Three Asks and a Prayer
The national leaders of the UCA and UAICC are encouraging members to stay active in support of racial justice, as the movement against racism continues around the world.
This week UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer and the Interim Chairperson of the National UAICC Pastor Mark Kickett, met to reflect on recent events, the issues in Australia and the ways church members can address these in the short and longer term.
“Together we grieved Aboriginal deaths in custody that continue, despite the Royal Commission that happened 30 years ago,” said Dr Palmer.
“We spoke about pastoral support for people in prison, and their families and friends.
“We spoke about ongoing effects of the trauma of colonisation.
“We spoke about the hope we see in emerging new Aboriginal leaders, and the new stories that are rising up, alongside the old stories, and older generations mentoring younger generations,” said Dr Palmer.
Over the past few weeks, Uniting Church members have been responding and reacting as part of global responses to the murder of African American man George Floyd in the US city of Minneapolis on 25 May. Mr Floyd’s murder has sparked a wave of outrage and expressions of solidarity to address racism, discrimination, including black deaths in custody here in Australia.
Dr Palmer and Pastor Kickett issued Pastoral Letters to the Church last week, condemning the evil of racism and encouraging members to focus their attention on racism in Australia.
“This week we also spoke about Aboriginal spirituality, the connection to the land, language and culture and the importance it holds for Aboriginal people today and to all people living in this land,” said Dr Palmer.
“We spoke about the UCA’s commitment to walk together as First and Second peoples, and what that looks like on the ground in congregations, in urban, rural and heartland communities, for different generations, for our culturally diverse Church.
“We spoke about the ways we are walking together as First and Second Peoples in and through the Uniting Church.
“At the end of our conversation we suggested three actions for Uniting Church members and a prayer for the coming week and beyond, as we acknowledged that we have longer term commitments and strategies that are part of the Uniting Church’s ongoing mission and ministry,” said Dr Palmer.
Uniting Church members are encouraged to take these three actions:
1. Show support. Send your message of solidarity to the national UAICC. firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Change your frame. Update your Facebook profile picture that says what your Church has to say on these issues. We’ve designed two for you . Uniting Church against racism. Uniting Church against black deaths in custody. You’ll find them among Facebook’s frame options. (Just search for Uniting)
3. Change the record. The “Change the Record” campaign is a national campaign for social policy measures that will reduce incarceration rates and deaths in custody. They are collecting petition signatures to send to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. Please sign the Change the Record petition on their website and support their initiatives.
PRAYER FOR JUSTICE, SOLIDARITY AND WALKING TOGETHER AS FIRST AND SECOND PEOPLES
Dr Deidre Palmer and Pastor Mark Kickett
Creator God, our hearts are heavy for all the events that have impacted the world in the past few weeks that have caused us to ask the question, “Where is the God of Justice, Mercy, Peace and Love?”
We know deep in our heart that you are still all of those things (and more), and that scripture reminds us that you journey with us wherever we go and no matter what condition, or state of mind, or circumstances that we may find ourselves in, your presence is there walking alongside us and often times holding us up. (Ps 139:7f)
Creator God, we reach out in prayer for the lives of all people, in particular for the lives affected by injustice and the ugliness of racism, for we know and believe that you are the God who transforms lives and circumstances, and that through all of this the world may know and feel your healing and loving touch.
We give you thanks for the ministry of the UAICC.
We pray for UAICC leaders, that you will continue to sustain them with hope, give them strength and wisdom, as they minister to their communities and especially as they mentor younger leaders, and raise up the sacred stories of First People in this land.
We pray for all members of the Uniting Church, our congregations, councils, agencies and schools, that we may embody the Gospel of Christ in ways of compassion, justice, love and hope.
May your Holy Spirit be a loving presence throughout our world, bringing comfort to all those who grieve, and breathe new life and hope into situations of uncertainty and despair.
May your Holy Spirit renew us in heart and vision, that we might walk together as First and Second Peoples in mutuality, respect and delight in our shared life and destiny together.
Through Christ, our liberator we pray.