A moving tribute to the late Rev Garlett AM was giving during the presentation of the WA Regional Committee of the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) report and the Covenanting Commission report at the 44th Annual Meeting of the Synod of WA, on Saturday 12 September.
Rev Steve Francis, Ex-Moderator of the Uniting Church WA, said Rev Garlett was joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.
“There are many wonderful things we could say about Rev Garlett,” Steve said. “He was joyful in hope; he was a person who lived a breathed hope. Hope for justice, hope for reconciliation, hope for the spreading of the gospel.
“If he were here today he’d be challenging us to be ambassadors of that hope.
“He was patient in affliction. He experienced incredible affliction. He experienced many times in his life the ugliness of racism. He knew the trauma of being part of the Stolen Generations.
“He knew the suffering of his people first-hand. He felt deeply the pain of deaths in custody. He felt deeply the pain of his culture disrespected. But he never gave up; he was patient in affliction.
“He knew that the kingdom of God would come and that his calling was to be involved in change and reform.
“He was faithful in prayer. To watch Rev Garlett preach was an absolute delight. It was a challenge, it was confronting but there was a beauty in in what he would say. And it came out of his deep spirituality; it came out of a life of prayer.
“He was a wise leader, a gentle healer, a courageous evangelist. We thank God for his wonderful life.”
Rev Merve Anderson, member of the Covenanting Committee, said Rev Garlett has left a great legacy.
“Since Sealin’s passing, 16 members of his family have been baptised. He sowed a seed,” Merve said.
“I found him prophetic, awesome in his wisdom, sometimes quite hilarious. And his stories, his preaching was awesome. It was punctuated by his deep laugh; we had a lot of laughs.
“Sealin never pretended to be anybody other than his true self.
“I have a legacy, the UAICC has a legacy. The Uniting Church in WA has a legacy and the Uniting Church in Australia has a legacy of Godly wisdom, love and truth to hold onto – which Sealin has left us. The First People have a legacy.”
Cheryl Lawson, Rev Garlett’s daughter and member of the Covenanting Committee, read out a note she received which shared the extent of Rev Garlett’s impact in the wider community.
“His work has now become a symbol of what one can achieve,” she said.
“We were blessed to have in our dearly loved Uncle and Rev the countless and tireless years in the hard work he played. He will forever imprint the impression he made on each and everyone one of us.
“His work and love for our people will never be forgotten.”
The lives of Bruce and Patricia Jetta were also honoured, and members stood in minutes silence to remember them and their service.
Two proposals put forward by the Covenanting Committee passed by consensus:
The Uniting Church WA will call on State and Federal Governments to protect ancient Aboriginal heritage sites by reforming Aboriginal Heritage Acts, in close consultation with Traditional Owners; and will call for Traditional Owners and knowledge holders to retain access and control over Aboriginal Heritage sites. Read more.
The Uniting Church WA will also call on the State and Federal Governments to fund and support Aboriginal organisations to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in Government care; and for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 14 years in Western Australia. Read more.