Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
Worship materials created for Mennonite Heritage Sunday with the theme “Lament in response to the Doctrine of Discovery” are now available at mennoniteusa.org/heritage2018. Heritage Sunday takes place on the last Sunday of each October, Oct. 28 this year, to mark events and people with historical importance in the church, and has focused on a wide range of historical topics in the past.
This year’s Heritage Sunday materials include worship resources that recognize and lament ways Mennonites have been complicit in the oppression of Indigenous people.
“It’s important to recognize our collective past, not just parts we’re proud of, but also ways we have contributed to injustices in our world,” says Jason Kauffman, director of Archives and Records Management for MC USA. “We should understand and contemplate the ways Mennonites have benefited from the unjust system of colonialism and the impact on Indigenous people.”
The Doctrine of Discovery is a philosophical and legal framework that granted moral and legal rights to Christian governments to invade and seize Indigenous lands and dominate Indigenous people. Information and resources about the Doctrine of Discovery are available at the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery website, including a study guide, video and ways to get involved.
Kauffman invited the Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition to create the worship resources, and contributors include Katerina Friesen, Alison Brookins, Barbara Funnell and Kate Kortemeier.
MC USA has not created Heritage Sunday materials since 2014 due to staff transition, but Kauffman is committed to bringing back the tradition. He hopes these worship resources can serve as a tool to engage the broader church with this history.
“I believe God is calling the church universal to repentance and repair,” says Friesen. “My hope is that when Mennonite congregations enter into this service of lament with a spirit of humility, God will lead us beyond guilt and shame and into new areas of restoration, healing and justice.”
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