Voice in the Wilderness
19th February 2019
A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS: Listening to the Statement from the Heart
“It seems to me, at least, that many Australians wish to hear the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They truly want to hear what is on our hearts.” --From the Foreward
In 2017 the Anglican Church of Australia responded to the historic Statement from the Heart made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives at Uluru. General Synod supported the call for a constitutionally-entrenched First Nations’ Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament and asked the Public Affairs Commission to prepare resources in consultation with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council.
The Anglican Board of Mission (ABM) responded with an 8-part study designed to help the church listen to the Statement from the Heart and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians. It was written by ABM's Reconciliation Coordinator, Celia Kemp, with art by the Rev Glenn Loughrey and an Appendix by Dr Carolyn Tan.
This resource is beautifully and thoughtfully produced, with stories, discussion questions, quotes, scripture passages and Glenn’s amazing artwork artistically placed throughout. It is available free of charge to download on this website:
https://www.abmission.org/resources.php/163/a-voice-in-the-wilderness or purchase a printed version for $20 plus postage.
We would love to hear from any groups who have used the study. Please share your insights and reflections with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Artwork by Glenn Loughrey
“The Baptism on the Banks of the Goulburn River with White Cockatoo” Acrylic on canvas
Plunging into the cool waters of the local river was welcomed in the summer heat. It washed away the dirt and dust of a life on country and set you free to rise up new and refreshed. Somewhere in the gums along the river would be the ubiquitous white cockatoo. There were no white doves and, in my art, the white cockatoo symbolises the Spirit, especially in this story. The tree symbolises sentient life including that of humanity.
Foreword written by Bishop Chris McLeod National Aboriginal Bishop
Listening is an important, if not dying, art form. Being able to hear the voice of the other is deeply challenging. It seems to me, at least, that many Australians wish to hear the voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. They truly want to hear what is on our hearts. Yet, at the same time there are some whose hearts have turned cold, and do not wish to listen to anything but their own voices.
‘The Statement from the Heart’ is an important voice for the aspirations and hopes of the First Nations peoples of our land. It deserves to be heard by many, and for those who have stopped their ears it could become a chance for ‘hearts of stone to be turned into hearts of flesh.’ (Ezekiel 36: 26).
‘Voice in the wilderness: Listening to the Statement of the Heart’ is the creation of loving listening by Celia Kemp; encouraging the Church to stop and listen. This study also gifts us with the opportunity to ‘listen’ to the art of Glenn Loughrey, a Wiradjuri man and Anglican Priest; the penetrating voice of sight, colour and image. I encourage all who use this important study to stop, listen, and pray that our ears may be opened and our nation’s broken heart healed.
More quotes from Voice in the Wilderness:
‘This resource is not about how we solve ‘the Aboriginal problem’. Instead, I believe listening to the Statement from the Heart reveals a lot about what is actually going on in Australia.’ (page 51)
‘Listening to the other isn’t comfortable. It risks shattering boundaries and ideas that keep us safe and make the world predictable and secure for us and those we love. But listening helps us to see our country, and ourselves, more clearly.’ (page 38)
We have to fight for black and white. Mabo said to his son – let’s fight for black and white. His son asked, but why are we fighting for whitefellas? And Mabo said, because they are blindfolded; we need to open their eyes and let them realise that we were in this country before them. --Darwin Consultation Our Story Final Report of the Referendum Council (page 8)
‘When a group of disempowered people gather in the desert and call for right relationship, truth and justice it has a very prophetic feel.’ (page 100)
Recommendations for Voice in the Wilderness
This study guide by Celia Kemp and Glenn Loughrey is of historical significance. Originally released a year after the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, it is a well-considered, deeply sensitive response from the heart of the Church. -- David Tacey, author of Edge of the Sacred; Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne; Adjunct Research Professor, the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Canberra.
I encourage all who use this important study to stop, listen, and pray that our ears may be opened and our nation’s broken heart healed. --Bishop Chris McLeod National Aboriginal Bishop
NATSIAC endorses this study as a fantastic tool to focus on the issues facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia. It is a powerful document which is engaging and thought provoking. We would encourage all Christians to engage with the material with an open heart and an open mind. -- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican Council
Website: Anglican Board of Mission