DJ Gondarra: A bridge between many cultures

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Pastor Ray Minniecon of Scarred Tree Ministries pays tribute to Yolŋu elder Rev Dr DJ Gondarra

Today, I seek to humbly honour the life and legacy of Rev Dr DJ Gondarra, a revered Yolŋu elder who passed away peacefully in his sleep on Tuesday night, surrounded by his loving family at his home on Elcho Island.

Rev Dr DJ Gondarra was one of my spiritual educators and teachers. He was one of my important Aboriginal role models. Even though we lived in different places in Australia, his spirit, intellect and influence on my personal life and ministry is immeasurable and was always a constant presence. He was a man of profound principles, dedicated to fostering understanding and unity between peoples, institutions and cultures. His life’s work was a testament to his unwavering commitment to practical reconciliation and social justice.

As the first Indigenous representative on the World Council of Churches, Rev Dr Gondarra brought the rich spiritual traditions of the Yolŋu people to the global stage. His voice was one of wisdom and clarity, bridging the gap between Indigenous spirituality and Christianity and fostering mutual respect and understanding.

In his role as a director of Reconciliation Australia, he worked tirelessly to promote the importance of acknowledging and addressing the historical and ongoing injustices faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. His leadership and vision were instrumental in advancing the cause of reconciliation in Australia.

Rev Dr Gondarra’s influence extended to the economic empowerment of his community through his position as the first Yolŋu chairman of the Arnhem Land Progress Association (Alpa), a role he held with distinction from 1993 to 2023. Under his guidance, Alpa flourished, creating opportunities and improving the livelihoods of countless individuals and Indigenous families.

Rev Dr DJ Gondarra’s life was a testament to the power of faith, resilience, and the enduring strength of our ancient Aboriginal cultural heritage. He leaves behind a legacy of cross-cultural bridges built on respect, understanding, and a shared commitment to a more just and inclusive society.

As we remember Rev Dr DJ Gondarra, we celebrate a life well-lived and honour the profound impact he had on both the Yolŋu community and the broader Australian society. His spirit will continue to inspire and guide us as we strive to build a future rooted in trust, hope, reconciliation and unity.

May he rest in peace, and may his memory and legacy continue to be a blessing to all who knew him and were touched by his extraordinary life.

Correction… Added the second “r” to Scarred Tree ministries


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