by Michael Jacobsen
The last of the three pastors bush courses this year was held at the end of September at Harts Range, about 215 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs. It is a spectacular outcrop of quartz- and mineral-rich mountains, well known by fossickers and also for its picnic race carnival held every August.
In the past, there has been a lot of mining in this dramatic and beautiful country. As the area has higher rainfall than Alice Springs, it has been well-loved and occupied by Eastern Arrernte people. They call this area ‘Rainmaker Country’, after the big dreaming story that travels through this range region. The Arrernte name for the Harts Range Community itself is Atitjere (pronounced a-DITCH-air-uh).
The FRM archives indicate that a pastors bush course had already taken place 14 years ago – in April 2008, at Atitjere, at the same location.
For this year’s course, Dr Stephen Pietsch from Australian Lutheran College travelled with pastor candidate Jacob Fabich to the Red Centre. Since there have been many funerals in bush communities recently, and the course group made a request at previous courses, our lecturer focused the biblical studies on the subject of grief. We explored texts from Lamentations, Psalm 23, the story of Lazarus (John 11) and the Easter story of the Emmaus brothers (Luke 24). Lively group conversation often ensued, in which participants contributed their own experiences of lamentation, mourning and consolation.
The training course ended with a communion service in the Catholic church at Atitjere. The people in Harts Range are predominantly Catholic Christians, who have a good understanding with their Lutheran sisters and brothers and let them use their church when needed.
Michael Jacobsen is FRM Support Worker for the Alyawarr language area.
by Paul Traeger
In July FRM held a bush teaching course at the community of Yuelamu/Mt Allan. It was held under the shade of some trees in a dry creek bed, close to the community. It had been 17 years since we last held a course in this place, so for the local people it was a significant event.
Mt Allan is right on the edge of FRM’s area of operations. Most people speak Anmatyerr, but a significant number speak Warlpiri. It has a sizeable non-Lutheran population, mostly non-Trinitarian Pentecostals.
The course teaching was based on the book of Ezekiel. We pretty much covered the entire book! We had never tackled Ezekiel before, as only bits and pieces of Ezekiel are available in any Central Australian language – but translating on the go from English seemed to work okay. Understanding the background to Ezekiel is indispensable to understanding the book. The main theme that came through in the teaching is that God is watching. He is watching over; he is watching out. He is not distant. And God’s people, too, are called to be watchful.
I presented the training materials, since no lecturer from Australian Lutheran College or elsewhere was available. David Strickland did most of the interpreting. The participants seemed to appreciate the course – including the FRM support workers, none of whom had ever studied Ezekiel in detail before.
The weather was cold, possibly the coldest we have ever had for a course, but a few flies still made an appearance! The cookies did an excellent job, not least in getting up early each morning to get the fire started.
Afterwards, we had a communion service in the community. At this service, there were ten baptisms – from infants to people in their eighties.
Paul Traeger is FRM Support Worker for the Pintupi-Luritja language area.