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THQ hosts special reconciliation service

THQ hosts special reconciliation service

THQ hosts special reconciliation service

25 January 2019

Territorial Headquarters in Melbourne held a special service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the lead-up to Australia Day on 26 January.

By Jessica Morris

Salvationists and supporters of The Salvation Army joined with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a service of prayer and lament at Territorial Headquarters in Melbourne yesterday.

Seventy people met at the Blackburn building under the guidance of Christian grassroots movement Common Grace, to pray, learn and worship in an act of solidarity and repentance as 26 January, the official national day of Australia, approaches.

The gathering was a call to “Change The Heart” for what many members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community call “Survival Day” and the ongoing consequences of this.

Instigated by Aunty Jean Phillips in 2011, services are being held around the country in recognition of more than 65,000 years of habitation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This includes more than 300 nations of Aboriginal peoples and 600 dialects, which thrived prior to the colonisation of Australia by Great Britain in 1778.

“Australia has never ever dealt with the history of this nation,” said Aunty Jean. “I know that the history will cause divisions in our nation, but there are those that belong to the Lord ... [who are] interested in having an open mind and heart to look at this and to see how ... healing to reconciliation [can] be part of all of this sad history.”

To begin the service, Amanda Merrett (Policy & Social Justice Advisor) provided an Acknowledgement of Country to recognise the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation that Territorial Headquarters now rests. Amanda Merrett  then opened with a call to prayer. 

The ongoing consequences of colonisation were then discussed, including the thousands of Aboriginal deaths during settlement, the Stolen Generation, and the ongoing disparity between health and human rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Amanda noted that Australia has the world’s worst life expectancy gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, with Aboriginal peoples expected to live 10-17 years less than non-Indigenous peoples. In addition, 147 Aboriginal people have died in custody over the past decade, while more than 400 Aboriginal people have died in custody since the end of the royal commission into deaths in custody in 1991. 

Between corporate prayers and songs of mourning, Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace and Salvationist, Brooke Prentis, spoke about the Aboriginal people’s sacred knowledge of God as “Creator Spirit”.

“It is time we as the Church and as individual followers of Jesus, that instead of looking at our minds –minds that write articles, blogs and Facebook posts, let us look at our hearts. Hearts that bring action for us to gather together, to pray together ... to stand up for truth, justice and love together.”

"Leaving with the invitation to learn more and engage with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, The Salvation Army’s responsibility in contributing to the reconciliation of Australia during and after 26 January has never been clearer."

“The Salvation Army has a commitment to walking alongside people in hardship. We can’t do this without walking beside our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters,”said Amanda.

“They’ve been saying for years, ‘We’re hurting but resilient. We ask you to walk alongside us for reconciliation’.”

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