Parry Stelter, an Indigenous man and a member of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Stony Plain, Alta., is leading a series of workshops aimed to aid reconciliation between Indigenous people and the settler community. Stelter is the founder of Word of Hope Ministries, focused on “spreading the word of God to his own Aboriginal people." (wordofhopeministries.ca/meet-parry-stelter/)
At a Nov. 9 workshop at Hope CRC, Stelter led a group of 20 people through a discussion-based presentation titled, “Understanding Indigenous People More.” The workshop included reviewing myths and misconceptions about Indigenous people, historical information, facts about residential schools, and current action from the Canadian government.
Natasha Specht, a member of Hope CRC who works as the church administrator with some pastoral duties, reported positive feedback from the event. People mentioned “how it was held in a very healing and comfortable way where people could ask personal and relevant questions with no fear,” she said.
Stelter said, “My hope is to breakdown misunderstandings so that people come to the workshop and leave better informed about issues that are happening in the Indigenous community and with Indigenous people as individuals.”
The workshop was not just an educational opportunity for the congregation, it was also an outreach opportunity to people who would otherwise not attend church. About half of the attendees were from the community outside the congregation.
The November workshop was the second of three planned at Hope CRC. The first, focused on the experience of trauma, took place in 2018. Stelter will host the third, “How to Reconcile Indigenous People to the Church and Christ,” at the end of January.