We acknowledge that our church gathers on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation.
We recognise the sovereignty of Aboriginal people, who have cared for this land since creation,
and pay our respects to the Wurundjeri elders past and present.
In 2009, the Uniting Church adopted a preamble to its Constitution which reflects our remorse for past injustices and our commitment to reconciliation with Australia’s First Peoples.
“As the Uniting Church believes God guided it into union, so it believes that God is calling it to continually seek a renewal of its life as a community of First Peoples and of Second Peoples from many lands.”
At St Michael’s we seek to create opportunities for reconciliation; repenting of the ways that we benefit from past injustice, seeking to be partners in creating a nation in which Indigenous people can take their rightful place. We believe that the call to “Voice, Treaty, Truth” in the Uluru Statement from the Heart charts a way forward.
The Voice is real in hearts if not in law. At St Michael’s we commit to listening and acting in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
In our Sunday gatherings, we begin with an Acknowledgement of Country. We mark the Sunday before 26 January as a Day of Mourning, Reconciliation Sunday and NAIDOC week.
Our service on Sunday 2 July celebrated NAIDOC and we share the Contemporary Reading of the service, The Statement from the Heart as spoken by members of St Michael’s congregation.
St Michael’s Church expressed its mission to be a community that shared a Christian theology embracing, among other things, spirituality, justice and compassion by holding events supporting the Yes campaign for the recent referendum. Throughout the year, Sunday services, reflections and prayers provided to demonstrate our solidarity.
In March, Margaret Mayman & Ann Kinnear ran two Sunday programs ‘Uniting for the Voice’ for the St Michael’s congregation.
Uniting for the Voice focused on understanding the Voice as an ethical and theological issue, not a partisan political one.
These education/discussion sessions used resources from the Uniting Church and https://yes23.com.au
Support for justice and compassion was particularly evident in the last weeks of the campaign. Eight members of St Michael’s joined the ‘Walk for Yes’ on 17 September.
On 10 October the Rev Dr Garry Deverrell spoke on “A Voice to Country – Say Yes to the Ecological Wisdom of the First People”.
This was a very moving and challenging address with a generous time for questions. We were all encouraged to learn more about our history and the lived experience of first peoples.
On 13 October, St Michael’s Church was one of the two Victorian churches chosen to take part in a 6 hour national Vigil for the Voice organised by the Uniting Church of Australia. We moved online from a church in Darwin and then around Australia. Margaret created a beautiful service which represented St Michael’s as a church with a nurturing spiritual community seeking justice for all.
On 15 October St Michael’s Church became a shelter for all its congregation shattered by the results of the referendum. We felt we had a place to cry and grieve and to be with our community as we tried to make sense of the result. The service was reported on by ABC’s Courtney Withers.
As the open letter of 22 October to the Prime Minister from indigenous leaders said:
“We feel acutely the repudiation of our peoples and the rejection of our efforts to pursue reconciliation in good faith.
….We have faith that the upswelling of support through this Referendum has ignited a fire for many to walk with us on our journey towards justice.”
Margaret’s reflection reminded us of the God that feels deeply the pain of injustice and suffering. She reminded us that that God calls us now to act as agents of healing, hope and reconciliation. We came away from that service not healed but soothed and with positive thoughts for the future.