On Sunday, October 11, during Westminster Presbyterian Church’s 9:15 am Social Justice Forum, Sharon Day, an Ojibwe Water Walker, discussed the importance of care for and stewardship of the water. Enrolled in the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, Day is one of the founders of the Indigenous People’s Task Force and serves as its Executive Director. She is also an artist, musician and writer.
Rev. Alanna Simone Tyler, Westminster’s Associate Pastor for Justice and Mission, answered a few questions about why Day was invited to speak on this topic and what she hopes the Westminster community will learn.
What is Westminster’s connection with Sharon Day?
Earlier this year during the Lenten Season Westminster focused on environmental justice and care for creation. Our plans called for exploring this focus through Tim’s sermons, covenant groups and congregation-wide luncheons in which Tim invited guests to speak about their faith tradition’s approach to caring for the environment. We invited Ms. Day to be our guest for one of the luncheons and to speak about the practice of Nibi (Water) Walks. She could not join us, but graciously arranged to have three who share her reverence for the water to be with us. We hoped for a future opportunity to welcome her and learn about her calling to protect and care for the water.
What are the Social Justice Ministry Team’s hopes in inviting Sharon Day to participate in the Social Justice Forum?
Ms. Day will speak to us about her enduring commitment to water walks. Since 2011 she has led 20 water walks in which walkers gather water at the headwaters of a river and carry the water the length of the river to its mouth. Ms. Day has described this extended prayer ceremony as “giving the river a taste of herself. We say to her this is how you began, pure and clean. This is how we wish for you to be again.” The Social Justice Ministry Team hopes all who hear Ms. Day will be inspired to discern their faithful actions. We hope all of the forums turn our hearts to discernment.
What is the significance of Westminster Presbyterian Church hosting Sharon Day on Sunday, October 11?
The second Monday in October is increasingly recognized as Indigenous People’s Day—a holiday to celebrate and honor Native American peoples, their history, and culture. Westminster’s invitation to Sharon Day to lead the Social Justice Forum, the day before Indigenous People’s Day (Monday, October 12) is one way we honor this nation’s first residents and further affirm our commitment to continue learning about our Indigenous siblings and building mutual relationships with them. Additionally, in this year of listening we are eager to hear an Ojibwe woman describe an Indigenous-led commitment to listen to all of creation.
How do you see this topic fitting with the Social Justice Forum’s overall theme for the program year, Wade in the Water: Becoming Anti-Racist?
The Social Justice Ministry Team anticipates the forums it hosts this year will “encourage all of us to listen intently to voices beyond those of white privilege, and to reflect on how we, as a community of faith, can help change a racialized system.”