Congratulations to St Mark's Buderim for another wonderful Reconciliation event today: Celebration of Country 2017. Following a Welcome to Country by local cultural educator and traditional owner Jacquie Davis, the centrepiece was a sharing of the story of the Nandjimadji outrigger canoe project, with artists Aunty Robyn Lennox and Aunty Tracey Nicholson from the Nanjimadji Artists (a local group of Indigenous people with disabilities). The video shown can be seen below or directly on You Tube here. It is both illustrative of the value of cultural healing - a significant feature of local life in this area of the Sunshine Coast - and of the way in which such artefacts can be vibrant symbolic, and literal (!), vehicles for community, learning and deeper relationships in our Australian society. It was a lovely tonic in the face of the crassness of much that will occur on the horribly mischosen date 'Australia Day' this week. Today's gathering, ably facilitated by the Ven Jeremy Greaves and the St Mark's team, was also the fruit of many years of relationship building, similar events and the hospitality of St Marks. As such it continues to be an encouraging model for others to follow. Indeed, such local connections have now created a welcome new internet resource - the Buderim Indigenous and South Sea Islander Peoples History website. It was launched at the event today by Steve Chillingworth and Meredith Walker who, as a project of Buderim Sails ministry have worked with local Indigenous & South Sea Islanders on it. Including a number of stories, sites and other information, it is another step in the journey of Reconciliation, and will grow - hopefully to be copied and adapted by others elsewhere.
Yesterday I finally made it to 'the Green House' in Buderim. It is a remarkable place, embodying a deeply-grounded commitment to walking with the Spirit in, through, and with the land (and the people closest to the land). Heather Johnson is the coordinator, alongside family members and others in the local community, not least Aboriginal elders. Over the last few years Heather's original family land at Buderim has been turned over to environmental, Reconciliation and other spiritual endeavours, to create a lasting and living symbol for this and future generations (read more here). Linked to the Community of Aidan & Hilda, the Anglican Church at Buderim and SAILS, this work is an inspiration to me and to many others. Long may it flourish! To walk the grounds of the Green House is certainly to be surprised and encouraged in wonderful and unexpected ways.
Yesterday was but one vital example of the creative and healing projects of the Green House. On the anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations, two memorials were dedicated: one to those Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who fought (here and overseas) in defence of their country, and one to South Sea Islanders (an important part of local history) who have fought in Australia's defence forces. This followed a lecture by Indigenous historian John Maynard earlier in the day. The dedication of the memorials was another moving step in Reconciliation, led by Anglican Archbishop Phillip Aspinall and local elders. My hope and prayer is that it strengthens us all to similar further Spirit-led relationship and action in the days ahead.
Giving thanks today for the work of Indigenous historians, not least John Maynard (from the University of Newcastle) whom I heard speaking again yesterday at St Mark's Anglican Church Buderim. John came later than most to professional historical research and teaching, via family history enquiry, but he has nonetheless become one of the most lively and significant historians we have in Australia today. Grandson of Fred Maynard, the redoubtable political activist and the President of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (AAPA), and son of the noted jockey Merv Maynard, John's work has already done much to open up the buried, forgotten and often erased history of Australia and help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples find empowerment in the struggles and achievements of their ancestors, Australia's 'first peoples' in so many respects.
John was speaking in Buderim, on the anniversary of the Apology to the Stolen Generations, as part of the remembrance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who have fought for their country and the dedication of memorials. John spoke particularly, with his typical insight, challenge and informed passion, about Indigenous Australians who had served in the first world war: bringing their lives and contexts alive and moving us, at various points, with the notes of sadness, anger, frustration, solidarity and re-commitment to struggle which they evoke. This aspect of John's work is part of the national "Serving our Country' project, led by Prof Mick Dodson and others in Canberra, which will bring welcome light into neglected aspects of the history of Australia in this 100th anniversary year of the Gallipoli tragedy, and, most importantly, further enhance the identity of Indigenous Australians and the celebration of their lives by others too.
Jo Inkpin an Anglican priest, trans woman, theologian and justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice and sustainable creation.