In the spirit of our Covenant relationship with the UAICC, the Uniting Church in Australia has declared the Sunday before Australia Day January 26 as a Day of Mourning.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).
All three morning services at Pilgrim Uniting Church (8am, 9.30am, 11am) will focus on the Day of Mourning on Jan 20th.
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.
This will be an annual fixture on our liturgical calendar that invites us to reflect on the effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation, 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.
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 in facilitating 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.
Dr Deidre Palmer, President, Uniting Church in Australia, reflects:
‘I pray that the whole nation may fully acknowledge our history and take a significant step towards healing for our nation. May we together continue on this journey of confession, forgiveness and working toward justice and healing‘.
(adapted from the introduction to the worship resources prepared for the Day of Mourning)