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A context to our Covenant Action Banner:
· The Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) recognised the United Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) in 1984 and has been in a covenant relationship with the Congress since 1994.
· In November 2018 the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod expressed its vision for a Covenant Action Plan: In 2028, the Uniting Church in Queensland, as an expression of being centred in Christ and agents of healing, hope and reconciliation in this world, will fully express the Covenant with UAICC in all we do, such that there will be strong, healthy and intentional relationships between first and second peoples, throughout and beyond the gathered church.
· In February 2019 the South Moreton Presbytery highlighted three goals designed to advance this vision. 1: Each local congregation and faith community within the QLD Synod, will be culturally aware of their local indigenous culture, history and spirituality, 2: Each local congregation and faith community will have personal connections with local indigenous elders, and reflect the demographics of its community and 3: Church leaders and decision makers will be aware of indigenous theology and use this as a lens for decision making.
· Separate to these developments some of the Beenleigh Region Uniting Church (BRUC) leadership already had a personal relationship with Ted Williams, a Beenleigh identity and Yugambeh leader. In late 2018 and early 2019 Kerry Armstrong Chair of the Congregation, Rev Karen Ross, Minister and Trevor Marett, Chair of Church Council met with Ted to build our relationship.
· In the light of preparations for the August 2019 celebration of 150 years of Methodist/Uniting Church ministry and mission in the Beenleigh Region, we set out to explore not only the journey people have taken but also to discuss how we might support each other in a partnership which goes beyond recognition statements to a sincere working relationship in which respectful consultation and practical action become the norm.
· Ted was consulted before the Covenant Action Banner was finalised. On 21 July, 2019 the banner was commissioned and, in that service, Rev Karen, on behalf of the people of Beenleigh Region Uniting Church, acknowledged the custodianship the Yugambeh People exercised over the lands of this district for such a long time prior to European settlement, and apologised for any hurts the church might have caused.
The banner remains at the entrance to the worship centre to remind us of our shared history and God’s call to us to be reconciled with Him and with each other. When Ted saw a photo taken of the commissioning he responded, “My heart soars when I see such publicly overt manifestations of our nation's Reconciliation journey.”
As our vision for the future grows the people of BRUC continue to seek ways through which we might develop our relationship with the Yugambeh People and other first peoples in a mutually respectful and supportive way.