Community engagement at Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church

Community engagement at Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church

Community engagement has been the theme of several special events held at Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church in recent months.

Audience members were treated to an entertaining afternoon concert in March featuring music, poetry and presentations on the personal experience of being a refugee and from the president of Sutherland Shire Refugee Connection (SSRC), a local volunteer organisation which assists people from refugee (or similar) backgrounds who want to settle in Sutherland Shire. We are grateful to the performers for generously giving of their time and to the audience who raised the amazing sum of $1,235.00 for SSRC.

During May, Jon O’Brien, Social Justice Advocate with Uniting, spoke to the congregation during morning worship about the work of the Advocacy Team, using the title: “Justice is something we do together. It’s what love looks like in public.” Jon spoke about the Uniting Church’s commitment to God’s mission for justice. We heard in Isaiah 58: 1-7, how God is looking not for the appearance of devout worship but for genuine action in removing the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice. We also heard from Mark 3: 1-7 how Jesus healed the man with a crippled hand – despite it being the Sabbath. Mark tells us that Jesus was both angry and distressed at a system that is meant to be life giving to people but ends up binding them, limiting them, and harming them instead.

Jon went on to talk about the work of the Advocacy Team in addressing systemic injustice in relation to The Voice; Fair Treatment; Better outcomes for young people leaving care; and reforms to aged care but at our request he talked in more depth about the Affordable Housing and Climate Change campaigns and how the team collaborates with other organisations with common cause.

Jon encouraged us to action. What are you concerned about? What is needed? Start where you are. Do something and see how it goes. The task for each of us is to do what we can. And he concluded with: “Now, may we each in our own way reflect the justice and compassion of God, empowered by the Spirit and following the footsteps of Jesus.”

Our next special event was a Multicultural Celebration on Saturday 17 June when we (in the sunshine) shared foods from different cultures then, in the hall, enjoyed music and dance performances from around the world and listened while members spoke about and showed artifacts from their homelands or ancestral cultures. We also learned how to give blessings in other languages. It was a happy gathering of members and guests in a warm, informal atmosphere – in part to mark the 46th anniversary of the UCA.

We have been fortunate to have the support of members of other churches in the Shire with our community events and hope in the future, through similar events, to engage with the wider community around us.

Gillian Minto, Gymea-Miranda UC


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