The LCA will become the first national church in Australia to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) as part of its commitment to better hear, recognise and support Aboriginal people in the church.
At the church’s General Convention in Sydney today, Synod called on the LCA’s General Church Board (renamed today from General Church Council) ‘to develop and implement a RAP that will:
- assist ongoing relationship building through listening to Aboriginal people in the LCA
- support non-Aboriginal people in the LCA to gain insight into what is important to Aboriginal people
- provide a culturally appropriate mechanism by which our church together with (inclusive of) Aboriginal people and communities within the LCA can address questions of recognition and representation, and
- develop appropriate ways to encourage and enable Aboriginal people to serve and lead in all aspects of church life in the LCA’.
Synod also authorised the General Church Board (GCB) to commit the necessary resources to prepare and deliver the plan and requested a report on the plan’s implementation to be given to the 2021 General Convention.
LCA RAP Project Team Member Shona Reid, who is an Eastern Arrernte Woman and a member at Ferryden Park Lutheran Church in suburban Adelaide, said a RAP would provide a list of agreed practical actions to drive our church’s contribution to reconciliation.
She said it would allow the LCA to draw on ‘existing relationships, knowledge and resources; provide greater support to its existing Aboriginal mission areas; develop stronger respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and create opportunities for the LCA to work together, to grow strong in faith’.
‘At its core this proposal is about continuing to build upon our solid foundation of respectful and dignified relationships between the First Nations people and other Australians to enable us to come together and live reconciled in Christ’, Mrs Reid said.
‘The path to reconciliation is not a task that any one entity can undertake on its own. It is a joint movement of all people, places, races and identities.
‘For me personally, living in the church that has a RAP demonstrates visible evidence that our church, your church, intentionally cares about such matters. It cares enough about Aboriginal people to want be a part of our lives and cares enough about us to want to share in God’s love.
‘We Christians believe that God has reconciled the world to himself through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By the work of the Holy Spirit in word and sacrament, God gives people the faith in Christ and nurtures new life in them. Through faith in Christ, we are now his friends. We also believe that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. As a church we carry out this ministry by proclaiming Christ’s reconciling work to all people and pleading with them to receive the friendship of God. As church we further witness to reconciliation by living in unity and peace with fellow Christians from various cultures and classes, and by promoting justice and peace among all people.’