Hearts Exchanged is a learning and action journey designed to equip Reformed Christians to engage with Indigenous people as neighbours and fellow image bearers.
This co-learning setting models the sacred journey of reconciliation, preparing us as Christians to build relationships with Indigenous communities that are marked by mutual respect and reciprocity. Participants are transformed in their minds and hearts as they are invited into honest dialogue about the harms of colonialism, and encounter ‘hearts broken’ stories and experiences.
Hearts Exchanged is intended to result in a ripple effect: participants become catalysts, engaging their local churches in further dialogue and action, resulting in Canadian CRC churches that are communities of reconciliation and belonging.
Jesus Christ is supreme in the call to reconciliation of all things (Colossians 1): certainly in the unity, healing, and wholeness that the CRC aspires to as the diverse and unified body of Christ. Because of this, Hearts Exchanged is deeply informed by Indigenous theologians, centering our learning on scriptural principles of humility, peacemaking, repentance, and hospitality.
Please sign up for information on upcoming opportunities to participate in Hearts Exchanged, or contact us with any questions.
Is there a group in your congregation that has already done Hearts Exchanged (or desires to create a church-based cohort?) Would you like to access additional support from CRC staff and peers for another year, as you discern and implement a local reconciliation action plan? The CRC's Thriving Practices is partnering with Hearts Exchanged to bring select churches together to learn and practice beyond Hearts Exchanged.
Hearts Exchanged is inspired by a report written on a CRC cross-cultural ministry forum that took place in 2000. In this forum, people explored how to faithfully live, worship, and embody the gospel in diverse cultural settings. The event practiced the ‘exchanging of hearts’ through open and honest conversations of mutual discernment. In the end, the report noted repeated encouragement for regular church dialogue on racial reconciliation; to continue this exchanging of hearts.
However, that regular dialogue did not formally continue, and the self-determination of Indigenous Christians within the CRC and in neighbouring communities has continued to be questioned. This underscores the reality that the work of reconciliation is a long journey, shaped by Creator God, and deeply related to the contexts in which we are placed. It is important for us to see reconciliation not solely as a one-time event of regret, confession, and apology, but as challenging and deep work that wrestles with the unfortunate lack of diversity and belonging in our history and legacy of being the Church.
Who can participate?
Hearts Exchanged is open to anyone who is connected to the Christian Reformed Church in Canada (via our congregations, partnered ministries, or schools). We expect that those who participate in this 8-month learning journey will come with minds and hearts open to transformation as we will wrestle with the challenges and opportunities of reconciliation in our personal lives, local communities, and our CRC churches and institutions.
Participants should be willing and prepared to:
Commit to invest personal time and energy into the full 8-month journey
Learn from Indigenous perspectives about the impacts of colonialism
Have their mindsets and worldviews challenged, and to de-centre the assumptions of their own culture
Come with a posture of humility, understanding that the learning will likely be uncomfortable and unsettling
Attend and engage in all monthly sessions - (2hrs/month)
Complete self-guided online learning and small-group discussions between sessions - (3-4hrs/month)
Develop and live out a reconciliation action plan following the learning journey
The action plans are personalized, to each person's abilities and the assets they have in their local contexts. You don't need to be intimidated! The plan simply asks each person to consider what their next steps are to continue working towards reconciliation once they have completed their Hearts Exchanged journey.
Yes! Phase 1 content was developed directly by the Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation mobilizer. As Phase 2 content has been adjusted the program continues to consult with Indigenous people from within the CRC and the Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee.
The program relies on Indigenous ways of knowing directly informing the methodologies.
Many meaningful stories rose out of the 2000 Cross-Cultural Ministry Forum including this exchange. Dale Missyabit, a Indigenous staff from the Indigenous Family Centre in Winnipeg, spoke saying, “Yesterday was a rollercoaster day,” recalling times when he felt his heart had been “taken out and stamped on” as others questioned how his Native heritage fit with Christianity. In contrast, he added, “I had a really good exchange with Phil; I don’t think we agreed on anything, but it was beautiful to share in an open and honest way, to look at each other, to say I still love you.” These and other experiences of exchanging hearts is where the name arose and the hope for this series of cohorts.
Staff in collaboration with the members of the Committee for Contact with the Government and Canadian Indigenous Ministry Committee (which are both composed of church members from across the county) designed the initial proposal. Together staff Mike Hogeterp, Shannon Perez, and Darren Roorda presented the proposal to the Canada Corporation of the CRC in their May 2020 meeting. You can read more about what was presented in that meeting in this Banner article.
We are excited to announce the new logo representing the Hearts Exchanged process. This organic free flowing logo represents that way we hope conversations will flow and intertwine in the cohorts happening across Canada. The intersecting lines are meant to represent the reciprocity and exchange of ideas central to this process and are reminiscent of braided sweetgrass. The four colours in the logo are found in medicine wheels of many different Indigenous groups. The colours also point towards the cross-cultural nature of this process.
“The Hearts Exchanged journey has deepened my understanding and empathy for what has happened to Indigenous/Settler relationships in the past and is providing me with curiosity and conviction for what can be possible in the future. The resources are very well curated and the discussion times with online cohorts have been life giving. Hearts Exchanged has facilitated circle discussion in the best way I have experienced in an online format throughout the whole pandemic. I love how the circle discussions allow for a diversity of perspectives that frees each person to listen and not feel like they have to talk about everything; everyone can share what is most meaningfully on their heart and mind. If you have done the first steps of a Blanket Exercise and are asking what next, this journey is the perfect thing for you!” - Jesse Edgington
"Heart's Exchanged has been such a blessing to me spiritually. It has been so encouraging to be in fellowship with disciples of Jesus who take his Kingdom, and his call to love our neighbour, seriously. Without hesitation this same call to care for the oppressed, to do justice and love mercy - this same call is applied to our relationship with Indigenous Peoples. When this is done, the gospel's power and grace is magnified and our Lord Jesus is glorified as we humbly share our hearts before God and neighbour. With our hearts bare, we were able to share our hidden pain, accept correction, remove callous apathy, and begin a journey towards healing. I pray that our time together would continue to inspire us to glorify our servant King Jesus in our relationships with our Indigenous brothers and sisters." - Jeremiah Basuric
"The Hearts Exchanged program has taught me a great deal about the histories of Canada, our continent, our society, and our church. Much of it isn't pretty; however, it is so important to know and understand how we have to come to this place in history in order to repair relationships going forward. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn and share with the facilitators and other Christians who desire to know more so we can do and be better. The Hearts Exchanged program has certainly opened my eyes and heart to see Indigenous peoples and the history of Canada with new perspective." - Julia
"Hearts Exchanged gave me the opportunity to finally learn about Indigenous justice issues and context in Canada and what role I can play in moving forward. For easily a decade I had wanted to explore this, but didn’t know how to effectively make it happen. Hearts Exchanged provided excellent resources, accountability and community to not only better understand the problems, but take steps in becoming a leader in solutions. From the significance of Land Acknowledgments to the impact of Residential Schools and cultural genocide, I now have a much better grasp of how we got to the current challenges in our race relations, community dysfunction and the role of the church. I also learned about injustice within Canada’s legal system and steps being taken to improve this. As someone who loves justice and learning, participating in Hearts Exchanged has been a highlight of my year." - Dr. Christina Patterson, MD
"What does it mean to live out the gospel? That's a question I often ask myself. I joined Hearts Exchanged not really knowing what to expect, but eager to see how the church is responding to truth and reconciliation work with Indigenous communities. What I have experienced so far has been a deconstructing of things we've just accepted because that's just the way it's been. From learning about heartbreaking truths and realities our Indigenous communities have endured at the hands of Christ followers, to the systems that continue to oppress, this hasn't been easy, but it's been necessary." - Helen