On Thursday 17 January, 120 young adults from all across Australia, including a group of 21 from Western Australia, came together at Nunyara in Adelaide, South Australia, for the National Young Adult Leaders Conference (NYALC). The group of young, passionate, driven faith leaders from each synod, were at Nunyara for four days, coming together to grow as leaders in the Uniting Church.
I first heard about NYALC from Janine McDonald, Uniting Generations Co-ordinator for the Uniting Church WA. She is so passionate about the young people of the church in WA and motivating us to do more on a local, state and national level where possible.
She encouraged me to go to NYALC, knowing that I already hold leadership positions at my own church and in the wider church community. I run the youth group at Rockingham Uniting Church, and, along with three friends of mine and Janine, help co-ordinate Deep End, the young adults’ group open to anyone in Perth and the wider area. I was excited to go to NYALC to learn more about what it takes to be a good leader in the church, and bring these skills back to WA and to Rockingham.
The theme of NYALC was LEAD – Live. Embrace. Act. Disciple. Each of these themes were touched on through worship services, leadership seminars with the great Naomi Nash, talking to all the moderators and the President of the Uniting Church, Dr Deidre Palmer, and having conversations with the other delegates.
Our time at NYALC was full of fun, dancing and singing, but also had times of sadness and reflection. We were witness to the first ever Day of Mourning service by the Uniting Church. We shared communion and a time of reflection, looking upon mistakes of the past, the unity of the present, and the promise of the future. We also visited the Colebrook Reconciliation Park, giving us the chance to recognise how far we have come, not just as a church, but as a country in embracing the First Peoples of Australia.
The one thing that always stands out to me the most about events like NYALC and also the National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC), is the feeling of community and of belonging. As a young person in the church, it can sometimes be easy to feel like you’re alone. Whether you’re alone in your own church, or you feel alone in your community, it is very easy to feel separated.
When I was in high school I went through this, feeling like such an outsider because I was Christian and was so dedicated to my church. It took going to NCYC to realise I wasn’t alone. There are so many people out there like me – at the same age and with the same passion for God and faith.
Going to NYALC cemented this even further, reminding me that I’m not alone as a young adult leader in the church. Being a part of the church is one thing, but being a leader is another. Being with so many dedicated and inspiring young leaders made me even more excited and passionate for the role that I hold. NYALC proved to be the perfect opportunity for me to learn more about what it means to be a leader in the Uniting Church, and to give me tools to improve my leadership abilities. It allowed me to see old friends and make new friends that I will have for life, and I look forward to continuing to be a leader in the Uniting Church for as long as I possibly can be.
If you want to see NYALC 2019 through my eyes, check out my video here.