Compass - Ernabella: No Ordinary Mission
Compass goes to Ernabella, a remote aboriginal community south-west of Alice Springs, as it prepares for Easter in its newly renovated church. Ernabella Mission lies in the far north-west corner of South Australia. It was established in 1937 by the Presbyterian Church and right from the start it was different from other missions of its day. There was no pressure on the Anangu to give up their own beliefs or way of life. "We weren't even allowed to put clothes on them," recalls one former missionary. Instead they respected and learnt the local language and culture, and found parallels with Anangu stories and the Old and New Testament. They also established a choir for which Ernabella became famous.
Today Ernabella is an aboriginal-run community with a rich cultural heritage. Three of the elders who helped build the church almost 60 years ago still live in the community; and two of them are ordained Uniting Church Ministers. In this Good Friday special Compass tells the story of a unique mission and the renovation of its historic church through the eyes of the Anangu and former missionaries.
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