This June, 100 people from Uniting Church in the City (UCIC) sat down to a delicious lunch of six different Sri Lankan curries, prepared by Maru, one of our Tamil friends. Maru’s childhood and education was severely disrupted by the 27 year old war in Sri Lanka, as he and his family were forced to move seven times to avoid the bombing raids carried out in the Tamil lands in the north.
His mother taught him to cook, so that whatever happened in those uncertain times he could feed himself and those around him. In July 2014, I had the great privilege of travelling to Sri Lanka to attend the Sri Lankan Methodist Church’s bicentennial celebration of 200 years of Methodism in Sri Lanka, and seeing the many projects being run by the church there as they seek to rebuild people’s lives after the war. To mark this momentous occasion, a celebration service was held in a great cathedral in Colombo, attended by 9,000 people, a government stamp was printed and a book on the history of Methodism in Sri Lanka was published.
One chapter in that book entitled Rethinking Mission in Sri Lanka was written by Rev Dr Albert Jebanesan, the president of the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, and has particular relevance for us in Australia, posing such questions as, ‘How can the church in Australia engage with the culture around it?’ and ‘Can we acknowledge and embrace the beauty and truth of other cultures and ideologies around us as expressions of the ceaseless creativity in the natural world and in human cultures which we call God?’
At the recent curry lunch, around $1800 was raised for a project of our partner church, The Methodist Church in Sri Lanka, which sets up interfaith kindergartens for children who have been affected by the war. In these kindergartens, the children receive an early childhood education including peace education and nutritious food which they would not otherwise get. This was the second curry lunch fundraising event at UCIC and hopefully it will be repeated in years to come as the process of rebuilding the lives of the Sri Lankan people continues by the Methodist Church in Sri Lanka.
Image: Guests enjoyed a great day out with good food at Uniting Church in the City’s Curry Lunch.