The unpretentious coffin that carried the body of Pastor George Rosendale to its resting place is symbolic of the person he was.
Pastor Rosendale treated all people as equal, his pastor, David Spanagel, said to the mourners who gathered to remember him on Friday 4 October in his hometown Hope Vale in Queensland.
More than 650 people attended the funeral, coming from as far away as Brisbane and from many towns near Hope Vale, to thank God for Pastor George’s life.
‘Joining God’s Choir was certainly echoed today as we said “See you later” to George Rosendale’, Pastor Spanagel said of the funeral.
The Kuku Yalanji people (Wajal Wujal) contributed to the service in their language, adding a personal tribute to the day. A guard of honour was formed by clergy from several denominations to honour Pastor Rosendale’s achievements in reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
As a pastor he served the communities of Coen, Cooktown, Cairns and Hope Vale, before retiring in 1992. In that year he received an OAM for his services to the Lutheran Church and Aboriginal communities. In 2009 he became the first Indigenous Lutheran to be awarded a Doctor of Divinity degree by Australian Lutheran College.
He passed away on 11 September 2019 at 89 years of age, three weeks after the 50th anniversary of his ordination.
Pastor Rosendale will be remembered for his contribution to the wider Lutheran Church, in particular his work in exploring the Scriptures from an Aboriginal perspective and integrating Indigenous Lutherans into the wider church.
His relentless search for ways to share the gospel with his people through a cultural perspective culminated in the publication of Rainbow Spirit Theology, which he wrote with fellow elders and assisted by Dr Norm Habel as scribe.
‘Not only was this helpful for non-Indigenous Australians, but it helped Aboriginal people to see their salvation through new eyes. His passion to reach the heart with the gospel was paramount’, says Pastor Spanagel.
‘He was one chosen by God for all Australians. He was “colourblind”.’