Youth at NISG in Rama, Ontario
Youth program participants weigh in on the future of the church. Photo: The United Church of Canada

On August 6 and 7, Indigenous United Church people from Quebec to British Columbia travelled to the territory of the Chippewas of Rama near Orillia, Ontario, for the National Indigenous Spiritual Gathering. The gathering, which will be charting a new path for a self-determining Indigenous church, opens on August 8.

On August 7, four groups held pre-meetings to do some important work. The current National Indigenous Council worked with facilitator Chris Cavanagh to finalize a thoughtful, energizing process to lead the gathering through discernment and decision-making. Indigenous members of the Office of Vocation and the Provisional Indigenous Candidacy Board held their initial meeting together.

Elders and Indigenous Caretakers gathered to honour and make decisions about the sacred bundle that has guided the All Native Circle Conference’s work over its 30-year life while a sacred fire burned outside to help guide the work.

Youth participants had perhaps the most balanced day, discussing what they want to see in the self-determining Indigenous church, selecting five nominees to the new National Indigenous Council, running a Blanket Exercise, and for good measure, taking a dip in Lake Couchiching.

The next four days will be full of challenge and hope as the Indigenous church determines its own future. Your accompaniment and prayers are welcome.