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What I Learned from a Full Moon Ceremony

This post, detailing a CRC member’s participation in and appreciation of a full moon ceremony with Ojibway Indigenous people, provoked a lot of discussion at Synod 2017. Some people believed that the post promoted syncretism, inappropriate blending of one religion with another, and worship of a false god, while some people believed that the writer was turning away from Eurocentric expressions of Christianity and choosing to worship the one true God in non-European ways (ie. contextualization).

This debate at synod led to a lot of reflection and discernment in the Justice and Reconciliation teams of the CRC. It also led to a formal delegation of CRC staff to visit the classis that had first raised concerns at Synod. (Our offices’ response to the concerns raised can be found here.)  

Gospel and culture and contextualized ministry are matters that require mutual respect and deep discernment of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, the post’s continued presence on this blog has become a barrier to dialogue, and for that reason, Centre for Public Dialogue and Office of Social Justice staff have decided to take it down so that communal discernment and dialogue may continue in a healthy way.

The question that the writer posed in her reflection remains important, and we will continue to ask it, on this blog and elsewhere:

"What if people of European descent (like me) started listening for what God can teach us through Indigenous neighbors?"

Conversations about how the Gospel takes on different shapes in different contexts are not easy conversations, but they are deeply necessary. In a CRC cross-cultural ministry forum in 2000, participants wrestled with questions of syncretism and agreed that a regular and open exchange of hearts on these matters was important for the health of the body of Christ. We agree, and hope that there will be new opportunities for prayer and wise discernment in the presence of the Holy Spirit. If we can engage in these holy conversations respectfully, our differences can be an invitation to discernment, dialogue, and deeper Christian community.

Together may we follow our big God, who cannot be contained by one cultural expression of worship or one culture’s understanding.


Here are several resources we recommend, as we continue our learning about cross-cultural discernment together:

-Hearts Exchanged: A Report to the Churches reflecting on the Cross-cultural Ministry Forum

-God's Diverse and Unified Family

-A guide to discernment byBert Adema, director of the CRC's Indian Metis Christian Fellowship in Regina, Saskatchewan. (This resource includes that community’s discernment around smudging in Christian worship).

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