A Christian Response to the 400th Anniversary Commemoration
of the Founding of Jamestown, Virginia in 1607
National Council of Churches Interfaith Relations Commission meeting in Montreal, Quebec, receives with gratitude an overture from the Virginia Council of Churches on the commemoration of the 400'" anniversary of the settling of Jamestown in 2007. The events of 1607 inaugurated the shared history of 400 years, weaving together diverse peoples and cultures. This commemoration is an occasion to appreciate the past, but it also offers an opportunity for repentance" reconciliation and healing.
For some of us who are Native American this event begins a long history of invasion; genocide, exploitation, and the denigration and loss of native land and religious traditions. For others of us who are African American this event marks the port of entry of slavery and forced migration. Yet, in Spill' of this painful history, we are grateful to God that we have survived and thrived in this land.
This event also marked the beginning of the permanent presence of Protestantism in North America. The church too has thrived in this land. However we recognize and confess that many churches bad much to do with the structures that supported racism.
The 2007 Commemoration of the founding of Jamestown provides a kairos opportunity for Christian churches to focus upon their solidarity with indigenous peoples and reaffirm our commitment to combat racism.
Expecting that the familiar traditional accounts of European settlement will dominate the celebration the Governing Board of the NCCCUSA encourages the community of Christian communions in the USA, to:
1. Be involved in activities that bring forward those parts of the history of the 'event that have often been forgotten or omitted.
2. Continue to stand against racism in all its forms
3. Prepare and distribute resources that reveal the complexities and complicities of missionary efforts that resulted in the destruction of cultures and religions, tile desecration of religious sites, and other actions that created a culture intolerant to the spirituality of indigenous all enslaved peoples.
4. Since we are living at a time of unprecedented cultural and religious diversity in this land, review and reflect on the degree to which current missiologies tend to promote lifestyles that perpetuate the exploitation of people, and that stand in the way of enabling their self· determination.