California Truth, Healing, & Conservation Program
Creation Justice Ministries seeks to strengthen its Christian community-driven conservation work in the context of the broader Truth and Healing Movement. By directly confronting institutional racism and violence perpetrated in the name of Christianity, we live out the values of our ecumenical Christian faith as we practice it today: love of neighbor and reverence for God's creation.
As a Christian organization, our truth-telling must articulate and confront the enduring legacy of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery in theology, ministry practice, natural and cultural heritage sites, and conservation law. This truth-telling, as well as careful listening, will inform our healing ministry to prioritize the most vulnerable as we protect, restore, and more rightly share God's creation. We are particularly attuned to the places designated as public lands and waters, which are under our collective stewardship.
Why focus on Indigenous communities?
The State of California has established a Truth and Healing Council as well as a Reparations Task Force. California park and transit agencies are also undergoing a review of discriminatory names. We expect this California state project to influence our ministry nationally.
In 2021, our Truth, Healing, and Conservation program will culminate in:
1) the beginning of an organized constituency of California religious community leaders who are educated and ready to act in support of Black and Indigenous-led initiatives for truth, healing, and racial justice in conservation policy
2) a publicly available website with information on the intersections of Christianity, conservation, racial justice, and tribal sovereignty, with a focus on California.
As a Christian organization, we are taking ownership of our moral responsibility to counteract the Doctrine of Discovery's lasting, damaging effects. This Doctrine began through the Catholic Church in Europe in the 15th century, and pervaded Christian institutions' colonization ideologies. It was used to establish the international African slave trade and to drive the genocide of Indigenous peoples worldwide. Today, we actively seek healing through actions that can help rectify injustices perpetrated in the name of Christ.
Eco-justice reparations through actions such as land return, or tribal co-management of public lands and waters, will not only help rectify injustice. These actions may also be exactly what is necessary to save God's creation, which is in crisis. In many places, Indigenous people hold wisdom about living in relationship with God’s creation, based on millenia of responsible caretaking relationships with ecosystems. Land theft, genocide, and continued erasure of Indigenous people has resulted in the loss of Indigenous wisdom which benefits all, as God’s creation needs this particular care.
What's Happening Now?
The Truth and Healing Fellows have embarked on a listening campaign in order to do a deep listening with Indigenous and Black communities. From there they will engage stakeholders and compile education materials.
Creation Justice Ministries and the Fellows plan to launch a repair network of churches and Christian communities committed to coming alongside Indigenous communities in the work of conservation and repair. For more information on the repair network, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Truth & Healing Learning Videos
Truth, Healing & Conservation: Tracing the Roots of California Ecocide and Seeking the Fruits of Repentance
In this webinar, we will trace the connections between the ecological crisis in the state of California and the attempted genocide and removal of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral lands. Christian denominations are beginning to acknowledge and seek to make amends for the role of the Church in sanctioning this destruction under the Doctrine of Discovery. At the same time, a growing environmental justice movement is recognizing that Indigenous ecological knowledge is essential for land conservation. We will highlight examples of conservation efforts led by Indigenous groups in California, and offer opportunities for faith communities to come together in support of these initiatives.
Truth, Healing and Conservation: The Role of Faith Communities in Supporting Indigenous Land and Water Protection
How can faith communities support Indigenous-led efforts to protect sacred lands and waters? Creation Justice Ministries fellows will host a panel discussion with members of the Canticle Farm community in Oakland, CA, who will share how they have learned from and partnered with Indigenous communities like the Winnemem Wintu tribe in the Run4Salmon prayer journey, and the Sogorea 'Te Land Trust in their work for land rematriation. We will explore how involvement in Indigenous-led movements can offer healing and spiritual transformation. This webinar is offered through our Truth, Healing and Conservation Fellowship, and will culminate with opportunities for Christian faith communities in California to join our work for reparative justice in support of Indigenous efforts to protect the sacred.
Who are the Truth and Healing Fellows?
Cynthia Pinto-Cabrera is an air quality and environmental justice advocate in Central California where she grew up and still lives. She is currently an online graduate student pursuing a Master's in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. Prior to this, Cynthia obtained her undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is interested in incorporating more voices from Black, Indigenous, and Faith-Based communities in the fight against climate change. In her spare time, she enjoys trips to Yosemite National Park with family and friends. You can find her on Twitter @cynthiapintoc.
Katerina Friesen is a Mennonite pastor and educator who lives on Yokuts land in Fresno, California. Her work and ministry are inspired by Jesus' call to Jubilee justice and healing. She organizes for Indigenous solidarity with the Anabaptist Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery Coalition and works with incarcerated people in CA state prisons to grow healing gardens behind bars through the Insight Garden Program. Katerina loves writing poetry, hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and learning the names of birds, plants and animals.
Rachel Bechtol is a member of the Manchester-Point Arena Band of Pomo Indians, but has lived on Nisenan land for most of their life. They have spent years doing professional and personal racial and social justice work in California and Washington. In their free time, they enjoy writing fictional novels and short stories, and playing the ukulele.
Want to learn more about the Truth, Healing, and Conservation project?
To learn more and to join the Repair Network, email us at email@example.com.