A rant is taking shape in your brain, anger is seething in your gut, your finger is poised over the “post” button. What could possibly go wrong? One option is to step away from your device, take a deep breath, and think “reconciliation.”
Diana Braithwaite and Chris Whitely perform ‘This Little Light of Mine’ as part of the Bechtel Lecture on blackness and whiteness in Anabaptist print and mission. (Screenshot by Janet Bauman)
This year’s virtual Bechtel Lecture, “Blackness, whiteness and the Anabaptist ‘imagined community’ in print and mission,” featured two speakers:
Diana Braithwaite, an accomplished blues, gospel and jazz performer, and founder and director of the Rella Braithwaite Black History Foundation, where she researches, preserves and shares the story of Blacks in Canada.
(Photo by Daniel Tseng/Unsplash)
In an Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary course for worship leaders engaging the new Voices Together hymnal, we were asked to consider the following question for an assignment:
How can our congregaton's worship focus more on justice and racial reconciliation?
We found some resonance in our respective responses and collaborated to share them more broadly. We offer these suggestions not as a comprehensive list, but as a starting point for congregations who are considering this very same question.
“Yet we Christians have also been called to take a good hard look at ourselves. To reflect on our Christian beliefs, to scrutinize our missional practices. And to decolonize. It’s not that Christianity is inherently colonial, but for generations the church and its faith have been used —wittingly, unwittingly, and far too often—as instruments of dispossession in the settler colonial arsenal.
Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. executive director, right, attended a Korean Anabaptist Conference in Chuncheon, South Korea, along with three South Korean church leaders. Pictured from left to right: Bock Ki Kim, SeongHan Kim and SunJu Moon, all graduates of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind. Byler travelled to South Korea in November 2018 to visit MCC program and partner organizations. (Mennonite Central Committee photo)
It has been more than 60 years since the ceasefire that ended the Korean War, but to this day North Korea and South Korea do not have an official peace, and the divide remains great.
Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous-settler relations for Mennonite Church Canada, presents a workshop at Rosthern (Sask.) Mennonite Church entitled ‘Unsettling discipleship: The cost of colonialism, the joy of jubilee.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
What does the ancient Levitical concept of jubilee have to do with reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and their settler neighbours? Plenty, according to Steve Heinrichs.
Rosanna Deerchild, host of CBC Radio One's Unreserved, reads a poem from her book Calling Down the Sky. The book tells the story of residential schools in Canada and her own mother's experiences and struggles as a generational survivor. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
Bryn Friesen Epp of Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg, adds a leaf to a collaboratively decorated tree. Each leaf contains a gallery visitor's hope for reconciliation and commitments to taking part in it. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
Clairissa Kelly and Marlene Gallagher organized the Reconciliation Through the Arts exhibition. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
Clairissa Kelly, right, her mother Marie, and her Grandmother Lorraine, seated, are pictured in front of 'Granny Lorraine.' Kelly, coordinator of the Peguis Post-Secondary Transition Program at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), and Rick Unger, a CMU maintenance technician, used acid on metal and etching techniques to create the rusted portrait. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
Jochebed Giesbrecht, Laura Carr-Pries and Allegra Friesen Epp stand around Tracy Fehr's installation of clay bowls. Fehr encourages visitors to take a bowl in honour of an important woman in their life and leave a note about the woman in its place. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
A collection of photographs and pieces of abandoned Canadian residential schools. (Photo by Nicolien Klassen-Wiebe)
Clairissa Kelly smudges the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in preparation for the exhibition's opening event. (Photo by Ray Dirks)
Clairissa Kelly gives roses to the many different artists involved in the Reconciliation through the Arts exhibition. Over 15 artists were involved in creating the many diverse pieces on display. (Photo by Ray Dirks)
Clairissa Kelly’s daughter, Chloe Mallett, dances for a large audience at the exhibition’s opening event. (Photo by Ray Dirks)
Around 200 people gathered at the Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery on Jan. 26 to celebrate the opening of Reconciliation Through the Arts, an exhibition of Indigenous and settler art that explores the history and present reality of colonization in Canada and different visions of reconciliation.
Manitoba filmmakers Brad Leitch and Will Braun have brought the reality of settler-indigenous reconciliation work in Canada to the public screen.
The sign directing people to Stony Hill, the former site of St. John’s Lutheran Church and of the Young Chippewayan Reserve No. 107, was changed earlier this year to reflect its importance to indigenous people. The name Opwashemoe Chakatinaw means Stoney Knoll in English. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Chief Sylvia Weenie of the Young Chippewayan band chats with Leonard Doell, coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program, at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
With her daughter Kimberley holding her notes, Chief Sylvia Weenie addresses the audience gathered to mark the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. ‘Stoney Knoll history needs to be told,’ she says. ‘Our children need to know.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Rita Macdonald of Rosthern Mennonite Church, left, visits with Marshall Williams and his wife Verna at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll, Sask. Williams is the hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan band. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
Under darkening skies, participants line up to receive commemorative medals marking the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. The medals are to be a visible reminder of the treaty, says Harry Lafond, executive director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (Photo by Donna Schulz)
“It’s really cool to see white people here today,” said Cheyenne Fineday. The first nation teenager was speaking at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6 on Aug. 23, 2016. Held at Stoney Knoll, 76 kilometres north of Saskatoon, the celebration included both indigenous and settler peoples.
Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)
‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith
After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.
Mim Harder of Rouge Valley Mennonite Church, Stouffville, Ont., and Steve Heinrichs, director of Indigenous Relations for MC Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)
Mim Harder, left, presents Taylor Gibson, centre, and Rick Hill with quilts to thank them for hosting the retreat. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)
Dialogue between indigenous and settler peoples was a key aspect of the retreat, held at Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ont. Six Nations is the largest first nation in Canada. (Photo by Rachel Brnjas)
Over a period of seven years, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) heard more than 6,000 survivors of residential schools tell their painful stories of injustice and abuse. With the TRC’s work in hand, Christian churches can help write a better next chapter.
Classes are going very well. Students are appreciating the role-plays, practical illustrations, and the newly published textbook, which was partially funded by Waterloo North Mennonite Church (Waterloo, Ont.).
Some people are of the opinion that Jews and Muslims have always been, and always will be, in conflict. This is not true. Ishmael and Isaac both received a blessing from their father Abraham (Gen. 17:20), and in the end they came together to jointly bury their father (Gen. 25:9).
What does cross-cultural learning have to do with our faith?
I believe it's at the heart of the good news that Jesus taught and lived: Reconciliation with God and reconciliation with each other. These are not mutual exclusive concepts. When we reconcile with each other, we have a more full sense of who God is and how God works in the world.
We Shall Remain is the title of a documentary series by PBS. We watched a few of the episodes while living in Virginia, where we heard very little of indigenous people, culture, or history. Whenever we asked about it, people we talked to said, "oh yeah, there used to be lots of indigenous people in this area" and would point to the main highways running through as ancient trade routes and the name of the valley "Shenandoah" as an indigenous name.
Pastor Ishiya met us at Fudoin station and we drove the ten minutes up the hills, through the back streets, until we arrived at a traditional Japanese house - Hiroshima Mennonite Church. Although only 9:15am, the sun was hot and bright on our necks, and with relief we stepped inside the cool building.
NARPI stands for Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute and is run through collaboration among several organizations across South Korea, Japan, and China. Their goal is to meet regularly for several weeks in the summer to gather peacebuilding practitioners and students from Northeast Asia to share their experience, get to know one another, and learn new knowledge and skills for peacebuilding in their contexts.
Two women, working as "maids" in 1960's segregated southern United States, cross racial lines to take a risk in telling their stories to an eager young writer.
Watching "The Help" in Virginia, I couldn't help but wonder about the impact of such a film in what was the historic "south."