Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Blue Dot Tour, October 24

Tickets available on the Blue Dot Tour Website.

How Will We Walk Together?

This past Saturday, Where Waters Meet was a deep, moving and inspiring time of ceremony, sharing of stories, laughter and tears, feasting and working toward right relations with all creation.  We will be posting more reports about this past weekend's Where Waters Meet in the next short while, including pictures.  

As you know from earlier posts, leadership for the day was provided by powerful voices, including those of Stan McKay, Melody McKellar, Melanie Kampen and Steve Heinrichs.  Red Threads of Peace, a Playback Theatre group, changed the pace for us all, but certainly not the intensity of our engagement with important matters.

One of the items of discussion toward the end of the afternoon was that we wished to deepen the connections made during the day, and to expand our connection with the indigenous community.  

Steve has sent an invitation to take steps in that direction.  Below the image of the poster, you'll find his invitation to all of us.


Want to thank you all again for inviting me into the Faith in the City ‘circle’.  I really enjoyed my experience this past weekend, and was profoundly moved on a number of fronts.  Thank you for all the hard work that you put into this.

Very grateful.

If you’re interested, I’d like to invite you to a gathering on November 1st which is exploring how we can build tangible partnerships/relationships right here in the city and communities. Adrian Jacobs and Michael Champagne are our guest teachers, and it’s all taking place at Circle of Life Thunderbird House. Please see the attached poster...and please join us. We’d be honoured. Feel free to share with your networks.

Take care,


- submitted by Gareth

Monday, 29 September 2014

Stan, Melanie, Melody and Steve

Stan McKay (Cree)

Stan McKay is a theology graduate from the University of Winnipeg and was ordained on his home reservation in Fisher River in 1971, and served as moderator of the United Church of Canada from 1992-1994. He has energy for building cross cultural relations and addressing historical and present injustice. Dorothy and Stan are retired by Netley Creek.

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.”  Matthew 6:28

Melanie Kampen (Settler/Mennonite)

Melanie Kampen recently completed her Master of Theological Studies at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests are at the intersection of Christian theology and settler-colonialism in North America. She is also involved in Mennonite Church Manitoba's Partnership Circles with Matheson Island and Pauingassi First Nation and plugs into the local Idle No More movement whenever she can. 

"Let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream!" Amos 5:24

Melody McKellar (Mohawk/French)

Melody, who lives east of Beausejour with husband Ernest Bradshaw, is a member of the Spiritual Health Team at Selkirk Mental Health Centre.  She is completing her Masters of Sacred Theology with a major in “Intercultural Ministry”.  Melody and Ernest both own and operate a Bison Ranch in their ‘spare time’ and use no chemicals on the land.  They deliberately leave wetlands in the fields for the wild birds and animals to share and do not allow hunting on the land so the animals have sanctuary to raise their young.

It will take each and everyone of us to work together from this moment on, regardless of race, creed or culture for the earth to continue to sustain life for generations to come.”

Steve Heinrichs (Settler/Christian)

Steve, on the left
Steve Heinrichs lives in Treaty 1 Territory, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, along with his spouse Ann and their three children, Abby, Aiden and Isabelle.  Steve is the editor of the groundbreaking book "Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry".  A former reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Palestine, Steve pastored a Mennonite church in northern BC.  Currently Steve is Indigenous relations director for Mennonite Church Canada.  On Sundays, Steve and family walk a few blocks to Hope Mennonite Church – a community of activists, doubters, and Jesus-followers - for worship, Word and nursery chaos.

“The glory of the human has become the desolation of the Earth. The desolation of the Earth is becoming the destiny of the human. It is imperative, therefore, that all human institutions and activities - economic, political, and religious - be judged primarily by the extent to which they inhibit, ignore, or foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.”   -Thomas Berry (1914-2009) 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

WATER - Prayer by Karla W.

Karla, member of the Faith in the City planning group, shared this prayer at the end of August.  It is offered in this blog with her permission.

~Water~         by Karla W

Creator God
Mother and Father of all that is
in humbleness and humility for all that is undeserving,
hear our fervent prayer.

We have grown thirsty from crying,
wandering the desert, troubled, delirious...far gone.
We see the water, yet do not drink.

Unclench our sticky, furled fists of greed so we may catch
one lone tear from your heavenly Grace.

Let it wash us clean so that we may, once again, feel the beauty of the earth...like children

eyes cleansed, restoring vision that clearly sees the gift of creation

let it run through our veins, blood of Christ...life giving forgiveness

quenching our insatiable thirst for the riches of the land and sea

give drink to our parched hearts, restoring the connected rhythm with all of creation.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Faith in the City II Poster

This year's poster is now available.  Thank you, Donna Hainstock, for a very attractive design which so effectively reflects Faith in the City's focus.  The posters are available to anyone who wishes to help publicize our event (church or organization's bulletin boards, for example).  You may, of course, also copy and paste the image (email, facebook, blogs), and share the information with friends, organizations, etc..

To receive a printed poster, please contact Gareth at garneuf@mymts.net.

Faith in the City II - WHERE WATERS MEET

First Peoples and Settlers Exploring our Relationship with Mother Earth 
through Shared Stories and Sacred Acts

UPDATE:  This is updated information.  Note, for example, that Where Waters Meet will not begin on Friday evening, as previously planned, but rather on Saturday morning.  

Oct. 18, 19, 2014
Saturday, 9 - 4:30; Sunday morning, 10:30
Augustine United Church
144 River Avenue (Osborne Village)
Winnipeg, Manitoba

This year, Faith in the City II – Augustine’s annual ecumenical, congregationally-based conversation – explores our relationship with Mother Earth.  First Peoples and Settlers will gather at Augustine United Church and at the Assiniboine River nearby, to engage together in examining questions such as:
  • How do we rekindle our spiritual connection to the earth?
  • How can settlers and indigenous peoples be allies in actions to defend our earth’s resources?
  • How has Christian theology/tradition brought us to where we are (e.g. the ecological crisis, the troubled relationship between first peoples/settlers)?
  • How can a decolonized and reimagined Christian theology move us to a new and sacred place?
  • How can the settlers among us find the courage to become unsettled?   

Stan McKay (Cree), Melanie Kampen (Settler Mennonite), Melody McKellar (Mohawk/French) and Steve Heinrichs (Settler Christian) will lead this highly experiential and interactive day of ceremony, conversations and sharing-circles. 

On Sunday, the Very Rev. Dr. Stan McKay (former moderator of the United Church of Canada) will join Rev. Bob Gilbert (Augustine United Church) in leading a special Faith in the City worship service at 10:30 a.m..

Registration Cost
The following categories are guidelines.  Registrants may pay as they are able.
$40 (Fully employed); $30 (employed part-time); $20 (student/unemployed)

Donations are most welcome.  When donating $75 or more, your registration will be included, and a tax-deductible receipt will be issued for a portion of the donation.

Registration Form will be available on this site Monday, September 8.

Please continue to visit the Faith in the City blog for ongoing updates.  

Sunday, 7 September 2014

WHERE WATERS MEET - Registration Form

To access the Faith in the City II (2014) Registration Form, click here.  Please print page 1, complete and submit to the Augustine United Church office.  Thank you for registering.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

From Garden to Tower: Genesis 1-11

Chapter 6 in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry is written by Ched Myers, an activist theologian who has worked in social change movements for thirty-five years.  He is an educator who animates Scripture and issues of faith-based peace and justice.  Ched points to his solidarity work with Indigenous peoples in and around the Pacific Basin in the 1980s as key to his political and spiritual growth. (Information taken from biographical notes in Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry).  Chapter 6 is titled:  “From Garden to Tower:  Genesis 1-11 as a Critique of Civilization and an Invitation to Indigenous Re-Visioning”.

The first of the following excerpts is from the opening of the chapter, the second from its conclusion.  Though the entire middle of his chapter is missing, my hope is that these excerpts will be helpful in capturing the essence of his writing.

Origin stories matter.  They tell us who we are, how we got this way, and what our responsibilities are to our collective past, present, and future.  They shape meaning and help us order life … for good or for ill.  (pp 109, 110)


The bold, archetypal strokes of Genesis 1-11 name our settler history, however unsettling its critique may be to those still loyal to the Promethean fables of modernity.  The biblical “fall” is not so much a cosmic moment of moral failure as a history of decline into civilization – exactly contrary to our mythic Western narrative of Progress.  As a literary expression of resistance to empire, the primeval creation story rightly warned us of the social pathologies and ecocidal consequences that have intensified exponentially now for a dozen millennia.

As a result, our generation faces a threefold crisis:

1.     The natural world has been increasingly demystified and subjected to ever more intense technological exploitation, to the point of collapse;
2.     Hierarchical social formation, economic stratification, and war have proliferated to the point of perpetual class and national conflict; and
3.     Human spiritual life and ecological competence have atrophied, resulting in our growing alienation from both nature and Spirit.

In light of this, the conversation represented in this book is crucial.  Our settler churches need to learn from contemporary keepers of Indigenous wisdom – both Christian and non-Christian – about how to re-vision creation care and sustainable community.  This includes exploring how a “Native hermeneutic” might help us re-read our sacred texts.  But this will also mean challenging deeply held assumptions about the congruency between “Christian civilization” and the will of Creator for humanity and nature.

Furthermore, we Christians need to re-center our theology and practices in real landscapes for which we take keen responsibility.  In southern California, our educational work around what we call “bioregional discipleship” is grounded specifically in the Ventura watershed.  We have come to understand that we can’t save what we don’t love, we can’t love what we don’t know, and we can’t know what we haven’t learned.  So, we are committed to literacy, both in the ecology of our watershed and in the painful history and remnant culture of the First Peoples of this place.  For us, this means experimenting with Native habitat preservation and restoration, and learning from Indigenous Chumash traditions of relationship to this landscape and habitat.

It is impossible to argue, given today’s ecological crisis, that the “civilized” life-ways of the last five thousand (or five hundred, or even fifty) years are as sustainable as those of the previous five hundred thousand.  Let us settlers heed the ancient wisdom of Genesis 1-11, which may be “all we have to fight off illness and death”.  And let us “repent” – which is to say, struggle alongside Native communities to turn our wrong-way history around, and recover the old ways for which we were created.  (pp 119-121)

 To put your hands on your own copy of Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry, contact Steve Heinrichs at the offices of Mennonite Church, Canada.  It’s a powerful read.

The blog Easy Yolk has a interesting post about Myers' work.  You can read it here. 

Submitted by Gareth 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Unsettling Theology

BUFFALO SHOUT, SALMON CRY, edited by Steve Heinrichs, is a collection of essays and poetry, which offers up "alternative histories, radical theologies, and subversive memories that can unsettle our souls and work toward reconciliation" (taken from the back cover of book).  Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry is available at the offices of Mennonite Church, Canada, on CMU campus.  Ask for Steven Heinrichs (Director of Indigenous Relations, Mennonite Church, Canada).

In the book's section titled Unsettling Theology, Randy Woodley's text "Early Dialogue in the Community of Creation" seeks to help Western Christians understand Scripture through the lens of Indigenous teachings which, he says, can be key to healing our world.  Woodley (Keetoowah Cherokee) serves as distinguished associate professor of faith and culture and director of intercultural and Indigenous studies at George Fox Seminary in Portland, Oregon.  He and his wife, Edith (Eastern Shoshone), have four children and lead a local Native American gathering in their home in Newberg, Oregon.

This excerpt is from the first part of his chapter.

(Buffalo Shout, Salmon Cry ... pp 92-94)

The body of meaningful theological dialogue between North American Indigenous peoples and settler-Christians is paltry, and mostly covered with deep scars.  Indigenous peoples have been the recipients of the superabundance of Christian thought for over half a millennium, but most of the discourse has been directed at us, not with us.  In spite of these colonial and paternalistic realities, we - both Indigenous and settler peoples - share something unique and primal.  We all belong to a great community of creation, and we are participating in it together here on Turtle Island.  Each of us, including every non-human creature in this land, has a vested interest in seeing this creation community living and working well together.

The kingdom of God as the community of creation
Jesus, in his ancient context of imperial occupation, was also concerned with creation's harmony, and used the phrase kingdom of God to communicate this idea.  The metaphor was rightly understood by Jesus' audience in contradistinction to the kingdom of Caesar.  God's kingdom was a Spirit-filled community living out the Creator's shalom purposes on earth.   Of course, throughout Christian history this kingdom metaphor has been used to inspire action of diverse and even contradictory kinds, from the early monastic communities to the medieval Crusades, and from the Reformation to modern millennial movements.  Fortunately, kingdom discourse has recently taken on a softer, less militant tone, and is referenced by newer Christian movements to describe a faith that is holistic, broad in scope and cooperative in spirit.  I believe this fresh path in Christianity is a good starting point for dialogue with Indigenous peoples, for we have wisdom, stories, ceremonies, and theologies that might help us understand in deeper ways what Jesus meant by God's kingdom.

In our globalized and globally warming world, there is an urgent need for the Western church to recognize integrated constructs that encompass reciprocal relationships and the well-being of all things.  The rapacious industrial-imperial situations that we live under nexessitates a theology that can combat the death-dealing impacts of this "Roman Empire".  Perhaps engaging in biblical witness from an Indigenous perspective can help Western Christians do this, enabling us to revision Jesus' kingdom construct into what I call the "community of creation".

Jesus used kingdom language in his context because it made sense to the people and powers to whom he spoke.  His kingdom goal was stated simply:  "On earth as it is in heaven."  In other words, heaven's economy is to be made manifest in creation.  And what is heaven's economy?  It is shalom, a Hebrew term often translated as "peace".  But peace doesn't capture the depth of this word.  Shalom is who the Creator is - the one God, a trinity of persons (from a Christian perspective) dwelling in harmony, mutuality, and deference toward one another and the creation.  Shalom embodies wholeness, completeness, and love.  It is strikingly similar to many Indigenous constructs of "harmony", which emphasize the interconnectedness and interdependency of all things, the need for balance, and the primacy of community.  And if that is what Jesus' kingdom was about - radical shalom and harmony - it is helpful to translate this metaphor into something like community of creation, a phrase infused with Indigenous meaning, which more readily emphasizes that all living things are participating in this new peace that the Creator is bringing about through Christ.  God's shalom community includes more than just humans. ...


... For example, the classic New Testament phrase "For God so loved the world" is most often interpreted as addressing human beings.  But a more faithful reading of this text, which a "community of creation" lens facilitates, is that God loves everything, that God sent the Son to heal and redeem the entire creation, human and nonhuman.

Both Indigenous constructs about harmony and Scripture's teaching on shalom articulate the Creator's preferred ways of realizing peace and balance.  Both set forth practical steps for life as the Creator designed it.  They both also require specific action when these life-ways are broken, for restoration and wholeness are the goal.  Most importantly, they both originate in gratitude, always remembering  that life in all its forms is a gift from the Creator.

- submitted by Gareth N

Friday, 29 November 2013

The Vatican's Journey From Anti-Communism to Anti-Capitalism

The pope's strong condemnation of income inequality and free markets shows how much has changed in the Catholic Church since the Cold War. 

The Atlantic / / Nov 26 2013, 3:31 PM ET

Pope Francis is once again shaking things up in the Catholic Church. On Tuesday, he issued his first “apostolic exhortation,” declaring a new enemy for the Catholic Church: modern capitalism. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” he wrote. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

He couldn't be much clearer. The pope has taken a firm political stance against right-leaning, pro-free market economic policies, and his condemnation appears to be largely pointed at Europe and the United States. His explicit reference to “trickle-down” economic policies—the hallmark of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and their political successors—is just the beginning: Throughout 224 pages on the future of the Church, he condemns income inequality, “the culture of prosperity,” and “a financial system which rules rather than serves.”

Taken in the context of the last half-century of Roman Catholicism, this is a radical move.

You can read the entire article, taken from The Atlantic, by CLICKING HERE. 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Along with Ford, Canada's Political Leadership Hits Rock Bottom

The mayor's gift for dumbing down democracy isn't limited to Toronto suburbs. 

There was a time when it was frowned on for the mayor of a major city to smoke crack and hang with shady characters. And while Rob Ford has much to answer for, his supporters in "Ford Nation" have been on a dangerous bender of their own.

Mayor Ford's puzzling popularity in the face of one salacious scandal after another seems propelled by his cheapening of values that appeals to a morally lazy electorate. Like a pair of drunks egging each other on, Ford and his die-hard supporters are enabling each other's bad behaviour that goes far beyond mere substance abuse.

Ford's everyman appeal stems in part from him making it respectable to indulge our ugliest instincts. Don't care about the poor? Neither does he. Are you a racist and a homophobe? So apparently is the mayor. Drive when drunk? Who doesn't? And while you might not smoke crack or have been charged with assaulting your wife, in case you do, the Chief Magistrate of North America's fourth largest city has got that covered. ...

You can read the entire column by clicking here.

Note:  This column, by Mitchell Anderson, was published Nov. 6 2013, in The Tyee, an independent news source from BC.  This is how David Beers describes The TyeeIn November of 2003 The Tyee began its swim upstream against the media trends of our day. We're independent and not owned by any big corporation. We're dedicated to publishing lively, informative news and views, not dumbed down fluff. We, like the tyee salmon for which we are named, roam free and go where we wish.


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin Story

You are invited to view Flooding Hope: The Lake St. Martin Story and to hear from filmmaker Dr. Myrle Ballard, in the first event of this year's Kairos North East Justice and Peace Speaker Series. The 20 minute film, made in 2012, documents how decades of flood fighting measures to protect towns, cities and farms have resulted in the drowning of Lake St. Martin First Nation land. Dr. Ballard, who has her PhD in natural resources and environmental management grew up in Lake St. Martin, and is Research Associate and Instructor at the Natural Resources Institute at the University of Manitoba. The meeting will take place at John Black United Church at 898 Henderson Highway on Tuesday, November 12th, between 7:30 and 9:30. All are welcome.

See this article from the Winnipeg Free Press to learn more about Dr. Ballard and her film.  http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/film-shows-death-of-a-first-nation-173441301.html

For more information, contact Melanie Whyte at 204-668-3893

Grassroutes, University of Winnipeg

Extractive Industries, Indigenous Development, and the Environment: A Panel Discussion
Tuesday, November 12, 7-9 pm -- The University of Winnipeg, (Riddell Hall)


 Speakers: Wab Kinew, Richard Atleo, Darren Courchene, and more, moderated by Julie Pelletier. More speakers TBA.
In April 2013, an article in the Guardian claimed that “Indigenous rights are the best defence against Canada’s resource rush” and that “First Nations people – and the decision of Canadians to stand alongside them – will determine the fate of the planet.”  This “natural marriage” between environmental activism and movements for Indigenous rights is not new. But is it useful? Or does it simply recycle old myths of the Noble Savage? 
  • What is the relationship between Indigenous development and extractive industries in Canada? 
  • Where does environmental activism fit into the picture?

For more information, for speaker profiles, and for more information about the Grass Routes festival visit www.grassroutes.ca


Tuesday, 5 November 2013

An Overview

November 1-3, 2013
Sponsored and hosted by
Augustine United Church, 444 River Ave, Winnipeg
in Association with
The Knowles/Woodsworth Centre - University of Winnipeg

This is Augustine United Church’s first annual ecumenical, congregationally-based conversation, exploring the intersections of a justice-seeking church and urgent social and cultural matters. 

2013 Theme
Following Jesus … into politics?

Focus of conversations:  "To what extent should Christians rely on political engagement to bring about a just and peaceful society?  What is the response of the church, when the political process inevitably falls short in responding to God's call for justice and peace?"

Faith in the City I begins Friday evening (7 p.m.) with a Keynote Address by Bill Blaikie, United Church minister, former MP and MLA, and director of the Knowles-Woodsworth Centre (University of Winnipeg).

On Saturday (9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.), four 75 minute sessions provide an opportunity for dialogue between these individuals, but will also involve members of the audience.
    Session 1 explores theological perspectives on the question, involving Jane Barter-Moulaison (Religion and Culture, University of Winnipeg and Anglican priest), Tim Sale (former MLA, Anglican priest) and Gord Zerbe (Theology, Canadian Mennonite University, Author:  Citizenship: Paul, Peace and Politics)
    Session 2 invites Winnipeg activists to speak about their personal activism, as well as their experience with and wishes for the church's engagement in social action.  Featured will be Marianne Cerilli (former MLA, Social Planning Council), Jenny Gerbasi (City Counselor), Kevin Lamoureux (University of Winnipeg, Faculty with ACCESS program), David Northcott (Winnipeg Harvest).
Lunch, catered by a partner of the Social Purchasing Portal
    Session 3 brings together four voices reflecting divergent perspectives on the question of Christian engagement in politics.  Participating in this conversation will be Bill Blaikie, Allison Chubb (Chaplain, St. John’s College, U of M), Aiden Enns (Geez Magazine publisher) and Lynda Trono (West Broadway Community Minister).
    Session 4 provides opportunity for small group conversations in response to questions like: What's happening in our congregations?  How can we carry this weekend’s conversation forward in our respective faith communities?

On Sunday (10:30 a.m.), all participants are invited to join a special service of worship at Augustine United Church, which will conclude Faith in the City I.

REGISTRATION:        $55 (fully employed); $40 (part-time); $25 (unemployed/student)  
Registration Deadline:  Oct. 25, 2013

Lunch will be provided on Saturday.
Child care will be provided on Saturday for children under 4 years of age.

For more information contact the office at Augustine United Church
(augustine.uc@mymts.net; phone: (204) 284-2250).