Day of Mourning 2020 Worship Resource

Day of Mourning CoverObservance Sunday 19th January 2020

On the Sunday before Australia Day, Uniting Church congregations across the country hold worship services to reflect upon and lament the effect of, the invasion and colonisation of this nation upon her First Peoples.

The observance of a “Day of Mourning” was endorsed by the 15th Assembly at the request of members of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).

Rather than seeking a change to the date of Australia Day as some propose, the UAICC asked the Church, in the spirit of the Covenant between us, to declare the Sunday before Australia Day as a Day of Mourning.

Assembly members enthusiastically agreed.

Sunday 19 January will be marked by the Uniting Church as the Day of Mourning for 2020.

Congregations are encouraged to honour First Peoples on this day.

Agencies are encouraged to also enter into an act of lament and worship in the week before 26 January 2020.

Schools are encouraged to consider using the resources at the beginning of Term 1.

The Assembly wants to encourage congregations, agencies and schools to make local connections with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress ministry in your area and/or with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples of your area.

This year's resource borrows from a local connection that Tewantin Uniting Church on Queensland's Sunshine Coast made at its 2019 Day of Mourning Service.

Their Service featured the "Murdering Creek painting" which is the property of the Beulah Community in the Queensland town of Buderim.

We encourage you to adapt our resources for your local expressions, and would value your stories and photos to share and encourage others.

A Day of Mourning is not a new concept in Australia.

The first such day was held on Australia Day 1938, organised by the Aborigines Progressive Association (APA) in New South Wales with support from the Australian Aborigines League (AAL) in Victoria to coincide with sesquicentenary celebrations.

The Uniting Church acknowledges through our Preamble to the UCA Constitution, approved by the Ninth Assembly in 2009 and formalised by Synods by 2011; the dispossession, violence and decimation of First Peoples, and we lament the fact that as a Church and as Second Peoples we were and remain complicit.

Our decision to declare a Day of Mourning annually from 2019 is a way in which we stand together in Covenantal relationship to honour, remember and acknowledge the truth of our history.

For it is only through our lament and truth telling that we can together, First and Second Peoples, look with hope to the future.

I pray that one day the whole nation may, in a coming of age, fully accept this history and take a significant step towards healing for our nation.


Stuart McMillan
Assembly Consultant Covenanting

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Download the Day of Mourning Worship Resource as a Word Doc, or as a PDF below

Related story:

Day of Mourning 2019