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World AIDS Day 2013

WAD2013-noclick

World AIDS Day, Sunday 1 December 2013

GETTING TO ZERO

World AIDS Day on 1 December brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.

Between 2011 – 2015, World AIDS Days will have the theme of “Getting to Zero: Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS related deaths”. The World AIDS Campaign focus on “Zero AIDS related deaths” signifies a push towards greater access to treatment for all; a call for governments to act now. It is a call to honor promises like the Abuja declaration and for African governments to at least hit targets for domestic spending on health and HIV.

December 1 is a Sunday this year and we, the HIV/AIDS Advisory Council thought that we would encourage our churches to engage their members, etc. to wear something red that day, (even if it is just the AIDS ribbon) to take pictures and post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. in solidarity of our theme. On Twitter we are asking our members and friends to post using #MCCGetting2Zero

We recognize that 1 December is also the first Sunday in Advent, so we offer the following prayer for MCC to use in the lighting of the Advent wreath or during prayer time.

Here is the suggested Liturgy:

Communal Prayer

One:           Listen, learn and live! Keep open to life’s changes. Be ready to be transformed by the power of love.

Many:         We are open to life’s changes. We are ready to be transformed by the power of love.

One:           Listen, learn and live! Take strength from each other, so that you may always be hopeful and have comfort, even in great loss.

Many:        We take strength from each other, so that we may always be hopeful and have comfort, even in great loss.

One:           Listen, learn and live! May the One who creates and sustains you be with you and bless you this day, and always, whoever you are and wherever you go.

Many:        The One who creates and sustains us is with us and blesses us this day, and always, whoever we are and wherever we go.

All:            Listen, learn and live! Amen!

 

Our Prayers

One: O God, we come before you this day with longing, with hungering, with tremendous need of your healing presence. We pray on behalf of ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and our world on this World AIDS Day and commit to “Getting to Zero” together.

Many:  Loving God, we receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:  For people who have tested HIV positive and endure tension-filled waiting; sometimes hopeful and optimistic, sometimes frozen with fear and despair …(silent prayer); loving God,

Many:  We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:   For groups of people who are viciously scapegoated as the cause of the spread of AIDS, and too often pronounced “non-innocent” sufferers of AIDS diseases because they are poor, or black, or Puerto Rican, or gay, or African, or a prostitute… (silent prayer); loving God,

Many:   We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:     For the families of someone dying of AIDS that are torn apart and divided because of ignorance and prejudice, or that are rendered entirely invisible, not recognized as a “real family”… (silent prayer); loving God

Many:   We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:     For people stricken by grief at the death of a loved one from AIDS…(silent prayer); loving God,

Many:   We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:   For the sickness and indifference that infuses the fabric of our wealthy nation, tolerating policies that would cut funding or which supports price gauging of the necessary elixirs of health…(silent prayer); loving God,

Many:    We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:     For the nations that are being decimated by the disease of AIDS and apathy…(silent prayer); loving God,

Many:   We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.

One:   For the people who continue to yell, “Enough,” give us strength for the struggle, and bring your justice now…(silent prayer); loving God,

Many:    We receive your gentle, powerful, healing touch.


 

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness and support.

 

International Organizations working towards Getting To Zero.

The global theme for World AIDS Day from 2011-2015, as selected by the World AIDS Campaign, is “Getting to Zero.” Backed by the United Nations, the “Getting to Zero” campaign focuses on the goals of zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS related deaths.

How exactly is the world affected by AIDS?

Here are some of the devastating effects of this disease.

Hispanicsandaids2009

Households

The most affected families are often those that do not have a lot of options for their means of living. With the death of males in the family due to AIDS, women and children are forced to provide their households the basic needs. This is a problem in countries that have many male-dominated industries – when the heads of the families get sick, women are forced to leave homes and work in industries such as carpentry or farming. In a lot of countries affected by AIDS, women are still viewed to be in charge of housework. Read more.

 

International AIDS Society 2013 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The IAS 2013 programme is available online through the Programme-at-a-Glance (PAG). Links to abstracts, slide sets with audio, rapporteur reports and e-posters will be added as they become available. The PAG allows delegates to build and print personalized itineraries. It also features topic-focused roadmaps to help delegates navigate each day of the conference.

Click here to read about the scientific highlights of IAS 2013

Act AWARE

Act Aware by supporting our campaigns!

 

NATNAT (National AIDS Trust)(UK) doesn’t just campaign on World AIDS Day – throughout the year we work on a range of issues affecting people living with HIV, including benefits, employment and human rights. We are committed to ensuring that the laws and policies affecting people living with HIV are fair, and we work to raise awareness of HIV and the importance of HIV education in the UK today.

To get involved in our campaigning, find out more here.

AIDS2014_bannerInternational AIDS Conference 2014

The convening of the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia, in July 2014 represents a tremendous opportunity to highlight the diverse nature of the Asia Pacific region’s HIV epidemic and the unique responses to it. Gathering in Melbourne, we will work together to strengthen our efforts across all regions and around the world, building on the momentum of recent scientific advances and the momentum from AIDS 2012.

The biennial International AIDS Conference is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, as well as policymakers, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic. It will be a tremendous opportunity for researchers from around the world to share the latest scientific advances in the field, learn from one another’s expertise, and develop strategies for advancing all facets of our collective efforts to treat and prevent HIV.

Read more…

Fact Sheets

 


Litany for World AIDS Day 2013

Developed by the Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
and Strength for the Journey-Los Angeles
LEADER: As we gather to worship on this World AIDS Day, we are reminded that, as members of the Body of Christ, we are called to boldly proclaim the human rights of people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
PEOPLE: We take this moment to pray for a cure, even as we remember the millions who have died from this disease.
LEADER: We take this moment to lift up the millions of infected women, men and children who suffer the misguided judgments of a world that would shun them and shame them.
PEOPLE: We take this moment to give thanks for the transformative power of God’s Spirit.
LEADER: God’s Spirit empowers us to break the shackles of apathy, ignorance, and condemnation so that we are able to provide healing for the sick, comfort for the troubled, and hope for the forsaken.
ALL: God’s Spirit emboldens us to love unflinchingly, to share unconditionally, and to serve unreservedly.

World AIDS Day resources through the Global Ministries of the UCC and the DOC. http://www.globalministries.org/resources/special-days/aids-day/Daily Devotional for World AIDS Day throughout the season of Advent, available in English, Spanish and French http://advent.ecumenicaladvocacy.org/

Resources from the United Methodist Church

Bible Study: Chicken & Biscuits and More: AIDS Ministry and Christian Hospitality

Christian hospitality is a key aspect of congregational ministry with people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones.

Sermon: “Where Is the Promise?” (Advent)

Christmases weren’t always this hard. There were so many things that John Matthew didn’t want to be reminded of. There was the fact that he never seemed to have enough money to be able to get the presents he wanted to give his friends…

Worship Resources: Be a Force for Change

Come, Holy Spirit, empower us today– convert us, move us, strengthen us to be a force for change from now on.

Worship Resources: God Cares About AIDS

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus told his disciples about how God cares for all of creation, even small creatures like birds, and that God cares for humankind even more.

Worship Resources: Jesus, A Man Who Made a Difference

Jesus was a man who changed the world forever. He actively sought to bring healing to individuals and society. He stood with the crowd on a “level place”: he treated them as equals.

Poem: ‘Tis a Fearful Thing

Anonymous

Prayer: I Care About AIDS (An Affirmation)

Kathleen Wilder

Reflection: “This Is the Day” (AIDS Caregiving Journal)

Peter Braswell

Scripture Selections

Spiritual comfort in times of trial.

International Worship Resources

The Maryknoll AIDS Task Force Prayer

handsclaspedGod of all compassion, comfort people who live with HIV. Spread over us all your quilt of mercy, love and peace.

Open our eyes to your presence reflected in their faces. Open our ears to your truth echoing in their hearts.

Give us the strength to weep with the grieving, to journey with the lonely, to be with the depressed.

May our love mirror your love for those who live in fear, who live under stress and who suffer rejection.

Loving God grant rest to those who have died and hope to all who live with HIV.

God of life, help us to find the cure now and help us to build a world in which no one dies alone and where everyone lives accepted, wanted, and loved.

Adapted from the Maryknoll sisters of the San Salvador Diocesan HIV/AIDS program and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

Prayer of Hope

(for use on World AIDS Day)

God of Hope
All of us are affected by HIV/AIDS.
At this time of Advent Hope,
As we prepare for the coming of your son into this world
We give thanks for signs of hope.
For growing understanding
For medical advances
For changing attitudes and behavior
For greater awareness and concern in your church.
God of Unity
Bind us together with strong ties of love
That this church community may be a place where
All can find acceptance,
May it be a place of welcome for all affected by HIV/AIDS.
May it be a place where care is given and received, especially
for affected children and youth,
Where stories are told and heard,
Where fear is overcome by love,
Where you are to be found. Amen.

Adapted from The Diakonia Council of Churches in South Africa

Prayers of Intercession: Halting the Spread of HIV/AIDS

Heavenly Creator, we give you thanks for those national leaders and governments who have given publicity to the crisis of HIV/AIDS and who are committed to halting its spread. Give your wisdom to all who are in positions of leadership that they may work effectively for the well-being of the people they serve. We ask this for the sake of him who came to bring good news to the poor, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Open our heart to all that brings sickness and pain to our siblings around the world. Give us the will to protest against inequalities that make all vulnerable to infection; to oppose violence and war that put lives at risk; and to combat ignorance and poverty which lead to the spread of disease. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, you showed on earth your love for children. Guide by your Spirit all those who are entrusted with teaching children and young people about the spread of HIV/AIDS and how to prevent it. Help teachers and health workers to present the facts clearly and lovingly, and to enable children to pass on that message to others. Amen.Prayer and Reflection to Support People Caring for Those With and Affected by HIV/AIDS

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into the harvest. Luke 10:2

Loving and caring God, thank you, for You call us to love and serve Your people. You call those who care for all affected and effected by HIV/AIDS to be healing balm in Your hurting world. You send us as compassion, to suffer with those who suffer. Day and night we labor to comfort Your people.

Yet, many times the comforters are depressed by the amount of suffering seen. And many times they are totally exhausted by the amount of work that must be done. They often neglect their own health and families in the HIV/AIDS struggle. O Lord, renew their strength. Amen.

From the Church World Service website, www.churchworldservice.org, and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS

A Prayer for Holistic Healing

Heal us from the bodily pains of HIV/AIDS that depletes our immunity, and leaves us open to opportunistic infections.All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from our broken hearts and grief that continues to pain our spirits and minds and leave us empty about the meaning of life.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from the psychological pains of HIV/AIDS that engulf us in fear and hopelessness and leads us to die before the virus kills.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from HIV/AIDS social stigma and discrimination that leads us to uncompassionate acts of isolation, and failure to provide quality care and prevention.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from unhealthy sexual relations that expose partners and spouses to HIV/AIDS infection and leaves them powerless to protect themselves.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from poverty that exposes millions to HIV/AIDS. Heal us from exploitative social structures that condemn many to poverty and expose them to infection.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us

Heal us from violence that spreads HIV/AIDS. Heal us from ethnic and civil wars. Heal us from domestic violence and the rape of children.

All: Heal us Lord, Have mercy on us, Amen.

From the Church World Service web site, www.churchworldservice.org, and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS

Prayer of Hope for Children

I pray of a world where the youth are free,
Free to play with each other without fear,
Free to touch, tickle and to embrace,
Free to be themselves and respected for that.

I pray for a world where the young blossom,
Where potential is harnessed and realized,
Where people’s efforts are rewarded,
And where one can fly to reach the sky.

I pray for a world without HIV/AIDS,
I dream of a kaleidoscope of youth,
Who sing a song of praise and not shed tears,
I dream of the fullness of life and no more death. Amen.

From the Church World Service web site, www.churchworldservice.org, and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS

Prayer for protection of girls

We are gathered together to affirm the humanity of the girl child. We celebrate the fact that the girl child was created in the image of God and is loved by God. We claim responsibility to protect the girl child and give her the opportunity to grow without fear of being abused by anyone. We pray for a safe environment that is created by all for the safety of the girl child. Amen.

From the Church World Service web site, www.churchworldservice.org, and are adapted from Dube, M., Africa Praying: A Handbook on HIV/AIDS

Prayers for Healing

(can be used on St. Luke’s Day, a day of healing, on October 18)

Let us pray for the needs of all those living with HIV/AIDS (especially ____________), that God’s never-failing love may enfold them; that all who care for them may be strengthened in that ministry; and that the church may be to them a place of refuge where Christ is made known.

Let us pray for recovery from sickness, that God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of the suffering, may mercifully hear our prayers and grant to ______________ healing power, that in Christ their sickness may be turned to health and our sorrow to joy.

Let us pray for those who serve in the professions of healing, that God may guide physicians and nurses and all those called to practice the arts of healing. Strengthen them by your spirit so that the health of all people may be promoted and Christ glorified.

Let us pray for the ministry of family and friends. Give strength and gentleness, patience and faithfulness to family members and friends. Let their love be in you, and by their ministry of love let your love be made known.

Let us pray for all those who depend upon our prayers. Blessed Lord, we ask your loving care and protection for those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit and who desire our prayers. Take from them all fears and help them put their trust in you, that they may feel your strong arms around them. Amen.

Themes of Advent and HIV / AIDS

The traditional themes of the Sundays of Advent are hope, peace, joy and love. Many congregations light a candle each week and focus part of the liturgy on the concept for that week. Each of these words has unique meaning in a world where an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV or AIDS and an estimated 2.7 million more people are being infected with HIV annually.

Since World AIDS Day usually falls between the first and second Sundays in Advent, we will focus on the themes of hope and peace. If you are incorporating these themes into your preaching and/or your liturgy, consider asking yourself, at least on a Sunday close to December 1, how that theme relates to HIV and AIDS. Below are some reflections to get you started.

Hope

What does hope look like in an HIV+ world? What does hope look like for those in your community most affected by HIV and AIDS? For your outreach partners? For those in your own congregation who have been affected but have never been asked to share their stories or who are at risk for infection and don’t know it? Maybe it looks like:

Educating and Increasing Awareness

Educate all people, regardless of gender, age, race, or nationality on the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of HIV, as well as educating them about the hope after diagnosis, and the hope that undergirds preventative measures

Ask questions about HIV and AIDS in the places where your congregation already does outreach work, locally and globally.

Observe World AIDS Day with other people of faith in your community.

Commemorate World AIDS Day at your Sunday morning service of worship.

Advocating

Advocate for increased access to life-saving antiretroviral drugs.

Support targeted prevention efforts leading to changes in sexual behavior and a drop in new HIV infections.

Nurturing Acceptance

Create a “safe place” for persons who are HIV+ by asking your own congregation to share their stories about how HIV and AIDS have touched their lives.

Invite someone who is HIV+ to share their story with you and your congregation.

Taking Action

Pray for all those affected and effected by HIV and AIDS.

Honor a community organization who is working for the eradication of HIV/AIDS.

Native American Heritage Month November 2013

NativeAmericanHistory
The Office of Emerging Ministries is charged with edifying our congregations, spiritual communities and new works into inclusive communities. Towards that effort, one of my responsibilities is to provide our ministries with resources and information regarding diverse non-dominant populations who are threads in the fabric of MCC. It is my belief that the more we know about other peoples and cultures, the less we fear them.  November is Native North American Heritage month. I contacted three members of our movement and asked them if they would be willing to share of themselves so that we all might develop a deeper understanding of siblings who call MCC home. Graciously all accepted my request to share from their deepest places. As you read their stories and prayerfully consider incorporating these worship practices into your worship services, I ask only that you have an open heart.It is my pleasure to introduce to you Rev. Vicki Anderson, Mark Brown and Rev. Norma Gann.The questions posed to each were:

  1. When did you recognize your cultural heritage and two spirited-ness? Feel free to share what that means/meant to you and how it influenced your growing up.
  2. When did you find MCC? Please feel free to share your introduction story to MCC.
  3. How have you been able to weave into the fabric of MCC your cultural heritage, if you celebrate same, or how you would like to, if you have not been able to as of yet.
  4. Is there a piece of poetry, prose, pictures, music that you would like to share with MCC that worship communities may incorporate into the life of their worship? If so, please provide it for the resource by attaching it or sending a link to it or where I can obtain it.
  5. Are there any resources you recommend that MCC read/listen to, etc. in order to broaden our cultural understanding of your cultural heritage?

 


 

Rev. Vicki Anderson

Rev. Vicki Anderson

Rev. Vicki Anderson

Late in life, I started receiving my gifts.  Medicine bag, talking stick, peace pipe.  I didn’t feel very comfortable with them at all.  In 2000, I found the Shaman’s Path and I haven’t veered from it at all.  The two things I want to give the world are healing and peace, this is what I have been looking for ever since I became clergy.  I searched for the place to bring healing to the human’s need for balance  between mind-body-spirit.  I always knew I walked in two worlds, but I didn’t have a name for it.  The only way I could go into the spirit world and come out safely was as a shaman.

In 1987, I first attended an MCC. It was Resurrection  MCC in Houston, Texas USA. It was there I received my call and accepted responsibility for my walk with God in 1989.  In 1992, I started the search for my ministry because I was almost finished with formation.

I think first of all, I started with a celebration on Earth Day at MCC of Amarillo (Amarillo, Texas USA).  I wanted to start slowly by showing the congregation that all things are connected.  Working with small groups like the Sisters group in Amarillo gave me the opportunity to reach out to the women and bring them closer on their spirit walk.  We then began organizing annual sister’s retreats in nature, in  New Mexico.  Then I got a room full of healers together and we built a Sunday school building.  I then brought in a Cherokee Medicine Woman to educate the women of Amarillo  on how they could incorporate in small ways how to  live in this outside world and remaining true to their essence of spirit.

A resource I recommend is Earth Prayers by the United Nations, see below:

http://earthministry.org/resources/worship-aids/sample-worship-services/the-united-nations-environmental-sabbath-service

Earth Day Eucharist

http://earthministry.org/resources/worship-aids/sample-worship-services/earth-day-eucharist

Worship Aids

http://earthministry.org/resources/worship-aids

The original poem I want to share is Harvest

“Harvest”

 

Hey-yah!

The Indian Summer brings an abundant harvest to all

The blue Corn Festival

Roasted hatch chili

Sweet corn

The smell of fry bread in the air

We wear our very best

And the flutes lighten our step

We sing and dance to the Elder’s drums

Praise and Thanksgiving to the Great Creator

The shaman sages and builds the sacred fire

Praying to the Great Spirit

For a safe and peaceful winter

We circle the medicine wheel

And chant our prayers and needs to the Great Spirit

We give thanks and praise

As the smoke spirals up

Carrying them to Heaven

The great Spirit brings a message in the spring

The wind tells us we are one

A-ho

-Reverend Tumbleweed 2013

 


 

Mark C Brown

Mark C Brown

Mark C Brown

I am a registered Chippewa-Cree Indian from Rocky Boy reservation in Box Elder, Montana. I was adopted at the age of two by a military family. I was a suddenly thrusted into the military culture. What this meant to me was constant movement, as we were stationed at 7 different military bases within a 10 year period. My new family was a multi-racial Christian family. All of my siblings were either with the foster care system or adopted.

My father did the best he knew how to keep each of us connected to our birth cultural heritage. His attempt with me was giving me a Mohawk in 1972 and a children’s book about the North American Indians, although my tribe was not recognized in this particular book. I was able to see and learn about many of the different tribes and found some overlapping commonality as well as their unique differences.

My own first encounter with my Native American Heritage was in my early 20’s as I lived in the lush green and beautiful Pacific Northwest for 22 years. There I was exposed to a concentrated population of diverse Tribes of Native Americans and their various traditions. I began to take on some of these worship practices. The first tradition that I embraced was a prayer from the Lakota tradition, the Prayer In The Four Directions, included in this resource.

I remember the exact moment in time when this prayer finally challenged my most sacred beliefs about God and me. I was serving as the Director of Music at MCC Los Angeles, currently Founders MCC. Rev. Dr. Neil Thomas, Rev. Pat Langlois, Rev. Alex Escoto and I were in the process of organizing an inter-faith service. I was asked to offer a practice or spiritual tradition from a Native American perspective. I knew I would offer the Prayer in the Four Directions, as it was taught to me by a Woman Lakota Priest.

I stood in that sacred space on Santa Monica Boulevard and led the congregation in this spiritual practice. It was the closest feeling for me to “a rushing mighty wind.” I was overcome with the realization of God and how God sincerely interacts lovingly with all of creation. In that single moment, I was released to worship God freely as my ancestors did as well as fully embracing the God of my Christian faith. In that instant, they were no longer mutually exclusive. In that God given moment of clarity and in-spirited-ness I knew I had been given a glimpse of what heaven on earth could be!

As Director of Worship Arts it is my prayer for all to experience the divine, in all the ways the Creator discloses, the many faces of its being.  So I strive to have an openness to a deeper understanding of other’s life journey that bring humanity together to coexist in peace.

I continue to explore what it means to be two spirit.

Mark C. Brown, Director of Worship Arts at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church in Houston, TX.

 

This Lakota tradition has specific colors and definitions of each direction. This differs from other Native American’s who also use a prayer in four directions.

Lakota Prayer In The Four Directions

 

East (Red)

Creator, It is I.
Thank you for today’s sunrise,
for the breath and life within me,
and for all of your creations.
Creator, Hear my prayer, and honor my prayer.

As the day begins with the rising sun,
I ask, Spirit keeper of the East, Brother Eagle,
be with me.

Fly high as you carry my prayers to the Creator.
May I have eyes as sharp as yours,
so I am able to see truth and hope on the path I have chosen.
Guide my step and give me courage to walk
the circle of my life with honesty and dignity.

 

South (yellow)

Spirit keeper of the South, Wolf,
Be with me.

Help me to remember to love
and feel compassion for all humankind.
Help me to walk my path with joy and love
for myself, for others, for the four legged,
the winged ones, the plants and all creation
upon Mother Earth.

Show me it is right for me to make decisions
with my heart, even if at times, my heart becomes hurt.
Help me to grow and nurture myself worth in all ways.

 

West (Black)

Spirit Keeper of the West, Brown Bear,
Be with me.

Bring healing to the people I love and to myself.
Bring into balance the physical, mental and spiritual,
so I am able to know my place on this earth,
in life and in death.

Heal my body, heal my mind and
bring light, joy and awareness to my spirit.

 

North (White)

Spirit Keeper of the North, White Buffalo,
Be with me.

As each day passes, help me to surrender,
with grace, the things of my youth.
Help me to listen to the quiet, and find serenity and comfort
in the silences as they become longer.
Give me wisdom so I am able to make wise choices
in all things which are put in front of me,
And when time for my change of worlds has come,
Let me go peacefully, without regrets, for the things
I neglected to do as I walked along my path.

 

Mother Earth,
Thank you for your beauty,

And for all you have given me.
Remind me never to take from you
more then I need, and
remind me to always give back more than I take.

 

Author Unknown

 


 

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Rev. Norma Gann

Rev. Norma Gann

MCC Greater Dallas

Dallas, Texas USA

I am sorry to say that I knew little of my heritage when I was growing up. My family was not proud of being Native American, and frankly, it was not good to be Native! One of my aunts went to her grave hating her Native heritage, even though it was rather obvious.  However, I knew I was so very different from others, and I was even different from my brothers. I seemed to have a connection with animals, and I had “feelings” and dreams that seemed to have a spiritual or mystical basis. I had a love for nature that was so very strong. I connected with the Creator on a very high plane when I was able to be in the midst of nature. I had a very strong spiritual connection with the Great Spirit that I did not even understand. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, and being spiritual in my way did not fit into their dogma. I found no peace there.

I was both male and female, and I was not completely one or the other.  I truly did not know where I belonged. I was a wandering soul. In my twenties, I connected with my Cherokee heritage, and only then did I begin to understand who I was and am. Most tribes have turned from the old ways, and they have tried to assimilate to the European culture, especially to Christianity. However, at one point, many tribes recognized three or four gender identities in order to allow those outside the male/female binary to have a place. When I began to search for my place, I connected with the Two Spirit identity. I am a biological female, and yet, I am very masculine. I am not either/or; I am both/and. I have a strong spiritual belief in the power of nature and the Creator. That is, God is present in all things, not just humans. As I began to understand the Two Spirit identity, I began to realize that I did have a place. It is not just about being gay or lesbian; it is about being the human creation I was meant to be instead of trying to fall into a societal and dogmatic image. I am free to be the spiritual and sexual being that I was created to be. While many tribes have been slow to return to acceptance of folks beyond the male/female binary, I found a place where I seemed to fit, and some folks have returned and are returning to the old ways. My prayer is that we will all learn to see the beauty and worth of all of Creation.

As I have said, I was raised in the Southern Baptist tradition, and I did not fit their idea of a Christian because I am Two Spirit. I did not dress, act, or look as they deemed appropriate. For more than thirty years, I did not step into a church. When I was told by my home church that I must be healed or leave, I did just that. I left, and I wanted no part of organized religion. I found the presence of the Creator all around me, and I worshipped in my way, whether it was in the barn with the horses or the lake with the trees and animals. In 2003, I was told of a church that would welcome me just as I was. At first, I was truly skeptical. No one else had wanted me so why would I believe this church would. Nevertheless, I went to a MCC church for the first time, and I truly was welcomed just as I was. I sat on the back row for several months waiting for them to tell me I had to be healed, but that never happened. I was invited to participate in the reading of scripture, to be an usher, and several other functions within the church. At first, I could not even imagine walking to the front to read the passage of scripture much less actually reading it! Over the years, I have learned much from my MCC family. I have gained confidence that the Creator has a place in MCC for me, just the way I am. I can be my authentic self! I am free to be me at last. I am now an ordained MCC pastor. I am the Pastor of Congregational Care at MCC of Greater Dallas, and I cherish serving God by serving with and for these folks.

I have been able to weave several of my rituals into my life as a MCC pastor/member. The use of incense has long been a practice in the churches of various denominations. Instead of incense, I use sages, sweet grasses, herbs and tobacco to do smudging rituals for blessings and cleansings. I have been asked to smudge homes, the church, people, animals, and anything else that was given to the Creator. Additionally, I included the Cherokee binding ceremony in a Holy Union, and I read a Cherokee prayer of blessing for the couple. I use Native American flute music in meditation, and I have shared that practice with many who find it difficult to free their minds from the everyday strife of life. Additionally and most recently, smudging and Native flute music were incorporated into two peace/prayer vigils at the church on International Peace Day.  I continue to find ways in which my Native heritage and my Christian faith can be woven into a beautiful mosaic of truth and freedom!

There are innumerable quotes and proverbs from Native Americans that resonate in my life. One of my favorite prayers is a short and simple prayer to the Great Spirit. I do not know who originally wrote it but it is seen on many things from t-shirts to coffee cups. It conveys some of the thoughts that begin my day each day.

 

                                                Oh Great Spirit,

Whose voice I hear in the wind,

Whose breath gives life to the world,

Hear me.

I come to you as one of your many children.

I am small and weak.

I need your strength and wisdom.

May I walk in beauty.

Aho

 

One of my favorite quotes is as follows:

“The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.”                     ~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~

TwoSpiritsis a documentary of the struggles of a young Two Spirit Navajo. “Fred Martinez was a Navajo boy who was also a girl. In an earlier era, he would have been revered. Instead he was murdered.”  This documentary shows a hour of the life of an amazing Two Spirit human whose life was cut too short by hate and bigotry in modern times. In past times, this young changing one would have been cherished by the tribe. This is both educational and heartbreaking!

Will Roscoe has written several books about Native American gender identities.  These books can give insight into the traditions of old.  Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America by Will Roscoe(Jun 17, 2000) is one that I have used to help when I was asked to meet with folks to explain what is meant by Two Spirit, and it was used as required reading in a seminary class.

 

Many cities now have groups of Two Spirit folks who are coming together to reclaim our holy identities and to bring about acceptance within and outside of our tribes. There are Two Spirit Societies forming across the country. Information can be accessed by googling Two Spirit, and Facebook has a site Two Spirit National Cultural Exchange, Inc.

 


 

About Native American, Alaskan and First Nations Heritage Month

Information courtesy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior

What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose. Read more.

Multimedia

MV5BMjEzMTk0NTk2MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTY1ODc1Mg@@._V1_SY317_CR15,0,214,317_[1]Two Spirits

Fred Martinez was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at 16. Two Spirits explores the life and death of a boy who was also a girl, and the essentially spiritual nature of gender.

WeShallRemainWe Shall Remain

November is Native American Heritage Month, and what better way to celebrate it than to learn something about the history and cultures of some of the first Americans? This month EDSITEment also celebrates the recent five-part PBS series We Shall Remain, which was partially funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Native American Heritage Month: Check Out These Animated Stories on YouTube

Animated Stories on Youtube.com

One may not think of YouTube as being a place to find information about Native American history, but a number of individuals and tribes have taken to using animation to tell their stories. So, for Native American Heritage Month, here are a few examples of how animation has been used to tell Native stories:

Click here: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/article/native-american-heritage-month-check-out-these-animated-stories-youtube-145893

bayitlive

American Indian Heritage Month Facts & Figures

The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916 in New York. Red Fox James, a Blackfeet Indian, rode on horseback from state to state, getting endorsements from 24 state governments, to have a day to honor American Indians. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November National American Indian Heritage Month. Today, American Indians comprise 1.3 percent of the U.S. population. Their buying power, which this year is 156 percent greater than in 2000, is expected to grow to $148 billion by 2017.


Native American Month Timeline

Facts and Figures

Department of Indian Affairs

History and Resources

American Indian College Fund

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month takes place each November and is a great way to celebrate the traditions and cultures of the first Americans. ColorinColorado.org salutes the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes with games, books, activities, and fun!

 

Maya_calendar_Hunab-Ku[1]

by Tom Kunseh

Teaching Tolerance’s

Native American Influences in U.S. History and Culture

“These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past; wisdom is of the future,” say Vernon Cooper, spiritual elder of the Lumbee or Croatoan tribe of North Carolina. The following activity is designed to help you measure your awareness of Native American influences in U.S. history and culture and, in so doing, expand your vision of a people whose wisdom marks generations of Americans from age to age. Be sure to share this information with others.

 

Toolkit for “Two Pairs of Shoes”

Building Your Knowledge

Learn more about Native Americans. First, encourage students to take a short quiz to see what they already know (or don’t know) about Native American Influences in U.S. History and Culture.

For Teachers

Native American History

Library of Congress

Assimilation through Education

Immigration: Native American

Themed Resources: Native Americans

National Endowment for the Humanities

“We Shall Remain” for Native American Heritage Month

National Archives

DocsTeach: Native Americans

Teaching With Documents: Maps of Indian Territory, the Dawes Act, and Will Rogers’ Enrollment Case File

Teaching With Documents: Memorandum Regarding the Enlistment of Navajo Indians

Teaching With Documents: Sioux Treaty of 1868

National Gallery of Art

George Catlin, The White Cloud, Head Chief of the Iowas

Native and Meso American Education Resources

NGAkids: George Catlin’s Paintings of Native Americans

National Park Service

Teaching with Historic Places

Smithsonian Institution

Education Resources for Students, Families and Teachers

Celebrate Native Americans in the Classroom

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November is National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month — the perfect time to explore Education World’s resources on the history and culture of America’s original inhabitants.

 

American Federation of Teachers

Formal American Indian heritage recognition began in 1915, when Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian, persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to recognize the “First Americans” with their own day. American Indian Day was later recognized by the annual Congress of the American Indian Association on the second Saturday of each May

NativeAmImage

Native American Studies Primer

NATIVE AMERICANS IN FILM AND LITERATURE

NATIVE AMERICANS STEREOTYPING

UP-TO-DATE NEWS

NATIVE AMERICANS PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND JOURNALS

BOARDING SCHOOL ERA

AMERICAN INDIAN MOVEMENT 

RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

NATIVE IDENTITY

INDIGENOUS LANGUAGES

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION 

INDIGENOUS FEMINISM

MISCELLANEOUS 

DECOLONIZING METHODOLOGIES