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The Lament over the Doctrine of Discovery

The Lament over the Doctrine of Discovery

Episcopalians everywhere are invited to add their voices to the Lament Over the Doctrine of Discovery at a special event at General Convention on July 10th:

A prayerful gathering, in a Sacred Circle,

with readings, stories, prayers, songs, reflection,

giving and receiving;

In acknowledgment of and response to the tragic consequences

of the Doctrine of Discovery;

To encourage communal awareness and mutual understanding

of the realities of Indigenous people in Church and society;

Carried out in humble hope for a transformed reality

whereby the ways we see each other, the problems

and our responses to them

are changed through newly formed relationships,

under the influence of the Good News of Jesus Christ

Individuals and communities of Episcopalians are invited to add their voices to the Lament Over the Doctrine of Discovery by praying at the same time as the special event occurring at General Convention 2012 on Tuesday, July 10 at 7 pm Eastern (6 pm Central, 5 pm Mountain, 4 pm Pacific, 3 pm Alaska, 1 pm Hawaii).

“Dioceses, congregations and individuals– both Native and other people — throughout the Americas are invited to participate with simultaneous local laments held in cathedrals, churches, backyards, offices, apartments,” noted Sarah Eagle Heart, Episcopal Church Indigenous Missioner.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, will offer prayers during the Lament at General Convention, to be held at the JW Marriott. The Lament will include the Red Leaf Singers, traditional Lakota singing and drum group from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, South Dakota. White Earth Tribal Chair Erma Vizenor will reflect upon the boarding school impact to Native American peoples with other church leaders sharing their perspectives on the Doctrine of Discovery.

“In an unprecedented step of significance for Christian response to the European invasion and settlement of the Americas, the Episcopal Church is the first Christian denomination to publically repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery through the actions of D033 taken at GC 2009,” explained Eagle Heart. “The Church demonstrated the courage of our convened leadership by offering the repudiation in 2009, and now in 2012 calls upon and invites all Episcopalians to join in a substantive response to the Doctrine of Discovery through participation in this lament to acknowledge, honor and respond compassionately to our grievous past of invasion and settlement.”

Resources including Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s recent Pastoral Letter on the Doctrine of Discovery, prayers, program and information for the concurrent local observances are available here.

Resolutions for the Decades of Remembrance, the New Jamestown Covenant are available and the Charter for Lifelong Learning is available here.

For both those present for the Lament in Indianapolis, as well as those elsewhere, stay in touch and contribute responses to and reflections on the lament through:

Twitter #episcopalDoD @indigepiscopal @iamepiscopalian


For more information contact Eagle Heart.

This is a joint effort between the Office of Indigenous Ministry, the Office for Lifelong Christian Formation and the Office of Social and Economic Justice. The response to 2009 General Convention resolution D035 “To Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery” is co-sponsored by the Native American Council of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, Ohio


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John D. Andrews

The Episcopal Church was once seen as the country club church, and maybe it still is seen that way by some. That belief had a lot of truth to it, but it was not the whole story, especially when referring to the Episcopal Church on Native American reservations. The Episcopal Church, in the name of Jesus, caused much harm to Native Americans, which only continued the harm that began with conquest encouraged by the Doctrine of Discovery. This Lament is a good way for the non-indigenous people of the Episcopal Church to own our history, grieve over our history, and continue to move on in solidarity with an important segment of our denomination, our Native American brothers and sisters. I know that they can teach us a lot, and what they can teach us will enhance our own experience of our Christian faith. I know this because I lived on the Navajo Nation for five years, and that is what happened to me. I strongly encourage all Episcopalians to take part in this Lament, either at General Convention, or where they are.

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