Take part in a Day of Mourning Service
Uniting Church communities across the country are preparing to mark a Day of Mourning on Sunday 24 January to stand with and affirm Australia’s First Peoples in their journey of survival.
The Day of Mourning is an annual observance in the Uniting Church to reflect on the effects of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation.
UCA congregations, schools and aged care services are among those who have registered to participate.
Some are planning to join the livestreamed service led by UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) Interim Chair Ps Mark Kickett (at 9.30am AEDT) while others are using the resource provided in their local context.
The Wonthaggi and Inverloch Uniting Churches on the Bass Coast of Victoria will host two Day of Mourning services at its two locations.
Minister Rev Deacon Wendy Elson said the focus would be on the importance of listening and truth-telling.
“I have believed for a long time that in order to thrive as a nation we must commit to listening to our First Peoples and to truth-telling of our nation’s history,” said Wendy.
“It is an honour to develop relationships with First Peoples and to encourage deep respect toward the culture that has long lived here and been custodian to the land. In this, is our shared future and our thriving.”
As part of the service, Wendy will show a painting by 12-year-old Indigenous artist Arieta Fergie who is a member of their local community. The painting is called “Together”. Wendy connected with Arieta through the Bass Coast Reconciliation Group, a community group promoting reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
On Thursday 21 January, the residents of Uniting AgeWell Hawthorn will take part in a Day of Mourning led by Chaplain Marian Bisset.
Marian said the plan for the service emerged after a discussion among residents about how they would mark Australia Day.
“One resident suggested we not celebrate Australia Day in the usual way because the day was not a day of celebration for First Nations people, but a day which reminded them of hurt, trauma and invasion,” Marian recalled.
“There was significant agreement from other residents present and so we made the suggestion to follow this through with the Day of Mourning service.”
For the third year, Manningham Uniting Church will participate in the Day of Mourning. Depending on COVID restrictions, they are hoping to hold an outdoor service surrounded by bushland on the lands of the Wurundjeri People.
“We hope to listen carefully to the words of the service surrounded by the land which was taken from the Wurundjeri People, and commit ourselves to walking together towards reconciliation,” said Rev Claire Dawe.
The congregation has begun a relationship with the Wurundjeri People having hosted community members to speak at a community forum they organise each year called “Building Bridges Through Story.”
Rev Dawe says she and her congregation were “humbled by their willingness to share with us”.
A local Wurundjeri artist has been commissioned to design a wall mural at the entrance of their new Church building to open later this year.
The Day of Mourning is a significant part our Covenant relationship between the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) and our journey toward justice, healing and a new relationship as First and Second Peoples.
Other communities to have registered include Roseville, Epping and Kogarah Uniting Churches in NSW, Clayfield, Portarlington, Airport West, Kingston Uniting Churches in Victoria, Albert Street Uniting Church in Queensland, Unley and Pilgrim Uniting Churches in South Australia and Pymble Ladies College in Sydney.
Register your participation here.
Photos: Manningham Uniting Church Day of Mourning services in 2020 and 2019.