In March this year, I joined the Lutheran Mission Development (LMD) Board.
This board was established to support and promote the aims, beliefs and articles of faith of the Lutheran Church of Australia, to provide funds for carrying out the mission program and to organise, supervise and extend the work of preaching the gospel of Christ to the Aboriginal people of Australia and to promote their general welfare.
In late May, I travelled with fellow board members for a meeting held at a campsite at Hugh River in the Northern Territory. Staff and board members of Finke River Mission and Yirara College were also part of this meeting. It was the most beautiful backdrop for our meeting.
For me, as a new board member, this weekend was an amazing opportunity on so many levels. It reinforced the importance and value of our work and provided time to get to know members of LMD and meet members of Finke River Mission and Yirara boards. During the weekend there were opportunities to spend time with the dedicated staff of Finke River Mission, visit the office in Alice Springs, Yirara College, Hermannsburg and the newly restored Historical Precinct, and the Northern Territory outback.
I witnessed firsthand the passion and work performed by the Lutheran pastors and other support workers in these communities. They were able to share experiences, joys, successes and challenges as they work alongside and support the Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory.
There were many highlights including lunch with all board members and staff at Hermannsburg; camping at the scenic Hugh River and exploring outback areas; spending time with members of Hermannsburg community and Historical Precinct; and attending a church service held in language in Hermannsburg, with hymns sung by members of the Indigenous choir.
The three days were invaluable, providing a reality and insight into the daily life of these communities and the valuable work of the Lutheran Church and dedicated staff in the Northern Territory. It highlighted the many achievements and the need for ongoing support.
Sally Staggs (pictured above: front row, centre) is a member of the Lutheran Mission Development Board.