A commitment to Indigenous Reconciliation has been a part of the vision for the ACC&C from the beginning. An ecumenical centre serving the people of Australia meant that the First People had a key place in the Centre's engagement with Australian culture. This was reflected in the first structures on the site: the Tent of Meeting and Fire Place both situated under the shadow of the Three Pilgrim Poles sculptured to depict elements from Christian and Aboriginal spirituality. A cement plaque celebrating the Exodus account of the Tent of Meeting had engraved on it the names of the three visionaries for the Centre: Bishop George Browning, the then Governor-General Sir William Deane and Aboriginal leader Lowitja O'Donoghue. Visitors to the site were struck by this powerful symbolism. When her Majesty the Queen visited the Centre in 2000 Lowitja planted a white pine and the Queen a black pine.
In the relatively brief history of the Centre the commitment to Indigenous Reconciliation has been expressed through many events bringing Indigenous and other Australians together for conversations, celebrations, music, education and worship.
The Centre has been host to the annual National Sorry Day and in recent years it has hosted gatherings of Aboriginal Christian leaders to discuss their history and record their lives.
The Mural Wall was unveiled in August 2011 by the then Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC CVO. It represents a painting depicting the Holy Spirit in Our Land by the late renowned Elder, Lawman and painter of the Gija People (East Kimberly), Hector Jandany. This Mural Wall wonderfully bridges Indigenous and Christian spirituality through an interpretation of life of the Spirit in the land and the lives of its people. It is one of the two iconic spiritual symbols so far erected on the site.
To read the Governor-General's speech from the unveiling of the Mural Wall, click here.
The Centre's range of Indigenous networks, particularly those relating to Indigenous ministry and theology will be expanding as we develop local, national and international networks.
This will include a focus on developing knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander spiritualities and Ministries. It will also Involve finding new creative ways to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and heritage. Another dimension of this future work will be in the area of advocacy with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Churches of Australia on issues of social justice.
The ACC&C hosted the opening ceremony and worship for Anglicare Australia's National Conference in September 2015. The event began with a smoking ceremony at the Meeting Place and campfire on the grounds of Centre. On a delightful spring evening at this pivotal site, an Aboriginal Elder and Tent Embassy ambassador, Pat Locke led the 200 strong crowd in a powerful ceremony during which he read a statement about the need for deeper and ongoing reconciliation and addressed the Anglican Primate, The Most Reverend Dr Philip Freier, who was the preacher for the occasion. This was followed by a wonderful highly musical service in the Chapel. Later in the conference the Executive Director of the ACC&C, Rt Rev'd Prof Stephen Pickard, gave the 2015 John Roffey Lecture titled At the Third Altar: Caring for the Treasures of the World. You can read a copy of Prof Pickard's address by clicking here.