Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Warm welcome to new faith community

Written by Rob Floyd, Assembly Associate General Secretary

I was delighted to attend a service formally welcoming the Liverpool Zimbabwean Faith Community into the Uniting Church in Australia.

For around 10 years a group of people, originally from the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe, have gathered from across Sydney at the Liverpool Uniting Church to share in worship and fellowship.

Known as the Zimbabwean Methodist Fellowship, the community meets on Sunday evenings for a time of singing, prayer and fellowship. It is an opportunity to meet with others and express their faith in both Shona and English.

Over this same period, the Uniting Church has strengthened its relationship with the Methodist Church in Zimbabwe (MCZ).

Through UnitingWorld, the UCA has had links to the MCZ since the early 1990s. This relationship was formalised in an official partnership agreement in 2016. Our two churches declared our mutual support and care for each other and our willingness to accept members from one another’s communities.

This prompted an ongoing conversation in Liverpool and the Parramatta Nepean Presbytery (PNP) about formally recognising the Liverpool Zimbabwean Faith Community in the UCA.

Joyfully, these efforts came to fruition with a recent meeting of the Parramatta Nepean Presbytery accepting the community into the UCA and the PNP as the Liverpool Zimbabwean Faith Community.

A service of recognition and welcome was held at Liverpool Uniting Church on 17 February led by John Cutts, Secretary of the PNP.

It was a wonderful occasion and time of celebration for all the congregation and particularly significant for the leaders of the Zimbabwean community who have worked so patiently and faithfully towards this outcome.

Leader of the community Anthony Chirape said, “We are greatly elated to be the first Zimbabwean Faith community of the Uniting Church.”

“We look forward to the journey ahead as we stand together as brothers and sisters in Christ, to re-energise the body of Christ, learn from each other, support each other and grow spiritually - for indeed a cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Eccl 4:12).”

Former National Chairperson of the Zimbabwe Methodist Fellowship Enock Mukucha expressed his delight through Psalm 133:1-2.

“How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in Unity. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe.”

Mr Cutts welcomed the entire community to come forward during the service and presented Mr Chirape with a certificate.

They were warmly welcomed by all in the Liverpool congregation, members of Presbytery and the wider church present.

Many of the members of this new faith community worship in other places across Sydney in the morning and then come together in the evening to celebrate in their own language and culture.

This is a wonderful example of how our UCA can welcome people into our communities, nurturing and supporting them in their life and faith.