Evangelical Covenant Church Rebukes Doctrine Justifying …… | News and reports


The Evangelical Alliance Church became the last Protestant denomination in the United States to repudiate the doctrine of discovery, the theological justification that enabled the discovery and domination by European Christians of lands already inhabited by Indigenous peoples.

Delegates to the Covenant Annual Connection voted overwhelmingly (84%) on Friday to approve a resolution recognizing the damage done to the indigenous peoples of the Americas by taking their lands and rights and deploring the church’s complicity in the continuing effects of this story.

“After 125 years, healing begins in the Evangelical Covenant Church, and I am grateful to begin this journey with you today,” said Reverend TJ Smith, president of the Native Ministers Association, in a moving speech after the vote took place.

As the Evangelical Covenant Church has worked on its resolution for five years, its action came the day after the Cowessess First Nation announced that it had found evidence of at least 751 anonymous graves near the former residential school. Indian from Marieval in Saskatchewan.

A few weeks earlier, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation had used ground-penetrating radar to to confirm the remains of 215 children as young as 3 years old on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia. Kamloops was opened by the Roman Catholic Church in 1890 and became the largest school in Canada’s residential school system, peaking at 500 students in the early 1950s, according to the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc.

Smith, who is Lakota, and others drew a line between the Doctrine of Discovery and what were called Indian Residential Schools in Canada and Indian Residential Schools in the United States.

“Please understand it’s not just Canada,” he said.

The doctrine of discovery began as a series of 15th century papal edicts and was later enshrined in the 1823 Supreme Court decision Johnson v. M’Intosh, who established that the U.S. government, not Native American nations, determined ownership of property.

This doctrine has led to practice, including “the violent assimilation of Indigenous children in residential schools,” added Lenore Three Stars, a Lakota speaker and theologian who shared her remarks with the Evangelical Church meeting of Alliance by video. These children were taken from their homes to attend boarding schools operating under the motto “kill the Indian, save the man”.

“Over time, the practice affected the institutionalized injustice, which persists today,” Three Stars said.

It is important for the church to know and lament this story, said Curtis Ivanoff, an Inupiat and Alaska Conference superintendent of the Evangelical Alliance Church.

“The fact that its beginnings can be traced to papal decrees means that the church played a direct role in initiating this belief and practice. For this reason alone, it serves us well to shed light on this story, not only to remember, but as fellow ambassadors of Jesus, who entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation, to renounce such an evil ”, Ivanoff said.

In 2015, Canada Truth and Reconciliation Commission published a report on the history and legacy of Canada’s residential school system, after six years of investigation.

One of the committee’s guides calls to action asked the Pope to come to Canada later this year to apologize to Indigenous peoples for the role of the Catholic Church in the administration of residential schools.

“We call on the Pope to apologize to the survivors, their families and their communities for the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children in residential schools, ”we read.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated this call for an apology to Canada from Pope Francis.

But, Smith told delegates at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church, “In the United States, we haven’t done that. We are invisible. They don’t even care enough to know.

Canada has run more than 130 residential schools and has an idea of ​​how many children have attended them, he said. During this time, the United States operated 367 residential schools.

Repudiation of the doctrine of discovery is an important first step towards healing and togetherness, Smith said.

In recent years, several main Protestant denominations have taken similar actions, including The United Methodist Church, The Episcopal Church, The Unitarian Universalist Association, The United Church of Christ, Community of Christ, The Presbyterian Church (United States), and The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America . They were joined by the World Council of Churches and a number of Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) meetings.

And US Home Secretary Deb Haaland, who is Laguna Pueblo, recently announced a federal residential schools initiative to examine the history of residential schools in the United States.

The latest resolution from the Evangelical Covenant Church sets the stage for Indigenous peoples to be seen and their stories heard, Smith said.

“With the adoption of this resolution, you have made the Evangelical Alliance Church a place where we, as indigenous peoples and populations, are seen and welcomed. We are accepted and recognized as who we are and for who we are created, ”he said.

“With the passage of this resolution, we can now participate and learn from you and you can learn from us what the Creator has for us.”

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