We are called to be a dynamic Church
Indonesian National Conference, Caulfield Indonesian Uniting Church
By Shane Gillard
For the Indonesian National Conference (INC) this year, there was one simple item on the agenda: to be a dynamic church. Forty leaders from the eight Indonesian congregations in every synod joined in rich fellowship and deep discussion at the Caulfield Indonesian Uniting Church in Melbourne over the weekend of 18-19 April.
INC Chairperson Rev. Lingky Widodo led the opening service and introduced everyone to the message: we are a family. The family dynamic was Rev. Widodo’s link with the conference theme as organisers worked to make everyone feel welcome and at home.
He preached the new experiences of God and called on all present to become disciples of change to bring forward the dynamic church.
Responding to to Rev. Widodo’s call, conference members filled the room with their stories and successes, and sang and worshipped energetically in full voice in Bahasa. Throughout the weekend, they shared meals prepared by many hands who worked together behind the scenes.
Rev. Dr Tony Floyd, who was invited as a guest speaker, reflected on his time as National Director of Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry, welcoming Rev. Dr Apwee Ting, a former Chairperson of the INC, into the role.
“We come together to celebrate the unimaginable diversity in the body of Christ. We gather not to celebrate equality, but to celebrate difference,” Rev. Dr Floyd said.
He recalled the principles of his ministry: friendship, hospitality, understanding and growth – within ourselves and in the strength of our relationships.
Rev. Dr Floyd introduced a resource from Multicultural and Cross Cultural Ministry – “Space for Grace”.
“When these principles of friendship, hospitality and understanding grow – the power of God’s love grows with it, creating a margin of grace which we’re calling the ‘Space for Grace’,” he said.
In the INC keynote address, UCA President Rev. Prof Andrew Dutney spoke of the Church’s need to move more deeply into covenant with the First and Second peoples.
“The Uniting Church isn’t my church – it is our church. We are called to be a dynamic church, embracing diversity of culture and denomination,” he said.
Rev. Prof Dutney laid out his vision for realising the dynamic church we need to be, reassuring the conference that decline is not the pattern for the Uniting Church and urging the Indonesian church leaders present to invest as much as they could into educating and training their young leaders.
The Indonesian National Conference is one of 11 National Conferences, all of which create a space for the UCA’s diverse cultural groups to share the life and diversity of their work.
Together they form a network of solidarity, support and fellowship where members can share their successes and their concerns with each other, promoting a sense of belonging and cooperation.