United Methodists Get 'Serious' about Past Indigenous Abuses with Repentance Event

(Mike DuBose/UNMS Photo)A ceremonial space honoring indigenous people by artist Bob Haozous graces Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park on the Riverwalk in Tampa, Fla.

Rev. George E. Tinker, an indigenous advocate and theologian, says that with a planned "Act of Repentance for Indigenous People" later this month, the United Methodist Church is making a serious statement about its past sin against native people.

The event will take place during a worship service at the Church's 2012 General Conference on April 27 in Tampa, Fla. as more than 1,000 delegates gather for the Church's quadrennial General Conference.

He says churches were a part of European colonization in which indigenous people were killed and had their lands taken from them and given to white people. That calls for repentance, he said.

"The United Methodist Church is the first national denomination in the U.S. to take this sense of culpability, sense of corporate sin, seriously and to make a statement about it," he told UMNS in a report on Thursday. "I have such great respect for Methodists who are actually intending to do something about this history of violence that most Americans just ignore."

The Rev. Anita Phillips, director of the church's Native American Comprehensive Plan told UMNS she will be praying for the event.

"I will pray for my brothers and sisters in the church to be able to draw on a sense of courage of Christ to be able to make themselves vulnerable to hear our story," she said.

Tinker, who is on the faculty Iliff School of Theology in Denver and is also a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, is a citizen of the Osage Nation and has been an activist in urban American Indian communities.

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