Church Times

Sunday Services- usually
  • Freekey: 9:00am (Except for third Sunday of month)
  • Foundational: 10:30am
  • Combined service 10:30am (Third Sunday of month

Warrnambool Uniting Church

Is part of the Hopkins Region in the Presbytery of Western Victoria, along with Port Fairy and Allansford and Mortlake Parishes.

As followers of Jesus Christ, with the aid of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, we at Warrnambool Uniting Church seek to care for and cherish the diversity of God’s people of every age, culture, creed, gender and socio-economic group in response to God’s embrace of all. We are a Christ-centred congregation, connected in Christ to God and to one another, seeking to follow his example, working to show that the Gospel is relevant to today’s community.

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. . .

• Joyfully Serious
• Faithfully Changing
• Serving Hopefully
• Lovingly Challenging

. . .

• Rev Geoff Barker
• Rev Malcolm Frazer
• Pastor Marjorie Crothers

. . .

• Tracey Madden
• Milly Morrow



The Warrnambool Uniting Church is located in the centre of the city, at 115 Koroit Street, between Banyan and Liebig. Floor level access is available from the carpark at the southern side of the church building.

By proadAccountId-378506 18 Aug, 2017

Growing Up Full of Grace

At Home Group earlier this month we talked about the idea of the show Growing Up Gracefully, where Hannah and Eliza Reilly who are ‘20-somethings’ trying to negotiate life. They are comparing the rules of etiquette from a 1950s book Growing Up Gracefully with the messages they get today from social media. In each episode they look at a topic like posture, dress, dating etc.


We thought we’d have a go at what we would say in Growing Up Full of Grace - recognizing that we are held in the grace of God.


We got into groups and looked at Body Image and Looks, Friends, Relationships and Sex, and Gender Roles, comparing social media and Jesus.

Here’s some points we came up with (that got noted down) in the conversations:


Body Image and Looks

Social Media


Judges and is critical  

No judgment

Artificial values and boundaries

More interested in thoughts, actions and beliefs than looks

Causes exclusion with blocking and unfriending

All inclusive, accepting

Continuation of schoolyard behaviour


Encourages bullying


Unhealthy- eating disorders




Jesus befriended people who didn’t have ‘image’.

Social media has good messages and bad. Hate messages can do enormous damage.

Facebook friendships can be very superficial. Jesus is on about deeper, genuine friendships of caring, helping, loving and trust.

Whenever there’s a bust up, someone needs to take the initiative for forgiveness. Jesus encourages us to be that someone.


 Relationships and Sex

Jesus is on about true love- which is wanting the best thing for your partner

Always be respectful

Take time to become friends

Physical intimacy should always be in sync with how well you know the person, how much you trust them and your commitment to them.

Never push beyond clear consent

Don’t be creepy

Don’t look at porn and (if you do) don’t think what you see is how to treat someone

Different or same gender is OK

Being single is OK too. Don’t let yourself feel you need to be in a relationship to be OK.


Gender Roles



Zone in on looks and judges –eg ‘dumb blond’      

Talked to women when it wasn’t culturally OK

Women politicians demeaned eg the media

asked the NZ Opposition leader if she would have a baby-

wouldn’t do the same with a man

Respectful of women

It’s harder to climb the ladder for women

Included women

Women sports stars are paid less than men

Women were his supporters and disciples




By proadAccountId-378506 21 Jul, 2017

Today in the carpark behind the church was an old Commodore wagon with a sticker on the back window saying something like ‘Chevy stickers on Commodores make Baby Jesus cry’. I thought there has to be a blog in that.

Now I reckon baby Jesus probably only cried for milk, or cold or a change of swaddling clothes . . . or just general baby tired and grumpiness. But once he grew up . . .

There’s one record of the man Jesus crying- everyone who went to Sunday School knows it- it’s the shortest verse in the bible- Jesus wept. (John 11:45) It was from his sadness when his friend Lazarus died and he was also affected by the whole community grieving. Jesus was human like any of us and felt all the normal emotions, sadness, anger, joy, loneliness, frustration. Somehow we’ve missed thinking of Jesus as being funny too. Most of his jokes have worn a bit thin over 2000 years but his stories like the one about a camel going through the eye of a needle would have been hilarious in his day.

So I reckon he would have laughed rather than cried about a Commodore with a Chevy sticker. Chevys and Commodores come from the same family- General Motors- but somehow Chevys seem a bit more muscly and butch than Commodores. Jesus wasn’t sucked in by people trying to be what they’re not. He could see right through hypocrites and wasn’t impressed by them. I think he would have laughed. But with Jesus, it would have been a laugh- that didn’t contain scorn- but had a touch of sadness about it too. If only people were more self-aware. If only people would be content to be who they are they’d be a lot happier and cause a lot less problems for themselves and others.

By proadAccountId-378506 21 Jul, 2017

The other day a young man emailed me asking what is my methodology for reading the bible.   This is the answer I hastily replied with-

That's a big question.

The first thing is to recognise that the bible is a collection of books written over a long period of time, and often after a long period of oral tradition then being written, compiled and edited.

In the Christian bible there are two parts called the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament is also the Jewish bible. The New Testament is the story of Jesus and writings from the early church.

There are different types of literature- history, poetry, oracles, letters; and the history sections contains myths (in the best sense of the word- that is truths told in the form of a story in which the details of the story are not facts but the story as a whole describes a truth), some legends, some fables and historical events interpreted in a religious framework.

The bible has a developing understanding of God through its history, and has many contradictions. It's a book that needs interpretation as people weigh up the importance of different parts against each other. Jesus was a Jewish person who sought to reform the Jewish religion of his time.  Christians believe Jesus has revealed a better understanding of God; and opened up the possibility of all people having a relationship with God.

We believe that the bible records people's experience of God, and that when we read the bible God can speak to us in our inner voice through what the bible says.

So when you read the bible it is good to first pray asking God to help you understand it, it is good to look for what type of literature it is, what the context of the passage is, and then whether there are similarities between its context and our context today and ask yourself if what it is saying then applies for us today.

If you are wanting to make a start with the bible I would suggest you read one of the gospels- Matthew, Mark, Luke or John- which tell the story of Jesus' life.

By proadAccountId-378506 24 Mar, 2017

In my holidays in February we took our grandchildren to Roar’n’Snore where you camp overnight at the Melbourne Zoo. The roar we noticed most was the traffic (compared to home). But it was great fun. Anyhow there was one little incident that was very precious.

We were in the butterfly house with hundreds of brilliantly coloured butterflies fluttering around. There was a Chinese girl around Caleb’s age- nearly eight- who had a butterfly sitting on her finger. Gently and without a word she took Caleb’s hand to give him the butterfly. It took a while for the butterfly to step off her finger onto his finger. He’s not one for standing silently or still, but he did, and it did transfer itself to him. We watched awestruck and moved. It was a beautiful gift she offered him, and he received it reverently.

Butterflies are often a symbol of Easter- of new life after death; where the ugly moth ‘dies’ into its cocoon and later emerges beautiful and able to fly. It’s symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection, which wasn’t to the same life, but into a mysterious new life- where he was able to briefly reveal himself to his disciples and then to connect through the gift of his Spirit. And it’s an image of the promise to us of a greater living beyond this life.

The gorgeous exchange between the girl and Caleb also give me hope for a transformed world; where racial and gender differences do not matter, where human generosity is offered, recognised and received with respect, where people interact with purity of heart, and a love of beauty and nature.

Geoff Barker

By proadAccountId-378506 20 Jan, 2017
- 2016 CHRISTMAS DAY MESSAGE - John 1:1-14 - Rev Malcolm Frazer



Every year the OXFORD DICTIONARY people declare an international word of the year.
In 2016 that word of the year is….….. “post-truth”.

And that word says a lot about the world we are now living in.

TRUTH no longer seems to hold the same prominence.

As displayed in the Brexit and Trump elections where politicians now feel free to blatantly mouth off about anything and make all sorts of claims, accusations and promises, threats.  And whereas in the past you were called to give some substance and facts to those claims at least. Not so now

One example. For five years Trump questioned President Obama’s birth citizenship and thus his legitimacy to be US President, even though he had no evidence to suggest it. Only a couple of months ago did he finally admit that there was no substance to that claim.

Then, leading up to the US election, all sorts of other wild and outrageous promises and accusations, about how we was going to do this and that and lock up Hilary Clinton….
But, after the election, unashamedly, now he is saying that was all huff and bluff. ‘What you say before an election and what you do after election are two different things’, says Trump.

Now that could give you some consolation, that he’s not as bad as he has been suggesting by his pre-election hot air.

But it’s also alarming - Because what is the TRUTH ? And, is he someone who will stand by the truth ? Or will he just do or say anything he wants to get the result that HE wants, that is good for his own self interest ?

Whether you share my political alarm or not,
the truth is that truth is going out the window in our current climate….
And the stuff that George Orwell wrote about in his books like “1984” …..with the controllers and manipulators of the “truths” giving you what they want you to hear, are coming to be realised !

You would have heard also in the US election about the Fake News Stories. The outrageous shocking claims that denigrated the opposing candidate…….
the sort of stuff you used to see in some of the women’s magazines, full of gossip and lies and innuendo with very little substance. But being peddled as truth.
The difference now though is, because of the internet and social media, like Facebook, what in the past we would have laughed off as ridiculous sensationalist gutter journalism,
instead goes viral and gets into people’s phones and tablets in no time,
all with the effect of discrediting your opponent.
Then, by the time anyone has bothered to verify and recognise it’s just a Fake post, it’s already done it’s damage, especially amongst the masses
who don't even bother to check the validity.

A post truth world indeed !

Then there are the climate change sceptics. A view held also by Trump, which is a Big concern for the future of the planet.

Some of you might have seen the Q&A panel in the middle of the year, where they were discussing climate change …..featuring BRIAN COX physicist and BBC presenter and the Paulinne Hanson One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts, who is an ardent ‘man made’ climate change denier. (see picture above)

There was the exasperation of Brian Cox who was holding up clear and & overwhelming data of scientific research showing the effects of man made climate change. - Roberts of course questioned the validity of the figures. But then, when all those facts were being shown to him, his fallback position was, “It’s all a conspiracy !” …That NASA were doctoring all the figures for their own ends.

Conspiracy theories - Sounds familiar ?
- Once someone’s in that mindset You might as well be talking to a brick wall.

We confront that sort to thinking in the Church also.
We have Churches and preachers and people who want to read the Bible in a literal way, like it was a science book, and who don’t want to hear anything that might question their way of reading the Bible and seeing the world.

So it is that we’ve got a CREATION SCIENCE MUSEUM in Kentucky in the United States, (run by an Australian preacher)….where they have Dinosaurs and humans roaming around together….because they say the earth is only 6 thousand years old !! - Because that’s what the time frames are in the Bible.

Hardline fundamentalism is everywhere. People who are fixed in their truths, unwilling to consider other truths, even when confronted with facts.

It’s in religion, Christian or Muslim Fundamentalism or whatever else.
And, it’s also held by Atheist Fundamentalists.
People unwilling to investigate new possibilities of a God or religious truths.


So, why am I rambling on about all this ?

Because when Jesus came to this earth, full of grace and truth,
with new insights of God and truth that liberated people to see positively their place in the world in a whole new way, he was met with the very same hardliner resistance.

And it was the fundamentalists…and the ruthless politicians, (who manipulated truth to hold their power over others), who had him executed, because his truths were too threatening to their own.
But the Good News, is that you can’t kill truth just like that.

Truth is not so easily destroyed. And, it comes back at us.

Though the truth was killed in body, He lived on in His Spirit.

Which is why we are here today.
In John’s Gospel
TRUTH is a big word. - Twenty three times it’s found in John’s Gospel.
Far more than any other book in the Bible. The next in New Testament was then times in 1 John. Then in Romans it occurs eight times.

So in John’s Gospel there are the most occurrences of the word in any book in the Bible. Which gives a big clue to what he is on about.

And so we read passages like……
“The truth will set you free” - Reality will set you free. (John 8:32)
And “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life”……. (John 14:6)…..


Now you might be thinking…..
“How can I know this isn’t all just mumbo jumbo ?” “Isn’t religion just about ‘personal beliefs’ anyway. “My truth, your truth, they’re all different, all very subjective. You can take it or leave it. But you can’t talk about TRUTH really ! ”

Well I want to finish by saying there are some TRUTHS we know -
like the fact that Jesus actually lived….and that He died by crucifixion - as recorded by the Jewish history Josephus and Roman historian Tacitus.

So Jesus is no Santa Claus figure - He was real.

The other thing we also know categorically was that the lives of the disciples, his followers, were dramatically transformed by his life, and, especially after HIs death. So convinced were his followers by this new Truth which they had discovered in Jesus, that they too risked and laid down their lives and lived in a radically new way that dramatically shaped the world in which we live in today.

They are the facts - What you question and what you arrive at from there is open to debate. But I encourage you to be open to those truths and to investigate the ‘truth claims’ of Jesus.

But to the real sceptics, I would also say that there are certain tests of TRUTH
that we can use to sift what is true from what is false…

1. First and foremost - Jesus says in Matt 7:16 , in the section where he is warning against false prophets, “By their fruit you will know them” - (Matt 7:15-23)

‘It’s not what people say, but what they do’…says Jesus.
Their fruit will tell you what someone is really peddling.

2. Then another good test - is to ask ‘ARE THEY WILLING TO HAVE THEIR TRUTHS TESTED ?’ - “Are these people open to other truths…and people of other views ?
Or are they simply locked into their own ways of seeing things ?”
“Is ‘everyone who thinks differently to me an ENEMY, an infidel, a heretic;
a threat to my power and place in the world ????’
I want to say that I am glad to be part of a Uniting Church that is not a closed shop;
We are a Church that encourages people to question, to seek.
We are open to scientific insight…
We are also respectful of other viewpoints….and……..other faiths,

But like Jesus, that also gets into trouble with the hardliners,
who see such openness as a threat.
So, there is a cross for anyone who earnestly seeks and lives for the truth;

This Christmas then, I dare you,
to check out the One who is full of grace and TRUTH.
Because we need that Truth in our world more than ever.

For, if we seek the TRUTH, we have nothing to fear.

Indeed, as Jesus said, “The Truth will set you free”. (John 8:32)
May you enjoy your Christmas conversations.
May they be full of truth and light.
And, I pray, that in our so called “post truth” world,
that you will have the courage to seek the truth.
And not only hear what you want to hear.


PRAYER   - Jesus, bring us into truth.
    Meet us this Christmas IN A WAY that reveals your life changing and       liberating truth to us.
    In a world that is full of lies and deceptions;
    In a world where so many grow skeptical and cynical and are losing hope in old truths, come to us afresh with your truth and grace and in the power of your Holy Spirit, who sets us free to live in your truth.

In the goodness of your name Lord Jesus, we pray and live again. AMEN.

By proadAccountId-378506 12 Jan, 2017

A few weeks back I had a go at archery. There were targets mounted on a stack of big hay bales about 3 metres high. I managed to hit the target a few times, but not the bulls eye.   Some people’s shots scudded along the ground and into the bottom of the hay bales. One of mine went right over the top and finished up at the far end of a chookyard, fortunately missing all the chooks.

It made me think about the real meaning of humility. It’s about having an accurate estimate of yourself with your strengths and weaknesses, your good and bad. Many people, like the shots that hit the ground underestimate themselves too much. Poor self-esteem limits them grasping the opportunities that come their way. Others, like my shot into the chookyard overestimate themselves and their importance- ignoring their weaknesses. Narcissists can be quite dangerous. Pity some get into powerful positions.

Getting an accurate estimate of yourself is a good skill.   It takes honesty, self-knowledge and courage.  So I'm not too flash at archery, but practice could make me better.

By proadAccountId-378506 17 Dec, 2016
A funny thing happened on Wednesday.  I'd put the message in the photo above in the church front window two weeks before.  Christmas can be a difficult time for people because of  all the marketing pressure to have a perfect family and a perfect Christmas.  And I wanted to give a message that relieved some of that pressure and feelings of guilt.  But it was time to change the message. 
So I went down into the window and began removing the letters.  Not only does it get hot in the window, one feels very on show and exposed, so I got on with it without looking out the window.
Just as I did, a woman banged on the window calling out 'I was just going to take a photo of that!'  That was funny because only about one person had even mentioned the window message to me in the two weeks.
So I replaced the letters.  Then she had trouble taking a photo on her phone.  Then she stopped a young woman in the street and asked her help but was still having trouble.  So I came outside and helped her with her photo and took one for myself.  It was lovely to meet her and if she reads this-  I send my best wishes to you.
By proadAccountId-378506 31 Oct, 2016

Today we went to one of my favourite shops- Spotlight. They had heaps of Christmas stuff out. Traditional Christmas things like trees and Santas and reindeer and tinsel; and other new merchandise in Christmas colours about which I couldn’t see any connection to Christmas. But there was absolutely nothing of Jesus and his birth. Then by the Christmas stuff was Buddha.

It made me think what an insult to Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha! And what a relief for Jesus! Jesus and his teaching of deep and wide-spread love, forgiveness, simplicity and justice is now totally separated from the guilt-ridden indulgence of consumerism that starts in October and ends abruptly about 3pm on 25th December.

Geoff Barker

By proadAccountId-378506 28 Oct, 2016

Last night we went to the Reardon Theatre at Port Fairy to see the film Captain Fantastic. We’d seen the trailer the other week and thought it would be worth seeing. It’s about a family that live a very alternative lifestyle in the mountains in the United States. The mother has suffered from a severe mental illness, has been away in hospital but has committed suicide. The Dad and the six children head to the city in their bus called ‘Steve’ for their wife and mother’s funeral, against the wishes of her parents. The children have been home-schooled and are very knowledgeable about everything except the ways of modern US society. There’s a big culture shock.

All that appealed to me- the critique of our consumer culture- sympathy for hippie types who seriously seek an alternative. But it started to jar for me when the family’s ethics were about respect for everyone- except Christians.  There’s a funny scene when the make a policeman quickly back off by pretending to be fundamentalist Christians. While there’s much I disagree with and get embarrassed by with fundamentalist Christians, I don’t like seeing them the targets of mockery from outside.

At the end, as they do at Port Fairy, people clapped the film. (It’s lovely and quirky going to films there). As we came out I overheard someone ask someone ‘What did you think of that?’ ‘Terrible!’ was the reply. I wouldn’t say ‘terrible’. It was a bit unrealistic at times; but it was thought provoking. The family had a fundamentalism of their own. There seems to be a streak in all of us that I think is God-given, that rebels against fundamentalist control of any type. This came through in the struggles of two of the sons.

It made me think about that balance of being ‘in the world but not of the world’.  The family were rigorous in their attempt to live totally outside the dominant culture.  But they still seemed to have money for what they needed (though they chose to ‘liberate’ a big load of groceries in one scene).

How do we keep money in its place in a culture that sees it as the goal of everything? How do we bring up our children to not be corrupted by the hypocritical values of the media but at the same time not be naïve? Which aspects of ‘‘the man’ do we want to stick it to’ and which aspects of society do we want to uphold?

We’ve all got to do the hard work of working this out for ourselves. And respecting where others are on their journey. Christians are called to love ‘the world’ as God does. So it’s not about escaping it, but engaging it- with love as our highest value.  Being like a spice in food as Jesus suggested. And, as we are all safely held in the grace of God, seeing this as an adventure, not some difficult test we’re at risk of passing or failing.

Geoff Barker
By proadAccountId-378506 14 Oct, 2016
Thanks to Justin Williams of iXplain IT who's teaching me to use this website.  So look forward to blogs coming.  That photo is not Warrnambool

Office Hours
Tuesday – Friday: 9:15 am – 1:00 pm

Phone: (03) 5561 6085

Child Care Centre
(03) 5561 3929
Director: Liz Sparrow

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Check back soon to learn what’s coming up at Warrnambool Uniting Church.

. . .

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