Inside Glenroy Uniting Church you will find a plaque and certificate recognising a unique partnership.
In July, Glenroy UC was presented with an award ‘For Commendable Service to the Nepalese Community’ from the Nepalese Association of Victoria.
The growing interaction between the community and the congregation began when the church offered its hall to Nepalese women’s organisation Didi Bahini Samaj Victoria (DBSV) to host meetings and events.
Glenroy member Catherine Schmidt was introduced to DBSV convenor Jamuna Parajuli two years ago by the Moreland City Council diversity officer.
Ms Schmidt had approached the council to explore how Glenroy UC, in inner north Melbourne, could better reach out to the very diverse surrounding population.
“There are people from many countries now living in this multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-faith community,” Ms Schmidt said.
“One of the challenges facing the congregation and the church council is how to be relevant in this situation.”
Since offering the hall, Ms Schmidt and other Glenroy UC members have attended DBSV functions and programs, including International Women’s Day events, family violence workshops and wellbeing programs.
The partnership has led to a Family Music Group, which meets on a Saturday morning.
Ms Schmidt, who as a qualified music therapist runs the program, said it is for the Nepalese and all others who want to join in.
“It is good family time and the numbers are growing,” Ms Schmidt said.
“We are welcoming mothers, fathers and even grandparents, together with the children, to sing, play, have fun and grow together.”
Last year, the Nepalese women organised a ‘thank you lunch’ for the congregation.
“We shared Nepali food and this was a special time,” Ms Schmidt said.
“Their family members came along, some of the women dressed in traditional clothing and one of the men played a traditional instrument.”
Ms Parajuli said she was very thankful for the venue.
“It opened up so many opportunities, to gather and discuss our common agenda, run various women-empowerment programs, forums, events, and activities,” she said.
“More than this we feel like this is our second home where we have spent the happiest moments together. This is like the backbone that supports us in increasing our value and morale as women.”
Ms Schmidt said that before being introduced to Ms Parajuli she knew nothing of the Nepalese women in the community.
“It has been about supporting a previously (to me) hidden group of people, in particular women, to participate in capacity-building and empowering activities, in our church space,” Ms Schmidt said.