AT THE start of every Kyogle Council meeting, the councillors recite a prayer.
“Almighty God, Ruler of all the Nations, we ask for your blessing upon this Meeting of Council. Give us your wisdom to work in harmony and direct and prosper all that we do to the advancement of your glory and the true welfare of the People of the Council Area. Amen.”
But in 2020, and given the diversity of residents, is it still appropriate?
Cr Janet Wilson thinks it’s time for a change.
At next week’s council meeting, she will put forward a notice of motion to update the council prayer.
If her fellow councillors agree, it would be changed to this:
“We seek guidance as we come together to make decisions in the best interest of our communities which support the development of a peaceful and just environment to enable our people to thrive and live purposeful lives”.
She said it would reflect the modern and diverse community and would “respect and support our secular democracy”.
“Council has a choice under the Act to discontinue or update the opening prayer,” Cr Wilson wrote in her rationale for the notice of motion.
“The purpose of this section of the Act is to provide for a coming together of the council body for decision making around matters set out on the agenda.
“Most councils have abandoned the practice of opening with a prayer.”
“In Western Australia, the High Court ruled the prayer as unlawful.
“To avoid having to change the Code of Meeting practice, an updating of language is proposed.
“The current language is 19th century English which is unsuitable for a secular democracy in 2021 and beyond.”
What do other Northern Rivers councils do?
● Richmond Valley: Acknowledgement of country followed by a council prayer
● Ballina Shire: National Anthem followed by acknowledgement of country
● Lismore: Acknowledgement of country and “pause for personal reflection”
● Byron Shire: Acknowledgement of country.