The following is a letter from the President of the Assembly
The observance of a Day of Mourning was endorsed by the Fifteenth Assembly at the request of our sisters and brothers in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).
In the spirit of our Covenant relationship with the UAICC, we have declared the Sunday before Australia Day as a Day of Mourning. This Day of Mourning Worship Resource invites all Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) congregations to hold worship services that reflect on the effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation. This worship service will be an annual fixture on our liturgical calendar.
Remembering our history is an important partof our journey toward reconciliation as First and Second Peoples. The service reminds us of the dispossession and violence against First Peoples, and laments that as a Church and as Second Peoples we were and remain complicit. We acknowledged this in our Church when we apologised to the Stolen Generations in 1997.
We acknowledged this by revising the Preamble to our Constitution, which was approved by the Ninth Assembly in 2009. We acknowledged this in affirming First Peoples as the sovereign peoples of this land. Our declaration of a Day of Mourning allows us to stand together in remembering the truth of our history, and honouring the culture of Australia’s First Peoples, their families and the next generations.
I will be joining Uniting Church members inlamenting, saying sorry and asking for forgiveness, for the past and current impacts of colonisationand dispossession of Australia’s First Peoples. I pray that our Church and our nation will continue on this journey of confession, forgiveness and working toward justice and healing.
Rev Denise Champion, a Deacon in the UCA and an Adnyamathanha woman speaks of the new community toward which we are called as the Uniting Church:
“I have been challenged, in my work infacilitating reconciliation between First and Second Peoples, to create a safe community. A community where people can come together, sit and talk, and experience healing and forgiveness for the past, finding a new destiny together,”.
As the Uniting Church we affirm that ours is “a destiny together” acknowledging the wrongs of the past and the present and committing ourselves to take action to bring about a more just Australia. As the Uniting Church we hear Jesus calling us into the light of reconciliation.
I pray that the whole nation may fully acknowledgeour history and take a significant step towards healing for our nation. I want to acknowledge our past President Mr Stuart McMillan for his work in developing this resource and his ongoing passionate commitment to walking together as First and Second Peoples. I commend this resource to the Church.
Grace and peace to you, Dr Deidre Palmer
President, Uniting Church in Australia