The Multi-Cross Cultural Reference Group aims to assist congregations, presbyteries and Synod as together we seek to embrace the gift and the challenge of fulfilling our stated calling to be a truly multicultural church.
As a reference group, we seek to be a resource, enabler, advocate and bridge; to help to build relationships; to be a catalyst for events; and to bring expertise and encouragement to situations where cultural diversity offers particular challenges and opportunities. We also seek to support culturally and linguistically diverse communities, congregations, leaders and ministry agents in their life within the church.
We will both initiate proposals and respond to requests, drawing on the gifts and skills of our members and the wider culturally diverse communities of the church.
Multicultural Queensland Month 2019
Multicultural Queensland Month is Queensland’s largest multicultural celebration and is held in the month of August each year.
During this month, the Uniting Church will be showcasing stories of the church’s unique diversity and its benefits under this year’s theme of “Celebrating Multiculturalism”.
‘A house of prayer for all the nations’
My name is Kemeri Liévano. I am a proud Australian, born and raised in Adelaide from a family whose history in this country traces back to some of the first free settlers in Victoria.
I am also very proud that I’ve had many diverse influences in my life. As a child, my mother read to me in Italian, shared exciting stories of her years living in Europe, and sent me to German school each Saturday. I played with the Cambodian Chinese kids from the Cantonese refugee service at my church and remember crying when my Chinese church uncles cried singing hymns in their mother tongue.
I loved listening to my Nan’s records of Welsh men’s choirs and tried to prove I didn’t have two left feet at Scottish “bairns” dancing each week and céilidhs at the Caledonian Club.
My Dad’s Mum attended Aboriginal metro-mob church with services in English and our church’s ministry partnership with this church helped shape much of my understanding of First Peoples’ ministry in the suburbs.
We usually ate Italian food at home, we made gnocchi and pasta sauce by hand and mainstream Australian potluck was Sunday fare at my Nan’s. My Nan’s street was my neighbourhood heartland, with all our Greek and Italian nonnas who passed us fruit and pasta over the fence and looked out for my Nan. It was here that I most keenly felt part of an intercultural community.
In many ways, my childhood was a typical late Gen X/early Gen Y in 1980s Australia, but I did find myself drawn to explore God’s gifts of language, culture and identity from an early age.
My Nan prayed dozens of her family members into God’s arms after finding her way back to him herself. She taught me God’s house was for everyone, that God’s house was “a house of prayer for all the nations” (Isaiah 56:7).
I learned from her generous desire to “hold lightly” her own felt needs around worship styles and release leadership to younger generations and CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) leaders with different missional needs, as the Spirit led. I am so grateful for her leadership and quiet example in this regard.
I believe that a truly intercultural church is one where we all learn from, care for and minister to each other, each with our varied and beautiful gifts. Naturally language and culture lead us to celebrate often in our own distinct ways, but where power is put aside, relationship flourishes and so does unity in the Spirit.
A truly intercultural church is our aspiration; where humility, grace and wisdom lead us into new conversations around governance, sustainability, worship and formation for ministry. This confluence shapes us effectively for the mission field around us, where more than half of Queensland is CALD.
The wisdom of releasing worship to be more missional in its style and format, rather than requiring our own needs to be met in corporate worship, is both a catalyst and a sign of a kingdom mentality rather than a territorial one. It requires us to be prepared to sacrifice our own natural human ethnocentricity at the altar and allow God to shape worship in spirit and truth for the mission field we are called to. This release of control not only creates space for intentional intercultural participation, but helps stem the alarming ebb of younger generations away from culturally inflexible monocultural church.
As a pastor and linguist, my ministry in aged care chaplaincy with Blue Care Gold Coast Cluster introduces me to migrants and Aboriginal Australians who have not always been supported in their acculturation and ownership of their unique cultural identities and provides lovely opportunities for affirming God’s gift of culture and language as a lens for the gospel and for church life.
I am increasingly aware of how vitally important cultural safety is to all of us, in particular seeing how age can fade our recent memories and those language skills acquired later in life. The need for affirmation of culture is one shared by CALD and mainstream cultures alike.
My family is a multicultural, multilingual family trying to raise six kids speaking Spanish as well as English, belonging to a beautiful mainstream local church (St Mark’s in Mt Gravatt, Brisbane) and regularly attending Portuguese language services.
Our kids are learning to define their own cultural identity as second gen with a focus on finding God’s plan for them in this generation.
My name is Yanhua Yu and most of my friends know me as Louisa. I am Chinese and migrated from Hong Kong to Brisbane with my English husband in 2007. I work as a chaplain for Wesley Mission Queensland and regularly take the Sunday morning service in the chapel at Sinnamon Village Aged Care Centre. On Sunday afternoons you will find us at Newlife Brisbane in Albert Street Uniting Church.
My husband and I were lay leaders in Hong Kong Methodist International Church so when we moved to Brisbane, the Uniting Church became the obvious fit.
When a person is not in the majority in society, it is always a challenge to fit in. Language and cultural barriers are always a challenge when it comes to deep theological debates, but I am glad that I completed my school years under the British education system (most subjects were taught in English in Hong Kong). My six years of college study and work in Hawaii gave me plenty of exposure to the Western and Pacific Islander culture and this helped me fit in to mainstream churches and the society in Australia easily.
Being a migrant helps me to connect with many people here who are not born in Australia, and being a Chinese Christian gave me an advantage to relate to Indigenous people when I did outback and rural missions because the Aboriginal people were intrigued and asked many questions without me initiating the conversations.
I believe being a multicultural church means acknowledging and respecting other cultures and traditions. It’s about learning and understanding our cultural sensitivities, loving and caring for each other despite our differences. For me, it is about congregations which embrace all cultures, where people from every nation, tribe, people and language can worship God together and love one another.
However, I understand the value of having monocultural or different ethnic congregations, especially when language barriers hinder people’s understanding of the truth and authentic expressions of worship.
Family values and respect for elders is central to Chinese culture. Building the church family which is welcoming and respectful to everyone is so important. Besides, Chinese love food! Fellowshipping over food is always an effective way of connecting with people.
I think growing up as a Chinese in a British colony has prepared me to embrace diversity in culture, languages and worship styles in different church communities. I love chatting with the residents in the aged care centre. They have so much knowledge and wisdom to impart. I have learnt so much from them. I also enjoy singing traditional hymns with them!
At Newlife Brisbane, it is the excitement of being part of a young and energetic team. It brings me a lot of joy to see how the church is growing and the people in the congregation are growing. The contemporary worship in Newlife Brisbane is awesome! I’m waiting expectantly to see how God will use this church to see “more people more like Jesus”.
My name is Reverend David Dong Won Kim. I grew up in South Korea and moved to Australia in 1996. I began my ministry as a student pastor in 1989. Since then, I have served various churches and organisations in Korea, USA, China and Australia.
I joined the Uniting Church in Australia in 2006 and was accepted as a Minister of the Word in 2009, and now I am ministering at Morningside Uniting Church, Brisbane.
How did you come to ministry?
About 130 years ago, the first group of Australian missionaries came to the shore of a small peninsular in Asia named Chosun, now Corea/Korea. These were the first group of missionaries who preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the southern part of Korea.
This is my personal story: when I was about 10 years old, I met an Australian—actually the first foreigner in my life—and he was a missionary. In 2009 I attended a mission conference in Sydney and there I met Rev Dr John Brown who spoke good Korean. Soon I found out that he was the Australian missionary of my childhood.
Being witnessed to witness the Word of God! I was a listener of the gospel in Korea, and now I’ve become a preacher of it in Australia. So being involved in the ministry and mission of the Uniting Church in Australia means that I am here to return the talents (from the parable in Matthew 25:14:30) that I received in the past to the contemporary people in the present.
How is your cultural background celebrated within your church community?
Since Morningside Uniting Church has many members with different backgrounds in culture and language, and rich stories of how they became Christians in their home country, we have designated an annual mission awareness and celebration Sunday service in August and a Multicultural Sunday service in October. For these special services, we invite local mission organisations such as Wesley Mission Queensland and chaplaincy teams, and design a combined service with a local Korean church.
Church members are encouraged to wear their traditional costumes, bring their own traditional dishes to share, and to share stories with the congregation. Last year, a member with a Dutch background told the congregation about the real Santa story of St Nicholas. It was followed by a Tongan-style fellowship meal prepared by a Tongan member and her friends.
Besides special services, the worship committee prepares different hymns from different traditions and countries on each Sunday in order for us, as the living one body of Christ, to celebrate who we are in many cultures and languages and who we are together in Christ.
What does being a multicultural church mean for you?
Being a multicultural church means that the manifestation/presence/revelation of God does not depend on who we are, but on who God is. In other words, God has brought all of us together in worship, witness, and service.
As more different coloured lights get added on and on, the brighter they become—multicultural churches share the brighter and clearer presence of God in our worship, service and witness to the glory of God.
Describe one thing about your church community that brings you joy.
Outreaching to our local community and beyond brings joy to me. We meet our neighbours through outreach ministries including English Conversation Corner on Monday and Friday mornings, Friday playgroup, weekday Balmoral United Community Centre programs, and Thursday Fellowship.
This is real joy in my ministry at Morningside—that every single member of the church participates and enjoys serving God, sharing the Good News, and welcoming neighbours.
‘This space for our community brought joy and a new start to my life’
My name is Carla Cristine Diniz and I am from Brazil, a country where people worship deeply.
I grew up in church and I was always part of small groups where it was easy to find Jesus’ love in people.
In Australia I loved the worship songs and the way people praised the Lord, however for a period I was missing receiving the word of God in my own language.
After a few years living in Brisbane, I found Bulimba Uniting Church which has Brazilian services every Saturday. This space for our community brought joy and a new start to my life.
My husband never engaged with church before and now he can identify himself in Jesus though our culture and identity. I feel this community is a gift from God to my family.
Being able to listen to the word of God in our own language is the best privilege we have, my family feels loved and blessed.
The worship team is the best part for me as a member. We are working together to offer our best to God and every week we are building a bigger family in church, sharing the love, compassion and caring for each other.
Now I feel that church is my second home, because there I meet with my family members and I can be myself in Jesus.