News & Events

As well as the official site for donating to the January 2022  Tonga earthquake and tsunami relief work, there is another simple way to support the appeal –
by purchasing a copy of a booklet entitled Poems For A Pandemic.  This is a collection of whimsy about Covid19.  Written by Barry Horn, the verses brought a smile for readers through the long months of lockdown and restrictions – an example is below.
Poems For A Pandemic can be purchased by emailing  The full cost of $5 is donated directly to help the recovery in Kanokupolu Village, the home village of our friend and former minister, Rev Sylvia Akauola-TongoTongo.
Barry is also available as a speaker about the poems and the appeal.________________________________
Our new minister
After a long period of waiting the congregation welcomed our new minister In July 2023 –  Rev Hye Ja Kim.  Originally from Korea, Hye Ja has been in Australia for over 20 years and trained for the ministry in Sydney.  Her most recent placement was at the Bellingen Uniting Church in New South Wales and her husband  David has also ministered in that area. They have family in Melbourne.
We look forward to many years of worshipping together.





BHUC member Peter Biggs has been a Lifeline volunteer for over 30 years and in 2021 was appointed to the staff in charge of training in Suicide Intervention.  He tells the story of Lifeline.
In 1963, Sydney based Methodist Minister the late Rev. Dr. Sir Alan Walker took a call from a distressed man who later took his own life. Determined not to let isolation and lack of support be the cause of more deaths, Sir Alan, then head of the Central Methodist Mission, launched a 24-hour crisis support line, which subsequently became “Lifeline”.
Lifeline is now a national service that anyone can call at any time, to discuss concerns about a wide range of issues. It is resourced by over 11,000 volunteers and 1,000 staff ensuring a 24 hour, 365 day service. There are over 60 Lifeline centres throughout Australia. All are connected, allowing any caller to reach a Crisis Supporter at any time. Lifeline is able to handle over 3,000 calls per day.
The Melbourne and Ballarat Lifeline centres are managed by Wesley Mission Victoria, which in 2017 was incorporated into Uniting Vic/Tas, as was the East Burwood Centre.
Crisis supporters are well trained to provide assistance and referrals across a wide array of issues including personal crisis, anxiety, depression, loneliness, abuse, trauma and stress, as well as suicidal thoughts.
Lifeline also provides crisis support in other ways, plus training in Suicide Prevention and Domestic Violence Awareness for the community, businesses and Government.
As a national charity, Lifeline relies on community support. Government grants and other services such as training and op-shops also provide funding.
Lifeline’s phone number : 13 11 14.


After nearly seven years, our much-loved minister, Rev Sylvia Akauoloa-Tongotongo, concluded her ministry at Burwood Heights on 21st November 2022, to take up a new role within the Uniting Church.  Her time with us was a time of great blessing.  As minister, counsellor and friend she led us in worship and cared for each member of the congregation in a very personal way.

Sylvia and John subsequently returned to New Zealand.


A recording of favourite carols sung at Burwood Heights
and the special music of The Couriers Quintet is available here: .


Each year we celebrate National Volunteers Day.  This is the story of one Volunteer:

Sheilah Blanchfield is a TeleFriend volunteer with Villa Maria Catholic Homes.  Telefriends make weekly phone calls to people who are vulnerable or socially isolated.
Sheilah says “A lot of people have trouble with technology, so in today’s world they’re really left behind.  TeleFriend is a simple, old fashioned and easy way of communicating.  The idea is to let them talk and I listen.  You can usually notice a lift in their spirits by the end of the call.”
“If you can just do something for somebody else, it’s enough.  It’s a nice feeling and you can make some great friends.”
Sheilah has a special affinity with the Villa Maria organisation.  Blind since birth, she attended their special school, St Pauls College, in the 1950s.

Uniting East Burwood was able to offer only limited Emergency Relief service during the two years of lockdowns and restrictions.  Now in May 2022 the doors are open again, welcoming clients into the building.
We are always grateful for the support and ongoing contributions which help to keep the cupboards stocked.  The donation form can be accessed here:

Burwood Heights has consistently supported Frontier Services over many years and in 2020  drought, fire and flood have increased the pressure.  The Mission and Outreach Committee has forwarded a cheque for $2500.

The Bushfire Fundraising Concert in March 2020 raised $3,043, including $438 from sale of Jan’s Jams and $319 from the bric-a-brac table.  The proceeds were given direct to a family who had lost their home.  Many thanks to the wonderful performers, several from our congregation, and especially to organizer Edith Ellis and her helpers.

Geoffrey Grinton was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2020 Australia Day Honours list, for service to the Uniting Church in Australia.
Geoffrey has fulfilled a formidable number of roles, at all levels, for the Uniting Church.
Business Manager for Assembly Meetings, 2003-2018 and Member of Assembly from 1994-2018.
Member, Assembly Standing Committee Governance Committee, since 2013.
Member, Assembly Standing Committee, since 2009 and 2003-2005.
Chairperson and Member, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania Business Committee, 1980-2016.
Member, VicTas Synod Standing Committee, 1981-2017.
Secretary and Inaugural Chairperson, Presbytery of Yarra Yarra since 2016 and previously held similar roles in the previous Presbytery of Maroondah.
Member of the Burwood Heights Uniting Church Congregation since 1977 and    Chairperson of the Congregation since 2013.
Geoffrey has also been President of the Heidelberg Choral Society since 2014.
Congratulations Geoffrey.

Our Playgroup is a fun gathering for little people and  grown-ups.
Wednesdays 10.00am to 11.30am during school terms,
in the Church Fellowship Room.


Phil Bock was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.  The citation reads as follows: –
For se
rvice to geology, marine biology, and to the community. Service includes:
– Honorary Researcher, Museums Victoria, since 1982
– Member, International Bryozoology Association 
– Editor and Contributor, World Register of Marine Species 
– Member, International Society for Reef Studies.
It is not the first time Phil’s work has been recognized:
– Inaugural Recipient, Ellis Medal, International Bryozoology Association, 2016

– Recipient, Golden Trilobite Award, Palaeontological Association, United Kingdom, for “high quality amateur and institutional websites that promote the charitable aims of the association”, 2010
– Discoverer, previously undiscovered barnacle of Genus: Tetraclitella, in a sandstone block at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Courts, 2006.
He has also co-authored several books, and since retiring from RMIT has tutored in Geology for University of the Third Age.
Congratulations Phil.

After the cyclone in February that devastated our Rev Sylvia’s home country of Tonga, donations were collected and a concert held featuring talented violinists from Presbyterian Ladies College.  The amount raised was over $10,000.

COMPANIONS ON THE ROAD 2018Early in March, 41 “Companions on the Road” enjoyed the  beautiful sights of the Kiewa Valley.  Based in Bright, their bus journey included stops at Mansfield, Wandiligong, Harrietville, Tawonga, as well as visiting the historic Kiewa Hydro-Electricity Scheme and the Dartmouth dam.
They returned with a feeling of  thanksgiving for the wonders of God’s creation, the overflowing bounty of His love and grace, and the fellowship shared.

ECOS Celebrated its 5th BIRTHDAY

ECOS (English Conversations for Overseas Students)  provides informal English practice for international students, working holiday travellers, new migrants and refugees – at Burwood Heights Uniting Church, 7pm Sundays.
In October 2017,  when ECOS celebrated five years of chatting, the participants and volunteers present sang ‘Happy Birthday’ together in their own languages.
20 participants have been given a certificate or “joined the 25 Club” by attending at least 25 sessions, while eight have received a personalised coffee mug for visiting 50 times.  Long-time participant Judy has been awarded a trophy for joining the exclusive 100 Club. She was given the honour of blowing out the candles on the birthday cake.
Teaching English to young people and migrants has been very rewarding for the volunteers as they can learn about different cultures and form friendships across generations.
Read a full report on the Crosslight website –


1st October 2021 – Anniversary of the opening of our church building in 1961_________________________

22nd June 2017 – We celebrated the 40th birthday of The Uniting Church of Australia


On Easter Sunday 2017 our Floral Cross was placed on the corner of the Highway and Blackburn Road, for passers by to see the symbol of a joyful day.


The Bible Society Turns 200
On March 7th 2017, the Bible Society in Australia turned 200. It is Australia’s longest living organisation.
In 1817, Governor Macquarie founded a branch of the British and foreign Bible society in Sydney. It began one month before the first bank (the bank of New South Wales, now Westpac) and all of the original directors of the bank were directors of the Bible Society. The Bible is still the world’s most read book with over five billion copies having been printed.

A concert in October 2016 raised $1,572 for Possible Dreams International.  The Pleasant Sunday Afternoon was provided by the a capella group VoiceBox, who gave a most professional performance, choosing songs that had wide appeal.
This was an opportunity to further support Maithri Goonetilleke’s significant work in Swaziland, where Possible Dreams partners with rural and remote communities to empower families and individuals living with extreme poverty, malnutrition and endemic disease.

FrontFrontier Services Dan McAloonier Services Patrol Ministers are constantly on the road  across 85% of Australia, working with Indigenous communities, on isolated properties and mining sites and with remote communities.Travelling tens of thousands of kilometres each year, visiting thousands of families and individuals, the Patrol Ministers aim to be thought of as friends who can be called on in times of need.
The work is entirely funded through public donations, corporate partnerships and grants from philanthropic organisations.  Burwood Heights supports Frontier Services and in June we were visited by Rev Dan McAloon, who shared recent news of the Service.

On Sunday 31st May 2015, a large crowd attended a concert held to raise funds for relief work in Vanuatu. Featuring several soloists and the Canterbury Tongan Men’s Choir, the event raised $2,000.
2015 May 31 Concert 11 - Copy2015 May 31 Concert 4

The second concert raising money for the people of Vanuatu was held on Sunday 28th June.  The Oakleigh City Brass Band performed a program of music chosen to relate to the commemoration of Anzac.  Talented soloists added to the high quality of the event and over $1,900 was raised to support the work of Reason 2 Live.

 Cultural Diversity Week logo - croppedCelebrating Australia’s harmonyday 2014 - Copy
cultural diversity
with inclusiveness,
respect and a sense of
belonging for everyone.

What a wonderful weekend when we welcomed our new minister, Rev Sylvia Akauola-TongoTongo.  Her Induction on Friday 13th February 2015 was memorable, not only for the torrential rain, thunder and the lightning which cut the power for the first half hour, but for the inspirational service as Sylvia accepted the symbols of ministry.
A highlight was the wonderful sound of the Tongan choir which resonated around the building, as they sang the Lord’s Prayer and a Blessing, in their native tongue.
On Sunday 15th February, Sylvia led us in worship for the first time and we now journey together as she takes up her ministry among us.