Anyone passing by Queenscliff-Point Lonsdale Uniting Church still has a chance to contribute to the NAIDOC Week bigger picture.
People are invited to continue the work on a partially completed glass bead mosaic that represents this year’s NAIDOC Week theme of songlines.
The mosaic was a centrepiece of last Sunday’s “messy church” session, which also included other themed art projects, such as colourful traced “hands of appreciation”, and a damper brunch.
Queenscliff-Point Lonsdale Uniting Church minister Rev Charles Gallacher said the opportunity to celebrate the culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is important to his church.
“Our church has a commitment with the local indigenous community,” he said, noting that the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre was nearby.
“It’s about celebrating our core values. It engages people in the indigenous experience in a positive way rather than all the negative stories you see in the media.”
For the past three years NAIDOC Week has coincided with the monthly “messy church” session, making it an ideal theme for the non-traditional way of Christian gathering.
Mr Gallacher said the mosaic brought together the First People’s belief in songlines, which is a tracking of how spirits sang the land into existence, and the sense of God’s spirit moving though the land.
He described the artwork as a type of mandala, which is a patterned symbolic representation of spiritual significance.
It replicates an Indigenous dot painting included in the NAIDOC Week worship resources for churches.
“The mandala’s purpose is an aid to prayer, in the same way that walking in a labyrinth is,” Mr Gallacher said.
“It engages all the senses, in particular the visual sense. It is a reflective and meditative activity, also in this case a communal activity that brings people together.”
Mr Gallacher said messy church typically involves art and other activities with a brunch in the hall before the whole congregation moves into the main church building for stories and songs.
It has proved a successful way to bring new people, especially those with children, into the church.
“It engages the whole congregation with young families. Messy church helps connect with new people and struggling families; that is important,” Mr Gallacher said.
He enjoys that the activities are fun for all ages, and that the over 80s often sit at tables doing the word-find puzzles that normally are intended for younger attendees.
“There’s a very different feel,” Mr Gallacher said.
“People interact in a way they wouldn’t normally interact at church. It is good for all of us.”