Christian Aboriginal leader Aunty Jean Phillips has joined with justice movement Common Grace in inviting Australian Christians to attend services of "acknowledgement, lament and prayer" in the two weeks leading up to Australia Day on 26th January.

Aboriginal-led prayer services are being held in every state and territory capital as well as some regional centres during the period leading up to the day, described as a "day of mourning" for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In the past few years thousands have attended the services.

Change the Heart

Phillips said that it was "important that we as Christians come together and look at our history, but also to see how we can journey together and bring God’s true healing and reconciliation into this nation.”

Brooke Prentis, the Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace, will be leading many of these services.

She said 26th January "is a day of conflict where many Aboriginal peoples are mourning, commemorating survival, acknowledging invasion, or just hurting and grieving".  

"Through these services we create the space for community and learning as we pray for love to triumph, as together, Aboriginal peoples and non-Aboriginal peoples, we cling to the Cross and cry out for justice to Jesus the great healer.”

Scott Sanders, the CEO of Common Grace, added that it was paramount the church "comes alongside our Aboriginal Christian Leaders, who have been calling us to walk with them on the path towards justice and healing in this land".

"This beautiful and gracious invitation from Aunty Jean Phillips and Brooke Prentis speaks to the heart of the relationship we are called into, one of solidarity, friendship, generosity and action, as we are led along the path towards justice and healing in this land.”

The services have been described as echoing the call of William Cooper for his establishment of an 'Aborigines Sunday' in Protestant churches in 1940. Originally held on the Sunday nearest to Australia Day, it was moved to May and now falls in what is known as NAIDOC Week.

To find your nearest service, head to www.commongrace.org.au/jan26_prayer_services.