Church Leaders and Sand Creek Descendants Heal With Pilgrimage
On June 20, 2014 descendants of survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre will accompany 10 busloads of United Methodists to the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site outside Eads, Colorado. By calling it a “pilgrimage,” the Church means that it is a journey of spiritual significance.
In 1864 United States Cavalry troops attacked peacefully encamped Indians in southeast Colorado, led by Colonel John Chivington. Chivington was an ordained Methodist minister who left active ministry to join the Army during the Civil War. John Evans, Territorial Governor of Colorado, was a prominent Methodist lay leader, who had a hand in the policies that led up to the massacre.
Leaders of the Rocky Mountain Conference have been meeting with tribal descendants of survivors of the massacre and National Parks Service staff to plan for this historic pilgrimage.
“We have learned from descendants that United Methodists don’t know our own history,” said Elaine Stanovsky, United Methodist bishop of the Rocky Mountain Conference. “They encouraged us to travel with them to the site to learn, remember and to honor those who were mercilessly slain. Hopefully this will begin a journey of respect and healing relationships with the descendant tribes.”
The journey to the massacre site will occur as part of the Annual Conference of the Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church, which will meet in Pueblo, Colorado. Clergy and lay representatives of 260 churches in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah will participate in the conference. United Methodist leaders from throughout the United States will also participate in this commemoration, which will culminate in an honoring dinner.
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