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Pukatja Church Restoration

By Hannah Harper

Paul Eckert & Rev Peter Nyaningu;

The church in Pukatja (Ernabella) had at least two causes for celebration on Palm Sunday weekend. As Anangu women sang a Pitjantjatjara ‘Hosanna’ song, the church bell in the newly restored building rang out the beginning of a dedication service.

People from around the regions and around Australia joined Pitjantjatjara Christians to commemorate the long history of church and mission in Pukatja and surrounding Anangu lands.  For some, including myself, this was a first visit. For others, this was a return visit to very familiar people and places. 

Paul Eckert and his family lived and worked in Pukatja for many years. They are now based in Adelaide, where Paul continues full-time work with the Bible Society, assisting Scripture projects around Australia. For several weeks in the year, he is employed by the Uniting Church as a language specialist working with the Aṉanguku Area Ministry Council in Pitjantjatjara Biblical teaching and resourcing for Christian leaders and congregations. He works closely with NRCC’s Support Worker in the Centre, Peter Greenwood. Paul continues to liaise with Pitjantjatjara Scripture workers in Old Testament translation. Paul’s skill as an interpreter was evident to all who heard President Alistair Macrae’s Bible Studies in the week leading up to Palm Sunday. 

Palm Sunday in PukatjaIn his Sunday message, President Macrae urged local Christians to consider the 19 boundary stones of the renovated church property, and to find a Scripture reference to ‘rock’ for each.  These could serve as daily reminders to God’s faithfulness, in the heart of this community.