We Will Win with Prayers

by Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries

Emily is the Associate Minister at Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ. She delivered the following remarks on October 25th at the Emergency Rally held in Minneapolis in response to Hennepin County Sheriff Stanek’s decision to send Special Operations Units to Standing Rock to participate in the violent suppression of the Native Water Protects working to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

I’m Rev. Emily Goldthwaite Fries from Mayflower Church, proud to partner with Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light and all of you to stand with Standing Rock.
Many of you have lived in Minnesota much longer than I have, been here three years and hope to be here many more. But my heart is also pulled to the West, to a place on the plains where a great battle is being fought in these days. My family used to live in South Dakota and spent time with Lakota friends on the reservations not far from where the Standing Rock resistance is now taking place. It is a beautiful land, and we have grown to love the plains as well as the people who practice the subtle art of sustaining community in a vast landscape.

Every change and every conflict has consequences that ripple for miles and down through time. There is a belief in Lakota theology, shared by many indigenous people, including the people indigenous to the Middle East who passed the Bible down to us: the understanding that decisions must be made with future generations in mind. Decisions made purely for profit or short-term gain are out of the question. This belief is at the very foundation of the resistance to the Dakota Access pipeline as well as our Pipeline battles in Minnesota. It’s the reason we are gathered here, in the middle of a busy day when we have many other things to do.

People of faith, every faith, we know in our very bones that it is wrong to stand on the side of corporate power to silence those who speak for the earth. We know it is wrong to intimidate them with a show of militarized policing power from the nearest metropolitan area 500 miles away. We are here with the very simple request that Sheriff Stanek: withdraw Hennepin County resources from North Dakota. Seven generations are depending on this decision.

My colleague in the United Church of Christ, Pastor Byron Buffalo, serves two churches west of the Missouri River in the poorest county in the United States. He has spent a lot of time lately at the camps, and tells me that our support means a great deal. Pastor Buffalo wrote to me last night and asked me to share with you that everything we do today is for clean water for our children and grandchildren who are not born yet. Everything we do is for our future on earth. We are standing against corporate greed but we will win with prayers… and our future children will sing songs about us and tell stories about how we stood strong for them, how we united, and won…