Missioner's Message

November 4, 2014
By: 
Sarah Eagle Heart

Dear Relatives,

Cante Waste ya Nape Ciyu zape ye (I greet you from my heart). It’s been quite the year of delving deeper into the work of healing and action. Much of my travel has focused on training, developing collaborative work, sharing best practices and recommending partnerships. Other important work includes assisting those with theological training development, as well as making connections with tribal leaders and dioceses for advocacy and community development partnerships.

In January, those that attended Wintertalk truly embraced Asset Based Community Development with our trainers Lelanda Lee and Mike Green. We also had amazing Native American faith leaders implementing this work provide witness to the feasibility. Thank you to United Church of Christ Pastor Marlene Helgemo and Michael Goze for attending our event in Tulalip, Washington. Please talk to your diocesan bishop to learn about how you can get involved with community development.

Asset Based Community Development work is being streamlined with the intention of New Opportunity Grants, as a way to continue sharing the learnings from new ministry projects. As such, I will connect with new awardees twice per year to gather information. Please see the attached article for a list of 2014 recipients.

Other joint ministry projects including New Community Gathering and Why Serve were huge successes! They continue to gather ministry leaders who are on the edge of new ministry projects relating to congregational development, faith formation and advocacy.

New Community: "Together, Advancing the Sacred Dream" gathered 200 attendees to provide opportunities for clergy and lay people to explore mission in ethnic ministries. This gathering of Asian, Black, Latino/Hispanic and Native American clergy and lay leaders provided a safe place to share hopes and dreams, needs and concerns, gifts and ministries in the context of being the New Community. Indigenous Ministry’s break-out sessions included updates on indigenous theology and boarding school era updates.

Why Serve gathered over 70 ethnic young adults at Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, CA to discern their calling. It was our first Why Serve in partnership with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We expect the event to continue to gather steam with more and more attendees in years to come. Together they engaged these questions:

The New Community – The face of our church is changing, and we are being made new. How do we renew ourselves as leaders and celebrate our diversity and commonality?

Identity – What does it look like to be a young adult Episcopalian of color? What does it mean for you to embrace your evolving and complex identity as a child of God?

This event is one of my favorite events, as it’s one that first piqued my interest in ministry as a young adult and demonstrated the connection between calling and vocation for a lifetime of ministry commitment. Please read their reflections included in the newsletter.

Lastly, the education and advocacy around the boarding school era has continued to evolve through our Repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery work. The National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition met with the Council on Native American Ministries and tribal leaders at National Congress of American Indians in March. Tribal leaders have agreed to take the topic to their fall agenda to work toward advocacy for education, collective healing and community development. These language changes have moved forward within our Indigenous Ministry networks for an acknowledgement on churches’ historic involvement in boarding schools (between 1869 and 1965 at least 100,000 American Indian/Alaskan Native children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in boarding schools operated by the Federal Government and, under contract, with Christian denominations to further the Indian Civilization Act of March 3, 1819 and President Grant’s “Peace Policy” of 1869) and to advocate for the U.S. Congress to investigate and report on the effects of the Boarding School Policy and to call for restoration, healing, and reconciliation among our tribal communities, participating churches, and the Federal Government. White Earth Tribal Chairwoman and lifelong Episcopalian Erma Vizenor is leading this advocacy effort in the Diocese of Minnesota, Executive Council Committee on Indigenous Ministries, and with the National Congress of American Indians.

Thank you for all the ministry work you do for your people. Please know that my door is always open, and you may reach out to me via email at seagleheart@episcopalchurch.org and on my cell phone at (917) 582-7729.

Pilamaya,

Sarah Eagle Heart