Wintertalk 2011 by Kathryn Rickert
Wintertalk is an annual gathering of Episcopalians who are engaged in
Native American ministries. It has met for about 20 years, at various locations
where such ministry is on-going. This year’s event was held at the Cathedral
of St. John in Albuquerque, NM. In addition to the 70 adults from all over the US and Canada, there were also about 30 Episcopal Native American young people present, including James Dofelmier of our Diocese.
(This church was Maureen Lyons father’s (George) church and is where he
Before I share something of this valuable experience with you, I want to offer
the “official” words about this event. I do this, because they are important
and describe well what happened:
Theme: It’s Our Time…
* To teach and learn our own history (stories)
* To remember our relationship with the Creator
* To tap into what is available in our communities
* To become much more visible in the Church
* To share our strengths and our faith with each other
* To move from being in an impoverished state of existence
* To become more proactive in raising up and supporting leaders from our communities
The goals above are those set forth by the planning team for the event, in
coordination with our new, young, wonderful National Missioner for Native Ministries,
Sarah Eagleheart. Two local dioceses collaborated to help with the event; the Episcopal Church of Navajoland, and the Diocese of Rio Grande.
I was honored to be invited to Winteralk XVIII a few years ago. Until that time,
only Native Americans were part of this event. ( I have been part of the First Nations
Committee of the Diocese of Olympia since 1989, and am currently the co-chair.)
As a person of Euro-American heritage, it is a rare and valuable experience to be allowed
to be present and to learn with and from our sisters and brothers in the Episcopal church
who are Native Americans.
Our Episcopal Church is deeply blessed by a long and rich tradition of ministry to and by
Native Peoples through out this country. It is a part of church history that some of
us may not know. In addition to providing strong, clear examples of deep and creative
Christian faith at work, this history also challenges all of us to reflect on and attend
to the considerable experiences of injustice that have been, and at times continue to be,
part of the stories of Native American Peoples.
As the goals above suggest, while the stories of Native American Episcopalians do contain aspects of injustice, the more prominent features in both the stories and the goals is a wisdom that is of tremendous benefit to the entire Church, not only to Native Americans.
As a shorthand way of trying to share in a brief manner what could take a lifetime to
summarize — the beauty of the land, the songs, stories and prayers,
the weaving, pottery and jewelry; the grief at the injustices past and present,
and the depth of faith, courage, laughter, joy and wisdom found in that gathering– I offer
this prayer used by many Native American Episcopalians, from A Disciple’s Prayer Book:
Creator, we give you thanks for all you are and ll you bring to us for our visit within your creation.
In Jesus, you place the Gospel in the center of this sacred circle through which all of creation is related.
You show us how to live a generous and compassionate life. Give us strength to live together with respect and committment as we grow in your spirit, for you are God, now and forever. Amen.