Mennonite Church USA, 1991
the people and nations of the Americas will commemorate the 500th
anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus on our shores.
Central and South America were subsequently deeply affected by
the Spanish influence while in North America other Anglo-European
peoples became dominant. The result in each case was the displacement
and oppression of the native populations. As a Mennonite Church
in the U.S. and Canada we acknowledge that our history includes
emigration from Europe both to escape persecution and suffering
and to take advantage of the economic opportunity offered by
the new land. We now wish to call special attention to the concerns
of Native Americans and their experience since 1492. We call
on our members and congregations to:
1. Refrain from a triumphalist
spirit in celebrating this event in favor of humble gratitude
for the benefits experienced in these new lands.
2. Recognize the greed and devastation
that characterized the coming of the Europeans, and repent of
our participation in the unjust exploitation of native peoples.
3. Seek to understand more accurately
the rich history of native peoples, hear their stories, feel
their pain and learn from their values and patterns of life.
4. Rejoice that even through
suffering many Native Americans received the Gospel message and
share in the body of Christ.
5. Recognize the leadership of
the United Native Ministries Council (UNMC), and learn to know
and support in love and prayer the member congregations and congregations
eligible for membership in the Council.*
6. Advocate for appropriate redressing
of injustices done to native people in the past, and for just
and constructive programs of human betterment for native peoples
now and in the future. We would welcome guidance from UNMC on
how to work at this. A first suggestion from the Council is the
building of relationships with Native Americans in our home communities.
7. Renew a commitment to the
mission of Christ in North America that is sensitively inclusive
of peoples of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues.
8. Reaffirm the global nature
of the church and its mission and resist the provincial attitude
characteristic of nationalistic celebrations.
With this call we urge congregations
to use educational/worship materials suitable for congregational
observances of 1992 such as the following materials from church
Five session series on Native Americans
from Mennonite Publishing House.
For Children and Adults
Children's Caring Project (on Native
American people and ministries) from Mennonite Board of Missions.
Video, poster and study packets
from Mennonite Central Committee U.S. and Canada
Multi-cultural Worship Resource
Notebook from Commission on Home Ministries (General Conference
Mennonite Church at Newton, Kansas)
"A Church of Many Peoples Confronts Racism" (1989 General
Adopted by the
Mennonite Church General Assembly (MC), August 3, 1991, Eugene,
Oregon, Proceedings, p. 35.
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