The Project


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Open air church ready for start of Sunday morning services

Yuendumu is community of around 800 people situated about 300 km northwest of Alice Springs on the Tanami Track. The population is mostly Warlpiri and it is home to a thriving community of artists. Established in 1946 as a government rations depot, it wasn’t long before a Baptist Mission was set up and later, the Little Sisters of Jesus, a Catholic order, arrived. Both have become an enduring part of the community.

In Yuendumu these days, as in other remote Aboriginal communities, the Pentecostal movement has become a strong presence with a vibrant array of individual churches operating all over the community. Worshipping in open-air cathedrals throughout the week, with the night sky above their heads and campfires at their feet, the air is filled with the voices of Aboriginal preachers and gospel music pushing songs of praise up into the heavens in the languages of the Central and Western desert.

On Sundays the Baptist congregation gathers at the A-Framed Church in the centre of town to celebrate a more traditional Christian service beneath a beautiful stained glass window that portrays a strong link between the Christian faith and the Jukurpa, the traditional beliefs of the Aboriginal people of central Australia.

Faith Walk outdoor church service

In a place that is renown for its beautiful artworks and the strong traditional culture of its people, the Pentecostal movement is an aspect of community life that is little known outside of the communities and is a much talked about phenomenon throughout the desert region.

In June 2010 PAW Media began a project to document the Yuendumu churches  and record the gospel choirs. This website provides access to the sermons, music and interviews that were recorded for a series of radio programs that celebrate the people who make up the churches of Yuendumu and the joyous expression they bring to the community.

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