This morning as I drove toward the office from Lower Shiminicas, I found myself trying to imagine the land as it was experienced by Indigenous Peoples before the Settlers arrived – not an easy tasks as farms dot the landscape and the hills and valleys are sliced and diced with ribbons asphalt.
As I drove along the shore and bore witness to the turning of the seasons, water fowl on the ponds, bull rushes turning brown and the corn stalks heavy with ears, my mind was a million miles away – until I saw the rump of a moose disappear into the woods.
All this pondering was occasioned as a result of the task before me, to create a suitable community gathering on Sunday September 26th that we might prepare for the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, an opportunity to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families and communities.
For more than thirty years, the United Church and Indigenous peoples have been on a journey towards mutuality, respect and equity. Towards reconciliation. Towards justice. We now stand at a crucial time in the life of the church, and the history of Canada, when we can see the journey through.
Between 1925 and 1969, The United Church of Canada operated a total of 15 schools within the Indian Residential Schools system as part of the federal government’s policy of assimilating Indigenous peoples. [A history of these United Church schools can found at: http://www.thechildrenremembered.ca
Students in those schools suffered physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural abuse, for which they sued the government and churches. This resulted in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which included the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Its Final Report and Calls to Action make clear that there is still a very long journey ahead of us as we seek reconciliation, and that the path towards justice.
In receiving the final Calls to Action from the Commission, and through resolutions at General Council 42, the United Church of Canada committed itself to an agenda for reconciliation and justice.
For more information about how the UCC is responding you can visit this page. You can also watch this video resource, “Apology to Action: Reflections on the 35th Anniversary“.
I hope you will join in community, in-person or via Facebook Live, on Sunday September 26th as we take another step on the long and winding road toward reconciliation. If you are able, join me in wearing orange as a sign of standing in solidarity with the victims and survivors of residential schools. You can read of the origins or Orange Shirt Day here.
I was in the office for two early meetings this morning after which I returned home for another Zoom meeting. This evening, in my role of Pastoral Charge Supervisor I will be present with the Council of Trinity St. Stephen United Church as they meet for their first Council Meeting following the departure of the Rev. Natasha Pearen.
Tuesday will begin with the Lectionary Study Group at 10:30AM followed by pastoral visits for the rest of the day.
Wednesday afternoon at 1PM the Worship and Sanctuary Committee will meet and at 6:30PM the Executive of Sackville United Church will meet for their first business meeting of the fall.
Thursday morning and early afternoon will be devoted to preparation for the liturgy and reflection for Sunday and at 4PM I will gather with Mary Moores and her children and some of Lloyd’s extended family and we will celebrate the gift that was Lloyd’s life among us. Lloyd was most recently a resident at the Drew Nursing Home and died on August 2nd.
Friday and Saturday will be a partial days off – at 7PM on Friday I will gather with the Madison Barczyk and Francois Toussaint in Murray Corner for their Wedding Rehearsal, preparing for the celebration of love that will take place on Saturday at 3PM.
And, as above, on Sunday September 26th at 11AM we will gather in community (in-person and via Facebook Live) to reflect on the journey toward truth and reconciliation as we prepare our hearts and minds for the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th, 2021.