Restoring the Sacred Circle with Indigenous People: Acts of Repentance
Honoring the direction of our United Methodist General Conference, we begin today to enter into Acts of Repentance for the role the church played in devastating American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Today we begin to act toward repentance and healing, for we have offered words of apology for decades.
– Bishop Grant Hagiya, June 2015, PNW Annual Conference
The Opening Worship of the 2015 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference marked the beginning of a new relationship to our Methodist history as it intersects with indigenous people on the American continent. The history is difficult. It,
- Confronts our beliefs about our Methodist ancestors;
- Calls us to an understanding that history is not simply past, but has lasting effects today;
- Compels us to question our own prejudices and privileges; and,
- Prompts us to right action – to restoring the sacred circle.
Faith communities in the Pacific Northwest have a long history of apologies to American Indian and Alaska Native people. 2017 will mark 30 years since the first ecumenical apology was offered for the role of the church in devastation of Native communities. [LINK] However, after 30 years, our churches have little relationship with the tribal peoples around them.
The Acts of Repentance that began at the 2015 annual conference was just that, a beginning. We invite you to consider moving beyond apologies through further study, discernment and prayer. We encourage you to consider how those relationships might be different with God’s help – for the church that oppressed and forgot its history, and for the tribal people who were oppressed and live the effects today.
Three Acts of Repentance were offered in 2015 (you can watch them here) – Understanding Privilege; Offering Respect; Advocacy. Click below to find the statements and accompanying study guides. And only after study and discernment, consider what it might mean to be in appropriate relationship with American Indians and Alaska Natives in your area. Let us know of your learnings as you walk this path.
Thank you in advance for cradling this history gently, learning to understand it from multiple perspectives, and acting toward more complete and holy relationships.
Peace and blessings as you do this work.
Director of Leadership Development for an Inclusive Church