GOD’S WORK: Bundjalung Elder Aunty Dorrie raises the Aboriginal Flag at the Salvation Army Church in Goonellabah in a historic ceremony.
GOD’S WORK: Bundjalung Elder Aunty Dorrie raises the Aboriginal Flag at the Salvation Army Church in Goonellabah in a historic ceremony. Marc Stapelberg

Church flying flag for reconciliation

THERE was no better person to raise the Aboriginal flag in Goonellabah's Salvation Army worship hall yesterday than Rev Dorothy Gordon.

While the potent symbol of the black, red and yellow is seen flying over school and council buildings, it has never been flown in any church in Lismore - until yesterday.

Politics and religion aren't supposed to mix, which is why the long delay in flying the flag.

But as this Salvation Army church is located in the middle of the largest concentration of Aboriginal residents in Goonellabah, and readily opened its doors to them, it seemed high time to declare the flag flown inside the beautifully lit interior.

Rev Gordon, fondly known as elder Aunty Dorrie, has long held affection for those who need help most.

"This is about recognition and respect for indigenous people of this land," she said quietly.

"There is a need to reconcile with each other and the church must be in the fore in this regard."

Born and bred in Lismore, Aunty Dorrie always held a passion for her people and in particular those who were down and out and needed help.

When she is not offering her services as a pastor with the Uniting Church or as chaplain with St Vincent's hospital she can be seen at the Lismore soup kitchen or anywhere that God's word is welcome.

She was the prison chaplain at Grafton for a decade and saw first hand the sadness of her people incarcerated.

"You have to be where the rubber meets the road to do God's work," she said.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell praised Aunty Dorrie's passion and welcomed the flag raising as a wonderful way to precede Naidoc week.

"It is up to every organisation to examine what it is doing to promote reconciliation and to close the gap," she said.

Salvation Army Major Lindsay and Lt. Jennifer Reeves said the flag raising made sense for their church, which opens its doors to those in need.

Their doorways program is a new way of delivering financial assistance and works to empower people to deal with bills and other crisis situations.



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