Inspired by Bishop Riscylla
Yesterday evening, 30 members of All Saints Church came together to engage in dialogue with Bishop Riscylla about our thoughts, reactions and questions concerning the work of reconciliation in response to the mass graves at Indian Residential schools which have been and continue to be uncovered. Below is a summary of our conversation:
As members shared their feelings of anger, pain, sadness, shame and powerlessness we learned that we are not alone in our emotions. Being able to express ourselves in community is a healthy way of being able to address the trauma we feel from the recent revelations.
As one member shared, true reconciliation involves recognizing harm done, acknowledging how one’s actions contributed to the harm, and then working to repair the damage done.
As the Bishop kindly pointed out, we are still in the recognizing phase. As such, the bishop advised us to take the time to listen. To educate ourselves on what really happened in our country. Although we may wish to jump to find solutions – now is the time to sit in the pain and to recognize that this is long and hard work that does not have an easy answer or straightforward “fix”.
She reminded us that spiritually and physically, we have two ears and one mouth. Deep listening and reflecting is a Christian practice. We read and reread our scriptures finding new insights in them all the time. In the same manner she called on us to read and reread the 94 calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation report and in particular calls 71-76 about Missing children and burial information as well as the church’s apology for spiritual harm caused (video). As we do this we are to listen to what the Lord is calling us to do in response. Many other educational opportunities were shared as well, as noted at the bottom of this email.
Bishop Shaw encouraged us to embrace our righteous anger from what we learn and to channel it into the ways of love. We are to use our privileges not for harm but to influence others. She advised that we share what we are learning – we refrain from chastising ourselves or others for what has happened, but rather speak and name the truth in kindness, recognizing that we all have growing edges. And as we speak out, the Bishop suggested that we support one another and find ways to build relationships with indigenous peoples, coming alongside – not in pity but as friends and neighbours.
Prayer and journalling our feelings were also suggested as ways to process our feelings and grow deeper in faith. The colonial teachings of the church sought to make God in the image of white settlers and to use religion to help build up the kingdoms and nations of this world. In contrast, the good news of Jesus is that all are welcome and valued in the Kingdom of God. God is the creator who created all, loves all and welcomes all. As the truth is revealed about our nations history, this is an opportunity to grow closer to the Jesus found in the gospels. Learning and speaking out about the truth of our past will only make us better in the future.
This is an ongoing conversation and we encourage you all to join in the learning. As St. Paul wrote “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (I Corinthians 12:26-27)
Creator God, from you every family in heaven and earth takes its name. You have rooted and grounded us in your covenant love, and empowered us by your Spirit to speak the truth in love, and to walk in your way towards justice and wholeness.
Mercifully grant that your people, journeying together in partnership, may be strengthened and guided to help one another to grow into the full stature of Christ, who is our light and our life. Amen
- The TRC Final Report (2015)
- Anglican Church of Canada’s Reconciliation Toolkit
- United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
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