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Michigan takes first steps

On Friday, June 10, The Michigan Area began a “Path to Wellness” with the help of the Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell, Jr.
During the weeks leading up to the 2016 Annual Conference, United Methodists across Michigan watched a film, “Our Fires Still Burn.” The documentary invited viewers into the lives of contemporary Native American role models living in the U.S. Midwest.

The viewing was in preparation for the experience of an Act of Repentance and Reconciliation at Annual Conference on Friday, June 10.

The hearts of Conference members were further prepared by a message shared by the Rev. Glen Chebon Kernell, Executive Secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries, General Board of Global Ministries. A member of the Seminole Nation and resident of Oklahoma, Kernell began, “How can we restore what has taken 500 years to take away? I come here to recognize the steps we are now taking in the right direction to correct the wrong of history. We are here today hoping that pain will end and we will not hurt anybody anymore as a church.”

The story of Zacchaeus, Luke 19:1-10, framed Kernell’s keynote address. “The path to wellness is not a short path or an easy path,” he emphasized. “It is a path we have to take that coincides with the Gospel message.”

The path to wellness can not end in East Lansing on June 10. The closing prayer for the afternoon sets the feet of the Michigan area on the journey ahead:

Today is not the end of our journey toward reconciliation, but merely one stop along the way so that we might check our course and adjust our direction. As we have confessed our sins to God before one another and repent in the presence of those we have wronged and continue to wrong, we understand if those who hear our confession might question its sincerity. Others have said, “I’m sorry” in the past, even as they have stolen their land, their children and their future. Reconciliation cannot occur until there is repentance and repentance takes more than words. It requires a change in attitude and behavior. Oh God, help us to take the next step to make that change. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.