Thursday, 06 June 2019

Uniting in faith and commitment

Written by Rev Dr Apwee Ting

For the first time 11 of the 12 National Conference Chairs (Tongan, Niuean, Fijian, Samoan, Korean, Indonesian, Chinese, Tamil, Filipino, South Sudanese and Middle East) met with the President and Assembly Resourcing Unit in Parramatta on 24 May 2019.

Dr Deidre Palmer started the meeting with opening worship and asked a couple questions to ponder: “In your ministry context, where have you experienced/seen God’s liberating hope expressed through the life and mission of our Church?” and “What sustains you in your Christian discipleship, as you seek to faithfully follow Christ?”

After the worship, each person had an opportunity to introduce themselves. Most were newly elected Chairperson in their respective National Conferences.

Then each Chair shared their community's joy, hope and challenges as followers of Jesus in the life of the Uniting Church.

There were three common themes that emerged from the sharing:

1. Belonging in the Uniting Church

People shared about living ‘inbetween’ their home church traditions/denominations and Uniting Church which is committed to Covenanting and sovereignty for First Peoples, a multicultural church, justice and leadership for all people.

2. Preparing and training for lay leaders

In their ministerial responsibility, most CALD communities are dependent on lay leaders. There is a strong need for lay leadership training.

3. Nurturing and giving platforms for the Second and Next Generations

This is the area that gives lot of joy and hope for the Church; and National Conferences are preparing, nurturing and giving a platform for these Next Generation leaders.

In the afternoon there was an invitation for Next Generation leaders from each National Conference to join the meeting. This is part of the Uniting Church's commitment to nurture these young leaders.

This was an intentional way to encourage the Church to listen to the Next Generation leaders from six different National Conferences.

This meeting was a good example of the Church offering a "space of grace" where diverse communities were united in faith and commitment to God.

After the meeting all National Conference Chairs and Next Generation leaders joining the Building Harmony Iftar Dinner, a dinner at which Muslims break their daily fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan.