Friday, 06 June 2014

Young Tongan Role Models to Shine in Sydney this weekend

More than 1000 Tongan members of the Uniting Church in Australia will gather in the foothills of Sydney’s Blue Mountains this long weekend for an annual celebration of Christian faith and Pacific culture.

The President of Uniting Church in Australia Rev. Professor Andrew Dutney says the event will be a powerful testimony to the great contribution young Tongan church leaders are making to the Australian community.

“Our Tongan Second Generation youth leaders are outstanding young role models and ambassadors for our Church,” said Rev. Prof. Dutney.

“The Uniting Church is so proud of the Christian community they form and build with each other, and the grace with which they share their faith and their culture.”

The Tongan National Conference is the largest annual gathering of Uniting Church members, attracting participants from all over Australia and overseas.

This year’s Conference titled “Charged by the Holy Spirit” runs from Friday 6 June to Monday 9 June at Meroo Christian Conference Centre in Kurrajong. 

Many Tongan youth groups will sing at the Conference’s Opening Service on Friday at which Rev. Prof Dutney is the guest preacher. The President of the Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga, Rev Dr Finau ‘Ahio, will be the guest preacher at Sunday worship.

Youth groups will play major roles in a gala Tongan Cultural Night on Saturday and perform improvised skits and drama on Sunday afternoon.

Tongan National Conference Chair Rev. Jason Kioa says the youth leaders taking part this weekend will speak for themselves in contrast to  the crude stereotypes of Tongan young people presented by the recent ABC TV series Jonah from Tonga.

“Tongans across Australia continue to be disappointed by the offensive characterisation of our Tongan youth and the denigration of Tongan culture,” said Rev. Kioa.

Representatives of ABC TV and the company that produced Jonah from Tonga, Princess Pictures, have both been invited to the National Conference to see for themselves the many positive role models of Tongan youth in Australia in action.