The North Carolina Annual Conference Board of Church and Society stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the six Council Fires, and all those who are engaged in peaceful protest and resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Our church’s social teachings affirm “water is a sacred gift from God” and call us “to ensure that water remains pure and available to all.” (2016 Book of Resolutions: #1033, Caring for Creation: Our Call to Stewardship and Justice). Our teachings also recognize that too often we have turned native people’s sacred lands into dumping grounds and therefore call us to work diligently “to ensure the right of indigenous populations to free, prior and informed consent are transparently honored” (2016 Book of Resolutions, #1025 Environmental Racism)
The Standing Rock tribe believes the construction and operation of the pipeline threatens its environmental and economic well-being and would damage or destroy sites that have great historical, religious, and cultural significance to the tribe and has initiated a lawsuit. The tribe’s lawsuit contends that the pipeline violates the National Historic Preservation Act and the Clean Water Act, among other laws.
Their protest is informed by the memory of broken treaties and disingenuous promises. Their protest reflects that water and ancestral grounds are sacred to the Lakota and Dakota peoples and cannot be owned or controlled or desecrated by themselves or others. Their protest is on behalf of all who rely on the Missouri waters for drinking, irrigation, and recreation all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. Their protest involves the alteration of the sacred Missouri and the displacement of many native families when the river was dammed, creating Lake Oahe. Ultimately, this is a protest about the stewardship of God’s creation and justice for the indigenous peoples of the Great Plains. Ultimately, this is a spiritual battle.
As United Methodists continue our journey of repentance and healing with indigenous peoples, we understand that this journey is meaningful only if it leads us to action in addressing ongoing oppression and injustice.
The Psalmist proclaims ‘The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it, for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers.’ (Psalm 24:1-2) Today, that proclamation leads us to stand alongside the people of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. To offer ourselves as partners in resistance against those who would marginalize the voices of native peoples, despoil sacred lands, endanger life-sustaining waters and prioritize profits over the health of God’s people and God’s planet.
We encourage the people of the North Carolina Annual Conference to join in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, the Dakotas Annual Conference, and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. We encourage you to lift this situation in prayer and stay apprised of further developments. Another option available is to send a letter to President Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to listen to the voices of impacted communities and pursue a course of action that will protect God’s people and God’s planet. The General Board of Church and Society is facilitating the letter writing initiative and a form can be found at this link: https://umc-gbcs.org/faith-in-action/standing-rock-a-call-for-solidarity1
More information (including ways to respond) is available from the Dakotas Conference website: http://www.dakotasumc.org/news/united-methodists-stand-with-standing-rock/
The North Carolina Annual Conference Board of Church and Society
Ms. JoAnn Barbour
Rev. William Braswell
Ms. Brenda Brown
Ms. Karen Cheek
Rev. David Harvin
Mr. Brian Heymans, Chairperson
Rev. Jim Littleton
Ms. LaNella Smith
Rev. Tuck Taylor
Rev. Molly White
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, North Carolina Conference, The United Methodist Church
Cabinet, North Carolina Conference
Mr. Gary Locklear, North Carolina Conference Lay Leader
Connectional Table, North Carolina Conference
Mr. Steve Taylor, Executive Director of Connectional Ministries, North Carolina Conference
Dr. Christine Harman, Christian Formation Ministries Coordinator, North Carolina Conference
Dr. Terry Hunt, Leadership Ministries Coordinator, North Carolina Conference
Rev. Jaye White, Outreach Ministries Coordinator, North Carolina Conference