In the leadup to Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June), LCA/NZ Bishop John Henderson took the opportunity to reflect on the theme for 2020, ‘In this together’. In a Heartland eNews, issued on 20 May, Bishop Henderson encouraged the church to remember that we are ‘one humanity, joined in Christ Jesus’.
‘In the context of Reconciliation Week, “In this together” is about people with and without Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry journeying together … [it] is also a call to us all to be involved in the work of reconciliation, however best we can. What harms one, harms all of us. When one does good, we are all better for it. All Australians will live in a better place when we work on this together.’
This ‘appeal for solidarity’ has even more significance during the COVID-19 pandemic, with health restrictions preventing the usual mass events for National Sorry Day and Reconciliation Week from taking place. Bishop Henderson emphasised that despite this, the work of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians will still progress.
This is embodied in the LCA’s journey towards reconciliation through a Reconciliation Action Plan: ‘A RAP helps us see how we are travelling, and what the next steps are, on our way to a destination that only God can see’, Bishop Henderson said. ‘Building and deepening relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians has been a focus of many Lutherans for a long time, a hundred years or more. We have done some things well, and there are always things we could do much better.’
Reconciliation Week is a timely reminder that in Australia, ‘We are not merely isolated individuals, worried only about ourselves. We belong to a community which cares about and looks out for each other’.