Indigenous Recognition

Pitt Street Uniting Church meets on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora nation. Each week at our Sunday gathering we acknowledge country with the following words:

As we gather, we acknowledge the traditional owners of this land;
land that was taken from them
without their consent, treaty or compensation.
We meet on holy ground.
The Spirit has long-dwelled
with the First People’s of this ancient land.
We honour the Gadigal people of the Eora nation
and pay respect to the elders as we gather to worship God.

Reflection delivered at Pitt Street UC by Pastor Ray Minniecon on 31-05-2015.

Pitt Street members have been active in seeking indigenous recognition and reconciliation in a number of ways, including:

  • Several members of Pitt St congregation participated in ‘Walking on Country’ excursions organised by the Uniting Aboriginal & Islander Christian Congress.
  • Some members are active participants in the Women’s Reconciliation Network and other local reconciliation groups.
  • Each year services during National Reconciliation Week focus on recognition & reconciliation with guest speakers and sometimes involving secondary school students.
  • In 2019 as part of a Uniting Church initiative a special service was held marking the anniversary of the 1938 ‘Day of Mourning’ which drew attention to the mistreatment of Aboriginal people under colonisation.

The national Assembly of the Uniting Church has taken a leading role in seeking recognition and reconciliation. In 1985 a new national body, the Uniting Aborginal and Islander Christian Congress, was established to provide a voice for indigenous people in and beyond the Uniting Church. Details about the Congress are found at www.uiacc.org.au . The website states that “We are made up of Aboriginal and Islander people seeking to fulfill their calling as Christians among their own people, especially in the area of holistic community development.”

Major national developments include amending the Preamble to the Church’s Constitution to recognise the presence of God in this land prior to colonisation. The three clauses of the Preamble read as follows:

  1. When the churches that formed the Uniting Church arrived in Australia as part of the process of colonisation they entered a land that had been created and sustained by the Triune God they knew in Jesus Christ.
  2. Through this land God had nurtured and sustained the First Peoples of this country, the Aboriginal and Islander peoples, who continue to understand themselves to be the traditional owners and custodians (meaning ‘sovereign’ in the languages of the First Peoples) of these lands and waters since time immemorial.
  3. The First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God before the arrival of the colonisers; the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony. The same love and grace that was finally and fully revealed in Jesus Christ sustained the First Peoples and gave them particular insights into God’s ways.

The full Preamble on the Assembly website – read more… 

In 2018 the Assembly affirmed that the First Peoples of Australia, the Aboriginal and Islander Peoples, are sovereign peoples in Australia.