Nungalinya College in Darwin, Northern Territory, is celebrating 40 years as an Indigenous Christian college providing training for Indigenous Christians throughout Australia.
The college has grown over the years as a unique partnership of the Uniting, Anglican and Catholic churches empowering Indigenous people to take up leadership in their communities and churches.
In 2013 there were over 300 students enrolled in a range of courses including literacy, theology and ministry, media studies and in the future, music recording.
An open day on Saturday 21 September provided an opportunity both to reflect on the past and look to the future. Five former principals of the college were present including Rev Dr Rob Bos and Rev Dr Les Brockway.
The open day also marked the official opening of the new Media Production Centre, a new initiative which will see Nungalinya offer a new Certificate in Music in 2014. In the last few years there has been an upsurge in enrolments at the college.
Rev Rronang Garrawurra, National Chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress attended the ceremony. He is both a former student and teacher at Nungalinya, serving many years as a member of the Nungalinya Board.
“At Nungalinya I learned God’s plan and purpose for my life. It was an exciting time learning and interacting with Indigenous people from all over Australia, from different remote communities and from urban areas. It was a rich experience of learning and sharing and friendship.
“To me Nungalinya is a very special place. We learn God’s knowledge and wisdom here. This is the place old Larrakia people gave us. They gave us this name. This is a sacred place to Indigenous people to learn God’s way and our way too. We are just caretakers. We need to recognise the real owner for this land. This is God’s place,” he says.
The name Nungalinya was given by Larrakia Elders and means “old man rock”. It refers to the reef off the coast of Casuarina beach which has been a significant part of the learning track for young Larrakia men. The name also points to the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Nungalinya currently has a number of Uniting Church staff, including Rev Dr Lee- Levett-Olson, Rev Dr Helen Richmond and Rev Felicity Amery. Gamiritj Gurruwiwi, who has been at the college for 21 years, plays a significant role in cross-cultural education. Beginning next term, two Uniting Church Indigenous assistant teachers, Yurranydjil Dhurrkay and Maratja Dhamarrandji have been asked by the college and the Northern Regional Council of Congress to be involved in teaching in the theology department.