New propers available for National Aboriginal Day of Prayer

A cathedral full of strawberries—some churches have been really creative on the National Aboriginal Day of Prayer (NADP), June 21. Eileen Scully, coordinator for ministry and worship, remembers a 2001 service in the Diocese of Huron cathedral that ended with a Mohawk reconciliation ceremony. Everyone was handed a strawberry. “That was really quite wonderful,” she said. “It was a huge celebration.”

After creatively marking NADP since 1971, the Anglican Church of Canada will now include official propers in the prayer book.

The process is almost complete. As all Anglicans know, you can’t just go plunk a new prayer in the prayer book.

In this case the idea for the propers first arose at the Faith, Worship, and Ministry Committee (FWMC), which then consulted with the Anglican Council of Indigenous Peoples (ACIP). It seemed like an obviously good idea to both groups, so after much email correspondence, they agreed on the text, and had it approved by the Council of General Synod earlier this month.

Now the team offers the NADP propers to the church for trial use, before final approval at General Synod 2010. Eileen Scully is welcoming feedback on the text and its usefulness.

Propers are the elements that can be modified in a liturgy: the collect of the day, the readings, the sentence, etc. These NADP propers include an ACIP covenant collect, and are also available in French. The church is working on translating the propers into Aboriginal languages.

“National Aboriginal Day is observed in many, many ways in First Nations communities,” notes Donna Bomberry, Indigenous Ministries coordinator, and a link in the FWMC-ACIP conversation. “This is a way of inviting the non-Aboriginal community to be prayerful on that day as Indigenous communities observe the day in many various ways.”

The Government of Canada recognized National Aboriginal Day in 1996, and churches often mark this date on the closest Sunday. Faith, Worship, and Ministry has NADP worship resources online from 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, and 2002, which are full of good ideas, backgrounders, and practical things like bulletin covers.

Recently the Anglican Church of Canada and other churches have called for a Healing and Reconciliation Month, which began on May 26, the National Day of Healing and Reconciliation, and will continue to June 21, National Aboriginal Day. This month also includes the one-year anniversary of the Prime Minister’s apology for residential schools on June 11.

These major dates offer plenty of reasons to incorporate the propers creatively into your June 21 service—with or without the strawberries.

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