Non-native priest adopts aboriginal symbolism

Published February 1, 2006

The Saskatoon (Lutheran) Native Ministry at St. Thomas Wesley United Church is moving towards modifying worship services to include an indigenous sacred circle format, a reading of Scripture in Cree and prayers that would incorporate native symbolism. Rev. Shawn Sanford Beck, an Anglican priest recently installed as director of the ministry run by the Saskatchewan synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), announced the changes recently. (The Anglican Church of Canada and the ELCIC have been in full communion since 2001.) “As a white person, he (Mr. Beck) sees his role as a transitional one, preparing the ministry so that it can be handed over when the right native person comes along,” reported Canada Lutheran, the ELCIC magazine. The ministry, which began in 1988, provides both pastoral care and advocacy for natives in the community. The Lutheran bishop of Saskatchewan, Cindy Halmarson, said the ELCIC was drawing from the Anglican church’s long history with aboriginal people. Despite the difficulties of the residential schools, wrote Bishop Halmarson in a column for Canada Lutheran, “many First Nations people continue to identify with the (Anglican Church of Canada).” The installation of Mr. Beck, she added, “opens the possibility of greater co-operation with Anglicans and the opportunity to learn from the experience of the (Anglicans) in their relations with First Nations people.”


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