The Tonga Parish acknowledges with appreciation the grant from the Synod Mission Resource Fund (SMRF) which it has used to employ a youth worker for three years. The youth worker, Moala Manoa, is helping young people of the Tonga Parish in their faith journeys with a particular focus on the intergenerational and cross-cultural issues they face.
With 12 congregations in Sydney and a congregation each in Canberra, Wollongong and Toukley, covering this wide area has been a challenge.
As the second year of the grant commences, Moala Manoa says major achievements so far include:
- Youth survey — a survey of youth of the Tonga Parish was carried out at the beginning of the project and recommendations are now being implemented.
- Bible study — this is held every Tuesday evening at Hurlstone Park Uniting Church and the number of people attending is gradually increasing. It is anticipated that another Bible Study centre will be set up in Western Sydney later this year.
- Prison Ministry — a team of dedicated young Christians has taken up the very challenging task of visiting and taking the Good News to prisons.
- Combined youth service in English — held three times a year. The first service in 2010 was attended by about 50 people. The first service in 2011 was attended by about 200 people. It was very encouraging to see that the attendants included young people from beyond the Tonga Parish and the Uniting Church and also people from beyond the Tongan community. It was also encouraging to see the support of the parents and the lay leaders.
- Tonga Parish website — the Communication Committee of the Tonga Parish has been running a weekly radio program. Another aim is to utilise the youth page on the Tonga Parish website to reach out to young people.
- Intergenerational Workshops — feedback from congregations that have done the workshops has been very positive and workshops and for the remaining congregations are now being organised.
- Task groups — several task groups consisting of youth members have been set up. The aim is two-fold: firstly to empower young people by developing and utilising their skills; and secondly, these task groups help the youth worker by utilising the gifts of the young people.