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Responding to a crisis in Indigenous communities is the focus of Week of Action Thursday

Co-Moderator among those speaking on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

Elona Street-Stewart and the Rev. Irvin Porter celebrate communion on Native American Day on September 12, 2018, at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — On Thursday, Aug. 26, the Presbyterian Week of Action will focus on an ongoing crisis in Indigenous communities in the United States, Canada, and around the world with a day themed “No More Stolen Relatives: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People.”

“The day’s events and resources will center the voices of Native American Presbyterians as well as other Indigenous peoples and allies,” says the Rev. Alexandra Zareth, Associate for Leadership Development & Recruitment for Leaders of Color in Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries. “Invitations will be offered for various ways to engage in the conversation and to learn, pray and act.

“The day will include videos from Co-Moderator Elona Street-Stewart (Delaware Nanticoke) and the Rev. Irv Porter (Pima, Nez Perce, and Tohono O’odham), Associate for Native American Intercultural Congregational Support, that help frame the crisis from a personal place. There will be a devotional featuring a Scripture reading in the Choctaw language, a poem written by an individual who has a friend counted among the Missing and Murdered of this crisis, and a Litany for Murdered and Missing Indigenous People.”

The Second Annual Presbyterian Week of Action, Aug. 23-29, is designed to bring attention and action to people and communities living under different forms of oppression, a response to the PC(USA)’s Matthew 25 invitation and Hands & Feet initiative. It is seven days with online events each day designed to illuminate the issues that the focus group for the day faces.

The Rev. Alexandra Zareth of Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leads communion during the “Gifts of New Immigrants” service on Oct. 9, 2019 at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Kentucky. (File photo)

“We hope folx will join the cry of many who have been crying out and naming this crisis as such,” says Zareth, who is co-coordinating the day with the Rev. Mark Koenig, Internal Communications Specialist with the Administrative Services Group. “Our communities have felt the loss, the deaths, the questions, and the lack of action … this is not new to ‘us.’ But it is new to many, and we hope people will understand that we belong to each other; that all pain is shared pain; and that we are all called to mourn together and act together.”

Visit the Week of Action website for information on all days and an overview of the week

This is the schedule for the day (all times Eastern):

9:30 a.m. “No More Stolen Relatives A Time to Learn, A Time to Act” a brief video inviting people to participate in the day.

11:00 a.m. “Taking Action for Native Americans” a short video

12:30 p.m. “No More Stolen Relatives A Devotional” a brief video featuring a Scripture reading in the Choctaw language, an original poem, and a litany for missing and murdered Indigenous persons

4:30 p.m. “We All Belong to Each Other” a short video

All events will stream on the Week of Action webpage. Facts about the crisis will also be shared throughout the day on the PC(USA) social media pages, including FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Koenig notes that, “an opportunity will be provided to advocate for the passage of the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2021. This act has provisions that will help protect Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People.”

“Links will be provided to study resources and further information,” Zareth says.  “Finally, we want to empower siblings in Christ to respond to the Holy Spirit’s invitation to act by providing them with facts and statements that are sharable on social media and will help inform hearts and minds in ways that lead to action.”

“The Indigenous communities and their allies who work to address this crisis have adopted red as the color of the movement,” Koenig notes. “We encourage you to wear red, take a selfie, and share it on social media with the hashtag #WeekofActionPCUSA.”

This is an effort that will last more than a day or a week, Zareth and Koenig say.

“Our work for this day is only the beginning of an entire year of focus,” Zareth says. “We want our siblings in Christ to know that Native American Presbyterians will lead a worship service at 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, Sept. 22, Native American Day in the PC(USA). Information and action sessions will take place during the months to follow that will continue to inform, equip, and inspire people to respond faithfully and together as a community of faith.”

For more information, contact the Office of Leadership Development for Leaders of Color at  mailto:Alexandra.Zareth@pcusa.org.

This is the second of seven stories detailing each day of the Week of Action. Read the previous story here.


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