Friday, 21 June 2019

Magayamirr Rom* Rev. Jeffrey R Garrawurra

Written by Dr Deidre Palmer, UCA President

The life and ministry of the late Rev. Jeffrey R Garrawurra has been honoured at the memorial service in his home community at Galiwink’u on Elcho Island. UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer shares this reflection.

Note: As a Yolŋu person, all posthumous depictions of Rev. Garrawurra are governed by customary law. This story is not to be shared on social media at the request of Rev. Garrawurra’s Djungaya. Nor is the first name he was formerly known by to be used.

I travelled to Elcho Island for the memorial service of our late brother Rev. Jeffrey R Garrawurra with Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) President Rev. Garry Dronfield and Moderator of the Northern Synod Rev. Thresi Mauboy as well as other representatives of Congress and the Uniting Church. 

We were welcomed by his community and participated in a service of thanksgiving for his life.

As we honoured his leadership and ministry in the Uniting Church and UAICC, we heard stories of the beginnings of the UAICC from Rev. Dorothy Harris and a tribute from Garry on behalf of UAICC.

We were led in prayers of thanksgiving and comfort. Together, we sang “The Lord is My Shepherd”.

In conversation after the service, we shared stories with Rev. Jeffrey Garrawurra’s family and clan nation.

We particularly remembered his great ability to listen and speak wisdom into meetings at just the right time.

There were tributes from around Arnhem Land and from within the Uniting Church, including myself as President of the UCA, Thresi as Moderator of the Northern Synod, Rev. Haloti Kailahi, General Secretary of the Northern Synod, Howard Amery, NRCC Interim Resource Support Worker and his colleagues and Rev. Helen Richmond from Casuarina Uniting Church.

It was inspiring to be together to honour and recognise the significant ministry of our late brother. 

Read the President's Reflection shared at the service. 

*Mägayamirr Rom means “the way of peace and tranquility, harmony with the whole of creation, be with and within you,” in the common Yolŋu language used on Elcho Island, where Rev. Garrawurra lived for most of his life.