My dream is about a new creation, a doing of a new thing. This will involve decoloniality – the challenging of the coloniality/modernity intimacy that is the foundation of the Church in this place. It is about unpacking the symbols, language, and knowledge we use to maintain the power here. It is about engaging with and clearly hearing the voices of those whose land this is, and preferencing their knowledge, wisdom, and language in all that we do in this place.
I stand here as Blackfella’s Youngfella while and as part of my mother’s English heritage. As a child I used to live on top of the Great Dividing Range and was able to see to the east and to the west. The water, as it ran down the range, went two ways although it was water from the same source in both streams. Seeing two ways is my life. In this place of St Paul’s Cathedral, I dream of bringing together both ways of thinking and believing so this becomes a sacred space for the old and the new.
I dream of that time when the local people can come in here and do ceremony, not on special occasions or on invitation, but because this is theirs as well as the church’s.
I dream of the time when we do not think that Jesus’ preferences one way of believing or thinking over another and allow this to truly be a central sacred space in this city.
I dream that the windows commissioned for the narthex screen will call all who enter here to refocus their vision to see and embrace the truth that they are on someone else’s land, and we are to embrace, in the various places we return in this country, the way of seeing of those ancient peoples. They are not just about this place. The windows are to be symbolic of the de-linking and re-existing we need to do wherever we are in this land.
I dream that instead of seeing us just as ancient, traditional, or used to be people we are recognized as and have always been, contemporary people, the continuing custodians, the sovereign ‘owners’ (for want of a better word”) of this land. That we excel in your culture, language, knowledge systems and more, as well as ours shows clearly, we are not less than you or just the exotic other. We are more than a deficit people, we are in fact the enough people, if not the surplus people. We do not need to be assimilated or converted, simply respected, and included.
The Revd Canon Glenn Loughrey is a Proud Wiradjuri man, Artist, Speaker, Writer and Priest at St Oswald’s Anglican Church. On Sunday 14th November he was installed as a Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral and the Cathedral’s next Artist-in-residence. The above reflection is an extract of Glenn’s sermon preached at the installation service.