On 23 December 2018, Janie and Margaret Campbell were installed as church workers by Pastor Phillip Wilyuka and me.
Pastor Phillip has served the Titjikala Lutheran Church since the 1970s and became their pastor in 2008.
A bad hip has been hampering his mobility over the last year and in October he became fully reliant on a wheelchair to get about. This and other health issues restricted his ministry in the community, so he called on the congregation for some helpers. Janie and Margaret were chosen and they became God’s Christmas gift to the people of Titjikala.
Pastor Phillip decided to hold the installation service at the community’s recreation complex so that everyone in the community would know what was going on.
The women’s installation was very timely as Pastor Phillip only had two months to train them before he had to move to Alice Springs permanently to receive regular kidney dialysis.
Margaret and Janie have been able to maintain regular Sunday worship and pastoral care in his absence and are a great help to me when I visit Titjikala. They also regularly go out on Country with other women and children to sing hymns and talk about Bible stories. This makes them very happy.
When I first met Janie in October, she told me that not too many years ago she and her husband had been bad alcoholics. After nearly losing her husband to alcohol poisoning, she decided to quit the bottle and return to God and serve the church.
In 2010, Janie graduated from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education with a Certificate III in Health Support Services, and since March 2017 she has been Team Leader at the Titjikala Aged and Home Care Services, which provides domestic assistance and personal care, social and recreational support, and meals to aged and disabled members of her community.
Margaret is Janie’s older cousin. She is the traditional owner of the country covered by Maryvale Station. Margaret is the director and secretary of Ritjingka Aboriginal Corporation, which runs a not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary near Titjikala, and she also a director of Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi (doing good work with families), a non-government organisation providing a wide range of support services across southern Northern Territory communities.
I firmly believe that Margaret and Janie’s involvement with the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir and their recent tours have helped develop their confidence and abilities to take on this important leadership role in their community.
Malcolm Willcocks is the Pitjanatjatjara Support Worker in the Western Arrarnta language area.