Image Braided River artwork
February 12-15, 2021, Live on Zoom from unceded Chumash territory in the Ventura River Watershed

Registration and Information

The BKI2021 theme is “Deepening Practices of Restorative Solidarity.” For a third consecutive year we’ll explore the work of decolonizing discipleship. We’ll look at how white settlers can build just relations with Indigenous and other communities of color in North America, hearing from seasoned faith leaders who are theologian/activist/pastors. This online BKI will include “community mixers,” book and film debuts, and for the first time two pre-Institute Zoom gatherings and several post Institute workshops for ongoing engagement. Schedule and resource persons will be announced as they are confirmed.

–BKI program planning committee

Image above: Braided River, Blue Green by Robert Valiente-Neighbours, Lino-Monotype. As a braided river, we diverge and connect. We contour the land we travel through, shrinking and growing with each season. And we are shaped by our journey, from the peaks of our source to our destination in the oceans. This piece was created through a linocut monotype process.


Pre-order “Healing Haunted Histories” | Discount code

In Healing Haunted Histories, Elaine Enns and Ched Myers invite readers to consider how the call to follow Jesus is also a summons to racial justice and decolonization. They chart a path for how we can dig into our family histories to face our own “ghosts” of settler colonialism, Indigenous displacement, and white supremacy.

This 400-page book is equal parts: memoir (mostly focusing on Enns’ Mennonite family and community, who endured the Russian Civil War, fled the Soviet aftermath, and settled on Indigenous land in Saskatchewan in the 1920s);  social analysis; theological reflection, and workbook for those ready to “do their own work.”

For a limited time, friends of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries can pre-order the softcover edition of Healing Haunted Histories for a 40% discount off the $38 retail price. Get the coupon code and learn more >

Healing Haunted Histories explores how the history of genocide against Indigenous peoples continues today in racist and inequitable practices and policies. It urges readers to learn their own family and community stories of complicity, and models how to navigate these difficult waters. And it calls Christians (and other people of faith and conscience) to build solidarity with Indigenous communities, including experimenting with practices of reparation.

The story of Elaine’s family and community’s experience as refugees, as settlers on the Canadian prairies, and as neighbors with Cree communities invites readers to consider:

  • Landlines: Where did our families come from, and how did they get here? Were they forced or pushed from their places of origin? Who was displaced by their arrival in North America, and how does the land hold these stories? 
  • Bloodlines: What do we know about our family immigrant and settler histories? How might our communal stories be devised or distorted? What traumas or privileges have we inherited because of their experiences?
  • Songlines: What faith traditions and/or cultural practices fostered resilience in them, and which have been passed on to us? What touchstones feed our spirits, minds, and bodies today, and inspire our commitment to work for justice and healing? Interrogating our own communal past and present takes us into often painful and complex terrain, challenging us toward personal and political transformation.

In Healing Haunted Histories, readers will find a faith-rooted approach to facing the violent and tragic history of settler-Indigenous relations, and what faithful responses for justice might involve, including:

  • How Indigenous dispossession — of land, culture, language, and family ties — is the “primal sin” of settler colonialism, and how it still haunts us today;
  • Why Christians’ failure to follow Jesus’ “missionary Instructions” in Luke’s gospel has led to a pattern of domination and genocide around the world;
  • What settler Christians can learn about the Bible’s prophetic critique of systems of “murder and dispossession” from the ancient tale of Naboth’s Vineyard in 1 Kings 21;
  • How North American settlers can live out a covenantal faith by seeking to become “Treaty People” committed to making things right with those ignored, marginalized or oppressed by our settler institutions and habits.

Healing Haunted Histories outlines a “discipleship of decolonization” — practices that people of faith can embrace in order to build solidarity and partner in justice for and with Indigenous people and the land that hosts us all. It calls and empowers us to:

  • Claim restorative justice as a core value and reconciliation as reparation (as argued by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5 and Mark 10); 
  • Commit to an ongoing “re-schooling” process, including a “pedagogy of pilgrimage,” to overcome our denial and “unknowing” and learn the stories of transformative movements past and present;
  • Heal hauntings by building “response-ability” and respectful relationships of restorative solidarity with our Indigenous neighbors and other marginalized communities.

With its deeply personal storytelling, wide-ranging historical and social analysis and engaging theological reflection, Healing Haunted Histories is a companion for the Way of decolonization.

Pre-order your copy today.

January 2021 Third Thursday Teach-In

Join Ched Myers & Elaine Enns for our first Third Thursday Teach-in for 2021!

On Thursday, January 21, 2021 from 7–8:30 pm EST: “Our Nation Was Born in Genocide” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) — Exploring a Discipleship of Decolonization

We will discuss the “Epiphany” of January 6th at the US Capitol, which challenges people of faith to go deeper in our struggle against white supremacy in self and society. This teach-in will seek to exhume the roots of this pathology and to “reveal the full extent of the disease.” Join us for this timely and incredibly important discussion!

Healing Haunted Histories: A Settler Discipleship of Decolonization, a book by Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, is soon to be released! Their new book will tackle the oldest and deepest injustices on the North American continent. How are our histories, landscapes, and communities haunted by past and continuing Indigenous dispossession, such that our land and spirits are thoroughly “occupied”? How might these wounds, woven into the fabric of our personal and political lives, be healed through an inward and outward journey of decolonization? The authors will share about their exploration of what has formed (and deformed) us as settlers. Coming soon!

Celebrate MLKJ with a special (online) gathering

What a week it’s been! Epiphany indeed shed light on toxic white supremacy, challenging us to go deeper in our discipleship of decolonization and racial justice.

As we prepare for our upcoming Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute 2021 online next month, we invite you to the second of two pre-Institute “stepping stone” programs: celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. this Sunday, January 17, 2021 from 3:30–4:30 PST.

In the spirit of the King holiday weekend, we will have Sarah & Jonathan Nahar, Vivien Sansour, and Linda Quiquivix on a panel to talk about how, as activists of color, they do Indigenous solidarity work. They will also connect historic patterns of U.S. settler colonialism to the contemporary experience of occupied Palestine.

Please join us for this free, hour-long program on Sunday Jan 17th, which will include readings from Martin Luther King, Jr. on native justice and music by Warren Cooper and Theo Blue.  

Register here and we’ll send you the Zoom link on the morning of 1/17. 

We hope to see you, and don’t forget that registration for our February 12–15, 2021 Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute is open! 

Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute 2020 | February 17–21, 2020

Unsettling Histories | Decolonizing Discipleship | hukišunuškuy

Forest Home Camp, Oak View, CA

Register now through January 29, 2020 for this year’s Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute (BKI) hosted by Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries. This year’s BKI builds on last year’s theme (although you don’t need to have gone to the Institute last year to gain much from this year’s experience). The gathering will focus on:

  • Unsettling Histories: Cohorts will focus on the personal and political work required of settlers and immigrants.
  • Decolonizing Discipleship: We will imagine and strategize how, as persons and communities of faith, to embody more meaningful practices.
  • Hukišunuškuy: (pronounced hu-kee-shoon-óosh-kooy): A mitsqanaqan (Ventureño Chumash) phrase introduced to us by local Chumash scholar activist Matthew Vestuto that connotes a different kind of settling: “A promise to vision together.” Guest Indigenous leaders will serve as interlocutors through the process, encouraging us to become reliable “Treaty People” and to work together toward justice and a decolonized future.

Learn more about the BKI here including speakers and accommodation options, and share this flyer with your networks. You can listen to podcasts of last year’s Institute and other interesting speakers here.

Unsettling the Word

Those in the watershed discipleship community will be interested in a recent book called Unsettling the Word: Biblical Experiments in Decolonization (Mennonite Church Canada, 2018), edited by Steve Heinrichs and illustrated by Jonathan Dyck. With 69 short entries by an excellent list of contributors, this book helps us grapple with ways the Christian tradition has been co-opted by empire, and uncover the stories and themes that help us connect with land, creation, and other people groups. The book is beautifully laid out, with artwork appearing throughout the book (see some examples here). A number of people connected to the watershed discipleship community contributed to the book, including Ched Myers, Katerina Friesen, Randy Woodley, Joshua Grace, Bob Haverluck, Rose Marie Berger, Wes Howard-Brook, and Robert Two Bulls. You may also recognize the names of several of the other contributors from biblical studies and various areas of theology, including Kwok Pui-lan, Joerg Rieger, Norman Habel, Walter Brueggemann, Miguel A. De La Torre, and Ellen F. Davis.

The reflections contained in this book are short — 3-5 pages each — and seek to reinterpret, wrestle with, or reimagine biblical texts, particularly pointing the reader toward Indigenous themes in the text, immigrants, and Read More

Eco-Stewards | Richmond, VA | June 29, 2019

The Eco-Stewards Program, an organization that uses a week-long, place-based learning program to create community among young adult leaders (ages 20-30) who care about the importance of the intersection between their faith and environmental stewardship, will be in Richmond, VA on June 29, 2019. This year’s experience will be a little bit different: Eco-Stewards is inviting alumni, those interested in networking with Eco-Stewards, and those interested in participating as an Eco-Steward in the future to join together for an afternoon along the James River.

You may recall the reflection Vicki Machado wrote about the Eco-Stewards Program‘s last visit to Richmond. If that sparked your interest and you’re able to get to Virginia for a gathering of prayer, reflection, storytelling, and connection, learn more here or RSVP here.

Watershed Snapshot | The Jordan River Watershed, Part 2

Above photo: Jordan River today, Christopher-Sprake / iStock / Getty

My name is Jonathan. I am a Mennonite Christian Palestinian US American. My dual identities as a Palestinian, and as a white US American offer me insight to Christianity both as an indigenous wisdom tradition, and as a religion serving as a tool of global imperialism. I write each entry of this two-part blog post from the first person, as a Palestinian Christian, and as a Western Christian respectively. See part 1 of my Jordan River Watershed snapshot here.

Last year, over 2.4 million Christians visited the “Holy Land.” To put that into perspective, 60% of the tourists to Israel were Christian, compared to only 20% Jewish. Christian tourists spent billions of dollars to walk where Jesus walked, visit sites from the Bible, and see the remains of the world Jesus inhabited.    

Group baptism at Yardenit, from the Yardenit Facebook page
Group baptism at Yardenit, from the Yardenit Facebook page.

A favorite spot for these tourists is the Yardenit Baptismal Site, the most visited spot on the Jordan River. This site is not the site traditionally believed to be that of Jesus’ Baptism—that’s Al-Maghtas on the Jordanian side, or where Elijah ascended into heaven—that’s Qasr el Yahud, in the West Bank Palestinian territories. The Yardenit Baptismal Site has no biblical significance at all.

So why does virtually every “Holy Land” tour visit it? Because it is in Israel. It is a fictionalized baptismal spot created by the Israeli minister of tourism in the 1980s for Christian tourists to be “baptized in the Jordan.” Its purpose is to give Christian tourists the experience without having to interact with Jordanian or Palestinian Arabs. Read More

Watershed Snapshot | The Jordan River Watershed, Part 1

Above photo: Jonathan Brenneman and Sarah Thompson with their grandmothers on their wedding day in 2018. © Peter Ringenberg, 2018

by Jonathan Brenneman
Guest Contributor

My name is Jonathan. I am a Mennonite Christian Palestinian US American. My dual identities as a Palestinian and as a white US American offer me insight to Christianity both as an indigenous wisdom tradition, and as a religion serving as a tool of global imperialism. I write each entry of this two-part blog post from the first person, as a Palestinian Christian and as a Western Christian.

The Jordan River plays a huge part in Christian mythology: the river crossed by the Israelites, the river Elijah and Elisha performed miracles in, the river in which John performed baptisms, the river whose watershed hosts all of Jesus’s ministry.

The Jordan is one of the most significant natural or ecological characters in the Bible, so it’s natural that those who practice watershed discipleship connect deeply to the mythology of the Jordan River, diving into its metaphors and finding the confluence between our own watersheds and that of Jesus. But the river isn’t merely mythical. It did not dry up after the canon was chosen. It is a real river! And it is still flowing…barely. Read More

New Resource | Congregational Manuals on Watershed Discipleship

An exciting new resource is available for use in congregations and interfaith groups interested in caring for the environment: Rev. Dr. Nancy Wright and Richard Butz, MFA, have created a Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual in partnership with Vermont Interfaith Power & Light and Voices of Water for Climate.

They created two manuals: one with a Christian emphasis, Congregational Watershed Discipleship Manual: Faith Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Christian edition), and another with an interreligious emphasis, Congregational Watershed Manual: Religious Communities as Stewards of the World’s Waters (1st Interreligious edition).

The manuals combine teachings around the spiritual and theological importance of water in Christianity and other faith traditions with practical ideas Read More