Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Where is God leading Filipinos in Australia?

Written by Joshua Ocampo, Next Generation, Filipino National Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the Uniting Church in Australia’s 4th Filipino National Conference on 19-21 October.

Filipinos from all over Australia, within the Uniting Church and beyond gathered at St Albans Uniting Church in Melbourne.

Delegates had the opportunity to come together to discuss and share in fellowship under the theme of the weekend: God’s mission in the Filipino diaspora.

As a young adult born in Australia with a very strong Filipino upbringing, I was excited to attend. It is a very valuable and important thing to go back to your roots and hear about your cultural background.

One of the most enriching sessions was hearing from special guest Bishop Rex Reyes, Bishop of the Philippine Episcopal Church.

Bishop Reyes spoke to us about the very serious issues facing the Philippines today and how groups of people in the Philippines are fighting for basic rights we have here in Australia.

It is something most younger church members, especially those with a Filipino background don’t hear enough about. Most of us second generation feel a bit disconnected from our mother countries. Listening to Bishop Reyes, I wished there was more awareness about the situation in the Philippines, not only for all Filipinos, but for communities of all ages within the Uniting Church so we can respond and help those fighting for human rights.

We were encouraged by the presence of Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer. She shared with us the visions and goals of the Uniting Church and reflected on the challenge for us all to work intergenerationally, together in God’s ‘Abundant Grace and Liberating Hope’. We were reminded that the transforming love of God is visible in our actions towards justice and equality.

I had the privilege of leading a table topic discussion on the leadership development of young people in the Uniting Church. I shared my experiences of leadership in my local church as well as within the presbytery, Synod and all the different parts in the church.

We shared some positives of youth and young adult ministries but also tackled the tough issues. Young people need to not only be part of the Church, we need the opportunity to lead. It is clear we must get stronger at resourcing and mentoring the young leaders of the church.

In a rapidly changing digital world, the voice of the youth in the church needs to be heard as we continue to proclaim the message of Christ’s Love, Justice and Peace.

I would encourage all Filipinos and people of all cultural backgrounds to keep striving to learn more about the processes of the Uniting Church, so that you too, can be part of moulding and shaping the Church for generations to come.

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