500 Clergy Join Peaceful Witness at Standing Rock

By Jill Goddard

On Thursday, November 3, over 500 clergy – including over 50 Unitarian Universalist clergy – answered the call to come to Standing Rock in solidarity, prayer, and action with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the water protectors. The goal of the peaceful interfaith witness was to increase awareness of the situation and to advocate for elected officials to take action to end construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Clergy join witness at Standing Rock

John Floberg, presiding priest of Episcopal churches of Standing Rock, North Dakota, issued an invitation calling clergy of all faiths to gather in North Dakota. Floberg said, “In recent days, the repressive power of the state has increased: armed riot police are guarding ongoing pipeline construction, increased arrests and repression of non-violent prayerful action...Our duty as people of faith and clergy could not be clearer: to stand on the side of the oppressed.”

The Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance, the Rev. Karen Van Fossan, minister of the Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and her congregation have been working to support the water protectors at Standing Rock.

Interfaith witness at Standing Rock

For more than 45 years, Unitarian Universalists have pushed for justice for indigenous peoples, passing a number of resolutions and actions of immediate witness. The 2012 General Assembly in Phoenix, AZ passed, at the request of immigration justice partners, a resolution condemning the Doctrine of Discovery and calling on Unitarian Universalists to study the doctrine and its impact on current-day policies, programs and beliefs.

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, joined clergy, lay people, and protectors from many faith traditions to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Morales said in a statement, “We join other faith groups and native tribes to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they oppose the construction of this dangerous pipeline. I am proud to see that Unitarian Universalists in the region are already joining the protests. But I know that more is urgently needed. I urge you to join the effort to bear public witness to the injustice in North Dakota and add your voice to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.” (Read the full statement here.)

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Ronya Hoblit, acting director of the Native American Training Institute, and the Rev. Karen Van Fossan, minister of the Bismarck-Mandan Unitarian Universalist Congregation, share ways to support the work of the water protectors.

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