“That’s been a wonderful gathering for many of us”

“That’s been a wonderful gathering for many of us”

Wingham Uniting Church celebrated the third anniversary of their Pacifika service on Sunday, 21 April.

The service, has members from Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, and Papua New Guinean backgrounds. It runs at Sunday evenings from 4pm, gathering on the third Sunday of every month.

Rev. Tau’alofa Anga’aelangi is Tertiary Chaplain for CSU based at Port Macquarie Uniting Church. She has been running the service as part of her role. 

Rev. Anga’aelangi said the anniversary service celebrated the ongoing work of the congregation.

“It went really well,” she said.

The service included a video that showcased, “where it all started.”

“It was interesting to see them react to it. It was interesting to see how people went teary. It hasn’t been a perfect journey and there are times when I turn up and I have to pick people up for the service.”

According to Rev. Anga’aelangi, the service came about due to relationships she was building with migrant workers who are living in the local area. 

“We had a conversation about what would you like to do,” she recalled. “We started [by] doing a Tongan day celebration. We did a PNG independence day celebration. We started a worship service. For Tongan people that was not (optional). If you set it up as a worship service they’ll have to be there.”

“You’ve got the challenges of the expectation of the local community, and I’m the one who has to balance.”

Having congregation members who are in Australia temporarily with complex needs was another challenge Rev. Anga’aelangi observed.

“They’re just here for three or four years. So what do you do with that?”

“It’s been a lot of work,” Rev. Anga’aelangi said. “You’ve got a lot of issues that come out of the new arrivals like what does welcoming mean for us?”

“How do we make sure we’re present and fully connected in our being?” 

Rev. Anga’aelangi told Insights that she was still helping a lot of workers navigate work and health issues in their new country and context.

“There are so many complex issues,” she said. “You come from your country, get thrown into a big house to board with five other people.”

“Not understanding their visas, their rights, and some communication issues like access to Medicare and tax.“

“There’s still a lot of work to be done to walk with them. Some of them still ask me about their tax return…and Medicare. All of these things come together with migration and settlement.”

Rev. Anga’aelangi observed that the service was part of what has proven to be a valuable and rewarding ministry.

“Through that service we’ve done two weddings and one baptism from this group,” she said.

“I know that some of the boys, I have close connection with them, When I go to Tonga, their families come and see me and thank me because their boys have been going to church,” she said. “That’s the advantage of building relationships with the families.”

Rev. Anga’aelangi said the service had, “a lot of involvement from Wingham Uniting Church.”

“They come along and bring food,” she said. “That’s been a wonderful gathering for many of us.”

For more information on Wingham Uniting Church, visit their official website


4 thoughts on ““That’s been a wonderful gathering for many of us””

  1. A wonderful ministry between Rev Alofa and the beautiful congregation of Wingham Uniting Church. They have bent over backwards to do whatever they can to make the workers welcome, meet their needs, and offer a space and a service for their worship. It has been a blessing to the whole Wingham community.

  2. This is really rncouraging to hesr of our Chaplaincy service to those who are new arrivals with very little underatabding of the context in Australia they will be living in and for Lofa as a person of diaspora to share her skils.and experience with her Pasifika is an act of the Love of Christ in action alone even if it just means sharing a meal with them.

    Malo e ngaue moe mateaki e ngaue a Sisu Kalaise kihono Siasi.

  3. I’ve been following you on Facebook and have seen the wonderful ministry you are involved in. I’d like to know more.
    May the Lord continue to enlarge your territories.

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