Readers, please accept this invitation to communicate with "Soundings," either to react to articles in this issue of In Trust or to comment on other issues of concern to leaders in theological education. Feel free to be provocative, but do limit your letters to a maxi-mum of 350 words. All letters are subject to editing. Our e-mail address is

Canada’s residential schools have left an often-bitter legacy with serious financial repercussions.
A Reality Unstated

The reality that Kathy Blair does not develop in her writing is the colonial process that took shape early in Canadian history. Land resources were taken, but the aboriginal people continued to be self-sufficient in many villages. 

On my isolated reservation in Manitoba, we were self-sufficient in the 1940s. We had very limited financial resources, but the hunting, trapping, fishing, and small gardens allowed us to be economically independent when the resources were shared in the community. The physical isolation also allowed us to be self-governing, with the only significant disruptions being the churches and the schools.

The tragedy of our journey as aboriginal peoples in Canada is that we survived generations of oppression from governments who impoverished us on small tracts of land and churches who attacked our spirituality and culture, only to be victimized through dependence on "social welfare handouts."

The impact of generations of aggressive attacks on our culture has destroyed much of our self-esteem. I spent five years in an Indian residential school, and I experienced the erosion of my positive identity as a Cree person. As residential school survivors we are working to rediscover ways of healing ourselves so that we can address the pain of our experiences in this society and get on with creative living. 

I would also suggest the future of some churches in Canada is "shaky" because many non-aboriginal church members cannot acknowledge that the church now has responsibility for its history. Canadians do not know the history of Canada as it relates to the victimization of aboriginal peoples, and many persons, including Christians, are furious that "Indians" are taking money from "their" church. 

Racism directed against aboriginal peoples is growing. As the media tells the story of the litigation process, it is likely to be very tense in church gatherings. Those of us who are aboriginal and Christian may be increasingly marginalized in the church and society.

I agree with the premise that the government of Canada should carry the primary responsibility for the results of residential schools. Government policy and financial commitment to this "system" of "education" places the matter in their hands. It is also clear that the churches were committed to supporting a program that can be described as "cultural genocide," and thus the apologies from the four historic missioning churches were relevant to the situation. The litigation process will involve both Canada and the churches.

Kathy Blair does an excellent background article about the threat of litigation on the financial future of the churches. She also correctly indicates the most significant impact may come in the area of costs related to "cultural genocide." The mission goals outlined in church archives would substantiate some of the claims that will be brought. The question is what awards Canadian courts will make in the cases now before them.

Stan McKay
Winnipeg, Manitoba

The Reverend Stan McKay is working in spiritual care at a Bausejour, Manitoba hospital, on leave from directing the Jesse Saulteaux Centre, a theological training school for aboriginal students in the United Church of Canada. He is a former moderator of the United Church of Canada.

Seeking Alternatives
Kathy Blair's article on the residential school crisis caught my eye at once since I have recently taken on a part-time position (in addition to my teaching duties at Regis College) in the administration of our Jesuit province, with special responsibility for the legal portfolio that deals with the abuse issues of residential schools. Notably, the Jesuits, unlike some other church groups suspicious of the Canadian federal government, have agreed to move towards a pilot alternative dispute resolution project for the one residential school that the Jesuits operated in northern Ontario. Jesuits were not big actors on the residential school scene in Canada, but still the potential implications for us are quite staggering. 

I am learning lots about litigation and how insurance companies work. Our first objective, as is that of all the church bodies involved in this, is healing and reconciliation, but once large sums beyond our scope are involved, you get into a highly adversarial legal system that ends up re-victimizing the victims in an attempt to weed out bogus claims. Thus far we have been able to reach settlements and avoid trials. I thought that In Trust's article was thorough and balanced and did refer to the issues that might impact theological education in Canada. I am very grateful for it, and I will show it to many people, in and out of theological education, who are interested in what we, the Canadian Jesuits, and others are up to in this area. My hunch is that for some churches there will be lower grants and subsidies to their theological schools. That, in turn, will force the schools to be more proactive in the funding area. In some similar court cases, school buildings supposedly held in trust are in serious danger of being sold to pay off adverse judgments. Caveant board members! 

Jean-Marc Laporte, S.J.
Toronto, Ontario 

The Reverend Jean-Marc Laporte, S.J., a professor at Regis College is former director of the Toronto School of Theology and a former member of the In Trust Advisory Council. 

The Spring 2000 issue is, as usual, very good. I do, however, have one complaint: The announcement of my retirement, with its statement that I did not "receive the usual second five-year term," implies that I wanted a second term, but was turned down. That is not the case. When I agreed to serve as dean of the Yale University Divinity School four years ago, I thought it highly likely that I would serve only five years--at most six or seven.

For both personal and institutional reasons, it became clear to me this year that five years would be enough. This is my twentieth year of full-time senior administration, and I am at a good age to retire. The school is healthy again, with the crises that brought me here resolved. 

By the way, it is also inaccurate to suggest that the compromise rebuilding plan is a "capitulation" to a group of insurgents. One of the best things about the difficult process of reaching this plan is that people of widely varying views about the school's facilities were able to accept a plan that met the major concerns of most of us. For the sake of theological education at Yale, we have a broad consensus, not winners and losers.

Richard J. Wood
New Haven, Connecticut

Richard J. Wood is the dean of Yale University Divinity School.

Editor's Note: In preparing the article on Richard J. Wood's stepping down, In Trust's editor violated his own rule of always seeking comment from people who are mentioned in material intended for publication, especially if the report could be construed as critical. As a consequence of this omission, In Trust failed to publish an appropriately balanced account. The editor apologizes to Dean Wood and to In Trust's readers.

Happy Relationship
The long-standing relationship between Fourth Presbyterian Church and McCormick Theological Seminary has enriched the life of this congregation in many ways. McCormick's current president, Cynthia Campbell, preaches periodically at Sunday worship, and McCormick faculty generously participate as teachers in our new adult education initiative, the Academy of Faith and Life. Cynthia's predecessor, David Ramage, also preached here, and his predecessor, Jack Stotts, played a critical role at Fourth Church during two important transitions. When my predecessor, Elam Davies, retired, Jack served as interim preacher and head of staff, and, because he and his wife Virginia were members of the worshiping congregation, provided a welcome continuity and balance. A few years later when I was elected moderator of the 208th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1996, the session invited Jack, who had just retired as president of Austin Theological Seminary, to return to Chicago and serve as permanent supply preacher for a year--which he did. The very happy result was that I returned from a year of service and traveling for the General Assembly to a congregation stronger in every way than I left it.

McCormick Theological Seminary has always been a creative part of the life of this congregation, and the staff, officers, and members are grateful and eager to continue this good arrangement in the very interesting years that lie immediately ahead for the seminary and this church.

John M. Buchanan
Chicago, Illinois

The Reverend John M. Buchanan is the pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.

Announcing a New Seminar Series
The Editor and the Board of Directors of In Trust Inc., are pleased to announce the award of a grant of $400,000 by the Lilly Endowment, Inc., in support of a second three-year series of In Trust seminars on good faith governance for North American graduate theological schools. All seminars will be at the Center for Continuing Formation, St. Mary's Seminary and University, Baltimore. The new series includes three types of seminars: 

1. Core Seminars. For schools seeking to strengthen the capacity of their boards to plan for and address their most important institutional issues. Includes a pre-session for chief executives and board chairs.

Participants: Eight schools, each to be represented by a team of four, including the chief executive and board chair with two other board leaders.

Cost: Patron schools, $1,000 tuition for the team (Non-patrons, $1,250). All costs of travel, food, and lodging are covered by the grant.

Dates: November 29-December 1, 2000; March 29-31, 2001; September 27-29, 2001; September 26-28, 2002.

2. Alumni Seminars. For schools that previously participated in the core seminars offered since 1998 to deepen board governance practices on behalf of mission.

Participants: Eight schools, each to be represented by a team of four, including the chief executive and board chair with two other board leaders.

Cost: Patron schools, $1,000 tuition for the team (Non-patrons, $1,250). All costs of travel, food, and lodging are covered by the grant.

Dates: November 1-3, 2001; November 7-9,2002.

3. Fund-raising Seminars. For schools seeking to incorporate board leadership in their planning for institutional advancement.

Participants: Eight schools, each with a team of four, including the chief executive, board chair, chief development officer, and chair of the board's development or other related committee.

Cost: Patron schools, $2,000 tuition for the team (Non-patrons, $2,250). All costs of travel, food, and lodging are covered by the grant.

Dates: May 17-19, 2001; April 18-20, 2002.

Some scholarship assistance is available. To participate, write, fax, or e-mail the seminar director, Dr. Christa Klein, at St. Mary's Seminary and University, 5400 Roland Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21210. Fax: 410/864-4110. E-mail: <>. Questions may be directed to Dr. Klein at 410/864-4100.

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