“Are we as Second Peoples in Covenant with First Peoples because it makes us feel good, or are we in covenant because something needs to change?”
That was the challenge from Rev Dr Chris Budden, Training Coordinator with the UAICC, at the lunch time gathering for two circles - Growing in Faith and Walking Together as First and Second Peoples.
The session delved into the Uniting Church’s theological journey from Preamble to recognition of sovereignty of First Peoples.
Chris, who recently published Why Indigenous Sovereignty Should Matter to Christians said First Peoples had already owned Sovereignty.
“This is a fact that does not need to be debated. The question the Church must answer is what this means and what the implications are.”
Chris said the Church was still unravelling the key affirmation in the Preamble, that “God was in this place before white people came here.”
“This challenges many of our assumptions about the centrality of Jesus and reminds us that God not only saves but creates and sustains everything.”
“God has an alternate story sitting alongside our story and our story will be enriched if we can listen to the other.”
Rev. Ann Perrin, Advocate Nominee for the Growing in Faith Circle, said the Uniting Church needed to be “theologically curious and theologically imaginative” to nurture and grow faith in the 21st Century.
She emphasised the importance of relationship in our theological reflection. “We need to yarn and we need to listen to stories - and we need to think about how we can share those stories with the wider Church.”
She suggested the possibility of developing a theological resource drawing on people’s experiences of Walking on Country.
Rev. Garry Dronfield, UAICC President, said the pain of displacement was something that was carried on through the generations.
Rev. Dennis Corowa, previous national chairperson of the UAICC, shared how he was inspired by the work of Rev Charles Harris who challenged the Church to act on systems of injustice affecting indigenous people.
He looked forward to a time where young indigenous people had the same opportunities to succeed in all areas of life and were able to achieve their hopes and dreams.
Rev. Dr Ji Zhang, Assembly Theologian-in-Residence drew the panel discussion to a close saying the journey of Congress was a part of the life of the Church.
“Some of that journey was full of brokenness, but out of that grew connection and relationship.”
On Wednesday the Working for Justice circle lunchtime session will look at what to do when you meet your MP.