More than 25 Aboriginal pastors, evangelists and church workers from Central Australia have attended the 2016 Docker River ‘Big Course’ to learn about the LCA’s Standards of Ethical Behaviour policy, with some travelling more than 600 kilometres to take part.
Held over three days in October, the course was part of the Finke River Mission’s ongoing work with and support of the Aboriginal church workers in the region and was designed to provide a meaningful connection to the various ministries among the workers’ own communities.
Aboriginal workers came from Western Desert communities including Kintore, Mt Liebig, Haasts Bluff, Papunya, Hermannsburg, Mutijulu (Uluru) and Alice Springs, and were based at a Docker River bush camp, more than 200 kilometres west of Uluru (almost at the Western Australian border).
Led by staff of the LCA’s Professional Standards Department (PSD), the course was an opportunity to explore with the Aboriginal pastors, evangelists and church workers what it means, as a member of the LCA, to reflect God’s love to one another, how to treat each other with genuine dignity and respect, and how this translates into everyday life.
The workshop was delivered in the bush, without access to electricity to run laptops or data projectors. Flip charts were used to promote discussion as participants adjusted their seating to follow the moving shade from bushes and trees. Each session was led by SA/NT Professional Standards Officer Dave Biar, firstly in English, then translated by Pastor Paul Traeger (FRM Luritja area). Evening sessions were held in the church where access to power and lighting were available to run videos.
The absolute authority of God’s word was evident among the group and often discussion was punctuated by attendees picking up their Bibles (Luritja and Pitjantjatjara versions) to highlight where Scripture reflected the point in discussion.
Course participant Pastor Hezekial Jingoona from Uluru said: ‘This is good. We worry about the bad things out there. It is good to be pointed to the word of God to hear what that says.’
The LCA’s Standards of Ethical Behaviour cover personal and pastoral life, communication and financial/administrative matters. A section is dedicated to the care of children. A comprehensive church-wide training program supporting the Standards is being developed by the LCA Professional Standards Department for implementation from early 2017. The Standards will officially be launched in February 2017.
Marilyn Wall is the LCA’s Professional Standards Department National Training Coordinator.