KASAMA Vol. 16 No. 4 / October-November-December 2002 / Solidarity Philippines Australia Network
Gathering of the Voices: Spirituality, Faith and Culture
FRIENDS FROM LONG AGO AND NEWLY MET CAME TOGETHER TO LAUNCH THE GATHERING OF THE VOICES CONFERENCE REPORT AND BOOK OF PAINTINGS AND STORIES CREATED BY THE PARTICIPANTS OF A UNIQUE NATIONAL INDIGENOUS ECUMENICAL FORUM HELD IN JUNE 2001. THE LAUNCH ON DECEMBER 4, 2002 TOOK PLACE IN THE HEART OF BRISBANE'S CBD AND OFFICE WORKERS CROSSING ST STEPHEN'S CATHEDRAL'S TRIMMED GREEN LAWN STOPPED TO GET A GLIMPSE OF THE DANCERS FROM THE MURRI INDEPENDENT SCHOOL. KERRY CHARLTON KINDLY GAVE US PERMISSION TO PRINT EXCERPTS FROM HER INTRODUCTION TO THE LAUNCH.
THANK the Lord for his faithfulness in this project.
History is like a crystal prism of shooting lights, whatever facet of it is held up to the eye will shine a different sort of brilliance to the beholder and a different landing place of the shooting light. Gathering of the Voices is from the facet which holds the experiences and perspectives of Indigenous people in this nation since invasion.
Church and ministry with Indigenous people by non-Indigenous people has been a whirlpool of confusion, heartache, suffering, joy, and achievement for all concerned and most of all for our people.
Achievement by the churches - who were instrumental in helping our people survive and come through the holocaust that ebbed steadily into every part of this country touching all our lives in a tidal wave called "colonisation".
The government and church had an uneasy marriage of convenience when policies came into place to round up the "last ofs" our people in the dying throes of culture and unrivalled custodianship of this land. Church was used to deal with the 'saving of the heathen souls' and make their last dying days better than their last living days.
Historically, church was informing Britain of the woeful treatment to the original owners of this land, imploring some intervention by the powers and authority to address the bloodshed. The church was also benefiting from the distance of the Homeland powers - namely gifts of parcels of land and money for "mission" and in other ways - for being the government's conscience.
Many policies, programs and years later, church and Indigenous are walking together somewhat differently to the early times. There are leftover dregs in the barrel of church that continue to impact, exclude, deny, omit. While this is allowed to continue, racism will express itself time and again in an ongoing seemingly invisible tidal wave of injustice.
When the nets of Christianity are thrown out, the marginalized of the marginalized don't even fall through - they never make it into the nets. The gaps are invisible and generations of our people are left dying spiritually, physically and emotionally.
The gaps are the structures, systems, and processes that never change to totally accommodate the needs - the structures that keep the power out of the hands of Indigenous people to be able to fully direct and manage Indigenous ministries. When there are fundamental changes occurring which reach and minister equitably to the marginalized of the marginalized, then the spirit of God is truly being heard.
This is what the "Gathering of the Voices" is about. Trying to find ways forward for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people to express their needs, dreams and visions in the area of ministry to our own people and the wider community. There are two books - one of conference proceedings which is set out in themes of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow and a book of paintings and stories. These books are one way forward in this journey back.
Gathering of the
published by Indigenous Ministries Unit
Kerry Charlton, Ravina Waldren & Clarence Slockee
$25 set of 2 books or $15 each plus postage
84 Park Road,
Woolloongabba Qld 4102
Gathering of the Voices:
Spirituality, Faith and Culture
Paintings and Stories by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
44 pages of stories and paintings in full colour.
Gathering of the Voices:
Three days of the reflections, experience and aspirations of Indigenous people.