Friday, 13 February 2015

A Community Where There Is No “Us and Them"

“I feel like now I have been to church,” Unga said at The Wayside Chapel in King’s Cross. “No us and them”.

This vision from the Chapel came to express the experience of young adults at NYALC 2014 in Sydney in early December. 

Inspired by their visit to the Chapel, the 60 participants at NYALC in December grew visibly each day in their vision for the church and its mission for today and tomorrow.

“amazing multicultural community”
“I got to learn heaps and make new friends”
“embracing the love of God”
“space for deep conversations”
“challenged to think about serving”
“good teaching”
“helped young people’s voices be heard”
“I was touched and it was a stepping stone”
“a kingdom of God experience”

NYALC is not an easy ride. The event is intentionally multicultural - new people, different cultures, other perspectives. Young adults came from 10 indigenous communities across Australia, along with Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, South Sudanese, Korean, Filipino, Indonesian, and Anglo cultures. Yet from day one they were building friendship and understanding through sharing stories - and learning to listen well.

NYALC is highly interactive. Young adults are engaged in interactive worship, Bible studies, small groups, local mission exposure, story-telling, not to mention a talent night, learning cultural dances and many late night conversations.

Mentors for NYALC included President-elect Stuart McMillan, SA Moderator Dr Deidre Palmer and UAICC Elder Ray Minniecon. Stuart said, “The opportunity to listen to young adults and know where they are at, what concerns them, what they find life giving and what they find challenging is extremely important.”

Rev. Elenie Poulos, UnitingJustice National Director spoke about “An Economy of Life” and the biblical foundation for Sabbath economics. President Rev. Prof. Andrew Dutney invited the young adults to imagine shape of the future church and their place in it.

Rev. Dutney said, “It was a privilege and a joy to spend a week with this impressive group of the UCA's young leaders. Their mature cross-cultural awareness, their ease in sharing their faith, their skills in community building, social analysis and just having fun made me think several times, I want to be part of their church. NYALC reinforced my confidence in the future of the church. If we can release their leadership in the UCA today, it gives me great confidence about the church now.”

NYALC was co-ordinated by Rev. Tom Kerr, National Consultant for Youth and Youth Adult Faith Development on behalf of the Assembly Formation, Education and Discipleship (FED) Unit.