Growing out of our Land Acknowledgment Statement, Gloria Dei leadership (Pastors, Staff, and Racial Justice Committee) realizes the words of the statement now need to take shape in our community. We, therefore, are now entering a time of active participation in establishing reparations and seeking relationships with Native American people and communities.
This is action that will take investment from all at Gloria Dei. It will be a landmark for us as a church, a touchstone for ministry in much the same way that Reconciling in Christ, adopted in 2000, has been for our identity and action as a congregation with LGBTQ+ people and concerns. We will want to do this well, keeping in mind that we are stewards of this land and place that is very near Bdote, the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, and that our stewardship leads us to relationships with those whose land was stolen and other native/indigenous peoples.
This land near Bdote was Dakota territory and the site of the confluence is regarded as the spiritual place of origin for Dakota people, as the Garden of Eden is for Judeo/Christian people. Also Bdote was the site that the U.S. Government used as a concentration camp for Dakota people following the United States/Dakota War of 1862. In the winter of 1862/1863 many died in that camp in the river bottom just below Ft. Snelling, and though Dakota people were not systematically killed there, this was a part of the genicidal policies throughout the United States. Therefore, it is also a sacred site in much the same way as a cemetery or burial grounds might feel sacred.
Gloria Dei has begun work with Dr. Kelly Sherman Conroy, an ELCA theologian and Lakota woman. Kelly’s work with the congregation will seek to establish relationships so restorative justice might be addressed through reparations that connect the congregation with native communities. The church council and you–every member of Gloria Dei–will eventually be voting on making reparations a consistent part of our yearly budget. The actions of today will be a touchstone for the future of our ministry as we move forward together.
Some ways to keep in touch with this action
· Fill out this survey from the Racial Justice Committee. The full text is below; paper copies will be available this Sunday in the bulletin and at the ministry fair.
· Learn more by attending congregational discussions at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 9, and Nov. 20. The forum on the Sept. 18 will be led by Pastors Kelly Sherman Conroy and Bradley Schmeling: “Working Together to Do Reparations Well.”
· Share ideas and thoughts with pastors or members of the racial justice team.