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Under Dean’s seven years of leadership Churches of Christ has grown substantially and implemented significant initiatives to extend our mission across hundreds of communities in Queensland, Victoria and Vanuatu. I look forward to joining with you to recognise Dean’s many achievements in November.
Churches of Christ in Queensland has been built on innovation. We have been responsive to God’s call, and individual and community needs, and not overly shackled by rules, regulations, or funding streams. Our innovative approach as we live our mission of bringing the light of Christ into communities is part of who we are: it’s woven into the DNA of Churches of Christ.
We are unafraid to go against the grain and do something different, something that our peers or others are not. Innovation, by its meaning, is to introduce something new. A key priority of our Strategic Plan 2015-18 is to grow our core services, and we have been doing this through introducing a number of new initiatives such as the set-up of our Strategic Action Leadership Teams (SALTs) and Mission Action Partners, the growth of our Children, Youth and Families services to focus on early intervention and our key projects and redevelopments, which are providing state-of-the-art integrated communities and modern developments to connect local communities.
Work will commence this year on our next Strategic Plan, which will guide us through the coming years and continue us on our journey.
I write this column at the conclusion of National Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation Australia says “reconciliation is about unity and respect between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and non-Indigenous Australians. It is about respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and valuing justice and equity for all Australians”.
To bring about reconciliation, we must first know what we have to reconcile: what are our differences, what are the past hurts, or the present injustices.
At our Head Office last week we had the privilege of hearing from Aunty Flo Watson.
Flo is a member of the Ghunghanghi People (traditional owners of Yarrabah) and also has family ties to the Kuku-yelangi People of Maytown, Palmer River area and the Wulguru Kaba people of Magnetic Island near Townsville. Aunty Flo was taken from her family when she was 11, and 30 years earlier her grandmother was shot dead by police trying to stop Aunty Flo’s mother being taken away.
One of our staff in attendance asked the question at this session, “Why were children taken from their parents?”. In hearing the story of Aunty Flo, in answering this staff members question, and in explaining what there is to reconcile, we must be prepared to confront some terrible parts of our history, and frankly of our present. We all need to be prepared to get uncomfortable, and not defensive, with what we hear and see. If we get uncomfortable enough, perhaps we’ll be more likely to contribute to practical reconciliation.
I thank God for Aunty Flo, and for the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have the courage to tell their stories. I pray that we have the ears to listen, and the strength of character to come along side our Indigenous brothers and sisters, to meet them on their terms, and with unconditional love.
Finally, many would be aware that the search has been on for our next CEO. That search is now over, and we look forward to introducing the new appointee to you in the next edition of networking. It has been an absolute pleasure and an honour to serve the Conference in this key role over the past six months.
Acting Chief Executive Officer
For more about Churches of Christ in Queensland, read the latest Networking.