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Building community at NYALC. Photo: Shane Gillard

On a journey of transformation

More than 120 young Uniting Church members from across Australia journeyed to Adelaide in January to deepen their faith and explore their gifts as leaders. Journey reports on NYALC 2019.

The occasion was the biennial National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC) whose theme this year was L.E.A.D., standing for Live. Embrace. Act. Disciple.

In welcoming the young adults on day one, Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer encouraged them to reflect on their own lives and on the journey of the church, in which they already play a significant part.

Reflecting on the Road to Emmaus story (Luke 24:13–35), Deidre said following Jesus was often daunting with many twists and turns, but it was also transforming.

“To follow Jesus is the most exhilarating adventure possible,” said Deidre. “To know the deep love and forgiveness of God—God’s grace surrounding you, upholding you for your lifetime, to see the world through the eyes of God’s reconciling love and hope—is the best journey of all.”

The young adults were also joined by all six moderators, senior leaders from the Assembly Resourcing Unit and leaders of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

Virginia Lavaki was part of the Queensland Synod group that went to NYALC.

“It was a wonderful weekend of sharing, learning and talanoa (story-telling),” she said.

“And it was great to see a lot of our Tongan brothers and sisters from all corners of Australia be part of this conference; may we continue to pray for our young leaders within our church and communities.”

Virginia’s friend Talita Ata from the NSW/ACT Synod added, “There’s nothing better than seeing young people take a stand to strengthen their faith in God and make a positive difference in their church community as a leader!”

The conference was preceded by a Walk on Country on the land of the Ngarrindjeri people led by Sean Weetra and others from the South Australia Congress.

Participants visited Coorong National Park, the iconic Raukkan Church (from the $50 note) and Victor Harbour.

Rev Dr Jione Havea and a team of young adults led Bible studies, while church leadership expert Naomi Nash ran a number of personal training sessions and community groups.

The open sessions attracted particular enthusiasm with issues such as racism within the church prompting much discussion.

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