Ennis Macleod, sub-editor of Newsbeat, attended a fun and cultural day at Canterbury Baldwyn Rd UC exploring with the Synod Intercultural Forum Committee what it means to be a borderless community.
Port Phillip East was well represented at the podium, and in the audience, at the SIF retreat and AGM held at Canterbury on Saturday 28th October. As host, Rev Salesi Faupula opened the retreat with worship, and an introduction to the theme: the Borderless Community. He was followed by three speakers: Rev Semisi Tauali’i from Mt Waverley, Pastor Virginia Lavaki as Younger Generations Multicultural Ministries Coordinator, and Rev Dr Ji Zhang, team-leader of the Casey-Cardinia regional initiative.
My take-away from Semisi and Nia was that being the ONE body of Christ does not mean violating other people’s cultural borders, but instead lowering our own borders so that all are allowed access to Christ. Ji’s presentation on the Borderless God reiterated that Christian theology has been rooted in many countries over the last almost 2000 years.
He shared some of his research into recent archaeological findings in China, which demonstrate that the Gospel of Christ was known and celebrated in China from at least the time of the Tang Dynasty (635-832CE). The Cosmic Cross illustrated below, dated to the 7th to 8th centuries, discovered recently in Luoyang, China.
In it, the Cross is surrounded by the White Clouds (Daoist) and placed over the White Lotus (Buddhist). Christianity was first introduced to China by the Church of the East, between 635-832 during the Tang Dynasty. The Christ was worshiped as the Messiah, according to the early Christian scroll “Listen to the Messiah.”
In the wider discussion that followed, table groups responded, reiterating the importance of the Uniting Church being a multicultural church, but charging leaders with the need to expand beyond multiculturalism to being intercultural, both in ministry and in mission.
The borderless community does not require any cultural group, or any generation of any cultural group to lose their identity. Rather, travel across borders requires recognition that the ‘other’ has gifts to share given by God, and that the gifts I have from God are for me to share with ‘others’ as well.
Conversations continued over the magnificent Tongan style feast, and the entertainment provided by Tongan and Samoan young people. We were also treated to an impromptu Fijian dance from Talatala Semisi, supported by Chadstone Fijian Church members and friends.
During the AGM, chair, Rev Lavingi Tupou, farewelled Rev Dev Anandarajan, and welcomed several younger members onto the committee.
Following the AGM, Rev Leslie Guerrero from the Philippines, currently visiting the church at Dandenong, closed the meeting in prayer and thanksgiving.