The 14th Assembly bore witness tonight as two Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) chaplains Samuel Dinah and Robert Jetta were ordained by WA Moderator Rev. Steve Francis and Nyungar Elder Rev. Sealin Garlett.
Nigel Tapp was there.
UAICC Chairperson and regular prison visitor Rev. Dennis Corowa jokingly suggested he had spent more time in prison than many of the men he ministered to behind bars.
But, he knew how appreciated by his Aboriginal brothers in Townsville those visits were.
“It is just pleasing for them to see us in prison… the time we spend there and the church who supports us (in the work) is much appreciated by the Aboriginal boys who are inside and over-represented in correctional services throughout the country,” said Rev. Corowa.
Rev. Corowa was preaching at the ordination service for UAICC WA ministers Samuel Dinah and Robert Jetta.
Reverends Dinah and Jetta were prison chaplains and Rev. Jetta was also ministering to the Waroona Congregation, prior to their ordination. They will continue in those roles.
The Waroona congregation, one hour south of Perth, is the only joint First and Second Peoples congregation of the Uniting Church.
Rev. Dinah spent 25 years as a prison liaison officer with the Aboriginal Legal Service prior to beginning his chaplaincy work.
Rev. Corowa said he often had a good laugh about the things that happened behind the bars with inmates.
Like the time he visited a prison in Tonga and found no fences to keep the prisoners behind wire.
When he asked a guard what happened if the men escaped and went home, he was told that their families would just bring them back.
Rev. Dinah said he wanted to praise God for the grace and mercy that had enabled him to stand before the attendees as an ordained minister.
Rev. Jetta asked for the continued prayers of the attendees and thanked those who had supported him on his journey to ordination.
They were charged by Congress WA Regional Committee Chairperson Rev. Sealin Garlett.
The service began with a traditional smoking ceremony outside before attendees moved into Winthrop Hall, which has been the home to the 14th triennial Assembly since Monday.
It also featured traditional dance by the Bindjareb Middar Dance Group.
Rev. Garlett said the ordinations were “a tremendous statement in the investment and the journey in the covenant of indigenous and non-indigenous people.”
“I think this allows us as a Church to grow together and to be able to take hold of the baton of reconciliation, of unity, to allow the fire of the covenant to continue to burn.
“So we’ve made a statement about commitment. We’ve made a statement about friendship and I think we’ve made a statement about walking on the journey of pilgrim people.”