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‘Modern-day open-air’ attracts hundreds in Hurstville Plaza


The organisers of Hurstville Corps’ ‘Many Cultures, One Hope’ day (from left), Salvo Ambassador Councillor Ben Wang, Hurstville Corps Officers Major Sherrie Nicol and Lieutenant Beth Shao, Nuria Gonsalves from the CALD Intercultural and Disability Inclusion Team and Hayley Grigg from the Mission Events team.

BY LAUREN MARTIN

In what some have called the ‘modern-day open-air’, Hurstville Corps hit the local plaza in Sydney’s south recently to worship with their community in a ‘Many Cultures One Hope Event’ that attracted hundreds of people.


The event, organised by Hurstville Salvation Army with the assistance of The Salvation Army’s Intercultural and Disability Inclusion Team and Salvo Ambassador, Councillor Ben Wang from Georges River Council, was held at Hurstville Plaza – right near the train station and the main shopping centre.


The corps’ band attracted a lot of attention, and the ‘Just Brass’ performance was popular with parents and friends of the young people, swelling the audience of passers-by. With food trucks from different nations, a performance area, a prayer tent and stalls set up to showcase the different Salvo services and corps-based ministries, the event showcased the diversity of The Salvation Army to the local community.


“Crucially, the event also incorporated culturally sensitive methods to introduce the message of Jesus Christ to those interested,” said Nuria Gonsalves of The Salvation Army’s CALD team, who helped organise the event.


The event was kicked off with prayer, there were multilingual prayer tent opportunities, and corps members had prayer cards to give away to people they had conversations with.


“We wanted to create an environment where everyone felt comfortable exploring their faith and spirituality, regardless of where they come from,” Nuria said. “Our approach was to build bridges, not barriers.”


Corps Officers Major Sherrie Nicol and Lieutenant Beth Shao said corps members were enthusiastic but unsure how the community would receive the event. But, on the day, upwards of 50 corps members attended in uniform and were encouraged by the way God moved throughout the day. “People realise that church is not just inside the building – church can get outside,” said Sherrie.


One of the key features of ‘Many Cultures, One Hope’ was inviting various community groups to perform on the day. There were performances from Ukrainian dancers, Nepalese children’s groups, African drummers and Chinese dancers. “People were saying how good it was,” said Beth Shao, “because it’s been a long time since there’s been events like it since the COVID-19 lockdowns.”


In between performances, Christians from various cultural backgrounds gave their testimony.


A highlight of the day was towards the close of the event. It was decided to play different songs over the speaker, which led to people from all nations dancing together.


“We had the song ‘This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine’,” said Nuria, who recalled how beautiful it was to be part of the singing and dancing together between community members who may not have even known each other.


The Salvation Army’s Intercultural and Disability Inclusion Team would love to speak to any corps that might want to organise a similar event. If you are interested in finding out more, contact Nuria Gonsalves at nuria.gonsalves@salvationarmy.org.au


Slideshow of event below:





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