By Siosi Tangi
Walking on Country
Before NYALC 20 young adults where given the privilege to walk alongside the President of the Uniting Church Dr Deidre Palmer and journey on Ngarrindjeri Country and to the community of Raukkan on the cliffs overlooking Lake Alexandria.
Raukkan means “meeting place” in the Ngarrindjeri language - it was an important meeting place for Ngarrindjeri clans.
Led by Sean Weetra from SA Congress and his family, we were enriched by the beautiful land and culture.
At the start of our journey, we were presented and given permission from the First Peoples of the land to walk on such sacred grounds in a humbling welcome to country.
For three days we were blessed with the experience of getting to know the indigenous culture.
The days were filled with culture and history and the nights where filled with stories and songs.
We heard from community elders past and present of stories planted in their hearts, of a saddened past time. Yet with the same voice we were encouraged to move forward to a better place with their present leaders.
We were taught traditional ways of weaving plants together and heard stories of how their lands came about.
It was a beautiful reminder of God’s love for all his people and the land, and that we can stand together to mend the broken relationships with the First Peoples of this land.
A blessed four days at the beginning of the year where young adults could share, grow and be hopeful together as we learnt how to be more encouraged leaders back home.
With the help of the educational bible studies, awesome leadership training sessions and open discussion sessions, young people were immersed with questions and conversations to help equip them with practical leadership tools to use back home.
I take with me the beloved memory of an awesome and blessed weekend, full of knowledge, generosity and an oversupply of support definitely needed in ministry.
But I also take with me the question of how can we continue to support and disciple the next generation in their faith and leadership? How can we encourage the communities back home?
Stepping out of our NYALC bubble and coming back to our day-to-day lives, I bring this encouragement back home with me.
Whether it’s while we study for a better future or live in the stress of the demands of work, leading at Church or being a friend, we were chosen by God to be a leader, and God’s abundant grace and liberating hope is always with us.
May we continue to sustain, restore and refresh each other during our journey of leadership together.
We thank the President, Assembly Resourcing Unit, Discipling the Next Generations Assembly Circle, Synod workers and everyone who assisted in holding such an enjoyable conference.
Read Nicole Mugford's reflection on her profound NYALC experience
Read Joy Han's moving intercultural reflection on Walking on Country