The Anglican Indigenous Network (AIN) kicked off its 9th biannual gathering here with the traditional Native Hawaiian sounding of the conch shell and water purification rite, a Native American smudging ceremony and festive Eucharist to celebrate the multitude of gifts which indigenous people offer the worldwide Anglican Communion.
About 45 delegates from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Hawaii and the continental United States gathered April 9-15 at the Pala Casino and Resort Spa in San Diego County to discuss the roles of indigenous women, youth, elders, clergy and theological education in the church, said Malcolm Naea Chun, AIN Secretary General.
"This meeting has underscored for us the great potential and possibilities that we have to offer the Communion," said Chun, a researcher at the University of Hawaii and a member of the Diocese of Hawaii's commission for Native American ministries.
Janine Tinsley-Roe, national church missioner for Native American Ministries in the Episcopal Church, said the biannual gatherings offer support and community for those engaging indigenous ministry.
"We're dealing with the same sort of issues everywhere," Tinsley-Roe said. "We're looking at ways the church can help with education, with leadership roles within the church, with women and youth, and how we can become stronger advocates. We want to offer support so we're not feeling so left out of the loop of the larger church. Hopefully, what will be different is the response we receive."
Chun agreed: "The issues aren't just with indigenous youth, but with all youth. The issues have always been how to communicate with each other, how to get more young people into Holy Orders, as well as our own issue of how to get our voice heard and listened to and something done about our concerns."
During the six-day gathering the group viewed the video "Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook Story," about a 74-year-old woman originally from the Sioux Valley Reserve who now resides in Manitoba. At nine years old, Cook was sexually abused while at a residential school for native peoples operated by the Canadian government and the Anglican Church of Canada. The schools were run from the mid-19th century until the 1970s when the church ended its involvement with them.
"It was the second viewing only of the video, which premiered at Winnipeg's IMAX theatre on April 5," said Donna Bomberry, a Cayuga of the Iroquois Federation, who coordinates indigenous ministry for the Anglican Church of Canada.
Bomberry said that about one-half of the $25 million settlement established to compensate survivors of residential school abuse has been funded thus far.
She characterized the video, produced by the Anglican Video Network as part of the Canadian church's commitment to memorializing survivor stories, as healing and hopeful. "Gladys is very much loved. She has been honored many times for her work with people who have suffered abuse or from drug or alcohol addictions."
Chun said Cook's story resonates for "everyone in this room. It was a very heavy and challenging day. Some of us have been kept silent for a long time. It reminded us that, beyond the celebratory things, beyond the rejoicing and coming together, that we struggle yet both within and without the church."
Delegates included representatives of the Maori people of New Zealand, Torres Strait Islanders from Australia, native Hawaiians, Native Americans from the continental United States, as well as Canada. A frequent theme discussed was incorporating traditional rites into worship services and cultivating indigenous male and female clergy and leaders.
"There are many people who can't worship the way they would like to worship," Chun said. "They don't have priests who look like them, who talk like them. As a result, the church loses people."
The gathering approved a series of resolutions calling for development of culturally-appropriate and language-appropriate liturgies for a diversity of indigenous experiences; a way to articulate diverse theologies and also to honor the experiences of indigenous peoples; for greater financial and other resources and support for both youth and indigenous ministries and incorporation of youth in all levels of church activity, including planning and programming.
Also discussed were proposals to adopt the designation as "4th World Peoples," a term credited to the Rev. George Tinker, a Lutheran pastor and professor of American Indian Cultures and Traditions at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. The term is meant to describe how indigenous people connected to the land are now being forced to use the land for economic reasons in mining and other jobs and to help others recognize the needs and identities of indigenous people.
Other recommendations considered included establishment of an indigenous province or a "church without borders," Chun said.
A full list of resolutions passed is included below.
The delegations enjoyed a cultural exchange with the Pala, who include more than 900 Cupeño and Luiseño Indians, the largest population of Native Americans in Southern California's San Diego County. The Palas' forebears were evicted in 1903 from their ancestral village of Cupa, now called Warner Springs. By order of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Cupeños were marched 40 miles to the 12,500-acre reservation in Pala, joining a small band of Luiseños.
Members of AIN began meeting 18 years ago, Chun said. The group, which was recognized at the Episcopal Church's General Convention in Phoenix in 1991, is composed of indigenous people committed to the Anglican tradition while affirming traditional spirituality and full partnership with indigenous people. Its aim is to contribute vision and gifts to transform the life of the Christian community.
The next AIN gathering is planned for Canada in 2007.
Indigenous Urban Ministry
Acknowledging that the urban migration of indigenous peoples often results in their disconnection from their home lands, people and traditions resulting in the consequent need for ministry and outreach among indigenous peoples living in urban areas;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: We at AIN PALA 2005 urge our respective Provinces and Dioceses to help encourage and resource urban ministry and outreach among indigenous peoples.
Archbishop of Canterbury
Acknowledging the role of Rowan, the Archbishop of Canterbury for appointing an indigenous person, Dr. Jenny Te Paa of Aotearoa, to serve on the Lambeth Commission on Communion, we express our desire to remain members of the Anglican Communion and to work in unity for the advancement of indigenous mission and ministries.
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: We at AIN PALA 2005 commend the Windsor Report as a way forward together, despite our differences of opinion over matters of justice and morality.
Indigenous Ministry and an Indigenous Province
Acknowledging the need to enable minion and ministry to the indigenous peoples, and that the AIN Rorotrua 2003 resolution called for the establishment of an Indigenous Province in the Pacific basin, and the vision of our AIN elders calls for a "Church without Borders;"
BE IT RESOLVED THAT: We at AIN PALA 2005 wish to develop an enablement plan for indigenous world mission and ministry in the Pacific basin. We intend to exercise our right to self-determination, by considering stories, structures, processes, visions, mission and values appropriate for indigenous peoples, and we will appoint a working group to begin work on developing a plan, and who will report back to the AIN 2007 gathering in Canada.
Acknowledging that indigenous ministry has a mission not just to itself, but to the whole world, and the Archbishop of Canterbury's letter inherently encourages the AIN to share its gifts, and Bishop Carol Gallagher’s recommendation of sending an indigenous evangelism mission to England during the 2007 commemoration of the Jamestown Covenant as "the roots of our Faith stories;"
BE IT RESOLVED that we at AIN PALA 2005 wish to send a team to England in 2009 comprising from all of the AIN membership, and we will appoint a working group to finalize a draft mission plan for discussion at the AIN 2007 gathering in Canada.
Acknowledging the need for appropriate forms of healing ministry among colonized indigenous peoples;
BE IT RESOLVED that the AIN PALA 2005 wish to develop appropriate forms of indigenous ministry for prayer, the sharing of healing stories, reconciliation and restorative justice seeking wholeness, and a working group will be formed to develop and to implement this ministry.
Gwich'in Nation and the Arctic Drilling
Acknowledging the sacred connection of Land, Language and Culture is a gift from God, receiving its authority from God; that authority has been recognized by churches and nations for centuries, most recently in the United Nations Draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the threat of the development of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a treat to the Aboriginal usage, right, and life of our brothers and sisters in Christ, of the Gwich'in Nation; AIN affirms our aboriginal rights rooted in the truth of God and in the inherent rights of all people; in the God ordained living connection of the peoples of Mother Earth, our environments; and the living connection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Porcupine Caribou Herd, and the Gwich'in Nation;
BE IT RESOLVED that AIN PALA 2005 supports the Gwich'in Nation of North America in their opposition to oil development in the Arctic National Refuge, and urges the churches and nations of this earth to protect us all by looking to protect the Refuge.
Youth Ministry and Concerns
Acknowledging that indigenous youth have an active voice at all levels, such as the development and practice of liturgies and programs, that meaningful relationships with elders include mentoring through the sharing of stories to provide guidance support and growth so to develop a meaningful dialogue through sharing and listening;
BE IT RESOLVED that AIN members support and provide resources, particularly funding, for an annual indigenous youth gathering of United States Youth and the AIN youth delegates to maintain a continuity of youth participation;
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we reaffirm the resolutions and reports of the pervious AIN Youth meeting in ROTORUA 2003.
Concerns of Indigenous Elders
BE IT RESOLVED that the Elder group of AIN PALA 2005 calls for the support of meaning full dialogue and programs with indigenous youth of AIN, to put forth an action plan for change, ministry and growth which includes funding and logistical support for an annual gathering of both the United States indigenous youth and the youth delegates of AIN,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the progress of this plan will be supported and monitored by AIN Elder Delegates Frank Oberly and Gloria Moses for a report to the AIN 2007 gathering in Canada.
Church without Borders
Acknowledging that AIN has for several years held intense discussion concerning the concept of a "church without borders" as a means of brining the message of reconciliation and forgiveness, of unity and hope, and a future for indigenous members of the churches of Canada and the United States of America, we have witnessed recent events in both our churches that call out for this concept to be seriously considered and discussed on greater and deeper levels of our churches for all people and members of our churches;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT, AIN calls upon the House of Bishops of the churches in Canada and the United States of America to recognize this concept of a church without borders as a viable means of bringing reconciliation, forgiveness, unity and hope for a future for the indigenous peoples and all members of our churches, and will expand the depth of discussion of this concept at the national and diocesan levels of the churches in Canada and the United States.
Indigenous Theological Issues and Concerns
Acknowledging our belief that the following will enrich our traditions and relationship with the Trinitarian aspects of a 'Living God' who was, and is, always among us;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT we need to develop a living pedagogical model that will enable indigenous communities to articulate the diverse theologies that are grounded within those communities; develop these tools and or models that enable indigenous communities to create liturgies that express their unique spiritualities; develop a "gospel lens" that is appropriate to each of our indigenous languages, cultures and life experiences; strongly urge the non-indigenous church to also develop a "gospel lens;" develop through the text and traditions of the Anglican communion a post-colonial and post-modern critique, that transforms the colonial legacy that has been imposed upon us; to believe that we have a responsibility and obligation to the future, to those generations who are children now ad those yet to be born, not to repeat the destruction, damage and cultural genocide of our colonial past; to assist the wider church to be sensitive of the pressures upon indigenous leaders, both lay and ordained, who walk the path between the two worlds, i.e., the world of the church and their own respective worlds; to urge the Anglican Church, in all of its Anglican ministry units throughout the world, to establish clearly defined and accessible resource, including finance from national churches, to undertake effective professional and curriculum development and to enable appropriate exchanges of indigenous educators and students within the Anglican Communion, and to urge the Anglican Communion to honestly and seriously engage in cross-cultural exchange with their respective indigenous communities.
In Support of Mr. Michael Tamihere, Youth Representative to the Anglican Consultative Council
Acknowledging the appointment of Mr. Michael Tamihere from the Province of New Zealand and a member of the Pihopatanga o Aoteroa as a youth representative to the Anglican Consultative Council;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT AIN PALA 2005 congratulates, recognizes and supports Mr. Michael Tamihere as voice for indigenous youth at the Anglican Consultative Council and as a liaison for the Anglican Indigenous Network.