Nailing the Theses to the Church Door

Reverend Holly Haile Davis, DD of the Shinnecock Indian Nation was the first Native American woman ordained in the Presbyterian Church. She currently is the pastor of the Presbyterian Churches in Remsenberg and in East Moriches. Reverend Davis delivered a sermon on Tuesday March 28 to members of the Long Island Presbytery and guests at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. Although the sermon included strong criticism of the Church, it received generous applause from the congregation.

Reverend Davis says the "sermon has come from deep within my spirit; and has been brought forth because I can do no other - but to stand and share my vision when asked to do so. I have sought to come to a new understanding of my life as one of the Great Spirit's Shinnecock children as well as one who continues to struggle with those Presbyterian sisters and brothers who are colleagues and yet often unable to hear or see me and my relatives. It is with great trust in that which I cannot see - yet know to be, that I offer this 'grain of sand' that it might in some way help build, our vision of a more just world. Tabutne."

The complete sermon can be found at this site at
Three Moons in Another's Moccasins.

Here are some excerpts:

"Justice is about systems and the impact of systems on people."

Not far from this spot in 2006 there are families with very modest houses who are very recently the objects of, not an outpouring of concern for justice in this most wealthy of communities in the whole wide world today, rather there are reports of "real estate hungry folk" trying to get these people to sell their houses - by phone calls and by knocking on doors and windows, and hitting and pounding on exterior walls late in the night. Gentrification. That's when affluent people buy properties, and displace the resident poor. Let me be very clear about this: the home owners whose walls are being beat upon in the middle of the night are African American families; while affluent new comers with an insatiable appetite for mini and mega Hamptons mansions, are white.

And from the Presbyterian Church's church-wide policy statement, entitled, "We may be Brothers and Sisters after All" regarding 'who the Presbyterian Church will be' in relation to Native American Indian People'. And I quote the findings of our own denomination: "The First Americans are the most deprived and the most isolated minority group in our nation. On virtually every scale of measurement - employment, income, education, health - the conditions of the Indian people rank at the bottom... [and] The inheritor of defeat, the Indian remains a stranger in their homeland - America's prisoner of war. Despite three centuries of systematic effort to destroy or absorb the American Indian, they show no sign of disappearing. Their culture has been deeply and purposely eroded, yet it persists. Their alienation increases while their numbers grow. The American Indian, the first American, today is the most invisible of the invisible poor." (UPCUSA WeMayBeBrothers p.6)
One of the biggest and most important questions in our global community today is a question that goes, even beyond, "Do nations have the right, to do within their own borders, what they wish?" is the question of whether or not certain nations ought to be allowed to 'be'.

My own 'take' on Jesus' understanding of the prophets is that divine worship doesn't excuse the Church from seeking divine Justice.

The Jesus I see stands with the prophets against temple worship that, rather than empowering justice, excuses folks from it; and in that I see a Jesus who also stands against those forms of Christianity that are used
throughout the centuries to support imperial violence and injustice.

Three Moons in my Moccasins will reveal to you that the State of New York and the Township of Southampton and, now, the Gristedes millionaires have joined 'the pack' of those who are challenging the Shinnecock Nation's right to exist. We have been hauled into federal court; we have been maligned and smeared in the media; we have survived in our ancestral lands not because of the grace of our neighbors and their churches, and not because of the kindness of the officials - I cannot name even one who holds elected office on this day who has taken up the cause of justice for the marginal community that is my own.

And yet basic human dignity issues such as substandard and unsafe housing continues to plague our community. Employment opportunities we've attempted to create have been thwarted and now there is a whole lot of wealth and power behind the effort to take away the small industry with which we as Indian People are now feeding 10% of our own population.

We, together; all of us, those of us affiliated with the Presbyterian Churches of the Presbytery of Long Island are those who are in communion and in community with the powers-that-be who support and benefit from policies and practices that thrive on the continuance of political oppression, economic exploitation and religious legitimation feeding the system that dominates and brings violence to our lives.