Her Majesty’s Chapel of the Mohawks

Re-post from elsewhere in 2008

Yesterday I went to St. Paul’s Anglican Church, aka “Mohawk Chapel” just on the edge of Brantford.  It’s a beautiful small white chapel with a rich pine interior.  Mohawk Chapel is the oldest Protestant church in Ontario and has served the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora) since 1785.  The Six Nations have a long history with the British Crown and the Anglican Church dating back to the days of Queen Anne who built them a chapel in the Mohawk Valley (in New York State) in 1710.

When the Mohawk remained loyal to the British Crown during the revolt of the 13 colonies, George Washington ordered that any Mohawk be shot on sight.  In compensation for their lost lands in the USA that would have comprised the entire state of New York and bits of the some neighbouring ones, they were given land in Upper Canada (there are ongoing disputes concerning this land with property developers), along with replacements of what they left behind–including a Church of England chapel for the Christians to worship in.

This is the chapel that Joseph Brant, who spoke all the languages of the six nations, English, French, Dutch, and German, and who fought for Britain against the US “patriots”, worshipped at and was buried beside it (I saw his tomb).

You can read more of its history at the website (made by Andrew Dunning!) here.

Around the walls of the chapel are beautiful stained glass windows telling the story of the Six Nations, from their founding (originally as Five) and the pact of peace, to the coming of the white men, the move to Upper Canada, right through to the residential schools.

The last stained glass window is of our Lord Jesus Christ, Saviour of all mankind.  He looks native and behind him is a tipi, representing hope for the native peoples of Canada.  At the top is a trillium, not only Ontario’s provincial flower, but also a symbol of the Trinity.

Christianity transcends culture, because it is Truth, and Jesus is the biggest, truest reality of all.  To be Christian is not to abandon ones heritage, be that heritage Mohawk or East Indian or Jewish or Norwegian.  To be Christian is to embrace reality in its fullness, and Mohawk chapel is a reminder of that, a reminder that Jesus is bigger than the cultural divisions we humans raise between each other, and that someday He will make all humanity one.

He is the only hope for the Six Nations.

He is the only hope for the white men.

He is the only hope for all of us.

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