Repentance as a journey and not a Destination


by Eva Johnson, Bobbie Edwards, and Louise Darling

At the 2015 Oregon Idaho Annual Conference many important and moving individual and collective experiences took place. One of the most moving collective events was the Act of Repentance service that took place Friday afternoon. A script of the service is available to download and is worth reading to remind ourselves of why this “act of repentance” is an essential component of the healing that can only start with historical truth telling.
To continue the momentum our hope is that churches will use the publication On This Spirit Walk written by Henrietta Mann and Anita Phillips, as a resource for personal reading or small group study curriculum. This publication was gifted to churches by the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference to help continue the conversation of what it really means to be on this repentance journey with the native community.
One church in Portland, Wilshire United Methodist Church/Native American Fellowship, has been on this journey for ten years. They have changed their order of worship to include not just traditional Methodist structure, but have added some valued native ceremonies that have enhanced and deepened the overall worship experience. One of the changes was to add smudging to the beginning of the service to support the call to worship as a time to cleanse and become ready to communicate with the great Mystery that is the Creator of all things. There are other elements of the native community that have been woven into the fabric of this community of faith in the worship, the fellowship time, the banners and the music of the flute and drum. There is always an open invitation to come worship and join the weekly Sunday potluck to experience what one church has found on its journey of repentance and healing.
It is our hope and prayer that many churches will engage this year in their own unique journey of expanding their understanding of native cultural values and enter into the circle that leads from repentance to reconciliation that we may be on body, one family.

Other Resources for learning about Native American issues: