29 September 2023

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‘For such a time as this’: Deb’s assurance 

Deb Fox lives an exuberant life. She is passionate about her job as a journalist for a mission organisation. She loves being involved in her church, St Alfred’s in Blackburn North. She has a vast social network and a ready laugh which bounces off the walls of her small unit. A capable dancer, her petite frame seems to simmer with energy despite the exhaustion evident in her eyes. 

When I arrive, she meets me at the door with a grin, then cautiously steps backwards. 

“I just want to check, are you doing hugs?” she asks. “I don’t want to overstep.” 

Knowing a little of her story, I am initially surprised at her willingness to initiate physical contact during a pandemic, writes journalist Kirralee Nicolle. 

Australian Christian lobby faces complaints about flyers targeting MPs who opposed religious discrimination laws 

Australian Christian Lobby flyers targeting moderate Liberals who crossed the floor to amend the religious discrimination bill to protect LGBTIQ+ people have prompted complaints to the charities regulator that argue the material breaches rules on political campaigning. 

Leaflets distributed by the ACL depict Liberals Trent Zimmerman, Dave Sharma, Bridget Archer, Fiona Martin, and independent MP Rebekha Sharkie driving a wrecking ball into a church or school. 

Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission rules state charities can campaign on an issue, but it must not be seen to be promoting or opposing a particular political party or candidate. 

A small church community with big dreams 

A small Queensland church is helping its community through a neighbourhood outreach program that assists vulnerable residents. 

The Jehovah Jireh Baptist Church in Logan, just south of Brisbane, is mostly made up of Burmese migrants and asylum seekers who have settled in the area. 

As well as spiritual guidance, the church provides a place to refine English language skills, learn about family budgeting and use of social media, enjoy community, and grow fresh vegetables. 

‘Huge issue’: The athletes juggling faith and sport 

Hakeem al-Araibi quietly arrived at St Albans Saints Soccer Club training after sunset, holding a date and a drink. 

Al-Araibi and his teammates Zelfy Nazary and Mouad Zwed are among billions of Muslims who have abstained from food and drink during daylight hours since 2 April, with the trio continuing to play in the semi-professional National Premier Leagues Victoria. 

Accommodating athletes who are Muslims in sporting fixtures is a “huge issue” for administrators, according to Football Victoria head of diversity and inclusion Nick Hatzoglou. 

Hillsong founding member blows the whistle on hypocrisy and cover-ups, as the unravelling continues 

One of Hillsong’s founding figures has blown the whistle on the church’s culture, alleging that senior members knew of the sexual “deviance” of founder Frank Houston for years before it became publicly known. 

The allegations have been made by Geoff Bullock, who worked alongside Frank Houston and his son, the now disgraced Brian Houston, in establishing the original Hillsong church branch in north-west Sydney in 1983. 

In an interview broadcast on United States cable network NewsNation Bullock said he now felt a responsibility to speak up about Hillsong.  

Japan ordains first female bishop in east Asia 

The Anglican Communion in Japan is set to ordain Maria Grace Tazu Sasamori as Bishop of Hokkaido, making her the first female bishop in east Asia. 

Bishop-elect Maria Grace, a priest from the Diocese of Tokyo, was elected to her new role with the Japanese communion – the Nippon Sei Ko Kei – in November 2021, at the 80th Synod of the Diocese of Hokkaido.  

Christians celebrate ‘Holy Fire’ ceremony in tense Jerusalem 

Thousands of Christians have celebrated the traditional “Holy Fire” ceremony of blazing candles at the Holy Sepulchre church, Christianity’s holiest site in Jerusalem, to mark the eve of Orthodox Easter. 

Saturday’s ceremony comes against a backdrop of rising tensions with Israel, which imposed new restrictions on attendance this year that it said were needed for safety. Coronavirus constraints had severely limited attendance on the past two occasions. 

This year major Jewish, Christian and Muslim holidays have converged against a backdrop of Israeli-Palestinian violence. 

Photos show stark contrast in Easter celebrations in Ukraine and Russia 

Christians in Ukraine celebrated Easter this weekend, as Russia’s invasion entered its third month. 

Ukrainians started the holiday under curfew, after the country’s presidential office banned residents in all 24 regions from venturing outdoors at night as Russia intensified its attacks. 

The contrast was stark between Orthodox Christians in war-torn Ukraine and those in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin attended a midnight Orthodox Easter Mass. 

Young choose not to fight old science v religion battle, research suggests 

Hostility towards religion in favour of science is declining in the United Kingdom, new research suggests.  

The youngest adult respondents to a new survey were more likely to value the place of religion in the modern world than older generations. 

The public perception of a conflict between science and religion remains, however: more than 80 per cent of people in the survey said that the two were incompatible. 

The lost Jews of Nigeria 

Moshe Ben Avraham was born Moses Walison in Nigeria, and raised a churchgoing boy. He was no different from milllions of others in his part of the country. Now he is a practicing Jew, a member of one of the youngest Jewish communities in the world. 

Beginning in the 1990s, though, a number of people in southern and eastern Nigeria have become practising Jews, importing wholesale the rites of this unfamiliar faith and its foreign tongue. 

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