Celebrating, Lamenting and Exploring Faith

By Nicole Mugford

On Thursday when all were gathered at Nunyara, after many had been on the Walking on Country experience or travelling from their homes and workplaces, there was a huge sense of excitement.  There was a real sense of anticipation and a joy that we were the Uniting Church gathered together.

For me there were many profound moments over the four days of NYALC, in sessions, in conversation and in new friendships. 

Worship was diverse in songs, styles and energy, but each session was deeply moving and meaningful.

The leadership sessions were really empowering and gave us good opportunity to discuss with others and reflect on our own context and leadership.  It was really clear to me that many young adults are providing significant leadership in their local communities.

I was really struck by the conversation about leaders not being Batman, called in to help then leaving.  It stuck out to me for two reasons.  Firstly, by flying in to help, Batman isn’t investing and building roots in that community.  For me an important part of mission and leadership is being present in the community you are serving.  Secondly, the people become dependent on Batman. Rather than seeking to solve their own problems, they just call for a solution.  I’ve been in situations of leadership where I have started to become Batman and that is not how I want to do my ministry. 

Another thing which was really significant was having the six moderators and the President in the room engaging with us. I loved having the opportunity to chat with them, share my hopes and thoughts and pray with them. 

We had opportunities in the leadership sessions to submit questions and discuss answers and hear wisdom from various issues.  VIC/TAS Moderator and President-Elect Rev. Sharon Hollis made really significant comments about how to look after ourselves in the midst of conflict and also offered reflections around women in leadership in the face of toxic masculinity.  I was encouraged and challenged to consider my own life. 

The other significant thing for me was the experience of connecting with UAICC.  Our trip to Colebrook Reconciliation Park and hearing from Aunty Denise Champion and Sean Weetra reminded me about the relationship we have in the Covenant with First Peoples.  I was challenged in my community group as we explored how much people knew about what it meant to walk alongside as Second Peoples.  The Day of Mourning service, although really early, was one of the most profound things I have been a part of. There was a real sense of shared pain, but also a willingness to hold the hurt together in faith as community. 

This NYALC experience is a significant moment in my life as a leader within the Uniting Church.  It was a chance to gather in community and celebrate and lament and explore more of faith, life and identity.  For me NYALC was at a pivotal time of transition in my life as I move into new ministry, leadership and places. The space I had at NYALC helped me to process, pray and work through the fear I held stepping into these changes.