The service was presided over by WA Moderator Rev. Steve Francis, held 8 months after a monthly Fijian worship began at Crossways under the pastoral care of local minister Rev. William Lucas.
Members of the Fijian community shared their testimonies of their years of searching in Perth for a faith community which would not only welcome them but also allow a space for them to worship in their own language.
As new members of Crossways Uniting Church they will attend the weekly English service and also hold fortnightly Fijian language services.
The Crossways community has welcomed their Fijian sisters and brothers with open arms, as was evident in the fellowship that followed after the service, which included a traditional Fijian ceremony in which the new members presented a tabua (whale’s tooth) to Rev. Francis.
The tabua, the most prized possession for Fijians, was a symbolic offering of themselves as members of the UCA and WA Synod.
The reception of Fijian members in the Uniting Church was the first since the signing of a partnership agreement between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Methodist Church in Fiji.
Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan signed the partnership agreement at the Methodist Church in Fiji annual conference last August. The agreement commits the two churches to work together in sharing their life and mission, affirming the shared Methodist heritage and history.
“Through this partnership agreement, we call on all our sisters and brothers, who have settled in Australia and who are members of the Methodist Church in Fiji to transfer their membership to the Uniting Church in Australia, which is our sister church, and with whom we have had a very long relationship. You will no longer sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. You have found a home,” said Methodist Church in Fiji President, Rev. Dr. Banivanua in a congratulatory video message to the congregation at Crossways.
Under the partnership agreement, UnitingWorld will facilitate an exchange program for groups to visit the Methodist Church in Fiji and encourage ministers to serve in their partner church.
In his sermon, Rev. Francis urged the new cross cultural church to be devoted to each other and practice the unconditional love that binds all believers.
Present at the historic occasion was Associate General Secretary Rev. Dr Ian Tozer and Methodist Church in Fiji’s Secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission, Rev. James Bhagwan who also represented UnitingWorld.