August 8, 2018
“The Church in Australia, or Spirituality in Australia is 60,000 years old – minimum – it can be up to 100,000 years old.
… I always think that when people start talking about the church, they are talking about a pot plant that they brought out and put on the land and then they nurture it and they prune it and they make it fit on our land, but it never actually gets roots.
Did you know that God didn’t come on the front of Captain Cook’s ship… did you know that he was already here?”
– The Revd Dianne Langham, Newcastle Diocese
As I heard The Revd Dianne Langham (pictured above) speak these words something within me broke open. My spirit rejoiced. I became aware of something so much bigger than myself, so much older than the Anglican Church. I was moved to awe and wonder. Wonder at a God so ancient and yet so present, a God who has continued to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people for thousands upon thousands of years – boundaries expanded and possibilities became endless.
In July, ABM had the opportunity to be involved in the Abundant Justice gathering in Brisbane. The conference was organised in collaboration between the QLD Social Responsibilities Commission, St John’s College University of QLD, St John’s Cathedral, St Francis Theological College, and ABM. The feeling I had of ever expanding possibilities continued throughout the gathering. The conference facilitated a journey toward understanding our world as it is; discerning God in the here and now; seeking a prophetic vision for how the world might be; and reimagining and enlivening our communities.
The conference went beyond single issues (albeit very important issues), and provided scholarship, praxis, and prayer, about what it is that undergirds the quest for justice. Over 100 people imagined a different vision of reality. This reality is complex and there are no simple answers. The work of justice is about relationships, and relationships are never simple. Indeed, as Leunig has said, “Love one another and you will be happy. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.”
On day three of the conference, we participated in Open Space, where the conference participants created the agenda that was important to us. Out of this day many practical directions emerged from the fertile ground of the preceding days. It will be exciting to ‘watch this space’ and see what emerges for the life of the Anglican Church in Australia.
The conference made it abundantly clear that the church must be open to God’s transformation if it is to become more fully the church. The Revd Victor Joseph, Principal of Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, exclaimed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities do not need/want to be ‘missioned’ to any longer, and it is time for these communities to be missionaries to the Anglican Church. We have much to learn from the prophets in our midst, remembering that God has walked with the indigenous communities of this land for up to 100,000 years.
“we really need to get rid of the pot. We need to start growing… and owning [that] our Anglican Church, or our Christian church in Australia is 100,000 years old….” (The Revd Di Langham).
Written by The Revd Jazz Dow, ABM Education Missioner