WALKING ON COUNTRY
Walking on Country
Walking on Country has been an initiative of the Uniting College for Leadership and Theology in conjunction with the ACD since 2013. It is a three or four day immersive, educational and spiritual experience of Indigenous culture, history, politics and contemporary lifestyle. Walking on Country is led by indigenous Christian leaders, with organizational support from Uniting College. It is primarily a program for candidates for ministry and their families, Uniting College students, and ministry agents of the UCA, but there may be opportunity for others to participate as well, depending on numbers. There is an opportunity to take the unit ‘Towards Reconciliation’ for credit at undergraduate and postgraduate levels for those who would like further in-depth study.
The aims of Walking on Country are to:
1. Learn about the cultural, historical and contemporary life of an Indigenous community;
2. Explore ‘decolonisation’ of our colonised thinking and relationships;
3. Develop conceptual, emotional and spiritual foundations for covenanting and friendships with Indigenous communities and the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress;
4. Commit to a journey of reconciliation with Indigenous Australians, and to the vision for Covenanting in the Uniting Church.
In the past, Walking on Country has taken place on Ngarrindjeri country (the Coorong) and on Kaurna country (the Adelaide Plains), as well as on Adnyamathanha country (the Flinders Ranges).
In June 2021 we walked on Adnyamathanha country, under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Auntie Denise Champion and Rhanee Lester. Participants received a copy of Auntie Denise’s new book Anaditj (Always Was, Always Will Be) as preparatory reading. The immersion experience began with an evening with Port Augusta Congress around a campfire, enjoying traditional foods and conversation. We travelled to Nepabunna on the Saturday, stopping at significant sites and hearing stories. Sunday we rose before the sun to watch it rise and hear a story, then gathered in the old church to reflect and worship, along with some locals, using Adnyamathanha language in songs and spoken words. We spent time at Iga Warta cultural centre, and Ram Paddock, where the community had been required to live in the 1920s, as the pastoralists laid claim to the water sources. After a bit of four wheel driving, we reached ‘Damper Hill’ and heard the story of that place. Later that day we had a campfire and made our own damper, as well as having a session reflecting on Jesus as Storyteller. There were times of sharing, expressing learnings gained from the experience and reflecting on some form of post-trip action to continue the relationships begun with Indigenous people.
Walking on country can be taken for credit as a part of both undergraduate and postgraduate studies. For more information please contact Lynda Leitner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking on Country is usually an annual event. If you would like to express your interest in participating, please contact Associate Prof. Vicky Balabanski: email@example.com
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