacific Partnerships introduced the three female presenters as “inspiring and passionate women in leadership, committed to gender equality.”

Deaconess Martha Yamsiu Kaluatman – the Gender Officer for the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu spoke of the many challenges women faced in her community. She outlined the disregard of women as religious leaders in the community and the ongoing issues around gender violence – a silent issue for many women living in Vanuatu.

Martha spoke of the successful workshops UnitingWorld and the Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu have been undertaking in Vanuatu to educate and inform men and women about respectful relationships.

The second speaker Rev. Maleta Rumaroti – Secretary for Mission, Kiribati Uniting Church presented on climate impact and rising sea levels in Kiribati.

Maleta spoke about the communities’ reliance on marine resources which are being depleted due to the fragility of the environment. Changing environmental factors including a dramatic rise in sea levels have resulted in the loss of homes, land, natural resources, capital infrastructure and cultural identity.

Changes in climate have magnified issues of gender inequality with women bearing more of a burden as a result. High tides have led to increased illness with mosquitos breeding and causing dengue fever. This has resulted in increased workloads for women, as they take care of their partners, children, elderly, sick and the disabled.

The community also continues to grapple with their understanding of climate change. Embedded theological beliefs mean the community strongly believes in the rainbow covenant and that God will make everything right. Biblical interpretation is something UnitingWorld is assisting church partners to rethink.

The final speaker, Dr Deidre Palmer began her presentation with some disturbing statistics relating to family and domestic violence in Australia. One woman per week in Australia loses her life to family and domestic violence and one in three women will experience family or domestic violence in their lifetime.

Deidre mentioned some of the campaigns she has been involved with, including the White Ribbon Campaign and a campaign of her own instigation, Beyond Violence. This campaign aims to educate and bring awareness of domestic violence to individuals, people in placements and pastoral carers, and offers educational resources and workshops to educate and raise awareness.

Deidre referred people to the Beyond Violence website to obtain resources including the Domestic Violence Handbook for Clergy and pastoral workers.

More information regarding the work of UnitingWorld and their Pacific: Climate Change Response Program can be viewed here.