Well meaning Methodist and Presbyterian missionaries, committed to universal education noted educator Egerton Ryerson was a prominent Methodist , had little understanding of the importance of cultural sensitivity. Former United Church Moderator McKay speaks of his experience in the Fisher River community of Manitoba, but his observations would be shared in many parts of the country. The missionary was for generations, the authority figure in the church and community. These facts come from The Bulletin, ,. Today, the United Church continues to work with both native and non-native members in justice concerns related to such First Nations issues as: support of land rights and environmental concerns around proposed pipelines in northern British Columbia; the Truth and Reconciliation commission related to the Residential School issue ; and the Sisters in Spirit campaign concerning violence against aboriginal women.
As well, efforts have been made concerning native peoples and church governance. Native ministry consultations in the early s led to the formation of two First Nations theological colleges 43 and in , two years following the first Apology, the All Native Circle Conference ANCC was established in an attempt to give First Nations peoples a unified voice within the United Church. It comprised the all-native Keewatin Presbytery of northern Manitoba and Ontario as well as three additional Presbyteries across Canada.
The two colleges were amalgamated in the fall of , with the Beausejour campus remaining open. With the formation of the AMC, General Council staff member Maggie McLeod declared we have for the first time in the United Church brought together all the various Nations and constituencies within the United Church, so that builds a lot of diversity. Misguided good intentions, overt and covert racism will take many years to overcome.
But Stan McKay offers some hope. As the original people of Turtle Island, we recognize the need for the four winds that will heal the peoples of the four directions. And when the people are healed, the earth will be healed. That means we are called to personal, congregational, and ecclesiastical transformation. We must tune our hearts, lifestyles, and structures to the profession, in word and deed, of good news in the midst of ever-present imperial bad news. We are called to a deeper discipleship as individuals and as church. The creation of the document Mission with Justice: The Dual Mandate of World Outreach, by Garth Legge had shifted the emphasis of mission, at least the public face of mission.
Although over the years, many missionaries had been involved in justice work even while they worked as teachers, agriculturists, and doctors, the dual mandate of doing mission, doing justice became a mantra in the late 70s and early 80s To be faithful, you had to be involved in justice issues Justice worker became another role for overseas personnel. The dual mandate led the church to take human rights stands on issues such as apartheid in South Africa.
In the s the church solidified doing justice at the heart of its distinctive participation in God s mission The deepening practice of partnership has led the church to listen carefully to the experience and analysis of global partners concerning the nature of unjust economic systems. The danger of complicity in unjust economic, social and other structures requires constant vigilance. There is much work to be done in overcoming our historical inadequacies and healing the damage that has been done, e.
See also the reflections section of this chapter, p. A helpful theological framework is provided by its definition of partnership in mission as grounded in the relational nature of God who calls us into right relationships with one another, with all of creation, and with God. How might singing motivate people of faith to live in mission? How might liturgical music enlarge the worldview of worshippers?
What makes a hymn missional? A hymn may be deemed missional in several ways, but first and perhaps most important is the relationship it provides between the hymn text and the possibilities for action in the world. Missional hymns have the ability to provide the singing assembly with an eschatological vision of transformed creation, an imaginative construal of the world as it might be if God s creatures lived today according to God s intentions. Kimbrough has reflected: Our songs are emblematic of the humanity we seek, a present experience of a new opportunity, and a glimpse of a new vision.
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O for world where goods are shared and misery relieved. Where truth is spoken, children spared, equality achieved Ibid. Kimbrough Jr. Text: Miriam Therese Winter. When a poor one who has nothing shares with strangers, when the thirsty water give unto us all, when the wounded in their weakness strengthen others, then we know that God still goes that road with us, then we know that God still goes that road with us.
Sisters, let us walk together sharing sadness, loss and grief, we will move through pain to wholeness, brokenness transformed to peace.
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God of freedom, God of justice, you whose love is strong as death, you who saw the dark of prison, you who knew the price of faith touch our world of sad oppression, with your Spirit s healing breath. Text: J. George Lockwood. Tune: J. More on this in Chapter Two. Text: Judith Snowdon.
Text: Shirley Murray. You fixed your sigh on your servant s plight, and my weakness you did not spurn, so from east to west shall my name be blest.
Could the world be about to turn? Every peace and justice movement creates its own songs. The oppressors of the world may try in many ways to silence the cries of the people, but the songs are never silenced. Even behind bars, prisoners sing songs as one of the last means of making their rights heard.
Because the song of justice is the Lord s song. Hope of Abraham and Sarah, friend of Hagar, God of Ruth, you desire that every people worship you in spirit, truth. Meet us in our sacred places, mosque and synagogue and church. Show us paths of understanding; bless us in our common search. The communal and outward nature of missional hymns can be linked to the establishment of a unified mission fund, which provided the new United Church 63 My Soul Cries Out, More Voices , v.
Text: Ruth Duck. Missional hymns with a theological and biblical emphasis on a liberating God incarnate in Jesus Christ find resonance in the United Church s vision of a Social Gospel, as well as its evolving view of partnership, in which doing justice is seen as the United Church s contribution within the larger mission Dei.
Hymnal Companion to Sound the Bamboo: Asian Hymns in Their Cultural and Liturgical Contexts
The Commission on World Mission would also find support in the ecumenical nature of the United Church s hymn resources, as well as the emergence of new interfaith hymns in More Voices. As well, the First Nations apology can be seen as a kind of eschatological vision of right relations in a Canadian context. The case studies that follow will continue to analyse the connection between mission and music, illustrating how congregational song can enable God s mission of peace and justice. As well, they have the capacity to shed light on the connections between liturgy and mission in The United Church of Canada and to address its fundamental assumptions about mission.
The first case study, the doxological legacy of the Wesleys and the Methodist church, speaks to the United Church s Methodist roots and its concern to reach out with the good news of God s love.
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The second, the peace and justice songs of the Iona Community, finds resonance with the United Church s Reformed Presbyterian roots and its continuing focus on social justice. Finally, the case study of More Voices, with its emphasis on global music, connects with The United Church of Canada s practice of mutuality in mission. As well, the inclusion of interfaith hymns in More Voices points to the United Church s affirmation of global partnerships and its openness to a faith that is in dialogue with the world. This legacy included an enthusiasm for the centrality of song in worship; it also created conflict as worship and hymn resources were prepared for the new United Church.
The publication of The Hymnary, bringing together the traditions of the Congregational, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches, provoked some of the sharpest divisiveness the United Church has known. Methodism and the Wesleys The story of John and Charles Wesley is a well known one: students at Oxford, whose rule of piety and good works earned them the originally pejorative name of Methodists; travellers to Georgia USA and the sailing that brought them into contact with the pietistic faith of the Moravians; and John s famous Aldersgate conversion experience where his heart was strangely warmed.
Where shall my wondering soul begin? How shall I all to heaven aspire? A slave redeemed from death and sin, a brand plucked from eternal fire, how shall I equal triumphs raise, and sing my great deliverer s praise? Teresa Berger, Theology in Hymns? Timothy E. Ward and R.
Heitzenrater Nashville: Abingdon Press, , f. Berger continues, it was, however, left to Charles to recount this experience poetically. Text: Charles Wesley.