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The Commons
Town and Village

Guilford church members to march in DAPL protest in Washington

Originally published in The Commons issue #398 (Wednesday, March 8, 2017).



GUILFORD—At least eight members of the Guilford Community Church — including three youth and the Rev. Lise Sparrow — will march in Washington D.C. to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.

More than 100 other United Church of Christ members have pledged to participate in the March 10 event, organized by the Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes and their allies, according to an article at UCC.org.

The article notes UCC participants are encouraged to wear purple “in keeping with Lent,” and, “the Rev. Brooks Berndt, UCC minister for environmental justice, is inviting marchers to make signs that evoke the need for national repentance regarding the history of violence and oppression perpetrated by the U.S. government against indigenous peoples.”

“The Climate Justice Ministries of the UCC have protested and are protesting many pipelines and tracking sites. It is an important part of our denomination’s mission,” Sparrow told The Commons.

“We have a long history of supporting environmental causes,” said Sparrow, who noted the Guilford church’s extensive work with conservation NGOs and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Kenya.

“Even small children in the church learn about endangered species and each spring some participate in a 40-day carbon fast,” she said.

During the past two summers, Sparrow spent time with church youth living two hours downstream from the North Dakota pipeline site, and with the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, who were leaders in the pipeline protest.

“My interest stems from my connection to that community which depends on the river,” she said.

Sparrow visited the Standing Rock protest site in November during a special Call to Clergy from the Standing Rock tribe. “Rev. Floberg who lives in Cannon Ball, N.D., which is within the Standing Rock Reservation, sent out a call and over 600 clergy of all faiths and from around the nation showed up,” she said.

“It was profoundly moving for many reasons,” said Sparrow, including, “working in a kitchen ... [and] getting to know people and about their lives.”

Sparrow also mentioned the emotional experience of participating in the ritual condemning the Doctrine of Discovery. The controversial doctrine, adduced by the U.S. Supreme Court in the early part of the 19th century, established international law justifying colonial powers’ claim to lands belonging to sovereign, non-European nations, such as native tribes.

David Archambault II, tribal chairman of the Standing Rock reservation, “invited the clergy to come to DC as allies,” said Sparrow. “But also because we represent the moral imperative involved in representing and supporting indigenous rights,” she said, adding, “We will all wear our clergy attire.”

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