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Facing up to reconciliation

Elizabeth Mullan and a friend during AboutFACE in 2009. Photo courtesy of AboutFACE
FOR THE past twenty-seven years the Uniting Church’s National Assembly has strengthened relationships with Indigenous people through reconciliation and discipleship.

Faith development consultant for AboutFACE (Faith and Culture Exchange) and national Uniting Church faith development consultant, Rev Tom Kerr, said the program aims to broaden participants’ worldview in an Indigenous community.

“The lens I see AboutFACE through is discipleship and reconciliation,” he said.

“Just by being with the Indigenous people, the participants’ worldview expands and they might have an about face experience,” he said.

AboutFACE began in 1984 and since then has sent participants to partner churches in El Salvador, throughout the Pacific and a number of communities in Asia.

However, Mr Kerr said the sole focus now is exchanges with Indigenous people.

“Participants can learn about friendship, grace, love, forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation, faith and culture from their Indigenous hosts,” he said.

“There are also Stepping Stone events now being held in many Synods which are smaller reconciliation gatherings.”

Despite its merits the number of AboutFACE participants has declined over recent years and Mr Kerr is concerned for the future of the program.

“AboutFACE is at risk of being lost in our church,” he said.

“I believe the time is right for a huge growth spurt in this excellent program.

“We need better relationships with each other and the reconciliation movement needs to keep spreading.”

Registrations for AboutFACE 2012 have been extended to Friday 14 October.

For details visit http://aboutface.org.au

Photo : Elizabeth Mullan and a friend during AboutFACE in 2009. Photo courtesy of AboutFACE