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Siasi Fakamatakali ‘Oku te’eki ketau iai

Park Church Tongan Congregation youth welcome their new minister Rev Lu Senituli at his induction service in June.

Ko kitautolu koe Siasi Fakamatakali. ‘Oku tau tu’u fakataha koe faka’ilonga ‘oe fakatu’amelie ‘ihe loto-lotonga ‘oe Komiunitī ‘Āositelelia. ‘Oku ui kitautolu ke tau tu’u ‘o fakamo’oni ‘ihe loto Tui Taha moe Mo’ui ia KĿlaisi aia ‘oku ma’olunga taha ‘iha toe Matakali, ‘Ekonſmika, Pūle’anga, pē ko ha fa’ahinga Ŀ vahevahe kehekehe. Ke tau fetĿ’aki nima fakataha ‘ihe fepoupou’aki ‘ihe vilitaki ketau ma’u ‘e Fai-Totonu, pea ketau fepoupou’aki fakamatakali mo matu’aki ‘Ofa kiate kinautolu ‘oku nau tofanga ‘ihe Lau Lanu, Manavahē, pea pēhe foki ki he ngaahi faingata’ia Faka-‘ekonſmika.

Ko kitautolu koe Siasi Fakamatakali – Ka koe hĿ hono ‘uhinga?

Twenty years after officially declaring itself a multicultural church, the Uniting Church in Australia is still to realise the full potential of the statement.

Sunday, 17 July marks ‘One Great Sunday of Sharing’, a celebration of the statement made in 1985. It challenges congregations to learn about collective difference and to be enriched by it.

On any given Sunday in the Uniting Church in Australia, 150 migrant-ethnic congregations or fellowship groups worship in more than 26 different community languages.

Rev Lu Senituli, minister at Park Church Tongan Congregation and member of the Multicultural Ministry Network, is concerned that the Uniting Church is not yet truly multicultural.

“This awesome vision is still yet to be realized," said Mr Senituli.

“The engagement is yet to drop deeper from the ‘ethnics entertaining us’ with their exotic foods, song and dances to deeper connections with their biblical, theological, cultural frameworks and understandings.

It must shift from the superficial and ‘interesting’ observations to partners in the missions of Christ."

Mr Senituli said that the rhetoric of multiculturalism in the church is not matched by sufficient inclusion of non-Anglo church members.

“Until this happens, the UCA will continue to articulate a non-reality."

UCA president Rev Dr Dean Drayton claimed that research has shown people from other cultures are rarely invited into the home of Anglo-Australians.

“How much do we miss because we do not invite into our homes those who bring the Gospel to us in new and different ways?" said Dr Drayton.

One real threat to the multi-cultural nature of the Uniting Church is the issue of sexuality and leadership in the church and finding places for cross cultural dialogue.

Mission consultant Rev Dr Graham Beattie has recognised the complex nature of this conversation.

“One of the difficulties regarding such dialogue opportunities is that for many of our multicultural communities, issues of sexuality carry heightened emotional and cultural significance that are perhaps not as evident in many European cultural contexts," he said.

Mr Senituli is concerned multicultural congregations are not being heard when it comes to this divisive issue within the church.

“I am absolutely convinced that the UCA is on the brink of more serious division and disintegration if we don’t hear the overwhelming concerns of our multicultural congregations," he said.

“Our multicultural congregations have two fundamental and essential pillars they will not move away from: Jesus Christ and his Gospel, and the place of the UCA in the one holy, catholic and apostolic tradition.

It is paramount for non-Anglo congregations (and Anglo congregations) to receive this affirmation; without it they are forced into a position where they cannot and will not belong.

The voices of our migrant-ethnic congregations must be heard within the life of our church."


Photo : Park Church Tongan Congregation youth welcome their new minister Rev Lu Senituli at his induction service in June.