Queenslander and presbytery minister of Calvary Presbytery Rev Dennis Corowa has been appointed chairperson of the national Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress. Nigel Trapp reports.
New Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress chairperson Rev Dennis Corowa is keen to see Congress operate with more independence, but not at the expense of the interdependent relationship between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous elements of the Uniting Church.
Mr Corowa, appointed at the Congress national conference last month, said the covenanting relationship was at the very heart of the Uniting Church, describing it as the glue which bound the black and white arms of the church together.
Within that relationship he saw the possibility for Congress to have more independence over its own buildings, property, programs and worship in a relationship which still had all the features of transparency, accountability and responsibility.
Mr Corowa begins the role on the back of more than three decades of involvement with Congress and more than a year as acting chairperson.
Born in the northern New South Wales sugar cane town of Murwillumbah, Mr Corowa moved to Mackay as a preschooler with his mother and stepfather.
After his schooling Mr Corowa completed a painting and decorating apprenticeship and gravitated to the region’s fast-growing mining industry, working in industrial coating before returning to his original trade.
In 1989 he began ministry among Indigenous people in Townsville.
A father and grandfather who has co-authored two books on Indigenous theology, Mr Corowa is chairperson of Congress’ Calvary Presbytery and Queensland chairperson of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.
Mr Corowa is also a member of the Covenanting Working Group of Shalom Christian College, based in Townsville, and serves as the college chaplain and elder to the board. He also undertakes chaplaincy work in the Townville Correction Centre and with Blue Care’s aged and rehabilitation operations.
He is responsible for Congress’ West End congregation in Townsville and is chairperson of the Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, an Aboriginal theological training centre in Cairns.
Mr Corowa sees an integral role for Congress in terms of evangelism, or reawakening the “sleeping” love for God which he believes lies within his people.