To Speak with Angels

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The following story is a personal story. It is a story of a city and a church, of people in a congregation and the pastor. It is a story of a road taken by people called together in a Christian community of faith. It is a story of the recognition of woundedness, sin and pain in our individual lives and in our corporate lives. It is a story of the struggle through recognition, contrition and reconciliation. While this story is personal and specific, I offer it because I believe that it speaks to the potential for discernment and healing in our nations, our cities, our churches and our individual lives today. We live in a time of deep spiritual crisis. Perhaps all times in the history of humanity can be so named, but it is this time now that we know, and God has called us, in Christ, to be agents of reconciliation in our time.


The Old Sock The story grabbed me like a dog who found an old sock. The egrets are the souls, nesting on Indian Island. It picked me up out of the corner and carried me around the room for a while. It‟s not a big story; thousands of Indians were killed in 1860. Sometimes it likes to sit down and gnaw on me for a bit. one winter night three locations well planned fifty townsmen two hundred dead women and children well planned killed with knives and hatchets it had to be quick well planned it had to be quiet one winter night He finds a favorite spot and chews through. killed women men babies girls and boys a sacred gathering a new year killed He whips me around, slamming me to the floor. Again, and again, and again. Sunday morning carnage bloody boots at the back door Harte running for his life Grand Jury acquittal well known men intelligent men prominent men family men Christians Even when I get a little rest the dog is still lying beside me, his hot breath searing my space. the beautiful bay discovered in 1849. Indians uncertain in their movements vs men of ambition. Indians idle in their habits vs men of character Diggers vs settlers. The damn dog just won‟t leave me alone.


Understanding the Situation
The City
Humboldt County in Northern California had more than its share of inner tension and turmoil in the first eighteen months of this decade. The summer of 1990 was declared “Redwood Summer”, and the environmentalist groups and timber groups faced off in fierce debate. The waters still boiling deep, though less acknowledged, we faced the reactions of our nation‟s involvement in the Persian Gulf as we entered 1991. Following the January 16th announcement of President Bush‟s command to attack Iraq, the Arcata council voted to name the city as a sanctuary for those in the military opposed to the war. A fanatical reaction demanding patriotic loyalty used fears of economic and political bullying to launch much of the community on a flag-waving spree. In a mile-and-a-half drive through Eureka in early February 1991, my daughter and I counted sixty-two flags displayed by private citizens. These tensions had divided the community into factions that showed little promise of healing. The intense energies behind these controversies were fueled by a fear of an uneasy economy that has always been a part of Humboldt County‟s heritage. I was a relative newcomer to Humboldt County then, concluding my fifth year in the community, but I was taken with the area. The beauty of the natural surroundings quickly drew me in, but it was the people, the community itself, which has a life that holds a compelling interest for me. It is a


community described by its provincialism, the old families, the glorious times, the history of political tensions, the rowdiness, the slowness of pace that seems to defy the modern world, the big bosses, and the pioneers. Eureka is a community with a complex past and an uncertain future. It is a community in spiritual crisis. If the records are true that over 90% of the indigenous population had been eradicated from the Americas by 1575 through murder, conquest and disease, certainly the life of the several thousand natives living in the fertile area surrounding what is now called Humboldt Bay was an oasis of life which had until 1849 escaped the Europeans hands. The record books arrogantly state that “not until 1849 could the claim of the discovery of the great bay be made by any living person". (Bledsoe:75) Yet it was the natives telling tales of the lush area that sent the whites looking for it. The descriptions of the “discovery” of this area belie the attitude. One writer describes the area of the north coast of California in 1850 as “inhabited by wild beasts and wilder Indians.” (Bledsoe:74) Another writes that there is an immense population of Indians living in the area, well over 10,000. (Humboldt Co. Schools:1) The historians describe the task ahead for the white settlers: “The Indians, uncertain in their movements and idle in their habits vs the settlers, men of character, men of ambition, indomitable will and never flagging perseverance.” (Bledsoe:73-74) The stage is thus set for the accepted violence against these natives. The attitude presumes fratricide. The quiet peoples that lived here were diggers and gentle fisher people. Because they were fishers, not


hunters and because they had no chief among them, they were considered to be the most ignorant of all aboriginal inhabitants of the United States. (Heizer: 1974a:xv) Words were not couched in subtle terms; the Eureka Times by 1859 was calling for nothing less than the complete eradication of these peoples. (Norton:74) This atmosphere made the night of the 25th of February 1860, possible. On this night there were three simultaneous raids on sleeping Indian villages, one on the south jetty area, one at the mouth of the Eel River and one on Indian Island, in the midst of the town of Eureka. With knives and hatchets fifty men killed between two and three hundred native people that night. A young journalist, Bret Harte, responded with an article condemning the horrific act. With bitter sarcasm he wrote, “A small band of the superior race had been awaiting this moment, these bold champions of the race of the just King Alfred, venerable Bede and the gentle Edward the Confessor stole into the night to claim their victory.” (Stewart:85) Though the town was horrified by the violence, when challenged with it so clearly, they reacted with anger. “A mob was collected for the avowed purpose of wrecking the newspaper office and hanging or otherwise maltreating the youthful writer.” (Merwin:30-31) A Grand Jury was called but could find no evidence of wrongdoing by any person. Articles published in the surrounding newspapers at the time suggest that it was well known that two or three of those sitting on the Grand Jury were also among the murderous party.


(Heizer:1974b:48) The raiders were a known league of “intelligent, prominent men, family men and Christians.” (Bledsoe:303) This was not the end, however. Two years later, in the summer of 1862, seven hundred and fifty-four native peoples from several different tribes were imprisoned at Fort Humboldt in Eureka. They were not considered to be human beings. The official report calls them bucks, squaws and kids. The prison was a fenced corral ten feet high and eighty feet in diameter. They were kept there for nearly six weeks before being sent off to Hoopa. Many died in those six weeks. (Norton:92) Imagine that space not much more than the size of many of our church sanctuaries, holding seven hundred and fifty-four men, women and children. They must stand shoulder-to-shoulder in the heat of the summer days, in the dark of the summer nights for nearly six weeks. At this point the population of Eureka was 615, Union Town, later named Arcata, was 557 and Eel River counted 416. (Bledsoe:325) Fifteen hundred Europeans killed or displaced over ten thousand native people in less that ten years to claim this land. One journalist of the day had the audacity to say, “The problem is now contained; the Indians, worn out by fruitless contest, were glad to accept the easy fate of life on the reservation, and we now live in peaceful coexistence.” (Bledsoe:80) The fears and the tensions of today are deep. Sometimes they seem irrational. They are the same fears and tensions that invited the murders of the past. The spiritual and psychological reaction to the participation in those

murders must have left a wound in this community‟s soul. As a local pastor, I felt the call to be a voice in this community, a spiritual guide in the midst of a great dis-ease. In the search for an understanding of this soul-woundedness, a discernment of the dis-ease, and avenues that invite healing, I looked to the prophet Micah as a teacher for Micah dealt with a similar situation of land seizure and oppression. Micah was active between the dates of 734-728 BCE. Samaria was besieged in 724 and fell in 722 to the Assyrian forces. Hezekiah of Judah was besieged by the Assyrian forces and conquered in 701. Most commentators believe that the words of Micah come from the time following the fall of Samaria, but before Hezekiah was defeated. Some suggest that they might even predate the fall of Samaria by a few years. Micah, known only as Micah of Moreschet, was “one who belonged to the collegium of the elders of Judah, having official connections with Jerusalem.” (Wolff, H.W.: 1981:4) He must be understood as one performing the duties as an elder of Moreschet. As such, he speaks with a fearless and inner superiority because the people know him to be a teacher of wisdom and justice. He speaks in the interest of “his people,” using a word exclusively for that particular group of people entrusted to his care. He speaks, not for the poor, but for “citizens” whose property and citizenry he defends. In chapter two, verses one through five, Micah addresses the guilty wielders of power directly, naming specific crimes and declaring YHWH‟s specific punishment. Those who coveted another‟s land will find themselves

landless. The first verse names the guilty by describing the general characteristics of their deeds. Woe to those who plan iniquity, and to those who work at evil in their beds. At morning‟s light they carry it out because it lies in their power. (Mays:60) These are the words of a funeral lamentation. They are a verdict of death to a group of people, as an entity, a community, a class. Micah “calls out over those still bursting with burgeoning vigor, those who absorb the life and livelihood of others.” (Wolff, R.E.: 911) Indeed, as an elder of Moreschet, he calls out to his colleagues on behalf of his people. He calls to those who “work evil in their beds.” The core of evils being spoken to is the planning and devising that has become the drive and vocation for those in power who are consumed with greed. Greed linked to power becomes very dangerous; every individual landholder eventually stands to become a victim of such overwhelming evil. From their greed they “plan iniquity.” Iniquity, („awen) is a word from the Hebrew scripture‟s vocabulary used to denote deeds which are destructive of the community‟s well-being. It identifies an act as the expression of a power intent on the violation of the order set by YHWH to preserve and augment the life of individuals in their community. (Mays:63) As an elder of Moreschet, Micah is concerned not only for the individuals in the midst of his community, but he is concerned for the community itself. The iniquity planned is violating individuals, but it is also destroying the community.


The result of their imaginative planning quickly matures into brutal acts of violence against property and against people. These acts, specified by Micah, are recorded in verse two. They covet fields and seize them, houses and take them. They oppress a fellow and his household, a man and his inheritance. (Mays:60) Covetousness is the impulse that drives them to commit the resultant criminal acts. To gain ownership of the land they resort to unjust taxation and unfair legal avenues that are in their power, such as declaring eminent domain. They will even resort to murder if necessary. Those committing these acts are not bandits or raiders from another community. They are the leaders of the community. They are those in power. They are the ruling elite, the urban elite of the Judaic society. The acts being described here are nothing but the accepted growth of plantations or latifundia of cash crops, oil, wine and wheat. This process of latifundialization in which the valuable agricultural commodities that were prepared for export supported the wealth and luxury of the elite was the dominant social force in eighth century Israel and Judah. (Chaney M.L. 1985) In order to build larger latifundia and a more efficient agricultural base to support their growing taste for luxury and fine imports they needed the peasants land and forced labor. The elite were the ruling class, they were the government, they were the legal system. They turned the laws to their


advantage. No one had a legal claim against them. They were able to drive from the land people who understood themselves to have full ancestral rights. The Hebrew people of that time held the understanding that land ownership belonged only to YHWH, and each family had ancestral claim to subsistence, health and wholeness given to them through the land. The concreteness of these tensions can be seem in the story of Naboth‟s vineyard in I Kings 21:1-16. Naboth of Jezreel had a vineyard near the palace of Ahab, King of Samaria. One day Ahab made a proposal to Naboth: “Your vineyard is close to my palace, let me have it for a garden. I will give you a better vineyard in exchange for it or, if you prefer, its value in silver.” But Naboth answered, “The Lord forbid that I should let you have land which has always been in my family.” So Ahab went home sullen and angry because Naboth would not let him have his ancestral land. He lay down on his bed, covered his face and refused to eat. His wife, Jezebel came in to him and said, “What makes you so sullen, and why do you refuse to eat.” He told her, “I proposed to Naboth of Jezreel that he should let me have his vineyard at its value or, if he liked, in exchange for another, but he would not let me have his vineyard.” “Are you or are you not the king in Israel?” said Jezebel. “Come, eat and take heart, I will make a gift of the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel.” So she wrote a letter in Ahab‟s name, sealed it with his seal and sent it to the elders and notables of Naboth‟s city, who sat in council with him. She wrote: “Proclaim a fast and give Naboth the seat of honor among the people. And see that two scoundrels are seated opposite him to charge him with cursing God and the king, then take him out and stone him to death.” So the elders and notables of Naboth‟s city, who sat with him in council, carried out the instructions Jezebel had sent them in her letter: They proclaimed a fast and gave Naboth the seat of honor, and these two scoundrels came in, sat opposite him and charged him publicly with cursing God and the king. Then they took him outside the city and stoned him, and sent word to Jezebel that Naboth had been stoned to death. As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard which Naboth refused to sell you, for he is no longer alive; Naboth of Jezreel is dead.” When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went to the vineyard to take possession. (NEB)

The crime against the person, and by extension, against the community was a terrible crime. The taking of land was effectively the taking away of the person‟s place in the community. The independence, indeed the personal identity, that came to the person with his inheritance was taken from him. The wording of the accusation further identifies the crime as evil because it comes out of one party‟s power over another. Proverbs 3:27 warns: “Do not withhold good from those who have a right to it because it lies in your power to do so.” The word translated as “oppress” in Micah 2:2 is ‘asaq, to take something away from another through an advantage of position or power. (Mays:63) This evil will not go unpunished, YHWH will exact measure for measure. Micah lays these particulars out in verses three, four and five. Therefore this is what YHWH has said; „See, I am planning against this family, evil. You shall not withdraw your necks from it, nor shall you walk upright, for it shall be an evil time. In that day a taunt-song shall be raised over you: a lament shall be sung, saying; „We are utterly ruined.‟ The property of my people is measured; There is none to return it again. Our fields are divided up. Therefore you shall have no one to cast the measuring line by lot in the assembly of YHWH.

(Mays:60) After the crimes have been enumerated, there is the announcement of doom. The extent and nature of the punishment are established by the extent and nature of the crime. Those who have harmed will be harmed. Those who planned iniquity, have iniquity planned against them. The funeral dirge of woe from the prophet now comes from the mouth of their own. This is an evil day, not only for the powerful, but for all the people. Just as they have laid an unremoveable yoke upon those from whom they have stolen their integrity, so they will find a yoke upon them that they cannot remove. With the taking on of the yoke the image is of the powerful becoming powerless. It is the image of servitude to a conquering enemy. Verse four speaks of the recognition of the crimes by at least one of the judged group. Interpreted by R.E.Wolff in The Interpreter‟s Bible, “. . .One (of your number) shall take up a word of reproach on your behalf . . . ,” the denial of the crimes is broken through and a cry of lament comes forth that mirrors the funeral dirge Micah has set up. “We are utterly ruined, the property of my people is measured out . . . .” Is not the reference to “my people” spoken from the mouth of the judges, Micah‟s people? H.W: Wolff in Micah: a Commentary suggests that verse five is a postexilic redactor‟s addition that is designed to make Micah‟s announcement of judgment understandable for the generation of the exile with the help of the ancient tradition of land allotment. This would suggest to me that seeming timelessness of this prophetic call as generation rolls into generation with the


powerful exacting what they desire from the powerless. A call that pulls us into today‟s world. And Ahab, hearing that Naboth was dead, went up to take possession of his vineyard. (I Kings 21:16 NEB) . . . the Indians, worn out by fruitless contest, were glad to accept the easy fate of life on the reservation, and we now live in peaceful coexistence. (Bledsoe:80)

The white settlers who came to Humboldt County in the 1850‟s were possessed with the covetous nature Micah describes. They were obsessed and lay in their beds plotting evil. They literally lay in their beds the night of February 25, 1860, waiting for the agreed upon time in the wee hours before dawn to attack and kill the Wiyot tribe gathered for a religious ceremony. They committed a great iniquity as they destroyed the well-being of a full community. Now the community of Humboldt County is being destroyed. Today the population of Humboldt County lives with great dis-ease and anxiety. The people, many from old families coming out of the settling during the 1850‟s-90‟s, have enjoyed the quiet accumulation of wealth and power. Timber has been the main industry giving the wealth. During the past ten years many of the timber rights, lands and mills have been bought out by multinational corporations. Where ownership had been spread across several dozen families, now most timber interests lie in the hands of a few companies. The CEO‟s of some of these companies make no secret of the fact that they intend to take the wealth out of the land and community as fast and as efficiently as they can and move on to other fields.


The level of anxiety, from the workers and the wealthy alike, is extraordinary, yet the people cannot name the cause because they are blind to the evil on which they, as a community, were conceived. That is the murder of the native peoples for the possession of the land. It appears as though, once again, retribution is being meted out measure for measure. “Therefore you shall have no one to cast a measuring line by lot in the assembly of YHWH.” (Micah 2:5) In the redistribution of the land, when the remnant poor and the imported Assyrians would cast a cord (the line) by lot, the once wealthy would have no part. The populace of Humboldt County feels great economic anxiety, much of it not named, as it feels squeezed out between the spotted owl and the multinational timber companies. In Wolff‟s description of the situation in Micah, the splitting of the land was between the poor, from whom the land had been stolen over time, and Assyria, a power like that one judged as evil, but a power much greater. Just so, Humboldt County is caught between nature, which had been stolen from, and the multinational timber companies, a power very specifically like them in nature and design, but a power infinitely more powerful. The anxiety and dis-ease of today come from the sense of being caught between an exhausted and exploited ecosystem and the indifference of the multinational corporations. The economically powerful people in Humboldt County, even now, find themselves under the heavy yoke of the multinational corporations, and it seems as though they shall never be able to “withdraw their necks from it and walk upright again.” (Micah 2:4)


In the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy we read the words, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and forth generation.” More often than not this verse seems too harsh and difficult for us. We read it as a curse from God, rejecting it because it is not a part of the gracious, loving God we know. Fortunately for out scienceloving minds, modern psychology has invited us to hear the wisdom of these words. We know now, for instance, that often an abusive adult was an abused child. This window of understanding invites us back into the wisdom of the scriptures. We can begin to hear this scripture as a statement of truth, a description of reality instead of as a threat or curse from and angry God. We are in turn invited to have the courage to look honestly at our own lives, the lives of our parents and of our parents‟ parents with clarity and honesty as we seek to break cycles of sinfulness and dis-ease and to build cycles of love and wholeness. In listening to this invitation we begin the journey of healing and growth. The community of Humboldt County, like every community, has the potential of becoming a life-giving community, but at present it has a troubled soul. The tensions, the economic uneasiness and the provincialism are symptoms of the troubled soul that is the very core of its being. Even as generations pass, as people move in and out of the community the tensions remain at the core of its being. To begin a healing process the community must have the courage to seek out its past, to hear with a deep honesty both the accomplishments and the atrocities on which it is built.


Within ten years of the “discovery” of Humboldt Bay by the EuropeanAmericans thousands of natives were killed or displaced to build the community that we know today. These acts were not done by anyone living today. For most of the current population the killing was not even done by individual great-grandparents. We are, however, now a part of this community, and as such, we do share in the “sins of the parents”. At some level of spiritual awareness we know that the wealth that we enjoy today is built on this sin. Unless we are able to acknowledge that and move towards reconciling ourselves to the earth and to the living native peoples we can not know spiritual health, wholeness or growth as a community. During the winter, the white egrets nest in the trees on Indian Island. The tree tops, crowded with birds, are a spectacular sight from many points of downtown Eureka. The clearest and most direct sighting comes as you drive down “I” Street. Some people say that the egrets are the souls of the people who were murdered on Indian Island that February night in 1860. Perhaps this is Eureka‟s eye into its past.

The Church
At the time of October Association in 1858 I was told of a Bay 225 miles up the coast, 15 miles long and from 3 to 6 miles wide surrounded by extensive forest of Redwoods. This was Humboldt Bay and the chief town was Eureka. It had no church building although the Papists had a little temporary shanty which might hold 50 persons. The village was supposed to contain between 2000 and 2500 people. I went up to explore this field and found several large sawmills furnishing employment for a large number of men in the

town, and many more in the woods. The thick woods came down to the fourth street in town and timber promised to last many years. I preached on Sunday, and on Tuesday evening, and received a call signed by several of the principal residents to become their permanent pastor, at $100.00 a month.

Such was the beginning of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eureka, California as described by William Ladd Jones, the first pastor in an unpublished autobiography written in 1903. Parson Jones, as he was to be called, arrived in San Francisco in March of 1855, fresh out of seminary in Bangor , Maine with his bride, Anne L. Farrington. He had come to serve as a Home Missionary in this new state. He worked for the first few years in mining camps in Grass Valley and along the Yuba river before taking the call to build a church in Eureka. He served the Eureka church throughout the years of the Civil War. In the writing Jones refers to the Eureka church specifically twice. Once in a description of the task of building the church building where he is the main force behind the purchasing of materials and getting the job done. He is proud to report that after five years the church was finished, complete with a bell and organ with only $50.00 due. That sum was raise with the first collection. The second reference to the church is in reference to the meeting at the church after President Lincoln‟s assassination. He delivered the eulogy. The audience was a mix of “loyal and disloyal”. He knew that there were some there who may in fact not be grieving so at the loss of this president. He writes: I began by referring to the sorrow over all the land. Then, seeing some people that I thought might be saying to themselves,

“We are not, all of us, as sorry as you may think,” this son of the peace-loving Elijah Jones and the namesake of the great Apostle of Peace interjected this passage; “Sorry everywhere except hell and in those persons on earth where its fires chiefly smoulder. Long may we enjoy the luxury of their bitterest hatred, until they go to dwell where their fires are not quenched.

After this particularly sharp statement delivered from the pulpit he says, “A few days after I was not surprised to hear that one man had vowed he would never darken the doors of that church again.” A few years later when Parson Jones decided to run for the office of County Superintendent of Public Schools, this same person was one of his strongest supporters. The reason he gave for supporting Jones was that “Jones wouldn‟t lie”. Did this man mean the truth was good in politics, but not from the pulpit? Regarding truth and Jones‟ reliability, it is interesting to note what he says regarding the “troubles with the Indians” in Humboldt County. For a time all would be quiet, and then the native would break out again. As far as the two races were concerned I thought the blames was about evenly divided. As far as individuals were concerned there were some good ones on both sides and some very bad ones. Indians did not discriminate between their friends and others, and inefficient officers at Fort Humboldt were not without their share of blame. . . . When a good man‟s family is exposed to danger he will naturally take sides with his own. But my purpose is not to philosophise but to state facts, i.e. some of them.

He continues to tell of a few incidents of Indian raids on individual farms where one or two of the family were killed. He makes no mention at all of the massacre in 1860 or of the final rounding up in 1862 when the Indians were gathered together at Fort Humboldt before being sent up to the reservation

at Hoopa. It seems rather odd to me that there is no mention of these two particularly brutal events since he was a local pastor during the events and Superintendent of Schools for several years after. I cannot believe that he had no knowledge of these events, and as a prominent man in this little city, he must have had some knowledge of the underlying dimensions of these same events. Yet they are not even mentioned. Parson Jones does not speak in his writings of his theology or understanding of the church, so I can only fill in around what he has said. It seems clear that the church was built, as almost every church in the Protestant Home Mission endeavor was, as a stabilizing social force in the new, rowdy towns. The Christian mission was, in fact, a cultural mission. It was not questioned. The main task of the church was to bring those religious ceremonies that bound a community together to the people: Sunday meetings, baptisms, weddings and funerals. The primary concern, both in Jones writings and in the following years of notes from congregational meetings is the financial status of the organization and the physical status of the building. If these are in order, the church is in order. When they are not secure the church is not well. The statement that Jones makes that he was not surprised to hear that one man had vowed not to come to the church again after his eulogy for President Lincoln is revealing. Perhaps that has something to do with the reason William Jones left the pulpit soon after to take the job as County Superintendent of Schools. It is only speculative thought, obviously, but to be considered as possibly formative in one pastor‟s understanding of what was


acceptable to do or say, or possible to do or say, without potentially damaging the financially well-being of the church community. After spending most of his career in education Parson Jones did return to parish ministry, serving the Congregational Church in Cloverdale for fourteen years, from 1883 until his retirement. The next significant chapter in the life of the church can be seen in the descriptions given in the unpublished autobiography of the Rev. C. A. Huntington written in 1898. In his words we get an idea of the atmosphere of the city and the church in 1881. I was introduced to the congregational church in Eureka by the Rev. J. H. Warren D.D., Superintendent of Home Missions, from whom I brought a letter to the trustees in September, 1881. I found Eureka a red-wood city of 5000 population, fronting on Humboldt Bay . . . The first thing that attracted my attention, was the large sawmills that lined the water front of the city, and the mammoth logs that lay floating in their booms - - many of them measuring from eight to twelve feet in diameter. When I came ashore and saw the huge stumps on which such timber grew, and learned that the leading industry of the people was the felling, handling and moving to the mills the timber of the redwood forests which abound in this part of California, and that most of them were natives of the pine woods of Maine and the British provinces, which assured me that my lines had fallen among a brave enterprising people, I felt encouraged in the hope of finding materials out of which to build up society on the sure foundations of truth and righteousness. But when I came to inquire more particularly into the moral status of the town and the condition of the church to which I was sent, the situation seemed less flattering, and the demand for heroic, self sacrificing work in the Lord‟s vineyard, assumed correspondingly enlarged proportions. I found a very respectable church property consisting of a quarter block of ground, eligibly situated, with a house of worship, a parsonage and out houses, all well appointed and equal to the requirements of a congregation of 250 less or more. I found the parsonage occupied by the family of a business man who was paying rent at the rate of $200 per annum with which to

liquidate a debt due their last pastor who resigned two years before for lack of support and for lack of a congregation. The records of the church were missing and I could find no officer or other person who could give me any knowledge of their whereabouts. . . . On my first Sunday morning, in response to a notice in the town paper announcing my arrival, a small congregation assembled to see and hear the new candidate for their welcome and for their cooperation. The reception was by no means a flattering one; and about the only thought that inspired any hope in me was that the church had been on a decline until it had reached a level of spiritual paralysis beneath which there was no descent, and if any change was in store for it, there was the best of ground to hope it would be a change for the better. However humble my endeavors might prove, I was in little danger of making things worse than I found them. The church was actually disbanded. Its moral hold upon a community, dominated by two score of saloons and the correlative dives of wickedness, presented a picture of moral discomfort rather than moral power, for the recovery of which, I realized as never before my dependence on that unseen power that can turn men into righteousness in spite of all the powers of evil.

With dedication Mr. Huntington begins to build the church in numbers, but he has been placed in a difficult situation at a pivotal time. In the midst of the city of Eureka was a section of town with three to four hundred Chinese people. These were predominately men, scarcely one percent being women. They worked in the laundries, the mills and the gardens, sending their earning back home to their families. Their willingness to work at low-paying menial labor and the thriftiness were points of jealousy and hatred for the white men who worked the timber industry. The level of racial hatred was enormous. Responding to a request from an individual Chinese man Rev. Huntington and his wife began to teach a small class of English to a dozen young men. They held the class in a Sunday school room in the church basement, but paid for the use of the space least the church should object.

Huntington‟s carefulness not to offend any church member by his association with the Chinese is evident in his putting off his young student‟s request to join the church for many months. When he finally did bring it to the church council he met no objection, and Charley Way Lum was baptized and received as a church member one Sunday in November 1885. The following Friday an unfortunate event happened. An accidental shooting of a white man caused a vigilante response. All the Chinese were rounded up onto a steamer that was in port and shipped to San Francisco. Without recourse, their homes, shops, belongings were taken and the were shipped with what they could carry. At dawn on Saturday a gallows was erected in China Town with a sign nailed to it that read: “Any chinaman seen on the street after three o‟clock today will be hung to this gallows.” Huntington describes the outcome. On Monday morning after the raid all was quiet in Eureka. One week before, the kitchens, restaurants, hotels, laundries, gardens, the cook-houses at the mills were all run by chinamen. Now not a Chinaman in the city nor in the county. . . . I thought before, that I understood the meaning of the proverb, “vox populi vox dei”, but never before did I realize the omnipotent force of the popular will unanimously expressed. In the Chinese raid, there was practically unanimity in the public sentiment, though but a small minority of the people took a hand in it. In the secret chamber of the public heart they were virtually all of one mind, and to be rid of the Chinese by any and all means was the prevailing sentiment of the hour. (229)

This was the pivotal event in the relationship between Rev. Huntington, the church and the community. It was no secret where he and his family stood on the question of the raid. He ended the year with his $1000 salary boycotted

by $461. His response was to publicly forgive the church its debt, begin the new year charging forth as “if our barque had encountered no storm, or had been threatened by adverse seas.” (233) Three months later, on April 25th, Huntington‟s 75th birthday, he handed in his resignation with a stirring account of his years there “without a word of reference to the Chinese raid” (233). He decided to build the church on the successes of its fine financial and physical condition, while burying the pain and woundedness of the raid as if it never happened. A storm had been encountered, whether acknowledge or not, and the church reeled from it. Two short pastorates followed, the second one a disaster. A highly charismatic man was called who was admired by many, but within a year he had bought and sold church property, leaving the church with heavy debts and left town with “another‟s wife”. This split the church apart. A small group took on the burden of retrieving the church and the others left, forming a Presbyterian Church. The belief that financial security built on deceit and cover-up is better than facing the financial consequences that truth and justice invariably bring, would seem to have been challenged, if the church thought to consider it carefully. I was called to Eureka in June of 1987. Looking in the Conference directory from the previous year I saw that they had a budget of around $62,000. The church buildings were substantial and beautifully situated. It looked to be a healthy, financially stable institution. The church‟s annual report, however told a different story. The budget of $62,000 was based on a


once substantial saving account that had been built over years of running a weekly bingo game as well as fortuitous sales of properties that had belonged to or were given to the church throughout the years. At one point the bingo had brought in as much as $1,000 each week. The income from pledging units was only $23,000 reflecting 19 pledging units. The savings account had a life span of 18 months at the current rate of use. The past five years had been good years in the church‟s involvement with the community. Following substantial lay-offs in the timber industry, the church, through a grant from the United Church Board of Homeland Ministry had opened and operated a “Worker‟s Rehabilitation Center”. The church was

also an active supporter of the local food bank. Many people in the city, not associated with the church, saw the church as a voice for social and economic justice in the community. Yet, as I began to understand the institutional identity of this local church, as evidenced by the economic reality and the administrative reality, I knew that the spiritual presence in the community was a false front. It was false because it was supported by money and commitment outside of the worshipping community rather than a true presence of a committed, faith community working in its environment. I felt that my call there was to build a faith community. It was vitally important to me to speak of building a community of faith in every gathering rather than to speak in terms of building a solid financial institution. It was necessary to call the people to worship. The pastoral task of calling the people to know that they are Christ‟s Body in the midst of financial panic and worries


of institutional survival was the specific task. The historical environment of “Redwood Summer” and the Persian Gulf War made the task both more difficult and more imperative. I had been in Eureka for nine months when I became aware of the fierce spiritual struggle the church needed to face before it could move into its calling. A prominent family had joined the church about a year before I came. Their youth and vitality along with their wealth represented considerable promise of new life and growth to the struggling congregation. At that time there were only nineteen pledges contributing about $20,000 a year to the budget. The rest of the $60,000 yearly budget was covered by building rentals and a fast dwindling savings account. This one family‟s pledge represented a full fifth of the amount pledged and both husband and wife were in major leadership positions already. The man came to me one day to complain about my use of “Christian language” in the worship service. He particularly objected to my calling us into worship in Christ‟s name and the invitation to know ourselves as the Body of Christ. He was quite articulate as he proudly explained to me that in his spiritual maturity he had moved beyond Christianity. He was not a Christian he said, but rather a “Godian”. I thought it was fascinating that he had focused on precisely the point of expression that I had identified as most important for the congregation to claim and know. I said I would take his request for the discontinued use of my Christ language to the deacons, which I did. Without prejudice I laid the conversation out to the deacons as it happened without the addition of the self-description of


the man as a “Godian”. The chair of the deacons said something to the effect that the sign at the front of the church names us as First Congregational United Church of Christ. “We are Christians, not Godians,” he concluded. He had obviously had a similar conversation as I had earlier. This was only the begining of another nine month struggle for power over the church. Through subtle intimidation and quiet sabotage of programs and meetings the attempt to force my resignation was underway. The final attempt at financial blackmail of the church by the undisclosed withdrawal of the huge pledge coupled with a wave of financial disaster messages from him was countered by a courageous church who chose to build on without this family‟s power, vitality and money. Not many in the congregation understood what they had been through, but I felt as though we had encountered, and survived a major fight toward turning the angel of the church to her calling. We were Christians, and yes, we cared about the financial viability of our life together, but we would not give our true life up for it.

Understanding the Task
First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eureka, California was chartered in October of 1859 as First Congregational Church of Eureka. Its


birth and life are part of the birth and life of the entire community. Why is it there? Who is it and what does it do? If it shares the life of the community, does it have a responsibility in and towards the community? To begin to answer these questions, we must define the nature of the corporate entities involved, the church and the community. Every corporate body has an inner essence, a distinct personality regardless of the size of the corporate body. A nation, a city, a church, an institution such as a school or hospital, an industrial corporation or an individual family has a unique inner essence. This essence is an identifiable spiritual entity. While the inner essence is brought into being by the outer manifestations of the corporate entity it comes to have its own influence over the outer, material manifestations of the entity. In biblical language these spiritual entities are called the powers and principalities. Walter Wink in his work published as The Powers Trilogy invites us to uses the biblical naming of the powers as angels: angel of the nation, angel of the church, angel of the city. We can recognize a woundedness or illness of a corporate body, and, with training, we can become a spiritual friend to the body in order to invite healing and wholeness. I will recount some activities that I laid forth as pastor of First Congregational, Eureka to be a spiritual friend, to speak to the angel of the church, that she might reclaim her task to speak to the angels around her, such as her families and her city. A faith community is a special spiritual entity. The essence of the Christian story is the proclamation of the presence of God in this world. We

believe in an incarnate God. The Christ as the embodiment of the incarnate God is a living presence that manifests itself in the gathering of a community of faith. This community is a powerful spiritual reality that the writer of the Gospel of Matthew alludes to in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three have met together in my name, I am there among them.” (NEB) God did not send the Christ into the world that Christ might be saved. That is conceptually ridiculous. As Christ was sent, “that through Christ, the world might be saved,”(John 3:17 NEB), the church, Christ‟s Body, is created for the salvation of the world. It was not created for its own sake. The idea that the church is to work for its own sake, its own life, its own salvation, as it were, is equally ridiculous. This community is not called into being for the sake of its own life. It is called into being for its task in and on behalf of the world. It is called to be the Body of Christ, a concrete spiritual entity. Throughout the writings of Paul this call to the spiritual entity of the church is explored. One of the most poignant statements of this call is found in Ephesians 3:10. “Now, through the church, the wisdom of God in all its varied forms might be made known to the rulers and authorities in the realms of heaven.”(NEB) The faith community is thus called to a task of utmost importance and difficulty. We are called into being as Christ‟s Body. That is we are called to embody the “wisdom of God”. What can it mean to embody the wisdom of God? As Jesus of Nazareth lived his life in full authenticity, living in the integrity of who he was and recognizing the integrity of each person he met, we are to live with integrity.

As Jesus of Nazareth listened, spoke and acted uncovering and acknowledging the truth in each particular life situation he encountered, so we are to listen, speak and act in truth in our particular life encounters. As Jesus of Nazareth responded with love, and called on people to love one another, so we are to love, as we are loved, choosing consciously love over fear and hate in every encounter with another human being. In so living our life we begin to embody the wisdom of God, as Jesus embodied God‟s wisdom. In so living, we become the Body of Christ. The church is called to live from a life perspective of truth, life and love. Again, the church is not so called, for its own sake. It is called to this for the salvation of the world. Thus, the church is called to act, to speak from this perspective. It is called to speak to the world, to the rulers and authorities in the realms of heaven, that is to the powers and principalities, calling them to know their own spiritual essence, their true identity as God‟s creation, in Christ. As a gathered body, as a faith community, the church becomes a spiritual entity, a sister entity with the powers and principalities. It is thus as a sister entity that it can speak to the powers and principalities. That is why she is created in and through and for Christ. That is her calling. This is an awesome, a difficult and a dangerous calling, but it is the calling of the church‟s angel.

Every faith community is created in Christ, and as such, faithful to its call. As time proceeds every faith community will potentially become distracted. This reality gave us the earliest Christian writings, Paul‟s letters to the congregations he started. The community becomes confused because its

angel is distracted. Perhaps the distraction is a cultural or national demand, or perhaps it is financial need or financial security. Her interests turn inward, to support or build these needs and demands. She turns her head away from God, away from her divine call. Her purpose is lost. In concrete terms she must be reoriented to God, invited back to her original calling. Each faith community is unique. If a pastor is to work intentionally toward the spiritual direction of his or her parish, recalling the original vocation of the church, the pastor must know its history. The particular invitation away from the orientation to God must be discerned in order to begin to invite her back. This is the task of the pastor in every duty of parish ministry. The creation of worship time, the administrative tasks, the personal counseling and visiting, the community involvement, the teaching, every aspect revolves around the spiritual direction of the congregation. Whether we are aware of it or not that is what we do as pastors: we orient the angel of the church. We should know where we are pointing her! Addressing the angel of the church or the angel of the city sounds at best highly presumptuous, at worst ridiculous to most modern Christian minds, yet I believe that this is the only avenue available to bring about the radical change in our institutional structures that must be brought about to save us from self destruction. Furthermore, I believe that it is precisely this that we as a church, Christ‟s Body, are called to do in this world, in this age. We, the church, must become spiritual friends who speak to the angels in our midst.


What is a spiritual friend? “Being a spiritual friend is being a physician of a wounded soul.” (Edwards:125) Much work has been done to invite spiritual leaders to be friends and guides for individuals seeking wholeness as they move from lives of aimlessness and sin. It is the same task that the church is called to do for the powers and principalities of the world. The activities of the task are not different. The spiritual friend, as physician, “cleanses the wound, aligns the sundered parts, and gives it rest.” (Edwards 125) Learning the steps to take in the discernment of and speaking to a corporate entity‟s angel is necessary, for it is not now part of our regular training as parish pastors. Many pastors may instinctively follow these steps in the task of church leadership, but the ones who are consciously aware of what they are looking for will have a clearer task. Clarity in needed to give one courage and faith in the midst of this difficult task. One cannot begin the task of speaking to an angel, indeed perhaps one would not even conceive of the task of speaking to the angel, if one did not love the angel. There is no call to judgment or chastisement in my longing to call the church or the city to itself. I find the heart of the worst evil to be as a frightened child, fearful for its life and feeling deceived and betrayed by its own sense of itself. It is with the compassionate heart that cries out in Jesus of Nazareth as he weeps over Jerusalem that the church speaks to the powers and principalities of the world today. The first step is to be able to identify the nature of the corporate entity, its present countenance and its point of vulnerability. If the full nature of the

corporate entity is simultaneously its inner and outer aspect (Wink:1984:107), one must look carefully at the outer manifestation with an eye to discover the inner manifestation. One begins to listen with a new ear to the way people in the corporate entity express themselves to discern the attitudes that are hidden between the lines. Through a close study of the historical events, the outer aspect, one can begin to determine the vulnerable point, the point on which the angel, its inner aspect, turned from its divine calling. In such work it is vitally important to keep an awareness of the interrelationship between the inner and outer aspects of the entity. Jaques Ellul‟s The Meaning of The City challenges and formulates my sense of the interrelationship between the inner and outer aspects of the angel and those between humanity and the powers and principalities. He uses the power of the city in his study. The city has great power and influence over our lives. We cannot live without the city. If the city were to be destroyed, we would rebuild it. What is the city? This city was, from the day of its creation, incapable because of its creation, incapable because of the motives behind its construction, of any other destiny than that of killing the country. (Ellul:9) Ellul is speaking of the first city, the generic city of Cain‟s building, and from that beginning Ellul leaves no hope for the city in this age. The city is doomed because of its inherent purpose, humankind building security for itself. In that purpose humankind is expressing its fallenness, its separation from knowing full security in its creator. Humanity has chosen its own devices of security and enacts this choice in the essential foundation of corporate life. The city, built by


humanity, becomes a spiritual entity that is inherently fallen. It has become like a toy in the spiritual realm, “a plaything of the Angelic powers . . . to bring about man‟s downfall.” (Ellul:164) Although humanity created the city, human beings are powerless against the force, powerless to bring about good from it. “The Devil‟s last trick is to make you think that you can put order into this chaos.” (Ellul:167) All the clergy and social-worker burnout can be laid in that line. We can close this book knowing it is hopeless. We have been fooled. Have we though? Where in is our hope? The hope comes out of the Christian scriptures. Here we find a striking contrast in the sense in the Pauline letters (e.g. Romans 13:1, Ephesians1:21-22, Colossians 1:16) that all things, including powers and principalities, are created for good and are under Christ. This is the sense of the powers and principalities that is offered in Wink‟s books. The city is created by God for good. Evil enters when the angel turns its back on the calling for which it was created and “pursues its own enhancement as the highest good” (Wink:1986:25) Where then in the realm of spiritual powers and principalities, angels, Satan, and God, does humanity fit? Are we playthings and victims? Have we no hope or responsibility? Either sense of the nature of the powers and principalities offered by Wink or the sense of the nature of the city offered by Ellul, by itself, can leave one feeling that we sit without the ability to respond and therefore are hopelessly caught in the grasp of the powers, dependent on a


God who, at God‟s seemingly capricious whim, would save us from those powers. I know that this is not true. I know that we are not playthings of either the angels or of God. We are God‟s creation, redeemed through Christ and empowered by God‟s spirit. We have hope and responsibility. It was the juxtaposing of Ellul‟s fallen city and Wink‟s unmasked city that began to give clarity of articulation to the interplay that I was coming to understand. We, humanity, are intrinsically interwoven in the realm of powers and principalities, angels, Satan and God. As Wink says quite clearly, “Angels and people are the inner and outer aspects of one and the same reality.” (Wink:1986:70) The human collective begets the angel, and the angel shapes the collective nature of the people. There is a constant interplay between the two aspects. Ellul begins with a seemingly pessimistic expectation towards the work of humankind, stating, “And man is clearly not the one to change that inner spirit as he wishes - we can see every day that he cannot change even the outer face.” (Ellul:169) Yet he invites humanity into its responsibility when he says, “Man must, in his relations with the city, cease being a plaything of forces which he can neither combat nor measure.” (Ellul:171) To recognize the spiritual nature of the city, indeed of any corporate entity, is to break the ice of that which puts the spiritual realm beyond humanity‟s influence. This is the beginning then, to “cease being a plaything”, whether in family structures, church organizations , cities or cosmic structures.

First one must name the players (the outer face) and the dimensions of interaction (the inner face) and the roles and responsibilities in the interaction (the constant interplay). The recognition of the angel allows one to see the responsibility, that is quite precisely the ability that one has to respond to the countenance of the angel. The people of a corporate entity directly influence the angel whether they are aware of the influential nature of their actions or not. Their actions influence the spirit of the city, the angel‟s countenance, at all times. Conversely, the angel‟s countenance influences their actions. Ellul says that we cannot expect that humanity can change the inner face because we cannot even change the outer face. It is true, we cannot change the outer face. Ironically, I believe that we are more influential on the inner face, and that it is the angel‟s countenance that shows on the outer face. That is to say, by intentional actions that call up the consciousness of the angel people can change its countenance and thereby change its influence on the dimensions of the outer face. Without that interchange the outer face cannot change When Ellul says that humanity is powerless to change the nature of the city, he senses this precise truth. It is the influence of the angel that changes the outer face. We spin our wheels, face the sense of helplessness and experience burn-out because we seek, so ineffectually, to change the outer face, when it is not ours to change. Ellul‟s pessimism is well grounded. What is ours to address, however, is the inner face, the angel.


Lest we are tempted to fall into a glorification of humanism, however, we must continue with Ellul in the search for the salvation of the city. “And this is where man‟s work lies - to help bring truth and reality together, to introduce somewhere, in some small way, the victory won in truth by Christ into concrete existence.” (Ellul:170) Bringing truth, the inner face, and reality, the outer face, together is the work set out for humanity. This is exactly the same understanding as Wink‟s understanding of Paul‟s call to speak to the powers and principalities. The clue to understanding our empowerment, then, lies in Paul‟s understanding of the church as the Body of Christ. Humanity has no power in and of itself, but it is fully empowered and fully responsible in Christ. “In Jesus is the revelation of who we really are: love incarnate, in flesh and blood. In him the reality of every created being is revealed, Christ is all and is in all” (Mangam:9) In the God incarnate, we are invited to be fully ourselves - fully empowered to interact in all creation. Both the inner and the outer manifestations of the created order become our fellow conversants and creators in the creation given to us by God. Our creative involvement is a necessary element in God‟s created order. It is here that I differ with Ellul‟s concept of the relationship of humanity to the city and to God. The city is not inherently fallen because it was created by humanity for security when humanity should look only to God for security. Rather, the city was created by humanity, in Christ, co-creators with

God, but she has forgotten the relationship with God, claiming sole responsibility for the creation of the city. She has thus lost any power to function as a creature of God as the corporate entity. This is in concert with Wink‟s expression of the angel falling from God, becoming evil, when her face is turned from her created vocation. God will not, because God cannot, step in and set our angels right. Human institutions, and their angels, are created in, through and for Christ. In Christ and through Christ humanity is empowered to enact the returning, the repentance of our angels, our nations, cities, churches, corporations. This is our call as Christians, not alone, as single individuals, but through the church, the Body of Christ, the faith community. Is this not what is reflected in Ephesians 3:10 “Through the church, the wisdom of God in all its varied forms might be made known to the powers and principalities in the realms of heaven.” (NEB) Once we understand the responsibility (the ability to respond) that we have as human beings in this dynamic created order, we are called, in Christ, to come together with intentional action and voices that speak to the angels for God‟s glory. Understanding this dynamic does not ensure the voice or action will be used for God‟s glory. In one sense the advertizing agencies of our culture understand the dynamics implicitly and use them for the glory of the current client. Evidence of this truth was seen in the amazing way the media was intentionally used to speak to the angel of the United States during the Persian Gulf war and the immediate results seen in the outer face.


The church, through Christ, is set to a task of extreme difficulty which requires faith and humble maturity. As she is called to make known the wisdom of God to the powers and principalities she is invited to know the dynamic responsibility of speaking to the angels and the inherent power to influence the outer face thereby. Can she do this out of love for the powers and principalities? Can she do this for God‟s glory and not her own? When the church mistakes her vocation to be to grow in strength and numbers rather than to make God‟s wisdom known, she has turned her back on her true vocation. She is fallen, turned from her calling, turned from God. To understand the spiritual exercise of speaking to the angel and to use it for her own glory in the church‟s deadliest pitfall. A very specific example of the potential misuse of the understanding of the dynamics can be seen in the work of John Dawson, Taking Our Cities for God. In this work I see the same understanding of the dynamic relationship between humanity and the angel of the city that I am working with, but I shudder at the implications inherent in the title. The intention of the spiritual exercise (talking to the angel) is to possess the city for God, or to hold the city captive in a humanly conceived notion of God. This intention is further seen in the accounts of an evangelical tour Dawson took with recording artist Keith Green in the summer of 1982. Dawson writes, “The next concert was in St. Louis. Again we asked God for the specific strategy. That night 631 young people ran to the front to get right with God. The key was to discern the gates of the city, to bind the strong man and then plunder his goods.” (Dawson:155)


To seek to call the city into Christianity, a western cultural phenomenon, and to claim that this is for God is to seek to turn the angel of the city‟s face, not back to God‟s intention for her, but to turn her to the mis-turned church‟s angel. The potential makes me shudder. This call from the church is the ultimate evil because it understands the power and continues to use the power to the church‟s own glory - not God‟s. I recognize that someone reading my words may think that I am caught in the same blindness. All I can say is that if I am not continually challenging myself with the possibility of exclusivity, or possession of people in God‟s name, then I do not understand the power of self-will that would fight against the truth of Christ. The power of evil will seek to destroy that which would destroy it. The very point of the power of Christ - wisdom, life, love, - is the very point that will be usurped by the powers of death. If one seeks to work in the Spirit and fails to watch for this, one will be caught by death. Another major point of misunderstanding of the dynamics of speaking to the angel of the city that is represented by Dawson is his belief that the evil spirit of the city must be cast out rather than transformed. In direct contrast is Wink‟s clarity in Engaging the Powers as he stresses the simultaneous assertions that the powers are good, fallen and can be redeemed. The city can be redeemed, though that redemption must always take place amidst the condition of fallenness. This clarity is the essence of speaking in love and with wisdom to the city.


All this is not to say that the work of Dawson does not have some important insights on the spiritual activities of speaking to the angel of a city. It is an important work for both the understanding of the dynamics of the conversations between the inner and the outer aspects of the city and for the reminder of the spiritual pitfall that is absolutely a part of such work. In contrast to the understanding of the necessary work of speaking to the angel of the city that Dawson gives, Bill Wylie Kellerman in both his book, Seasons of Faith and Conscience and his article in Sojourners, “Discerning the Angel of Detroit”, understands the task as for God‟s glory, not the churches. His group calls Detroit to her own vocation, for life against death, for truth against lies, for Christ not for Christians. Kellerman concludes the article in Sojourners with some reflections on the “Discerning the Angel” group that had been meeting in Detroit. The concerns of these reflections are for the city, for the wholeness and dignity of the life in the midst of the city. He warns the city not to “set the lives of your people above your own. Attend to the least, the poorest, the homeless. Defend them from the ravages of corporation and economy. In their empowerment is your life.” (Kellerman:21) I believe that this understanding of the powers and principalities is the beginning point for the ministry that calls our world to God. That ministry is the vocation of the church as reflected in Ephesians, once again, “that through the church, the wisdom of God in all its varied forms might be made know to the powers and principalities in the realms of heaven.” (Eph.3:10, NEB) It is

through the church that this work is done. It is through the Body of Christ, a community of faith that this work is done. This then is the task for a pastor, to nurture a community of faith so that it can turn its face to its true vocation.

Attending to the Task
The task of the church, her vocation, is singularly to be the voice of Christ to her sister principalities to make know the love and wisdom of God. If she does not know and claim her vocation, the love and wisdom of God cannot be known to the powers and principalities. To use our efforts as church leaders for the care and building of the church, without her vocation, is to continue in our fallenness. It is to continue with our face turned toward ourselves and away from God‟s calling for us. The task of calling the church to her true vocation, as the one who brings God‟s wisdom to the powers and principalities, is not in opposition to the care and building of the church, Quite conversely, that is the only hope in her renewal. Because it goes against conventional wisdom, however, it takes a strong conviction among the church leadership to begin to steer her away from


her own security into her vocation. It is my contention that this ministry is the hope of the church and the hope of the world, in Christ‟s name, for the future. I have come to this conviction through my own journey in the Spirit. As a teenager in the late sixties I was introduced to the “Jesus Movement”. I attended Sunday evening services of an enthusiastic, charismatic group even as I remained active in my childhood congregation, a standard, mainline Protestant church. I loved the church and never considered abandoning it even as the pastor dissuaded me from taking the gifts of the Spirit too seriously. At one prayer meeting, I responded to the call to ask to receive the Spirit‟s gift. As I was being prayed for, the prayer leader raised his head and said that God had told him that they were not to pray for me to receive the Spirit‟s gift, for God had other plans for me. For the next seventeen years, the same time span in my life that had taken me to that point, I pondered what had happened. I prayed that God would show me God‟s plan not having a clue to what I was asking or doing. I found myself as pastor of a small congregation in California, serving God, perhaps, serving the church, perhaps, but still not understanding what God wanted me to do. I still wondered when I was to receive the Spirit‟s gift. Through the study of some of the Pauline epistles, I came to the understanding that in my quest, I had not received any gift because I had not asked for a specific gift. I must say honestly now that I do not know precisely how that notion came to me, but it was convincing to me. With naive impetuousness, I prayed that I might receive the gift of discernment. It was not

until more than two years later when searching through the pieces of why I found myself twice in two years in difficult parish situations that I was hit with the revelation that, whether I liked it or not, whether I understood it or not, my prayer had been answered. I had, indeed, in those situations, been given the gift of discernment. My conference minister spoke of it in different terms. I remember the conversation over the second situation as something like this: “Well, Peggy, are you prepared to play hardball? “I don‟t know how to play hardball. What do you mean?” “You did it in Sacramento.” “All I did there was to pay attention, research the situation and tell the truth.” “That‟s playing hardball.” Now I know that that was for me the gift of discernment, called forth for the glory of God. William Stringfellow, in An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land, articulating the same sense of the gift of discernment, helped me to see that my role as parish pastor and my gift of discernment were not mutually exclusive. Rather, they were necessarily intertwined. This is the gift which exposes and rebukes idolatry. This is the gift which confounds and undoes blasphemy . . .the discernment of spirits is inherently political while in practice it has specifically to do with pastoral care, with healing, with the nurture of human life and with the fulfillment of all life. (Stringfellow:139)

I believe that the perspective of the task of the parish pastor as discerner of the angel of the church and calling his or her people to know themselves as a faith community which is called to be discerner of the angels of nations, cities, corporations and all manifestations of powers and principalities is essential to the spiritual welfare of our church, our culture and its people. Such a task is called forth with great power in this time, in the western culture and in the world. I can make no claims to my own faith. As a child I was given the two gifts that have given me life. I was given the experience of a faith community and, in that community, I was given the story. It is from this perspective of my own faith journey that I know what the church is. It is a community. It is a community with a story. The story empowers the community and forms it into a faith community. The decade of the fifties and the early sixties was a time of growth for the Protestant churches in the United States. It was during this time that my parents became charter members of a new start American Lutheran Church in Montana. Living with the commitment and enthusiasm of those families who had a vision of a faith community in their lives moved me to know the depth and breadth of the power of Christ alive in a people. It is with this understanding that I, as pastor, call the congregation into worship with an invitation to come in Christ‟s name allowing ourselves to move into the mystery of becoming the Body of Christ.


In 1963 my Christmas present from my father was a Bible. It was my own Bible to read and use. Looking at that Bible today I know that I was encouraged to use it, not worship it. The back is broken, and I have written in the margins and underlined passages. It looks ragged, yet it is cared for. There are no torn pages, and I have never lost that Bible. From the time I was ten my Bible was important to me. When we give the Bibles out to the fourth grade class during Pentecost Sunday I show them this Bible and encourage them to use the pretty new books they receive that day well so that years from now they too will show the signs having been used, of having been loved. When I was in junior high confirmation class, we spent one year turning the book of Jonah inside out. That was the first year of an intense three year program. We were invited to ask the questions, Who?, What?, Where?, When, and Why? time and time again in the readings. This type of reading, in which the context and characters of the story emerge and come alive, became the way for me to read the Bible story. When one is presented with such a relationship to the Bible it does become a living story. I consider the Bible to be sacred because it is the story of a people‟s relationship to the Divine. The particular characters bring to life the daily task of being human, yet being continually sought out by a loving God. Because I came to know the characters as fully human, sometimes broken, sometimes fallen, sometimes evil and God as consistently loving and compelling, I encounter the particularities of the situations with an honesty that invites me to look at my life honestly. Issues of literal readings, contradicting


descriptions of events or attitudes, time-contexted social mores, or other problems that have caused many of my friends and colleagues to shun Bible study have never been blocks for me. Rather, they have demanded a profound level of honesty in discerning the life situations I encounter. Perhaps the best way for me to describe the way I read the Bible is to use the word myth. The understanding of myth Paul Tillich gives in Dynamics of Faith I would describe as a story that tells of the essence of a relationship. The stories in the Bible are stories that tell the essence of our relationship to God and to one another. These myths are the essence of our faith. When I encounter these stories I am grabbed at the core of my being, at the core of my relationship to God and to others. The task then which the pastor must attend to in calling the angel of the church to God is nothing more than to call the community together in Christ‟s name and invite them into their story. Through the sharing of the story in the contexts of preaching and teaching the pastor is always sharing his or her own life involvement with the story. It cannot be otherwise. Who I am, how I am moved by the Christian story is always a part of how I invite others into it.

The scriptures become sacred to a people as they are known as the people‟s own story. When a community allows itself to be grasped by the story and begins to let that story shape the life of the community then the texts become to living, sacred texts for the community. This community claiming of the story can empower the individuals in the community to let the story judge,

guide and shape their individual lives. The trust in God that is built by this experience of moving into the story further empowers the community and individuals within it to begin to let the story judge, guide and shape the individual lives and the corporate lives in which we live in this world. To focus on the Bible, to learn to allow the Bible to speak and to be willing and able to hear it speak to our own lives is to begin to be oriented to God. It is to begin to live out our calling as Christ‟s Body. People living in this faithfulness, built by trust, through experiencing living with the story, describes a community of faith.

Those who gather God‟s people into worship week after week have a great responsibility to the people gathered and to God to be aware of and responsible to the task of orienting God‟s people to God. The spiritual power in the hands of the worship leaders far out weighs even the evident power. For the angels of the churches are listening and are being guided directly in our worship. Because of the intentional spiritual nature of the gathering in worship the sister powers and principalities are also aware. This reality is not the exclusive domain of the worshipping congregation, but it is within her realm. For these reasons we must not take lightly the role of the worship leaders for each gathering. Every word shared, each song that is sung, each prayer that is offered effects the orientation of the angel. Have we oriented her to God, lost the opportunity to affect her or turned her away from God?


From the beginning of the worship time intentionality must be given to every aspect. It is important even to name who we are and what we have

gathered for in the welcome. Thus a welcome or a call to worship should name the activity. We must name that we gather as Christ‟s Body. I often begin the worship with a welcome such as: “It is a privilege to be called from our individual lives to gather together in worship this day. Let us come together in prayer, song and hearing of the word as we open ourselves into the mystery of becoming Christ‟s Body.”

Speaking with Angels The City
October 12, 1992 promised to be a day of tensions throughout the nation. As we came upon the Columbus Quincentennary, plans were being made for extravagant celebrations paid out of state and national treasuries


which would commemorate the “Discovery of America”. Native American organizations and many other politically active groups were speaking out against all such celebrations. Humboldt County with its penchant for playing out the worst of our national tensions, was set for yet another divisive battle. It was rumored that the local community college „s annual fund raiser, which is a major event in the county, was planned as a Columbus Celebration with period costumes, bands and fireworks. The active Native American student group at the State University had already successfully petitioned for the University to be named as “Columbus Myth Free Zone”. The battle did not come. Rather, that night, in October of 1992, found over two hundred people gathered at the Eureka City Recreational Center for an evening of reflection on the impact of the “Columbus Encounter” on the present time and on the next 500 years. The gathering was precipitated by a proclamation of the County Supervisors of June 1992 that called for remembrances of the day to reflect the cultural diversity of the area, recognizing all people and reflecting on the future of the communities of Humboldt County. During the open-mike forum one speaker represented many there when he expressed his surprise that such a proclamation, and such a meeting should happen in Humboldt County. The mood was strikingly different from the divisiveness that was the usually mode of public relations. That difference came about because of the intentional work by a small group of people to discern and address the angel of the city.


The first step in speaking to the angel of the city was to identify the nature of the corporate entity, its present countenance and its point of vulnerability. If the full nature of the corporate entity is simultaneously its inner and outer aspects (Wink:1984:107), one must look carefully at the outer manifestations with an eye to discovering the inner manifestations. One begins to listen with a new ear to the way people in the corporate entity express themselves to discern the attitudes that are between the lines. Through a close study of the historical events, the outer aspect, one can begin to determine the vulnerable point, the point on which the angel, its inner aspect, turned from its divine calling. In such an inquiry it is vitally necessary to keep an awareness of, and a balance of, the inner and outer aspects of the entity. In Eureka it was clear that the divided community was the essential manifestation of a city that was ill, as a city at war with itself. The voice of fear and a defensive posturing was consistently put forward on one side in response to the calls for economic and ecological justice on the other. This attitude of defensiveness was one of guilt, not contrition. This guilt had bound the city, leaving it unable to grow and prosper as a whole in any sense. This guilt is a spiritual hold over the city. Walter Wink in a discussion of Zechariah 3:1-5 says: the “adversary” is that actual inner or collective voice of condemnation that any sensitive person hears tirelessly repeating accusations of guilt or inferiority. And indeed, there is often a degree of truth to the charges. But Satan‟s demand for strict justice, untempered by mercy, can crush the spirit of a person or a people. (Wink:1986:12-13)


The attitudes of the individuals with whom I spoke as I began to look more closely at the history and the current politics of Eureka strengthened my sense of the spiritual power that had a hold over them. The mayor was a case in point. The position of the mayor is important to note as the power of the principality of Eureka. The position, not the person, is the power. The mayor, at that time, lived on the island where the massacre took place. There are only six private parcels on the island. That the current mayor should possess one of them is quite ironic, and speaks to the timeliness of the spiritual exercise of speaking to the angel of the city. I made an appointment to speak with her about the need for a memorial service for those involved in the massacre. Before I could begin to discuss any possible public response to the history surrounding Indian Island, she said, “Just don‟t try to make us feel guilty!” In fact, the Eureka city officials have not been as cooperative as other official bodies in the county. It was the county supervisors who put forth the proclamation for Columbus Day. That proclamation was affirmed by the Arcata City Council, but was not brought to the floor of Eureka‟s City Council meeting. (Arcata is Eureka‟s sister city on Humboldt Bay). The Humboldt Bay District, a state agency with jurisdiction over the bay, let us use their property for the memorial service, and the Maritime Museum provided a boat and crew for the memorial. Perhaps the seat of the principality, The Eureka City Council and the Office of the Mayor, were too close to the center of the angel‟s heart for comfort, while the others, more on the periphery, could risk the conversations.


During this same time, I spoke to the Eureka Ministerial Association. I had the rapt attention of more than twenty colleagues for an hour as I explained my understanding of the angel and our need for spiritual healing. These colleagues represented churches ranging from Mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic to Pentecostal and Mormon. The conversation immediately following was exciting as they began to understand the need and the process. When I asked them to encourage their churches to join mine in the sponsoring a memorial service, however, the response was abruptly negative. “It‟s fine to speak so clearly in this room,” one said, “but I could never say such things to my congregation!” One, who came in after the program, said, “Don‟t think you can make me feel guilty!” When we held the first memorial service no area clergy was present besides me. Those who came identified as from a congregation were only those from First Congregational United Church of Christ. It was very sad that the other churches were at that time unable to claim their given calling. Historical research is the most important task in seeking to know an angel. Even though I sensed the tension and guilt and knew the story of the massacre, I needed to know the specific details. I needed to discover the details and ramifications of the event that I felt were pivotal. For Eureka the history of the judicial response to the massacre was the most important. The cover-up and justification of the act was a more powerful guilt binder than the act itself. The towns people at the time of the massacre did not know the whole story, thus,

they were caught in the secrecy. In the early 1990‟s the townspeople still did not know the whole story and were also caught in the web of secrecy and guilt. If one has done the necessary work of researching the history and listening to the people, the times and places for the conversations with the heart of the entity, that is, with the angel, will come. I have found that to be true, without exception, in each situation where I have come to focus on the task. In Eureka, the tasks began to unfold in a timely manner. I wrote a short editorial for the religion page of the local newspaper bringing forth the story and our need to know it. Within two weeks a full page article recounting the details of the massacre was on the third page of the local newspaper. Six months later, I wrote another editorial calling people to the public forum for October 12th, and within a week we had a front page story on the forum and the Columbus Day Proclamation. Both editorials were on a given rotational schedule for area clergy, but could not have been better timed if I could have chosen the timing myself. (See appendices for editorials.) One unexpected response I have had from friends with whom I work on social and political issues in the area was their anger towards me for not putting my time and energy in fixing the problems. Many of us who have dedicated our lives to fixing the problems cannot see the core evil for the busy-ness of dealing with the attendant symptoms. My religious colleagues chastise me for being too political and my social-justice colleagues chastise me for being too spiritual. We cannot, however, hope to rebuild our churches, our cities or our countries without turning to their inner aspects, their angels, and speaking with power and


confidence. We do not have the wisdom or the confidence to so speak except in the context of a faith community.

The Task
Shortly after moving to Eureka, I was on the city bus traveling past the bay enjoying the sight of the white egrets with their spectacularly graceful bodies taking flight from the mud flats. “Those birds are the souls of the people murdered on Indian Island.” The elderly woman sitting next to me spoke, as we watched the birds in flight. In the few minutes before my stop, she told me the story of the night the sleeping villages were raided with the intent to kill all the people who could be found. This was the first time I heard the story, and it was the beginning of this story, the story of my involvement in this task of speaking to the angel that drew me to itself. Some years later, while chaperoning a field trip for my daughter‟s second grade class, I was looking out to the island when the fellow chaperon said, “I sure wish we could properly recognize Indian Island.” That was my introduction to Del Markinson, a Yurok Indian, who, when he heard of my interest in bringing forth the story of Indian Island, set forth the avenues of getting people together. Within a few days he called to set up a time when I could meet with some of those who were instrumental in successful conclusions on several legal affairs that challenged the various native groups. This meeting would be the beginning of, and the commitment to, my involvement in Indian Island.


It was in the spring of 1991 when Del set up the appointment to meet with Zooey Goosby. We were to meet at Denny‟s for lunch. I got into my car and drove towards town. I looked over and saw a huge spider sitting on my dash board. Being terrified of spiders, I quickly moved to park, nearly hitting another car. I jumped out of the car, and with considerable trepidation looked back in. The spider was gone. I stood outside the car for some time, deciding whether my wish to meet with Del and Zooey was greater than my fear of the spider. I took a deep breath, got into the car and drove to the meeting. When I related the encounter with the spider to Dell and Zooey, they responded with a seriousness that invited me to reflect on it. I realized that in getting back into the car, even though I did not know where the spider was sitting, and going to the appointment, I had made an important decision. The spider became a symbol of the difficult, even frightening, situations that would be faced as we worked on this spiritually vital and potent task. I knew that I was called to face these situations with courage and faith, and that I could face whatever came to me. As we began to call people together towards the task of bringing the story of the Wiyot people and the massacre on Indian Island into the public consciousness, I realized that the obstacles I feared were neither obvious nor outwardly threatening. Nevertheless, they were strong and pervasive. The tools of the spiders at that time were people‟s fear of controversy and group inertia. Del called me another day to say that he had arranged for me to meet Leroy Zerling, the curator of the Maritime Museum, that afternoon. I went to the

museum, looking for one man and found a meeting of several people. Representatives from the Humboldt Historical Society, leaders of the Wiyot people, Leroy and myself. It was at that meeting that I began to get an idea of the historical and political dimensions of this issue as well as the way it had been commonly dealt with over the years. Two projects had been taken up in the past, neither completed. In the early 1960‟s a group from the Humboldt Historical Society had initiated a petitioning to the National Historical Society to have Indian Island named as a National Historic Site. In the early 1970‟s a group called the Far West Indian Historical Center Association submitted a plan for an historical center on Indian Island. This report was financed, in part, through an Urban Planning Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Each of these projects had fallen victim to governmental red-tape and group inertia. The group working for the Historical Site Status was successful in obtaining national recognition, but not local recognition. The designation was granted in 1964, and a plaque was sent out. The plaque named the island as Gunther Island, after the man who claimed homesteader‟s ownership the day after the massacre. The plaque was sent back requesting a correction of the name. The corrected plaque names the site as “Gunther Island/Indian Island”. This plaque was scheduled to be placed as an Historical Interest Site on a view point on the new bridge which was being built from the mainland to a peninsula crossing the island. In 1964 the bridge was built, but the view point was not. In


the spring of 1991 the plaque still sat in the basement of the city hall under the authority of the Maritime Museum. As I was discovering some of this background, Del was doing some connecting work. He had done a unit on the history of Indian Island for a second grade class in a local school. As a result the children wrote letters to the mayor. Their letters asked that Indian Island and the Wiyot people be recognized. One child wrote, “We killed the Indians and stole their land. This was very wrong, and we must give it back.” All the letters were true to children‟s honesty in their direct statements and calls for justice. Apparently the mayor called Leroy asking him to get the plaque out and place it somewhere appropriate. This seems to have been the reason behind the meeting that day at the museum. Perhaps the children‟s letters moved the mayor. The meeting proceeded under the assumed leadership of Glen Nash, from the Humboldt Historical Society. We discussed the need for the plaque being placed and the desire to have an interpretive sign that would tell the history of the Wiyot people as well as of the massacre placed with it. Another meeting was scheduled for the next week. When we arrived, then, a week later, we were told that Glen and Leroy had procured a rock and had the plaque mounted. They placed it on the adjacent Island which is accessible by vehicle, whereas Indian Island is not. They also offered to procure some plywood on which a sign could be painted. The reaction from the Wiyot leaders was predictable and justified. They demanded that we do this task with integrity or not at all. The placement of the

plaque and the sign must be a permanent placement, and the sign must be of high quality, able to withstand the wear of the weather and the public. Those of us who shared this opinion agreed to begin to investigate land ownership questions and the construction of an interpretive sign. This was a group of four, Cheryl Seidner and Leona Wilkinson, two sisters who are descendants of the sole baby who survived the massacre, Marilee Rhode from the Humboldt Historical Society and myself. We called ourselves the Ad Hoc Committee for the Recognition of Indian Island. We found that we could not secure ownership of any ground on Woodley Island (the adjacent island) unless we were interested in obtaining a three acre parcel and developing a tourist business on it. We also received preliminary bids for an interpretive sign that totaled $10,000. We went into the summer discouraged. When we regrouped in the fall, we identified two desired tasks in front of us, one being the ongoing task of securing a permanent site for the plaque and interpretive sign, the other being a memorial service on the anniversary of the massacre on Indian Island. The anniversary on the massacre was a time specific task so our efforts became focused there. We met in mid October 1991 to talk about our hopes and images of a memorial service on February 25th of 1992. The discussion centered around the spiritual significance that we understood and the atmosphere that we wished to create. Having become sensitive to the reality of setbacks, both those anticipated and those not anticipated, we also spent considerable discussion time brainstorming what those might be and how to circumvent them. We left

Cheryl‟s home that night with guarded enthusiasm. We knew the significance of our dream, but were uncertain if the four of us could carry it off. That night I had an empowering dream. The first time I awoke in the night, I was aware that I had been dreaming of being present at a large and busy convention. I was very important, very official. As I slept again, I returned to the dream. Awakening a second time it became known to me that this was a gathering of the angels and the discussion being taken up was our activities on behalf of the people of Humboldt County and our hopes for the recognition of Indian Island. I fell asleep a third time and returned to the dream. Once again, in the moment of the third awakening, I was aware that the angles had decided to work with us on behalf of this project. This dream gave me, and the ad hoc committee, the courage to walk up to and tackle each problem we came across with confidence. Location, insurance, publicity, sound system and programs fell into place as we arranged two separate services. One service would be a small night vigil by boat around the island the night of the anniversary date. The other would be a large gathering on the Saturday night immediately following the anniversary date. It was necessary to articulate and constantly reaffirm the intent of the memorial service to ourselves as the reality of it began to take shape. We knew instinctively that the service was necessary for the spiritual wholeness and healing of all peoples, the Wiyots and the other native peoples, the long time residents of Humboldt County, some who were direct descendants of the first


European settlers, and those, like myself, who were new transplants. This was to be a spiritual event, a memorial service, not a political statement. I was moved by the expression of this necessary attitude as it was given by Preston J. Arrow-weed at the Quincentennial Conference funded by the California Council for the Humanities, held July 13, 1991 at UC Berkeley. In a call to that group to understand the need for the native people to bury their dead properly with song, in the old way, before considering any other quincentennial events, he said, “Without this proper burial and honor to our ancestors, we as native people are nothing more than the living dead.” I knew that the healing needed by the native peoples was not the only healing that was needed. It was not the only healing that would begin in the honoring of those murdered in Humboldt County the early morning hours of February 26th, 1860. The European settlers, their ancestors, and all who live here today would begin a journey of spiritual healing in the honoring of those who died that night. It was with a sense of great awe that we began to pull together this service. A couple of weeks before the service I received another sign of awareness of the journey together with the spiritual world with our tasks in this world. I was in Eureka, down in Old Town, distributing flyers announcing the Indian Island Memorial Service. In front of a large historical plaque on E Street which celebrates the “discovery” of Humboldt Bay and the chartering of the town of Eureka, I found an old penny. Following an incident in my life from more than a decade ago, finding a penny on the ground had been a sign to me of

God‟s presence in my life. Since that time, I always pick up the penny, focus my thoughts of that moment and ask myself what God would have me be aware of. With all that in mind, I picked up this penny on E Street and looked at it. I was astounded to read the date on the coin, 1859. With awe and wonder, I came to the anniversary of the massacre on Indian Island.

The Memorial Services
It was six in the evening when we gathered at the foot of C Street in Eureka‟s Old Town. The local tour boat, The Madaket had been offered as the vehicle to create a private memorial service on the eve of the anniversary of the early morning massacre of the Wiyot people living on the island in the bay of the newly founded town of Eureka, California. This Tuesday evening was February 25, 1992, one hundred and thirty-two years after the murderous night in 1860. Few people had been invited to participate on this memorial cruise as we were limited by the size of the boat. Several Wiyot people living in the area, my husband, Anders, I, Marilee Rohde of the Humboldt Historical Society, the boat captain, Leroy Zerling, and one crew member boarded The Madaket. The Wiyot who came that night were those who knew themselves as direct descendants of the child found alive on the island early Sunday morning, February 26, 1860. They were Cheryl and Leona, several of their sisters, the children of these sisters and Alberta McDonald, their aunt. Missing was Albert James, Alberta‟s brother. We had not built up a trust level with him that invited him to wish to participate with us in this memorial. All those present felt his absence.

The night was beautiful. The air, while chilly, was still as could be. The water was as a mirror. Leroy had prepared the Madaket for a time of mourning. The flags were flown at half-mast and black ribbons surrounded her bow. Cheryl had made lapel pins of colored ribbons for each of us to wear. A large bowl of flower petals was placed in the center of the bow and sheaths of grasses were handed around as we made ready to begin our journey that night. We slipped into the night silently, reverently. Within ten minutes we were stopping just off shore of the ancient location of the main village of the island, the site of the massacre. Leroy cut the engines of the boat and we sat in the silent night for several minutes before Cheryl called us into a time of worship with a poem she had written.

February 1992 Tonight beginning of renewal a Mourning of those who died Forgiving those who brought death Thanking those who came to help We must not forget what happened The morning of February 26, 1860 We must not dwell on it either We must go on and carve a new era We must work together to build a future The future holds two worlds Not just white domination But Wiyot influence For this is the land of the Wiyot

One of Cheryl‟s sisters and a niece sang a Christian hymn in a native tongue. The melody came forth as a quiet, chanting sound. Others spread the grass sheaths into the bay. We all scattered bread crumbs into the water as food for the journey the dead must take to another land. Cheryl explained the significance of the colored ribbons on the lapel pins. Black for mourning, red for the blood spilled, brown for the earth, white for hope and a larger green ribbon for life which continues and moves far beyond each of our individual lives. Cheryl shared two more of her poems with us.

One Winter‟s Eve

Thoughts of a new year Fishing, hunting, Gathering, singing Laughing, growing, learning

Thoughts of what a new year would hold, A baby‟s cry heard in the distance Cold, hungry Muffled by his dead mother‟s breast

One winter‟s eve

Thoughts of a new era Fishing, hunting, gathering, singing Laughing, growing, learning, healing

Thankful for that lone cry of the child spared

One winter‟s eve

Oh So Beautiful Our People

Oh so beautiful our people Oh so beautiful are we

How we have stood through the ages Standing proud Standing broken Standing tall

How we have stood through the years Watching Waiting Taking action

How we have stood through the ages

Oh so beautiful our people Oh so beautiful are we

The two women sang another song in a native language as we all participated in sprinkling the flower petals upon the water in honor of the dead.


As we watched the currents take the petals the horn of the Madaket was sounded three times as a maritime honor to the dead. The boat then began to move through the still waters as we circled the island in solemn wonder. As I reflect on that night there are many impressions that stay with me. The stillness of the water was unreal; the boat cut through it as through glass. The beauty of the songs in the dark night, the sense of the birds following as we quietly circled the island and the amazing presence of women fill my memory. It was with a new surety that we made ready for the larger service scheduled for the following Saturday. We were aware of the significance of the day for this memorial service. It was February 29, 1992. The year of the massacre, 1860 was also a leap year. The gathering of the Wiyot in 1860 culminated on a Saturday night with a celebration of the New Year. The massacre was at 4 am Sunday. We focused the atmosphere of this memorial service around the celebration of a new year, a new life, a new way of being together. As we gathered Saturday night we built a ceremonial fire. It burned bright in the clear, cold night. We had gathered on Woodley Island, directly opposite Indian Island and focused our attention over the water to the quiet of the waters and the shore. People were called into worship with the sound of the drums as a group of Native American drummers, all young university students, beat a ceremonial


drum and sang in a Plains Indian style. The drums played for ten minutes. I read a blessing of the fire, a Plains Indian song;

Remember, remember the circle of the sky the stars and the brown eagle, the supernatural winds, breathing night and day from the four directions.

Remember, remember the great life of the sun breathing on the earth. it lies upon the earth to bring out life upon the earth life covering earth.

Remember, remember the sacredness of things running streams and dwellings, the young within the nest a hearth for sacred fire the holy flame of fire.

Alberta McDonald, the Wiyot Elder among us, lit the first candle off the ceremonial fire. As the drums beat another song, each person lit their candle off another‟s until all candles were lit. There were approximately 150 people there that night. As I watched the ritual of candle lighting I was taken by the great diversity of the faces lit up by their burning candles. Native Americans, young

people, college students, Caucasians, small children, elderly, men and women were gathered. The diversity was astonishing for Eureka. The ritual lighting of the candles moved me to tears. Cheryl shared another poem this night: Driving Thoughts

As I drove to work one frosty morn‟ I looked out across the bay In my mind‟s eye I was wondering What it looked like February 25, 1860

It‟s February 23, 1990.

A calm, cool morning Wisps of white clouds spilling over into The early morning blue sky

Was it a similar type of morning Anticipation for a new year Looking forward to the dancing and singing

Smoke rising straight up, not a hint of a breeze Someone cooking, getting ready for a new day Waking like any other day Children running to and fro Laughing and playing

Everyone going about their day Preparing for another evening of the

New Year renewal ceremony

After the festive evening, one must rest Some returned to their homes off the island All is calm

Then an explosion of fear filled the early Morning air A dawning of a new day Calm, cool morning Maybe frost or mist about the ground

Smoke rising No laughing children A lone crying child

No preparation for burial No song for a new year Only a song of mourning

This is what I thought while driving to work One February 23, 1990

In the stillness of the night the clear voices of two women offering a song of mourning in a native tongue drew my attention to the wonder of the night. These two women, second and third generation Wiyot surviving the massacre, offered two songs from a “Shaker Indian” faith. People were sitting on blankets and lawn chairs or standing around, having formed a semi-circle around the drum and focused on the fire. The night was nearly windless,

allowing the candles to flicker and burn in the open air. Some older children had set many burning candles into the sandy soil framing the crowd in relationship to the ceremonial fire. The night was holy. Marilee Rohde, a native of Humboldt County and a descendant of early European settlers offered a moving reflection on childhood memories: I‟ve asked to tell a story tonight. I was born in Eureka, and recently I realized that if I live to see the century turn, I will have lived as many years as had passed when I was born, since the tragic morning on Indian Island. I first heard the story when I was a little girl, and it seems to have happened such a long, long time before. One Christmas morning, waiting near our tree, was an old-fashioned doll buggy, repaired and repainted, and the doll in it was covered with a beautiful tiny quilt with an intricate, hand-stitched block in its center - all in shades of blue. The neighbor lady who made the doll‟s quilt told me the story of that block, and the quilt, wrapped in the story, became one of my most precious gifts. Regretfully, the quilt was lost during the years, but the story is deep in me. Long years before, on a winter‟s night, an infant girl lay sleeping with her mother on the island in the bay, when a group of calculating men crept on to the island and senselessly spread violence and horror and death. Next morning, the baby girl was found near her dead mother and was taken by a family in one of the towns to their home to be sheltered and nurtured and loved. And when she was a young girl, she learned to sew, and she made a quilt block, and her adopted family treasured her work and passed it along with her story. In his lecture/essay, “The Rediscovery of North America”, Barry Lopez speaks of “la querencia” - a concept he describes as “a place on the ground where one feels secure, a place from which one‟s strength of character is drawn, - a place in which we know exactly who we are - the place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.” The northwest coast of California is my “la querencia”. The sea and sand, the soil and great sea stacks, the trees, the winds - these are in my blood and bones. In times of dis-ease, the surf‟s pulse and the sea‟s spay restore me. But I know this place is wounded, and I think I have always felt it, and I have known it since that Christmas morning when I received the quilt and the story. As I have lived, I‟ve grown to sense that this

local wound is a part of a great woundedness from which our country - and indeed our world - suffers. For healing to happen, the hurt must be recognized and acknowledged before it can be tended and healed. I have seen that hurt a lot since that Christmas day. I‟ve known it closely in the life of our family - sensed the pain of our cousins and their Yurok mother, seen the suffering in the life of my Yupik sister-in-law, Elena, known and felt the sad separation from my young grandson, Alexander‟s Lakota family, seen it in the lives of many friends. It matters very much that the wound be healed. It matters for these people I love and for all of us because we are part of one another and none of us can know wholeness unless all of us do. It matters for our earth and for all of creation. It matters “unto the seventh generation”. I am sometimes overwhelmed with fear and anxiety for my grandchildren‟s lifetime. Seven generations is a very long time. Yet if every generation committed itself to caring for the Seventh Generation, the healing could begin to happen, the problems begin to be solved. I would like to conclude with a prayer-poem by Simon J. Ortiz of the Pueblo people who says with eloquence what I feel and hope:

The People Shall Continue by Simon J. Ortiz

We are the People of this land. We were created out of the forces of earth and sky, the stars and water. We must make sure that the balance of earth be kept. There is no other way. We must struggle for our lives. We must take great care with each other. Nothing is separate from us. We are one body of People. We must struggle to share our human lives with each other.

We must fight against those forces which will take our humanity from us. We must insure that life continues. With that humanity and the strength which comes from our shared concern for this life, the People shall continue.

I then offered some reflections on the night:

On February 25th in the year of 1860, the Wiyot people had gathered for the annual celebration of the new year. The night was the end of a week-long celebration of singing, feasting, dancing and praying. One dance that was central to the new year rituals was the White Deer Skin Dance. The importance of this dance gives us guidance tonight. The White Deer Skin Dance was a prayer to the deer and to all the animals that had given their lives for the people to live during the past year. If thanks were not given to the animals, the people would have no right to expect to find food for the next year. Implicit in this thank you in the recognition of the animals as beings with full integrity. The Wiyot people, and other native people of the present Humboldt County, gave their life for the life and prosperity of the European settlers. A ritual of thanks must be offered. Although it seems heartless to thank the natives for the gift of their life when, indeed, it was stolen from them, somehow it is not altogether different from the thanks offered to the animals generations ago. The life of the natives has never been recognized as a life of beings with full integrity, and that is where we must begin. For in thus denying the integrity of being to the Wiyot people, we, of the European heritage, deny our own being. All the souls are lost in that denial. This is a new year. This is a new time of living together. Let us pray this night for the souls of those murdered on this island in 1860. May their souls find rest. We thank them for the life they have given to us. We thank them that they have called us to this night of remembrance. Let us pray for the souls of those who murdered the Wiyot. May they find their rest.


Let us pray for ourselves. May we find sources of reconciliation and wholeness in our life together in this land. Amen.

After some moments of silence the drums began again and the drummers sang for ten minutes before Cheryl stood to offer, as a benediction, the poem she had read at the private memorial service on Tuesday. This service on Saturday night was very moving for me. February 29th is a day out of time, the extra day in the leap year. We had gathered on a timeless night that was directly connected to the night in 1860. That night, as I slept, I had another powerful dream. In the dream Anders, Marilee and I were in a house that I knew as my house. We went out into the back yard, which was large, but fenced, with many other homes nearby. As we stood looking up at the stars there appeared in the sky beings that were horse and rider in one. Many of these figures circled above in an attitude of festive celebration. As we watched this circling, I was taken up into the circle. I could see Anders and Marilee waving from below as the view of the neighborhood opened up below me. I was ecstatic.

The Response
It was a holy night, and I continued to walk on sacred ground as I watched events and attitudes emerge in the midst of the life in Humboldt County during the next couple of years. It is difficult to see and name many


subtle events that might have unfolded from this spiritual event, but I believe that one activity that emerged was a direct result and another closely related. The first is a resolution that was brought to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors recognizing 1992 as the Columbus Encounter Quincentennial. The other was a multicultural celebration of life in Humboldt County which I referred to at the beginning of this chapter, held October 12, 1992. Early one Tuesday morning I received a phone call from one of the Humboldt County Supervisors, Julie Fulkerson. She said that she had just discovered that a resolution from the local Knights of Columbus organization was on the morning agenda of the supervisor‟s meeting. The resolution was for the recognition of 1992 as the Columbus Quincentennial. The wording of the resolution was the verbiage of Christian Triumphalism and U.S. flag-waving patriotism. She knew that the resolution had the potential for inviting a public conflict further dividing the people of our county. I knew the continuation of denial covered by historical lies and myths and empowered by triumphalism was the spiritual power that was eroding our community. Something needed to be done in the next thirty minutes! I hurried down to the county courthouse and went into the supervisor‟s chambers just ten minutes before the opening of the meeting. I was prepared to speak against the resolution, asking the supervisors to name a committee to draft a resolution that was reflective of the multicultural heritage of Humboldt County. Julie had written a paragraph that spoke of the multicultural heritage in our county that could be brought forth as an amendment to the resolution. I was


unsure of the best way to handle the situation, and frightened of the potential controversy. I prayed silently. I prayed for guidance for all of us in the meeting and for Christ‟s reconciliatory power to fill the room. The clerk of the board came into the audience section and spoke to the members of the Knights of Columbus that had gathered. They got up and began to leave. I overheard one say, “They‟re going to postpone the resolution till next week. I guess some Native Americans have protested.” I was astonished at the seemingly effortless erasure of our imminent problem, but I knew we had a task ahead. That afternoon I was able to find out that the spokesperson for the Knights of Columbus was Ernie Domingo, and I obtained his phone number from my Catholic colleague. I had decided to call Ernie that night and ask if we might work together on a better resolution. I was rather anxious about the kind of reception I might get from this man, and I must admit to pacing a bit in front of the telephone before I finally dialed. The phone call, however, was as effortless as the postponement of the morning‟s resolution. Ernie was happy to meet with me and discuss what problems there might be in the resolution. When I met with Ernie at our arranged time, he introduced me to another person who had called him about the resolution, Mace DeLourme. Mace was a student at Humboldt State University at that time and is a Native American. He had recently drafted a proposal for the University administration that named the University a “Columbus Myth Free Zone”. unlikely trio sitting down for a lunch meeting that day. We were an


During that first meeting we listened to Mace. He was intent on educating us on the truth of the Columbus encounter. Ernie listened very carefully. We agreed that each of us would write a resolution separately, and meet in a few days to put them next to each other. The next meeting found us with one resolution from Mace that laid out the truth of the pain that the natives feel at the loss of life, land and culture at the hands of the white people, one from Ernie that was only slightly tempered in its triumphalism, and mine which called for the celebration of our multicultural heritage. We agreed to use my format with each of the other two voices expressed in separate clauses, undiluted by each other. We presented this resolution to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on June 2, 1992.

Whereas, the cultural diversity of Humboldt County is one of the greatest gifts we have as a community; and

Whereas, the year 1992, the quincentennial year of the voyage of Christopher Columbus which brought the European culture to the “New World”, raises strong passions; and

Whereas, Humboldt County is populated with California‟s largest indigenous population who have suffered great losses of life, land and spiritual freedom at the hands of the newly arrived Europeans, yet have contributed to the cultural and economic well being and richness of this community; and

Whereas, the voyage of Christopher Columbus required vision, faith, courage and determination, initiated the greatest human migration in history, and caused the exchange of religious, social, technological and economic ideas; and


Whereas, we the people of Humboldt County, as benefactors of this multicultural exchange, have the task to work together, building a future out of present realities and the dreams and visions of our past;

Now, therefore, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors designates the year 1992, as the Columbus Encounter Quincentennial Year, a time to reflect together with appropriate pride and humility our history and our shared heritage;‟

Be it furthered designated that the Board supports and encourages commemorations of this year which celebrate the gifts of each culture contributing to the nation we know today, recognizing all people and reflecting on the future we have in Humboldt County.

The Board of Supervisors passed this proclamation with great pomp and congratulations were shared around. I do not believe that we can understand the potential of such an act to the inner psyche of this community at this time. I also do not believe that we could have accomplished such cooperation among such disparate groups as the Knights of Columbus and the “Columbus Myth Free Zone” students prior to our service of memory and healing in February. When Mace asked me what my interest was in the reconciliation, I told him about my interest in the Wiyot people and Indian Island. He told me that his experience of the memorial service we held was very powerful. He felt that it moved him through great anger into a peace that allowed him to work constructively in the activities on campus toward the Columbus Myth Free movement and ultimately brought him together with Ernie and myself. The spirit does move in powerful ways. Another group formed, blossoming out of the ad hoc committee for the Indian Island memorial service,

which sponsored the multicultural day for October 12, 1992. The event was held at the Eureka City Recreation Hall and staged as the official celebration of Columbus Day in the quincentennial year. This evening was an interesting reminder of how far we had come, yet how far we were from mutual understanding. Ernie Domingo, from the Knights of Columbus was the Master of Ceremony for the evening, but there were no others from his group present. The Indian Drum from Humboldt State was present as well as a group from the Universal Dances for Peace, a white, new-age, “American Sufi” group and an “Interfaith Gospel Choir”, also all white. Foods were served from various traditions, and we moved into the evening with a festive air of sharing together. The close of the celebration was a time for people to share personal reflections in an “open mike” forum. A well-dressed white woman presented a “gift” to the gathering of a “talking stick” Taken from a Plains Indian tradition she created this object during a personal spiritual retreat. One takes the stick as one speaks and all others listen. When one is done speaking she passes the stick to the next speaker. The leader of the Indian Drum came to the mike and spoke, refusing to take the stick. With pain and anger he told us that the presentation of this object by a white woman was a blatant reminder of the continued usurpation of the natives‟ lives as the spiritual heritage of a people has often been adopted and marketed by the currently popular new-age spiritual movement. He and all the drummers walked out in protest at that point. An undaunted Master of Ceremony, Ernie moved to close the meeting by singing “America the Beautiful”. More people walked out. The people that


had remained through the song sat stunned at the incongruities and insensitivities of the past few minutes of the gathering. I let us sit in the sobering silence for some time before closing with a prayer for forgiveness and reconciliation. What a poignant reminder of how little we understand and how far we need to go. Still, I believe that all of these events and struggles are the workings of the spirit, as our angel struggles to know its calling, as we struggle to heal our woundedness in this community and become the people we are called to be. In February of 1993, we held another prayer vigil on the eve of the anniversary of the massacre. Nearly two hundred people attended this vigil. The Lumberjack, the newspaper of Humboldt State University, ran feature articles in its edition of March 3,1993 covering the vigil. The mayor of Eureka was, once again, not at the vigil, but the Lumberjack had an interesting comment from her. Two years after she said to me, “Just don‟t make us feel guilty”, she said of the ceremony, “The ceremony is a touching resemblance {sic} of man‟s inhumanity to fellow man. It is something we need to overcome in history.” (Lumberjack v.71#5,3/3/93:9) The angel is responding, albeit, slowly. While the statement is a bit convoluted and confusing, the power of Eureka, the mayoral seat, has come a long way. The movement of the spirit is mysterious and unpredictable in the task of speaking to the angel of the city. As we prepared for the 1994 memorial service, I had a phone call from a man who identified himself as the pastor of a non-denominational Pentecostal church in town. He said they had begun a


prayer group specifically to pray for the soul of Eureka. They had been praying together one night a week for several weeks now when it came to them that the massacre was at the center of the spiritual well being of Eureka. He had been speaking to someone about this, and they directed him to me. I told him that we would be having a memorial service in a few weeks and he and his group were most welcome to join those gathered. He asked if it was a Christian gathering. I responded that prayers would be offered from various religious traditions. Some would be Christian, but also some would be from non-Christian faith traditions. He said that they would not participate in any service that did not wholly and specifically raise up Jesus as Lord and Savior. What it was that spoke to the consciousness of his group, what led him to call me, and then could not lead them to participate was a mystery to me. I was sorry that their faith could not bring them together with us. Yes, the healing of a corporate entity is both a lengthy and a subtle process. I have watched the unfolding events in Humboldt County with an eye for changes in attitude that show in a moment and an ear to the sound of a changed heart that underlies our corporate life. Both are there to find.

The Church


First Congregational United Church of Christ in Eureka had affirmed her desire to be a Christian community. The angel‟s attention had been caught and her orientation turned. The week-by-week, season-by-season task was but to continually call her into worship as the Body of Christ and to faithfully preach the scriptural word. My personal experience with the power of the scriptures in the midst of the faith community convinced me of this. I brought forth the memory of the massacre to the congregation during a Thanksgiving service in 1990. I would never have occurred to me not to share this with my congregation as it became a part of my life and I knew it to be a part of the life of the city. The response was totally positive. One of the oldest members of the congregation, whose grandparents had been among the charter members in 1859 was very moved by the story, as I told it, and suggested that I present it to the historical society. The church was supportive of me in all the actions bringing the story forward in the city and creating the memorial services. While I was the only member of the congregation actively involved in the planning of the memorial services, the congregation stood behind offering the help necessary. They allowed the use of our insurance to issue a rider to cover the responsibility of insuring the memorial services, without which, the service could not have been held at the site. A large percent of the worshipping congregation was present at the memorial services. The wider church became involved through a grant from the United Church of Christ Office of Church in Society towards expenses of the 1992 Columbus Day gathering.


The critical point of involvement for the church was not a single incident but a growing response to the sister institutions both by the church as a body and by individuals within the church. The congregation began to take initiative, apart from my personal initiative, to speak to difficult issues. I was out of town for a few days just before Christmas one year when the winter rains hit with the City Council and County Commissioners still fighting about who was responsible for the homeless. The shelter, scheduled to open, did not. Within hours, members of the church council arranged to open the fellowship hall to the homeless. Their action precipitated other churches‟ participation and, finally , the local government‟s response. During the tensions of “Redwood Summer” the council voted to open up our hall for public discussion referred to as “Common Ground” where timber families and environmentalists came together to talk. During the Gulf War prayers for the Iraqi people were lifted up from the congregation every Sunday. The deacons sponsored a community workshop on AIDS and spirituality issues attended by more than one hundred health care workers. The invitation to discuss what it would mean to become an “Open and Affirming Church” and the eventual call for the question was initiated, planned and carried out by the deacons. A couple removed the flags from the sanctuary for their wedding ceremony. My point of involvement came as I was physically and spiritually unable to replace the flags myself, so the deacons had the task to replace them. They decided they were inappropriate in our sanctuary. While I supported these actions, they were not initiated by me.


I have always maintained that if one preaches the gospel the people will find the issues. This stand of mine was verified in a discussion during a deacons meeting where one deacon was relating a conversation that he had had with a parishioner who had complained that I was too political in the pulpit. The deacon agreed that I was political, but when he recalled the sermons, month by month he could not think of one which directly tackled a specific political issue. The congregation, however, had grown considerably in the willingness to risk speaking to local and national issues among themselves and in their community. They were Christ‟s Body, they were Christ‟s voice. They stood by these issues of justice and truth even in the face of difficult financial consequences. It was a big change for them. I would not be telling the whole story if I did not talk about the difficulties presented in the life of the congregation and of individuals as we moved intentionally toward becoming a community of faith. A community of faith is a community of individuals who have trusted God, and one another in Christ sufficiently enough to seek to live in truth, to speak truly, to hear truly and to see truly in the daily life they live. A community of faith is a discerning community. In coming to the position of trust, one must move into the life perception of spiritual awareness, in so doing one is able to slowly peel off the layers of self-preserving attitudes and actions that keep us from abundant life. As I reflect on the pains of both personal and institutional growth in spirit and truth over those years in Eureka I begin to understand the powerful symbol of the spider in my car that afternoon in 1991. The webbing of


interconnectedness in our lives as individuals living in complex spiritual corporate entities is endless. The lies that we live with institutionally affect our personal lives, and the lies that we live with in our personal lives affect our institutional lives. The consequences of evil, murderous acts as well as the consequences of life-giving, healing acts are intertwined. We cannot work toward the recognition, contrition and reconciliation of our corporate bodies without seeing clearly the brokenness in our personal lives. In the same way, we cannot work toward the recognition, contrition and reconciliation of our personal lives without clearly seeing the brokenness in our corporate lives. The webbing is tight and intricate. The task of seeing can be frightening, it can even seem life threatening. Like the spider on my dashboard, it can cause us to stop our spiritual searching and growing. When the light of truth is offered one must invariably stop and choose to walk into the light or remain in the darkness of lies. This is a difficult decision, and darkness often wins. The writer of the Gospel of John reminds us of this. This is the judgment, that the light had come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God. John 3:19-21

The time of the Persian Gulf War was a difficult time for many in the congregation in Eureka. As I mentioned earlier, the community was beset with a strong political bullying. If one did not support the war in the business

community one was boycotted. The atmosphere in the nation that rallied behind the war like a great sports event, drew many people into the rally who never bothered to question it. At the time of the bombing of Baghdad, one person lifted up the Iraqi people during the intercessory prayer in a worship service. Hearing that, another person walked out of the service and never returned. A woman quit the church with the comment that our way of thinking was so odd. The next several times I saw the woman she was wearing the sweatshirt with the picture of the U. S. flag and the caption, “These colors don‟t run”. The church in Eureka lost some members and supporters during that time, and subsequent times, but what was astonishing to me was the inevitable intertwining of the social/political issues and questions with the personal/family struggles and pains. One person left the church because of the implied antimilitary stance suggested in the response to the Gulf War, and when I visited him to talk about it, we talked, not about the war or the military but about the nasty divorce of a son whose wife claims that he was abusive. Another left the church over the decision not to place the national flag in the sanctuary. When I visited him I heard a story of his fulfilling a old promise to a friend in scattering the friends ashes in spite of the illegality of the act. A person left the church because we had begun discussing becoming an “Open and Affirming” congregation, publicly declaring our openness to all persons regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities. When I visited to talk with her I heard a bitter story of life-long job

discrimination she faced because of a limp. Families and close friends struggled with the truth of personal sexual orientation issues that had been previously hidden from one another. Each of us lives with a some layers of lies, whether mythological or actual. We think we need these lies to cope with the pains and disappointments in our daily lives. Our personal lies depend on the stability of our corporate lies in order to stay intact. But whether it is a corporate lie or a personal lie reconcilliation and wholeness cannot begin until it is disclosed. The amount of courage necessary to begin to peal away the layers of safety, to walk in the light and truth of our daily lives and our corporate lives, is unprecedented. We cannot do it alone. We can only do it in the company of others who have the faith that asserts that, not only is it possible to live in truth, but it is the only way possible to live. This is what a Christian faith community gives both to the individuals within its body and to the body as a whole. The community of faith embodies God‟s love and God‟s wisdom, sustaining the strength and courage to live as God has called us to live. This is the church‟s vocation.


The Traveler
Out on the windswept spiritual plains one doesn‟t walk with feet on the ground. Invisible, unknown I move through time. Flying high over the rock scarred mountains searching for Searching for something. Someone sent me to find it. It was lost somewhere up here where the mountains meet the river south, flowing south. It was described to me in detail. Great pains were taken that I should know every turn and corner, every line and color. I was shown many things like it. I smelled its smell. I tasted its taste. Don‟t forget. Don‟t forget what you are looking for. I forgot. I am searching, but I forgot what I am looking for. I remember the smell, but how do you look for a smell? It takes a long time to find something with your nose. The problem is that you have to go in very close. You have to get right into stuff and sniff. So I go walking. By walking I get down to earth. I get into the pain and dirt because it smells. It smells, and I am looking for a smell. In my dreams I still fly over the mountains and I look. In my dreams I know what I am looking for, but when I wake the knowledge vanishes. I walk all day looking for the smell, but it only comes as a whiff just before I fall asleep. A whiff in a moment.

Somewhere between that whiff and the knowledge of my dreams I will know what it is I am looking for. So I walk and dream, walk and dream. Someday I will remember. I will remember what I am looking for when I find it.

Personal Reflections
On January 1st of 1989, I resolved to challenge myself to preach extemporaneously, trusting in the power of the spoken, living word which is given in the midst of the gathered people. Previously, I had a written sermon fully prepared by Thursday of the week, which I would lay aside until Sunday morning. I was intellectually involved with the texts, but not emotionally. The sermon did not build out of the whole of the worship, rather it was offered as a thought into it. The preparation required for the task of extemporaneous preaching was significantly different than I had engaged in before. As a result of the change, I was changed. I began each week intellectually submerged in the texts, then I would live with them at a cognitive level all week. Whether in a meeting, visiting a parishioner, reading the newspaper, making dinner, falling asleep - at all times, the texts were on my mind. The biblical story became more alive and more compelling to me. Laying open the story of the massacre of the Wiyots in Eureka has also affected me deeply and personally. The story of the massacre took hold of my life and my imagination. I could no longer walk the streets of Eureka without seeing the egrets in the trees. As I drove through the cultivated neighborhoods I would see the deep thick ancient redwood forest that had grown there for

hundreds of years before the mid 1800‟s. The struggles between the homeless and the wealthy became the tensions between the natives and the settlers. The violence between the loggers and the environmentalist was the violence poured out that night in 1860. The work that we had done toward the reconciliation of the one action of the massacre had changed the way I looked at, and thus responded to, the political and social issues of the day. The sharing of that work with the congregation had changed the way they responded to the social and political issues of the day. I felt a deep level of spiritual healing and growth beginning in the town and in the congregation, but only time will tell whether the angel of the city and the angel of the church have been significantly affected.

We are not called to do everything, to heal everything, to change everything, but only to do what God asks of us. (Wink. 1992:307)

I felt myself pulled through the wholeness of understanding the situation in Eureka into another level of comprehension of the spiritual connections in our present social situation in a world context. I could no longer work in the specifics of the situation without stepping back and contemplating my personal involvement in the migration of people that breeds a murderous greed and the fear of securing one‟s own existence that keeps one from standing for truth. I knew that my call was completed in Eureka.




Eureka Times-Standard February 1992 by The Rev. Peggy Betzholtz First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eureka

Humboldt County has had more than its share of inner tension and turmoil in the past several months. With the high tensions of Redwood

Summer barely simmering we found ourselves reeling in the confusion of conflicting notions of patriotism. These great controversies were fueled by a fear of an uneasy economy which seems to be part of Humboldt‟s heritage. I am a relative newcomer to Eureka, closing off my fourth year in the community, but I am taken with the area. The beauty of the natural

surroundings quickly drew me in, but it was the people, the community itself, which had a life that holds a compelling interest for me - - the provincialism, the old families, the glorious times, the trying times the history of political tensions, the rowdiness, the slowness of pace that seems to defy the modern world, the big bosses, the pioneers - - Eureka seems to be a community with a complex past and an uncertain future. We are a community in spiritual crisis.

In Deuteronomy 5 we read the words, “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation . . .” More often than not this verse seems too harsh and difficult for us, we read it as a curse from God, rejecting it because it in not a part of the gracious, loving God we know. Fortunately for our science-loving minds, modern psychology had taught us to hear the wisdom of these words. We know now. for instance, that often an abusive adult was an abused child. This window of knowledge invites us back into the wisdom of the scriptures, and we begin to hear them, not as a threat or curse from an angry God, but as a statement of truth, a description of reality. We are in turn invited to have the courage to look honestly at our own lives, the lives of our parents and our parent‟s parents with clarity and honesty as we seek to break cycles of sinfulness and dis-ease and build cycles of love and wholeness. In listening to this invitation we begin the spiritual journey of healing and growth. We, the community of Eureka, even the larger community of Humboldt County, have the potential of being a powerful, life-giving community, but at present, we are a troubled soul. Our tensions, our economic uneasiness, and our provincialism are symptoms of the troubled soul which is the very core of our being. Even as generations pass, as people move in and move out it remains the core of our being. We must have the courage, as a community, to seek out our past, to hear with a deep honesty both the accomplishments and the atrocities that built the city and surrounding communities that we know today. A day in the Humboldt Room of our county library brought me some clear insights into the origins of our troubled soul. Within ten years of the

discovery of Humboldt Bay by the European-Americans thousands of natives were killed and thousands of acres of redwood forests felled. These acts were not done by us, and for most of the current population, it was not done by our grandparents and great-grandparents, but we are now part of the community and as such we share in the “sin of the parents”. Unless we are able to acknowledge them and move towards reconciling ourselves to the earth and to the living native people we can not know spiritual health, wholeness or growth as a people. At this time of year the white egrets are nesting in the trees on Indian Island. The tree-tops crowded with birds are a beautiful sight from many points of downtown Eureka and particularly from the drive down “I” Street. Perhaps this is our first eye into our past. Some people say that the egrets are the souls of the people who were murdered on Indian Island. On February 25, 1860, three simultaneous raids on sleeping Indian villages, one on Indian Island, one on the mouth of the Eel River, and one on the South Jetty, killed an estimate of 200-300 people. In 1964 Indian Island was named a National Historic Site, but as a community, we have not recognized this part of our history well. The historic plaque has never been placed. Public recognition of this important aspect of our history will not take away the sin of our past, but it is a beginning, it is a turning around from the cycle of dis-ease that we live under and a promise of a new future. The spiritual health and wholeness of our community is dependent on our beginning this task.


Indian Island Memorial poster #1


Eureka Times-Standard October 10, 1992 Rev. Peggy Betzholtz First Congregational United Church of Christ A Pastoral letter from the United Church of Christ Office of Church in Society reminds us of the deep significance of this year in our reflections on Columbus day: “The past can‟t be changed,‟ some people argue, „so why look back?‟ But as Christians, we know the power of history: Moses. Ruth. David. The Prophets. Jesus of Nazareth. Their stories -- of courage and fear, integrity and betrayal, death and resurrection -- still speak to us, shaping and guiding our lives.


Like the biblical stories, the story of Columbus also recounts a past event, and the way we interpret it shapes our present living. If we celebrate his arrival as a „discovery‟ and accept his claiming of land for the Spanish crown, we deny the personhood and land rights of the people already living here. Our ongoing domination of Latin America and the Middle East in our quest for cheap raw materials then becomes a logical extension of a policy of disregard for other people which began with the decimation of the Arawak Indians and the conquest of the Americas. On the other hand, if we hear and learn from the perspective of native and oppressed people, we may be led to take part in the ongoing struggle for justice and thus prepare for the multicultural future which is already dawning.” We must know that the myths that we live by shape who we are and how we interact in community. At the same time who we are and how we interact in community build the myths that we live by. It is an intricate and powerful dynamic that shapes both the corporeal and spiritual identities of communities. At times it may seem like a hopelessly tight cycle that cannot be broken. This dynamic is powerful, but it is not closed. By calling forth and examining the myths and stories that build a community‟s identity, those stories and myths can be evaluated for their relevancy, accuracy and viability, enabling the community to consciously shape a new identity. It is imperative that we take on this task at this time in the history of our nation, and quite specifically here and now in Humboldt County. Think about the tasks that loom above us as a community. The

economic instability that is known nation-wide is exacerbated here by the heavy

dependency of the crisis-worn timber industry. The rate of crimes, and the violent nature of those crimes has increased steadily. Drug abuse,

homelessness, loss of funding for education, healthcare crisis . . . My friends, you and I know the immensity of the problems. We know the amount of creative problem solving, financial resources and hours of meetings that are dedicated to these tasks. Our future is before us. Where will we go? When I think about who we are, and where we are, I get an image of a family at a picnic. All the people are busy swatting at the bees coming in and brushing the ants off the blanket. One is proud of his creative attempt to corral the ants, another is blaming her sister fro drawing them in, and one is only concerned with those by his own food. Everyone is so busy with the

overwhelming problem at hand that no one notices the open jar of honey that is drawing the insects. Take the time to find the jar, close it and put is away, then you can begin to deal with the ants and bees with some success. It takes a lot of time from some committed citizens for a community to name and evaluate its myths and stories. We have not done it before so it is difficult to know how to do it, but we can start, and we must start. This Monday night a community forum will be held at the Adorni Center from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. In an atmosphere reflecting the multicultural nature of Humboldt County we will share together our understanding of who we are and how we grow into the future. Come and share in the story. It is what makes us a people.


An Observance...

COLUMBUS ENCOUNTER DAY: A Day to Reflect on the Next 500 Years
Monday, October 12 6:00pm to 9:00pm The Adorni Center, Eureka

6:00pm Gathering with music and Refreshments 6:30 Welcome Master of Ceremonies: Ernie Domingo of The Knights of Columbus Invocation The Rev. Peggy Betzholtz of First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eureka Cultural Presentations: The HSU Drum The Multicultural Interfaith Gospel Choir

Tai Chi Chuan students Introduction of speakers: Ernie Domingo Speakers: Julie Fulkerson, County Supervisor, Third District Rabbi Les Scharnberg, Temple Beth El, Eureka Cheryl A. Seidner, Wiyot Tribal Member Presentation of the Talking Stick: Ellen Moore Open Forum: Moderated by Ernie Domingo 8:45 Closing Ceremony: HSU Drum Benediction: The Rev. Peggy Betzholtz Special Thanks to the following for their donations which made this evening possible: Two Street Music Eureka Baking Company Ramone‟s Bakery North Coast Cooperative Cherry Blossom Pastries The Hunan Restaurant

Co-sponsored by the Rhododendron Retreat Center Inc., The Indian Island Memorial Committee and the United Church of Christ.

Eureka Times-Standard February 27, 1993 The Rev. Peggy Betzholtz First Congregational United Church of Christ, Eureka

In 1849 Humboldt Bay was discovered as an ideal location for a settlement of the westward expansion of the white-European peoples. The historians describe the task ahead for the white settlers. “The Indians, uncertain in their movements and idle in their habits vs the settlers, men of character, men of ambition, indomitable will and never flagging perseverance.” The stage is


thus set for the accepted violence against these natives.

Words were not

couched in subtle terms; the Eureka Times by 1859 was calling for nothing less than the complete eradication of these people. This atmosphere made the night of February 25, 1860 possible. On this night there were three simultaneous raids on sleeping Indian villages, one on the south jetty, one at the mouth of the Eel River and one on Indian Island, in the midst of the town of Eureka. With knives and hatchets fifty men killed perhaps as many as two and three hundred people that night. This was one act of many by which fifteen hundred

Europeans killed or displaced over ten thousand native people in less than ten years to claim this land. One journalist of the day had the audacity to say, “the problem is now contained, the Indians worn out by fruitless contest were glad to accept the easy fate of life on the reservation, and we now live in peaceful coexistence.” Today we are facing economic changes and challenges in Humboldt County. The changes frighten us. The fears and tensions of today are deep, sometimes they seem irrational, and they are the same as the fears and tensions that invited the murders of the past. The spiritual and psychological reaction to the participation in those murders must have left a wound in this community‟s soul. In search for an understanding of this soul woundedness, a discernment of the dis-ease, and avenues that invite healing, I have looked to the prophet Micah as a teacher. In chapter 2, verses 1-5, Micah addresses the guilty wielders of power directly, naming specific crimes and declaring God‟s specific punishment. Those who coveted another‟s land will find themselves landless. Micah calls

out to his colleagues on behalf of his people. He calls to those who “work evil in their beds, and carry it out at morning‟s light”. The planning and devising that becomes the drive and vocation for those in power who are consumed with greed are the core of evils being spoken to. Greed linked to power becomes very dangerous; every individual landholder stands to become a victim of such overwhelming evil. From their greed they “plan iniquity”. “Iniquity” („awen) is a word from the Hebrew Scripture vocabulary used to denote deeds which are destructive of the community‟s well-being. It identifies an act as the expression of a power intent on the violation of the order set by God to preserve and augment the life of individuals in their community. Micah is concerned not only for the

individuals in the midst of the community, he is concerned for the community itself. The “iniquity” planned is violating individuals, but it is destroying the community. The result of this imaginative planning quickly matures into brutal acts of violence against property and against people. These acts, specified by

Micah, are recorded in verse 2. “They covet fields and seize them, houses and take them.” Covetousness is the impulse that drives them to commit the

resultant criminal acts. After the crimes have been enumerated, there is the announcement of doom. The extent and nature of the punishment are established by the extent and nature of the crime. Those who have harmed will be harmed. Those who planned iniquity, have iniquity planned against them. The funeral dirge of woe from the prophet, now comes from the mouth of their own. This is an evil day,

not only for the powerful, but for all the people. Just as they have laid an unremovable yoke upon those from whom they have stolen their integrity, so they will find a yoke upon themselves which they cannot remove. With the taking on of the yoke the image is of the powerful becoming powerless. The white settlers who came to Humboldt County in the 1850‟s were possessed with the covetousness nature Micah describes. They were obsessed and lay in their beds the night of February 25, 1860 waiting for the agreed upon time in the wee hours before dawn to attack and kill the Wiyot tribe gathered for a religious ceremony. They committed a great “iniquity” as they destroyed the well-being of a full community. And now the community of Humboldt County is being threatened; the population of Humboldt County lives with great dis-ease and anxiety. We the people have enjoyed the quiet accumulation of wealth and power. Timber has been the main industry giving the wealth. During the past ten years much of the timber rights, lands and mills have been bought out by multinational corporations. Where ownership had been spread across several dozen families, now most timber interests lie in the hands of a few companies, and so, seemingly, the economic fate of the community. The level of anxiety is phenomenal, yet we cannot name the cause because we are blind to the evil on which we, as a community, were conceived, namely, the murder of the native peoples for the possession of their land. It would almost appear that retribution is being meted out measure for measure. “Therefore you shall have no one to cast a measuring line by lot in the assembly of God. . .” In the redistribution of the land, when the remnant poor

and the imported Assyrians would cast a cord (the line) by lot, the once wealthy would have no part. The populace of Humboldt County feels great economic anxiety - much of it not acknowledged - as it feels squeezed out between the spotted owl and the multinational timber companies. In Micah, the splitting of the land was between the poor, from whom the land was stolen over time and Assyria, a power like that judged as evil, but much greater. Just so, Humboldt County is caught between nature, which had been stolen from, and the multinational timber companies, a power very specifically like them in nature and design, but infinitely more powerful. The anxiety and dis-ease of today comes from the sense of being caught between an exhausted and exploited ecosystem and the indifference of the multinational corporations. How can we begin to move out from under this yoke of destruction? At this time last year, the anniversary date of the massacre at Indian Island, a memorial service was held. That public recognition of this important aspect of the history of Humboldt County did not take away the sin of our past, but it was a beginning, the only beginning, to spiritual healing. It was a turning around from the cycle of dis-ease that we live under and a promise of a new future. We are gathering again, this night, Saturday, February 27th for a prayer vigil on Woodley Island from 6 to 8 p.m. The reason for these spiritual tasks are not always clear to us, but the necessity is. We need to place ourselves in the hands of God for spiritual healing, for the sake of those murdered in 1860, for the sake of the murderers and for the hope of our own future.


Indian Island memorial poster #2




Bledsoe, A. J. 1885 Indian Wars of the Northwest. Bacon and Co. San Francisco. Chaney, M. L.

1985 “The Tenth Commandment as a Proscription of Latifundialization.” Unpublished paper given to the faculty of the United Theological College, Bangalore, India. ---1985 “Latifundialization and Prophetic Diction in Eighth Century Israel and Judah”. Unpublished paper for the SBL/ASSOR Sociology of Monarchy Seminar. Anaheim, CA. ---1989 “Bitter Bounty: The Dynamics of Political Economy Critiqued by the Eighth Century Prophets”: Reformed Faith and Economics, ed. R. Stivers. University Press of America. Lanham. MD. Dawson, John. 1989 Taking Our Cities for God. Creation House. Lake Mary. FL. Edwards, Tilden. 1980 Spiritual Friend, Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction. Paulist Press. New York. Ellul, Jacques. 1970 The Meaning of the City. William B. Eermans Publishing Company. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Heizer, Robert F. ed. 1974 The Destruction of the California Indians. Pereguine Smith Inc. Santa Barbara, CA and Salt Lake City, Utah. ---1974 They Were Only Diggers: A Collection of Articles from California Newspapers 1851-1866 on Indian and White Relations. Ballena Press, Ramona, CA. Humboldt County Schools. 1953 Indians of Humboldt County. Humboldt County Schools. Jones, Alan. 1977 Journey Into Christ. Harper and Row, San Francisco. Kellerman, Bill Wylie. 1991 Seasons of Faith and Conscience: Kairos, Confession, Liturgy. Orbis. Maryknoll, NY.


1989 “The Angel of Detroit”. Sojourners. October 1989. pg. 16-21. Washington, D.C. Lenski, G.E. 1984 Power and Privilege: A Theory of Social Stratification. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill.

Mangam, Susan, S.T.R. 1992 “Sing to the Lord a New Song”. Weavings. Vol. VII, No.6. Nov/Dec 1992. pgs.7-11. Mays, James Luther. 1976 Micah. Westminster Press. Philadelphia. Merwin, Henry Childs. 1911 The Life of Bret Harte. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston and New York. Norton, Jack. 1979 When Our Worlds Cried: Genocide in Northwestern California. Indian Historical Press. San Francisco. Stewart, George R. Jr. 1931 Bret Harte, Argonaut and Exile. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston and New York. Stringfellow, William. 1973 An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land. Word Books. Waco, Texas. Williams, Daniel Day. 1990 The Demonic and the Divine. Fortress Press. Minneapolis. Wink, Walter. 1984 Naming the Powers. Fortress Press. Philadelphia. ---1986 Unmasking the Powers, The Invisible Forces That Determine Human Existence. Fortress Press. Philadelphia. ---1992 Engaging the Powers, Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination. Fortress Press. Minneapolis. ---1973 The Bible in Human Transformation, Towards a New Paradigm for Biblical Study. Fortress Press.

---1992 “All Will Be Redeemed”. The Other Side. Nov/Dec 1992. Philadelphia, PA.

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Description: The story told in these pages is the story of the work four of us did in Eureka, California in the early 1990’s to bring a healing to the memories and energy surrounding the massacre of the Wiyot nation in 1860. Cheryl Siedner and Lyonna Wilkerson are sisters and members the Wiyot Tribe, native to the Humboldt Bay. Marilee Rohde is a Humboldt County, California native. At that time, I was the pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ of Eureka. The public consciousness brought forth by the Columbus Quincentenial surely was an impetus for the work at that time, but I now recognize that the times we are living in today are far riper for the task. In this particular massacre, the church was a party. First Congregational of Eureka was chartered in 1857. It is often the case that histories of the Congregational churches are intertwined with the incidents around the eradication and/or containment of the indigenous peoples of North America. It is our history. So you will see the call for the church to be a leader in the necessary healing. The four of us, Cheryl, Leonna, Marilee and I thus represented the parties involved in the massacre, the Wiyot, the Euro/American settlers and the church. This full representation is necessary for the healing. We are living in a valuable time for transformation on this earth. Humankind is particularly vulnerable in the next few years. This vulnerability, however, presents a most propitious opportunity for healing. We can change the face of human interactions in the Americas and in the world if we choose to act in this time and in the particular places of woundedness. We know that the present nations of the Americas were built on the murders of the indigenous people and massacres of the indigenous nations. This is a part of the soul of the Americas that still bleeds. The enormity of the woundedness is overwhelming, but the work of healing must be done. We cannot heal the wounds except by going into