Thursday, 24 March 2016

Easter 2016: Renewed Hope and Indigenous Sovereignty

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia Mr Stuart McMillan has appealed for a serious national conversation on Indigenous Sovereignty in his 2016 Easter message.

“The Easter message is one of renewed hope for the world,” said Mr McMillan.

“A conversation about sovereignty and how it can empower and bring hope to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is a crucial conversation for our nation.

“Sovereignty and what that means for us as a Church is an issue we’re committed to exploring. I don’t believe that we can ever close the gap until we honour First Peoples as sovereign and negotiate treaties on just terms.”

The 2016 Uniting Church in Australia Easter message features Mr McMillan and Adnyamathanha woman Rev. Denise Champion, who last year became the first Aboriginal woman to be ordained as a minister in South Australia.

The message was recorded on Rev. Champion’s homeland of Ikara (Wilpena Pound) in the Flinders Rangers National Park of South Australia and uses an instrumental version of late Adnyamathanha man Buck McKenzie’s Ikara (Wilpena Pound) as background music.

In her contribution to the Easter message Rev. Champion talks about her parents’ deep relationship with their homeland and the stories they shared.

“These stories gave us courage as we journey through this life and hope for the next,” said Rev. Champion. “This Easter I invite you with us on the journey.”

In 2010 the Uniting Church in Australia changed the preamble to its Constitution to acknowledge Aboriginal and Islander Peoples as the First Peoples of Australia, including recognition that the Holy Spirit was present in Australia, nurturing and sustaining First Peoples and revealing God to them through law, custom and ceremony before the arrival of the missionaries.

At its 14th national Assembly meeting last year the Uniting Church agreed to support the recognition of Aboriginal and Islander Peoples in the Australian Constitution as a “step towards and not a blockage to the larger issues of sovereignty and treaty.”

The 2016 Easter message is available to download and share on Vimeo and YouTube.  The YouTube version of the message has closed captions in eight different community languages – Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, Fijian, Indonesian, Korean, Nuer and Tongan – so it is accessible to as many church members as possible.