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Multiculturalism a taste of heaven

Multiculturalism a taste of heaven

Multiculturalism a taste of heaven

The Auburn Salvation Army band circa 1960s with Peter Woodbury holding a trombone (far right).

By Peter Woodbury

I have been worshipping at Auburn Salvation Army for many years; in fact, 70 years. My mum and dad brought me there when I was just a baby.

As I grew up through e Salvation Army I became a bandsman and also a member of the choir, or what we would call the songster brigade. The Army, as a place of worship and also a charity organisation, proved to be part of my life that was very meaningful growing up.

We had a Young People’s Sergeant Major (YPSM), that I guess would be a youth leader by today’s standard, who undertook to teach us something about what Jesus Christ meant in The Salvation Army, and indeed in the lives of the people of the Army.

He was instrumental in leading me to find Jesus Christ as my personal saviour, and although I didn’t fully understand the implication of this, as I was only about 11 or 12, those early years through that particular YPSM stood me in good stead.

Just after the Second World War, in the 1940s and ’50s, The Salvation Army was very traditional. The corps at Auburn has changed over the years because of the advent of people arriving from various countries in the world (Auburn is the most multicultural area in Sydney).

This wasn’t something that we had experienced, particularly myself in the early years of my life when the corps was an Anglo-Saxon culture. It wasn’t easy at the time, because over a period of many years we had become used to our type of worship, and now we had to accept others.

But this we did gleefully, because I felt that God would have us accept people from all countries.

Many people in our congregation today have endured torment and torture and have come to Australia as refugees. And so, we had to accept the fact that they are coming from an entirely different background.

This has opened my eyes a lot to people from these nations and I see things from a different perspective, something that has given me a greater understanding of human nature and I realise that God has created everyone equal no matter where they have come from.

We made friends with many of these people. Sometimes we haven’t been able to pronounce their names because it was diffcult for us, but we have come to understand something of where they have come from and we made very special friendships with them.

I’m sure God sees us here at Auburn as an extension of heaven. Here, we have a small part of what we can expect in heaven when we see people who are so friendly to each other; people dressed in traditional outfits worshipping in different ways. If you came one Sunday and heard and saw what goes on, I’m sure you’d want to come back.

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