I was grateful to join members of the Vietnamese National Conference as they gathered in love and prayer for four days at the Meroo Christian Centre at the foothills of the NSW Blue Mountains.
More than 40 members of Vietnamese congregations travelled from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to share in their ministry and mission at the biennial Conference.
As ministers and pastors shared their stories, I listened to their struggles and concerns, their dreams and achievements – realising there was a common theme: resilience and grace is alive and well in the Uniting Church.Conference chair Rev. Ha Le was living in a refugee camp in Malaysia before finding a new home in Australia. He then became a candidate of ministry, studying at the then Melbourne College of Divinity (now University of Divinity). He has been a minister at an English-speaking congregation in Sydney for the past 15 years.
Rev. Hung Ly has spent the past nine years finding a home for the Vietnamese community in Australia and within the Uniting Church. In 2009 he initiated the first Vietnamese National Conference. By the end of 2015, he had grown his congregation at Footscray from 30 to 120 members. He initiated outreach activities to the Vietnamese community in Mitcham. The congregation is now a faith community in Mountview Uniting Church.
Meanwhile, Pastor Lanh Ho ministered at Darra Vietnamese Congregation in Brisbane for the past 15 years concluding his placement last year. He encouraged his members to be part of the Uniting Church. It was long journey of participation and commitment in the house of God.
The theme of the Conference was ‘Go’ or ‘Hay Di’ from the Great Commission (Matt 28:19). It reflects the intention of the Vietnamese community to listen and obey God and to share the Good News everywhere God has asked them to go.
Both President Stuart McMillan and NSW/ACT Moderator Myung Hwa Park preached at the conference, sharing their personal stories of following God’s call. Rev. Dr Ji Zhang shared the work of UnitingWorld and I shared my personal reflection on ‘A Mission from the Womb of God’.
I am humbled to see the Uniting Church making space for grace for the Vietnamese community to share their journey of finding a home in Australia, something which was gratefully acknowledged during the conference.