Thursday, 03 October 2019

“Liberating by Faith in Jesus Christ” TNC 2019

More than a thousand Tongan members of the Uniting Church came together in a joyful celebration of faith and fellowship for the 2019 Tongan National Conference (TNC).

With the theme “Liberating by faith in Jesus Christ”, the annual gathering was held in Katoomba NSW from 27-29 September.

TNC is the largest gathering of Uniting Church members, bringing together Tongan UCA members from across the country and from every age group.

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer attended the conference and preached at the opening service. Reflecting on Luke 13:10-17 and Galatians 3:26-29, Dr Palmer spoke about how we define our identity in Christ.

“I believe we are called as the Uniting Church to be bearers of this compassionate way of Christ Jesus,” said Dr Palmer.  “Noticing the suffering of others, advocating for those experiencing injustice and oppression. Witnessing through our action in the world in such a way that people encounter the God we experience in Jesus Christ as Liberator, Life-giver, Source of hope and compassionate Saviour.”

A highlight of the TNC every year is the leadership of the younger generations with this year marking 10 years of the Second Generation team being engaged in every aspect of the conference.

Second Generation leader Virginia Lavaki said she came away inspired by the desire of the young people to deepen their faith.

“The highlight for me was seeing how our young people were hungry and keen to learn more about God. Our conversations on faith are going deeper and the worship is so much more intimate. God's spirit and presence was definitely felt throughout the weekend!”

Across the weekend, the program was packed with plenty of platforms where the theme “Liberating by faith in Jesus Christ” could be unpacked and explored. Each day was organised with Bible studies, worship, sports activities, choirs and a cultural night on Saturday.

Vocation and mental health were two key themes explored in the Second Generation program. Different chaplains were invited to talk about their ministry and sense of calling.

The Advocate for the Assembly’s Working for Justice Circle Rev. Loni Vaitohi spoke to the conference about his experience at the President’s Conference in Fiji and its focus on climate change.

“Climate change is a global emergency and a Christian imperative,” said Loni. “As stewards of God's creation we are equally responsible for the whole of creation and equally accountable to the Creator.”

The Assembly Resourcing Unit delivered a Bible study and presentation on the national work of the Church.

TNC Chairperson Rev. Fekeúiha Kamitoni offered his thanks to those who supported the conference, the organisers for their hard work and the technical team who worked to stream the whole conference to participants who couldn’t attend.

Reflecting on the weekend, Dr Deidre Palmer said, “I give thanks to God for the vibrant, intergenerational, faithful witness of our Tongan members of the Uniting Church.”

With inspiring music, beautiful dancing and moving prayers highlighting the three days, the conference ended on a high note.

The next TNC will be in 2021, while the Second Generation will continue to meet annually with a Youth Rally planned in Melbourne in 2020.  

Click here to read UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer's Sermon from the opening service.