Why we start every Sunday with an Acknowledgement of Country

Red dirt on country
Getting out on country has been a significant time of learning for us.

It’s not a political thing

Before I launch in, it’s important to say that our decision to adopt this practice isn’t because of some kind of political agenda.

All of that is to say we’re not trying to push some kind of socially liberal agenda by adopting one practice that could be seen as left-wing or progressive. Our agenda is the Kingdom of God as described by Jesus in the gospels.

Reconciliation is at the heart of the good news

Note the use of present continuous case in the previous statements. This new reality (the ‘Kingdom’) began with Jesus 2000-ish years ago, but won’t reach its fulfilment until he one day returns. In this now-and-not-yet in-between times, God has released His spirit to his followers to continue Jesus’ work of making all things new. It’s our job, as the church, to bring restoration and reconciliation into every broken situation as we are led (and empowered) by the Spirit.

If I look at our society, one of the biggest needs for reconciliation is our nation’s past. The facts on our history are very clear. European settlement was disastrous for the people who were already inhabiting Australia. The awful treatment of our First Nations people has led to a deeply rooted, systemic inequality that continues today.

If we take the good news of Jesus seriously, pursuit of reconciliation for this past injustice in our nation is critical. It might not have been us personally who perpetrated the crimes we read about in the history books. Yet as the church, we should be willing to take responsibility anyway, and work towards healing.

After all, that’s what Jesus did for us.

Our connection to first nations

These trips include a service component—getting on the tools to help facilitate the nations’ own plans for growth. The other, perhaps more important part of this is building relationship with the elders.

Yarning on Gunggari Country
Yarning on Gunggari Country as part of a RAW Impact team.

As we’ve heard their stories, we’ve learned so much. Long-standing assumptions have been broken down. Significantly, I have come to realise that they don’t hold hostility towards me as someone of European descent. Their desire is for friendship and mutual understanding. When you build relationship in this way, it stops being a political issue and starts being about doing the right thing by your friends.

Given this personal connection, we planted Toowoomba Vineyard Church with reconciliation as a founding principle.

Acknowledgement is not enough

Building an Acknowledgement of Country into our run sheet is a good step towards fostering a culture that values reconciliation. But it isn’t enough. These words need to be accompanied by action. Some actions we can take, as individuals and as a church, include:

As a church, we’re still working it out. Even in these first few months, we’ve learned so much about doing Acknowledgement of Country well. Our posture remains one of growth. And our desire is to see deep-rooted change in our city and nation.