Blanket Exercise in Regina on June 1

Join us June 1 from 2:30 onwards at Christ Lutheran Church in Regina for the Blanket Exercise, an interactive experience that explores the impact of the history between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. Without knowing our shared history, we cannot come to reconciliation.

All welcome, no matter your age or identity! The church is wheelchair accessible.

Please share the poster and our Facebook event:
https://www.facebook.com/events/568729493304121/

This will be our SK Conference annual meeting education event.

Affirming Sunday Resource for May 1

This May 1st, honour inclusivity by using our Affirming Sunday resources in worship.  Eastside United in Regina has written resources for us this year. Click here to see the resource.

Being an “Affirming” United Church means fulling including LGBTQ people and communities in the entire life and work of our church. Saskatchewan Conference is Affirming, and has an additional ten Affirming ministries within. Several others are in process.

Holding an Affirming worship this May, or at any other time, sends a crucial message of welcome and support to a community that is too often excluded from church circles.

To find out more about becoming Affirming, see the Affirm United/S’affirmer Ensemble website: http://affirmunited.ause.ca/affirming-ministries/

The Intercultural Network welcomes new supporters! To get in touch with co-conveners Cindy Bourgeois and Yvonne Terry, email Julie Graham at jgraham@skconf.ca

Courageous Witness

Courageous Witness: River Bend Presbytery article on visit with Korean partner congregation

River Bend Presbytery is an Affirming ministry in central Saskatchewan. Last fall they sent a delegation to South Korea as part of their many years of mutual work on deepening their relationship with Incheon Presbytery of the United Church of Canada’s global partner, the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK).  They met with the SumDol Hyanglin Church, one of the very few congregations in the PROK to fully welcome gender and sexual minorities.  Rev. Laura Fouhse’s shares the story of this courageous congregation here; read a very sobering overview of LGBTQ+ rights in South Korea here.

Affirm United Jan-Feb 2016 Newsletter

Have a look at Affirm United/ S’affirmer Ensemble’s January-February newsletter, and its news and resources from around the country and across the church. Of special interest to Saskatchewan Conference: Our own Rev. Cindy Bourgeois and Wesley United Church in Regina are featured!
Here’s the link: http://us9.campaign-archive1.com/?u=cc608c73f94333ec58cfbfdf2&id=5e8afe8abd&e=64a383ad17

You can subscribe directly to the newsletter through Affirm’s website: http://affirmunited.ause.ca/sign-up-for-our-newsletter/

Julie Graham
Program Staff for Education and Mission
Saskatchewan Conference, The United Church of Canada
jgraham@skconf.ca
Home office: 306-244-2157
www.sk.united-church.ca

Participate in the Blanket Exercise

Explore the 500 year relationship between indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through an experiential activity and conversation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016   from 1:30 to 3:30pm
Queen’s House of Retreat & Renewal Centre
601 Taylor St. W., Saskatoon, SK

If you are planning to attend, please contact us at director@ccforum.ca  by January 26 so we can have a good estimate of participant numbers.

Optional Conversation to follow:
Theology and Culture from 3:45 – 4:45pm
Building on the Blanket Exercise and other experiences, an opportunity to reflect on how culture shapes theology as people of faith relate across cultural differences.

Blanket Exercise facilitators:  Julie Graham and Dory Cook.  The Blanket Exercise was
developed by the Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC), one of ten ecumenical coalitions the churches brought together to form KAIROS in 2001.
Sponsored by Canadian Churches Forum www.ccforum.ca

This opportunity, open to the wider public, is a part of the week long program, “Engage Difference! Deepening Understanding for Intercultural Ministry”  www.ccforum.ca/DUIM   Can’t make it to this event?  To bring the Blanket Exercise to your community, contact Saskatchewan Conference Mission and Education staff Julie Graham at jgraham@skconf.ca

For a poster for this event, please click here .

Meeting Acknowledgements

Saskatchewan Conference encourages congregations, pastoral charges and presbyteries to include two acknowledgements at the beginning of their meetings/worship services.

The first acknowledgement should be regarding the traditional territories and treaty land that we are situated on.  To facilitate that we have included a map to help determine your location in relationship to the Treaties Areas .  For information about the language group, which will give you whose traditional territory you live on, please check out one of these links:

Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre   (maps coming soon to this site)

Saskatchewan GenWeb   (please scoll down to the Aboriginal – First Nations – Native section)

Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan 

The other acknowledgement is around being an Affirming Conference. The following is included in the minutes of Conference Executive minutes:

And so we also acknowledge that Saskatchewan Conference is an Affirming Conference of The United Church of Canada as one that embraces diversity and strives to include and be a safe place for all people regardless of age, gender, race, culture, education, ability, economic status, marital status, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Please feel free to contact the Conference Office, at 306-721-3311 or  bdiebert@skconf.ca    if you have any questions.

Our Intercultural Commitment

At the 40th General Council in Kelowna, 2009, the following report stated:

Becoming an Intercultural Church Community:

In 2006, at the 39th General Council, The United Church of Canada committed itself to becoming an intercultural church.  Intercultural is often described as “mutually reciprocal relationships among and between cultures.”   In Canada, many are familiar with the term “multicultural”, which can result in somewhat surface-level celebrations of food, folk, and festivals, with polite social interactions, but without deep learning.

Our “intercultural” commitment promises to take us much deeper. The vision of an intercultural church calls all of us to move to becoming mutually welcoming and racially just communities.  It calls us all toward transformation. In an intercultural church, no culture dominates another, all are welcomed and celebrated, obstacles to full participation and leadership are removed, power dynamics are deconstructed, and racial justice prevails.

No one is left unchanged in the intercultural process: some examine their own culture more deeply, some are changed through their interaction with others, and some learn more about what it means to be in intentional intercultural community together. Intercultural is not a substitute for “ethnic,” rather, it is whole way of being church together that goes beyond ethnicity, race, culture, language.

While intercultural is relatively new to the United Church, it is also very old: it reignites the vision given at Pentecost (Acts 2). At Pentecost, people came from many different cultures and backgrounds, but each person heard God’s word in their own language. No one had to give up their identity; God’s Spirit brought them together in a new way.

Understanding Culture and Racialized:

Culture is a way of being: it includes ways of life, values, norms, institutions, behaviours, rules, and guidelines, which are often passed down from one generation to another. At times, people do not realize how greatly culture influences their behaviour until they come across other ways of doing things. The intercultural church seeks to create new cultural ways of being together in community, guided by God’s Spirit.

In describing the intercultural church, a term called “racialized” is increasingly used. A term which may be new to many, racialized includes people who are racial minority, bi-racial, Aboriginal, or Métis. “Racialized” is a more inclusive alternative to “racial minority.” In any culture, those in the majority may be oblivious of their own race. But those who are perceived as belonging to a minority often find racial labels thrust upon them. Further, the term “minority” has implications of power, in terms of how who are named as “minority” and “majority.” As we seek to stretch ourselves beyond the familiar, we also seek new language in describing diverse cultural communities.

Creating an Intercultural Space:

The intercultural church seeks ways of being church together based on deep dialogue and mutual understanding. It calls us to find commonalities among our many differences and to engage in deep relationships. It calls us to create valuable spaces for people to gather in community, to learn from one another, and to nurture better places of belonging. And, it calls us to mutuality.

Such intercultural spaces do not happen by accident: they are created with intention and guided by God’s Spirit. At this General Council, we are seeking to create intentional intercultural spaces; one of the ways in which we will be doing this is by prayerfully naming an intercultural litany each day.

Intercultural Encounters:

As we seek to intentionally create intercultural spaces and encounters, there may be insights in the Respectful Community Guidelines, developed by the Rev. Eric H.F. Law. These guidelines are often affirmed in community gatherings, and may help guide our intercultural encounters:

R = take Responsibility for what you say and feel without blaming others
E = engage in Empathetic listening
S = be Sensitive to differences in communication styles
P = Ponder what you hear and feel before you speak
E = Examine your own assumptions and perceptions
C = keep Confidentiality
T = Trust ambiguity because we are not here to debate who or what is right or wrong

As we create this space together, we trust the Spirit, knowing that we will make mistakes, but also giving thanks for the gifts of grace and forgiveness on our mutual journeys of transformation.

Questions for Reflection in Becoming an Intercultural Church:

In your conversations and encounters, you may choose to hold these questions with you:

  • What additional values could we hold in an intercultural space? What would we hope to not bring to the intercultural space?
  • What will help stretch us beyond the familiar?
  • How can we intentionally uphold the RESPECT guidelines in our conversations?
  • In what ways can we be conscious of the spoken, and unspoken, cultural norms that consistently value some voices more than others?
  • Did our members share responsibility for raising cultural awareness, or racial justice, concerns or did the “watchdog” role fall to only a few?
  • Am I aware of my own cultural biases and notions of “normal”?
  • Am I intentionally creating space for others, and learning from each other?
  • In our conversations, do we continue to draw on diverse cultural traditions in prayer, song, and language for God?
  • Did anyone feel they were not heard because of their culture or racial identity?