Y’all Continue to Repent

Friday night’s worship’s service at General Conference was titled “An Act of Repentance.”  I must admit after another long day of Legislative Committees I didn’t have great excitement about spending my Friday night asking forgiveness for all my sins. (My reticence was probably a pretty good indicator that I needed this service more than most.) In the service we heard from different indigenous people who shared stories of atrocities that their ancestors had faced. These were not stories of long ago people with whom the speakers were distantly connected. They shared stories of their grandparents and great-grandparents, stories of lies, theft, and murder. I was under no illusion that settlers and colonizers had always acted appropriately and morally, but this worship service began to hit closer to home that I had ever experienced before. A quote was shared from Desmond Tutu. “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land.  They said, ‘Let us pray.’  We closed our eyes.  When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.” Next we heard a story of a Methodist minister who led the massacre of hundreds of Native Americans. (Sand Creek 1864) The speaker then shared a story about opposition to that evening’s service where someone wrote they didn’t see the need for us to repent for our distant relatives’ sins.  And by the way the critic wrote, “At least we brought them Christ.”  The speaker remarked he felt it a raw deal to kill his ancestors and steal their land in exchange for Christ.  He wished another deal had been struck....