The position as Resource Church Specialist for our Diocese’s ‘Ethnic Congregations Project’ has been so exciting for me. I commenced in the role earlier this year and I look forward to making a difference in many possible ways in the life and community of our parishes that share God’s journey with people of diverse backgrounds. I know that the task will be both challenging and rewarding, and so I will rely on God and wise counsel from those with experience to achieve all I am able.
The first and most important task was to work with the Executive Director of the Parishes and other Mission Agencies Commission Stephen Harrison to set some goals and scope in order to give direction for the launch of the project. It seemed to me that the key was to be clear, concise and practical, so I set the following three simple staging points:
- Listen: to people’s needs to promote a greater sense of belonging.
- Plan: for mutually beneficial interactions.
- Do: develop effective approaches and implement these, one step at a time.
It has also been important to identify the components to make things happen and to have a number of ready-to-go projects and activities. Some examples of these include the monthly newsletter ‘Many Languages in Christ’; a number of ongoing meetings with clergy and ethnic congregations; and, parish speaking opportunities. Still to commence, but well advanced in planning, are the ‘Hello Evenings’ where small numbers of people from each congregation will get together to tell their stories and share their journey as Christians.
With these in place, my time has been filled with personal meetings with parish and ethnic congregation leaders involving discussions about how their unique community can be supported as they continue to enrich the wider Diocese. Sunday visits to different parishes are already happening or planned, as well as meetings with ethnic groups, Resource Church leaders and Regional Bishops.
As part of my Resource Church activity there are many, many personal interactions with parish leaders and parishioners who call asking for help with practical matters, prayer and general support. As an example (for there are many), a senior member of the Sudanese community recently died after a long illness. He had few family members here in Australia and so the community reached out to me to help with the funeral service and provide advice. Calls for prayers for the sick and those far away are often requested and it is my privilege to be there for those in need. I am so happy to be an instrument of grace in a rich project-based role for the Anglican Church Southern Queensland so I can help to build God’s kingdom.
If I had to pick one thing that has been a specific highlight of my new role so far, it is without a doubt the warm way that my calls and visits have been received from all sectors. I was really wondering how people would respond. What a joy to find that my new role is needed and wanted. Now it’s up to me to deliver some measure of their expectations. As an example, I might relate the conversations I continue to have with The Rev’d Avriel Green at St Laurence’s, Caboolture and how we are looking forward to bringing the parish’s diverse congregations into a closer understanding of how much they share as Christians.
Key to all this is that I have been greatly helped by clergy and community leaders through their advice and wise council identifying specific needs. The support from The Rev’d Adam Lowe and his team from Resource Church St Bart’s, Toowoomba has been particularly helpful. St Bart’s has provided me with office space and staff to help to get materials produced and circulated.
I know full well that we are just beginning the project and challenges will come, but the positive response so far has encouraged me enormously.
I encourage all ethnic congregation leaders and parishioners, as well as other church leaders, to get in touch with me via: email@example.com
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