I am a pastor; in the face of genocide, the soul of my church is threatened


This column comes from the opinions of Ryan Andersen, a Lutheran pastor and main organizer of the Calgary Charity Alliance, which is made up of 32 local organizations dedicated to building a more just and compassionate city.For more information CBC’s opinion section, See FAQ.

The church is burning. Others sprayed orange and red with the unforgettable words: “We are children.”

But compared with thousands of child graves, these losses are insignificant. When the church loses its spiritual legitimacy, what buildings are there? Who is in a normal mind and seeks spiritual hope from institutions that promote love but participate in and conceal the abuse and death of thousands of children in Canadian boarding schools?

I am a man of faith and a priest. I have a sharp question: In the face of genocide, can the church save its soul?

I believe there is a way. It’s not easy, but it’s good.

For Christians, when something is wrong, the first step in healing is confession. To confess sin is to humbly seek and speak the truth. All of us try to conceal our mistakes, put the blame on others, and portray ourselves as right. In spiritual life, this is fatal because it hides our wounds and makes them fester. It is a gift to reveal the truth with an honest and humble attitude, because it reveals our wounds and thus opens up the possibility of healing.

Seeing the truth is a gift

When the indigenous people find courage It’s a gift to share stories of their suffering during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Since the aborigines are responsible for recording the deaths of boarding school children, this is a gift. They exposed wounds in Canada and the church center. Now we can see these wounds, and they may eventually heal.

But we cannot rush to think that we know the truth about colonization.

This spring, ground-penetrating radar technology helped pinpoint the locations of graves that were previously unmarked by many boarding schools. In June, this children’s monument quickly developed on the steps of Calgary City Hall. (Jeff Mackintosh/Canada Press)

I used to think that by living in the reserve, listening to stories, and studying history, I learned the truth about colonization. am I wrong. Since then, I have learned from the indigenous teachers that this truth is layered onions.

Learning and talking about the role of the church in boarding schools is just the beginning. Abandoning the doctrine of discovery and trying to justify the seizure of land not yet owned by Christians is just the beginning.

In order for the church to truly enter the modest truth-telling, we need to fight the full truth of colonization: its continuing impact on indigenous peoples, how our beliefs have caused us to commit this kind of harm, and how we as settlers benefit and Being dehumanized due to colonialism. Only when we are humble and open our hearts in this fight, we can prepare for the next thing.

In Christian theology, confession leads to repentance. This does not mean to simply say sorry or blame yourself. The word repentance translated into English means a change of mind. Transformation occurs most often through relationships.

The Church of the House of Prayer Alliance was damaged by a fire this month, which Calgary police described as a deliberate act of vandalism. No suspects were found. Elsewhere in Canada, churches have been razed to the ground after hundreds of cemeteries were found in boarding schools and aroused anger. (Mike Simington/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

When a settler of faith establishes a relationship with aboriginal people, it is usually a relationship with those who feel “safe”-they have embraced Christianity or have developed the skills to adapt to Western culture.

But this is not enough. If the church is to save their own souls, it is time to listen to those who make us uncomfortable and angry. They are angry out of love, because they feel sad for what happened and what continues to happen.

It’s time for us to sit in this anger, listen to it, and even welcome it. This is an expression of love mixed with sadness. When we understand why people are so angry that they want to burn down the church, we will know that we are making progress.

Learn to share anger

This will involve listening. I learned from indigenous teachers that if we want to listen, we need to leave the space where we feel comfortable. Now is the time for church members to become students and learn from those who we think need to be taught.

In the face of genocide, can the soul of the church be saved?

If the children continue to be taken away by the family instead of the family members getting the support they need to raise the children, will we also be deeply angry with love, we will know the answer; Over-regulation of the police but insufficient protection of our fellow human Anger, leading to the disappearance and murder of thousands of women and girls; or when we start publicly asking why these unmarked graves are not considered crime scenes.

When we stand side by side with the indigenous people and work together for justice, we will find the answer. Then we will be able to talk about reconciliation and even atonement, which means getting together again or literally “unity”.


Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can receive support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.


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