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Participating in holy history

By Brandi Friesen Thorpe
Sep 23, 2015

Settler and indigenous participants shake hands during the Reconciliation Walk at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events held in Ottawa, in June 2015. The five-kilometre walk included about 10,000 people. Members of the Student Christian Movement (SCM, also known as WSCF), Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Central Committee, and Christian Peacemaker Teams were present during this walk, as were representatives from many other church denominations and justice-oriented organizations, and individual citizens.  (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

I’ve been on the road three of the last six months, in no particular order. As I return home and begin to reflect on the encounters and experiences that I’ve had, my heart returns to settle on my experience at the closing events for the Truth and Reconciliation ceremonies (TRC).

I attended these ceremonies in Ottawa as part of the regional assembly for the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF) of North America, joining young adults from across Canada and the United States.

The air in Ottawa that week was thick with expectation. The city was a site of a pilgrimage, with indigenous people and settlers finding a way to greet each other from every corner of the city. The Creator met us there with hope, and I encountered some truths that were unavoidable: we are participating in a holy history. The church is repenting. They are learning to find their humility. There are souls who are hoping and hearts that are rejoicing. What a prophetic space it became, with glimpses of the church performing the functions of heaven.

I am grateful for the love and support of the churches that did show up. I am grateful that this is a season in which the western churches are learning to take on ownership in reconciliation, and that we journey together.

I am grateful for those who do not let their own experiences of harm in the church prevent them from seeking reconciliation for the church in a larger context.

I am thankful for the people pushing and inviting the church to be uncomfortable with privilege and colonization, because it means we are growing in the right direction.  

After the TRC, there is still much work to be done. The TRC process was an opportunity for the churches to step up and be allies in the healing. Post-TRC, the church has an opportunity to step forward and be accomplices in reconciliation, to actively follow through on the stance of “ally.” (See my previous blog post, “Ally or accomplice: What does the Lord require of us?”

While the work to be done is just beginning, and it can be overwhelming, it is important to pause and remember the larger picture. We are participating in a holy history. Every small step towards reconciliation is a part of that holy history. Be encouraged that small steps matter, as they are faithful responses. 

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