Responsive Reading - Repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery: A Litany for Churches

2021, 17 pp
This Litany responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #49:1:

We call upon all religious denominations and faith groups who have not already done so to repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and peoples, such as the Doctrine of Discovery and terra nullius.

This litany of repudiation is intended to publicly acknowledge a long, untold history; to confess wrongdoing; to declare our rejection of the attitudes and judgments that characterize the path we walk on; and to re-imagine our life together in a new way that respects all peoples, Indigenous and Settler.

Worship needs and settings vary, so we offer three versions of the litany for repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery:
  • The full version—approximately fifteen minutes—introduces the Doctrine of Discovery and then responds to the injustices it inflicted with a lament and a commitment to reparation.
  • Two shorter versions assume congregations have already reflected on the historical teaching covered in the full version. The medium version is roughly seven minutes in length, the short version about four.
  • All litanies offer opportunities to tailor the content for your congregation. For example, you might want to change the welcome or the prayer of thanksgiving in specific ways that meet your congregation’s needs. When you acknowledge Traditional Lands and First People, you’ll want to insert the correct information for your context.
  • Each litany includes links to supportive web resources.
(4-15 min)

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