Uniting Heart & Soul of Woollahra
God, what are you up to?
It was a Friday 9 weeks ago and at 11 am Gladys gave the orders that church would go into hibernation for the coming weeks due to the impending doom of Covid.
I could be heard screaming from my car “ NOOOO GOD!!!!! I have a strategic plan for my church and this has stuffed the plan, please God what are you thinking?” I quickly dusted myself off and I went straight into action. I rallied the troops, we were going into battle mode titled “WHAT COVID?”
I called Josh Wyatt at Signal box who was working with my team at Uniting Heart and Soul of Woollahra on all marketing and creative matters to help kick start our new church plant at Woollahra. Josh was totally unflappable and said, “Ness, I’ll be at your place at 3 pm we can film your sermon for the week and get it up online”.
I kept thinking this was NOT in our plan, God, what are you up to? I called the Uniting heart and Soul worship team aka Jonty Cornford “Musician extraordinaire” and Rachel Humphries “vocal angel” and inquired into their recording capacity. Jonty immediately said, “ Yes Ness we can do whatever you need, I have recording experience and all the necessary gear to put songs together”. Rachel was also 100% on board. Afterwards, I called Jessica Chau our creative director at church and she agreed to do the prayers. Josh from Signal box would do the final edit and load it on our Facebook page and website. Phew crisis diverted, time for a pinot!
I was so grateful to be able to bless our community with a service for that week. We had about 120 people watch that week. WOW, our church numbers doubled in lockdown who would have thought?
God, what are you up to?
God had assembled a team of people with very unique skills to bring about an online church. Jessica Chau is a famous movie star in Asia who has been in many action films, she is a total natural in front of the camera. Jonty is a musician and recording artist with years of experience, Rachel is studying Vocals at AIM Currently , Josh is the digital master of all film and creative things.
Before I was a Rev I was an actor and one of my gigs was as presenter on Good Morning Australia with Bert Newton in the ’90s. Was God going to actually use my TV skills for church and His mission (OK God just for a few weeks to get us through this Covid storm, so I thought). God had assembled all that we needed to do His mission for this time and place. Together we do a 30-minute online service that has a chill vibe. Music, Prayer, Message, Music is the liturgical flow of what we bring each week. Just long enough so you don’t dose off while you sip your coffee and sing.
After eight online services we have consistently seen growth and now we have over 1.3K people engaging with us in the week either on Facebook or our website.
Due to Covid, I say with a giggle, we have planted an online Uniting Church, which was possibly Gods plan for us all along but it took a pandemic for me to realise and to be brave enough to give it a try.
We want to share our resources with you at this time especially if you need good music and a no BS message about our radical Jesus. My style won’t suit everyone but some of you might see it as your jam.
Vanessa Williams-Henke (Rev. Ness)
September 22 2022 - 020: Swearing & Language Strap the fk in, because you cts are gonna fkn flip the fk out. That's right, we're going to be talking all about swearing and foul language from a Christian perspective. In order to talk about them, we do use the full gambit of curse words pretty liberally in this episode, so if that's going to be too much for you then this episode may not be for you. And that's ok!
September 15 2022 - 019: Dating (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 9) We round out our series on intimacy and sexuality with a chat about the wild world of dating.
Paul & Morgan on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWaNbFuGpJg&t=15s&ab_channel=PaulandMorgan
September 8 2022 - 018: Celebrating Palm Sunday (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 8) This week we attempt to be professionals while talking about masturbation.
Teen Sex By The Book by Patricia Weerakoon: https://www.koorong.com/product/teen-sex-by-the-book-third-edition-patricia-weerakoon_9781925725988
"Can Christians Masturbate?" by God Is Grey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8U4xe41eY4&t=59s&ab_channel=GodisGrey
September 1 2022 - 017: Marriage & Affairs (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 7) As we continue our look into topics of intimacy and sexuality, Ness gives us a peek through a window into her marriage, some of the rough patches, and the places where God intervened on their behalf. It is a story of healing and grace where brokenness and separation had every right to come out on top.
August 25 2022 - 016: Queer Theology Part 2 with Rev James Aaron (Love, Sex & Jesus Part Six) Jonty and Ness are joined by the legend himself - James Aaron. James shares stories of the queer experience in the church, in ministry, and in his health journey. Watch Ryan Sickler's Dave Chappelle story here.
August 18 2022 - 015: HEAVEN IS FOR REAL (Film Review) Jonty and Ness break down the 2014 film Heaven Is For Real with special guest Richard Penisini.
August 11 2022 - 014: Abortion and Roe v. Wade (Love, Sex & Jesus: Part 5) Ness tells a story from her past, and we hear from a dual-citizen lawyer on the recent Roe v. Wade controversy.
August 4 2022 - 013: Queer Theology (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 4) Jonty and Ness crack open the Bible and dive into some of the most famous Bible verses that are used to talk about homosexuality to see what they actually say. We also hear from both Matthew Vines and Caleb Kaltenbach on these verses from a New York Times piece called Debating Bible Verses on Sexuality.
July 28 2022 - 012: Purity Culture with Anonymous Guest (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 3) This week we are joined by an anonymous guest to talk about the effects of purity culture, and systems of control and abuse built around the concept of a woman's purity.
July 21.2022 - 011: What About Porn? (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 2) Jonty and Ness are joined again by psychologist July Ryan to discuss the effects of pornography on the brain and the desperate need for education and discussion around pornography.
July 14. 2022 - 010: Sex on Screen (Love, Sex & Jesus Part 1) Jonty and Ness dive into week one of a series on sexuality and intimacy by talking about how they first became aware of sexuality as a child and where those perceptions came from, before talking about the virtues and dangers of sex on screen. Ness has a good ol' fashioned rant in vent central, and Jonty reveals his inner gaming loser.
June 16, 2022 - 009: FILM REVIEW: FIRST REFORMED (Where the F**k is God, Part Eight Jonty and Ness discuss the question of where God is amongst climate catastrophe through the lens of Paul Schrader's 2018 masterpiece "First Reformed". We do spoil the whole film, so if you care about spoilers go and see the film first. You won't regret it, it's awesome.
June 10, 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 008: Poverty and Homelessness with Graham Long Wayside Chapel's Graham Long joins us to chat about poverty and homelessness and ask the question of where to find God amongst it all.
June 2, 2022 - 007: Where the F**k is God, Part Six - Infertility and IVF with Dr. Rob Henke Dr. Rob Henke is our guest this week to ponder the question: where the f**k is God amidst infertility and IVF?
May 20, 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 005: The Unlikely Minister We take a quick break from asking the question "where the f**k is God" while Ness tells a story about God working in unlikely places and Jonty gets on his high horse about movies.
May 13, 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 004: Where the F#@k is God Part Four - Childhood Trauma w/ Rev Ness This week Rev Ness recounts her story of surviving childhood trauma and abuse, and the complexities of finding God in the midst of that trauma. We do need to warn you: this episode goes there. It contains accounts of sexual assault and violence, so listener discretion is encouraged.
May 6, 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 003: Where the F#@k is God Part Three - Psychology w/ Julie Ryan. We continue to ask the tough questions about God's presence amongst some of the messiness of our lives. This week psychologist Julie Ryan talks to Jonty about her experiences working in psychology, and what's going on at the Oasis in Double Bay.
April 29 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 002: Where the F#&k is God Part Two - Depression & PTSD w/ Jonty. We continue to ask the question of where God is amongst the tough moments in our lives. This week Jonty shares about his experiences of depression and PTSD, and how those experiences were tied up in spiritual trauma in the church.
April 22 2022 - Filthy Hope Ep. 001: Where the F#&K is God Part One - Anxiety w/ Rev Ness. In week one of our series "Where the F#$k us God," Rev Ness shares her story of dealing with anxiety and mental health issues.
We now have Pod Casts from Uniting Heart and Soul