In April 2011, the Multicultural Ministry Network of the Uniting Church WA established the Marhaba Multicultural Community Centre with their first meeting at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth.
Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, Multicultural Ministry co-ordinator, describes Marhaba as his dream, a dream he carried with him from his home country of Iraq. Emanuel established a Marhaba community in Jordan with the goal of giving young people opportunities to engage with the refugee church in Jordan. The aims of the Marhaba community in Perth has similar, but broader goals.
Marhaba in Perth was established to connect people from diverse multicultural backgrounds with the church. The name Marhaba is the amalgamation of two Aramaic words. The first ‘Mar’ meaning God and the second ‘haba’ meaning love; Marhaba literally translates to ‘God is love’.
Emanuel says that the key message of Marhaba is in its name, he wants “people from all cultures and backgrounds to know that God is love”.
Marhaba offers a variety of services, including language specific sermons and Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture courses. According to Emanuel, these courses have been popular as people take more interest in the Middle East and in the people displaced as a result of persecution and conflict.
In previous years, Marhaba have had monthly meetings to gather as a community, share food and fellowship, but they are currently in the process of finding a new home for the centre and have suspended monthly meetings in the meantime.
This year, Marhaba is celebrating five years of service to the community with a celebration on Saturday 23 April, 5.00pm at Uniting Church in the City, Wesley Perth. Emanuel is expecting as many as 120 people at the event.
There are 10 multicultural congregations within Uniting Church WA including a number of bilingual churches.
For more information on Multicultural Ministry and events, contact Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho on 9260 9810 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.