Rev Charissa Suli announced as President-elect
Rev Charissa Suli has joyfully been declared President-elect of the Uniting Church in Australia. Charissa is the youngest and first person of colour to serve as President-elect, and the second ordained woman.
In her response to the announcement Charissa said: "This is truly an historic moment for the Church. This is ground-breaking that you call a Second Generation Tongan Australian, still in her thirties. Today we move forward because of you all."
“I am conscious of people, both known and unknown, who have prayed, sacrificed and struggled for this moment. But let us celebrate it and give thanks for what God has done and continues to do through your witness to Christ’s radical hospitality.”
“This is the Uniting Church I have come to know that has given me the space to grow and be challenged, the opportunity to try new things, to call me into mission and to exercise my discipleship and affirm my gifts as a leader, even if I looked different or did things that were different from the status quo.”
“The Uniting Church can give me all the emotions on any given day, but it is the Church that I will always love.”
Rev Sharon Hollis congratulated Charissa and rejoiced in this historic moment for the Church.
“You (Charissa) are youngest person ever elected and you are the first person of colour. We rejoice for you in this election, for what it means for you, for your family and for the Church.”
Charissa is currently National Consultant with the Assembly. She has more than 20 years experience in cross cultural and intercultural ministry in the Uniting Church. She was ordained in 2014 and served in congregational ministry at Dapto Uniting Church in NSW.
Charissa gave thanks for the other President-elect nominees, Rev Viniana Ravetali and Rev Michelle Cook, for their courage and faithfulness in taking this journey.
She paid tribute to those who had nurtured, encouraged and empowered her to realise her gifts of leadership and invest in the leadership of the younger generations of the Church.
In particular she thanked her mentors Rev Jason Kioa, the former Chair of the Tongan National Conference and Rev Tony Floyd, who she said, “opened my eyes to the possibility of ministry and leadership.”
Charissa thanked those who had been part of her journey, those who had prayed and supported her and gave special thanks for her family.
“I will serve the Church faithfully, leading it into the love of God, with Jesus Christ as my shepherd, and trusting the Holy Spirit to lead me each day, but for now I continue to grow in my role and learning with the amazing Assembly Resourcing Unit.”
Charissa will serve the Church as President from 2024-2027.