Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday.. Report from the 16th Assembly of the UCA. Queensland. May 9 2022
The 16th Assembly has passed a proposal that seeks to deepen the Uniting Church’s commitment to living faith and life interculturally through a range of measures including a new annual Sunday of celebration, ‘Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday’.
It also requests some review of the Regulations, UCA policies and other key documents to consider opportunities for simpler and more equitable church structures, processes, and ways of working that foster CALD participation and intercultural partnership.
Rev Dr Paul Goh from the Synod of South Australia introduced the proposal. “Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Yet our congregations still lag far behind our neighbourhoods in reflecting cultural diversity in the life of the church.”
“We seek a move to a truly intercultural church living faith and life cross-culturally in our worship, witness and discipleship – a two-way process of reciprocity.”
“How can our congregations connect in the spirit of loving our neighbours, so we can be in relationship and partnership in shared local mission and ministry together?”
One answer to this is Intercultural Neighbouring Sunday, a new annual day on the Uniting Church calendar established by this resolution to celebrate our multicultural identity. It is hoped that local communities might use this day to connect and build relationships with culturally and linguistically diverse communities in their neighbourhoods.
It will replace One Great Sunday of Sharing, the Uniting Church’s national multicultural Sunday which has taken place annually since 1996.
The resolution suggests that congregations might celebrate the day on the 3rd Sunday in July or another date best suited to the local setting.
The Assembly Standing Committee will develop a process to make liturgical, theological, and practical resources available for the wider church in becoming more meaningfully intercultural and to celebrate the event. It will consult with the National Conferences and relevant Assembly Circles.
Mark Schultz from the Synod of South Australia seconded the proposal. “A significant proportion of migrants come to our shores with a faith that we share. Many have found themselves among our communities. But often, sadly, our congregations have seen the building in which they meet as their own rather than God’s.”
“Surely we all have more to gain by sharing our life together, celebrating our multicultural and maybe even intercultural church, and supporting discipleship and formation in culturally appropriate ways rather than just keeping our distance.”
Towards this end the Assembly Standing Committee will also review aspects of the UCA’s National Property Policy that deal with property shared with non-UCA communities, and Regulations concerned with Faith Communities. A protocol for recognising communities from other CALD churches will be developed.
Synod and Presbytery committees that deal with placement profiles are also encouraged to review the templates in use, and if necessary revise them, so they best reflect the interfaith and ecumenical ethos and characteristics of the Uniting Church.