Being a Multicultural Church

Tagata Pasifika Theological Symposium

13-14 September 2019
Leigh Memorial Church, Parramatta NSW

You are invited to come and hear theological voices from a Pacific cultural background.
Hear what they have to say and in the spaces provided discuss with others the
implications for the church in Australia and in the islands.

Beginning at Friday 13th 2:00 pm  A worship service will be held at 7:00 pm (Friday), led by the Fijian Youth Group at Leigh Memorial.
The preacher will be the Rev. Dr Matagi Vilitama, Assembly Advocate, Being a Multicultural Church Circle.

To register email: tagatatheo@gmail.com

FIND OUT MORE

Below is the program of speakers. 

Introduction:
Clive Pearson:

The introduction will set the agenda for the two days. What kind of work has been done by tagata Pasifika? How was room for this voice created? We note the early importance of a thesis by Risatisone Ete ‘In My Father’s House’ and another by Matagi Vilitama on the Christ of the umu?
How do you build an ‘architecture of knowledge’ and what happens when it is absent? How critical is the library and publications.`
This symposium follows on from one 15 years ago on the theme of Faith in a Hyphen. For a period of time UTC was able to have a Masters’ degree in a Contextual and Public Theology; all candidates for ministry were required to do the Theology and Practice of Cross-Cultural Ministry.
There were some key principles put into place for the sake of a cross cultural and diasporic hermeneutic.


1. Matagi Vilitama
Title: On becoming a ‘liquid church’.

Abstract:
The empirical studies of the Samoan Leulu Va’a on Samoan communities in Australia and Helen Morton Lee on the Tongan-Australians show that the rigid social-religious structures transplanted in postmodern Australia ultimately requires metamorphosis. In other words, as islander churches settle into their new environment, we are to recognize and respond to the liquid milieu (Zygmunt
Bauman) we find ourselves in.
What does it mean to be a church in what Bauman called ‘liquid modernity’? How do we develop an ecclesiology that respond to the ever shifting social contexts of our time? The challenge for the church, according to the English ecclesiologist Pete Ward, is to learn to operate in non-permanent realities.
In the new age of the anthropocene, I will examine what it means for a people from the ‘liquid continent’ to be church. How do we organise ourselves in less predictable contexts? I will explicate the relationship between liquid modernity and the liquid nature of the Niuean people, a traditionally egalitarian-acephalous society, and propose new hermeneutics and ecclesiological understanding that is always open to future possibilities of ‘liquid fetuiaga’.

2. Jason Kioa:
Title: By what authority?
What is the role and status of the Tongan National Conference?

Abstract: The Uniting Church in Australia declared itself to be a multicultural church in 1985.
It since made further declarations on cultural diversity and the call to live cross-culturally. Shortly after that initial declaration the momentum which led to the formation of the Tongan National Conference began. Today this annual conference is one of the largest, inter-generational gatherings in the Uniting Church. It fulfils traditional expectations of worship, community building and seeks to address issues facing younger generations. It is sometimes consulted with regards to how to relate
to the Free Wesleyan Church back in Tonga; there can be discussions on how to address controversial issues in the Uniting Church – like same gender relationships – from a cultural perspective. The National Conference is attended by Assembly representatives, including the President – but it is not clear what is its status and whether it possesses any authority in the mind of this otherwise inter-conciliar church.

3. Sisilia Tupou-Thomas
Title: A Theology of Respect: in the Tongan Diaspora

Abstract:
Respect is faka’apa’apa in the Tongan language/culture. As a Tongan, i learnt that faka’apa’apa had a lot to do with acts of obedience, humility, patience, love & sacrifice. Respect was learnt and developed through interactions of individuals within every circle, on every level of the Tongan hierarchical society – family, community, church, school, other institutions & settings.
Firstly, this paper will explore the notion of faka’apa’apa / respect within the Tongan context – (i) the root of the word; where it might have come into being; (ii) how faka’apa’apa/respect functioned in some aspects of the daily life of the people in Tonga.
I left the kingdom of Tonga over forty six years ago to follow a dream. I have lived most of my life in diaspora where I have observed faka’apa’apa/respect to be earned, not something one is born with, and/or expected. Therefore this part will explore faka’apa’apa/respect through “poetics of testimony” (tales shared by first generation migrants in Diaspora.
Respect/faka’apa’apa within the NT context will be explored here – how Jesus respects “respect”.
Also, some significant arguments in literature about “respect” will be briefly discussed.
This paper concludes with a call to us “kingdom people”, summoning us to the gap, the hyphen – a liminal space with no certainty, no definite identity. How would respect be respected then?


4. Peletisala Lima: (presented by Clive Pearson with permission).
Title: Performing a Remigrant Theology.
Sons and Daughters for the Return Home

Abstract:
Some time ago the novelist, Albert Wendt, wrote a novel entitled Sons for the Return Home. What is it like to grow up in Aotearoa-New Zealand (or Australia) and then return ‘home’ to the islands?
What is it like to be a ‘remigrant’? What is it like to be a tagata mai fafo? How does one negotiate issues of identity through ‘telling tales’ that reveal liminality and a life lived in ‘holy insecurity’ (Fumitaka Matsuoka).
Following in the wake of the seminal dissertation by Risatisone Ete on Christ the vale (’the fool’/‘the idiot’), this presentation seeks to construct a Christology that addresses the issues faced by a remigrant experience of loss and uncertainty. How is this life back ‘home’ to be performed and improvised upon? Wendt’s play The Songmaker’s Chair becomes a further textual foil.

5. Sam Amosa:
Title: Vaipanoa – Naming the Public Space in Samoa

Abstract:
The distinction made in the west between public and private spaces does not exist in fa’aSamoa. There is therefore a need to identify and name the Samoan space. The naming should be experienced in a local idiom for it to be relevant and accountable. For the purpose of such a public theology the term vaipanoa is most appropriate. It describes open spaces and assumed gaps. By way of comparison the traditional pillars of the church, fa’aSamoa and the law – and how they relate to one another – assumed a much tighter structure with rigid foundations made up of a host of things including – authority, status, standing in society and teu le va. The vaipanoa presents the possibility of more fluidity, greater flexibility and an openness to new voices like those to be discerned on social media.


6. Charles Tupu:
Title: Gūgū le Ekalesia (The Silence of the Church)

One of the outstanding issues in contemporary Samoa is the legal status of customary land. The traditional patterns of ownership is being compromised by the economics of a globalization and overseas banks and aid agencies. In reply to adverse legislation a new political party called Samoa First has emerged. By way of comparison the Methodist Church is silent. It may address matters of
morality but it does not speak into public issues partly because of the close link between fa’aSamoa and the church; it is due to the need to create a new space for the church to act upon concerns expressed for the well-being of society as a whole in its own Constitution.

7. Sef Carroll:
Title: A Home for all Creation?

Abstract
Where is home? What is home? What makes a home? How does one feel at home in a new country and culture? Can a migrant ever really be at home in a new context? This paper explores the complexities and varied meanings of home and belonging: arguing that homemaking can be a process through and by which a home can be nurtured and maintained for all human and non-human
creation. The paper draws on the Oceanic notions of home whereby the concept of home is understood holistically and encompasses the human and non-human creation. How might the Oceanic understanding of vanua, fenua, whenua, hanua contribute to strengthening our theological understanding that the earth is a home for all creation?


8. Maina Talia.
Title: ‘Am I not your tuakoi?’

Abstract.
Tuvalu has become one of the icons of vulnerability in a time of the climate emergency. It is low lying and faces the prospect of inundation and a compromised sustainability and sovereignty. It features regularly in media and scientific reports and discussions around climate justice and climate refugees – a pre-legal term. What is less well known is its indigenous knowledge, its customary
practices, and how its people, being deeply ‘Bible-conscious’ draw upon Scripture to
address their plight?
It is evident that the dominant Bible texts – the Noah covenant and the book of Job – do not do enough. The pastors have become uncertain on what they should preach. Following the work of Susanna Snyder on Asylum-Seeking, Migration and the Church there is a need to weave together a ‘mosaic of texts’ that address the situation. The urgency of the task is not an exercise in western biblical scholarship. It has to do with life and existence itself.
The language of the tuakoi resonates strongly. The word means ‘neighbour’. It is a word with deep biblical roots, most notably the parable of the Good Samaritan. It is also a word that features often in customary knowledge and rituals of fatele. It is also a word which is being increasingly used in the geopolitics of climate change and associated climate-based ethics.


9. Lek Brandjerporn
Title: Examine how church music influences discipleship in the Uniting Church.

Abstract
Worship is a vital part of discipleship and spiritual formation. Worship that embraces the depth of culture will provide a rich experience for the worshippers and enrich the life of prayer and praise.
Our worship of God should equip us to serve God with our whole being and go into the world to share the Good News of Christ.
Congregational songs and hymns shape and build immovable foundations of Christian faith.
Congregational songs and hymns play a vital role because they teach the biblical narrative and proclaim biblical texts. As the Uniting Church is a multicultural Church, ministers and worship leaders or pastors have an important role to create a unified worship experience.
The paper will discuss these three core elements: Church music; discipleship; and multicultural context. The paper examines: how church music influences discipleship; the role of church music; and the effective music choices in the Uniting Churches. I will examine how we express unity in worship which recognises and reflects the gifts of diverse congregants. How does church music contribute to the formative discipling of the congregation? Congregational songs and hymns should
help connect with mission of God in Jesus. Congregational songs and hymns should stir or encourage worshippers to action because a community of faith exists not only to bring people to worship God but also to demonstrate the love of God in action.


10. Ini Foiakau
Title: The silent voice of yalewa bokala [wo-man commoner, other, foreigner, outsider] in Numbers 12

Abstract:
To be notified.


11. Kamaloni Tui’ono.
Title: Seeking to create va/space as a means of fostering a communal model of supervision in a cross-cultural setting.
Sub-title: Cross-cultural competency

Abstract:
The 2012 Assembly of the Uniting Church reaffirmed its statement of being ‘One Body, Many Members’. In so doing it demonstrated the willingness of the church to receive cultural and linguistic diversity as God’s gift. This action gives some recognition to the inclusive nature of the church in term of its calling, placement and standing of ministers. In the service of that calling, I believe the church must put in place a multicultural ministry and leadership training appropriate to
its diversity. One of the unaddressed issues has to do with the Code of Ethics which is based on a one-on-one individual model that is alien to pacific Island cultures. The Code allows for cultural difference but what does that mean? Is the Uniting Church cross-culturally competent?