Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri will help lead the Minnesota Council of Church’s truth-telling and reparations work

“We don’t always see the face of God in everybody’s face,” Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri tells her congregation. “And that’s the problem with racism. Somewhere along the line the humanity of that particular group has been taken away and that has to be restored.”

Ngunjiri (pronounced Go-jiri) was recently hired as the Co-Director for Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC). She joins the other Co-Director and Healing Minnesota Stories’ founder Jim Bear Jacobs. Together they are leading the Council’s multi-year effort at truth telling, education and reparations with both the African American and Native American communities.

Ngunjiri and Jacobs say the Council’s first truth-telling event will be held in September, details coming soon. Until them, please meet Rev. Ngunjiri.

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The Covenant Church is the first evangelical church to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery

The Evangelical Covenant Church’s Christian Action Committee, the church’s annual conference, met Friday in Minneapolis and passed a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery.

The Covenant Church joins several Protestant denominations in taking this important step, but is the first evangelical church to do so. The resolution passed with 84 percent of the vote, according to one of the participants.

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Racial justice demands continue for Native American, African American communities

Sounds of Blackness sang as part of the one-year anniversary remembrance of George Floyd’s murder.

Tuesday, hundreds and hundreds of people gathered at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis to commemorate the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of city police. Today, another 100 people gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in St. Paul to continue demands to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, a project that creates the most harm for the Anishinaabe peoples of northern Minnesota.

The two events are linked by the legacy and ongoing reality of white supremacy culture.

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News and Events: A guide to recognizing cultural appropriation, reparations updates, and more

In this blog:

  • Native Governance Center: Guide to cultural appropriation and wellness
  • Webinar: “Boarding School Healing: Mind, Body, Heart, and Spirit,” March 31
  • Watch the Line monitor training Saturday
  • One more in a long list of reasons to worry about Enbridge
  • Jesuits pledge $100 Million to atone for slave labor and sales
  • Webinar: Modern Racial Categories, American slave societies, and the integration of African religious practices into Christianity
  • Lessons From Lynchings: There’s a through-line from a noose on the neck to a knee on the neck
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One church’s path towards reparations: Donating its property tax equivalent to Black- and Indigenous-lead organizations

Attend Zoom meeting Sunday to learn more

It can be overwhelming for white people to acknowledge the tremendous harms their ancestors and this nation inflicted on Native American and African American communities, harms that we continue to inflict. It’s overwhelming to think about how to repair centuries of brutality, trauma and genocide.

White Christian churches have additional layers of responsibility and atonement. Some churches used the Bible to justify slavery or profited from owning slaves or slave labor. Many denominations ran Indian boarding schools, where children were forcibly Christianized and often abused. Some died without seeing their families again.

That’s a lot to take in. The Columbus Mennonite Church in Columbus, Ohio, is taking one small, concrete, and practical step towards reparations. As a church, it doesn’t pay property taxes. It estimated what that property tax amount would be, and will donate it each year to Black- and Indigenous-lead organizations. No strings attached.

As the church members wrestled with how to disperse this small reparations fund, it sparked conversations that have been transforming the church and its worship experience.

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Events: The Derek Chauvin trial begins, stopping Line 3, learn about reparations work, and more

In this blog:

  • March 7: Pray for Minnesota: A Gathering for Unity and Peace as the murder trial of George Floyd begins
  • March 8: Global Day of Prayer, George Floyd Square
  • March 10: Art at the Capitol
  • March 11: Rise by the River to Stop Line 3
  • March 11 and April 8: Antisemitism and White Supremacy
  • March 16: Righting Wrongs, Repairing Our Communities
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Holocaust survivors continue to receive German reparations payments to this day

Part of an ongoing series exploring reparations

By Vic Rosenthal and Scott Russell

Jewish men in the Radom ghetto March, 1941. They were forced to wear white armbands with a blue Star of David to mark them as outsiders. Photo: Brenner/Wikimedia Commons

Sarah (not her real name) was a teenager in Radom, Poland when Germany invaded her country in September, 1939, the start of World War II.

Now a U.S. citizen in her 90s, she remembers living in extreme poverty and constant hunger in the Radom ghetto. Many men were taken away and never seen again. Sarah was forced into slave labor, her brother taken away. She and her mother were sent on a death march to Auschwitz and later Bergen Belsen.

“More than five years in ghettos with poverty and starvation and two death marches, but I survived,” she said. “I don’t know how.”

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Indigenous organization seeks church partners for truth telling, healing, around Indian boarding school trauma

Part of an ongoing series on healing and reparations

Can you remember when you were 8 years old, somewhere around third grade? Put yourself in that frame of mind.

Imagine adults you don’t know come to your door. They grab you and take you away from your family. Your parents are distraught, weeping and seem powerless. You don’t know what’s going on.

You are taken to a place you have never been before. Nothing is familiar. You are immediately scrubbed with lye soap as some aggressive adult snaps about “filthy savages” to no one in particular.

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Reparations start with letting go of our myths

Part of an occasional series on truth telling and repair

Riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. Photo: Ted Eytan, Creative Commons license.

The tragic and horrific Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol offers an important lesson about how strongly we hold to our sacred national stories and myths.

The day of the attack, President-elect Joe Biden said: “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect the true America. This is not who we are.”

Politicians on both sides of the aisle have made similar arguments. Implicit in their speeches is this affirmative statement: “We are a good and decent people.”

Some commentators are pushing back, saying the “this-is-not-who-we-are” argument denies of our history and current reality.

Omar Wasow, writing in the Washington Post, said: “A better way to make sense of the news of the past few days — not only the violent occupation in Washington but also the historic Senate victories by Democrats in Georgia — is as a long-run contest between two competing American traditions: one committed to preserving the status quo racial hierarchy and one fighting to advance equality.

We face a crucial choice: Which American tradition do we follow?

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Minneapolis announces Truth and Reconciliation Working Group

At the end of last year, the city of Minneapolis announced a new truth and reconciliation work group made up of City staff, community leaders and experts “to study the meaning of reconciliation and research different models of truth and reconciliation commissions.”

This follows a Minneapolis City Council resolution approved last October establishing a truth and reconciliation process. The goal: Begin implementing specific solutions to specific harms that created and perpetuate racial disparities, with a focus on healing with historically Black American descendants of slavery and American Indian/Indigenous communities.

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