A service held on Sunday (April 4) to celebrate the differences of people living in such a diverse community as east Auckland was a great success.
For the service, the auditorium of St Columba Presbyterian Church in Botany – the largest auditorium in the area – was filled to capacity.
There were St Columba churchgoers from both the 8.30am and 10.30am Sunday services and worshippers from the Calvary Church (Korean), the Living Water Christian Church (Chinese) and the Assembly of God (Samoan). All hold separate services in St Columba every Sunday.
The aim of the combined multi-cultural service was to celebrate these cultures. Not only did they join together in prayer and song but each church was encouraged to come wearing clothes to represent their culture.
After the service, everyone joined together in a shared lunch for which all brought a plate representing food of their culture.
Rev Chris Barnard, senior minister at St Columba, said the combined multi-cultural service had been a suggestion by St Columba put to the remaining three churches.
“When we suggested this to the other pastors they were overwhelmingly in favour,” he said.
“One of our main vision priorities at St Columba is to celebrate our differences. In Botany we live in such a diverse community and yet we are quite prominently European. One of our aims is to look at how we can accept people from other cultures.
“We wanted to look at how we could celebrate together rather than pinpoint our differences. We’d like to have across-the-board representation of people reflective of our community.
“It is important for us to create welcoming spaces for people of all cultures to come together in worship. We really don’t know how to do it so this was a first attempt. To worship together as a community to build a foundation which will lead to other projects which can reach out into the community.
He feels ethnicity groups can be addressed and can come alongside people who need help.
“This we feel would be particularly useful to people new to the area who find it strange and peculiar,” Rev Barnard said.
“Not just cross-cultural but also supporting and assisting one another. Ultimately, that is our call to serve one another, to serve our community and how best to do it.”