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Native Mennonite Assembly to be hosted in Manitoba, 2004
November 17, 2003
Winnipeg, Man.— Next summer, 2-300 Native Mennonites from across North America will gather for a major assembly in Riverton, Manitoba.
To begin planning that event, representatives of MC Canada Native Ministries, United Native Ministries, and Mennonite Indian Leaders Council met in Winnipeg and Riverton, November 5-9. They also worked at creating an organization of Native Mennonite Congregations in Canada and the U.S.A.
Surrounded by the warmth and hospitality of the Riverton Fellowship Circle, the group viewed facilities and planned the program of the 2004 Native Assembly (July 26-29, 2004). The facilities are expected to meet all the needs of guests as they gather for worship, fellowship, seminars, and cultural expression and discovery.
The group also worked on a proposal to organize Native Mennonite Congregations in Canada and the U.S.A., envisioned to strengthen the ministry and relationships of the congregations. These meetings, hosted by Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg and the staff of Native Ministries, led to a short notice invitation to Steve Cheramie Risingsun to speak to the congregation the following Sunday morning. Rising Son currently pastors two congregations and serves on the board of directors of the Mennonite Mission Network, the mission agency of Mennonite Church USA (see side-bar).
A report to Intotemak, MC Canada’s Native Ministry newsletter, said, “It is clear that the Native Congregations are a unique and special gift to the Mennonite Church as a whole. We look forward to enhancing that gift, and a healthy mutual relationship with the wider Mennonite Church in the years ahead.”
Steve Cheramie Risingsun offered a glimpse into the peace traditions of American Indians when he delivered a sermon at Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg recently. The preaching invitation came about on short notice as a result of the congregation hosting some Native Mennonite meetings.
In Alabama, where he lives, Risingsun says “Hundreds of people line up to pull the switch,” that will kill someone, referring to the state’s policy on capital punishment. Using texts from Luke 23 and Zechariah 7, he spoke passionately about the importance of Christian love and forgiveness.
“Have you ever seen the beauty of the rising sun? The setting sun? The first time you were ever in a boat? A first child? The beauty of seeing something for the first time? Here on the cross, God saw for the first time the beauty of seeing his love, expressed in humanity. For the first time he looked down and saw humanity responding in the way God loves humanity, loving, and obeying, in totality. God’s will meant more that selfish desire.”
Risingsun pastors two congregations, one in Alabama and another four hours drive away in Louisiana. His entire sermon can be downloaded in MP3 audio format here [warning - this sermon is more than 32 minutes - a 7.8MB file].