Native Americans Decry European Church Structures

Article excerpt

A church-sponsored gathering of 125 American Indians has strongly criticized what it described as the "colonial imposition" of European church structures on indigenous communities and has called for a new relationship with the churches and society of white Americans.

"This ecumenical and interfaith consultation declares that we will no longer tolerate the colonial imposition of European church structures and doctrine on indigenous communities," according to a declaration from the conference.

The Christian Indians state in the declaration that they believe "the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands that we, as a people, be freed from the yoke and mantle of traditions and structures that have and continue to contribute to the disintegration of our cultural heritage, communal harmony and the Godgiven right to self-determination as children of the Creator and sisters and brothers in Christ."

(The Canadian Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples has similarly called on the national church for its support of an indigenous church.)

The gathering, held recently in Oklahoma City, was sponsored by the U.S. National Council of Churches, the Oklahoma Council of Churches, several Protestant denominations and Tekawitha Conference, a Native organization linked to the Roman Catholic Church.

Anne Marshall, an executive of the United Methodist commission on christian unity and inter-religious concerns and also co-ordinator of the conference, told ENI that participants included Christians, non-Christians who followed Native American spiritual practices and people who adhered to both traditions. …

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