Pastor’s Page November 2022
“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34
When I was a boy, I remember celebrating the “First Thanksgiving” at my elementary schools. We would dress up in costumes and put on plays celebrating the hospitality of the indigenous people who welcomed the European immigrants. I remember hoping to get to play the part of an “Indian” because in my boyish mind, I thought they were so much cooler than the Pilgrims.
Much has changed since my childhood. Our descriptive words have changed. And we’ve become more aware of human rights abuses in our history. For example, many people no longer celebrate Columbus Day, preferring to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead.
In recent years, abuses have come to light in regard to school-aged, indigenous children being forced to attend schools where they would be “educated” to become assimilated into western society and culture. Mass graves have been found on the properties of some of these schools, where children died of starvation, disease, abuses, or the elements. Many of these schools were either run by governmental agencies or by missionary groups.
One example is the Kamloops Indian Residential School established in 1890. At its zenith, the enrolment peaked at 500 students in the 1950s. It was closed in 1978. In the early 2000s, a human bone was found on the grounds. Ground-penetrating radar was used to conclude that about 200 unmarked graves were on the property. Further investigation is taking place.
In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada determined that Indian residential schools were a system of “cultural genocide.” At least 4,100 students died while attending the schools, many of them due to abuse, negligence, disease, and accidents.
This month, Sofía and I will be attending the “Healing Waters” conference co-sponsored by the Presbyterian Intercultural Network (PIN) and several tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The conference will take place at the beautiful Cedar Springs Christian Retreat Center in Sumas, Washington from November 10th through the 14th. The conference was inspired by the stories of these elementary-aged abuses; and the goal of the conference is to educate and seek ways to bring healing and to build trust. You can visit the conference center website at cedarsprinsrc.org
I’m very excited to be a member of the PIN Board, which is made up of 12 individuals, three of whom are indigenous. I love the incredible devotion each member has to God, to the Presbyterian Church and to their individual culture. Nelson Capitan, a member of a tribe in New Mexico, spoke eloquently at the board meeting this past summer, and when he prayed in his native tongue, I would often get goosebumps.
I’ve decided to add a week’s vacation to our trip to the conference, in order to introduce Sofía to the Pacific Northwest. I have several family members who live there, including two sisters and their husbands and quite a few nieces and nephews. Sofía has met a few of them, but not all. So, we’ll be able to spend some time visiting family and seeing tourist attractions. We may even poke our heads in on Mary Lee!
While we are away, I’ve invited our Presbytery’s new interim stated clerk to come preach for FPCSA on Sunday, November 13th. She recently served as the pastor for the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, CA (she and her husband still live there) and she became official as the interim clerk this past September. I’ve been impressed by her intelligence, her clarity, her “can-do” attitude (a bit unusual for stated clerks, in general), and the fact that she enjoys musical theater and plays the violin. I hope you’ll come to meet her and hear her preach!
November 20th is Christ the King Sunday, and also the Sunday before Thanksgiving. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll have an opportunity to offer words of Thanksgiving in the worship service that day. For those won’t be able to attend or who worship online, please feel free to send me written words of thanksgiving or write them in the comments section of the live-stream. I’ll do my best to share them with the congregation.
I’m guessing I’ll include a short report about the “Healing Waters” conference on that Sunday, and after our time in the Pacific Northwest, I may have new reasons to be thankful, as well. I’m certainly grateful to God, who has blessed us in so many ways. And we are so thankful for our church family at FPCSA. Let us continually raise our voices in thanksgiving and praise to Him!
I remain yours in Christ’s Love and Service,
 En.m.wikipedia.org/Kamloops Indian Residential School / History