6 July, 2021
Torres Strait celebrates 150th year of Coming of the Light
They sang, they danced, they prayed – the Torres Strait’s islands came to life last Thursday for the 150th anniversary of the Coming of the Light.
While celebrations were staged across the Far North, there was no bigger event than the gathering at Erub (Darnley) Island where a moving ceremony was held in front of locals and dignitaries.
Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch was there to join the celebrations and praised the Erub community and Anglican Church for putting on a great show.
“It was absolutely fantastic. One of the best things I have been to in all my years as a politician,” he said.
“Credit to Bishop Joseph and his team because I thought it was excellent and it was a day that most people will remember for many years to come.”
Celebrations were also staged on Thursday Island and throughout Zendath Kes, while there were also festivities and services in both Cairns and Townsville.
A major event planned to be held in Brisbane’s CBD had to be postponed due to the lockdown.
The Coming of the Light is celebrated on July 1 throughout the Torres Strait and is one of the most important days on the calendars for local Christians.
In the 19th Century, the London Missionary Society set out to convert people of the south-west Pacific to Christianity.
In July 1871, the Reverend Samuel MacFarlane, a member of the Society, anchored at Erub Island accompanied by South Sea Islander evangelists and teachers.
Their ship The Surprise anchored off Kemus Beach and lowered its boat for MacFarlane and the others to go ashore.
A warrior clan Elder named Dabad was watching from a nearby hill on Erub and made his way down to the beach with his men.
MacFarlane waded ashore and dropped to his knees before the Erubians.
“Never did men feel more than we did then their absolute dependence on Divine Help,” he wrote.
MacFarlane had a Bible in his hands and thrust it towards Dabad, who stayed his spear, defying tribal law, and accepted the book.
The arrival of Christianity in the Torres Strait is credited with bringing peace and stability to the region in what was a tough time.