Aboriginal Leaders of the Past
Aboriginal Sunday is a powerful opportunity for churches and faith communities to come together and show solidarity with Aboriginal peoples. The theme for this year’s Aboriginal Sunday is “Aboriginal Leaders of the Past.” It is a time to remember and honour the struggles and triumphs of Aboriginal leaders who have fought for justice and equality for their communities.
If the church is to truly embrace an Australian spirituality, it is essential to respect the Indigenous peoples of this land and the spirituality that has been present for over 60,000 years. This is a chance for the church to be an Australian Church and to demonstrate its commitment to reconciliation and justice for all.
The origins of Aboriginal Sunday can be traced back to January 26, 1938, when Aboriginal leaders, including William Cooper, met for a Day of Mourning to demand equality and full citizenship. In response, the Australian churches were asked to set aside the Sunday before January 26th as Aboriginal Sunday, a day for Christians to act in solidarity with Aboriginal peoples and the injustices being experienced. The first Aboriginal Sunday is thought to have occurred in 1941, although it was referenced in a letter from William Cooper to the John McEwen, Minister for the Interior, on January 19, 1938 and also mentioned in the Herald (Melbourne) newspaper on January 18, 1939.
As Aboriginal people continue to support the “Close the Gap” policies and work towards having a Voice in parliament, it is important that we continue to pray and support our community. In our Diocese, we will be celebrating Aboriginal Sunday on January 22nd.
There are many ways that churches and faith communities can observe Aboriginal Sunday and show solidarity with Aboriginal peoples. One idea is to incorporate Indigenous prayers, songs, and stories into worship services. Another is to host a community event or fundraiser to raise awareness about issues facing Indigenous communities.
Let us stand in solidarity with Aboriginal peoples and work towards justice for all.