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November 8, 2016
Published by Emmanuel on November 6, 2016. Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany is Partner Congregation of BPFNA ~ Bautistas por la Paz.
The Standing Rock Sioux people say that they are “Defending the Sacred” as they oppose the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline which would transport fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois. They are engaged in prayerful protest and non-violent resistance to protect themselves, their water and their land.
As members and friends of Emmanuel Baptist Church and as Christians who seek to imitate the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, we stand in solidarity with our Lakota and Dakota brothers and sisters. Theirs is a movement for justice undergirded with prayer. We add our prayers for a just and peaceful outcome to this conflict as we also defend the sacred.
We affirm the sacredness of human life, believing that every person bears the image of the Divine. Therefore, we are troubled by the apparent devaluing of members of the Sioux nation whose legitimate needs and concerns are being disregarded. Law enforcement officers, charged with protecting the well-being of all citizens, are intimidating peaceful protestors with the use of road blocks, helicopters and armored vehicles. They are disrupting prayer ceremonies to arrest water protectors, journalists and legal observers and charge them with rioting. Those arrested are subjected to the indignities of strip searches and attempts to depersonalize them by requiring them to undo traditional hair braids. We decry these efforts to violate and dehumanize and shame persons of sacred worth.
We affirm the sacredness of land, remembering the declaration in the book of Genesis that the creation is very good and in the Psalms that the earth is the Lord's. Since 2014, Standing Rock leaders have actively opposed the pipeline, voicing their objections to the company and state and federal government agencies through all legal means available. On Labor Day weekend, before the court could rule on paperwork submitted that Friday, Dakota Access moved equipment from 20 miles away and bulldozed a sacred site and a grave site and deployed tear gas and dogs against the unarmed protectors. The presence of the tribe and the existence of tribal lands were omitted from the original maps used by Dakota Access in its environmental assessment, in direct violation of our nation's environmental policies.
We affirm the sacredness of water, which is necessary for all life. The pipeline route goes under the Missouri River within a half-mile of tribal lands. A break in the pipe would pollute the drinking water for the tribe and millions downstream. The possibility of contamination is a very real danger. The original pipeline route was closer to the city of Bismarck and was rejected for posing the very same kind of threat to its water. With the water protectors, we affirm "Water is Life.” With the prophets of old, we proclaim "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a flowing stream."
In defense of the sacred and in solidarity with Jesus who identified with the oppressed, became incarnate on the earth and began his ministry in the baptismal waters of the Jordan River, we stand with Standing Rock.
Affirmed by the following individual members and friends of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Albany, New York:
Rev. Kathy Donley, pastor
Jan M. Curtis
Audrey L Ford
Samuel W. Hill
Brian L. HughesPatricia V. Hunziker
W. Robert Hunziker
Anthony Malone, MD
Ruth L. Pushee
Julia P. Shaw
Elaine L. Spoor
Rebecca A. Syltebo