First thing first, let me thank the triune God for the joy of serving the God who is Three but One.
Second, I want to thank particularly Lisa, the chair of Yarra Yarra Presbytery for curating my induction.
And particularly I would like to thank Ruth from MUC. She has tirelessly and patiently coordinated my induction, not one but twice (Added: now 3 times!). Thank you, Ruth.
And I also want to thank my family, friends and colleagues who are here with me or on video.
Your love, your friendship, and your support over the years have meant so much to me. You all have made me a better person.
At long last.
After 147 days I am now inducted.
I can’t help but wonder whether my ministry with Manningham Uniting Church for the last 147 days is valid since I wasn’t inducted.
The last 147 days have been interesting to put it mildly. It has been filled with surprises. Yet, I am not surprised after having served the church for nearly 30 years.
The last 147 days I have experienced myriad of emotions – excitements, sadness, joy, anger, hope, disappointments, delight, frustrations, affirmations, griefs and shock.
Ruth Hodges, the editor of Manningham Uniting Church magazine sent a request for contributions to the July Issue of MUC magazine.
She suggested, “For the July Magazine, which will be the first in a new era for MUC, it has been suggested that the theme be ‘Dreams’. Since we have been under restrictions some of us may have had a little extra time and may like to put our minds to some writing! So, we are seeking some writings on dreams you may have had, dreams for the future, dreams for the use of our new building complex, dreams that may have come true, etc.”
I think it’s a great idea!
After being with you for 147 days, I feel that I am no longer a stranger.
For the first 100 days I intentionally sought to listen as I visited some of you, attended as many meetings as could manage, and caught up with a few of you for one-to-one for conversations.
I have listened and reflected on what I have heard and offered my observations and shared my concerns.
As you know I wrote a response for the last induction that didn’t happen. And I have shared it in the May issue of the MUC magazine. I knew I had to write a new one.
With the encouragement from Ruth, I will l like take this opportunity to share with you 10 of my dreams for Manningham Uniting Church in the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr. – I HAVE A DREAM…
Before I do that, I want to say that my dreams are not necessarily more important or more valid than the dreams each of you have for MUC.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC and Community Centre in participation with the Spirit will become a redemptive space as we learn to step outside of our own comfort zones, or our ideas of who is in and who is out. And as we do, we find a place occupied by people of ‘difference’.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation will truly embed our four values (Christ-centred, Risk-taking, Hospitable and Relational) in our life together.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC and Community Centre will truly be a safe place for all.The MUC and CC will become a place of welcome, hospitality and service. Let’s not forget the Christian’s first duty is to serve others, especially the poor and the marginalized, just as Jesus did.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation will reflect the ethnic diversity within the City of Manningham. We can’t remain a white church. At least 19% of those who live in the City of Manningham speak Mandarin and Cantonese at home.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC and Community Centre will become a centre for learning within our Presbytery and beyond.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation will fully embrace and celebrate the rich diversity within the congregation. We are one congregation with several worship spaces and ministries. If the body of Christ is made up of many interdependent members, then it is only when we learn with and from the entire cultural spectrum of that body that we can truly know the fullness of God.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC and Community Centre will be a place where we promote and built bridges for a harmonious intergenerational (young and old), intercultural (White and BIPOC), and inter-religious (All faiths) world.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation will be known to be a place where the senior adults within the church and the wider community will find support, care, and advocacy. And we will speak against ageism and promote the well beings of all senior adults.
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation and community centre will be known to be a place where we are prepared to be vulnerable and can have uncomfortable conversations. My hope is that we will have a monthly ‘Uncomfortable Conversation Café’ where uncomfortable issues are raised and talk about. I wonder how different would our community be if we could all push through the vulnerability and discomfort of talking about hard things?
- I have a dream that one day the MUC congregation will embed the saying of John Wesley in the way we treat each other. – “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”
Let’s us continue to dream dreams.
Let’s dream together. Let’s share our dreams. Let us also find ways to turn our individual dreams into corporate dreams. Dreams that we can share and work together!