Journey towards reconciliation

sorry daySorry Day, held on 26 May every year, acknowledges the pain and trauma suffered by First Peoples. The Uniting Church recognises the need to walk together with First Peoples on the journey towards reconciliation. One way the Church does this is Reconciliation Sunday, which takes place on 29 May this year.

First established in 2006 by the South Australian Presbytery, Reconciliation Sunday is an opportunity to strengthen relationships between First and Second Peoples.

Reconciliation Sunday services incorporate Indigenous culture and symbolism into worship. Uniting Church congregations are invited to host a reconciliation service as a way to recognise past injustices and embrace Indigenous traditions.

The Synod of South Australia has prepared resources for congregations to use on Reconciliation Sunday. These include a suggested order of worship, prayers, songs, sermon ideas and story resources. These are available for download here.

Reconciliation Sunday traditionally takes place on the Sunday of National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June). 2016 is a significant milestone as it celebrates 25 years since the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation was first established.

This year’s theme is ‘Our History, Our Story, Our Future’, adopted from the 2016 State of Reconciliation in Australia report.

According to the report, 86 per cent of Australians believe the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is important.

However, the level of interaction between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people remains low. Only 30 per cent of the general community socialise with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Racial discrimination is also a widespread problem, with 33 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing verbal racial abuse in the six months before the survey.

There are still many challenges ahead for reconciliation between First and Second Peoples. As the federal election approaches, Uniting Church members are asked to consider issues concerning Indigenous Australians, such as constitutional recognition and climate justice.

At the 14th Assembly last year, the Uniting Church agreed to support the recognition of First Peoples in the Australian Constitution, “so long as the form of recognition offered is a step towards and not a blockage to larger issues of sovereignty and treaty”. It also resolved to “educate members of the Church about the need for a treaty”.

There is bipartisan support for a 2017 referendum on constitutional recognition, while the Victorian government has indicated a willingness to begin talks for a treaty with First Peoples.

The Uniting Church’s election toolkit A Flourishing Society has further information about constitutional recognition and other national issues concerning First Peoples.
The following is a prayer that can be used at Reconciliation Sunday services this weekend:

A Prayer for Reconciliation (from the South Australian Synod)

Lord God, bring us together as one,
Reconciled with you and with each other.
You made us in your likeness.
You gave us your Son, Jesus Christ.
He has given to us forgiveness from sin.
Lord God, bring us together as one,
Different in culture, but given new life in Jesus Christ:
Together as your body, your church, your people.
Lord God, bring us together as one,
Reconciled, healed, forgiven,
Sharing you with others as you have called us to do.
In Jesus Christ, let us be together as one.

Image from Uniting Aboriginal and islander Christian Congress via Facebook.

Share Button



Comments are closed.