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AOG Freedom House Church started up at Warlpiri Camp in Alice Springs around 2000 when Pastor Bill Anderson and his wife Gloria helped some Warlpiri people start a prayer meeting group. In the beginning a few old ladies were praying and having a sing-a-long and gradually the group got bigger and eventually they started a church service at Warlpiri Camp. The multi-lingual services covered Warlpiri, Pitjantjatjarra and Luritja.
Just before Christmas in 2001 some of the families who were stopping at Warlpiri Camp moved back to Yuendumu and established the Assembly of God Freedom House Church. One of those was Pastor Robert Robertson who now parks the AOG bus on a stretch of land beside the old Yuendumu Mining Store a few nights each week and sets up a PA so the worshippers who gather around the small campfires can hear the gospel readings, the preaching and the singing of the choir.
The Baptist Church at Yuendumu was started right back in the early days of the community by missionaries Tom Fleming and his wife who came up from Adelaide. At that stage Yuendumu was little more than a ration station servicing the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Pintupi people of the Western Desert region.
The Flemings built a house and school and with the permission of the Warlpiri elders they
eventually built a large A-frame church with a beautiful stained glass window representing the coming together of Christianity and the Jukurrpa, the traditional Aboriginal belief system of the region. The church is run by yapa now, the local Aboriginal people, and every Sunday morning they gather there to sing praises and hear bible readings surrounded by traditional styled artwork depicting scenes from Christianity . Often there are kardiya, non-Aboriginal visitors, who have come to celebrate with them and they are welcomed in a traditional ceremony and given skin names that give them relationships to the yapa members of the congregation.
Salt Church started in Yuendumu after Kenneth Walker and Belinda Wayne spent time in Adelaide with Pastor Linda and Pastor Paul from the Assembly of God church. After training for 5 years and learning how to run a church they went back to Yuendumu and incorporated Yuendumu Salt Church which was named after Mathew Chapter 5 verse 13 where he says “we are the salt of the earth”. As Kenneth explains, “without flavour we are nothing but if you have God inside your heart you bring out the flavour. We are here for the community. If God can change my life then he can change the community too.” Belinda says they try to help the sick by encouraging them with prayer and she says they have a good influence of families that are having trouble or fighting by bringing peace. Salt Church worship in a yard up near the football oval behind the basketball court. With keyboards and electric guitar they pour out the upbeat sounds of Gospel blues and country songs all praising the lord.
The United Pentecostal Living Water Church was founded in 2009 and hosts regular services in the yard of the last house on the left as you head out of town towards Nyirripi. In the afternoons you’ll find Nola Wilson amongst a group of women sitting around a fireplace drinking tea, painting and shooing the camp dogs off their canvasses.
Three or four nights a week the side yard lights up with a string of incandescent bulbs that hang in the air over an electric keyboard, a small PA and a row of microphones. As a small crowd gathers around the fireplaces, Pastor Jimmie Langdon takes the microphone and begins a long night of worship. “Preach and teach” is how Pastor Langdon describes his work and before the night is over there will be many readings from the bible and the women will gather round the microphones to sing songs of praise to Wapirra, the Warlpiri word for God.