Mission in Action Committee


Contact: Les Böhm. Email: les.bohm@gmail.com.

What we do : Co-ordinate parish support of projects in developing countries, for natural disaster appeals and local projects through ABM.
In September 2017, Parish Council accepted the recommendations of the Community Outreach Group, (now named Mission in Action) regarding support for projects, one international and one domestic over 3 years: 2018 to 2020 and approved COG’s recommendation that the Parish support an AOA project “Bringing Light to Rural Families” in remote villages in the Solomon Islands; a project to support aboriginal community development in a manner yet to be determined; and the need for a long-term plan for 3 years to provide some certainty for both new projects.

Activities planned for 2019: After extensive research into options for supporting work with Indigenous communities, we have selected 4 projects to support through the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM).

UPDATE ON MISSION IN ACTION PARISH PROJECTS – August 2019

The Parish Mission Programs are making progress. On 30 June 2019, the Parish’s Mission in Action Committee’s Partnership with the Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) was launched to co-operate on projects supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This marked a new direction, as the Committee had been supporting the Anglican Overseas Aid (AOA) work in the Solomon Islands.

In September 2017, Parish Council agreed to support an AOA project, ‘Bringing Lights to Rural Families’, which with the generous support of the parish achieved its targets well within the timeframe of three years raising $25,000 between 2017 and 2019. 

The ABM launch was the start of the parish commitment to the ABM’s work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The ABM’s attention to the Five Marks of Mission reflects our parish’s mission and helps focus our energies.

Working with ABM enables us as a Parish to focus on raising funds but also to raise awareness of issues and challenges and how we might make a difference by supporting projects led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

At the launch, we were most blessed to have had as our speaker Bishop Sarah Mcneil who had been an ABM Board member and demonstrated her understanding of and commitment to ABM’s work with indigenous communities. Her inspiring address is reproduced in this edition of the ‘Community’.

The parish has already raised $7,000 towards our target of $15,000 p.a. over two years and the Committee would like to thank all our parishioners who attended the launch and all who are supporting this mission.

Through the initiatives, past and planned, we aim to be a welcoming and culturally inclusive Anglican community, which will be able to build strong, respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

ADDRESS BY

THE RIGHT REV’D DR SARAH MACNEIL AT THE LAUNCH OF MIA PROJECTS

30 JUNE 2019

ABM Launch   Manuka 30 June

It is a great pleasure to be with you today and to launch officially St Paul’s partnership with ABM. I am particularly delighted that you have chosen to focus on work that ABM is doing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

ABM is unusual among mission organisations. It was formed 150 years ago as the mission arm of Australia’s Anglican dioceses. It is still ‘owned’ by the national church. From its earliest days ABM has been involved in Australia’s indigenous communities. This means that there are episodes in our history where, along with other organisations, we have been involved with policies and practices that we now understand to have been deeply harmful. 

As understandings of mission have evolved over the years, ABM has shifted its approach to one of working together with local communities. In our overseas work this means that we work mainly with the local churches to deliver programs and to build their capacity. Within Australia we work very closely with NATSIAC – the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council, seeking their advice and their direction.  

NATSIAC draws its membership from across Australia and holds an annual conference every few years. While I was in Grafton it met for its conference within the diocese. I was privileged to attend some parts of the conference. As so often, when in the presence of indigenous people, I felt out of step, humble and generously tolerated with my deeply inculturated whitefella ways. The experience highlighted for me, yet again, how inappropriate it is, simply to announce that we are giving some money for x or for y. No matter how worthy x or y may seem, it is a paternalistic and culturally blind approach. 

Traditionally it has been hard to raise money for ABM’s work with indigenous communities. For some reason donors have preferred to support programs overseas. There is, however, a great need to support Christian ministry amongst our indigenous communities and to work with them to build strong leadership.

You have chosen to support three particular programs, all of which have been developed with NATSIAC and in response to their priorities. 

The first one I’d like to talk about is Walkabout Ministries which offer support to the Rev Gloria Shipp. Gloria is an indigenous woman herself and her ministry is centred around Dubbo in Central Western New South Wales. In 1996 Gloria became the first aboriginal woman to be ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Australia and she is currently the Chair of NATSIAC. 

Gloria is a remarkable woman. I hope that we will be able to arrange for her to come and visit and share with you stories about the impact of her work. Perhaps when the weather is a little warmer! She has a passionate commitment to her ministry and an ability to perceive the gaps in the church’s traditional outreach and to fill those gaps in innovative ways. 

Among the activities of this ministry are an elders outreach group, women’s camps, outreach trips, reconciliation luncheons, women’s dinners and bible studies. Gloria has recently established a new Sunday school for aboriginal families around Dubbo at the request of the community. It runs every second week and using a borrowed bus, Gloria visits homes with her husband Eddie to collect the children and then returns them after the Sunday school. This ministry is only possible because of Gloria’s reputation within the community.

ABM’s support is crucial for Gloria’s ministry. The total cost of her work is a mere $20,000 a year. The amount that she does with this money is phenomenal and offers grass roots support and Christian ministry where there is little available. Normally ABM is able to raise this but in the last 11 months we have only raised $12,112. 

The second program is the reconciliation program. This is a national program and began as a way for ABM to respond to requests from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership of the church. It will enable ABM to create resources and events which help the Anglican Church and the wider community to hear the voices of First Nation peoples. This includes resources for National Reconciliation Week and support for worship resources developed by aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities. This program has supported the creation of ‘A Voice in the Wilderness’ a study guide aimed at fostering understanding between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

The third program is the Northern Territory Discipleship Track. This program builds on the work done with healing groups with Aboriginal leaders wanting to undertake training so they can lead the program in other communities. Recently too aboriginal women, Violet and Miriam, completed their training. In March they went to Groote Eylandt and although very nervous, lead the storytelling in the groups. They are now more confident to continue the work.

ABM has also funded travel for the Bishop and members of the Ministry development team to go to remote communities to visit and encourage aboriginal candidates in their preordination discernment. There are currently at least three aboriginal candidates who are exploring ordination at the moment. 

ABM funds also supported a conference for senior aboriginal leaders in the Northern Territory. This conference took place just before the Synod and gave 30 lay and ordained leaders the opportunity to discuss issues important to them. This conference was greatly appreciated by the participants as it offered a unique opportunity to gather with leaders from other communities.

At the heart of all this work is the nurturing and equipping of Aboriginal and Torres Strait leadership. There has been a quiet revolution happening in northern Australia and particularly in the Northern Territory and the Diocese of North Queensland there are significant numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander clergy and lay leaders. Neither of these dioceses are wealthy and the communities served by these leaders are often very poor. With financial support much more could be done.

This partnership also offers great opportunities for mutual understanding and sharing. The indigenous cultures of Australia run deep and have much to teach us about living with this land and about being human. Taking time and being present to the other brings rich gifts but tends not to be the way whitefellas operate. I encourage you to take this opportunity both to serve and to learn, to give and to take, as we all learn how to live together better in ways which benefit and enrich us all.