Led by the Sami people in a special processional, 97 Indigenous delegates to the World Council of Churches (WCC) 11th Assembly were present in Karlsruhe for the pre-assembly. They symbolically ushered in four elements—Earth, Water, Fire and Wind—through biblical texts and prayer.
The theme of their gathering was “Reconciliation: Restoring Wholeness in Creation.”
They began their pre-assembly work on topics ranging from engagement with the Indigenous peoples in Europe, to reflecting and testifying on the learnings from Pilgrim Team Visits.
Lighting candles to remember where they came from, they also received an orientation to the German context of the assembly, as well as interaction with assembly committee members and pre-assembly delegates.
The message from the Indigenous Peoples Pre-Assembly will inform the assembly in its decisions about the WCC’s future programmatic work.
It was also a clarion call to join the WCC in committing anew to act with compassion, to practice inclusive and relational justice, and to affirm our unity in Christ whose love moves us to restoring wholeness in all of creation.
The gathering explored how reconciliation has often been experienced as a process seeking too easily the restoration of harmonious relationships without fully addressing or engaging the sources and actions of oppression in the past and the present.
The destructive effect of human sin manifested through varying forms of colonialism, imperialism and capitalism, has destroyed Indigenous cultures, communities and the interconnected, interrelated, interdependent web of creation.
The pre-assembly will also offer engagement with the Indigenous Peoples in Europe; reflection and testimonies on the learnings from the various Pilgrim Team Visits and orient Assembly delegates on the particular issues and concerns that affect Indigenous Peoples globally.