CLINTON, Okla. (Mennonite Mission Network) — Today is a pivotal moment in Native American history, according to Adrian Jacobs, speaker at the July 28-31 Native Assembly in Clinton, Okla. Jacobs, a Canadian Six Nations pastor, called native people to take action in God’s salvation narrative.
Bringing justice and restoration to indigenous people will move all humanity toward the shalom that God intends – a realm where all will be at peace with God, with each other and with the earth, Jacobs said.
Jacobs encouraged listeners to “live unafraid of their hearts and to also live in truth and graciousness with non-native people.” He called for non-native peoples and governments to assume an attitude of humility and repentence, as they will never be able to repay all that is owed to native communities.
Participants examined Philippians 2:1-11 during the four-day event, focusing on unity and service.
Jacobs used a metaphor of "singing the stories of God in our native tongues”– the stories of all nations and peoples of the earth. During the assembly, several native groups sang praises to God in their languages, including the Pearl River and Nanih Waiya Mennonite congregations from Philadelphia, Miss., who sang in Choctaw.
These two congregations were partially supported in their travel to the Native Assembly by the Stella Devenpeck/Mennonite Mission Network fund. This fund is available to native congregations through a partnership of Native Mennonite Ministries and Mission Network to support projects that enhance the outreach of congregations or address social and economic need while exhibiting strong local commitment.
Other speakers included Zoughbi Zoughbi, a Palestinian peace activist and director of Wi’am, the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center in Bethlehem; Anita Keith, a Mohawk educator and author and administrator for the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies; and Iris de León-Hartshorn, Mennonite Church USA minister of intercultural relations.
Tthe Native Mennonite Ministries leadership council has accepted an invitation from three indigenous Paraguayan Mennonite conferences for North American native peoples to attend an indigenous gathering in one of their communities after the Mennonite World Conference assembly in 2009. The invitation also includes the indigenous conferences of Guatemala, Panama and Peru.
In preparation for this encounter, NMM leaders asked Linda Shelly, director for Latin America for Mennonite Mission Network, to share information about indigenous churches in Latin America, and expectations for the trip during a Native Assembly workshop.
Individuals wishing to attend will be supported by their own funds, Native Mennonite Ministries and the Stella Devenpeck/Mennonite Mission Network Fund.
Jacobs is involved with the My People International organization. He works half-time for Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, relating to Mennonite churches and working in the Grand River Valley on the issues surrounding Six Nations land disputes with the Canadian government.
Native Mennonite Ministries of Mennonite Church USA and Native Ministries of Mennonite Church Canada sponsored the Native Assembly.
For more information on the Native Assembly, read “Reflections on a Native American Gathering” from Leo Hartshorn, Mission Network’s minister of peace and justice, in the latest issue of PeaceSigns, a newsletter from the Peace and Justice Support Network of Mennonite Church USA.