​The Foundation has been supporting The Long Weekend Camp for three years.

Experience in multi-cultural parishes has given the new Director of Cross Cultural Ministry for the Diocese, the Revd Glenn Buijs, a deep appreciation of diversity.

“When I first went to All Saints’ Clayton in the 1980’s I was accepting of multi-culturalism,” he said. “At the end of my time there, I felt I couldn’t live without it!”

In the parish of Brimbank, which he left in December last year, the multi-cultural congregation “reflected the rich tapestry of Australian life”, and gave a new dimension to both worship and social events.

“When people have different ways of expressing their faith you come to see things you’ve taken for granted through new eyes,” he said, and gave as an example the student who showed him the Chinese symbol for ‘tree’.

“It was a perpendicular line with three shorter lines branching off at the bottom, and I said I would have drawn it the other way up. She replied ‘Yes, Westerners draw what they see, but we look for what is underneath’. That was when

I realised she had drawn, not upside-down branches, but the tree’s roots.”

Glenn regards the present as an exciting time of transition, as the diocese

recognises and responds to the changing needs of a second generation of migrants and refugees.

“Many churches took in first generation ethnic congregations and saw this as a ministry,” he said. “Now there is a second generation of young adults who have grown up here, who speak English and have gained financial independence, and who are looking for greater independence within the Church. They don’t want to be the hosted guests who worship at a separate time in another language – they want to participate fully in church life and worship in English, but not necessarily as an Anglo-Saxon congregation does. They want to incorporate elements of their cultural heritage which could be dancing, or drumming, and they want to be represented on vestry and at Synod. If this does not happen, we will lose many of them.”

Some parishes may regard this as threatening, but it is not a take-over bid, but a coming of age of Christians who can offer new ways of being Church.

Glenn sees the model for this second generation as “services in English, open to all, but with freedom for different worship styles.”

The growth in migrant and refugee membership of congregations throughout Melbourne has been considerable. The challenge is to respond to the opportunities this gives for a more diverse diocese in which decision-making is shared and cultural differences mean enrichment for all, rather than separation.

You can help Glenn’s work by donating to the Anglican Foundation’s Migrants and Refugees Settlement Fund.

 

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