It was on 26 January 1788 that the First Fleet anchored in Sydney Cove. It commemorates not the ‘discovery’ of Australia by the British, but the beginning of colonisation. And this is why it is problematic: it commemorates a violent invasion.
This January 26 we invite all followers of Christ to open our hearts to a greater understanding, a deeper compassion and an acknowledgment of what this day represents for Indigenous Australians.
As Mark-Yettica-Paulson, an Indigenous Christian leader from Queensland says:
‘There are many reasons why Australia is a fabulous and awesome country, so how do we celebrate that, without digging the knife into Aboriginal people? How do we celebrate without saying, ‘We never recognised you when we founded this country, and we’re not going to recognise you now’?”
As a united church let us speak love, act out forgiveness, and in humility work together for a national identity that includes and honours all Australians, particularly First Australians.
So, what could the relationship between Indigenous and nonIndigenous people in Australia look like if we leave behind fear and misunderstanding? If we choose to act in forgiveness and humility? If we believe that God is at work to do something amazing in our nation? Honouring and including one another has the capacity to transform the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in this country.
You and your church can help make a difference to our future together. Please join us on this journey of inclusion and honouring with our Indigenous brothers and sisters and help contribute to that greater picture of what it means to be Australian.
One practical way you can show unity with our Indigenous brothers and sisters is through the new IMA Pathways Program.
When you give a Great Gift of Indigenous Ministry Training for just $35, you are helping to support young leaders to further their learning. You’re helping them connect with their Christian Elders and find a place for themselves in the wider Church family. The Pathways Program is an Indigenousled initiative.
Working together through the Pathways Program, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal churches are able to create the safe cultural, spiritual spaces necessary for the discipleship journey ahead. The Pathways Program enables likeminded young leaders to connect with one another and provide support and friendship, while also receiving valuable mentoring from Christian Elders.
Applications for 2022 are now open. If you’re a young Indigenous person interested in Christian leadership, or know somebody who is, go to www.gmp.org.au/pathwaysapply to get more information, or email Colin Battersby firstname.lastname@example.org (Western Australia) or Nick Wight email@example.com (Central and Eastern Australia).
If you’d like to explore more about January 26 then check out some of the resources from IMA, plus our friends at Common Grace and Australians Together:
Learn: Here’s a great church service resource developed by IMA that we’d encourage you to use with your faith community.
Learn: Check out this timeline produced by our friends at Australian’s Together. Check out this timeline produced by our friends at Australian’s Together.
Pray: Join one of Common Grace's Change the Heart prayer services in the lead up to Australia Day.
Nick Wight IMA Coordinator (East)