John H. Boer, Missions Fest Board of Directors
September 18-22 was a week of feverish activity. I did not attend all of the Reconciliation Week events, but I offer my impressions from the activities I did attend—a church service at which Bishop Mark MacDonald, the national Bishop of Anglican Aboriginals, spoke; the opening day; an aboriginal art exhibition and debriefing in my own church (Vancouver First Christian Reformed Church); and the walk.
The most striking thing I noticed was the conciliatory and forgiving spirit which the leaders of the movement betrayed. Also striking was the friendly spirit in which individual survivors conversed with anyone who approached them and the readiness with which they told their story. Throughout the week tears flowed freely. It was impressive to see thousands of people of every race participate in the walk, many of them sticking it out in spite of the incessant rain. Many churches, intent on clearing the name of Christ, identified themselves.
The week left me with three questions:
(1) Where do I go from here? What concrete action(s) can I and my local church take to make this week meaningful? I propose that every church forge new creative, meaningful and lasting relationships with the/an aboriginal community. Individuals might work at establishing cross-racial friendships. We should all be able to give a positive report on our progress next year.
(2) Did the participants represent all groupings or only those interested in reconciliation to begin with? What of those who may have a more aggressive agenda? How representative was the event?
(3) What effect should reconciliation have on treaty negotiations?
May the Lord guide us all as we live and serve in a city that was first inhabited by our First Nations peoples. May we find creative ways to express the unity that only Christ can provide.
Dr. John H. Boer
Member of Board of Missions Fest Vancouver