Minnesota Council of Churches leaders are applauding Gov. Tim Walz’s Feb. 12 announcement that his administration will continue a lawsuit to block the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, a dangerous and unnecessary project.

Days before Walz’s announcement CEO Rev. Curtiss DeYoung and Director of Racial Justice Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs joined faith leaders at the Capitol calling on the Governor to stop Line 3.

DeYoung has made racial justice a top priority in his Council leadership. He and Jacobs were among the 550 clergy members and faith leaders who signed a 2018 letter to Gov. Mark Dayton opposing Line 3 on moral grounds.

Jacobs and DeYoung joined roughly 75 other faith and indigenous leaders who gathered in the Governor’s Conference Room last week to pray, sing, and urge Walz to continue Dayton’s opposition to Line 3. Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light organized the event.

DeYoung spoke about the importance of protecting water and indigenous rights. He recalled how Jesus’ ministry began with water through his baptism in the Jordan River. Jesus also lived on land that was not controlled by his people, but by the Roman Empire.

“As he’s baptized, Jesus is also starting a ministry of protest against the actions of empire as it relates to indigenous people,” DeYoung said. “If we are faithful in our following of Jesus, there is no other place that we would be than right here [in the Capitol].”

The new Line 3 pipeline would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota, threaten Anishinaabe treaty rights, threaten oil spills into Minnesota’s clean waters and wild rice beds, and add $287 billion in climate damage over three decades. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the project, but it now faces legal challenges.

Jacobs also spoke of the importance of protecting our sacred waters. He quoted from Genesis:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. … And the Spirit of God hovered over the water.”

jm-bear at Enbridge protest Feb 8 2019

“Water is the first relative of all of Creation,” Jacobs said. “And we approach this water, this sacred water, not as a resource which we can do with whatever we please, but as a relative who needs to be cared for, nurtured, and protected. Because that is exactly what she does for us.”

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NEWS RELEASE

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE          

August 1, 2018

 

 

 

MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rev. Jerad Morey, Program and Communications Director

Minnesota Council of Churches

(612) 230-3211

 

 

Minnesota Council of Churches Proud to Welcome Healing Minnesota Stories; Announces 3 Dakota Sacred Sites Tours

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN – (August 1, 2018) – Healing Minnesota Stories, a program dedicated to creating dialogue, understanding and healing between Native peoples and Minnesota’s faith communities, is now a part of the Minnesota Council of Churches.

 

The program began in 2011, growing from a vision of Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs and supported by the Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN). Jacobs, who is Mohican, had a series of dreams about Pilot Knob Hill, a sacred burial site for the Dakota people. He began conversations with Dakota elders to understand the dreams. When the elders gave their blessing, Jacobs and Bob Klanderud (Dakota) began offering Dakota sacred sites tours to religious communities, bringing more awareness to the Dakota history, their culture, and their ongoing presence in this area.

 

At its core, Healing Minnesota Stories believes that Native people have suffered deep trauma over many years and that all who call Minnesota home are lesser for it. Because Christian churches were full participants in historic traumas, so they must be partners in healing. Healing Minnesota Stories believes healing is doable and that churches and other faith communities have a role to play in it.

 

Minnesota Council of Churches CEO Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung says, “We at the Minnesota Council of Churches are glad to welcome Healing Minnesota Stories and Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs into our programming. Racial justice is a priority for the Council. The Sacred Sites Tours and other Healing Minnesota Stories programming help the church, and all Minnesotans, to confront our state’s history and our historic complicity in the harm done to Native Americans. Rev. Jacobs will also provide leadership in our broader programming as the Director of Racial Justice for MCC.”

 

While Healing Minnesota Stories began with SPIN, it has relocated to MCC. Rev. Tom Duke, SPIN’s Founder, says, “We are happy to see Healing Minnesota Stories transition to the Minnesota Council of Churches. It will give the program more visibility and statewide reach, as well as direct relationship with MCC member denominations. MCC also has a good track record of interfaith relationships which can benefit the program.”

 

The organizations have long been interconnected. MCC has been promoting the events and actions of Healing Minnesota Stories through the MCC e-newsletter, which reaches 3,500 clergy and lay people, since shortly after the program began at SPIN. Adding Healing Minnesota Stories to MCC’s racial justice initiative is like welcoming family home.

 

“In 2012, Healing Minnesota Stories partnered with the Minnesota Council of Churches to raise volunteer support and public awareness of events observing the 150th anniversary of the US-Dakota war of 1862. MCC was a vital partner in that work, especially as we sought support from faith communities both in the Metro Area and in Greater Minnesota,” says Jacobs. “I’m excited for this opportunity with MCC as we begin to dream how we might continue and expand the work of Healing Minnesota Stories on a larger scale.”

 

Healing Minnesota Stories also offers opportunities for speaking engagements with churches and community groups on Native American spirituality, local history, and barriers to free practice of Native religions, presentations about controversial images in State Capitol Art, and film presentations on the U.S.-Dakota War and the Doctrine of Discovery.

 

Three Sacred Sites Tours have been scheduled this fall. Sacred Sites Tours all meet at Church of St. Peter in Mendota Heights, 1405 Sibley Memorial Highway, Saint Paul, MN 55120. The announced tours are:

  • Saturday, September 1, 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, September 29, 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • Saturday, October 20, 10:00am – 2:00pm

 

For more information about Healing Minnesota Stories, go to http://mnchurches.org/justice/HealingMinnesotaStories.html or to www.bit.ly/HealMNStories. To register for a tour, email jimbear.jacobs@mnchurches.org.

 

About Minnesota Council of Churches

Representing 25 member judicatories and about 1,000,000 Christians, the Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. The Minnesota Council of Churches programs include welcoming refugees, civic engagement and fostering ecumenical relationships. For more information, visit www.mnchurches.org

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“The Minnesota Council of Churches expresses great concern that another black man has been killed by police in Minneapolis. Such acts traumatize entire communities and demand that we ask the question: do black lives matter in Minnesota? As people of faith and followers of Jesus, we call for full transparency in the investigation of this police killing. We call for more systems of accountability in policing statewide. We also join those envisioning alternative ways for addressing violence and providing safety in our communities. We offer our prayers for the family and friends of Thurman Blevins, Jr. We offer our partnership to those who want to create a more just Minnesota.” – Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, CEO

While our CEO was on vacation, the director of MCC Refugee Services spoke at a press conference last week organized in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s upholding the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. Here is his statement:

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My name is Ben Walen, representing the Minnesota Council of Churches, where I direct the refugee resettlement programs.

The Council’s 25 member church denominations have repeatedly spoken in opposition to the President’s Executive Orders on immigration and refugees, from the first one in January 2017 – a blunt tool of religious discrimination against Muslims. As the Executive Orders went from 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0, they were written to hide their intent – but they remained grounded in religious animus toward those of the Muslim faith.

In January 2017, Bishop Bruce Ough of the United Methodist Church gave the following statement in response to the first Executive Order.  It remains true today:

Jesus was explicit in his teachings. In Matthew’s gospel Jesus says, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matthew 10:40)

Refugees and immigrants arrive among us, not only with their needs, but also bearing gifts of energy, resourcefulness, love of liberty, and hope. These gifts have always contributed to the renewal of our society and the church.

Above all, these strangers bring to us the Christ. When we welcome a stranger, we welcome Jesus, and when we welcome Jesus, we welcome our creator. Refugees, immigrants, those yearning to be free—these are the ones whom Jesus spoke about when he said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Matthew 25:35).

Repeatedly Jesus tells his disciples: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).

The original Greek language is far more poetic, powerful, and prophetic. In finer translations of the Greek language, we hear Jesus saying: “Whoever seeks to build a wall around their soul shall destroy it; whoever tears down the wall (around their soul) shall bring their soul to a living birth.”

The very soul of our country is at stake. When we abandon strangers who are at risk of bigotry, xenophobia, and violence, we not only destroy their hope, we destroy our own souls. When we fail to assist the refugees fleeing danger, we not only place them in harm’s way, we do harm to our own souls. When we build walls of concrete, or walls of divisive rhetoric, or walls of fear, or walls of immoral immigration policies, we build a wall around our own souls.

We call upon people of faith to say “no” to the walling off of our country and our hearts and say “yes” to their hope—our hope—for new life. Let us unite and work together to bring the soul of this country to a living birth!

You may have seen this article in the Mankato Free Press on Monday: Columbus Day could become “Indigenous People’s Day” in Mankato.

MANKATO — The second Monday in October, a federal holiday honoring Christopher Columbus, would be Indigenous Peoples Day in Mankato under a resolution the City Council will consider in coming weeks.

Dave Brave Heart — backed by about 30 community members — brought the request to a council work session Monday night. Brave Heart first offered praise for the city’s recognition in recent decades of the conflict-ridden history of Mankato’s founding and its efforts to promote reconciliation with descendants of the Dakota who first made the river valley home.

We were happy to join other partners, including the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and the YWCA in endorsing the change. Our letter of support reads:

To the Mankato City Council:

The staff and clients of the Minnesota Council of Churches support the adoption of the resolution calling for of the second Tuesday of each October to be recognized as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the City of Mankato.

 
Those we serve in our work, and many of us on staff, came to the U.S. with refugee-status. We understand the pain of being persecuted for our beliefs and not being protected by our governments. We can identify with the Indigenous Peoples who were forced to flee their homes and leave behind their way of life. The Minnesota Council of Churches has had a Refugee Services Office in Mankato since 2012. As we have learned about the history of the Mankato community, and the longer history of the Indigenous Peoples who first inhabited this region, we
are humbled by the resilience and strength of the Indigenous Peoples.

 
We support the important work of reconciliation begun by Amos Owens and Bud Lawrence, and continued by many others past and present. It is important for the City of Mankato to continue to participate in that reconciliation and to build trusting relationships with diverse cultural communities, like the individuals with refugee status whom we represent and serve.

 

The Minnesota Council of Churches strongly supports the designation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day will give our community a way to celebrate those original peoples and those, like refugees, who have resettled in Mankato and now call it home.
Sincerely,
Rev. Dr. Curtiss DeYoung
Chief Executive Officer