Paul Albrecht

Mission to Town - Hermannsburg Mission under Pastor Albrecht

Pastor Paul Albrecht grew up at Hermannsburg, the son of Pastor F.W Albrecht and Minna. He was stationed at Hermannsburg at a crucial time of change as assimilationist policies gave way to policies of self-determination. He oversaw its transition from an active mission station to the heritage precinct you see today.

The son of Hermannsburg missionary Pastor F.W. Albrecht and Minna Albrecht, Paul grew up at Hermannsburg, served at nearby Haasts Bluff from 1957 to 1958, then took the reins from his father as Field Superintendent of Finke River Mission. He was superintendent of Hermannsburg from 1962-1983 and oversaw its transition through the period of Aboriginal self-determination from a mission for a township. He retired in 1998.  

In the 1960-1980s, consistent with a growing call for Aboriginal land rights and self-determination, Aboriginal people asserted their independence from the mission by establishing outstations. The eventual handing back of the mission to Aboriginal people in the 1980s was an act repeated across Australia.

In the 1970s The Finke River Mission Board saw a self-sufficient future for the Arrarnta, with the FRM recording in its minutes if the board meeting of the 30 April 1970:

"The purpose aim and function of the Finke River Mission in its spiritual ministry to the Aboriginal people shall be to work towards independent, self-supporting congregations with Aboriginal pastors and workers as part of the total church." 1

Paul Albrecht reflects back on the reappraisal of Aboriginal culture that occurred in the 1970s saying that he was in no doubt that

It was a seminal event in the history of the FRM. Before this, there were crucial aspects of the Aboriginal culture, such as Tjurrunga ownership, initiation of boys, traditional healers, which Aborigines could not freely discuss with missionaries because the mission considered these to be anti-Christian. The mission’s changed attitude to the culture, opened the way for full and non-judgemental discussions on all aspects of Aboriginal culture, and so made it possible for Aboriginal people and missionaries together to look and seek to understand what it means to be a Christian in an Aboriginal context. 2

  • Board minutes as quoted in Albrecht, P 2002 From Mission to Church, 1877-2002; Finke River Mission. p41
  • Albrecht, P 2002 From Mission to Church, 1877-2002; Finke River Mission. p 206.