UMC Acts of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

I. Preparing the path to repentance

SuzanneDuchesne&BookActs of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples

By the Rev. Suzanne Wenonah Duchesne

It has been on the minds of some United Methodists as we approach the end of this quadrennium whether or not we are truly repenting as a church for historical abuses against Native Americans and other indigenous peoples Continue Reading

II. Giving Our Hearts Away – Lenten Study Resources

Sherry Wack and MapSherry Wack, a member of the Eastern PA Conference Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM), leads a 4-week Lenten study on Native American history, culture, faith and social concerns at her church, Evansburg UMC. She uses as a primary resource the Rev. Thom White Wolf Fassett’s popular, ground-breaking book Giving Our Hearts Away, published in 2008 for a United Methodist Women Mission Study course on Native Americans.

III. The Act of Repentance – Why Me?

By Sherry Wack

In 2012 the worldwide United Methodist church initiated an act of repentance. The Council of Bishops issued a Statement of Repentance, the first paragraph of which reads:

As the Council of Bishops, we are here to repent and express remorse for the church’s past conduct in its relationships with Native and indigenous peoples in all the places where we have extended the mission of the church for over two hundred years. We are here to commit ourselves to addressing the wrong and asking for the forgiveness of those who have been wronged by failing them so profoundly. We confess to God, acknowledging our guilt, resolving to cease the harm, pledging ourselves to live differently, reversing the damage that has been done through our participation in violence, maltreatment and neglect of Native and indigenous peoples so that we may bring about healing and restoration to all. Continue Reading [PDF]

IV. Watch: Stories from the Circle of Life

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V. Resources for The UMC’s Acts of Repentance

“Planning Acts of Repentance Services” (Acts of Repentance Letter) A letter with information and suggestions from Cynthia Kent, Chair of the UMC Native American International Caucus, and other leaders.

Recommended books available from Cokesbury:

  • Spirit and Resistance: Political Theology and American Indian Liberation.By George Tinker. Augsburg Fortress, 2004.
  • Native American Theology. By Clara Sue Kidwell, George Tinker, Homer Noley. Orbis Press, 2001
  • Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys:  A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way. By Richard Twiss. IVP Books, 2015
  • First White Frost:  Native Americans and United Methodism. By Homer Noley. Abingdon Press, 1991

Recommended Articles

“The Hard Lives–and High Suicide Rate–of Native American Children on Reservations”  By Sari Horwitz for The Washington Post (2014)
The silence that has shrouded suicide in Indian country is being pierced by growing alarm at the sheer numbers of young Native Americans taking their own lives — more than three times the national average, and up to 10 times the average on some reservations.

“Fact Sheet: The 7th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference” Nov. 5, 2015
The White House annually gathers leaders from federally recognized tribes with President Obama’s Cabinet members to discuss issues of importance to tribal nations, how the Administration can help improve their relationship and trust responsibility and how to ensure progress continues in future Administrations. A key goal is to improve coordination across federal agencies, including the White House Council on Native American Affairs, to promote strategic, efficient programming for Indian Country. The 2015 conference focused on Native youth concerns, bringing 24 youth delegates to participate and share their unique perspectives.

The event followed the President’s visit to Alaska and the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma. While visiting Native tribes in Alaska, he restored the Koyukon Athabascan name of Denali to the tallest mountain in North America, previously known as Mount McKinley and announced new investments to combat climate change and assist remote tribal communities. During his visit to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma he launched ConnectHome, an initiative designed to make high-speed Internet more affordable to residents in low-income housing units across the country.