21 September 2023
Christians have been urged to consider the reconciliation and justice messages of the Bible as they vote in the upcoming Voice to Parliament referendum, by Victorian church leaders.
Leaders from the Anglican, Uniting, Lutheran, Baptist, Salvation Army and Quaker churches gathered to call for a “Yes” vote during a service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Thursday.
They prayed God would open hearts to the gentle invitation of those without a voice, and that the nation would find within itself the humility to accept and journey together towards a better future.
Read more: A ‘Yes’ begins our journey of healing
National Council of Churches in Australia president the Reverend John Gilmore said as a Christian he supported the Voice to Parliament as a matter of justice. He said Jesus called Christians to listen to the hurt and the pain of others.
“When one part of the body hurts, the body shares the pain,” he said.
“This is one way of addressing the pain that we have to take some responsibility for, and it provides a pathway of hope.
“I believe Jesus is standing with Australia’s First People and calling us into saying ‘Yes’.”
Melbourne priest and Wiradjuri man the Reverend Canon Uncle Glenn Loughrey read those assembled the Statement from the Heart, urging them to listen on an emotional level.
He said the statement was a powerful document, which could change the future of Australia, and the future of his people.
Diocesan Reconciliation Working Group chair the Very Reverend Dr Andreas Loewe said Christians should say “Yes” to the Voice, as reconciliation and giving voice to the voiceless were at the heart of their faith.
Dr Loewe said Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible to be reconciled with God, and the Apostle Paul called on Christians to be ambassadors for reconciliation in passages such as 2 Corinthians 5.
Dr Loewe said Christians were also called to give a Voice to the voiceless by the prophets throughout the Old Testament.
“God is making his appeal through us. That’s really important to hear, and then to ask ‘What does that mean when we live that out? How do we engage in reconciling processes?’” Dr Loewe said.
On October 14 Australians will vote in a referendum about whether to change the constitution to recognise Australia’s First Peoples by establishing a body called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.
The Voice would be able to make representations to parliament and the executive government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.