NAIDOC week is a chance to honour and celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. On July 7, Holy Covenant, Jamison, hosted a NAIDOC Week evening prayer service.
The speaker was Common Grace’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spokesperson, Brooke Prentis. Brooke is a descendent of the Wakka Wakka people. She spoke on 1 John 3:11-24 and the NAIDOC theme, ‘Voice, Treaty, Truth’. Brooke spoke powerfully of a vision for a day when an internationally recognised Treaty and Treaties have been signed between sovereign First Nations and the nation of Australia. She reminded us that the Statement from the Heart, issued by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives during the constitutional convention held at Uluru in 2017, belongs to a long history of Indigenous advocacy for truth-telling, treaty, and a voice to and in the federal parliament. This history includes: Jimmy Clements’ presence at the opening of Old Parliament House in 1927; William Cooper’s Petition to King George VI in 1937; the Yirrkala Bark Petitions in 1963; and the Barunga Statement in 1988. Brooke challenged us as Christians to take the lead in truth-telling about our shared history in Australia—a history of stolen land, stolen wages, stolen generations and stolen lives. She suggested that a first step in the truth-telling process is to read Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu.
The evening prayer service incorporated prayers by Reverend Lenore Parker, a Yaegl woman (from A Prayer Book for Australia), Reverend Bruce Boase, a Wakka Wakka man (ABM website), and Psalm 23 Aboriginal Style by Uncle Ron Williams (Common Grace website).
Before Brooke spoke, she was interviewed by Holy Covenant youth group member Aidan Judd, who was nominated for a local NAIDOC Week Youth award for his work in the community. Brooke joked that when she appears on ABC’s The Drum as a panellist, she is usually given the questions beforehand! Bishop Mark Short led the congregation in a prayer for Brooke and her
ministry as an Aboriginal Christian leader, advocate and speaker.
Worshippers had a chance to respond to all they had heard by placing a stone on the Aboriginal Languages Map as a symbol of thanksgiving, celebration and prayer. A collection was taken up for Grasstree Gathering, a network of Aboriginal Christian leaders (https://www.grasstreegathering.org.au/).
Common Grace provides resources for churches and ministry units to acknowledge: ‘Aboriginal Sunday’ (Sunday before January 26); Aunty Jean Phillips’ prayer services for January 26; Reconciliation week; and NAIDOC Week. For more information see https://www.commongrace.org.au/
by Reverend Katherine Rainger, Jamison