Fifteen multicultural clergy from Sudanese, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian, Tamil and Tongan background met at St James Old Cathedral Conference Centre in West Melbourne on November 9, 2013, to talk through the implications of the 2013 Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne approving a budget and the Archbishop’s Three Year Plan which made multicultural ministry a high priority.

There was a nice juxtaposition here: here were some of the newest clergy of the diocese, from the most diverse places, meeting at the Old Cathedral which represented the oldest Anglican establishment of the Colony of Victoria.

To this strategy workshop were invited all multicultural clergy in the 40 multicultural congregations in the Diocese. Twenty four said yes, but in the event 15 came. They were: Esther Ruan, David Xu, Robert Vun and Ben Wong (Chinese), George Ladu, Abraham Nyieth, Daniel Bol Nyieth, Daniel Kuol Amol, David Lual Mabior and Peter Ayor Alier Jongroor (Sudanese), Jobby John (Church of South India), Sisofa Tongja (Tonga), V.K. Varughese (Mar Thoma independent), Paul Packiyanathan (Tamil), and Kuncoro Rusman (Indonesian). Unfortunately the Karen who accepted were not able to come at the last minute. Apologies were received from many others.

The workshop was facilitated by Associate Professor Jeanette Lawrence of the University of Melbourne, assisted by PhD candidate Abi Brooker and international development trainer Denise Nichols with administration by Pam Wardle and Archdeacon Alan Nichols (Coordinator, Multicultural Ministry).

The narrative on the workshop and the strategies arising from it were circulated within a week not only to the participants but also to those who could not attend. Some of them made corrections and additions. So this Strategy Plan can be regarded as the work of the whole multicultural sector.

At the start of the workshop on November 9 participants congratulated the Archbishop for ‘letting us be part of the three year plan’ and for making multicultural ministry a high priority for the next three years. They welcomed the advertisement in the November issue of The Melbourne Anglican for a fulltime Coordinator for Multicultural Ministry from January 2014.

The discussions at the workshop were vigorous and assertive. “We want to be connected to the mainstream life of the Diocese.” “We want to be included and accepted so that we can worship as the one body of Christ”, “We want to grow the church for the glory of God”.

The strategy developed has been proposed to the Archbishop of Melbourne for inclusion in his Vision and Directions for 2014-2016.

By Alan Nichols