Like many newly arrived migrants I struggled to bridge cultural divides of being a South Sudanese, an Australian and especially being a Christian in a predominantly secular Australia.
This month Crosslight talks to three members of the South Sudanese community active in Uniting Church programs about the challenges of living in a new country and the way that negative media reports impact South Sudanese parents and youth.
Issues of belonging are complex. As we grapple with what it means to be South Sudanese-Australian, we should also reflect on what it means to be a Christian within a secularised Australia.
Recently I was approached by a colleague of mine at a presbytery meeting with a question, “where do South Sudanese fit in on the topic of the same sex marriage?” My modest and humble response was that we are at the extreme end of the debate. The Australian church exists in a post-Christendom era and the South Sudanese Christians come from a different context. This makes such conversations unattainable to many within my South Sudanese community. I anticipate that now is a time for South Sudanese Australians to honestly and transparently engage with the challenges posed by this.
An exciting engagement for all of us is the passion of our younger people within the church. Last month in Victoria young adults gathered for the Somers Youth Leadership Conference. Meg Ryan shares her reflections on the conference which was designed to equip young people with leadership skills.
This month’s Crosslight also looks at how congregations celebrated Easter with a wide range of inspirational activities – decorating crosses, writing poetry and engaging with communities.
Baptism, which is often associated with Easter, is an important Christian tradition and this month’s cover features the baptism of a young boy in East Gippsland. Crosslight explores the experience of baptism and the different approaches in preparing for this sacrament.
As we continue as a church to talk about issues that affect all Australians – both new arrivals and citizens of many generations – it is my hope and prayer that our ongoing conversations, especially those in the public domain, are led with tolerance, respect, care and love.
Rev Paul Aleu Dau
Minister at Springvale Uniting Church
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