I was delighted to join more than 40 Samoan Christian leaders from around Australia at the Uniting Church Samoan National Conference leaders meeting in Inala, Brisbane last weekend (16-17 October).
Ministers and lay preachers came from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Queensland to attend.
There was a time for each minister and lay preacher to share her/his ministerial life within the Uniting Church. Not every one was a member of the Uniting Church, but I heard everyone express a longing to be part of a multi/cross cultural church.
Ape and Pepe Palmer, a couple from Perth, shared their story to the conference:
‘Our group has been worship at the Uniting Church’s property since 2012, and we feel at home because the Uniting Church welcome us with open arms and hearts. We also can worship in Samoan. We want to be part of the Uniting Church. We want to know the process of becoming the Uniting Church congregation,’ they said.
Rev. Sani Vaeluaga, the Presbytery Minister in charge of Pastoral Care in the Presbytery of Gippsland explained the understanding of membership and the process for becoming a congregation within the Uniting Church. There were many questions about this and there was a strong interest from the Samoan community to be a part of the Uniting Church.
Uniting Church Samoan congregations and faith communities have grown rapidly in the past years. So rapidly that they need more ministers. In Brisbane, there are seven Samoan congregations but only one ordained minister, Rev. Tino Scanlan.
The seeds of diversity have sprouted and are growing strongly within the Australian soil. They will continue to grow while we continue to welcome every culture and language group with open arms and hearts within our Uniting Church ‘space for grace’.