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Prayerful Preparation event readies conference for Sand Creek anniversary

November 30, 2014

Above: Bishop Elaine Stanovsky speaks to attendees of the Sand Creek Massacre 150th Commemoration and opening of the 16th Annual Spiritual Healing Run on Nov. 29, 2014. Photo by Charmaine Robledo, Mountain Sky Area

"Today we honor and share our tears with our Native American sisters and brothers," said Rev. Dr. Michael Dent, of Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver, during the Prayerful Preparation gathering held Nov. 29 at Eads United Methodist Church for the Sand Creek Massacre 150th anniversary.

Dent added that Nov. 29 was "not a celebration, it is a commemoration."

"Tears are our most appropriate response," he said.

On Nov. 29, 1864, more than 600 U.S. Army volunteer soldiers -- led by Methodist ordained minister John Chivington -- attacked a peaceful camp of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes near Sand Creek. Nearly 200 women, children and elderly in the camp were killed and many more left wounded. Soldiers carried and paraded the body parts of the dead through the streets of Denver.

Tears are our most appropriate response." - Rev. Dr. Michael Dent, of Trinity United Methodist Church in Denver.

In 1999, the Spiritual Healing Run & Walk was established to reclaim the trail the soldiers used to parade the mutilated bodies of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Members of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone annual conferences attended the opening of the 16th Spiritual Healing Run & Walk, held at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site east of Eads.

Prior to the opening, the Rocky Mountain Conference held a Prayerful Preparation gathering with a time of reflection and education on the Sand Creek Massacre. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky led the event, which included a screening of a documentary on Sand Creek and a panel with Native American pastors Jerry Boles and Norman Mark.

"Never walk an unforgiving man," said Mark. "Always forgive. ... You'll never forget, but in the process you'll heal."

Mark, a Navajo, said he teaches forgiveness and healing with his new church in Cortez, Colo., called Native Grace Intertribal Fellowship. He said that at the Sand Creek site, he'll play his flute "so they can sleep well."

During the 150th Commemoration and opening of the Spiritual Healing Run at the Sand Creek site, direct descendants of the massacre survivors spoke about their heritage and the meaning of this anniversary. Several thanked those in attendance for taking the time to be out at the site and participating in the commemoration events.

You'll never forget, but in the process you'll heal." - Pastor Norman Mark, of Native Grace Intertribal Fellowship in Cortez, Colo.

Reginald Killsnight, Sr., a chief from the Northern Cheyenne tribe, spoke at the opening ceremony and led a chief's song, along with other tribal leaders. The solemn song invited participants to listen for the voices of the Sand Creek Massacre victims and pray for continued healing.

After the opening ceremony, participants walked to the site's Monument Hill to see where the actual event took place.

Rev. Linda Bibb, of University Park United Methodist Church in Denver, said going to the Sand Creek site has a "sacredness" to it. "When you hear the wind, you can hear the voices. The site connects us to all humanity," she said.

For more photos of the Prayerful Preparation gathering and Sand Creek Massacre 150th Commemoration, click here.


Below: The headdress of Chief Phillip Whiteman, Jr., of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, blows in the wind at the Sand Creek Massacre National Historical Site during the 150th Commemoration and opening of the 16th Annual Spiritual Healing Run & Walk. Photo by Charmaine Robledo, Mountain Sky Area