All Episcopalians invited to join 'Lament Over the Doctrine of Discovery'

Posted Jun 26, 2012

[Office of Public Affairs] Individuals and communities of Episcopalians are invited to add their voices to the “Lament Over the Doctrine of Discovery” by praying at the same time as the special event occurring at General Convention 2012 on Tuesday, July 10 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern (6:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Mountain, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00 p.m. Alaska, 1:00 p.m. Hawaii).

                         A prayerful gathering, in a Sacred Circle,
                                     with readings, stories, prayers, songs, reflection,
                                     giving and receiving;       
                        In acknowledgment of and response to the tragic consequences
                                    of the Doctrine of Discovery;
                        To encourage communal awareness and mutual understanding
                                     of the realities of Indigenous people in Church and society;
                        Carried out in humble hope for a transformed reality
                                    whereby the ways we see each other, the problems
                                    and our responses to them
                                    are changed through newly formed relationships,  
                                    under the influence of the Good News of Jesus Christ

“Dioceses, congregations and individuals — both Native and other people — throughout the Americas are invited to participate with simultaneous local laments held in cathedrals, churches, backyards, offices, apartments,” noted Sarah Eagle Heart, Episcopal Church indigenous missioner.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, will offer prayers during the Lament at General Convention, to be held at the JW Marriott. The Lament will include the Red Leaf Singers, traditional Lakota singing and drum group from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, South Dakota. White Earth Tribal Chair Erma Vizenor will reflect upon the boarding school impact to Native American peoples with other church leaders sharing their perspectives on the Doctrine of Discovery.

“In an unprecedented step of significance for Christian response to the European invasion and settlement of the Americas, the Episcopal Church is the first Christian denomination to publically repudiate  the Doctrine of Discovery through the actions of D033 taken at GC 2009,” explained Eagle Heart. “The church demonstrated the courage of our convened leadership by offering the repudiation in 2009, and now in 2012 calls upon and invites all Episcopalians to join in a substantive response to the Doctrine of Discovery through participation in this lament to acknowledge, honor and respond compassionately to our grievous past of invasion and settlement.”

Resources including Jefferts Schori’s recent pastoral letter on the Doctrine of Discovery, prayers, program and information for the concurrent local observances are available here.

Resolutions for the Decades of Remembrance, the New Jamestown Covenant are available here, and the Charter for Lifelong Learning is available here.

For both those present for the Lament in Indianapolis, as well as those elsewhere, stay in touch and contribute responses to and reflections on the lament through:

For more information contact Eagle Heart here.

This is a joint effort between the Office of Indigenous Ministry, the Office for Lifelong Christian Formation and the Office of Social and Economic Justice. The response to 2009 General Convention resolution D035 “To Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery” is co-sponsored by the Native American Council of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, Ohio.


Comments (16)

  1. John D. Andrews says:

    I confirmed today that I will not be teaching in the four-week session at UNL. So, I WILL be in Indianapolis for the Lament. Will be a somber time, but a powerful witness to our past failures as a Church, but our commitment to moving forward with respect for all God’s people. It will be worth all the tears that will be shed!

    1. Revd Martin Dale says:


      And I hope you will use this time to ask the Bishops to return the land that has been stolen to its rightful owners. After all St James says it is not enough to simply say we believe – we have to live it too (Jas 2)

      Kind regards

  2. Peyton Reed says:

    So, does that mean that we should all give everything back to the Natives (in my case, the Shawnee) and go back to England/Scotland/Germany/Norway where we came from? Otherwise the “Lament” is nothing more than a shallow, hollow, feel good, self-congratulating, “I am not like other beings” farce. (Oh, and there are some really interesting stories about the Shawnee and their “Doctrine of Discovery” against other groups, such as the Miami.)

  3. Martin Dale says:

    I was wondering if the Lament and the Doctrine of Discovery will be accompanied by Restitution.

    The Episcopal Church received the land on which many of its churches stand from the Colonial Powers, such as Great Britain, and its successors in title., land that TEC accepts as having been stolen from the indigenous people.

    Genuine repentance comes with Restitution.

    Please advise me when TEC intends to return their land to the indigenous people from whom it was taken.

    Yours sincerely
    M N Dale

  4. Rhonda Muir says:

    It’s important to recreate ourselves, that is, our values and concience, going forward. Lamenting the past misses the point. People have moved around the globe since the beginning of time, and dominated, killed, or changed or been changed by those with whom they came into contact. Don’t have an anthropology background? Just read the bible! Today, we are not our bretheren of the past. Yes, we must acknowledge the errors of past generations, but let us carry respect for one another, not grudges over typical human behavior, into the future. Let this lament for the harshness of the behaviour of the past be accompanied by a celebration of the potential of the society we are today.

    1. Revd Martin Dale says:


      And the Bible says make restitution!

      Kind regards

  5. Rhonda Muir says:

    I’ve just read the articles, “Winter Count”, and “Liturgies of Love.” Please read them….they focus on Jesus Love, today, not on judgement of the past.

  6. charles johnson+ says:


    I’m with you! We immigrants, English, Welsh, Irish, Scot, French, Dutch, German, et cetera, ad absurdium, have forgotten much, I grant, but in Lakota Country, TEC was the major villain in subjugating the indigenous peoples … so GC, give me a break…pay back, give back, get out and shut up!

  7. Scott Loftesness says:

    You people are absolutely nuts. Which is why TEC is dead.

  8. Revd M N Dale says:


    This Lament in my opinion undermines the very fabric of TEC’s litigation against ACNA churches. I cannot see – if TEC is genuine with its repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery” – how they leave themselves legally with a standing in the cases. After all, they admit that they real owners are the indigenous people from whom the Colonial Powers and their siuccessors in title – (who gave TEC the land) “stole” the land.

    I wonder how the Courts will interpret this

    Kind regards
    M N Dale

  9. Lee Downs says:

    …and what will the Native American lamenters be lamenting by their participation, or will they be the representative accusers?

  10. Brad Ems says:

    Luke 18:10-11

  11. Scott Loftesness says:

    I have honestly not read anything so asinine in my entire life. Did you pull this out of The Onion?

  12. Thomas Andrew says:

    This stuff is its own parody. Sometimes minds are just so wide open that all you get is a draft blowing through the attic!

    1. Revd Martin Dale says:

      I wonder if TEC might get back to some Biblical principles. That’smore the reason it is haemoraging

      Kind regards

  13. Revd Martin Dale says:


    And the next step for which you should be that the Episcopalian Church will return the stolen lands to the Native Americans.

    Will you be praying for that too – and for all the lawsuits that the Episcopal Church has instituted – since the land is not theirs in the first place


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