Tag Archives: Mardi

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Anniversary of Canada’s Apology and Re-Righting History

Monday marked the fourth anniversary of when our prime minister offered Canada’s apology to residential school survivors. It was a moving and dramatic moment, and a new journey as a nation became possible for all of us.

On May 31st, at Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission event, I offered a few words of reflection on behalf of the historic churches involved in the residential school system.

Here’s some of what I said that evening, followed by a comment about the United Church’s recent repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery. A column on that has been published today in the National Post’s Holy Post.

Do you remember where you were at 3:00 p.m. on June 11, 2008? I was with young adult leaders that afternoon, at Five Oaks Centre, one of our church’s education and retreat centres on the traditional lands of the Six Nations. They were glued to the television screen, absorbing the weightiness of the moment. Afterward, they asked good questions and wondered about what this would mean for our country.

We in The United Church of Canada are among the many who want to see the potential of that moment fulfilled, and so we are committed to the long journey of healing.

In 1986 The United Church of Canada offered words of apology for our broken relationship with the First Nations; in 1998 we added an apology focused on residential school students and their families and communities.

In our understanding, an apology is a beginning. It marks a turning that makes it possible to live into new relationship.

I wear a cross, a symbol of sacred truth among my people. I am honoured to have been entrusted with an eagle feather, which I respect as sacred in First Nations tradition. In Ontario courts (and perhaps elsewhere) an eagle feather may be used to swear an oath. I am honoured to carry it as a symbol of my commitment to walking the path of truth and reconciliation.

The eagle feather a symbol of the sacred and of truth. The particular beauty of the eagle feather I hold comes not only from the eagle and its Creator, but also from the one who gave me this feather.

Last October at the national Truth and Reconciliation event in Halifax, Lottie Mae Johnson, on behalf of the TRC Survivors’ Committee, gave each of the church leaders there an eagle feather—and a tearful hug. It was an act of remarkable grace and courage and generosity.

Lottie Mae lives in Eskasoni, the largest Mi’Kmaq community in the Maritimes. She is a survivor of the Shubenacadie Residential School and travels throughout the Atlantic region supporting survivors and urging more gatherings for truth and reconciliation.

Her grace, courage, and generosity are extraordinary—and yet they are typical of what we have witnessed on this journey.

And that brings me back to today’s article in the National Post. The grace, courage, and generosity that Lottie Mae exemplifies is what we will all need to bring to this moment of our national story if we are to write/right the next chapter in the direction of God’s ways, in the peace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Moderator Mardi’d Blog: Ripples from Earth Day Webcast

Since our highly successful live, interactive Earth Day webcast on Sunday, there have been lots of enthusiastic additional comments and ripples that I’m just catching up on this morning. (At the end of this post I’ll tell you what I’ve been up to since Sunday.)

Before sharing one particular response, I should say that Sunday’s webcast exceeded all of our expectations for numbers involved and participation. The Twitter response was especially strong, as the pace of tweets rose dramatically and broke through what I’m told is a significant Twitter ceiling. I’m delighted to have been able to host a “Moderator’s event” in which so many could participate without leaving home. Participant numbers were far beyond what the church or planet can afford to gather – given dollar or carbon emissions costs – at any one place and time. And the gathering continues to take place in many more places—and time zones. If you missed the live webcast on Sunday, the 70-minute program is now looping—and will continue to appear for months to come on the Livestream site.

Joe Matyas wrote at the start of this week: “The webcast had content; it percolated with information and ideas.”

Joe worked at the London Free Press for 40 years as a writer and editor. The coverage of religion was one of his specialties. He is a United Church member, married to the Rev. Dr. Susan Eagle, minister of Grace United Church in Barrie, Ontario.

Joe wondered why we didn’t have a follow-up report immediately on The United Church of Canada’s website about the success of Sunday’s webcast. And when he couldn’t find one he wrote his own report, which he posted on Grace United’s website, and to which we’ve linked on the United Church Earth Day webpage and I share with you here, with his permission:

Climate change and the environment have been major themes of Mardi Tindal’s three-year term as Moderator of The United Church of Canada.

So it came as no surprise that the church’s 40th Moderator did something interesting to shine a spotlight on God’s creation on Earth Day’s 60th anniversary on April 22.

Four months before a new Moderator will be elected at the United Church’s 41st General Council in Ottawa in August, Tindal co-hosted a live, interactive webcast with David MacDonald, a United Church minister and former Member of Parliament who chaired Canada’s first parliamentary committee on the environment in the early 1990s.

The Livestream webcast, scheduled for 60 minutes, ran about 15 minutes overtime, with a relaxed Tindal saying near the end that “we wanted to keep the game going through the healing of soul, community, and creation” and that’s what we’ve done with “this low-carbon national gathering.”

Meeting with reporters after her election in 2009, Tindal said: “I am deeply committed to right relationship with creation, in and beyond our faith community…. I will be inviting the church to imagine new ways of caring for creation…. We are called to portray the integrity of creation.”

During her tenure as Moderator, Tindal has crossed the country, mostly by train, on what was dubbed the Spirit Express, holding town hall meetings on the environment, making sure spirituality was part of the process.

As a national interactive hookup, Earth Sunday’s Livestream webcast was the largest town hall meeting of Tindal’s “green earth” tenure.

It was well-planned, well-organized, and it worked.

Tindal moderated the event, with MacDonald handling the bulk of studio and Skype interviews.

Kaitlin Bardswich, coordinator of the church’s Youth for Eco-Justice Program and the third member of the Livestream team, kept everyone apprised of Facebook and Twitter participation in the event.

“We’re getting lots of tweets,” she said at one point when it looked as if incoming traffic was going to crash the server.

Some of the webcast’s content was spontaneous, but other things had been lined up to ensure there wouldn’t be lulls that would result in the hosts doing most of the talking.

Among the interview subjects were environmental ethicist and writer David Hallman; Joy Kennedy, the United Church’s poverty and ecological justice coordinator; Erin Freeland Ballantyne, founder of Dechinta Bush University; and Alex Chamberlain of Investeco, Canada’s first environmental investments company.

There were more, including the winners of the Moderator’s Earth Day sacred song contest. Announced last fall, the contest drew 28 submissions from across the country, with Carol Grohlman of Garibaldi Heights, BC, and Jack Witmer of Delaware, Ontario, named in March as co-winners.

Grolman’s “It Is Good” and Witmer’s “Give Back to the Earth” were performed on the Livestream webcast by the youth praise band of St. Luke’s United Church in Toronto, and both songwriters were interviewed.

In Genesis, God declared the created Earth to be good, said Grolman, “and I wanted to emphasize that.”

It doesn’t matter whether the Earth was created in a moment or evolved over eons, said Witmer.

“It is here, it is ours and…we need to treat it properly,” he said.

“We are part of something big,” said Tindal during the webcast. “There is a growing global movement for ecological healing that churches bring spiritual resources to…to love one another, we must also love The Garden.”

Daniel T’Seleie of the Dene Nation said climate change has been framed as an environmental science issue, but “it’s a human rights issue” too.

If you missed the Earth Day 2012 Livestream webcast, you can still view it at livestream.com/unitedchurchcda. To start at the beginning, double-click on the thumbnail picture below the video window that reads 01:16:28. [The recording starts at time code 1:48.]

Thanks for this report, Joe! A great example of abundance in community. When we were all tired – while also energized – following the webcast, you stepped up to contribute this helpful reflection and report—while I went on retreat in order to keep my own soul connected to community and creation.

Since Monday I have been co-facilitating the last retreat in a series of five with a group of ministers and other leaders who have been meeting together from spring 2011 to spring 2012. We call these Courage & Renewal® retreats. I will continue to facilitate this type of retreat following my term as Moderator. During my term as Moderator, they have helped to keep my soul and role connected. Our retreats are based on the work of Parker J. Palmer, and you can find out more about them on the Center for Courage & Renewal site.

I hope you’re finding Easter ways to keep your own soul connected with community and creation in deep experience of resurrection hope in this season. Your spiritual attentiveness is also vitally important for the healing of God’s good Earth – and all of us in it.

E-mail, Twitter (#modearth), and Facebook aren’t the only ways to continue to comment and interact about Sunday’s webcast. Feel free to post your comments here as well.

Easter blessings to each one of you!

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Seeds of reckless love

Our worship this year has been framed by a Good Friday that fell on Earth Day last year and a Sunday in Easter that will fall on Earth Day this year. (I wrote about this in the Toronto Star on Good Friday 2011.

I took advantage of this coincidence to plan an Easter celebration of Earth Day involving

  • a new Earth Day liturgy
  • an invitation to create a new sacred song (there’s been an overwhelming response!)
  • fun, monthly Earth Day–related “challenges” appropriate to youth and others
  • a live, interactive webcast to take place on April 22—everyone is invited, and no one needs to travel!

More on these activities can be found on the United Church Earth Day page.

A gift of seed packets has been sent to all United Church congregations as a symbol of our participation in God’s healing of soul, community, and creation.

Notes of thanks for the seeds have begun to arrive and are lovely. “What a wonderful idea!” Northwest Barrie United Church posted on Facebook. “If we all adopted the idea of this program how beautiful would our communities look!”

Indeed.

There’s a parable yet to be written about the experience of offering this gift. It begins with the extraordinary generosity of Mr. Bev Simpson, President of Veseys Seeds on Prince Edward Island. Bev was pleased to provide the seeds at cost—and even to print special packages! Then, when we sent a note in February to let congregations know that these seeds would be coming, some of you were generous in expressing your concerns and advice about what kind of seeds would be appropriate for your part of the country. We ended up consulting with a number of passionate sowers of native plants—including a United Church member who belongs to the North American Native Plant Society —and changed the seed mix in response.

To begin our participation in this activity, this Sunday’s gospel lectionary passage from John 12:20–33 sets the context perfectly. I especially like how Eugene Peterson paraphrases this passage in The Message:

“Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never more than a grain of wheat.… But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”

How better could one describe God’s love for the world in the movement from Good Friday to Easter?

We will plant seeds as disciples of the Risen One, reckless in our love.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: God of Yellowknife

Some of you have wondered about where I’ve been. Not only where my travels have taken me but how far I’ve wandered from blogging, facebook and twitter.

Since mid-January I haven’t been as active as usual on social media. There are two main reasons: a couple of infections slowed me down so much that I couldn’t invest energy beyond the many ‘essentials’; and a felt need for a more contemplative time to balance action for awhile.

With physical energy returning along with the spiritual reorientation of Lent, I am ready to be online again.

I write from Yellowknife, NWT where General Secretary Nora Sanders and I are visiting the church ‘north of 60’. This visit follows my time with another northern community – Keewatin presbytery – meeting in Nelson House, Manitoba a couple of weeks ago. Having spent much of my winter in warmer-than-usual southern Ontario, it’s been good to be in snow and ice, even though it’s still warmer than normal in northern Manitoba and the Northwest Territories as well this winter.

I believe that Yellowknife United Church is the most northerly United Church congregation in Canada. And as we shared in worship this morning with the Rev. Peter Chynoweth and the congregation, we received a gift of hymn lyrics created by this congregation to ground their expression of faith in the bio-region in which they find themselves. Their own version of Jaroslav J. Vajda’s ‘God of the Sparrow’ (Voices United #229) had us singing lines such as:

God of the raven, God of the fox,
God of the northern lights…
God of the blizzard, God of the rain
God of the dene drum…
God of the greenstone, God of the ice,
God of the ptarmigan…
God of the taiga, God of the snow
God of the boreal…

What a rich experience of soul, community and creation linkages there are here! Today we explored how when we participate in the healing of any of one these three – soul, community and creation – the healing of the other two also become possible.

Nothing beats singing soul-full songs for health and healing. I’ll soon be celebrating with you the winners of our “Earth Day Hymn Contest”. Well over two dozen entries were submitted with fresh new music and words. An overwhelming response which made for a challenge for the Music United judges! We look forward to singing these together in our shared liturgy throughout The United Church of Canada on Sunday, April 22nd, 2012.

Our new Earth Day liturgy for that day is already posted – along with some fun congregational challenges leading up to our Earth Day celebrations – at http://www.united-church.ca/earthday. Our hymn writing winners will be announced soon as well.

Wherever you find yourself, I hope you’re singing of hope today, as I am under the dancing Northern Lights.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: “Here we are” at Christmas

When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she would bear the Son of God, “For nothing will be impossible with God,” Mary answered, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

What an amazingly powerful response to God’s hope for the world. With Mary’s response, Christ was born and the world came to know God’s love in new form.

Mary knew that living according to God’s word meant carrying the hope that the proud would be scattered “in the thoughts of their hearts,” the powerful would be “brought down from their thrones,” and the lowly “lifted up,” the hungry “filled with good things,” and the rich “sent away.”

In this year’s CBC Massey Lectures on Winter: Five Windows on the Season, Adam Gopnik also speaks about the transformational meaning of Christmas as known in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As Gopnik says, “Dickens thinks that what Christmas offers us, properly understood, is a kind of tiny revolutionary moment in the year when everything can be remade, not just our hopes but our hearts too.”

So may we open ourselves to this revolutionary moment in the year when everything can be remade, not just our hopes but our hearts too, in order that wealth may be more equally shared and ecological destruction reversed.

Christmas reminds us that we are people who carry God’s hope for the world. We have learned that nothing is impossible when we are ready to answer with Mary, “Here we are, servants of the Lord. Let it be with us according to your word.”

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: The road to Durban—what Love requires

This morning as I finish packing for Durban, South Africa, where the United Nations climate talks will take place over the next two weeks, I’m cherishing the encouraging words in a message from one of our United Church ministers:

“I’m afraid this will be another tough session for you as a Canadian who cares about the planet,” he wrote. “I am sending you love, strength, and courage every day in Durban so you can stay focused and angry and hopeful enough in the midst of all that happens (and doesn’t happen) at the official sessions. Remember: you represent the majority of Canadians.”

That last sentence is provocative, but on reflection I believe it’s accurate. Canadians are a compassionate people. We care about the suffering of the world, and we want to respond. It’s important that these Canadian values be represented in Durban.

It’s not easy to be a Canadian in the international arena these days. During the climate change talks in Copenhagen two years ago, Canadian young adults sewed U.S. flags on their backpacks so they wouldn’t be recognized as citizens of the country with the worst record on carbon emissions. Durban will be no less embarrassing. As one recent Globe and Mail headline put it: “Amid dire warming warnings, Canada is MIA.”

“Canada’s delegates will try to keep the lowest possible profile in Durban,” wrote columnist Jeffrey Simpson, “while the government’s spin machine will be in high gear talking up a target no one believes will be achieved, and fighting off complaints about this country’s poor record by pointing fingers at others.”

And yet, as Simpson also notes, there is every reason to believe that Durban represents the world’s last, best hope to avoid what the respected International Energy Agency describes as “irreversible and potentially catastrophic climate change.”

This is why so many Canadian faith leaders have joined in our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change.

Fair enough. But why spend the time, the dollars—and the carbon—to go to South Africa? Will my presence there matter? Might my efforts be better invested taking action here in Canada during the talks?

I’ve been wrestling with these questions since early last year, when the World Council of Churches began encouraging me to join its delegation.

This encouragement is about more than making up numbers. As I know from my experience in Copenhagen, there will be strong faith leaders from all other parts of the world. African church leaders, for example, who are already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change (as in the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa), demand to know that North American faith leaders stand with them. They demand to know they are not alone.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminds us that our response matters: “Apartheid seemed an overwhelming challenge that could not be defeated but we mobilised and defeated it. We need the same passion and determination to defeat climate change.” Tutu and other African church leaders have organized a campaign called We Have Faith—Act Now for Climate Justice. Check it out.

Ultimately, the call to keep faith with our partners around the world had the greatest influence in my decision, but there are also other reasons to be present in Durban. There will be many opportunities to connect with like-minded Canadians. In Copenhagen I spoke with provincial premiers and mayors who committed to action. All of them spoke about the importance of having the church present and engaged. In turn, I was able to encourage them in their efforts.

It’s also likely that youth—including Canadian youth—will again bring a strong voice. I want them to know that our church supports them and they are not alone.

Whenever I face difficult decisions I consult with many advisors and I ask myself and pray with a number of probing questions. One of the best is the deceptively simple question, “What does Love require?”

In reference to the road to Durban, I believe Love requires standing in solidarity with those who suffer.

Love requires the courage to be honest when we feel like we’re losing ground.

Love requires that we act to preserve a healthy future for our children and theirs.

The way of Love heals our souls, our communities, and creation. May we travel the way of Love with words of our faith: We are not alone… We are called…to live with respect in Creation.

My bag is packed. Your prayers are welcome.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Changing the climate is gaining momentum

As I prepare to join faith leaders from around the world at the United Nations climate change conference in South Africa (COP17), I am watching the cascading effect of our Canadian faith leaders’ statement and efforts of last month. Here are a few of the things that have happened since then:

    • Our Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change, released October 25, 2011, has been lifted up by many global church networks and reproduced in Embassy magazine. Signatures have been added to it, including those of the Canadian Religious Conference and many religious congregations of men and women. A couple of Catholic papers, for example, picked up a recent article by Joe Gunn. If you or your congregation are willing to add your signature to our Interfaith Call for Action, please do, as signatures are still being received. Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, and I will carry this statement with us into the witness of the World Council of Churches during the talks. This week I accepted an invitation from the World Council of Churches to make a presentation about this statement during the WCC’s event within the COP17.
    • Members of our varied faith communities are signing a petition to add to others from around the world, and to be offered to world leaders on our behalf by Desmond Tutu, at the November 27th interfaith rally in Durban. There is still time for you and your community to sign the petition. See the end of this blog for more information about the petition.
    • Senator Grant Mitchell has spoken to the Senate about the significance of our work, and has drawn attention to presentations that Willard Metzger and I made to the Deputy Speaker’s breakfast with parliamentarians.
    • Former Moderator Bill Phipps will be fasting as a prayerful discipline throughout COP17, and you may wish to join him in solidarity. In particular, Phipps says he will be “holding The United Church of Canada’s current Moderator, Mardi Tindal, in his prayers,” as well as others of the World Council of Churches’ delegation of which I am a part.
    • During his fast, Phipps also plans to visit the constituency offices of various political leaders, including those of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Premier Alison Redford. The schedule of those visits can be found on Phipps’ website.
  • A Canadian All-Party Caucus on Climate Change has now been formed and will be especially interested in hearing from you. Members are:
  • Michael Chong, Conservative MP – Wellington—Halton Hills, ON
  • Denise Savoie, New Democratic Party MP – Victoria, BC
  • Kirsty Duncan, Liberal MP – Etobicoke North, ON
  • Maria Mourani, Bloc Québecois MP – Ahuntsic, QC
  • Elizabeth May, Green Party MP – Saanich Gulf Islands, BC

My plan is to blog from the COP17 talks, so please stay tuned for further developments.

May we encourage one another in this fast-growing and necessary movement to participate fully in God’s healing of creation.

Finally, here’s more about that petition:

The petition has been designed to conform to House of Commons rules so it can be presented in the House of Commons by Members of Parliament. That is why it is a hardcopy petition, not an electronic one. This petition has been certified as correct by the Clerk of Petitions of the House of Commons.

When you have 25 or more signatures, contact your MP and ask him/her to present the petitions from his/her constituents in the House of Commons. If you have a petition signed by 25 or more people, it can be presented to the House of Commons. There is a 15-minute time slot in the agenda of the House every day for presenting petitions. Generally MPs are expected to present petitions from their constituents even if they don’t support the cause. You can find your MP and contact info on the Parliament of Canada website.

The best thing would be to arrange a meeting with your MP when you could discuss climate change as a moral issue and hand over the signed petitions. Ask for a commitment on presenting the petitions to the House of Commons, and ask to have a report back on the date they will be presented so you can check in the record of debates (or Hansard) online.

If a meeting cannot be arranged, try to set up a phone call with your MP, or failing that, send a letter with the petitions attached asking that they be presented in the House of Commons. Be sure to ask for a reply on whether the MP will present them and, if so, on what day she/he plans to do so.

If your MP refuses to make a commitment to present the petitions, send them to Citizens for Public Justice at 501–309 Cooper St., Ottawa, ON, K2P 0G5, and they will arrange for another MP to present them to the House of Commons. Please report back to CPJ by sending an e-mail to Melodi Alopaeus at melodi@cpj.ca telling her how many signatures you gathered and which MP you have sent your petitions to.

For more information, or if you have any questions, please contact Melodi Alopaeus by e-mail or phone 1-800-667-8046.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Changing the climate with prayer and action

Over the past several days I have been in Ottawa speaking with other faith leaders and political leaders about the moral and spiritual challenge of climate change. On Sunday evening I participated in such a panel at a fully public event hosted at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, and the following morning, in a full-day Interfaith Forum.

We have now issued our Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change as interfaith leaders convened by the Canadian Council of Churches.

Yesterday morning Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada, and I had an opportunity—thanks to Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie—to have breakfast with a good cross-party group of parliamentarians about how we might work together to prepare for the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP17) to be held next month in South Africa. I’m heartened by their encouragement and the initiative taken by several of them just this week to create an all-party climate change caucus.

May we continue to hold these and all government leaders in our prayers on the road to COP17.

This morning I am in Halifax representing The United Church of Canada at the third national Truth and Reconciliation Event. I invite you to follow at least some of these proceedings on the TRC webcast.

May we hold everyone taking part in this process of truth-telling and reconciliation—Aboriginal and settlers—in our prayers over these days. I’ll do my best to tell some stories on the way on Twitter and hopefully here on my blog.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Floods and fires, winds and rain

I have lost track of the number of pastoral calls, notes, and letters on top of visits made on your behalf as the people of The United Church of Canada to those affected by so-called natural disasters over the past two years.

Today’s conversation with Gwen Nicol-Macdonald (serving North Street United in Goderich, Ontario, with her spouse, Roy) brings yet another expression of gratitude to you for your prayers. Gwen is eloquent about what is happening in her community not only physically but also spiritually. She paints a compelling picture, as seen through her comments:

  • The North Street United Church building was untouched by the tornado even though it’s very close to so many buildings lost and damaged. When she and Roy are out and about, people they don’t even know and wouldn’t expect to recognize them as the ministers at North St. constantly and anxiously ask, “How is the church?” When they explain that there’s not a mark on it, these faces relax and seem more hopeful. The church appears to be a positive symbol of hope, “Very powerful,” as Gwen says, and a comment that will be brought into their more intimate congregational conversations in and about their future.
  • Members of their congregation have been dramatically impacted personally: several have lost homes; they have businesses that they cannot get into—even to salvage—which also means that employees who counted on those jobs are left without income, and so on. “It’s a mess,” Gwen says, and yet folks are resilient. One of the congregants has an auto body shop that was levelled, and yesterday he set up business again in a makeshift shelter.
  • Their hearts bleed for their United Church brothers and sisters at Victoria Street United, who learned this morning that over the next few days their entire building will need to come down as far as the stone foundation. They are also suffering for their Presbyterian friends, whose church building cannot yet be entered. Given last night’s rain, they know that water is pouring into the $855,000 organ, and nothing can be done about it.
  • Last night was traumatic for many as the winds and rain came with the warning of another tornado. Student minister Tom Dunbar, serving Victoria Street United, also wrote about this this morning: “More tornado warnings have many openly frightened. Fear is a horrible companion. That being said, there are moments of relief and even sparks of pride and joy: the sense of community, the open sharing exhibited, often from strangers, and even surprises at what one is capable of accomplishing. We have one very senior member who continues to live at home. Although carrying the burden of age and failing health, she shared a moment of what she described as sheer bliss. As there is no gas yet to her very small home, cooking was a challenge. So, after sitting for years on her kitchen counter, she finally learned to use the microwave oven her family had given her long ago. ‘Did you realize just how handy this machine could be?’ she asked, beaming.”
  • They all still feel pretty “fuzzy” now, and people are coming to terms with the fact that this will be a marathon. Today it’s just about figuring out the next small step; tomorrow they will need to stick together for the long haul.
  • Gwen and Tom Dunbar have both expressed deep gratitude for the prayers of the whole church, and report that people “feel lifted” at hearing about  our commitment to prayers today and for the long haul. I have assured them of our prayers for the longer term, for the time “after the adrenalin has worn off and all the media and emergency response folks have left,” as Gwen puts it.
  • Finally, a poignant picture: “When Roy was out on his bike yesterday, he saw two little boys hauling a wagon, bringing lemonade and sandwiches to the hydro and gas workers.”

That’s the picture of a different kind of power—the power of love.

I often quote Isaiah 43:2 in pastoral letters: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

When we see little boys hauling a wagon full of lemonade and sandwiches, we know that God is with us. And God is with us as the whole church prays. In these and other ways, we take part in God’s healing of soul, community, and creation.

Moderator Mardi’s Blog: Are we there yet?

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the first apology offered to Canada’s First Peoples by The United Church of Canada. No, we’re not “there yet” because we’re still on the long journey toward seeing our apologies fulfilled in actions and in truth, healing, reconciliation, and right relations. It’s why we take opportunities to participate in the work of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well our own Right Relations work.

I wish I could have joined the Bay of Quinte “Right Relations Canoeists,” for example, when they set out last Friday on their canoe trip, dipping their paddles into the waters of Long Lake and heading out into the heartland of what the Anishnabe have called home for generation upon generation. I was grateful to be able to send the greetings of the church to them, with a letter of gratitude and encouragement on behalf of us all.

Today has been a day for preparing and packing for travel to Prince Rupert later this week. I will be travelling to our church’s National Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering, which has the theme Honouring Spiritual Diversity. I look forward to a wonderful weekend of being with members of our Aboriginal Ministries Council and Circle, and representatives of communities throughout the country.

Indian Country Today Media Network.com has an excellent article on today’s anniversary, lifting up the work and witness of courageous individuals such as Alberta Billy—without whom I can’t imagine we’d be celebrating 25 years today—and my friend, Thelma Davis, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation.

We’ve come a long way. We’re not there yet. But the journey is good, and I’m grateful for such fine companions. I wonder how healing is happening in your community on this anniversary.

May Creator continue to bless our way. All my relations.