One hundred kilometres south of Sydney there’s a warm, friendly and welcoming Uniting Church community. Dapto Uniting Church is a growing congregation faithful to God’s direction and mission in a local context.
I recently preached at the Dapto Uniting Father’s Day Service. In the pews I counted seven children from different cultural backgrounds including Fijian, Indonesian, Hungarian and Tongan.
During the morning tea fellowship, one of the church members thanked me for challenging them to discern God’s direction in the light of Jeremiah’s reading about how God is the potter and we are clay in God’s hands.
It’s exciting to think about what God the potter will mould these second and third generation children at Dapto into in the future.
The reading made me think of how God has remoulded the congregation at Dapto over the years with different people from different places.
Dapto Uniting Church dates back to 1841 when Sunday services were first held in a schoolroom under the leadership of Presbyterian minister Rev. John Tait.
With the establishment of the railway network in 1887, the Dapto area experienced a period of continued urban expansion over the ensuing decades.
The current red brick building, St Andrew’s, was officially opened and dedicated on 7 February 1959. After much prayer and planning, construction work commenced in 1981 to attach new hall facilities to the existing church building.
Members of Dapto Uniting Church have served local communities for many years through different activities: Bible Study small groups, prayer chains, pastoral care, Messy Church, op shop, market days, craft groups, women’s evening fellowship, men’s social groups – the list is very long.
Rev. Charissa Suli has been the local minister since January 2015. Suli’s family, Charissa, Langi, Susi, Kina and Latu have definitely brought many gifts, talents and expertise to serving God and the community.
Charissa brings a fresh perspective from her experiences across the wider church to Dapto. She is a member of the Assembly’s Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry Reference Committee, a key leader within the Tongan National Conference and a former Multicultural Consultant at the Synod of NSW/ACT.
Last month Charissa’s ministry stretched to travelling to Las Vegas with local dance group the Illagroovers for the finals of the 2016 World Hip Hop Dance Championship!
Dapto Uniting Church practices what they preach: a healthy church community is composed of people of all generations and backgrounds interacting with one another in love and service. The church under Charissa’s leadership nurtures them with love and care.
In Dapto, I experienced a meeting place for local and national ministries, a space for grace for all people who want to use their gifts to build the body of Christ.