More than 1,000 people gathered in Westmead two weeks ago for the Sydney Alliance pre-election Assembly. The atmosphere was electric as diverse voices shared heart-breaking stories that visibly affected everyone present.
Treasurer Matt Kean, Shadow-Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Greens Member for Newtown and Housing spokesperson Jenny Leong, were there as representatives. I made an 8-second speech, which is a new record for a preacher! You can spot the Wesley Mission team in cyan-blue shirts and caps below!
On the night, and in announcements made since, both major parties have pledged to end ‘no grounds’ evictions for renters and to radically boost the supply of social and affordable housing among other commitments – showing that when we come together, we can make a difference.
The ever-widening wealth gap in our city is ripping at the fabric of our community and making a lie of any claim to be a land of the ‘fair go’. After this event I became even more determined that Wesley Mission plays our part in advocating and working for a just, fair, equitable and flourishing society.
As a South Australian boy who spent 15 years as a Minister in Queensland, the cultural diversity of Sydney, particularly Western Sydney, delights me. Almost 40% of the residents of Greater Sydney were born overseas, making us one of the most multicultural cities in the world, and Western Sydney is the fastest-growing region in our nation. Blacktown, one of the areas in Western Sydney that Wesley Mission has been long connected to, is home to residents from an astonishing 133 nations! This rich cultural tapestry is an incredible gift to celebrate and build on.
One of the many things I love about Wesley Mission is that, like Sydney, our staff and congregations are culturally diverse. The community who serve reflects the community we serve. As it always should. More, the Christian faith that grounds our work was born in the multicultural cities of the 1st century Roman Empire, cities that struggled with injustice and inequity, and where the early Christian church offered a compelling vision of what a flourishing community could be.
The mission Jesus commissioned his followers with was not for a select or special few, but for the ‘nations’. Sydney is a city of ‘the nations’, offering a wonderful context to live into Jesus’ mission. In cities often riven with violence and division, the early church welcomed the rich and poor, enslaved people and free, and different ethnicities and tribes. The early church grew quickly because it was counter-cultural and welcomed everyone. This is who we are called to be as we speak up and advocate for justice.
PS. Did you know that the amazing work of Lifeline began at Wesley Mission? You and your family are welcome to join in our celebration of 60 years of Lifeline and the legacy of Rev Alan Walker at 4 pm, Sunday, March 26, in the Wesley Theatre, 220 Pitt St, Sydney.