Get to know our Advocate Rev. Dr Matagi Vaitohi
The Advocate for the Being a Multicultural Church Circle is Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama. We asked Matagi to tell us about himself.
The other day I was having the very first Bible study with the English Conversation Group who are using our church hall. The study was arranged by their leader who is a Cantonese-speaking Chinese member of our local church. There were nine of us altogether: six women and three men, mostly from Asian background. I was the only Pacific Island person.
I was concerned about the adequacy of my preparation for the lesson on Jesus and the Bible. I did not feel that I was well prepared for the level of comprehension of a group who have English as their second or third language. I was mindful of how language is a way into culture and that much of another’s culture lies hidden from those who do not belong to that culture. However, during our sharing I found myself astounded. I was reminded again of our common humanity and also our common citizenship and discipleship in Christ. We are richly diverse and yet how very similar we are as human beings. Assumptions often times deceive us.
I see the role of the Being a Multicultural Church Circle as working beyond the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. It needs to permeate the boundaries and scope of the other Circles and vice versa. Raising awareness, promoting and resourcing the aspirations of the UCA as a diverse church that seeks to serve the multicultural kingdom of God will involve working cross culturally at all levels.
We are reminded again and again by important statements of the past that cultural and linguistic diversity is very much in the DNA of the church.
It is my hope that this Being a Multicultural Church platform will provide an opportunity for all within the UCA - and beyond - to converge and share the richness of God's love with each other and all the world.
More to know about Matagi
Trained in Niue and New Zealand, Matagi began his ministry in the Ekalesia Kerisiano Niue (EKN) serving for 12 years in a number of roles including President. While at EKN he was a member of the Pacific Conference of Churches, involved in cross-cultural, multicultural and ecumenical programs. Since moving to Australia, Matagi served for 10 years at Carlton-Ramsgate Uniting Church in the Georges River Presbytery in the Synod of NSW/ACT. He has a PhD in ecclesiology from Charles Sturt University.