Indigenous worker for BCA

Nick Gilbert
Read Indigenous worker for BCA

The Rev Neville Naden has recently taken on a new role at Bush Church Aid, now serving full-time as an indigenous ministry officer.

The role sees Mr Naden and his wife Kathie (right), who had previously served as BCA workers with the Living Desert Indigenous Church in Broken Hill, taking a more wide-ranging brief to train and support regional indigenous ministries.

“BCA does a lot of work with indigenous people already in rural areas and remote communities,” Mr Naden says. ”I think the idea behind this new role was really to have someone that could, in particular, walk alongside their field staff and support them in their work.

“I’m not an expert in any shape or form, but if we can help BCA field staff to contextualise their ministry in indigenous communities and encourage Aboriginal people on the ground to better understand their faith, then that’s what we want to do.”

The new position, which will commence in March, will see the Nadens head to Dubbo as a base of operations, but will likely see Mr Naden involved in a number of different areas as the need arises.

One important aspect of the new role will be identifying gaps in theological training among indigenous leaders in rural areas and finding ways to address this. Mr Naden says Nungalinya and Wontulp-Bi-Buya colleges are available in the north of Australia, but there are not as many options for indigenous training further south, outside of the big centres.

“Our people learn best living in community amongst themselves,” he says. 

“I studied at Moore College but I think the best time of learning for me was at Bimbadeen College [operated by the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship near Cootamundra], because we not only received information but also thought together and struggled together. One of our hopes is perhaps to explore getting that up and running again as a residential college in the future, but we’ll see what happens.”

Mr Naden’s new position will not affect his other role as the chairman of the Aboriginal Evangelical Fellowship, which he has held for five years.

“The idea of the AEF is to bring Aboriginal people together across denominations for fellowship while still remaining in their own denominations,” he says. “Mark [Short, the national director] has been keen for me to keep working with AEF while I’m working with BCA and help grow Aboriginal leadership through that.”