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Members of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod who participated in the 'Walk on Country' experience

Walking on Country an unforgettable experience

General Secretary of the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod, Rev Heather den Houting reflects on a recent ‘Walk on Country’ experience, part of the church’s commitment to working together with First Peoples.

There are some experiences that take time to unfold properly into your life, and a Walking on Country experience is one of these.

Our group comprised of Rev David Fender, Paul Willett, Kellie Broderick, Rev Kath Behan, Presbytery Ministers Rev Chris Crause and Rev Kerry Pierce , Wesley Mission Queensland Executive Steve Eltis and myself.

The touring party were the guests of Australians Together, particularly Rev Richard Cassady and Andrew Naylor, who provided us with a once in a lifetime experience to follow a story trail of Indigenous lives across the Townsville and Palm Island regions.

This is Nywaigi country and Richard, who is an ordained Uniting Church in Australia minister, is a Nywaigi man. So, basically, we were invited to his place.

We commenced the walk on country experience at the Crystal Creek site north of Townsville, a place of incredible tranquillity and beauty.  The transparency of the water allowed us to see every living thing within that environment. Quietly and reflectively we began. Over the next week we heard stories of hope and inspiration, despair and destruction, renewal and restoration, lament and fierce independence.

It was a privilege and a blessing to sit in the moments of pain and joy, to meet traditional owners who delightedly invited us to their place and shared stories with us.

As a group we found out more about ourselves and each other. The biggest lesson for many of us was to sit and listen, not to find solutions, but to allow the nudging of God to reveal new paths to us all.

As part of our journey of Covenanting within the Uniting Church this was one of the richest experiences I have had.

I encourage you to imagine how you might be part of our covenanting journey. As a start, visit Australians Together online to see the rich resources gathered there.

There is a wound in this country that needs to be named and healed, patiently, gently and generously. As the church, this is our calling. Reconciling all to God.

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