Ecumenical Working Group on Residential Schools:
Reflections to Spark Conversation on Christian Theology
It has been 45 years since the formal participation of mainline Christian churches in the Indian residential school system was dramatically reduced, and more than 25 years since survivors began confronting those in the church with the disastrous consequences of that system on themselves, their families, their communities, languages and cultures. For a long time, the churches avoided coming to terms with this history and its legacy. The subject of residential schools has been shrouded in silence and justified by a veneer of "good intentions." It only has been relatively recently that churches have begun to reflect in deep humility on the theological assumptions and interpretations that gave rise to the churches' complicity in this evil. This paper proposes that theological colleges, learning centres, and scholars have vital roles to play in supporting deeper theological engagement with this topic.
This paper contends that our theologies of confession, repentance, and reconciliation are not yet sufficient to address the churches' complicity in historical violence and injustice against Indigenous peoples, perpetrated in Christ's name, or to confront the injustices that continue. We observe, moreover, that while there is a growing body of institutional confessions concerning what happened in the schools, there is little evidence of a deeply held and commonly understood sense of repentance among the members of the Body of Christ in Canada. Without such understanding, what will motivate Christian support for the kinds of acts of atonement and repentance that will be necessary to bring about justice and restore harmony in relationships? Theology and theological education can play important roles in helping the Church understand why transformation is required to foster reconciliation.
|Publisher||The Ecumenical Working Group on Residential Schools|
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