The following article was written by Cindy Hoppe, a textile artist, who made the Reconciliation stole for Bishop Chris. Thank you Cindy for sharing this with all of us.
I connected with an old friend from Co-op store days, Brad Wudrich, now an ordained United Church minister, at the Evangelical Lutheran Church In Canada, Saskatchewan Synod, Convention last June. He had told me years ago of his plan to go into ministry after retiring from the Co-op retail system. We reconnected at the Lutheran convention as he is now in a shared ministry, ‘Partners in Worship,’ serving Lutherans and United Church folk in Shell Lake. I had promised him a stole and he told me that Reconciliation was really resonating with him.
To me, Reconciliation and Lent walk the same path, and as a maker of stoles, I like to do a 2 in one, and pair Advent with Lent. I used a Reconciliation symbol from the City of Saskatoon with accompanying explanation for Brad’s stole but also wanted to follow my own idea in another stole. I used the 4 directions, the cross, and a sweet grass braid as my starting point. The threads are tangled and stressed at the outer edges, coming into a braid as they form the cross. I adjusted the traditional colours of the 4 directions a bit by including blue, but some First Nations recognize blue, and because black has been included in all the braids, it is certainly present and has a larger significance for the Lenten season. To me, the braid is a Trinity symbol, and blue brings us back to baptism.
I have been part of a shared ministry, in Biggar, between St. Paul’s Anglican and Redeemer Lutheran, for 20 years. I also had the privilege of serving as a school trustee for a First Nations public school for 5 years. I don’t pretend to know what I am doing on this Reconciliation Road, but Roger and Mary Ann Assailly’s experiences of the Truth and Reconciliation gatherings were related to me and Brad’s wish ignited this response in me. When I heard of Bishop Chris Harper’s election, I knew where I wanted this stole to go.
Bishop Chris was coming to visit Pastor Sarah Mowat in Biggar before Christmas as he was going to preside over a confirmation service on December 23. I had visited Mary Ann with the stole and she guided me in gifting protocol. It turned out that freezing rain messed with my plans to present it personally to Bishop Chris, but I left it with Sarah and she delivered it. It was a joy to see that the Holy Spirit might have been channelling this project from the beginning, as Bishop Chris donned the stole during Communion and it fits him beautifully.
It was a blessing to see Bishop Chris’s Crozier, made for him by his son, with the 4 directions incorporated into it and the beautiful purple heartwood laminated through the centre. The service was a celebration for many of us in different ways and a homecoming for a piece of creative work that I can trace back to friendships, life experience and a new awareness of walking together going forward.