Aboriginal Sunday/Day of Mourning

Each year, on the Sunday before January 26, congregations and faith communities are encouraged to acknowledge ‘Aboriginal Sunday’. The Uniting Church encourages congregations to acknowledge a Day of Mourning on the same Sunday, for the same purpose). It is also an opportunity to reclaim William Cooper’s Aboriginal Sunday, dating back to 1938 (scroll down for more information about the origins of Aboriginal Sunday).

In 2024, it will be 21st January.

Consider opportunities for an ecumenical service. 

Aboriginal Sunday is an opportunity for congregations to go deeper in listening, learning and being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders. Aboriginal Sunday will inspire and equip your congregation to learn, engage, pray, and act together as a community, and to walk in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters to pursue God’s justice and love for the flourishing of First Nations peoples.

What is Aboriginal Sunday?

On January 26 1938, Aboriginal leaders including William Cooper, met for a Day of Mourning, seeking equality and full citizenship (though it would take another 30 years).

The Australian Churches were then asked to set aside the Sunday before January 26 as Aboriginal Sunday (previously called Aborigines’ Day), a day for Christians to act in solidarity with Aboriginal peoples and the injustices being experienced.

The first Aboriginal Sunday is thought to have occurred in 1941, although it was referenced in a letter from William Cooper to John McEwen, Minister for the Interior, written on 19 January 1938 and also referenced in the Herald (Melbourne) newspaper on 18 January 1939.

The Uniting Church prepares a resource for congregations for the Day of Mourning. A link will be made here when it is available.

Common Grace has prepared (free) resources for Aboriginal Sunday Church Resources developed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders. Click here to sign up.
Once signed up, Common Grace’s Aboriginal Sunday Church Resource Toolkit will be emailed to you by 20th December 2023. These resources will include Bible readings, prayers, sermon materials, video messages from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders, worship resources, benediction resources, advocacy resources, and a creative activity to help your congregation explore the injustices facing Aboriginal peoples.

Resources on the ‘Pilgrim Worship Resources’ website (mainly a collation of UCA resources from previous years)