Suzanne Ehly made two trips to work with communities of Indigenous and settler Anglicans within the Territory of the People. Her work included listening, learning, building relationships, leading workshops and coaching, to explicitly link their living into the Baptismal Covenant to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action. In addition to the ministry of being present and listening in a variety of settings, her workshops featured exercises that explore the physical voice – body, breath, and imagination – as an instrument, and how voice in community strengthens agency, witness and leadership within the church and beyond.
Deeply moved by the hospitality she experienced and the stories of intergenerational trauma, resulting from colonization she was privileged to hear, Ehly is inspired to continue working to build interdependent, vital, cooperative community, particularly within local faith communities. She differentiates between two interpretations of evangelism:
- the evangelism of empire: an evangelism that seeks to conquer/save/correct/impose/build walls that keep people in or out
- the evangelism of Jesus or evangelism of presence: an evangelism that seeks to urgently and patiently listen/trust/love/respect/invite/open doors/welcome, recognize and catch a glimpse of the inherent Divine or inherent Wisdom within all persons and all creation, for the building of just relationships and practices
She reflects that, “The brutal history of government and church run residential schools in Canada and the US and their intention of cultural destruction is an example of evangelism of empire. The hospitality of the Indigenous communities (even having lived through this history) is an example of the evangelism of Jesus or presence. I hope that my work on this project with each Indigenous and settler person was also an example of the evangelism of Jesus.”