When Common Grace launched last year we felt it was imperative that Christians in Australia listen to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. So over the last couple of months we have been building a team from a diverse range of denominational and cultural backgrounds to work with us.
Some of our Team: Tanya Riches, Larissa Minniecon and Shane Fenwick.
Brooke Prentis of the Waka Waka people - an activist for indigenous rights, a pastor, and accountant has joined our team as Spokesperson. You can hear Brooke reflecting on National Sorry Day on this powerful podcast hosted by the Centre for Public Christianity. Have a listen as she discusses the concept of friendship, the breadth of injustices faced by Indigenous people, and the way she understands being an Aboriginal and a Christian person in Australia today. When asked what she's hoping for, Brooke says "For me, it's about building an Australia that's built on truth, and love, and justice. And that's when we can have hope for a better a future for all Australians.”
We are thrilled to have Larissa Minniecon lead our Team as Facilitator. Larissa is a Kabi Kabi, Gureng Gureng, Torres Strait Islander Aboriginal woman. She is also of Vanuatuan heritage, with her grandfather brought from Vanuatu to work in Queensland’s sugar cane fields, in Australia’s own history of slavery that is often described as ‘blackbirding’. Larissa brings a wealth of understanding and experience working in the area of global indigenous identities and specifically navigating the idea of what it means to be authentically indigenous and Christian.
When we asked her what kind of team she was looking to build at Common Grace, she described the Aboriginal concept of kinship to us.
“Kinship… I guess that’s probably what I would like this group to feel like. Not as a word but as a feeling. Kinship.
The Aboriginal way of kinship is that - this is how they explained it to me - I’m responsible to you if you are my kin. If you are my kin and you are hungry, and you come over to my house, and my house is locked, and you have to break into my house to get some food, the offence isn’t that you broke into my house, the offence is that I had my door locked.
And that’s the responsibility that I have to you, my kin. And it’s that feeling of never being alone. That you will always have someone there for you, and it’s saying that you will extend your family, more than yourself and your immediate blood family. And that’s what kinship is all about. That I have a responsibility now. And it’s teaching those kids that you have a responsibility too. And then the elders have a responsibility.
And so I guess that’s the kind of thing that we need to have and to know that this kinship will be a part of it. And I would like to enforce it – HA!! Joking! But it also allows you to be more truthful, and to not come with this fake Christian, which is how Christians do come sometimes. I just want people to be real about what’s happening in the world, and what is our responsibility as Christians, as God’s people, and where we should be standing. That’s why I am really excited about this justice team and why I said ‘Yes’ to Jarrod when he asked me to lead this team.”
To read more of Larissa’s story, and to stay updated on all we are doing in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice, head to www.commongrace.org.au/aboriginal_and_torres_strait_islander_justice.
Thank you once again for being on this journey with us as we seek to bring a voice that sounds more like Jesus to the conversation in our beautiful nation. And please pray for the team as it forms that we would have wisdom and grace and that kinship that Larissa describes, a depth of friendship in Jesus, that overflows to the world.