How Did Australia’s National Day of Thanks Come About?
The preamble of Australia’s constitution says;
“Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God”. And then there are the words of our national anthem, “Our land abounds in nature’s gifts of beauty rich and rare”. These words beg expression and acknowledgement in the life of our nation.
Since the turn of this century many people have expressed a desire to see our nation, on one day each year, acknowledge our Christian heritage, the blessings and freedoms we enjoy and the lordship of Jesus Christ over our nation.
It is our Christian heritage, and the values of that heritage that make our Nation a country where the persecuted, the oppressed, and the displaced can find sanctuary.
In 2003 the Australian Prayer Network, under the leadership of Brian Pickering, took these thoughts and dreams to other national prayer and ministry organisations and church leaders, and received overwhelming endorsement.
Out of these discussions, Australia’s very own National Day of Thanksgiving was birthed.
It was decided to hold the Day on the Saturday of Pentecost weekend each year, and endeavour to have the Day become an official part of our national calendar.
The Governor-General of the day, Major General Sir Michael Jeffery, embraced the idea and launched the concept at an official function at Government House Canberra on 11th February 2004.
The then Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, gave it his full support with a statement encouraging all Australians to celebrate the Day. Subsequent Governor-Generals, Prime Ministers and Opposition leaders have, each year, given their endorsement and support for our National Day.
Numerous Church leaders from many different denominations have given their full support to the Day Christian television and radio have embraced our National Thanksgiving Day, and become active promotional sponsors across Australia.
Every dream or vision needs a vision carrier, and for the National Day of Thanksgiving that vision carrier is the Australian Prayer Network.
Every vision also needs a vehicle through which the vision can be expressed, and we believe that vehicle is the Christian Church in our Nation. The Church is well equipped to carry and demonstrate the ethos of thanksgiving to God, and to our fellow man, out into the wider community.
In 2009, after many requests, the observance of our Thanksgiving Day was changed to the last Saturday in May of each year.
At the end of 2015 it was decided to change the name to National Day of Thanks to avoid confusion with America’s Thanksgiving Day and to make it more of an Aussie National Day.
It is a day for all Australians to pause as a nation and say thank you to God, and to each other for those many things we often take for granted – those things that really make our lives worth living.
Let us use this Day to be a blessing to those who have been a blessing to us during the year, and to be a blessing to those in need and those less fortunate.
How you celebrate this Day, be it in your church, your family or your community is entirely up to you.
But whatever you do, can we encourage you to make a difference this National Day of Thanks.
Australia’s National Day of Thanks is a unique opportunity for Australians to celebrate and give thanks for our God given heritage as a nation, and to demonstrate the values of honour, respect, thankfulness and gratitude towards our fellow man. It is a day for Australians to pause as a nation and say thank you to God and to each other for those many things we often take for granted, those things that really make our lives worth living. Let us use this National Day each year to be a blessing to those who have been a blessing to us.