22 January 2023 (Sunday before Australia Day)
Introduction by Rev Sharon Hollis, President Uniting Church in Australia, and Rev Mark Kickett, Interim National Chair Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
Since 2019 the Uniting Church has marked a Day of Mourning to reflect on the dispossession of Australia’s First Peoples and the ongoing injustices faced by First Nations people in this land. For those of us who are Second Peoples from many lands, we lament that we were and remain complicit.
This observance arises from a request from the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) which was endorsed by the 15th Assembly in 2018. The declaration of the Sunday before Australia/Survival/Invasion Day as a Day of Mourning is an expression of the Uniting Church’s commitment to justice and truth-telling which is required of us by the Covenant we have made and reaffirmed with UAICC.
Again in 2023, we invite you on or around Sunday 22 January to hold worship services that reflect on the effects of invasion and colonisation on First Peoples. These resources are provided to help you in your marking of the Day of Mourning.
In marking a day of mourning, we hear the promise of Jesus that the truth will set us free. The Day of Mourning invites us to listen to the truth of the effects of colonisation and racism on First Peoples and to hope that in confronting this truth we will discover ways to create communities of justice and healing.
In marking the Day of Mourning, we live into our covenant relationship to stand together with, and listen to, the wisdom of First Nations people in their struggle for justice. We affirm the sovereignty of First Peoples and honour their culture and their connection to country.
We reaffirm our understanding that First Peoples encountered the Creator God long before colonisation. We confess and seek forgiveness for the dispossession and violence against First Peoples. We lament our part, and we recommit to justice and truth-telling.
We encourage you to use this opportunity to make a connection with UAICC or First Peoples in your local community. You might also like to take this opportunity to begin a conversation about how you will continue to live out the covenant as a faith community and explore the Assembly’s Living The Covenant Locally resource as a way to begin or continue this journey.
As the President of the Uniting Church and the Interim National Chair of UAICC, we pray that our Church and our nation will continue on this journey of confession, truth-telling and seeking of justice and healing.
As we move into 2023 with the probability of a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, we ask that all members of the Uniting Church inform themselves about the Uluru Statement and its vision of Voice, Treaty, Truth. We ask that you conduct conversations about the Voice with respect, and with the impact of whatever you say on First Peoples always at the forefront of your mind. We pray that this year in our nation might be moment of reckoning when we face the truth of our past and present in ways that promote healing and justice.
Grace and peace,
Rev Sharon Hollis / President Uniting Church in Australia
Rev Mark Kickett / Interim National Chair Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress