Rev Dr Geoff Broughton reflects on ministering alongside Waka Waka woman Brooke Prentis at this year's Surrender Conference, and ending the Great Australian Silence by listening and amplifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices.
Yesterday in light of the latest episode of the ABC’s #4Corners (25/07/2016) I called us to prayer. But with prayer must also come action. Many people are calling on the Government to act. We the people also need to act. We the church also need to act.
We need to remember we only saw the stories of 6 boys in the Northern Territory. There will be stories to come from the States and other Territory - stories over many decades. There will be stories about how girls have been mistreated including being stripped naked. I have been to court with our children and reviewed CCTV footage from Juvie where the Corrections Officers have flat out lied. In community we know these stories – heartbreaking, sad and real stories. We’ve seen how these stories have destroyed our young people, have destroyed futures, have destroyed families.
My heart and call is still for the churches to wake up to where Jesus is calling us. And to act. The churches continue to reduce funding to Aboriginal ministries, close down our churches, have us operating in derelict buildings, not fully employ Aboriginal pastors, Aboriginal youth pastors, Aboriginal prison chaplains, Aboriginal court chaplains, and not support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leadership development. Sometimes churches don’t do anything at all. This is why grassroots movements like the Grasstree Gathering are so important.
As Aboriginal Christian Leaders we are with the families of these kids each and every day - providing practical support, prayer support, love and care - all through the power and strength of Jesus. We do this because it's family. We do this because it's what Jesus would do. We do this because we are living our Jesus radical call on our lives. But we are sick of doing this on our own and on our own resources. We need the churches to stand beside us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leaders and to support us.
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So today we are asking for your help to act.
You can stand with us by contacting your own church pastor, head of church, minister or denominational leader and asking them to make a public stand for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in response to the Four Corners report.
They might like to do this via social media, from the pulpit this Sunday, in an email or letter to the church or denominational members, or by writing a column or 'Letter to the Editor' for their local paper. Also ask them to write to the area's governmental leaders to express their concern and commitment to justice.
- Will they commit to standing up to racism inside and outside the church?
- Are they open to listening and learning from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters on how we can work together towards justice?
- Could your church potentially fundraise to resource Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ministries, churches, prison chaplains, court chaplains, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian Leadership Development?
- Could your church look into grassroots efforts led by First Nations peoples that they could partner with and/or support?
- How can your church continue to open its members' minds in support of the ongoing struggle for minority and First Nations people achieving justice?
- How can your church make opportunities for Christians to engage biblically with topics that are often put to one side, such as material issues of land rights, prisons, law and the distribution of wealth in Australia.
Grace & Peace,
Brooke Prentis and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Justice Team