It gave me great joy to attend the 32nd anniversary celebration of the first Indonesian Congregation within the Uniting Church in Australia.
At St Andrew’s Gardiner in Malvern in south-east Melbourne, the Church was full with more that 300 people of different ages, languages, cultures, traditions, all joyfully singing and worshipping God who is faithful to them.
It is important to note that in the past 31 years the congregation had used Mulgrave Uniting Church as their place of worship. Last year with generosity and leadership from the St. Andrew’s English-speaking congregation and Port Phillip East Presbytery, the Indonesian Congregation found their ‘new home’ at St Andrew’s.
Chair of the Church Council Ira Budiono gave thanks to those who started the congregation in May 1985, to all those who have served faithfully in the past 31 years in Mulgrave and to St Andrew’s congregation who have made them welcome in their new home.
The service was in both English and Indonesian languages, reflecting the congregation’s commitment to welcome and be inclusive of everyone.
A choir started the service, then children joined in singing. The youth group led praise and worship followed by traditional Indonesian music played on the angklung.
Rev. Ayub Jahya preached on the theme ‘United to Bless’, reminding the congregation that we live to bless others.
After the service, people were invited to enjoy the ‘EatArt’ Exhibition in the hall that displayed the congregation’s past and present journey to bless others.
There was a ‘Fingerprint Tree’ painting designed by Cisy, a member of the congregation. It reflects the commitment of becoming one church with different members.
Ira’s sister, Ingrid Budiono later reflected: “This Anniversary showed that the church is made up of people with so many life stories and differences. It showed that each of us indeed is different – different family backgrounds and cultures, different gifts, different characters, different pains and struggles. But our perfect God is certainly working through our weakness and however little we can give, God will multiply that for God’s purpose to glorify God.”