by Alison Berger Boor
I’ve had many opportunities over the past few years to participate in Zoom meetings from far away places, and recently I’ve been hearing the same kind of opening: “We begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather. . .” (or, the land where the Zoom is originating) “is the ancestral home of the _______ people.” Once you’ve heard this several times, you start to wonder, and then you get online and look up your own location.
My congregation, St. John’s in Whitehall, Pa., is surrounded by suburban homes, highways, and shopping malls, but at one time, the Lenni-Lenape people lived here and walked on this land. So many of the place names in this eastern Pennsylvania county were gifts from the first people, yet we’ve become so used to them that we forget where they came from.
In St. John’s narthex hangs our proudly framed Reconciled in Christ certificate, but it looks lonely. Perhaps we could make a document ourselves, acknowledging our Lenni-Lenape predecessors. I began with wording from a Women of the ELCA source and ran it by our pastor. Something was missing – confession. We’re still working on the correct wording, and the correct look of the finished piece. But I look forward to the day when the certificates hang together in our narthex, welcoming all and confessing that we can do more to welcome, remember, and honor.
Alison Berger Boor is a member of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Whitehall, Pa. where she is currently serving as council president.
For help in identifying the native tribes upon whose land you currently reside, visit this site.
Download a land acknowledgement guide from the ELCA.