Synod agrees to Walking Together proposal

Synod agrees to Walking Together proposal

The Synod meeting has agreed to adopt the Walking Together Action Plan, which includes a series of goals and actions that can be taken to strengthen relationships with First Peoples.

Nathan Tyson spoke to the proposal, which calls for a number of actions to support first peoples.

“We’re an amazing church with incredible people and resources,” Mr Tyson said.

“Let’s continue to support first peoples.”

The proposal’s action plan for 2021 to 2023 commits the Synod to a number of goals, the success of which can be measured by practical actions.

Among other measures, the NSW and ACT Synod now has a target of a minimum of three percent Aboriginal employees across the Synod staff cohort, which equates to approximately six positions.

All Synod staff, at least half of Presbytery staff, and at least 200 congregation members will complete online Aboriginal Cultural Capacity training within the next two years.

Synod staff meetings will now include an acknowledgement of country.

Uniting Mission and Education will support two scholarships available annually for First Nations people to undertake theological study. Under the action plan, First Nations perspectives and history will form part of ministry candidates’ formation process.

The action plan encourages Church Councils to allocate a minimum of three percent of all Proceeds of Sale into a fund to support UAICC Ministry and Mission activities, and/or to support other Church led mission activities that addressing disadvantage in NSW and the ACT.

Moderator Simon Hansford said that the consensus acceptance of the proposal was “very encouraging.”

The Uniting Church has a long history of engagement with First Peoples. In the early decades many Christian denominations contributed to devastating impacts on First Peoples, and these are highlighted in the 1984 Covenant Statement between the Uniting Church and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC).

In more recent decades the Uniting Church has made efforts to address past wrongs and provide positive support for First Peoples. The church support for the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) establishment in 1985, and the issuing of the Covenant Statement in 1994 are two  examples.

The 2019 Assembly meeting agreed to recognise the sovereignty of First Peoples in Australia, to the extent that the Church can within Australia’s Constitutional and legal framework, and has acknowledged the right of First Peoples to self-determine their own futures within relevant geographic, cultural, and legal frameworks.

The full Walking Together Action Plan proposal is available online.

The final Synod 2021 meeting takes place on Saturday, 7 August. Insights will have full coverage.

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