In just two years we've achieved some amazing things. As we look forward, we remember where we've come from and the wins along the way.
At Common Grace we have a vision to see true Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia become a reality in our lifetime, and we're therefore committed to nurturing a deep friendship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians and non-Indigenous Christians across Australia, as they work together in this pursuit.
We hope to inspire non-Indigenous Christians to both engage honestly with the injustices experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to develop meaningful connections with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians, through the sharing of stories, the recommendation of quality resources, and the promotion of opportunities to respond.
But there's a LOT of things we'll need to do, to achieve this.
We’ll need to model friendship and Reconciliation as a team
We are incredibly aware that any work we do that hopes to shift Christian engagement towards Reconciliation, must first be modelled by Common Grace internally. We have therefore committed to ensuring there are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders involved in our core team, week-to-week project teams, and on our board. These Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders already, and will increasingly in the year ahead, input across all our issue areas, helping us engage appropriately and refine our operations so that they best respect cultural sensitivities, and particularly those that result from the lived experience of injustice. More importantly, they will help those of us who are non-Indigenous Australians to not speak 'on behalf of' Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but rather hear, listen and prioritise the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices in our decision making processes.
We’ll need to collect, publish and promote resources, stories and actions
We believe that the generation of Australians who are currently decision makers (i.e. who vote, etc) have a significant knowledge gap when it comes to the true history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and how this history connects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
We therefore have plans to collate a widely-accessed online repository of resources that are recommended by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members, designed to enable Christians to explore history, current issues, and to connect with local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We are hoping to create a digital tool that enables our Common Grace members to track their own journey through these resources through our online dashboard, as a means of beginning on their own journey towards Reconciliation.
And of course we're also excited to celebrate the historic and contemporary stories of meaningful church engagement, that can provide an example and inspire all of us as pursue Reconciliation together.
We’ll need to resource church leaders
We know that church leaders often hold a uniquely trusted position of influence in church communities and are often more motivated to pursue Reconciliation than anyone, but find themselves hesitant to engage on social justice issues that seem complex or tricky to negotiate with the sensitivity that is appropriate.
At Common Grace, we want to specifically help church leaders to guide their churches through a journey of Reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians - equipping them with resources that cover everything from "What are the correct terms to use?" right through to "How do I engage my whole Christian community towards Reconciliation by taking one-step-forward at a time?"
We’ll need to amplify Aboriginal Christian voices
Our role is not to speak on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but to amplify their voices across our platform and together speak of friendship and Reconciliation. We are planning to gather a network of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian speakers, as a resource for Christians who would like to invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians to share with their communities, or speak in their church services and conferences.
We’ll need to mobilise a public Christian voice for Reconciliation
Just as we are passionate about contributing a generous, gracious Christian voice to the general public conversation in Australia, we are passionate about ensuring that we, as a Common Grace community, contributes to public conversation about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team leaders who are already engaged in the national debate on Reconciliation will share this involvement with the Common Grace community, and we will, of course, provide opportunities for non-Indigenous Australian Christians to partner as a public witness to our pursuit of meaningful Reconciliation in our lifetime.
There's a lot of work to be done between the articulation of this vision for our work involving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and actually achieving these outcomes - from the administrative tasks of collating and developing these resources, to the practical ones of editing, graphic and web design work to deliver them to in a shareable format to church leaders and individuals in our Common Grace community.
One of the most helpful ways that you can support us in achieving these is by donating towards the labour costs of our staff and contractors who will actually do this work, and contribute towards the web platform costs associated with making our formational resources accessible. You can partner with us in this way here.
Some of our donors may prefer to contribute specifically in this area - perhaps by covering the travel costs associated with bringing our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members to our Common Grace strategy days in Sydney, or by sponsoring the development of a specific resource that we've mentioned above. If that's the case, please email us at [email protected] so that we chat about how we can help facilitate this.