The Uniting Church in WA supported three youthful members to the recent 14th Triennial Assembly Meeting. They share their experiences with Revive.
Rockingham Uniting Church
One thing that was constantly discussed at the Assembly was a reading from Luke, chapter 24, verses 13-35. In that reading, two men were walking to a village called Emmaus, and on that road Jesus greeted them, but their eyes did not let the men recognise the newly resurrected Jesus.
During Assembly, when we discussed heavy issues such as same-gender marriage and relationships, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and the rights and recognition of the Aboriginal and Islander peoples of Australia, sometimes it felt like there was no spirit around us, nothing to support us and guide us, and I asked “where are you?”
The answer is simple. He was there the whole time.
I didn’t realise it, I was blind, the same way the two men on the road were when they encountered Jesus. They didn’t realise that he was there all along. And there were moments amongst the angst, hurt and loneliness that his presence felt so real and more present than it ever has in my life before. Speaking to other members of the youth, I know they also felt his presence and his absence during the Assembly.
He is always there. Through the darkness, he provides light.
In the words of John, chapter 1, verse 5: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Kelly created a video featuring some of the youthful members and their response to the experience of Assembly. The video, ‘Dancing through the Dark’, can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVjUDaoI2P0.
Busselton Uniting Church
There were moments of joy during Assembly, such as the youth dancing on the lawn outside Winthrop Hall where the Assembly was held (see Kelly Crothers’ video link below), as well as discussions about the inspiring work taking place by the church. However, discussions of child sexual abuse, the appalling treatment of refugees and the inhumane acts against Indigenous Australians left us all with heavy hearts and feeling the need to take action.
A proposal was put forward by the youthful members to have the entire Assembly take a photo in support of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, and their fight against the forced closure of remote Indigenous communities (for more info on this visit https://revivemagazine.org.au/2015/08/09/14th-assembly-moments-before-god/).
The week left me emotionally drained. I felt joy, empowered and inspired. Throughout the week I also felt horror, sadness, anger and disgust. However, I left with my faith cemented and stronger than ever, which is something massive for me as my faith has been a mixed bag in the last few years.
Beth Shalom Tongan Uniting Church
Being able to contribute to the life of the church through discussions and decision makings, at Assembly I witnessed the constant movement of the Holy Spirit binding us together. Included in one of twenty community groups, I grew fonder of the Uniting Church. Within these small groups, we were given the chance to speak our minds and express our thoughts as well as being respected for the beliefs and values we hold.
My heart is still overwhelmed by the fact that the voices of the youth were being taken into consideration throughout the whole Assembly.
Image: Youthful members at Assembly put forward a proposal to stand in solidarity with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress over the forced closure of remote Indigenous communities. Members of the Assembly agreed to the proposal and stood on the grounds outside Winthrop Hall to make the statement.