Members of Gerringong Uniting Church have welcomed newcomers to Australia in the way they know best: surfing! In February a crowd of over 100 Gerringong ‘locals’ and recently arrived migrants and refugees now based in the Illawarra gathered at Seven Mile Beach for ‘Surf Together’, a day of cross-cultural fellowship both on and off the water.
In past years, the Gerringong locals welcomed a mob mostly from middle eastern backgrounds, but in 2019 a large crowd of Burmese refugees joined the mix of people learning to surf and fellowshipping over a lunch that drew on a wide range of international cuisines.
The day had no agendas other than making friends across cultural boundaries, and saying to all everyone present: ‘Welcome to Australia, we love you, and you are welcome here’.
Having provided the surfing lessons, the Gerringong locals were in turn blessed with stories over lunch from some of the Burmese folk who told the gathering about the extremely challenging circumstances back in Myanmar (Burma) as well as in the refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma border.
Rev. Peter Chapman, Minister at Gerringong Uniting Church told Insights: “Surfing is cool no matter what your cultural background, and people of all ages are getting into the sport now, so its always a very popular day on the water. What impressed me was the large amount of locals from our church and from the wider Gerringong community who gave of their time and expertise to help welcome new arrivals to Oz and learn from one another.”