The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Brooke Prentis

Brooke Prentis

Episode 33

Brooke Prentis Episode Description

Among other things Brooke shares:

  • The beginnings of Common Grace almost 7 years ago.
  • What does it mean to pursue Jesus and Justice?
  • How Brooke makes the distinction between having a voice into a social issue, and what might be the politics around the issue?
  • Finding a sense of identity and self.
  • Brooke’s own experiences with racism growing up and how she dealt with it.
  • How Brooke came to a saving faith in Jesus at age 21.
  • Brooke’s view on some of the historical work with Aboriginal peoples of the Australian church.
  • How young people can get more involved in work for the common good.

Brooke Prentis Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement:
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student wellbeing, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction:
Welcome to The Inspiration Project, where well known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr:
Well, hi there everybody, and welcome again to another episode of The Inspiration Project, a podcast that is bringing you conversations with significant people who have been able to find the expression of their faith in their life and integration between the two. This morning, we have the pleasure of speaking with Brooke Prentis. Brooke is CEO of a movement called Common Grace; that’s a movement of people pursuing Jesus and justice, is involved in a whole range of activities that are both grass roots and expanding into different media with a number of different initiatives. Brooke is an Aboriginal Christian leader from the Wakka Wakka people, and has written and authored books, she’s pursued theological studies and written theological papers, is a speaker in demand for different avenues and different sources of media, and is an advocate for pursuing a vision to build an Australia built on truth, justice, love and hope. Brooke, it’s lovely to welcome you.

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, it’s great to be here.

Brendan Corr:
Common Grace - tell me about what that movement is, and what a collection of people it is, and what does it actually mean to be a movement pursuing Jesus and justice?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, well, it’s super exciting to be a part of the movement and it’s an absolute privilege to get to lead this movement, which is now over 50,000 Christians engaged with the movement, obviously, pursuing Jesus and justice. And justice in four key areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice, creation and climate justice, justice for people seeking asylum and refugees, and domestic and family violence. And Common Grace is now seven years old. And when we started seven years ago, when Jesus raised up this movement, these were the key areas that the church and Australian Christians really weren’t that engaged with. And we’ve seen lots of engagements in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice area, we are led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders to pursue friendship and reconciliation in our lifetime. And to be able to amplify the voices of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders is something that’s very exciting to me and to see our leadership across the other areas as well. But to be able to gather people together with predominantly being online and then our major offline events have been change the heart, where we answer the call of Auntie Jeanne Phillips, one of Australia’s most senior Aboriginal Christian leaders to come together in prayer to change the hearts of Australia just before January 26. And so, we’re involved with national truth telling, amplifying the voices, and experiences, and stories of those who experience injustice in these lands now called Australia today. And then to call people to take action so that we can see justice and relationship as Jesus calls us to.

Brendan Corr:
That’s fantastic Brooke. So that’s a big agenda that you described, there’s quite a few significant areas of social endeavour and political interest and the way that faith touches those. You mentioned that Common Grace has been operating for seven years, where was its origins? What were its roots?

Brooke Prentis:
So it was really just a small group of Christians who came together and saw that Christians needed to have a voice. So the other key thing that Common Grace tries to bring to Australia is to be a generous and gracious Christian voice in the public conversation. So it’s not actually necessarily about politics, we come together and we navigate denominational, theological, and political differences. To come together for the common good, to find common ground and to share in common grace, and for me, that is the out flowing of Jesus, especially graciousness and generosity, and helps us to have that place as Christians.

Brendan Corr:
That’s interesting. Appreciate you making the distinction that it’s not necessarily political as a movement, even though some of those topics that you are speaking about and speaking into do have a strong political presence or priority in our society. How do you make that distinction between having a voice into an issue, a social issue, and what might be the politics around that issue?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, well, it comes back to our core biblical principles and the core of where Jesus calls us to. So for me, Jesus in life, death, and resurrection was and is passionate about justice. He’s passionate about those on the margins of society. And that’s really what we’re doing and we have to answer the call to love our neighbour as ourselves. And so, we have seen and because Common Grace has the experience of those who are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, those who are asylum seekers and refugees, those who have experienced and are experiencing domestic and family violence, and then obviously, God’s beautiful earth of which our common home which we are all called to care for, but there’s this deep custodianship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since time immemorial, but of which God’s story is part of that story as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were part of God’s story. And so, for me, it’s about responding to Jesus’ call to love our neighbour, and that means the pursuit of Jesus and justice. And so, that’s what we’re doing. Obviously, that has an outworking - we need to call our leaders, I don’t call them politicians, they’re parliamentarians. Every single parliamentarian is an individual and Jesus cuts across the political divide, and so this is actually about responding to Jesus’ call to love our neighbour, and that should go across political lines. As I always say, there is no left and right in Jesus, there’s just Jesus. People are experiencing injustice, and so, we do a lot of educating and resourcing about that injustice so that people actually understand how we can act for the common good, because the common good isn’t just the elite of society and those that have privilege, and education, and all of these things; it actually should be for all of us. And for me, that’s the view of Jesus that he sees each of us as His precious children and each of us to have life and life to its fullest. And so, that’s what we’re pursuing.

Brendan Corr:
That’s great. I want to come back and ask you a bit about that idea of call to action or giving people a voice, how grassroots individuals can get involved in that space. But clearly, in our conversation already, the identification that you have as a Wakka Wakka woman is prominent. Do you want to talk to us a little bit about what that means for you and how that bears influence on your sense of self and your identity?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, I would love to. So, as Aboriginal peoples, we come from over 300 nations. And so my nation is Wakka Wakka Nation, that’s my grandmother’s country, and my Aboriginality comes through my maternal side. So my mum, back to my mum’s mum, my Nan, back to my Nan’s Mum, my great grandmother, and then all the generations before we’re from Wakka Wakka country, which is around southeast Queensland. But ‘country’ is important to our identity as Aboriginal peoples and you’ll hear me even use the plural term peoples because I’m actually making that distinction that we are all different peoples over 300 nations. And so, when you’re really in relationship with us to understand what our nation is and that’s how we identify, so as a Wakka Wakka woman. But it’s a little bit different to a Western system of how you might think about where you’re from. So, I’ve never lived on Wakka Wakka country. For us as Aboriginal peoples, where we’re born, where we grow up and where we live are all different parts of our story. And so, I was actually born up in far North Queensland, on the land of the Yidinji people’s, I moved with my mum and my sister to Redcliffe just north of Brisbane, which is Gubbi Gubbi country, and when I was five, lived most of my life on Gubbi Gubbi country, as well as Turrbal and Jagera country, the nations around Brisbane or the Aboriginal word for Brisbane is Mianjin. So I’m hoping people are tuning into these different ways to understand the ancient story. And I now actually live on Wangal country, which is one of the 29 clans of the Eora nation in the place now called Sydney. So I’ve been here for the last two years. And so, it was beautiful with NAIDOC Week 2021, which we’ve just had, where the theme was ‘heal country’. And people might have seen on Channel 10 News they had the weather map with all of the Aboriginal names of the capital cities and a couple of regional centres. And so, Australia is really embracing us, we are the world’s oldest living continuing cultures. And as I said before, God has always been part of our story and we’ve always been part of God’s story. One of the things I often teach people is that when you understand the true history of these lands now called Australia, it is a miracle that Aboriginal peoples survived. In the early 1900s, so that is my great grandmother’s lifetime, our population levels across Australia dropped to a mere 90,000 people. And today, we’re at about 700,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, that’s still not at the levels pre-colonisation, pre 1788, where it’s estimated over a million Aboriginal peoples. And so, it is a miracle that we survived. For me, that is no one else’s miracle but God’s miracle, we’re still here for a reason. And for me, that’s to bring out some of the beautiful aspects of our cultures, which our cultures are based on hospitality and generosity, it’s based on knowing who the Creator is, how to care for creation, and how to live in right relationship. And that’s why after 250 years of injustice, which still has it’s out workings today in Australia, that’s Aboriginal peoples and particularly, one of my key messages as an Aboriginal Christian leader is we extend our hand in Aboriginal friendship, and that is a beautiful miracle. It’s a beautiful act of grace, and generosity, and relationship that we still seek this deep relationship today, even through much injustice, and in pain, we want to do that together. And so, I’m seeing this nation of Australia change and really starting to love Aboriginal peoples. And so I’m excited for the future and especially the role our younger generations will play in perhaps building that Australia I’ve always dreamed of, one built on truth, and justice, and love, and hope, for all peoples.

Brendan Corr:
That’s fantastic. There’s so many things that I want to ask you after hearing some of that story. And some of that’s really practical, and basic, and maybe coming from a point of ignorance from my perspective, and some of it is really profound and big picture stuff. So I’m going to do my best to try and corral those thoughts and channel them into something that might make a bit of sense. I was really pleased to hear your summary that as a young Aboriginal person, you feel not that hope is off there in the distance, but that you’re experiencing something of hopefulness in the way reconciliation is taking effect, in the way that acceptance and understanding is being manifested. Is that part of your experience as a young Aboriginal person?

Brooke Prentis:
Absolutely. I mean, I do see individuals’ hearts and minds, there’s still changing to be in relationship with us, there is still a lot of racism, and that includes racism in the Australian church, and it hurts. And part of me as a Christian doesn’t understand it, especially when it comes from other Christians, because where is love in that when racism, and judgement, myths and stereotypes are still projected on us as Aboriginal peoples today? And so whilst I do have hope for the future and I have seen people come on the journey and stay on the journey, we still have a long way to go. I often tell the story of me as a 17 year old, and I’ve got this beautiful picture of me at my year 12 awards night, of 17 year old Brooke Prentis, and I tell people that I actually dedicated my life to the pursuit of reconciliation as a 17 year old. That was in 1997, we’re now in 2021, and so, 24 years later, and we still haven’t achieved reconciliation. And I thought it was very achievable, I thought we would achieve it by the year 2000. And what it meant to achieve it was that we would have a treaty as Aboriginal peoples, that there would be true equality, because I knew as a 17 year old Aboriginal girl that I was not equal in this country called Australia, and that there would be an end to racism. And for me, I didn’t become a Christian until I was 21 years old, so it was after I’d made that dedication of my life to the pursuit of these things. Yes, when I became a Christian at 21, God obviously deepened that story and how love, and Jesus’ love, and relationship is intertwined with those activities. But this is where I think Common Grace brings together the faith but also the action, because some of these things are achievable in our humanness, and that’s where we do need to be in conversation with our parliamentarians who make policies. Often that doesn’t affect a non-indigenous person’s life, but it affects Aboriginal people’s lives each and every day. And one of those key areas is the lack of action of the implementation of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. And that’s a key area that Common Grace advocates for change in and that report was released in 1991, I was 11 years old and we still haven’t implemented those recommendations. Now I’m 41, 30 years later. And so, yes, we try to bring people on that journey. And our reality today as Aboriginal peoples is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are only 3% of the Australian population. We once were 100% of the Australian population. And so, how do we build that friendship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and non-indigenous peoples of all cultures and across all generations to actually see that justice, that love and life in its fullness lived out for all of us?

Brendan Corr:
Brooke, you’ve talked a bit about some of the journeying that you’ve done, born in Far North Queensland, moved into Brisbane area, now living in Sydney, you spoke about the fact that as a 17 year old ending High School you were conscious of what it meant to be an Aboriginal young person and the sense of disconnect possibly with the dominant culture around you. In those 17 years, having grown up in the spaces that you did, far North Queensland, Brisbane, what was it that spoke or gave you a sense of history, a sense of association with your Aboriginal heritage? How was that infused into your being?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, so from the stories of my Nan. I was very close with my Nan, so she passed down our stories as Wakka Wakka peoples to me and my sister, and as well as the stories of great injustice and great pain. My mum was born in 1955 and this is where the history is actually a living history. Aboriginal peoples aren’t fully recognised as citizens when the referendum that actually counted us as people in the census is 1967. So my mum was born in 1955 and this is where people need to realise how it’s still a living history, these are still things that affect our parents and grandparents, of people like my age. We experienced as Aboriginal peoples’ injustice at such a young age, which is often our first experiences in the school yard, and it’s often racist Aboriginal jokes that are told to us. And so, I very clearly remember …

Brendan Corr:
That was your experience?

Brooke Prentis:
Absolutely. So going home to mum, and sitting down with her, and saying what the kids had said to me, and asking her why they had said it to me, and her having to explain that. And then her remembering her stories with her Nan, they went into a shop, and it’s been in the later years that mum actually talked about this story, as I go around and do my seminars, and connect with peoples, and try and build that relationship, mum has come to a few of those and at one of them she told the story of when she was a little girl, seven years old, going into a shop in Queensland with her Nan and the shopkeeper kicking them out and saying, “We don’t serve Aboriginal peoples.” That’s haunted my mum her whole life as to how her Nan was treated but to know that we’re treated differently. And so, this is still happening today. A key story I can tell, so I’m actually a Chartered Accountant by profession, one of only about 30 Indigenous Chartered Accountants in all of Australia. And a few years ago, in one of my senior finance roles, someone said to me, “Brooke, I’m surprised you’re an accountant.” And I said, “Why is that?” And they said, “Aboriginal people aren’t good at maths.” And so, this is the Australia we’re still living in. And so my hope is that Christians, especially, can engage with our story and to love us first instead of judging.

Brendan Corr:
You mentioned you came to a saving faith at the age of 21. Tell us about what happened to introduce you to Jesus and His love, and change some of your understanding about what life was about?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, so I’m very proud of my schooling. I’m alumni of Scarborough State School up there on Gubbi Gubbi country, and Redcliffe State High School, also on Gubbi Gubbi country, and very grateful for my mum who she knew the way out of poverty for us was through education and relationship, and invested everything she had into my sister and I having those education opportunities and building relationships. And so my teachers were a very important part of that journey. But in my year 12, we were a very low socioeconomic area and a lot of challenges for all of the kids that went to high school. Being ‘the smart Aboriginal kid’ wasn’t an easy journey in a public school in Queensland, in the 90s, but it built great character. And my year 12, we started the year with 86 students, we finished the year with 54 students. And then out of those 54 students that graduated year 12, only five of us went on to university, and so I was one of those five. Went on to the University of Queensland, found out only two years ago that I’m actually the very first Aboriginal person to graduate from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts. That story of education and now how I try to educate others and help others navigate different systems and pathways. And so, our stories are very important. And why have I told you all that background information? Well, on my very first day of university, I met this girl, Natalie, who is one of my best friends still today. I had no idea what her background was. It was the Easter of our first year of university, and we will talk about what we were doing for Easter and she said she was a Christian. And I wanted to run a million miles away and I’m like, “No, I’ve got this really great, new best friend, and she seems to be a Christian, what am I going to do?” Because I didn’t see Christians involved in justice. And so, I didn’t understand what that was all about. I’ve since realised that justice is a key part of Jesus’ story and what the Bible calls us to, and it should be part of our Christian life. And have many great Christian inspirations in my life of the past and present today. And so, for me, when I started to learn about who Jesus was, I’m like, that’s how Aboriginal people do things. And so, for me, the two went exactly together. What I found though in the church was that people weren’t interested in my Aboriginality, I wasn’t finding other Aboriginal Christians, and so I’m like, what has happened here? Why isn’t that happening? And it was 10 years after being a Christian, so actually, in 2012, I left a quite significant accounting career and went to become an Aboriginal pastor. And then that’s when I met Auntie Jane Phillips, who is one of our most senior Aboriginal Christian leaders, at an event that she had brought together called the Grasstree Gathering. And 65 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders from all across Australia, and all different denominations came together. And I went, hang on, why can’t I see all of these incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders in the Australian church? And so I went to find them, and to gather them, and to keep gathering us together and to amplify our voices. And Common Grace today is one of the best places people can go to learn about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders and to tune in to our understanding. It’s only been in the last few years that deep theological work has started to be undertaken. So I now have my graduate diploma in theology. There has been a lot of racism in theological colleges, and as uncle Jack Charles, who is an amazing Aboriginal actor said, “Aboriginal people suffer a peculiar type of racism, and if you don’t know that, I don’t know why you don’t know that.” And I’ve definitely seen the outworkings of that. And so, we’ve done a lot of work with the theological colleges and have an organisation called NAIITS, N-A-I-I-T-S, and I’m one of their first students, and it’s focused on theology studies at the Master’s and PhD level, and particularly as led by indigenous peoples all around the world. And it’s a privilege to have been part of NAIITS and bringing that to Australia, and then being able to build a relationship with the theological colleges that show our leadership and show our theology that is relevant for all Christians. Aboriginal people didn’t just materialise, and this is where I said earlier about we’ve always been part of God’s story, God placed us here as Aboriginal peoples, God appointed our boundaries. And so, the other key thing is to realise that according to the last Census, 54%, of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples identified as Christian; the non-indigenous population was 55%, but you’re not necessarily seeing us in the churches, but we actually are Christian. And you won’t find one Aboriginal person, Christian or non-Christian, who doesn’t believe in the Creator. And for those of us who are Christian, that is exactly the same creator that is in Genesis 1 and right throughout the Bible.

Brendan Corr:
What’s your view of some of the historical work of the church, things like mission and that part of history which is often quite provocative or appears to be provocative for Aboriginal peoples?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, and this is where truth telling becomes very important. The truth does set us free. And that means we have to embrace the whole truth. And that does mean embracing the truth, both the bad and some of the most horrific things carried out by the church and missions in Australia for Aboriginal peoples, as well as what some of the good might have been. So some of those good stories are around, I think about the Kaurna language of Adelaide, it was the Lutheran missionaries that documented that, that means that language is now a living language today, and there’s been a lot of restoration work. It means the missions were a place of safety for Aboriginal peoples, which is part of the reason we have survived. You went to the mission to avoid being killed and massacred. But on the flip side of that is that Christians, people who identified as Christians, did do the massacring of Aboriginal peoples as well. And so we have to hold both sides of that story, that is our story. As Auntie Jean Phillips says, “Our history is your history, your history is our history. For the last 250 years, that’s been a shared history.” And so we can’t just focus on the good and not look at the bad, but often Aboriginal peoples’ stories haven’t been told, and that includes deep pain and injustice, but that still carries on today.

Brendan Corr:
Yes, I’ve just been listening actually to the Saints and Bullies, John Dickson’s new book, and the chapter I’ve finished was about the Crusades. And the same issue, what might have been motive turned into some terrible practise and the joint issues of what was true to the calls of faith and what was contrary to those things. Part of the same story I think I hear you saying?

Brooke Prentis:
I think so. I think it’s though this is where you have to journey with Aboriginal peoples and actually look at it from our perspective. Yes, people might have thought they were doing the right thing, but there were a lot that knew it was definitely the wrong thing. And you only have to read parliamentary records and missionaries’ journals to know that a lot of them knew that these things were wrong. I go back to the original sources of journals and so forth to actually read what was written, not what’s been interpreted through history books and so forth. And when Cook comes ashore at Cornell here in Sydney, on first seeing Aboriginal peoples, the Gweagal peoples, and he calls them men, women and children. And so he saw us as peoples, but our humanity was denied for centuries and we’re still trying to claim that dignity in our humanity today. And so, that’s where the truth definitely needs to be told and to own that, yes, there were policies that were racist and based on our genocide and extermination. And when I tell the truth, this is where the truth will set us free, it’s not to bring condemnation, or guilt, or these sorts of things, it’s just to state the facts. And that is what will set us free and lead us to relationship, because there is this shared story. But until we have that shared understanding of our history, it is difficult to walk into a shared future together. But that is our deep hope and prayer.

Brooke Prentis:
If I could share one more story.

Brendan Corr:
You certainly can.

Brooke Prentis:
That would be, I often get asked, particularly, when I go into schools and by students, usually year 11 students, how with the understanding of the true history, how can I still be a Christian? And one of the things for that is Jesus has changed my life and I cling tightly to Jesus in my walk through all of the injustice today, as well as to see that love, and hope, and truth, and justice. But those incredible Aboriginal Christian leaders that have gone before us, the likes of Auntie Jean Phillips, of Uncle Reverend Graham Paulson, who’ve particularly impacted my life and mentors for me, that they grew up on the mission, and they experienced the worst of the mission experience. And they still faithfully follow Jesus through that, that is a great inspiration to us as younger Aboriginal Christian leaders. And that’s why our elders are so important for us, especially as Aboriginal peoples, our elders in our culture, but I think for all young people to look up to all those who are older than us as holders of great wisdom, and need to be respected, and cared for, and listened to. And so I hope they find those elders, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, in their lives to learn from.

Brendan Corr:
This is maybe a little bit off from the cause, but I wonder whether I could ask you, we are very conscious that Christendom, a Christian society has come and gone in some ways and that the Western world is moving into a less respectful space in terms of Christianity particularly, but of organised formal religion more generally. The possibility that Christianity won’t become the source of power or the ideology that is adopted by those in power, do you think the experiences of Aboriginal Christians of recent centuries and the challenges, and the injustice, and the hardships, and the need to cling to faith, and the character of faith of Jesus may have something to tell Christians in the future as they maybe get pushed aside from being in positions of power and dominance and influence?

Brooke Prentis:
Absolutely. And I think that’s when you look at things like the Grasstree Gathering, like Common Grace, God has raised us up as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders, and keeps bringing us together. For non-indigenous Christians to tune into that and to come and be a part of that, I think that is what we’re being called to as a nation, what Jesus has been calling us to. Jesus has seen all of us for 250 years, he has wept with both and all our peoples, and weeps today for the lack of relationship. And so, that faithful witness to follow Jesus through pain and injustice, because that’s all that we have left as Aboriginal peoples. When you’ve got stolen land, and stolen wages, and stolen generations, and what I call our injustices today is stolen lives, you don’t have much, but we still have Jesus. And so, I think that is a core message to tune in and to tune into being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leaders.

Brendan Corr:
Yes, that’s good. It’s good. Brooke, time is getting to a point where we need to direct conversation to a close, but I’ve just so appreciated you speaking so openly and from your heart, and sharing perspective as you have. I was just thinking about it, you made the comment that you’ve found just recently you were the first Aboriginal person to graduate with those dual honours from university. I guess when I heard you share that news there was the thought from my mind that it probably carries a great sense of personal pride, rightly, but also, maybe a little bit of pain that there had to be a first and that the first had to be marked in that way. You want to just maybe reflect on that a little?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, so I mean, there’ve been a lot of firsts and onlys in my lifetime. And even as CEO of Common Grace today, this is the first time we believe that an Aboriginal Christian has been a CEO or leader of a national Christian organisation in Australia that isn’t a indigenous specific organisation. And so, it took our country till the year 2020 for that to happen. And so, yes, that’s an amazing achievement, but there is still that part of that little pang of, why did it take until 2020 for an Aboriginal person to be a leader or a CEO of a national Christian organisation? And so my hope is that it doesn’t overwhelm people but holds that truth telling, I guess, the pain, and the love, and the hope. And so, I know that it then creates the way for others to come through behind me and beside me, and that we will see things change and embrace our leadership. And so, I guess my hope and prayer is that people will find the ways to walk alongside us but bring us into the systems and organisations, or come to places like Common Grace to learn from us and to walk alongside us who are already being Aboriginal led to see how we can do this together.

Brendan Corr:
Yes, that’s good. You’ve had a constant theme through the conversation that you’ve had about the common good, finding the common good. And it reminds me not just of the encouragement for the Church of God to be integrated in itself and to everyone look after one another, the body of Christ, but of the encouragement in Jeremiah of seeking the welfare of the city in which you’ve been placed, the general good of society, not just those that are part of the household of faith. From your perspective, what would it look like for the future generations for the next five, 10, 15, 20 years, for that journey to continue? What would be some of the markers that you’d be hopeful to see?

Brooke Prentis:
An end to poverty, a love for our neighbour. And I think you would see that spilling out through individuals, families, within houses, through schools, through churches, across communities, and then to the nation. And it actually means a deep togetherness. It’s not a sameness. For me, unity can’t happen without diversity. Unity is not sameness. And unfortunately, the common good often looks like sameness and that’s not what it’s about. And so, it’s really seeing all of our cultures coming together and sharing, and celebrating, and lamenting together.

Brendan Corr:
How might the young people who could be listening to this podcast get involved in some of the work that you or others are doing for the common good?

Brooke Prentis:
Yes, so it’s really easy. We mainly are online movements and then have offline events as well. And so to sign up on Common Grace’s website, commongrace.org.au. We are on all the social media channels, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and so our social media tag is @commongraceaus. There’s so many things to tune in and to participate in, and calls to action through both the website and signing up and being on our email list as well as through social media, as well as getting in contact with us if people might want to volunteer, that’s a great pathway too. And as Common Grace, we actually have a Schools Partnership Programme as well, and so if people are interested in our schools partnership programme, they can get in touch with us through the website. And we have an incredible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christian leader and trained teacher, Safina Stewart, Wuthathi woman and Mabuiag Island woman who’s our national schools partnership coordinator. And so, yes, we produce things for NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week. And so there’s plenty of ways to plug in and get involved and be part of a movement pursuing Jesus and justice.

Brendan Corr:
It’s fantastic to hear some of that. I do encourage anyone who might be listening to follow up on those points of connection. And if you’re not part of one of our ACC schools, to maybe speak to the leaders in your community about how they might be able to reach out and put you in touch with some of those resources. Brooke, you began our conversation by noting that the Christian faith and Jesus’ work is intended to bring life, and that we would have life in its full. And it’s been really exciting to hear how you are continuing to find ways to be part of that ministry of Jesus, to bring the fullness and flourishing of life into every part of our shared life together as well as our individual lives. Please be assured of our prayers and our support as He continues to open doors for you to work in your ministry and to gather people that will allow you to minister in the ways that He wants you to in Common Grace in the work of Australia. Brooke Prentis, thank you.

Brooke Prentis:
Thank you so much. Thank you for being part of my call, to listen, to learn, and to love. And I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation today. Thank you.

Brooke Prentis

About Brooke Prentis

Brooke Prentis is an Aboriginal Christian Leader from the Wakka Wakka peoples. Brooke became the CEO of Common Grace in February 2020. Previously Brooke had been volunteering as the Aboriginal spokesperson for Common Grace and is the Coordinator of the Grasstree Gathering. Brooke works ecumenically speaking on issues of justice affecting Australia and sharing a message of reconciliation as friendship. Brooke has co-written and written a number of theological papers over the last two years that have been presented both nationally and internationally. Brooke is a founding board member of NAIITS Australia and is currently studying a Masters of Theology, as well as being a scholar of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. Brooke is a much sought after speaker and writer who has a vision 'to build an Australia built on truth, justice, love and hope'.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).