The statement, One Body, Many Members – Living faith and life cross-culturally, prepared by Multicultural and Cross-Cultural Ministry of the Uniting Church in Australia and presented to the 13th Assembly on Friday July 20, asks members to recognise key requirements of living in a healthy cross-cultural church community.
Rev. Eseta Meneilly, Chairperson of the Multicultural and Cross-cultural Ministry National Reference committee, put forward the proposal with Rev. Amelia Koh-Butler, Synod of New South Wales and ACT, seconding it.
“So much has been accomplished,” Rev. Koh-Butler said. “We are ready to run the race and pray that we don’t grow weary.”
The statement reminds the Assembly that to be multicultural, the church must embrace theological richness and difference, be inclusive in its ministry, be committed to education and discipleship and practise affirmative action among other things.
One request that drew attention during question time was the calling of members to value multilingual ministries by “by encouraging its ministry leaders in their initial training and continuing education to learn a second language”.
Some members were concerned about the practical ability of some to learn a second language. However Rev. Koh-Butler reminded members that the proposal sought only encouragement. She later added that learning a new language would always give a better understanding of cross-cultural issues.
Rev. Rronang Garrawurra, National Chair of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, added to the conversation by saying, “We’re talking here about understanding and respecting each other in the way that we talk, the way we act and the way that we think.
“A word of encouragement to my interpreter [Howard Amery],” he continued, “because I appreciate what he does because he understands my language very well.”
The Uniting Church in Australia will take a renewed approach to multicultural and cross-cultural ministry as it recognises there is still work to do in becoming a truly multicultural church.