Friday, 24 May 2019

The Courage to Walk Together: Reconciliation Week message

The President of the Uniting Church in Australia, Dr Deidre Palmer and President of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress, Rev. Garry Dronfield, have encouraged Uniting Church congregations to work more closely with First Peoples in a joint message for Reconciliation Week.

“Across Australia this week, we will be celebrating and building on the respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and other Australians,” said Dr Palmer.

“This week is a time for us to reflect on what reconciliation means for us as Australians and as members of the Uniting Church in a Covenant relationship as First and Second Peoples.

“This week is about our hopes – about the vision which will shape our lives together as First and Second Peoples.”

The theme for this year’s Reconciliation Week is “Grounded in Truth - Walk Together with Courage”.

Deidre and Garry at PCC Nov 2018 webUCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and UAICC President Rev. Garry Dronfield

UAICC President Rev. Garry Dronfield said relationships were the key to successful reconciliation between First and Second Peoples.

“Getting around the campfire together and yarning up – that’s the best way to understand each other’s perspectives,” said Rev. Dronfield.

“Whatever the conversation - about covenanting, sovereignty or anything else - it all comes down to relationships.”

“The first step for many people, still, is to summon the courage to talk with us and to walk together.”

In 2018, after extended conversations between Church leaders and the UAICC, the Church’s 15th Assembly resolved to affirm Australia’s First Peoples as sovereign peoples of Australia, acknowledging their spiritual connection to the land as expressed in the Statement from the Heart.

“The work of reconciliation includes a recognition of the truth of our history in Australia,” said Dr Palmer.

“We acknowledge the dispossession and cultural devastation that came with the arrival of the colonisers and the ongoing pain and trauma that this has caused.”

“The UCA’s Covenanting Process includes our past, present and future. We are called to reflect on our past, live justly in reconciled relationships in our present, look to and begin to embody a shared future.”

Reconciliation Week runs from 27 May to 3 June, spanning the anniversaries of the 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision in 1993.

For more information and resources, see:
https://assembly.uca.org.au/resources/covenanting  
https://www.reconciliation.org.au/national-reconciliation-week/