Brooke Prentis launches our NAIDOC Week Series, "Because of her, we can!" with a powerful reflection on the women who have shaped her life, and the opportunity for us all this NAIDOC Week.
Welcome to NAIDOC Week!
|Brooke Prentis, Waka Waka woman, Aboriginal Christian Leader, Aboriginal Spokesperson for Common Grace and Coordinator of the Grasstree Gathering launches our NAIDOC Week Series, "Because of her, we can!" with a powerful reflection on the women who have shaped her life, and the opportunity for us all as we celebrate this NAIDOC Week.|
Ever since this year’s NAIDOC Week theme was announced in November last year, “Because of her, we can!”, I have been excited.
I’m excited because of the opportunity to not only celebrate our Aboriginal women, but to acknowledge, recognise, and honour, a part of our society that our Aboriginal men often describe as the backbone of our communities. This series with Common Grace and The Grasstree Gathering in particular enables us to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian women. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have contributed to the fabric of this land we now call Australia – to our families, our communities, our nation, and our churches.
I was also excited for this year’s NAIDOC Week as I wanted to celebrate and thank the Aboriginal Christian women leaders that have played a significant role in my life. I got to join one of these women, Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay, and also meet a new role model, Aunty Elsie Heiss, on this week’s ABC Radio National God Forbids program. This God Forbids episode is a beautiful representation of three generations of Aboriginal Christian women yarning together about our true history, our own stories, and the women who have inspired us. This NAIDOC I have an overwhelming emotion of being so grateful for those Aboriginal women who have gone before me and who fought (and continue to fight) for justice, equality, and freedom – within society and within the Church.
There are many Aboriginal Christian women from all over this land we now call Australia who have changed my life – who have taught me about culture, language, art, theology, and how to faithfully follow Jesus through many trials and tribulations. So to Aunty Mary-Ann Coconut, Aunty Faye Gundy, Aunty Iris Paulson, Aunty Rose Rigney, Aunty Rev Denise Champion, Aunty Noeleen Lester, Aunty Dorothy French, Aunty Pat Waria-Read, Aunty Ida Granites, Aunty Alex Gater, Aunty Yaritji Heffernan, Aunty Imiyari Yilpi Adamson, Aunty Karen Kulyuru, Aunty Joanne Brumel, Aunty Loretta George, Aunty Lee Thompson, Aunty Ellie Conway, Aunty Ravina Waldren, Aunty Glenny Naden, Aunty Nellie O'Chin, Aunty Rev Patricia Courtenay, Aunty Elsie Heiss, and of course, my mentor, Aunty Jean Phillips, I say thank you. It is because of you, I can. You will meet some of these women this week.
I don’t want their stories to be forgotten, I want the Australian Church to know and value these prayer warriors, these social justice warriors, these theologians, these pastors. It means accepting our Aboriginal hand of friendship, our leadership, and walking alongside us.
You will also hear their stories told from the perspective of those they have inspired, other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian women from The Grasstree Gathering network, for some their first time writing, and some of our non-Aboriginal Grasstree friends.
We want you to share these stories with your friends, family, church, and work colleagues. There are countless Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian women who have amazing stories – you will know some – share them too. Don’t keep these stories to yourself – may we each be that stone that causes the ripple effect to go out across our nation. NAIDOC is the time to celebrate with us but to remember that after next Sunday July 15, there is still much work to be done. These women will be continuing their faithful work, alongside our Aboriginal Christian men, and it is up to us the next generation, and our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters to follow in their footsteps, footsteps they have left as they pick up their cross and follow Jesus. May God give us the wisdom, strength, and courage to change Australia for the better as these women have done and will continue to do.
P.S. To my Mum and to my Nan (deceased), I say thank you for encouraging me to follow my dreams, even the ones that seemed impossible! I love you.
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How can you get involved this week?
We'll be journeying through this week together on email, social and here on our website here, but there are other ways to get involved in celebrating NAIDOC Week. Here are a few ideas.
Celebrate in your Church
On Thursday this week we will be sharing a video interview between myself and Aunty Jean Phillips about “Because of her, we can!”. We're asking your church to make space in your play this video interview in your Sunday Service. So, can you ask your pastor/minister if you could have 5 minutes in the service next Sunday to play the video?
Attend a NAIDOC Week event
There are events happening right across the country that you can attend this week. Find an event near you on the NAIDOC website or Google NAIDOC Week 2018 and your local community (big or small) and get along to an event.
If you are in Sydney, come and check out The Grasstree Gathering art exhibition hosted by Newtown Mission.
Acknowledgement of Country
If you are giving an acknowledgement of country this NAIDOC Week when you say the line, “we pay our respects to the Elders past, present, and future”, why not add a thank you to the Aboriginal women and Aboriginal Christian women that you know saying their name and their contribution. If you haven’t said an acknowledgement of country before why not ask your Minister if you can do one next Sunday and use the stories of one of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian women that you will hear this week.
And don't forget to put Reconciliation Week 2019 27 May – 3 June 2019 and NAIDOC Week 2019 Sunday 7 July – Sunday 14 July 2019 in your calendar for next year.