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Act of Repentance at GC

April 30, 2012

United Methodist Church: NUNCA MAS!

From 1999-2001 my husband, Jason and I lived in the countries of Guatemala and Mexico. For a long time I had desired to live and travel in Latin America, as I was fluent in Spanish, and Latin American and Iberian Studies was one of my two undergraduate degrees.

Latin American countries have long, complicated, and unique histories. In Guatemala the rich culture and architecture of its Mayan ancestry stands in contrast to the raging poverty and dysfunctional social system. Some 500-plus years after the Spanish Conquest the country still aches to right itself– barely finding a footing of democracy after a recent 36-year civil war (1960-1996). In 1999 the Human Rights Office of the Archdiocese of Guatemala produced a large volume which documented the civil war, calling it the “recovery of historical memory project.” It was a sign of hope for the people whose communities and lives had been destroyed by war, as well as a clarion call for a country to “never again” (nunca mas in Spanish) impose such pain and atrocities on its people.

I think about my time in Guatemala and what I learned there– living among the indigenous people, and how those experiences shaped me. With General Conference upon us, some people have been asking what the Act of Repentance (AOR) is that we’ll be taking part of in Tampa. In part it is a time for us to remember, repent, and ask forgiveness for a shameful part of our Methodist heritage. On Nov. 29, 1864, Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister, led the attack on a Cheyenne and Arapaho encampment along the banks of Sand Creek. At least 165 were killed, mostly women, children and the elderly near Eads, Colorado in an attack known as the Sand Creek Massacre.

It is also a time of self-awareness. An acquaintance of mine, Rev. Chebon Kernell, of Oklahoma City, OK, and Executive Secretary of Native American/Indigenous Ministries at the General Board of Global Ministries wrote me this, “My concern is to use every opportunity to speak the truth. And for this issue (AOR and the motivation for it) it is the truth that the Church is not aware of.”

Until I had heard about an Act of Repentance at General Conference, I had not heard of or learned about the Sand Creek Massacre. Now I have heard about it, and I do know. For a society like ours that lacks collective memory and is simultaneously obsessed with a quick-fix — the thoughtful and purposeful process of hearing, listening, and truth-telling may seem obscure or strange. But for native people like Chebon, my Mayan friends in Guatemala, and now me– sharing in a moment like the AOR at General Conference is an opportunity to tell the truth and a time for us as (United) Methodists to say “never again” to crimes against humanity in God’s name.

To learn more, go to: http://www.gccuic-umc.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=267&Itemid=283

-Amanda Stein

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One Comment
  1. ‘Act of Repentance’ hoping to heal wounds

    TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) — Missionaries to Native Americans hope The United Methodist Church’s “Act of Repentance” will become a balm to heal wounds that still are open. The April 27 worship service at General Conference focused on the past mistreatment of indigenous people, though it was prompted in part by the 1864 massacre of 168 unarmed Cheyennes and Arapahoes near Sand Creek, Colo. The attack was led by an ordained Methodist pastor and army officer. On April 30, General Conference approved a petition dealing specifically with the Sand Creek Massacre.

    Sand Creek Massacre Petition» http://www.gc2012conversations.com/2012/04/30/sand-creek-massacre-petition-passes-the-plenary/

    Native missionaries welcome Act of Repentance» http://www.umc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.aspx?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=8057055&ct=11731587

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