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Moderator’s Musing – 25 February

A senior officer of the State Government texted me the other day with a simple request.

“Can you get your church to pray for Aurukun?”

This is after the State Government sought the church’s help to respond to the community violence in Aurukun in early January.

Hundreds of people believed they were unsafe and fled to other communities on the Cape and into the bush, many with just the clothes on their back. Several houses have been trashed, and a number destroyed.

We responded with a strong collaboration by Calvary Presbytery leadership through Rev Garry Hardingham, UnitingCare Queensland and disaster recovery through Rev Peter Armstrong.

We have also been in close cooperation with other services and agencies.

The situation now is that many families are temporarily residing in Cairns, Weipa, Coen, and other communities. We have been helping them settle in with practical support, but also with pastoral support through this time of trauma.

Rev Malcolm Bottrill, the recently commissioned Aurukun Uniting Church pastor Lee Willis-Ardler, and the Uniting Church communities in Cairns have been supporting those who fled Aurukun. Leonard Paul, a Uniting Church elder from Mornington Island has moved over to Aurukun and is supporting families in the community. Worship attendance at Aurukun has been in the hundreds.

The school in Aurukun has opened and kids are attending.

The Aurukun community, along with Napranum, Mornington Island and Mapoon, has been a part of the life of the church in Queensland since the 19th century. These towns were missions established by the Presbyterian Church.

The members of these communities still look to the Uniting Church as a part of their story, and they seek our support.

The establishment of the new Carpentaria Presbytery has been strongly backed by the congregations in these places. They are hoping that this will be a new expression of the Covenant that will help them in their desire to build healthy communities of faith.

I ask you to join together in prayer.

Pray for the Holy Spirit to brood over the community of Aurukun and bring a spirit of reconciliation in the hearts of the members of this community. Pray for healing of relationships and restoration of order and peace. Pray for those in authority, government departments, the councillors, to have wisdom and discernment in their leadership. Pray for the families dislocated—that their physical and spiritual needs may be met, and that they may be able to live in hope. Pray as the Spirit leads you.

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