The four colours of the Medicine Wheel and the Mohawk words have been incorporated on the United Church crest since 2012. Indigenous spirituality, leadership, and participation are vital to the church’s life.
Indigenous peoples welcomed those who brought the Christian gospel to this land, and Indigenous faith communities were part of the formation of the United Church. However, the church also acknowledges the limitations of a Christianity rooted in European origins, and the profoundly negative impact it had on the Indigenous peoples of Canada. The United Church has apologized for this broken relationship and is actively working to heal it. The 30th anniversary of the church’s Apology to First Nations Peoples is being marked in 2016.
Today, there are Indigenous communities of faith across the country. The United Church’s Aboriginal Ministries Circle works with these communities to understand their needs, share their wisdom, and support and empower their people. The Aboriginal Spiritual Gathering is a triennial event that brings together members from all the Aboriginal congregations to discuss the current reality and discuss changes for the future. United Church congregations are encouraged to acknowledge the territory they are on, build relationships with Indigenous communities, and incorporate Indigenous themes into worship.
Working closely with the Committee on Indigenous Justice and Residential Schools (IJRS), the Circle also fosters initiatives for reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. For example, in 2015, an ecumenical group met to review and discuss the Doctrine of Discovery—the historical position that disregarded non-Christian people and justified taking their land—and to generate resources for congregational engagement.
Increasingly, international connections among Indigenous peoples have been facilitated by the Circle. Kii’iljus (Barbara Wilson), a member of the IJRS Committee, brought her perspective to the United Church delegation to the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21) in November/December 2015. Two Indigenous participants, Ray Jones and Rhonda Johns, joined the 2015 United Church delegation to China at the invitation of the China Christian Council (CCC) and the Three-Self Patriotic Movement of the Protestant Churches in China. Indigenous representation was also requested to accompany the Cordillera Celebrations and to participate in the Arctic Futures Conference in Sweden.
Contact the Aboriginal Ministries Circle: