25 November 2022, open letter from the Living Skies Regional Council Executive.
Living Skies Regional Council, the United Church of Canada in Saskatchewan, has grave concerns about the allegations of abuse at the Legacy Christian Academy. We are equally concerned with the news of threats and violence associated with survivors speaking out.
We extend to Ms. Caitlin Erickson, and to all the survivors of Legacy Christian Academy, our respect and gratitude for their courage in naming the abuse. The experiences they have described should never be associated with any place of learning, or with any Christian context. As we said in an earlier statement, we reject the theology and practices surrounding beliefs espoused by the school. We reject transphobic and homophobic beliefs associated with some expressions of Christianity, including Legacy Christian Academy.
We know that the survivors are waiting for possible charges. Past failures to prosecute church perpetrators of violence in residential schools, and other settings, contributes to the continued appearance of the church’s impunity. We reject such impunity.
We denounce the utter abuse of scripture we have witnessed in the campaign of harassment against Ms Erickson. To use Hebrews 12:29 as a threat in the course of setting fire to someone’s home is heinous, and has absolutely nothing to do with the tenets of the Christian faith.
When a number of Saskatoon United, Unitarian, and Anglican buildings were defaced with transphobic and homophobic graffiti masquerading as scripture in 2020, we felt the fear of being targeted. The violence targeting Ms. Erickson is far worse, and also creates a wider atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
To the Mile Two Church, we say: out of our own United Church experience from decades of deep and unconscionable involvement in residential schools, we know too well the immense harm that Christian institutions have caused. We will never cease to hold responsibility for that harm. We call now on Mile Two Church to accept responsibility for the harms that Saskatoon Legacy Academy has caused in their name. We call on the Mile Two Church to cease denying or minimizing that harm, and to accept the path of repentance.
The pastor of Mile Two Church is on record as saying in a sermon, “Some of the stories are true. Some of the stories I think are exaggerated. Some of them I don’t know if they’re true or not…We’ve got to trust that the truth is going to come to light and we want the truth to come to light.”
In light of that statement, we ask the members of Mile Two Church, our siblings in the body of Christ, to reflect on how they are ensuring that truth will come to light. We ask them to reflect on whether they are creating an environment of mistrust or fear that impedes the truth being heard and accepted. We call on them to ensure that their words and actions do not perpetuate a dangerous environment for Ms. Erickson, any other survivors of Legacy Christian Academy, and indeed for any survivors of Christian-based abuse.
Finally, Living Skies Regional Council invites Saskatoon and area United Church members, and the public, to donate to the fundraisers for Ms. Erickson and to any other survivor needs as they emerge.
Darrell Reine, Convenor of the Living Skies Regional Council Executive
Rev Shannon McCarthy, Executive Minister, Living Skies Regional Council