A delegation of NextGen Youth travelled to Swan Hill last year to celebrate Harmony Day. With its multicultural make-up and strong refugee population, Swan Hill provided a fitting setting for the youth to worship their faith.
First and second generation migrants constitute the largest growing segment of the Uniting Church and bring to life the Church’s commitment to being an inclusive and multicultural community.
Grace Leota (pictured) was one of 60 youth who travelled to Swan Hill.
The young adults, mostly from Filipino, Samoan and Tongan backgrounds, showcased the colour and vibrancy of the Church through songs and performances. They joined in worship with Swan Hill Uniting Church and introduced the local congregation to revamped renditions of traditional hymns.
Fie Marino is Next Gen Development and Resources Officer with the synod’s Intercultural Mission and Ministry unit. “Our NextGen Youth is a very diverse group,” said Mr Marino. “The DNA of the Uniting Church is to be a multicultural church and we strive to bring to life that mission.”
Just as Swan Hill sits on the border between Victoria and New South Wales, next generation youth navigate the divide between their ethnic and Australian identity.
For those who live in dual cultural worlds, it can be difficult finding a sense of belonging. These mission trips nurture young adults to find their voice and celebrate the creative contributions of each culture.
The NextGen Youth’s journey to discover their identity presents a model that embraces a spirit of cross-cultural inclusion. If youth is the future of the Church, then it is one that rejoices in the rich diversity of the Church community.
To celebrate the Uniting Church’s 30 year anniversary of declaring itself a multicultural Church, the Commission for Mission is sending thirty NextGen young people on a cultural exposure trip in China. To support these young Church members please contact Fie Marino on Fie.Marino@victas.uca.org.au or 0404934356.
The Intercultural Mission and Ministry unit is a department of the Commission for Mission.