2. everyday practice; living body,,  2.b. Let it sing: General Assembly

Is an apology enough?

Is an apology enough?

Over the past several years, the Office of Theology and Worship (PMA), in partnership with Native American Intercultural Congregational Support (PMA), has been contemplating and discussing the General Assembly referrals concerning the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery. Together, we navigated its profound implications for various Native American communities and the crucial steps to move forward. Initially tasked with developing resources and curricula, we soon realized the complexity of these endeavors far exceeded our initial expectations.

To get to the core of the matter, achieving the objectives outlined in the referral requires a deliberate approach that respects the pace set by Native American community members. This may contrast with white institutions’ urgency to swiftly “be right” or “be righteous.” Before diving in, however, there is a critical need to address the myriad ethical nuances and cultural competencies at play.

For instance, we recently received an inquiry from a PC(USA) constituent questioning the adequacy of PC(USA)’s apology to Native American communities. In response, we offer a helpful article and a comment from our colleague, Irvin Porter, regarding the complexities of issuing an “apology” to Native American communities. His insights and article, attached as an addendum to this blog post, may shed light on this intricate matter.

“I think this [article] could give you all some context as to a contemporary example of speaking the Apology in person to those in Juneau, Alaska, who were directly affected by issues mentioned in the Apology document. Being among an Indigenous group to discuss these matters is much more important than issuing edicts from afar. An apology for anything should come with ongoing relationships of healing. […] For Native people, it means you care that you come to them instead of the other way around. It was a truly healing time for both the Soboleff family, the Tlingit community in Juneau, and the Presbyterian Church, USA. The Spirit of God was in that place to bring healing, understanding, and the goodness of God as all these entities move into the future together.”

White institutions often keep demanding the work to be done on “our” terms, producing “resources” and “curricula,” once again, not on the terms of those who are deeply related to Turtle Island. However, what seems to matter most is the “ongoing relationships of healing” in the Native American communities in that progress instead of producing materials that can meet the needs of white institutions.


You can download Irvin’s article here: PCUSA NATIVE AMERICAN JUNEAU

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