Reverends Rachel Kronberger, Jennie Gordon and Tim Matton-Johnson presented the Synod meeting with an introduction to the discussion around Sovereignty and Treaty.
Taking the stage together, Ms Kronberger and Ms Gordon reflected on the ministers’ conference held in Darwin in June. The theme of the conference was ‘Honouring First Peoples as Sovereigns’.
Ms Gordon read excerpts from a series of poems she complied reflecting the themes of the conference.
The first poem spoke of being on the edge of a precipice as decisions are made and difficult conversations are held throughout the church and the wider community.
Ms Kronberger reminded Synod members of social changes throughout the past three decades, starting with the 1992 High Court decision that inserted Native Title into Australian law.
This decision recognised the falsehood of Terra Nullius, a belief that the land was empty before the arrival of colonists. This belief meant First Peoples’ land was taken piece by piece as the colony grew.
A poem asked the Synod to “listen, the land is talking.”
In 1994 the UCA entered into a formal covenant with the UAICC and committed to work towards national and state self-determination within the church and the wider community.
In 2009 the UCA added a preamble to its constitution recognising the sovereignty of the First People and acknowledging that God was present in this land long before the colonisers arrived.
The poem Ms Gordon read spoke of the use of language in dispossession. By describing the land as a “wasteland”, the Gospel stories of Jesus became a colonial narrative.
The Synod was reminded that the story of the UCA is intrinsically tied with the story of the First Peoples. It is a story that belongs to all of us.
Rev Tim Matton-Johnson spoke emotionally of Sovereignty and Treaty “as an issue very close to his heart”.
He asked the Synod to engage with heartfelt honesty, to ask the difficult questions and engage in deeper conversations.
this is what I heard compiled by Rev Jennie Gordon is available from CTM resourcing: www.ctmresourcing.org.au