National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Learning to reconcile

May 2019

by Cain McDonald

It is always enlightening to discover something new in God’s word that we have failed to understand previously. Or we may be drawn into a deeper understanding of something, due to a specific need or call to God.

This has been the case for our school community at Tatachilla Lutheran College, south of Adelaide.

And this is what Paul’s letter challenges our thinking with – reconciliation is a ministry! As he writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18–19: ‘All this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their sins against them, and has entrusted to us the message of reconciliation’.

It has been empowering for our community to understand that reconciliation is a ministry that we are called into creating and living with our Indigenous brothers and sisters. Tatachilla has long held Indigenous perspectives as central to its purpose, however this has taken on greater meaning in recent months.

For us our journey to formal reconciliation began about two years ago under the leadership of Mrs Dolroes Amos, our Indigenous Education Coordinator.

Working with our Indigenous Education Committee and the Association of Independent Schools of South Australia, our team began to explore the requirements and purpose of a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Our RAP development concluded in 2018 and consists of more than 30 action items around the key concepts of Relationships, Respect and Opportunities, which can occur in the classroom, around the school or in the wider community.

Our RAP has become a central driving document to guide our thinking and actions to ensure that what we seek to undertake in reconciling the past is meaningful, respectful and continuously improved.

We recognise we are all on this learning journey and that collectively we will come to a deeper understanding through the guidance of our RAP. Importantly it has also allowed individuals to reflect on their own hearts and actions, both historically and as they walk into a new path today and tomorrow.

We believe our Indigenous students have also grown through the development of our RAP. While only small in number here in southern Adelaide, these students have demonstrated a greater willingness to share their culture and heritage, and embrace their stories, so that they may be leaders in our community learning.

While we are not the first school to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan, we have been blessed to live and work in a time where there is greater acceptance and willingness to draw closer in friendship, knowledge, understanding, grace and love with our Indigenous neighbours. This relationship has been truly reciprocal and we know that our students and wider community will benefit where reconciliation love comes to life.

Cain McDonald is Principal of Tatachilla Lutheran College, McLaren Vale South Australia.

Tatachilla’s RAP is online at: www.narragunnawali.org.au/raps/25236/tatachilla-lutheran-college

Other Lutheran Education Australia schools which have a RAP include Immanuel Primary School and Immanuel College, Novar Gardens South Australia, and Concordia College, Highgate South Australia.