The trees remember
and tell the story
of cries and terror,
of brokenness and blood.
Of children murdered
and mothers weeping.
Of grandmothers and babies
lying dead on the sandy ground.
watered by blood and tears,
to evil, unleashed,
The wind carries the cries
to those who will hear.
Stand by us.
Weep with us.
We are your brothers and sisters,
your grandmothers and grandfathers,
your sons and daughters.
and do not turn away.
Take courage from the trees.
and tell the story.
Yesterday I took a pilgrimage with our Rocky Mountain Annual Conference to the site of the Sand Creek Massacre. On November 29, 1864, 675 United States calvarymen attacked a peaceful Cheyenne and Arapahoe village who were camped under the protection of the United States government. Over the next 8 hours, the mostly women, children, and elderly men were run down and slaughtered. The troops were led by a Methodist presiding elder. More about the Sand Creek Massacre.
Tomorrow morning our Rocky Mountain Annual Conference will load up in 13 buses to take a pilgrimage to the site of the Sand Creek Massacre, which occurred 150 years ago this year. We take this pilgrimage in remembrance of and reverence for the men, women, and children who died and whose bodies where desecrated. And in repentance for the fact that the leader of the massacre was a Methodist minister. There is no way to make up for this atrocity.
God of justice and healing, open our eyes, our ears, our hearts, to the moving of your Spirit. Make us worthy to walk on this sacred ground. Come, Spirit, come, and show us the way. Amen.
Why We Are Going to Sand Creek
By Charles Schuster
Chair of the Task Force on the Acts of Repentance
Rocky Mountain Conference
For those United Methodists who may wonder why we are doing something with the 2014 Annual Conference we have never done in the history of the Conference, here are some reasons why it is imperative that we make the trip to the site of the Massacre.
Most importantly we have been invited by the descendants of the Massacre to join them in a trip to this sacred place.
On the 150 anniversary of the Massacre we are reminded that the government censured John Chivington and took his commission and the Territorial Governor, John Evans, was removed from office for his complicity in the Massacre, the Methodist Church did nothing to Chivington, a Presiding Elder (District Superintendent) and he was allowed to continue his ministry.
While we cannot repair the pain our church has created, if we do not acknowledge it, we will perpetuate the pain by our unwillingness to own what happened.
Sometimes the right thing to do is not the most convenient. The time has come for us to do the right thing.
If we truly wish to remember Sand Creek and the 150th anniversary we will need to visit the place where the Massacre happened. It becomes much more real to us if we can actually visit the site. People who have actually visited the Oklahoma City Muir Building site or the Shanksville field where Flight 93 crashed are brought to the point of a silent witness. Such an emotion is evoked as one stands at the Sand Creek site. We will be inspired by the experience.
This is a great opportunity to learn something about ourselves, our church, and our connection to each other. We will be changed by the experience.
There is no way to overestimate the value of this event. It will be emotionally draining and deeply moving to stand with the Sand Creek Massacre descendants to experience their grace filled welcome to their sacred space.