Yirara College – many languages, many histories
Many of the students of Yirara College in Alice Springs come from communities served by Finke River Mission, predominantly in the Central Desert areas. But most students come from remote communities beyond Central Australia that are not connected with the Lutheran Church. This includes communities around Tenant Creek, Katherine, all over the Top End, Gulf Country, the Kimberley and APY Lands, as well as some around Alice Springs.
The Christian message arrived at these remote communities with missionaries from Anglican, Baptist, Uniting, Catholic and Lutheran churches, along with the Aboriginal Inland Mission (AIM) and, recently, the Seventh Day Adventists. Some of the communities have a Christian history dating back more than 140 years, much like our own Lutheran history at Hermannsburg (Ntaria). This makes Yirara College a truly multi-denominational space and an ecumenical worshipping community. The majority of Yirara students identify a connection to the faith communities of their families and have an interest in Christian spirituality. As such, the college community of teenagers is somewhat unique in the national Australian religious context. One of our great community expressions of faith is our Baptism and Communion Day (pictured), with students being baptised and receiving communion coming from many different communities.
The faith communities to which students’ families are connected are respected and acknowledged by the college. As Yirara chaplain, I have travelled across the Northern Territory to meet Indigenous pastors and other church leaders from Anglican, AIM and Lutheran community congregations. I have also met with non-Indigenous leaders from many churches who give pastoral support to many remote Indigenous families. They are all very supportive of what we do at Yirara.
When we worship together here, we look for our common ground – the mercy and love of Jesus that unites us and draws us together.
–Pastor Basil Schild, Yirara College Chaplain
This story first appeared in Finke River Mission’s (FRM) Christ in the Centre publication. Read this and many other stories at http://finkerivermission.lca.org.au/media/
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