A worship service marking the 10 years since the United Church gave its apology to former students of United Church Indian Residential Schools, and to their families and communities; and the beginning of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
There are many Sundays services during which you might use these worship resources in the season of Pentecost. The period May 25 to June 22 is most appropriate, as May 26 is the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation*, and June 21 is National Aboriginal Day*, leading to First Nations Sunday in the United Church. The United Church has set aside this period to “uncover the wounds of empire” and work toward healing and reconciliation in our society, especially with First Nations peoples.
The United Church apology regarding residential schools was first delivered at a press conference on October 27, 1998, so you might think of incorporating these suggestions into World Wide Communion Sunday (Indigenous peoples around the world have suffered similarly from attempts to assimilate them by colonizers) on October 5, or on October 19.
Please download elements of the suggested worship service:
The full text of the 1998 apology can be found in the Social Policy Index; some of it is incorporated into the worship service’s Prayer of Confession. The 1997 Statement of Repentance is also online. In 2003, the Executive of the General Council adopted six principles to guide the church in any negotiations with the federal government.
The United Church is a signatory to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement* (implemented September 19, 2007), of which one aspect is the conduct of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission* over the next five years. The goals of the commission are primarily to hear and publicly acknowledge residential school experiences, impacts, and consequences; to initiate and encourage reconciliation from all parties of interest, and to create as complete an historical record as possible of the Indian Residential Schools system and legacy. The commission website has much more information as well as the text of James Scott’s speech on the importance of apology.
You may also wish to refer to:
Another worship service on an Aboriginal theme is available on the website of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. See also the “Worship Resources” section of From Chains to Freedom*: Journeying Toward Reconciliation, 2007 Racial Justice Resource, Canadian Ecumenical Anti-Racism Network, Toronto for possible adaptation.