Acknowledgements of Country And People

Acknowledging Country and First Peoples 

Acknowledgements may be used at the time of gathering, whether for meetings or worship or celebration or lament. They can be used at the beginning of such times or during the proceedings or as a concluding act of re-membering and consciously re-contextualising a community.
Bold print may be used as a response by the people or read by the leader.


Protocol relating to Welcome…
Only an Elder or representative of the local indigenous People should be privileged with the opportunity to Welcome to Country. If there is no-one present who is able or willing to do this, it is appropriate to ask an indigenous person to speak as a First Person to acknowledge the Land and People of the Land. The acknowledgements offered here could be used as a response by Second Peoples.



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1. Gathering

From before recorded time,
the First Peoples (Nations) cared for this Land.
We praise the Creator for the beauty of this Land
and honour those who have offered themselves
in tending it.

We acknowledge the Elders and communities
who have told the sacred stories
and nurtured faithfulness to the Creator.

We ask God’s blessing on those who continue to work
for the healing and restoration of this Land
and Her Communities.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler



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2. Ancient One

When we call God, “Ancient One” or “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:22),
it conveys the sense of God beyond our sense of time.
This is not about naming a Judge, as much as naming the One
in whose hands we place our eternal trust.


The Ancient of Days breathed life
into this Land and her Peoples.

From time beyond our reckoning
the …………………………………. people
have blessed this place
through their care and concern.

We pay our respects to their Elders and Leaders,
past and present,
and pray for the future of their communities.

May we walk gently and respectfully
on this Land.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler


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3. Carers of Creation

Aboriginal Elders hold knowledge (Law) that allows communities to care for places. With the Law, these sites can be understood and seen as sacred. Learning Law helps us all to regard the world around us as holy ground and honour God’s purposes.


As we look upon the hills and valleys,
we see the love poured out upon this Land
by those who have cared for this place
since time beyond measure.

We honour those who have gone before
and those who are yet to come.

May we be mindful of the calling
God places on humanity
to care for Creation.
May we take the lead
from the ……………………… people,
whose stories are entwined
with the stewarding of this place.

May we learn from them
and walk with them.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler
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4. God’s Land

When we see the Land as markers in the revelation of God,
we stop thinking of ourselves (humanity) as the centre of all creation.
When we see God as the centre and God’s creation as receiving life from God, we see a different pattern, helping us to find our special place.

A symbol of the Land may be used as a focal point for this prayer: earth, sand, rocks, plants…


This is God’s Land.

Many have gone before
who have honoured God
by caring for the Land,
in the ways they have lived
and in the stories they have shared.

We give thanks
for the ………………………………… people,
who have held as sacred
the duty of protecting the Land
and living in harmony with it.

May God honour and bless them
– now and to eternity.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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5. Sacred Footsteps

If our passage through life is a pilgrimage,
the paths chosen are rarely completely new.
Rather, we journey in the footsteps of those who have gone before.

Option 1: Place names on footprints to honour those who have led the way.
Option 2: Lay some sand on a canvas on the floor and make footprints in the sand from one end to the other.


As we gather in this place,
we give thanks
for the ……………………………………………. People.

We acknowledge the commitment
their ancestors made,
across the generations,
to nurturing this Land.

Together,
may we walk into the future,
recognising the sacred footsteps
that continue to lead us
to the promise of Heaven.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler
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6. Thanksgiving

For this Land
We give thanks!

For the First Peoples (Nations)
We give thanks!

We honour the custodians
of sacred stories,
of dreamings
and the connections
with the deep earth.
May we work together
for the restoration
of the Land
and Her Peoples.

Optional addition for the presentation of Communion elements

For the seeds and fruits of this Land
We give thanks!

For the work of those who have tended the earth
and prepared the feast
We give thanks!

For the One who breathes life into this feast
We give thanks!

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler
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7. Songline

From river to ocean,
from campfire to hearth,
may the First People
who have cared for this Land
be blessed.

From breath to song,
from step to dance,
may those who follow your Songlines*
guide us on the journey
of living honourably in this place.

From greeting to Amen,
from silence to chorus,
may our worship
join with the voices
of the First Peoples
of this Land.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

*Songline - or dreaming track, may cross the land (or sky) marking the way of the 'creator-spirit' of the Dreamtime and may be in song, story, dance, and painting. A holder of knowledge may cross the land by the song, which describes the location of landmarks, waterholes, and other natural phenomena. Some songlines are a few kilometres, whilst others cross hundreds of kilometres through lands of different indigenous peoples and languages. The elements of melody and rhythm describe the nature of the land over which the song passes.

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8. Rite

A rock is placed before the people.

Over eons the earth has settled and formed.
The colours merge and the stories entwine.
May those who have kept the stories
of God’s earth be honoured.

Water is placed before the people.

The flow of life ripples, finding cracks and crevices.
It glistens and sparkles with promise.
May those who quench a spiritual thirst be blessed.

A candle or fire is lit.

Darkness is banished with the sharing of warmth.
Relationships enlighten and corruption dissipates.
May the Light of the World be carried
in the hearts of the People of God.

The people stretch out their hands, palms upward.

We reach out to God and to one another.
May God remake us as a Covenant People,
bound together by the Spirit of this Land
and guided by Her First Peoples.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler
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9. Listening

We listen to the breath of the earth.
May we hear the groaning of creation.

We listen to the sighing of the wind.
May we hear the songs from the skies.

We listen to the movement of the oceans and waters.
May we hear the shared waters of life in our being.

We open our ears to the wisdom
of the Land and her peoples.
May we listen, both to the silence and the speaking.

We honour and pay our respects
to those on whose Land we meet,
especially the ……………………………………… people.
We pause and we listen.

A silence is kept.
….

Those who have ears – Hear!
May we hear the voice of the Spirit in Creation,
Now and to the end of time.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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10.  Invocation

O Great Spirit! We glorify your name.
You are known to us through this Land.
You are revealed to us in its Peoples.
Mountains bow down to you.
Rivers run at your blessing.

We give thanks to you
and we give thanks for those
who have cared for this land from beyond time.

We acknowledge and ask your ongoing blessing
upon the First Peoples,
into whose hands you gave knowledge and responsibility.

We honour the Elders and Leaders
of the ………………………. People.

We pay our respects to all First peoples,
and their descendants, here today and across this Land.
We remember those who have gone before,
some whose names have been lost to our communities,
but whose being remains in the Land
and in the heart of God.

We seek a time of reconciliation and wholeness.
May we Covenant together
for the Dreaming of this future.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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11.  Great Spirit

This is the Land of the ………………………………. People.
From time before time,
they honoured the Spirit
by their care of this Sacred Land.

Deep in the earth,
flowing in the waters,
waving in the branches,
the Great Spirit has been revealed
over thousands of years,
embodied in Law
and shared in campfire story,
honoured in song and dance,
and blessed in rite and ritual.
We pause now to remember
the fragments of story known to us.

(Pause)

We pause to remember the Elders and Leaders
of the …………………….……………………………. People
and other indigenous Peoples of this Land.

(Pause)

We commit ourselves to seeking God’s face
in reconciliation and wholeness.

(c) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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12.  Remember

(for when First Peoples are no longer present in this place)

Just as the Heavens declare the glory of God,
the Earth trembles and groans in the longing for justice.

Just as mothers have wept for their stolen children,
and fathers have bent their backs to the depths,
we hear the cries of those whose voices were silenced.

We acknowledge this is …………………………………………… Land.

We offer our silence as a mark of respect,
knowing there are sacred stories now hidden from us.

We pray for a time when sacred stories will be told anew.

We pray for all those whose roots grow deep in this place.

(Silence is kept)

Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.


(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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13.  Responding to Welcome (i)

(A form of response when Second People
have been welcomed by Indigenous Elders)

Thank you for your gracious welcome to this place.
We are people from ……………………………………………………
and we pay our respects to you, our hosts.
We recognise your sovereignty in this Land
and your knowledge of Law and custom.
Help us, we ask, to learn to care for this Land,
so that it may continue to be the bearer of life.

(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler


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14.  Responding to Welcome (ii)

Our families came from …………………………………
In the stories from our homes,
hospitality is deeply honoured,
and so we honour you.
We thank your for the blessing of your welcome.
We pay our respects to the First People of this place,
especially the elders and law-keepers,
and to all First People in this Land.


(C) 2017, A.Koh-Butler

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15.  A Parramatta Acknowledgement


For over 60,000 years, the area comprising present day Parramatta has been occupied by the Burramattagal people, a clan of the Darug, who first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River. Burramattagal is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word for 'place where the eels lie down' to breed (within the Parramatta River).
The Burramattagal have a close connection with the river, from which they caught fish, eels, and other food. Their stable, bark canoes often held a central small fire, built on a mound of soil, to cook up their fresh catch. 'Fire-stick farming', employed to burn vegetation to facilitate hunting and to change the composition of plant and animal species in the area, was also practiced by the Burramattagal people.
This acknowledgement is written for use in the Parramatta area.
We are a short walk away from a great river.
It is a river that holds the stories of our heritage.
At this river, where the eels lie down to spawn,
we are thankful for the gift of life.
We remember the Darug people
who have nurtured life in this place
from beyond our records of time.

Under the shared sky, where the Seven Sisters and the Southern Cross shine down upon us,
no matter where we have come from,
we pay our respects also to the many other indigenous peoples
whose stories are entwined with this region.

As Second Peoples and descendants of Second Peoples,
we express our sorrow at the ongoing pain experienced by First Peoples
and pray that we might play our part in peacemaking and reconciling.
Time and time again, our local Elders remind us that to walk on this land,
we must tread responsibly and carefully.

We pray especially for the leadership of elders and law-keepers,
and voice our respect to all First People in this Land.
We commit ourselves to standing with those of this Land’s kin and skin.
We commit to behave as those who joint with you
in the responsibility of caring and listening
to the signs of the sacred in this land.


(C) 2019, A.Koh-Butler


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