Eight years ago, Grand River land disputes tore apart the community of Caledonia, Ontario. These disputes made national news headlines as demonstrations, at times violent, broke out between Caledonia and Six Nations residents.
It is hard to imagine leaders from those same communities sitting together at the Grand River Leadership Prayer Breakfast. The seventh annual prayer event was held this past Saturday in Haldimand County. Around 300 people gathered at the Fisherville Community Centre to share a meal and pray together. And prominent political and business leaders from Six Nations Mississaugas of the New Credit and from Haldimand County sat side by side as church leaders prayed for their communities.
The prayer breakfast idea came from retired Christian Reformed pastor Rev. John Postuma. “Living here was a tense experience, but I had a strong sense that if there was ever a need for pastors, it was now,” Postuma explained. Postuma contacted church leaders from the affected communities to pray together and organize a prayer breakfast. Although he encountered some opposition, the event is now “a highlight in our community,” said Postuma.
This year’s keynote speaker, Lorna Dueck, host and executive producer of Context TV, lauded the leaders’ management of the crisis, saying that their example continues to shape other disputes across North America.
“Things could have blown up, but why didn’t they? It was obvious that there were those living here with a value base connected to the justice of God,” Dueck said.
Chief Bryan LaForme noted the importance of this event in bringing leaders of the various communities together. Diane Finley, local Member of Parliament, said, “It is inspiring to see the spirit of the community and faith come together on a Saturday morning like this.”