Friday, 24 June 2016

Warruwi Centenary

Written by Christine Gordon

Uniting Church members from around the country have joined brothers and sisters from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to mark the centenary of the church at Warruwi on South Goulburn Island off the coast of the Northern Territory.

On 22 June 1916, the Rev James Watson established a Christian mission to the Aboriginal people of Warruwi under the auspices of the Methodist Overseas Mission.

On 22 June 2016, the community at Warruwi held a special day of thanksgiving and celebration to mark one hundred years of Christian witness.

The day began with many visitors from around Australia descending on the Island in a fleet of small aircraft.

As well as those representing Manginpurru Arrarrkpi, some who live at Warruwi and some who live in other places, the visitors consisted of friends from Darwin, Oenpelli, Minjilang and Maningrida, and a big mob from Galiwinku, Milingimbi and Ramingining.

Other guests included the President Stuart MacMillan, Moderator of the NT Synod, Rev. Thresi Mauboy, Member for Arafura, Francis Kurrupuwu, ex-missionaries and descendants of missionaries, some of whom were born on Warruwi.

First up on the program was a re-enactment of the coming of Watson to the Island. Aptly played by Rev Lindsay Parkhill, Watson came by boat and told the people he came in peace.

After a procession into town, there was a welcoming ceremony and songs and dances by the community members and the children. Pastor Billy Nawaloinba brought a message to the gathering.

Rev Dr William Emilsen launched his new book “Fighting Spirit: A History of Christianity at Warruwi, Goulburn Island” and there was a dedication of the Maung Gospel of St Mark.

The Mardbalk Arts Centre hosted an exhibition of historical photos and artefacts.

The celebrations continue at the Northern Synod meeting over the weekend of 25-26 June.

(Photo credits: Dean Whittaker, Greg Miller, Stuart McMillan.)