The bush course we thought would never happen
Way back in 2019 the Aboriginal pastors agreed to hold the 2020 winter Bush Course at Tara, which marks the northern-most edge of the FRM service area. The teaching topic was to be ‘Prophecy in the Old Testament, New Testament and the church today’. Now we know that many prophecies in the Bible took a long time to be fulfilled, and this proved true for the Tara Bush Course.
The global pandemic obliterated any chance of gathering together last year. However, this year, with the Northern Territory being free of COVID-19 in the community for over 12 months, we felt quite safe in planning to come together at Tara this winter. But a devilishly timed hotspot causing a short lockdown in Alice Springs put pay to ‘Tara Take 2’.
With the Convention of General Synod meeting in October this year, we resigned ourselves that the Tara Bush Course would have to wait until winter 2022. However, with the Convention going online, we were able, at short notice, to quickly regroup and reorganise to make the Tara Bush Course a reality.
Tara is a small community surrounded by the Neutral Junction cattle station, which occupies Kaytetye Country. It sits almost at the halfway point of the Stuart Highway’s trek between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. The versatile church building at Tara, erected in 2015, was paid for by the community from their lease (royalty) money.
Rev Dr Adam Hensley from Australian Lutheran College (ALC) led the teaching, which was enthusiastically received by the participants. The longstanding partnership between the ALC and Finke River Mission should not be taken for granted. We honour the partnership and the intrepid lecturers who brave the privations of rough bush camping and yet bring such riches to share with us.
Two things are essential for a bush course: (1) an ALC lecturer willing to come, and (2) two or three hardworking ‘cookies’. We were able to draw upon the talents of experienced cookie Lyndon Hampel, who was ably assisted by Alex Voigt.
Sadly, due to the timing and short notice of the Tara Bush Course, no representatives from the Pitjantjatjara Language Area were able to attend. However, Dr Hensley produced excellent teaching resources, and this material has been presented at a number of communities, where it has been a great blessing and excitedly embraced.
Malcolm Willcocks is the Pitjantjatjara Support Worker.