Welcome to July and the Inaugural Coburg Uniting Church newsletter.
We publish monthly and it will be available on the Coburg Uniting website and Facebook page.
As I write this I have in mind NAIDOC Week 2022, held from Sunday 3 July to Sunday 10 July. This year’s theme is ‘Get up! Stand up! Show up!, and it encourages all of us to champion institutional and structural, collaborative and collective change while celebrating those who have driven change in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities over generations.
Three events in recent times have driven me to examine and re-evaluate my culture, and myself as an expression of that culture.
- The surprise discovery of my Native American heritage;
- Violence against women;
- Violence against mother earth and the unrelenting destruction of native habitats and species.
In 2011 I had the wonderful experience of meeting my birth mother, Shelley, for the first time. To my surprise she disclosed that within me is a drop of Cherokee blood, a native American tribe that historically resided in the south-eastern United States. I absorbed native American rituals and symbols, spiritual practices, and activism. Of great importance was the practice of a yearly ‘vision quest’. I marveled in the common ground I discovered between Cherokee spirituality and Christian mysticism, especially the communion with nature, and the creative use of silence and contemplative prayer.
I learned the history of five hundred broken treaties with native Americans, a big one being the one made with the Cherokee nation in the early 19th century. Under the terms of this treaty land would be granted to the Cherokee people in compensation for having been forcibly dispossessed by bayonet from their ancestral lands. The federal government promised to allow the Cherokee people to reside on their new land “Forever”. “Forever” lasted less than 20 years. White settlers discovered gold on Cherokee land, and the opportunity to mass produce cotton. So the Cherokee people were removed once again; to another reservation, at bayonet point, in the dead of winter. This was the so called ‘Trail of Tears’- a crime against humanity.
Like the historical Jesus, the most profound theologians are not from the ruling class; they speak from the underside of history. They are not running mega churches that proclaim that if you tithe God will bless you more. The ‘blessing’ is invariably defined in an unbiblical way as having more money to consume more.
Our individual souls and the collective soul are breaking down under the dead-weight of modern life and capitalism. Indigenous peoples know this all too well, living under the ruinous effects of colonialism and over-consumption; and the ruthless destruction of habitats and wildlife. For me this was represented by 19th century photographs of thousands of buffalo carcasses left to rot across the high plains in mute testament to a pioneering people who had lost their souls.
Not much has changed. But everything must change, especially if the body of the mother Goddess, the earth, is to be saved. Funny how indigenous people’s land care and stewardship practices have suddenly become relevant, even life-saving. So has their spiritual consciousness of living in harmony with the earth
I join with Legendary Native American author, Vine Deloria Jr., who incidentally coined the phrase, ‘Custer died for your sins’, when he proclaimed that ‘God is red’. And God is Aboriginal, and female, (Cherokee theology conceives of the Universal Spirit as female) and manifests powerfully in every colour and person who feels unacceptable because of prejudice and discrimination based on gender or race, class or orientation.
Obsessing about moral perfection and being saved is a loser’s game, and an act of exploitation by predatory clergy. It’s especially counterproductive when it causes you to lose your trust in God’s acceptance of you.
As individuals and as Coburg Uniting Church we are not in control of all of life’s outcomes. The most that we can do is create the best possible conditions for each person’s success, then let go of the outcome. That is a profound act of faith.
What is success? Getting full value from life by aligning your life to your soul’s aim and purpose; and using your life energy of time and gifts to achieve the meaning and purpose of your time on earth.
At Coburg Uniting we have created the conditions for soulful living, where God can be born in your soul. Our church features relationships and activities that foster trust and affection, support, sharing and freedom.
Don’t come here if you want to be told that everything in life is black and white, or you can do whatever you want because you are saved and blessed. Don’t come here if you want to be told that the Bible is a science book or a factual retelling of history. Biblical authors wove epic stories to evoke abundant potential within a person’s thinking and consciousness. We try to be true to that.
Come here if you wish to leave behind emotional manipulation, shaming and excessive guilt found in traditional prayers and liturgies.
You should go where your soul is nurtured, and you can live into it, where you grow in compassion. Go where you are liberated from an inauthentic to an authentic life, freed to take leave of God to find God. Coburg Uniting could be that soulful place for you.
Rev. Ron Rosinsky
Calling for volunteers
Calling for volunteers to help Coburg Uniting with outreach programs and Sunday morning activities; please see Rev. Ron or Rachel if interested.
July Worship Topic
Rev. Ron continues his series on the early church’s view on property, wealth and collective action.
“The Christian spiritual movement began with collective action, the sharing of material and spiritual resources; and all early church leaders saw the accumulation of wealth as theft from the poor” – Rev. Ron
- “All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.” – Acts 2: 44-45
- And featuring the book, ‘Your Money or Your Life’, Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
First Sunday 3 July: Celebration of Communion, featuring music by Benjamin Coggins
Second Sunday 10 July: Ruth Sandy and the Coburg Singers
Third Sunday 17 July: Featuring music by Keith Hoffmann
Fourth Sunday 24 July: Featuring music by Josh Cake and the band
Saturday 2 July: Memorial service for Michael Stuart
Sunday 10 July: Coburg Uniting welcomes Sean and Caleb as new members.
Sunday 17 July: The baptism of Owen, the grandson of John and Kerry Hoffmann
Spiritual Growth Programs
July Topic: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr
• Men’s Group: postponed from 2 July to Saturday 9 July, 6-9pm at the manse
• Soul Group: Sunday 3 July, 11:45am-1pm
- Social Board Games Night: Thursday 14 July and Thursday 28 July (2nd and 4th Thursdays), 7:30-10pm in the front room at church
- Fourth Sunday shared lunch: Sunday 24 July, 11:45am-1pm, in the church hall.
- Coffee Chat and Play: Playgroup every Friday 10:30am-12pm during school term, beginning Friday 15 July
- Coburg Common: located behind Coburg Uniting Church. Come and garden, or buy a plant, or have a chat