(RNS) — The head of the country’s largest Lutheran denomination announced Wednesday (April 12) the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is launching its own Truth and Healing Movement to help its 3 million members better understand the “colonizing impacts” the church has had on Indigenous people, both past and present.“We must be in better, right, and healthy relationships with the Indigenous people of Turtle Island,” ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said in a written statement. “As we know, the truth and our knowing and embracing it, is the first step toward healing for all of us.”
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The initiative was born out of the mainline denomination’s 2016 repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and “A Declaration of the ELCA to American Indian and Alaska Native People,” delivered publicly last year at its Churchwide Assembly in Columbus, Ohio.
But the ELCA didn’t start the movement, according to Vance Blackfox, the denomination’s director for Indigenous ministries and tribal relations.
Rather, Blackfox said, the ELCA is joining an informal movement unfolding across the United States started by Indigenous people to educate and heal the country and its relationship with those who first lived on the land.
Vance Blackfox, director for Indigenous ministries and tribal relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, addresses the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, Aug. 10, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller
“It’s important for us to recognize that Indigenous peoples have expertise in these areas already and that we as a church are not the experts,” said Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation.
“For so long, …
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