Dakota Pipeline Construction
On Friday, the United States government temporarily blocked construction on part of the North Dakota Pipeline. In the announcement, the complaints of the Standing Rock Sioux and other Indigenous groups were acknowledged—that their concerns regarding the cultural and environmental implications of the pipeline were not fully taken into consideration before construction began. The Army Corps of Engineers intends to review its previous decision, and the government states it will formally consult Indigenous groups on federal decisions like this in the future. The government's decision was announced just minutes after a federal judge ruled against the Standing Rock Sioux efforts to stop construction of the pipeline.
God, we give thanks that the voices of the Standing Rock Sioux were honored. Give them continued courage and energy to continue advocating for justice. We pray for those reviewing the pipeline construction—that they may have wisdom, courage, and a heart for justice. We pray that government officials may work with diligence to uphold the dignity and worth of Native Americans in the U.S.
Cease-Fire Deal in Syria
The U.S. and Russia have tentatively agreed on a ceasefire deal for Syria. This ceasefire is intended to lead the way to a joint U.S.-Russia air campaign against the Islamic State and other extremist groups. The ceasefire took effect on Monday at sunset, the start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. A United Nations envoy confirmed on Tuesday that there had been a “significant drop in violence” during the first 24 hours of the ceasefire, though some areas did experience isolated incidents of violence. There is additional concern that U.N. aid trucks have been barred from entering eastern Aleppo by the Syrian government.
God, we pray that this may be the beginning of a road to peace in Syria. For all who participate in negotiations, who hold positions of power, who make decisions that can mean life or death for Syrian people, we offer our prayers. Draw near to them, even as you remain very near to those who are most oppressed by this overwhelming violence.
U.S. Aid to Israel
The U.S agreed on a $38 billion military aid package for Israel to be distributed over the next 10 years. This is the largest aid agreement of its kind in history and is set to be signed this week. The deal has received pushback from critics of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians, who are concerned that this money will go to further oppress the Palestinian people. This agreement signifies a major U.S. commitment to Israel’s security despite recent tension between the two nations’ leaders.
God, for the people of Palestine who are displaced and without power, we offer our prayers for hope and justice. For the leaders who allocate so many resources toward military might, we offer our prayers that they will work toward peace and justice. For all people in the region of Israel who have suffered generations of violence and segregation, we offer our prayers for healing and justice.
Canadian Repatriation Efforts
The provincial government of British Columbia has allocated $2 million to help return First Nations artifacts from museums around the world to their rightful owners in British Columbia. The Royal B.C. Museum will act as a gathering point for returning artifacts and will develop a First Nations department and repatriation program. Many of the items were taken from Indigenous groups without permission, and their return will allow for the preservation and continuation of First Nations cultures and traditions.
For the dignity of First Nations and aboriginal peoples, we give thanks. That those in power, and those in churches, would proclaim and protect that dignity, we offer our prayers to you. May we be, more and more, people who see your image in the human beings you have created, and may we honor that holiness in tangible ways.