The Diocese of Melbourne ‘Mission and Ministry Conference in the Asian Century’ has opened today at a very high note, with a challenge from the Keynote speaker, Archbishop Roger Herft.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Chutney & Cho Mein: Making Disciples in a Multicultural Australia’, Archbishop Roger acknowledged that the Church is guilty of the attitudes that put others down and promoted elitist and superiority mentality particularly of one brand of culture – Anglo-Saxon race.
He pointed out that the dignity of difference and hospitality are hall marks of the life of Christian community.
Multiculturalism, the Archbishop underscored, must give the space for openness and honest engagement of the cultural differences and diversity.
He reminded the 280 delegates that “The church has and will always be a migrant community” and therefore we “need to always consider ourselves as migrants.”
Archbishop Roger, who was born and brought up in Sri Lanka, challenged the audience that in Australia “We will only be able to have meaningful multicultural relationships with migrants when we have confronted and repented the ghosts of our present and past imperialism against the Aboriginal people.”
He cautioned the delegates that without confronting the reality of the indigenous people in Australia we run the risk of undermining the intrinsic value of being made in God’s image.
He Hailed the Melbourne Diocese for its emphasis on multiculturalism and the challenge to engage with reality of the indigenous people.
Earlier in his opening address, the Archbishop of Melbourne and newly elected Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, The Most Revd Dr Philip Freier, who spoke on the theme: ‘The Asian Century: What does it mean for Melbourne?’, highlighted the opportunities for proclaiming the Gospel among the non-English people in Melbourne, adding that “It would be wonderful to have more native speakers of Arabic, Turkish, Hindi and Mandarin amongst us but what about raising the expectation of more of us acquiring at least some conversational skills in these and the other significant languages in our community for the sake of prospering Christ’s mission?”
Archbishop Philip pointed out the importance of Christian faith in the Australia’s economic-political relationship with Asia, adding that “It would be a profound sadness if we concluded that we had nothing to say or nothing to offer. This is one of the reasons why our theme for this conference is ‘Ministry and Mission in the Asian century’”
By The Revd John Kafwanka, Director for Mission