This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Sacred fire to burn at Native Assembly

WINNIPEG, Man. — For thousands of years, Indigenous people from across Turtle Island regularly gathered where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet in Winnipeg. On July 28-31, North Americans from diverse cultures, ethnicities and age groups will gather at Canadian Mennonite University for Native Assembly 2014: Ears to Earth, Eyes to God.

mc canada native assembly logo“It may be called Native Assembly, but it’s not just for Indigenous people,” said Steve Heinrichs, Mennonite Church Canada Indigenous relations director.

“It’s a place where people from all backgrounds can get together and get to know each other better while exploring what the Creator is saying to us in a time when creation is in peril.”

The assembly theme is drawn from Job 12:7-10 and encourages Christians to listen to creation, remembering their responsibility as God’s stewards of Creation.

The biennial gathering, co-sponsored by MC Canada and Mennonite Church USA, typically takes place in the rural U.S. It returns to Canada for the first time since 2004.

Most of Ears to Earth, Eyes to God will take place in the open air. A sacred fire will burn for the duration of the event.

Participants will hear from respected Indigenous elders and teachers who wrestle with contemporary challenges. Workshop leaders include Adrian Jacobs, keeper of the circle at Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre in Beausejour; Judy da Silva and Peter Haresnape of Christian Peacemaker Teams; and Pastor Stan McKay, the first Indigenous moderator of the United Church, who now address injustices resulting from colonial history.

Also leading workshops are Melanie Kampen and Deanna Zantingh, two young women from settler communities who are trying to nurture just relationships between their communities and host peoples.

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