Day two of the Transform 2018 Conference began with very meaningful and moving worship service that was led by the eight Canadian Presbyterian ministries that are focussed on Indigenous people and communities.
In many ways, this service set the tone for the entire day, especially as ministry after ministry talked about their experience of ongoing injustices — things like residential schools, the sixties scoop, youth suicides, drug addiction, missing and murdered Indigenous women. The sorrow expressed was deep, but the worship that accompanied it was nevertheless beautiful as it appealed to the limitless love of God.
This worship let us directly into our first session with our speaker, Dr Grace Ji-Sun Kim, and it was what prompted her to spend some time talking about the Korean concept of Han (a concept that I had previously only encountered in an episode of The West Wing). Han, she explained, is the sadness and sorrow that is felt in response to systemic injustice. In Korean culture, Han is something that needs to be expressed and is often expressed very dramatic form, something that we often have trouble within Western cultures.
Reflections with a Mentor
This day included two mentor sessions — break out groups for more personal discussion led by a chosen leader. Our group was particularly blessed to have Dr Grace Ji-Sun Kim as our leader (or, perhaps, did the organizers feel that we were most in need of her help?). Our discussion led me to some interesting thoughts about my own situation.
Having spent a significant time during the day talking about grief-inducing situations in various places, I was led to reflect on my experience in my own situation. If often seems to me that one of the things that prevents our congregation from embracing the change and transformation that may be needed in our present time and place is that we are carrying too much grief.
- The church that used to be. We are hardly alone in this, but I note that many in our congregation carry a lot of grief over the way that things used to work in the church. They grieve the fact that we can no longer attract people in the ways we used to do. They grieve the loss congregational size and influence.
- Two former ministers, both of whom recently passed away. One of those passings was particularly difficult as it was the most recent minister and he died under particularly tragic circumstances.