On Good Friday, March 25, 2016, congregations of two River Heights United Churches will be walking in a processional to the former Assiniboia Residential School on Academy Road in Winnipeg, where Rev. Dr. Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd and Rev. Cathy Kinsman will lead a confession of the United Church of Canada’s role in residential schools and the harm caused to children at these schools.
“This Good Friday, as we remember the suffering, abandonment, betrayal and crucifixion of Christ Jesus, we are also remembering the suffering of Residential School Survivors, the loss of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and the betrayal of covenants with First Nations.” said Rev. Dr. Shepherd of Westworth United Church. “In order to work towards reconciliation, we need to first confess our collective part in the harmful policies and abuses of the Residential Schools.”
The joint Good Friday service begins at 9 a.m. at Westworth United Church on Grosvenor Avenue, with a scripture reading and a reflection on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. At 9:15 a.m., a processional led by a volunteer carrying a 6 foot wooden cross made for this day, will walk to 615 Academy Road, site of the former Assiniboia Residential School. After a confession surrounding the church’s role in residential schools, the processional will continue in silence to St. Andrew’s United Church on Oak Street, for further readings and reflection on contemporary issues such as homelessness, discrimination against LGBTTQ people and the suffering of refugees.
“What we are hoping is that people will immerse themselves in this pilgrimage into truth and reconciliation and other societal issues of the day, so we can begin to understand and trust each other to walk together and face this world having faith and confidence in one another, for the betterment of all people,” said Rev. Cathy Kinsman of St. Andrew’s River Heights United Church. “Everyone, regardless of faith tradition, is welcome to attend this Good Friday pilgrimage and worship service. With combined choirs, ancient scripture and the lens of 21st Century values and viewpoints, we hope to look beyond the cross and into the divine community marked by the need for more love and compassion.”
The United Church is responsible for 15 residential schools operated in Canada between 1849 and 1969. About 6.7 per cent of the approximately 80,000 residential school students still alive today attended United Church schools. The United Church has offered a formal apology in 1998 “for the pain and suffering that our church’s involvement in the Indian Residential School system has caused.” The United Church has been actively engaged in the processes established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and is involved in reconciliation initiatives.
WHAT: Good Friday Processional to Former Residential School
WHEN: Friday, March 25, 2016
9:00 a.m. Westworth United Church (1750 Grosvenor Avenue)
9:30 a.m. 615 Academy Road, former Assiniboia Residential School
10:30 a.m. St. Andrew’s United Church (255 Oak Street)
For more information, please contact:Loraine MacKenzie Shepherd (Rev. Dr.)
Westworth United Church
(204) 489-6974 ext. 22; home (204)775-8817 Cathy Kinsman (Rev.)
St. Andrew’s River Heights United Church