Church partners have their say – Rev. James Bhagwan

Ni sa bula vinaka, no’ia’ea, malo’ileilei, talofa lava, mauri and g’day in all the other languages of the Pacific that make up one quarter of the world’s languages.

I pay my respects to the taukei ni vanua, the tangata whenua – the people of the land, to the first peoples, traditional people of this land.

I acknowledge the presence of the Triune God… God of the Vanua and the Wai Tui… God of the land, the sea, the sky and all that is in it, who has been present in this place and spoken in this time of gathering.

I stand on behalf of your sisters and brothers from the largest continent on the planet, the liquid continent of Oceania. On behalf of the communities of faith in the Pacific who are your partners, vinaka vaka levu,  feksia,  malo’aupito, fafetai lava,  fafetai lasi,  tankyu tumas, koraba, tankyu tru –

Thank you…
Thank you for your love….
Thank you for your solidarity….
Thank you for your support… for the communities in the Pacific.

Pastor Allan has already expressed the thanks of the Presbyterian Church in Vanuatu and the people of Vanuatu.

Thank you for the other disaster risk management and resilience building you have undertaken in the Kingdom of Tonga.

Thank you for working with the communities of Kiribati and Tuvalu for climate justice and for being the voice of the voiceless in this land.

Thank you for your capacity building work with our churches.

Thank you for talking and walking with us as we address gender justice and child protection.

Thank you for coming closer to us through the establishment of your Pacific office in Fiji.

President and members of the 14th Assembly, I bring greetings from my community of faith,  the Methodist Church in Fiji: from our President, Rev. Dr Tenuta Banivanua, General Secretary, Rev. Dr Epineri Vakadewavosa and the people called Methodists in Fiji, with whom you have had a relationship since 1855.

Your solidarity with us during times of political instability and oppression gave us strength, and your partnership with us in our New Exodus, through your support of reconciliation processes, addressing gender based violence and child protection and the development of an essential communication framework for a church spread over 300 islands has and continues to be greatly appreciated as we move to strengthen and formalise our partnership for the future, including a partnership with Congress  (the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress).

Vinaka vakalevu and feksia.

As a young Church leader, I and my colleagues have listened with our ears, we have listened with our minds and we have listened with our hearts, to the conversations that your church is having. I have learned much from conversations about dominant culture, multiculturalism and those in the margins.

These are conversations my community of faith are beginning to have.

I have also learned from other conversations, more recent conversations which we know we will need to have one day.

President and members of the Assembly, your partners here have also been having conversations. Conversations with UnitingWorld and conversations with each other.

I thank UnitingWorld for not only facilitating our presence here at this Assembly, but also enabling these conversations to take place.