The second Middle East National Conference was held at Bankstown Uniting Church, attended by up to 90 leaders and members from Middle East background.
One thing I felt strongly at this conference was a sense of belonging. Children, young people, adults and older people joyfully participated in the programs. They sang beautifully in different languages, shared openly their life stories and respected each other as all part of one body.
The theme was ‘looking to the future’, based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians 1:6, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in/among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus.”
Middle Eastern people, like other Christians around the world, face many challenges in their lives as followers of Christ.
Much suffering has been caused by wars in their homeland. Many have journeyed as refugees to find a new home. Through this, they have come to rely on God’s provision.
Like Paul said in the letter to Philippians, our Middle Eastern sisters and brothers have strong and firm confidence that God has a plan for their future. God is still working in their lives and God will bring it to completion. God has not forsaken them.
President Stuart McMillan preached on the topic of “Being the Good News of Jesus Christ” and reminded people of the important partnership we share in the Good News.
The partnership has grown from last year’s conference with increased involvement from lay leaders and new members adding to languages spoken at the conference: Arabic, Armenian, Aramaic, Farsi and English.
The conference elected seven executives, Rev Gaby Kobrossi, Mr Levon Kardashian, Rev Dr Krikor Youmoushakian, Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, Rev George Fattal and two gifted women Shireen Chidiac and Maral Sarkissian to continue to partner in the Good News of Jesus Christ with people from Middle East.
This partnership in the Good News is open to all members of the Uniting Church and beyond.
Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama, the chair of Niuean National Conference brought greetings from Niuean community and opened the door to the possibility of the national conferences working together.
Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, the Multicultural Ministry Consultant from the Synod of Western Australia, encouraged the conference to engage and build relationships with other Aramaic, Arabic, Farsi and Armenian communities in Australia.
We are all working together side by side, regardless of where we come were from, culturally, linguistically and traditionally.
We are a diverse community, very different from one another but we support each other and pray for one another.
We are different but we are one in sharing the Good News. This is what we call a space for grace.