Friday, 01 September 2017

Young leaders find common ground in diversity

Written by By Malia Fineone Puna, Tonga Parish UCA, Synod of NSW/ACT

In the heart of Adelaide, about 30 young vibrant leaders of Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds from across the Uniting Church came together for the first time.

The National Second Gen CALD Conference was hosted at City Soul’s Experience Café from 25-27 August. The weekend was made possible by the faithful Samuel Chan, Second Gen Pastor of the SA Synod.

We were humbled by the Welcome to Country given by Sean Weetra-Newchurch of the Kaurna People and a young leader in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. Sean’s welcome set the warm and hospitable tone for the rest of the weekend.

Though we came from diverse cultural contexts, we discovered we had many things in common, as we entered ‘The Space for Grace’ facilitated by Amelia Koh-Butler, Executive Officer, Mission Resourcing – Uniting Church SA.

The ‘Space for Grace’ process allowed us to share our life stories and to listen and empathise with one another. We shared how differences are handled within our home context and the significance of identity and one’s spiritual life to persevere and endure.  

We found common themes surfaced - discovering our inherited faith, balancing tradition, culture and faith, intergenerational issues and experiences of when our voices may not be heard in both the local and wider church.

Leaders from across the country gathered to listen and provide insights on emerging issues, social gospel, challenging identity, and covenanting with First Peoples.

We Second Gen had the pleasure to exchange encouragement, ideas, resources and affirmations with President Elect Dr Deidre Palmer, Rev Dr Apwee Ting from the National Assembly Resourcing Unit, Moderator of the Synod of SA Rev Sue Ellis, Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, the Multicultural Ministry Coordinator from the Synod of WA and Next Gen Consultant Synod of NSW/ACT Bradon French.  

As a young, Tongan, female lay member from the Kelesi (Grace) Tonga Parish UCA in Sydney’s inner west, I know what intergenerational struggles looks like.

Being blessed with my role as the ‘Talekita ‘oe Potungaue Ako-Fakakalisitiane’ (Director of the Children and Youth Ministries) in the wider Tonga Parish UCA (the collective Parish of 11 Tongan UCA congregations in the Sydney Presbytery), I gained inspiration from my fellow Second Gen leaders.

The Conference gave me insights into developing a respectful, empowering and inclusive decision-making conversation by allowing space for grace. It is through these conversations that we support each other, care for each other and disciple each other.

I’ve walked away reflecting about where the UCA is growing and where it is declining, both locally and nationally and what that calls us as Second Gen people to be.

Whether this calls us to be pioneers, managers, innovators, reformers or revolutionaries, I understand that ultimately, if you want to build a church, you need to build up the people through discipleship.

 Learn about how to facilitate a conversation using Space for Grace

For Multicultural and Cross Cultural inquiries

mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.