September 4, 2018
Dismantling Racism: 
The Doctrine of Discovery
Baltimore Dakota Learning Camps Steering Committee (BDSC)

by Chrystie Adams & Robin Bissell, BDSC

The Baltimore Dakota Learning Camps Steering Committee (BDSC) will present a resolution about dismantling racism and the plight of Native Americans and  their homelands at the 880th Gathering of the Presbytery of Baltimore next week. Several questions have arisen about the need for suc h a resolution. In the words of the hymn, "Open My Eyes That I May See" -- BDSC hopes that this article  provides "glimpses" and "voices" of truth so that all may understand why BDSC seeks a resolution :
1. What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  It originated as a Papal Bull (written document) in 1493, issued by Pope Alexander the VI that played an important role in the Spanish conquest of the New World. It informed the way Colonial powers could claim lands belonging to non-Christian nations. The document has been primarily used to justify decisions invalidating indigenous peoples' right to inhabit lands. An important Supreme Court Decision  stated that "the "Doctrine of Discovery" was an established legal principle of English and American colonial law that had also become the law of the American state and federal governments." (Robert J. Miller and Sandra Day O'Connor, May 17, 2005 - Idaho Law Review). As a direct result of the adoption of the Doctrine of Discovery into U.S. law, the Manifest Destiny concept was born. There were three basic beliefs that were contained in Manifest Destiny:
The righteousness and superiority of the Christian moral values and institutions of the United States A belief that the U.S spread these moral values to benefit the world and to fulfill God's wishes Faith that God has blessed the U.S. to succeed and that every success confirms this blessing. (, July 21, 2015)  
2. Why are we talking about it now?  It has become increasingly clear to members of the BDLC Steering Committee and the Presbyterian Church (USA) that we must embrace a deeper understanding of the injustices and tragic history of our Native American brothers and sisters, specifically addressing how the church has been involved. As our relationships through the have deepened through the Baltimore Dakota Learning Camps 15-year partnership. We have become painfully aware of the many things that were done to the indigenous peoples of the country we know as the United States. It is very clear that the Presbytery of Baltimore's Dismantling Racism focus should embrace a greater understanding of the history of our treatment of our Native American brothers and sisters.  
3. What is so important about acknowledging the indigenous lands where we meet?  The BDSC feels that it is important to recognize the physical reality of the lands that were acquired because of the Doctrine of Discovery. During the 223rd  General Assembly, the Presbyterian Mission agency Board, on behalf of the Doctrine of Discovery team, made 18 recommendations. Recommendation number eight says: "Encourage mid councils to begin their meetings with acknowledgement of whose land they are meeting on and that greetings to the assembly include a welcome from those Indigenous peoples currently living on the land."
4/5. How do we know who "rightfully" occupied the lands where our Presbytery is meets and do we trust the information on the map of the Eastern Woodland Tribes?  The Eastern Woodland Tribes map presented at a previous Presbytery Gathering was researched by Aaron Carapella,  who is recognized as an authority in tribal lands. Many tribal historians have used these maps.
6. Who is the Baltimore Dakota Steering Committee and what do they do?   The BDSC is the leadership committee for the Baltimore Dakota Learning Camps, a partnership under the Presbytery's Commission on Reconciliation. The BDSC has worked in partnership with the Dakota Presbytery to organize learning camps; this includes partnership relationships with 12 of the 21 Dakota Presbytery churches. Several hundred volunteers from our Presbytery have participated in these learning camps.  The Mission Statement of the BDLC is "to model the love of Jesus through educational partnerships with the churches of the Dakota Presbytery." We seek mutual learning that leads to strong relationships that must be the basis for reconciliation and true understanding.  
7. Does BDSC have a relationship with any Indigenous peoples in the bounds of the Presbytery? If so, who are they?  The BDSC has a history with the Baltimore American Indian Center (BAIC), which helped to raise funds during the early years of BDLC. Keith Colston, former Chair of the BAIC, worked in partnership with the BDSC to provide guest speakers and performers. The relationship lapsed,  for several years but has been rekindled this summer with recent discussions about this resolution between the current BAIC chair, Dr. Dennis Seymour, and BDSC member, Chrystie Adams. Dr. Seymour was encouraged by the proposed resolution as well as the an Apology Overture adopted by the 222nd General Assembly. In addition to reconnecting with the BAIC, the BDSC has also met with a representative of the Indigenous Council and is working toward an adoption of Indigenous Peoples' Day in Baltimore City. BDSC is also making contacts with Native American groups in the Western Maryland area of our Presbytery.
8. Why would the Indigenous people want to welcome the Presbytery of Baltimore if our ancestors took away their lands?  It has become increasingly clear that our Native American brothers and sisters are very interested in engaging in dialogue that will lead to greater understanding and the beginning of reconciliation. It is only through truthful speaking and listening that we will reach a place where reconciliation can begin.


Committee and Commission meetings will be held at the Presbytery's office (unless noted otherwise.)
  • Committee on Representation will meet 6:30pm on Thursday, Sept. 6
  • Trustees will meet at 9am on Tuesday, Sept. 11
  • Administration will meet at 1:30pm on Tuesday, Sept. 11
  • New Commissioners will meet at 6:30pm on Tuesday, Sept. 11
  • Baltimore Dakota Partnership will meet at 7:30pm on Tuesday, Sept. 11 
  • Committee on Preparation for Ministry will meet at 3pm on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Catonsville PC
  • Cuba Partnership will met at 7pm on Wednesday, Sept. 19
  • Uptown Metro MG will meet Saturday, Sept 22 for Elder Training 
  • Steering Committee will meet at 1pm on Wednesday, Sept. 26
  • Commission on Reconciliation will meet at 6:30pm on Wednesday, Sept 26
  • In the Loop MG will meet at 5pm on Sept. 28 a Faith PC

Take Note/Act Now

Presbytery and Church-Wide

The Commission on Thriving Congregations   has a limited number of Stewardship Kaleidoscope Conference Registration Scholarships available for the "Transforming the Face of Generosity" conference, Sept. 24-26, 2018 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenae in Missouri. Contact  Ledonia Kimball f or additional information. To view conference information: [email protected] . To register   or call 1.855.514-3152.

West Side Story MG is delighted to team with Uptown Metro MG for an exciting leadership training session on  Saturday, Sept. 22 2018. Click here to learn more.


Lochearn Presbyterian Church's Presbyterian Women's group 
will host a  flea market on Saturday, Sept. 8. Tables are available for $10; to reserve a table  call 410.944.4478 or go to C lick Flea Market   for flier .

Trinity Presbyterian and Walbrook area churches are sponsoring a free health fair from 11am to 3pm on Saturday, Sept. 8. The fair will offer free blood pressure screenings, vaccinations, mental health and spirituality screenings, information on addiction recovery, dental care and counseling as well as lots of family fun, music, games and food. Click Health Fair for flier.

Knox Presbyterian Church  will present a  "Blessing of the Backpacks"  on Sunday, Sept. 9 during 10:30am.   Everyone is invited to bring children's backpacks, lunch bags or work totes for a special blessing and tag .  For further questions please call the church office at 410.385.0900.

Please join the congregation of Hunting Ridge Presbyterian Church n Sunday Sept. 9 for its 11am worship service with special organist Nelda Clelland, followed by a luncheon and then an evening of entertainment beginning at 6:30pm which will feature organ accompaniment by Michael Britt during a screening of Charlie Chaplin's silent film "The Circus".  Please RSVP for luncheon by Sept. 1 by calling 410.566.2926 or emailing [email protected].   Suggested donation for the screening is $5; concessions available.

Kenwood Presbyterian Church will host Community Day 2018 from 8am to 3pm on Saturday, Sept. 15. The day's activities include a  flea market and yard sale; silent auction; free health screenings; kids' obstacle course; yoga on the lawn; a book signing by author Peggy Rowe (About My Mother); as well a, pulled pork BBQ and a baked goods sale . Click here for details

Mt. Hebron Presbyterian Church will host a "Special Angels Worship Service"
at 11:30am  on Sunday, Sept,16. This  time of worship is open, accepting, safe, friendly, loving and accommodating to those with special needs and those who raise and care for them. The service will be serene and limited to 30 minutes. Click Angels Worship for details. 

Also, at Mt. Hebron, a "Blessing of Animals Service" will be held at 4pm on Sunday, Sept. 23.  Wor ship with your furry (or otherwise attired) friends in the wonderful setting of our open air amphitheater.  The service will include prayers of blessings upon your pets, following the tradition of St Francis. Click Blessing of Animals for details.

Franklinville Presbyterian Church invites all to join them on Sunday, Sept. 16 in celebration of
Rev. Jim Riddell's 50-Year Anniversary of his installation as pastor of Franklinville (originally, United Presbyterian Church). Worship begins at 2pm followed by refreshments in the fellowship hall. RSVP [email protected].

Granite Presbyterian Church will host a program on "Church and Community Response to Active Shooter Events" conducted by the  Baltimore County Police Department from 7-8:30pm on Tuesday, Sept. 25  No advance registration is required; however, be advised that traffic detours en route to the church may delay arrival time.

Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church will host a special evening beginning at 7pm on Sept. 25 with  Doug Tallamy, nationally renowned expert on the benefits of restoring our landscapes, bird populations, and pollinators using native plants . For details, click Nature .

Chestnut Grove Presbyterian Church seeks to fill two positions:
  • Administrative position -- 24-hours/week during school hours. In addition to secretarial tasks, the position involves work with communications, ministry coordination and providing a front-line office presence. This position requires a real energetic, hands-on, self-starter who can handle lots of different tasks and responsibilities. 
  • Youth worker position  -- 10 hours/week; mostly Sunday mornings and evenings. Requires individual with strong personal faith and a passion for sharing it with youth. If interested in either position click here to learn more or email Rev. Andy Gathman.


taff Directory

 Jacqueline E. Taylor
General Presbyter
[email protected] 

 Deb Milcarek
Assoc. for Reconciliation
[email protected] 

Judy Johnson
Ministry Group Staff

Chuck Brawner
Financial Administrator

McKenna Lewellen 
Center Coordinator

John "Jack" Carlson
Stated Clerk 

Susan Krehbiel
Dir. of Congregational Advocacy
[email protected]

  Deborah Greene  
Dir. of Communications
[email protected]
Laura Mullen
        Book Keeper


Mary Gaut
Deputy Stated Clerk

Debbie Ingram Schmidt
Assoc. for Spiritual Leader Development

 Wanda Morgan
Dir. of Events/Services

Kate Foster Connors 
Dir. of The Center