Friday, December 1, 2017

Intro and back story to PEC's 2017 Advent Devotional

In Advent, we awaken to the deep 

needs of the world

for justice, peace and restoration.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. 
Amos 5:24 CEB

Ginger is in the upper left
At 87 years old, Ginger Harlow Allen attended PEC’s 2017 Conference, Blessing the Waters of Life,” that was held September 25-29 in the Columbia Watershed near Portland, Oregon.  She reflects on how her participation in this conference shifted her worldview on injustices. “No matter how many resources I could have read, nothing would have prepared me for the impact of the Presbyterian Earth Care Conference subjects concerning our Indigenous Peoples, the salmon and the issue of water access. One has only to become nominally immersed in the culture of Native American injustices, and to be made aware of the threat to our use of unpolluted water, to be alarmed. I’ve glimpsed the future, and even in this year of crazy political unrest, and what seems a lowering of moral standards on every side, I feel HOPE for the future.”

To continue our learning about and from the indigenous begun at the conference, PEC asked the Reverend Kathy Keener to coordinate our Advent devotional this year and to ask our new Native American friends to write the reflections.  Kathy was very involved with the indigenous at the conference and rode in the car with four members of the Nez Perce tribe from Eastern Oregon to the conference.

The Reverend Kathy Keener
The process of coordinating the writers was much more challenging than Kathy thought. “I learned that the idea of writing devotions for Advent is an unknown concept for our indigenous friends. The modern creative writing of American church celebrations doesn't match with their experience… their liturgy is formulaic and pre-scripted; they do not write their own devotions. I learned that my ideas for possible points of connection between the experience of our Native participants and Advent were my white, western-educated theological and environmental ideas. When I asked about the deep needs that they see in their world, I got answers that were not earth-care relevant.”

Undaunted by the challenges, Kathy called and interviewed Jeannie Strong, Corbett Wheeler and Irvin Porter over the phone and transcribed those calls.  She went back to her video footage of Sam Davis, and made a transcript of his presentation at the conference and excerpted it for the devotion in his name. Kathy also collected photos, wrote bios and wrote about her own experiences being drawn into Standing Rock’s Water Protector movement for the Christmas Day reflection. 

Our deepest gratitude goes to Kathy Keener for her persistence and commitment to allowing the voices of Native Americans to be heard. May your understanding of and compassion for our indigenous neighbors become broader as you reflect on their lives and wisdom in this year’s Advent Devotional. 

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