UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Should churches give a portion of land sales to Indigenous communities?

Rev. Christopher White weighs in on a question about donating portions of land sales to Indigenous communities.

By Christopher White

Q The United Church is currently selling a lot of property across the country. Given our history with residential schools and our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, should we be giving a portion of every sale to Indigenous communities?

A This is a question that has been bubbling around the church but has not yet been acted on from a policy perspective. Last September, the Caretakers of Our Indigenous Circle, a group of Indigenous leaders from across the United Church, published “Calls to the Church,” a document directing the denomination to live out its reconciliation commitment. It includes a statement on this precise question calling for a policy “that would ensure there is a percentage of the proceeds of property liquidation allocated to Indigenous ministry and justice work.”

The money is truly needed. There are churches and manses in All Native Circle Conference that require upgrading and even lack basic furnishings, says Joe McGill, a community capacity development co-ordinator for the Aboriginal Ministries Circle. He points out that in places where social services are lacking, the church often steps in to fill the gap. More support is needed to ensure the financial viability of these community ministries.

Charlene Burns, who works in the same position for Western Canada and is also the acting executive minister for the Aboriginal Ministries Circle, echoes McGill’s words. She says the Calls to the Church proposal is already being unofficially lived out in several congregations. For example, when Zion United in Regina sold its building, part of the proceeds were donated to the Sandy-Saulteaux Spiritual Centre, which provides theological training for Indigenous people to enter lay and ordered ministry. She also says that the Aboriginal Ministries Council will consider what this proposal means for the whole church and make further recommendations in advance of the next General Council meeting in July.

My own feeling is that there will be widespread support across the denomination for Calls to the Church. Donating the proceeds of a church building sale to Indigenous ministries in particular could provide a living legacy for those congregations that are closing or being reimagined. This is an idea whose time has come and is an act of simple justice.

Rev. Christopher White is a minister in Toronto.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Faith

The author is baptized at Central United in Calgary. (Photo courtesy of Al Coe)

Why I got baptized in a United Church at the age of 42

by Jacqueline Mercer-Livesey

"I told myself that I didn’t need to go to church to believe in God. I found peace and the Holy Spirit in the things that surrounded me. But still, there was a nagging sense of something missing."

Promotional Image

Observations

Editor/Publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Observations: The rewards of letting go

by Jocelyn Bell

Editor Jocelyn Bell reflects on the upcoming changes for The United Church of Canada, the magazine and in her own life.

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Two nurses tackle Vancouver's opioid crisis

Richard Moore is a resident of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In this poignant interview, he explains the important work of nurses Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles.

Promotional Image

Faith

July 2018

250 United Church leaders have a message for Doug Ford

by Emma Prestwich

They're urging the new Ontario premier to remember those in need as he carries out promised economic reform.

Culture

July 2018

Tracing Nelson Mandela’s path a century after his birth

by Tim Johnson

A travel writer visits some of the places that shaped the anti-apartheid icon’s life.

Interviews

July 2018

Jamil Jivani sheds light on why young men radicalize

by Suzanne Bowness

In his book 'Why Young Men,' Jamil Jivani talks about his own experience as a troubled youth.

Promotional Image