May 24, 2023
This year’s National Reconciliation Week from 27 May – 3 June invites all Australians to think about practical and meaningful ways we can create a more just and reconciled Australia with the theme, Be a Voice for Generations.
“Act today for a reconciled tomorrow"
As we think about the next steps in Australia’s journey of justice for First Peoples, including the Voice to Parliament, treaty making and truth telling, we are also invited to think about we can be a voice for reconciliation in our everyday lives, our communities and our Church.
One way for your local church, congregation, school or agency to explore this invitation is to commit to Living the Covenant Locally. As an expression of our covenant relationship with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), this is an opportunity to grow understanding, deepen relationship and commit to action for a more just Church and nation. The website highlights a range of resources for groups to explore together.
We’re also collating resources to mark National Reconciliation Week in your faith communities, including reflections, videos and prayers. We’ll keep adding to this page throughout the week.
National Sorry Day, 26 May
National Sorry Day recalls the mistreatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed from their families and communities. It is a day to acknowledge the strength of Stolen Generations survivors and to reflect on how we can all play a part in the healing process – for people and for our nation.
In this video, Nungalinya College Art and Faith teacher Uncle Jo Cuttabut speaks to his artwork titled “Reconciliation”. Uncle Jo was inspired to do this artwork after former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie gave an apology for the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Queensland on 26 May, 1999. In the absence of a national apology, Uncle Jo, through his artwork, sought spiritual intervention and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Nine years later, a National Apology was given in 2008 by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Uncle Jo was a member of the advisory group that helped form the words of the Apology and with other members of the Stolen Generation formed a Tent Parliament for when the Apology took place. Acknowledging the long road still to walk, Uncle Jo refers to the Apology as a stepping stone in the road as we heal as a nation. He has the Apology recorded on video and re-watches it like a home movie every now and then.
Download the video here or watch below.
The Uniting Church in Australia issued its own Apology in 1996. On behalf of the Church, the Assembly Standing Committee acknowledged the trauma and ongoing harm caused by the racist policies and practice of separating Aboriginal children from their parents and communities. In 1997, the fully Assembly affirmed the Apology and committed to supporting the recommendations of the ‘Bringing them Home’ report.
Reflections and Prayers
We offer these reflections and prayers for your sharing in National Reconciliation Week.
A Voice for Generations
National Reconciliation Week & Sorry Day Reflection 2023
Written by Alison Overeem, Palawa woman and Advocate for the Walking Together as First and Second Peoples Circle.
Design by Grace Williams.
Prayer of Adoration
God of Holy Dreaming, Great Creator Spirit,
from the dawn of creation you have given your children the good things of Mother Earth.
You spoke and the gum tree grew.
In the vast desert and dense forest, and in cities at the water's edge, Creation sings your praise.
Your presence endures
as the rock at the heart of our Land.
When Jesus hung on the tree
you heard the cries of all your people
and became one with your wounded ones:
the convicts, the hunted, the dispossessed.
The sunrise of your Son coloured the earth anew, and bathed it in glorious hope.
In Jesus we have been reconciled to you, to each other and to your whole creation.
Lead us on, Great Spirit,
as we gather from the four corners of the earth;
enable us to walk together in trust from the hurt and shame of the past into the full day which has
dawned in Jesus Christ. Amen.
By Aunty Rev'd Lenore Parker - used with permission in the Synod of SA 2021 National Reconciliation Week Worship Resource
Listen to the insights of three UAICC members
At the recent UAICC National Conference, three Congress members presented on what it means to be a First Nations Christian today, reflecting on their faith in Jesus and their deep spiritual connections to Country and creation.
With their permission, we have shared videos of these reflections from Rev Deacon Maratja Dhamarrandji (Yolŋu), Aunty Rev Dr Denise Champion (Adnyamathanha) and Rev Tim Matton-Johnson (Palawa).
National Reconcilation Week Video
- National Reconciliation Week website (resources, events, actions): https://www.reconciliation.org.au/our-work/national-reconciliation-week/
- Living the Covenant Locally: https://uniting.church/livingthecovenantlocally/
- National Reconciliation Week resources collated by NCCA: https://www.ncca.org.au/ncca-newsletter/may-2023-1/item/3075-national-reconciliation-week-2023051
- Common Grace National Reconciliation Week resources: https://www.commongrace.org.au/reconciliation_week_2023
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