Uniting Church congregations marked the first official UCA Day of Mourning with services around Australia on Sunday 20 January.
The worship services reflected the profound effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples. Observing a “Day of Mourning” was affirmed at the 15th Assembly at the request of Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) members.
NSW/ACT Regional Congress Chair, Aunty Dianne Torrens, attended Pitt Street Uniting Church’s Day of Mourning service in Sydney’s CBD.
“I was so proud to be part of a service that was so well prepared,” said Aunty Dianne.
Aunty Dianne also gave the acknowledgement to country recognising the land of the Gadigal People of the Eora nation on which the service was held.
The service was attended by more than 50 people including young people, Aboriginal people and a UAICC minister from Adelaide.
Aunty Dianne said attending the service was a blessing and that it was surprising but an honour to know so many had travelled a long way to be part of the Sydney service.
“The preacher of the day Rev. Dr Raymond Joso, had an excellent message about First People’s reconciliation and sharing the land,” said Aunty Dianne.
In his service reflection Rev. Dr Joso focussed on the need of transformative hope that is holistic and restorative as First and Second Peoples move forward together in reconciliation.
“We require love to heed the call for justice to be done,” said Rev. Dr Joso.
“The Uniting Church affirmed the same call for justice to be done and that call does not stop at just acknowledging wrongs of the past and saying sorry and asking for forgiveness.
“But creating a safe community where people can come together, sit and talk and listen and experience healing and forgiveness for the past and finding a new destiny together.”
Day of Mourning – 20-01-2019 – Rev Dr Raymond Joso https://t.co/c1UsnSrPpa
— Pitt Street Uniting Church (@PittStUniting) January 20, 2019
The services across the country highlighted the Covenant the Uniting Church entered with our UAICC brothers and sisters in 1994 that acknowledged the violence, murder and dispossession of First peoples. The covenant also lamented the fact that the Church and Second People have and remain complicit.
When the UCA Day of Mourning and worship service resources were announced the Assembly Consultant for Covenanting, Stuart McMillan, reflected on the importance of this decision by the Church.
“Our declaration of a Day of Mourning is a way in which we stand together in Covenantal relationship to honour, remember and acknowledge the truth of our history, the fallen, the wounded and their families and the next generations, just as we do in this nation on Anzac Day each year,” said Mr McMillan.
The first Day of Morning was held on 26 January, 1938. The event was organised by the Aboriginal Progressive Association (APA) in New South Wales and was supported by the Australian Aborigines League (AAL).