A new chapter in the Uniting Church in Queensland’s covenanting journey was opened last month with the first Moderator-hosted gathering of the Queensland Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC). James O’Callaghan reports.
The event—hosted in Cairns was attended by people from all congregations within the congress including Aurukun, Mornington Island, Weipa, Napranum, Townsville, Cairns and Zillmere as well as agency representatives, leadership within the Synod and representatives from external organisations—was the beginning of a more purposeful journey towards self-determination.
The gathering commenced with a service led by Queensland Synod Moderator Rev Andrew Gunton.
What made this meeting particularly special was the fact that young members of congress were invited to attend and included in the discussions about the future goals of congress.
This meeting was about listening and hearing with an understanding that each community is different with a unique set of challenges and issues.
Kym Korbe—Operations Manager at Raymont Residential College and Transforming Communities Covenanting Working Group co-lead—said being welcomed to co-facilitate the yarning circles held during the recent UAICC gathering in Cairns was a personally enriching experience.
“It was an immersion in culture, truth telling and earnest dialogue about how we as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people acknowledge, support and celebrate our uniqueness within the broader context of our life together as people united under God,” said Kym.
“Not being a member of the UAICC meant I approached the gathering with a humble and open heart, which was graciously reciprocated by all delegates. We have begun what could move into a transformational process and I look forward to contributing further where I can.”
Gavin Mackey—Manager Executive Services in the Aged Care and Community Services division of UnitingCare Queensland—was also involved in facilitating the special UAICC gathering.
“It was wonderful to hear the stories and triumphs of our communities, however it was equally as important to hear these leaders’ voices to make sure moving forward we have the best possible plan in place to support our communities in a real and genuine way,” said Gavin.
“I am hopeful that once a plan is supported by the Queensland Synod, we can all play a part in allowing our communities to flourish.”
It is hoped that this will be the first of many opportunities for the Queensland Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress to gather and work holistically to identify how the congress should develop into the future.