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Reverend Louisa Yu on Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday – Promoting Multicultural Engagement in Congregations

By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator

Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday, scheduled for July 16 this year (and the third Sunday of July each year), is a Sunday which the 16th National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia resolved to set aside and dedicate to promote intercultural engagement within congregations and faith communities. It serves to celebrate and appreciate the diversity within congregations and communities.

Reverend Louisa Yu, the Queensland Synod Multi-Cross Cultural Reference Group Chairperson and a member of Assembly’s ‘Being a Multicultural Church Panel’, expresses her excitement regarding Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday. “In essence, the main objective is to inspire individual religious groups or even the synod to undertake actions that foster connections with our neighbours and promote understanding of diverse cultures. The Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday presents congregations with a chance to embody unity, diversity, and love. We should embrace this opportunity to overcome divisions, embrace and appreciate our differences, and create a dynamic blend of cultures within our faith communities.”

The event encourages congregations to claim the day and create unique ways of celebrating and engaging with different cultures. Rev Louisa urged congregations not to rely solely on pre-prepared liturgy provided by the Assembly but to think creatively and develop their initiatives. “When congregations participate in Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday, it becomes an opportunity to connect with neighbours and learn about different cultures. It’s about inviting people in and creating a welcoming atmosphere.”

Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday can take various forms depending on the preferences and resources of each congregation. Rev Louisa shared some ideas that faith communities can explore, such as hosting a multicultural morning tea, organising a community dinner with dishes representing different cultures, or arranging an International Soup Day, given that it was winter, to share diverse culinary traditions. “The possibilities are endless. The main goal is to invite people, not just for conversation, but to get to know who gathers in our buildings, out there in our neighbourhood, and to foster fellowship,” Rev Louisa said. “With so many things happening, it’s easy to lose sight of the mandate for the Uniting Church to be multicultural. Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday reminds us to go beyond our comfort zones and actively engage with neighbouring cultures.”

In Queensland, Rev Louisa emphasised that Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday is not the only event of its kind but rather a part of the broader initiative similar to her work with the  Multi-Cross Cultural Reference Group. “We are learning from the Assembly. They are the ones taking the lead on this initiative. I am part of that Assembly, being the Multicultural Church Circle – serving as a panel member. It’s crucial to recognise the significance of embracing diversity and working together towards fostering intercultural relationships and unity in our church.”

Click here to access the Assembly’s range of Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday resources. 

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