Update from Rev’d Gloria Shipp

Mar 22, 2022

Rev’d Gloria Shipp’s Walkabout Ministries Report

COVID-19 outbreaks and cancellations did not stop Rev’d Glora Shipp from conducting her vital ministry amongst Aboriginal Elders and the broader, ongoing work of partnership with non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians. Gloria explains here why she prefers the term “partnership” to “reconciliation” as it applies to her work.

2021was quite a different year again in terms of my ministry and the delivery of it. In February Eddie and I moved to Nyngan (165Km) from Dubbo.

The Elders Outreach Group continued to meet every Tuesday in the hall at Dubbo Anglican Church. Some weeks I would travel to be with them, or I would phone in and talk with them. Rev Brett Watterson and Jen were also on hand in Dubbo if the Elders needed pastoral care/assistance if I was not in Dubbo. Health professionals continued to visit the Elders group as well as other community members to do craft activities with the Elders or just have a chat.

In May I participated in a Zoom meeting with St Paul’s Anglican Church, Parish of Manuka. The following is a recap of the meeting as it appeared in their parish newsletter:

From St Paul’s Manuka…
Our Parish Mission in Action team organised a very interesting gathering last Wednesday afternoon – an afternoon tea with the Reverend Gloria Shipp of Walkabout Ministries at Dubbo and Nyngan. Gloria was the first Aboriginal woman to become an Anglican priest. She spoke with a group gathered in the Mollison Room and others via Zoom about her life experiences and ministry, and the ways in which our support via ABM equips her. Many thanks to Les and Catherine Bohm and Rod and Elizabeth King for organising this event.

Just before we linked up with Gloria, we watched a video about her life and spiritual journey. Gloria was the first indigenous woman to be ordained in the Anglican Church of Australia.
A range of questions took the discussion in many directions from the common threads between Aboriginal spirituality and Christianity to the practical issues in doing her work with young people in prison and in the other areas of her ministry with Elders and others. Gloria spoke of her life and the challenges of being a pioneer, being both indigenous and a woman, seeking ordination in the Anglican Church. She talked about reconciliation but voiced her preference for the term partnership as she believes that there are negative associations with the former term. She suggested that if we want to understand, we must learn to listen. We need to learn to live together in Australia and learn about one another’s culture by listening. This was a message last year when some of us studied ‘Voice in the Wilderness’. We would like to thank everyone who attended and of course Gloria for the time she spent with us, and also Jen, and for inspiring us to continue supporting her most important ministry, and also her encouragement to open ourselves up to understanding and learning about the cultures of all Australians. – Catherine Böhm

On the 1 June 2021, Dubbo Parish held a dinner to acknowledge and celebrate my ministry in Dubbo and now Nyngan. This was a great night with Rev’d Brett Watterson organising Aboriginal dancers, letters, and video messages. Attendees on the night were also invited to speak if they wish. One of the parishioners mentioned in their speech that I had not only ministered to the Aboriginal people in the community but all of us and has brought us all together, which is one of my ministry goals. To my surprise and delight they have named the main part of the church hall, where a lot of my ministry took place, “The Gloria Shipp Room”.

Dubbo was hit with an outbreak of Coronavirus in August and went into lockdown for two months. The Elders group were supported through phone and video calls to provide pastoral care to them. I was a point of contact for them to pass on details of support services available to them during lockdown. The Elders all knew of someone who had COVID, either family, friends, or community members. Most of the Elders returned to hall in late October and I travelled to Dubbo each to be with them. Some of the Elders have not returned yet due to either not being vaccinated or being away with family. They will return next year. On Melbourne Cup Day the Elders went out for lunch together. In early December I hosted some members of the Elders group at my home in Nyngan for two nights. During this time, we had a craft/information stall at the Twilight Fair promoting the Elders group and my ministry.

The women’s camp had registrations from women in Dubbo, Sydney and Nyngan however it was postponed until next year due to COVID.

I also had to postpone the reconciliation lunch and women of the bible. The Nyngan community were supportive and looking forward to being involved in the Reconciliation lunch, from the council providing a venue and the Girls circle helping with the meal. They have expressed their interest in next year’s event.

I was asked to lead the prayers and Eddie the Smoking Ceremony at the Opening ceremony of NAIDOC week in Nyngan and opening of Winangali Walk (to hear, listen) “Heal Country” in November.

We held our Christmas luncheon with the Elders with some members of the church and wider community joining us. This was smaller than previous years due to restrictions still in place but was a wonderful time of fellowship. We also said farewell to one of our Elders who is moving to Queensland to be with family.

NATSIAC has been unable to gather due to COVID and border closures. The Torres Strait Islanders held pared back celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the Coming of the Light on the 1st of July 2021. I participated in a ZOOM meeting with other NATSIAC members for NAIDOC Week celebrations for the Anglican Church, Southern Queensland, in September.

I have been asked to baptise 11 members of a family early next year in Nyngan and I also have 2 weddings booked in alongside other ministry activities. We pray for a healthier 2022 and the ability to be able to go ahead with ministry activities

Jen and I continue to work from our own home offices, staying connected through email and phone for ministry matters. We also meet at the Elders group when I am in Dubbo.

I continue to be thankful for all the support given to this ministry from ABM which enables these programs to continue.

Rev Gloria Shipp