May 15, 2006
Brazil: Bulletin Story December 2005
HOW DO THE churches accompany indigenous peoples? In Brazil, the Methodist, Lutheran, United, Presbyterian and Anglican churches have sought to answer this question through the Protestant Missionary Working Group (GTME).
Since 1979, GTME has accompanied indigenous communities in their struggles, supported those in the Brazilian Protestant churches who are involved in Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”indigenous pastoratesÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬?, and interpreted all of this to the broader membership of the churches both in Brazil and abroad.
In the thatched longhouse perched above a magnificent waterfall on the Formoso River, conversation in a tiny indigenous community turns to the dreams the Parecis people have for lifting themselves out of poverty and marginalization. They talk of developing the area into an eco-tourism destination run by the five villages of the Indigenous Territory of Rio Formoso. But in order to do that, they need to control the headwaters of the rivers that run through their territory; headwaters that lie in the enormous neighbouring fazenda (cattle ranch) and that are contaminated with cattle and other
The Parecis talk about a peaceful occupation of the headwaters claimed as part of their traditional territory while GTME staff listen quietly. It is their job to be a bridge between the Parecis and the churches, to better articulate the mission of the churches in and with indigenous communities.
In the words of one staff person, they seek to bring together Ãƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã…”anthropology and missiologyÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬?. PWRDF seeks to support this small but important ecumenical initiative in a country where self-determination and self-government of indigenous peoples, like the ParecisÃƒ¢Ã¢”š¬Ã¢”ž¢ aspirations, are still very much only a dream.