A big year for NextGen

nextgen having a barbecueThe synod’s NextGen youth have celebrated a year of milestones and achievements in 2015. This year marked 30 years since the Uniting Church declared itself a multicultural Church. To celebrate this anniversary, NextGen embarked on a range of new initiatives, culminating in a historic cultural immersion trip to China.

Fundraising for the trip began in March when the Intercultural unit organised a Harmony Day open-mic event at St Alban’s Uniting Church.

The theme of the event was “everyone belongs”. The open mic was a chance for the culturally diverse NextGen to express their personal identity through poetry, speech and music. It also presented an opportunity for young people to share stories of discrimination and prejudices they experienced as members of CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) communities.

In July, approximately 80 NextGen youth travelled to Merricks Lodge on the Mornington Peninsula for the annual youth camp. This year’s camp mixed interactive team-bonding exercises with devotions and guest speakers. These activities were designed to empower young people to find their voice and encourage their growth into socially-conscious leaders.  The participants came away from the camp with a renewed desire to serve God beyond the doors of their church.

July also saw NextGen youth demonstrate their musical talents at the International Gospel Music Night at Ormond Uniting Church. This was followed by an International Dance Night at Koornang Uniting Church in August.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of NextGen and the support of generous donors, the synod was able to send 19 young people from 14 ethnic backgrounds to China in September. It was an eye-opening experience for many of the participants, who witnessed worship in a country where Christianity is growing at a rapid rate. You can read the December feature for more highlights from the trip.

On their return home, the youth visited Uniting Church congregations to share their observations from the trip. Many expressed a desire to apply what they learnt from the Chinese church to their local congregations.

As the next generation of Uniting Church leaders, these young men and women will play an essential role shaping the future of the Church.

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