As I have read and listened to the comments these last three weeks it has become clear that, with regard to The Great Ends of the Church, that two lenses are used to interpret them. In some cases it is an either/or and, for others, it is a bit of a both/and.
Responses seemed to fit within a continuum based on our historical memory and our personal Christian experience. These two threads seemed to show up. Do the Great Ends represent the sins of a colonial and genocidal past? Or do they represent a Christian identity that keeps us rooted in a sacred purpose and community?
I heard the bristling response from those who hear in the language another example of a colonizing tradition. And I heard from those who found in the language a reminder of the riches of belonging to a community with a tradition of having a deeper (even divine) purpose.
One particular church community has found a way to marry both of those experiences—address the sins of a colonizing past and invite the individual members to join as a community in a deeper purpose. It is a deeper purpose rooted in one of the essential components of Reformed worship—corporate confession.
After my first blog on the subject, The Great Ends: Christian Arrogance, I heard immediately from the pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Ashland, the Rev. Dan Fowler. The church had just held a ceremony to dedicate a plaque to acknowledge that their church was located on Native ancestral lands. It is important to listen to the short dedication and prayer. Listen here:
In addition, the Session of the church has committed to making regular reparation payments to the Grand Ronde and Siletz tribes. They are also working to set up a scholarship account at Southern Oregon University for Native American students.
I am going to leave the blog here today and just ask you to listen to the dedication ceremony asking the following simple question for your response:
Is this something the Presbytery of the Cascades should encourage for all of our congregations?
Why or why not?
By Rev. Brian Heron, Presbyter for Vision and Mission, Presbytery of the Cascades