UCA members from Tongan, Indonesian, Samoan, Chinese, Arabic, Burmese, African and Anglo-Celtic communities came to share their stories and learn from one another.
Conference sessions covered ‘cultural intelligence’, how our culture affects our understanding of the Bible and bridging the gap between first and second generations.
My personal highlight was when the young people shared with the ‘older folk’ on how they can better engage with the young people in the Church.
Participants all expressed a keen desire to learn more about how to engage more widely across the Uniting Church, and are prepared to take on more responsibility in their congregations and faith communities.
First generation participants were called to spend more quality time with the second generation, passing on their wisdom and mentoring them.
Changing the way of worship was also on the agenda with the suggestion to develop some biblical smartphone applications for worship to allow members to access their worship materials wherever they are.
It was clear to me that young leaders in these communities have great energy and commitment to be part of the Uniting Church, and if we resource them well, will be our future leaders.
It’s good to let them know too that the Uniting Church has a lot to offer them, through the lived experiences of our lay leaders and clergy.
One thing in common for our culturally and linguistically diverse communities are the significant cross-cultural and intergenerational tensions they face in their family and church life.
There is still more work to be done across the life of our Church to create space for all of our communities to tell joyful and even the painful stories of their experiences.
I’m constantly amazed at the great strength of these communities and their openness to learn, to share, to invest and be part of the mission of God in the Uniting Church.
Rev. Charissa Suli is a National Consultant in the Assembly Resourcing Unit and the NextGen Convenor for the Tongan National Conference.