In this reflective piece, Rev Prof Andrew Dutney uses the occurrence of Leadership Formation Day as an opportunity to explore the Annunciation and how the call of God enters people's lives.
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Sean Weetra is in awe at how God has brought about the partnership of the Marion Warradale Uniting Church and the new Marion Congress Faith Community in the south of Adelaide.
“I had a vision for a church in the south so it happened one day that I was Googling Marion churches, and Marion Warradale Uniting Church was the first church to come up in the search results. I called them straight away and asked them if they’d be interested in a church partnership with the Aboriginal community,” Sean recalls.
“It turned out this was their vision even before I had approached them. God was working well before I put forward my own proposal.”
Sean also soon realised this vision was shared by many others in the Uniting Church SA who were more than willing to lend their support to the project.
“I discovered that Uncle Ian Dempster and Uncle Mark Kickett also had a vision for a church partnership to form a Southern Congress Faith Community. They have both been a great support. Whilst there is no Minister or Pastor lined up for the new faith community at present, both Uncle Ian and Uncle Mark will be able to assist.”
The Marion Warradale Uniting Church congregation is excited about Congress planting a church within their church, having spent considerable time praying about the future of their community.
“Members of the congregation are enthusisatic and re-energised by the Marion Congress Faith Community coming to share the Marion-based facility,” says Rev David Buxton, the Intentional Interim Minister at Marion-Warradale.
“It is also in close proximity to other Kaurna sites in the local area. The possibilities for the future are really significant, but at the same time we don’t know quickly or how many from the local Indigenous community will engage with it.”
It is both Sean’s and David’s hope that the two congregations will one day combine in a joint worship service, and they are eager to see how the community responds and develops after the launch.
“This Sunday, at our launch day, we will be having conversations with the community about how often we should meet, whether it be once a week, once a fortnight or once a month,” Sean explains.
“I don’t want to control the direction of this new faith community - I want the Congress community, in collaboration with the existing Marion Warradale congregation, to progress it. I don’t want the community to be disempowered by others making decisions.”
Sean recently learnt he will be travelling on his first overseas trip to Canada this June and July to attend the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education. Whilst he realises the timing isn’t ideal, he also realises it is not him but God and the new community that will lay the foundation for the future of this exciting initiative.
“I feel like the Marion Warradale congregation will be great role models for the new Marion Congress Faith Community, and I hope that a successful partnership will lead to the establishment of other Aboriginal evangelical fellowships in future. These new fellowships don’t have to be specifically Aboriginal, but a place where both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can worship together and feel comfortable.”
Sean is aware that many Aboriginal people have felt that Christianity has been forced on them in the past. It is his hope and vision that those who form the Marion Congress Faith Community and attend its gatherings will come to realise that Christianity is actually a gift.
“We hope the launch will attract lots of people who will bring family and friends,” says Sean. “We also hope that people will be happy for us and will show their support for this new initiative.”
The Marion Congress Faith Community will be launched on Sunday 11 June at 2pm at Marion Uniting Church (9 Township Road, Marion). Worship will be followed by a BBQ – please feel free to bring food to share. For more information, please contact Sean Weetra on 0468 912 599 or Ian Dempster on 0417 217 320.
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