This year marks 30 years since the Uniting Church declared itself a multicultural church. The synod will celebrate this anniversary on Saturday 23rd May with a multicultural afternoon tea at 2:30pm at Glen Waverley Uniting Church. This will be followed by a service of celebration at 4pm.
Rev Devanandan Anandarajan, from the Uniting Church’s Intercultural unit, believes the Church has taken great steps in the past three decades to become more inclusive.
“We have discovered ways to be ‘intercultural’ in our Church which is why we are holding a joyful party of celebration with many people attending in their national costumes,” Mr Anandarajan said.
Congregation members from Indonesia, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Korea, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Sudan, Vietnam and Tonga will attend the event.
First and second generation migrants constitute the largest growing segment of the Uniting Church. At least 40 different languages are used in Uniting Church worship services every Sunday, including more than a dozen Indigenous ones.
“The Uniting Church traditionally had a culture that was white, English-speaking, and middle class. As an intercultural denomination, we are becoming fluent in each other’s values, patterns, and ways of looking at life,” Mr Anandarajan said.
“A great gift of this growth is celebrating each other’s food, music, clothing, and stories.”
Migrants bring more than just vibrant music and exotic food. An intercultural Church embraces the diversity of values, spirituality and cultural practices within the Church community.
“One of the important parts of this journey has been getting to know the beliefs, theology, attitudes and perceptions of those who worship together,” Mr Anandarajan said.
“It’s taught us that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all and that change and diversity of opinion are healthy ways for a church to grow.”
Funds raised at the afternoon tea will go towards a NextGen cultural exposure trip to China in September.
Saturday’s event promises to be a fun and relaxed afternoon of celebration. All members of the public are welcome to attend.