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Uplifting Indigenous Voices, Today and Every Day

This fall at Trinity Church, we’re hosting a variety of faith formation programs that welcome and uplift Indigenous voices. Today on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and every day in the life of our parish, we elevate Indigenous stories, experiences, and spiritualities — and celebrate the prismatic ways they inform and enrich The Episcopal Church and our communal faith.

As we welcome special guests to our community both onsite and online, members of our parish are taking the time to consider deeply the ways churches and doctrines have historically used scripture and theology to enforce narratives that harm the dignity and lives of Indigenous peoples.

Tonight at 6pm, you’re invited to join Trinity’s parishioner-led Environmental Justice Ministry Group in an online conversation with activist Rick Chavolla about ways church communities can go Beyond Land Acknowledgments and recognize the presence and contributions of the diverse American Indian population in New York City. Chavolla is a former Assistant Dean at Yale University, where he directed the Native American Cultural Center, and past Executive Director of the American Indian Community House.

Friday evenings through October 20, our robust and engaged Trinity Book Club gathers online to discuss Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology by Steven Charleston and Elaine A. Robinson, which draws together leading scholars to present a working constructive Native Christian theology.

Beginning this Sunday, Trinity’s Discovery adult education series on the narratives of Exodus and the Canaanites embarks on a deep dive into ways certain biblical texts, while liberating for some, might be oppressive for others. On October 15, we welcome biblical scholar Chris Hoklotubbe (Choctaw), who will explore Indigenous readings of the Bible and the ways the Books of Exodus and Joshua have been used to shape American history, for good and for ill. The following Sunday, October 22, Professor Daniel Hawk continues the discussion, bringing attention to the nefarious legacy of “manifest destiny.”

In late October, we’ll build on these discussions in a dedicated Discovery series on The Episcopal Church and Indigenous Voices. The Rev. Dr. Bradley Hauff (Oglala Sioux), who speaks often about the sobering role of the church in the colonization of Indigenous lands, and the tragic history of the boarding schools, joins us on October 29 to discuss the important work of Indigenous ministries across the church. The Rev. Dr. Hauff is Episcopal Church Missioner for Indigenous Ministries in the office of the Presiding Bishop.

On November 12, the Rt. Rev. Bishop David Bailey, the retired Bishop of Navajoland, will share his testimony about serving in that community. Trinity has a long relationship with the church in Navajoland, and we look forward to welcoming Bishop Bailey.

Finally, on November 19, Sarah Augustine (Pueblo (Tewa)) joins us virtually to speak about her book The Land Is Not Empty: Following Jesus in Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery, which unpacks the laws Christian governments used to justify the exploitation and seizure of lands populated by Indigenous peoples. Augustine is the Executive Director of the Coalition to Dismantle the Doctrine of Discovery. 

We hope you join us for these powerful discussions. We believe the Holy Spirit will be present as we acknowledge and confront places of pain, while also celebrating the beauty and diversity of Indigenous cultures and faiths.