IT IS TIME for the Uniting Church in Australia to recommit to the vision of actually being a multicultural church and what might be life-giving and reassuring about that for Australian society, said Uniting Church National Director of Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry Rev Dr Tony Floyd.
“In 1985 the Uniting Church proclaimed itself a multicultural church and in doing so the Assembly was acknowledging the changed and changing multicultural and multi-faith context of life and ministry in Australia and the presence of people from culturally diverse backgrounds in its membership,” he said.
“This was an historic and bold commitment to embrace the new challenges involved in becoming a more ethnically diverse nation.
“While many Uniting Churches reflect the great diversity of cultures that makes up modern day Australia, there are also about 180 migrant-ethnic groups from 26 different cultural traditions who worship in languages other than English.
Dr Floyd was in Queensland to attend the 2009 National Gathering of Multicultural and Cross-cultural ministries held at Alexandra Park in February.
“The theme of the gathering, ‘New Wave’, reflected the never-ending work of the Holy Spirit in raising up new generations of leaders, members and ways of being the body of Christ the church,” he said.
“The gathering provided an opportunity for members of the Uniting Church from different culture and language groups to meet for support, challenge, encouragement, and dreaming.”
Over 80 people attended the conference including a staff person from the Ethnic Ministries Unit of the United Church of Canada which describes itself as an ‘intercultural church’.
The work of the Assembly’s agency for Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry has included translating key Uniting Church documents into community languages, helping the church develop ways of sharing property resources, providing orientation for ministers coming from overseas, and helping the church to fully use the gifts of members from culturally diverse backgrounds.
“We want to offer leadership to the whole church in developing policies and understanding of working with and receiving from the Uniting Church people from different cultures.”
Dr Floyd said there was also a strong commitment on the part of multicultural and cross-cultural ministry people to develop close and respectful relationships with Indigenous people.
Photo : Toakase from Blacktown NSW (left) and Koloa from Adelaide represented the Tongan communities at the Alexandra Park National Gathering. Photo by Amelia Koh-Butler