Southern Cross DECEMBER 2021

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Local congregation celebrates faith in their heart language.

Fellowship for Gujarati speakers in Sydney Worship the Lord: Members of the Gujarati congregation at their monthly Doonside church service.

Fo r thos e whos e he ar t language is not English, there’s something special about having the opportunity to express your faith in that language. This year, a monthly service for Gujarati Christians has been held at Do onside Anglican, where people can gather and worship God in their native tongue. This is not the first time the group has met together in Sydney – the Gujarati Christian Fellowship dates back to 2010, when it started in the house of one Gujarati family. In 2021, the fellowship resumed running the service on the last Saturday of each month, initially in person and then on Zoom when the Delta strain locked Sydney down. “The aim was to offer a time and place where Gujarati Christians can worship God in their own language,” says the Rev Alexander Purnomo, rector of Doonside. “They ran the service on Saturdays so that people can still attend their local churches on Sundays.” Many Gujarati Christians living in Sydney are migrants, coming from different denominational backgrounds in India. A leader of the fellowship says that despite these different backgrounds, members “want to grow together in faith in Christ and reach other Gujarati people who don’t yet know Christ”. SouthernCross

December 2021

“Most of them are young families, with little children and often both parents working, like most migrant families… they have busy lives,” he adds. “They live in different suburbs, sometimes far from each other. They usually speak English well and are part of their local English-speaking church.” T h a t ’ s w h a t m a ke s t h e monthly Saturday gathering so important. It provides a place where Gujarati people can gather and speak their heart language. There is also the opportunity to be a Christian witness to the wider Gujarati community. According to the 2016 Census there are more than 52,000 Gujarati speakers living in greater Sydney – many from a Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or Jain faith background. “Gujarati Christians try to stay in touch with friends from nonChristian backgrounds – they invite each other to various festivals and birthday parties,” Mr Purnomo says. “The services have been mostly attended by p eople from Christian backgrounds, but on special occasions, such as memorial services for deceased parents in India, many friends from Hindu backgrounds have come along.” The past two years have been tough on the community, as many from the fellowship

work in the health care sector. C h r i s t i a n Fe l l ow s h i p a re “[They are] therefore on the thankful to be able to worship frontline of our city’s struggle together. Adds Mr Purnomo: in the pandemic,” Mr Purnomo “ P r a y t h a t t h e G u j a r a t i says. “Please pray for strength, community and ministry might endurance and protection from grow and reach out to all Gujarati the virus.” people in Sydney and beyond. With lockdown restrictions [Pray] Christ might be glorified eased, and churches able to and that the Lord might raise up physically gather once more, Gujarati-speaking ministers and m e mb e rs o f t h e G u j a r a t i gospel workers.” SC

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