National Magazine of the Lutheran Church of Australia

Why do we need a plan for reconciliation?

May 2019

At its General Convention of Synod last October, the LCA committed to developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Shona Reid, who is part of the LCA’s RAP Project Team, offers her views on why this is a significant step towards living in unity as reconciled children of God.

by Shona Reid

I am an Eastern Aranda woman. I am married to a Wangkangurru man and together we have seven children. It is important that I share this because this is what grounds me and connects me to who I am.

I would like to acknowledge many of you who have dedicated your lives to building relationships with Aboriginal people and communities, to sharing God’s word and to working together with many Aboriginal children and families. For this I give thanks and hold in hope that you share my – our – vision that we can continue this.

When I shared similar words at last October’s LCA General Convention of Synod, I was asking for support to enable the church to build upon this very work. I was overwhelmed by the level of support we received from delegates for the LCA to develop a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

But why is it important that the LCA has committed to take this step?

Reconciliation can mean different things to different people. An example comes in the artwork Many Eyes, (pictured above) painted by my nine-year-old son Henry. For me, Many Eyes is about the many views on what constitutes reconciliation. It is about the many people who have journeyed before us; the many things that are yet to be done; and the many people who are needed to get those things done.

When I asked Henry what this painting was about he said, ‘It about how there is one God and there are lots of people … we are all different – that’s a good thing – because we can all see different parts of God and share that with each other … that way we can all learn from each other and love God at the same time’.

I don’t think I could capture a more pure and beautiful definition of reconciliation.

I know firsthand that the journey toward reconciliation can be very difficult.

Many have walked away from it in search of a so-called ‘silver bullet’ that promises an end to inequality and offers brighter futures.

We know there is no silver bullet. But ultimately, in this case, the journey is the most important thing.

Those who have walked before us have given their dedication and passion to Aboriginal ministry and mission work. The 1997 Convention of Synod passed resolutions relating to reconciliation, while in 2000 proceedings included a rite of reconciliation. There have been reports undertaken and plans made.

But without the dedicated resources and guidance needed, and without a clear overall direction, these visions have made only a part journey to achieving their intended goals.

A RAP is a tool, much like a business plan or strategic plan, structured in a way that enables Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together to be involved in all aspects of its design, delivery and evaluation.

It can help us listen more intently, plan together, publicly commit to this plan, follow through and keep on track, and be accountable for what we do, and, what we don’t do.

It is designed to enable ideas and plans to come to life. The RAP provides us with a list of agreed practical actions and accountability that will drive our church’s contribution to reconciliation, both internally and in all the communities in which we operate.

At its core, developing a RAP is about continuing to build upon our solid foundation of respectful and dignified relationships between First Nations people and other Australians. The aim is to enable us to come together and live reconciled in Christ.

The path to reconciliation is not a task that any one entity can undertake on its own. It is a joint movement of all people, places, races and identities.

For me, living within a church that has a RAP demonstrates that our church cares about such matters. Our church cares enough about First Nations people to want to be a part of our lives and cares enough about us to want to share in God’s love.

Shona Reid is part of the LCA’s Reconciliation Action Plan Project Team and its RAP mentoring group and a member of St Paul’s Lutheran Church Ferryden Park, in South Australia. She is also Executive Director of Reconciliation SA.