Members of Christian Reformed churches across Classis Quinte organized a concert featuring the Christian Indigenous band Broken Walls at the Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Belleville, Ont., on the evening of September 30, Canada’s national day for Truth and Reconciliation. An audience of about 275 people from across the Quinte region attended to hear Broken Walls’ music – drumming, dancing, flute and guitar – and its message centered on forgiveness, hope and reconciliation made possible by the Creator’s great gift of his only Son.
Classis Quinte delegates to the Canadian National Gathering of CRC churches held in Ottawa in May of this year decided together to organize this Broken Walls concert as a way of encouraging their home communities to love and reconcile with Indigenous peoples. Broken Walls’ band leader Jonathan Maracle served as a worship leader at the National Gathering. Learning that Maracle was a member of the Tyendinaga reserve located in the Quinte region, but that his internationally acclaimed band had never held a concert there, the Quinte attendees challenged themselves to bring this music and message to their home region.
The organizers faced a few big hurdles. The Broken Walls band includes gifted musicians and dancers from native communities across Canada and the U.S., so there are major travel costs involved in bringing them together for a performance. Also, the band’s musical style is far outside the bounds of contemporary Christian musical taste, and not well known in the local congregations. To deal with these difficulties, organizers reached out to businesspeople in their local congregations, seeking sponsorships for the Broken Walls concert.
A group met regularly by Zoom to encourage each other as the pledges and sponsorships slowly accumulated. Rev. Adam Kline, a local Free Methodist Church pastor who serves on that denomination’s Intercultural Engagement team, joined the Zoom meetings and added organizing expertise. By early August the group took a leap of faith and decided to formally announce the concert. UCB, a local Christian Radio station, declined to play Broken Walls music but did promote the evening for several weeks, and was credited as a concert sponsor.
Local mayors and other dignitaries were invited to attend the concert, and several of them honored that invitation. R. Donald Maracle, chief of the Tyendinaga Mohawk reserve (and no direct relation to Jonathan) was invited to say a few words. He shared his account of the residential school experience and the progress of reconciliation efforts. When the evening ended with the band’s encore song and audience members streamed out, some thanked the concert organizers for a wonderful evening.
Evelyn Oudyk, a member of Hope Fellowship Church, a CRC congregation in Courtice, Ont., was one of the event's organizers. In a post-concert email to the team, she expressed: “My heart is full to overflowing, so full that it leaked out of my eyes all day long.”