During our Multicultural and Cross Cultural National Reference Committee meeting in Brisbane we experienced a taste of ‘intercultural grace’ when we visited Kenani Community Church in Banyo and Sunnybank Uniting Church.
After the first day of our meeting, Reference Committee members travelled to Kenani for an evening of sharing with people from across the Queensland Synod.
Our host Pastor Gabriel Manueli explained that Kenani is a home for many cultures. The congregation intentionally makes a space for grace for every cultural group in its community to come and engage with others.
For example, when the Rotuman Faith Community joined the congregation, they intentionally decided that rather than simply worshipping in their own language, they would join in worship each week with the rest of the community. ‘Kenani’ is Rotuman for Canaan.
The following night we enjoyed a multicultural celebration attended by many church members at Sunnybank Uniting Church. As I walked in the church, I noticed the words “Sunnybank: A cross cultural family connecting people to God and each other”.
Senior minister Rev. Andrew Ross later explained the long journey of becoming an intentional cross cultural congregation.
It reminded me of the Psalm 126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”. Certainly Sunnybank Congregation has reaped their labour of love and now sings a song of joy.
The congregation’s many different cultural groups and languages are united by a core set of values.
Pastor Noah Kim who looks after international students at Sunnybank spoke with great joy at the way God is working in the life of the congregation.
I have been inspired by Kenani and Sunnybank – their faithfulness to journey together in trust is very inspiring. The way they create a space for grace is enabling every cultural and language group to find their home.
Of course each night we enjoyed a feast provided by our hosts.
When grace is present, every one of us can experience the generosity and hospitality that is given.