Family members know each other’s stories. You know whether your sister has kids, what your brother did after highschool, what their childhoods were like, what gives them joy. But so much of the hurt and misunderstanding between Native peoples and others in North America comes from a lack of knowledge about where we are coming from, our common history. As the Body of Christ, do we know each other’s stories?

Teams of Native peoples and other North Americans, from both Canada and the United States, have put together an exercise called the Blanket Exercise, one American version and one Canadian version, which Synod 2015 called “a practical, powerful, experiential way to understand Native peoples’ history in the Canadian and American contexts.” That’s why representatives from across the CRC at Synod recommended that CRC congregations and classes participate in the Blanket Exercise before Synod 2016. Let’s learn our common story. Let’s get to know each other. Let’s live into the reality of the family we already are in Christ. 

Here’s more of what Synod 2015 had to say about the Blanket Exercise:

“In obedience to Hebrews 12: 14 and 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 to be reconciled, the Blanket Exercise is a proven method to enter into Native Peoples’ experience of inequality. The Blanket Exercise helps us live into other people's story no matter where we live. The Lord calls us to walk TOGETHER as we experience the hurtfulness done to people groups even as God in Christ walked amongst us and experienced our pain.”

Who is it for? All ages!

How long does it take? The exercise itself takes 45 minutes, and the debriefing takes another 45. We’ve found that the best learning happens during the debriefing—so don’t leave that part out!

What setting works? The Blanket Exercise has been done in council meetings, adult Sunday school classes, Sunday evening services, Sunday morning services, Classis meetings…you name it!

Click here for full video of the Canadian version (The exercise itself begins at 8:30 and the debriefing circle at 51:45.)

The Blanket Exercise was originally developed by KAIROS (a CRC Canada ecumenical partner) for use in Canada, and has now been adapted for use in the United States by the CRCNA, Mennonite Central Committee, and KAIROS.

Explore

Native American Heritage Month is a yearly opportunity to learn about Native peoples and cultures, and to celebrate the gifts that they bring to our life and society.
This task force is looking into the links between the theology of the colonizers of the “New World” and the relationship between Native peoples and the Christian Reformed Church.
What have other CRCers said about the Blanket Exercise? Scroll to the bottom of this page to find thoughts from Rev. John Van Sloten, Rev. Curtis Korver, Shannon Perez, and more.
The Blanket Exercise is just the beginning! If you’re looking to learn and grow more, here are some resources and ideas to get you started.