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Mormon Scholar Featured at United Church Craddock Lecture

Dr. John Borrows, Canada’s leading indigenous law scholar and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently spoke at the United Church in Toronto, Ontario, as the 2014 Craddock Lecture distinguished guest.

The Craddock Lecture is a series of outstanding lectures that has been held for over 40 years at the Bloor Street United Church. The series invites distinguished guests to speak about spiritual issues to the United Church congregation, students and the general public.

Professor Borrows is Anishinaabe and a member of the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation on Georgian Bay in Ontario. He has been at the forefront of indigenous legal education initiatives and is the first to hold the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota.

Internationally recognized in the field of indigenous legal traditions and aboriginal rights, Dr. Borrows’s remarks were entitled “Drawing Out the Spirit: Culture, Spirituality and Law in Anishinaabe and Christian Traditions.”

In his keynote address, Dr. Borrows said he chose to join the Church when he was 18 years old. “It is my faith that the teachings, sacrifice and grace of Jesus Christ can be relied upon to cleanse us from injustice, from our society and [from] sin in our own lives. … In [joining the Church], I also chose to follow the faith of my ancestors.”

“Our [Church] leaders encourage us to keep all the good we find in every tradition, culture and practice, and then add to it,” said Dr. Borrows. “That is my baptismal commitment: to use my best efforts to take upon myself the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him and keep His commandments.”

“I believe in God, and I believe He cares about all His children today and that He can help us revitalize our lives. We need the values He taught to guide our future paths — love, humility, honesty, kindness, bravery, respect and truth. These are the seven grandfather teachings of the Ojibwe people, and they are also the teachings inscribed throughout the Bible.”

In addition to Dr. Borrows’s address, scripture readings and musical selections were presented. Nora Sanders, general secretary for the United Church of Canada, presented readings from Matthew 3:13–17 and 2 Nephi 31 from the Book of Mormon.

Dr. Borrows’s daughter Lindsay (Keegitah) sang two beautiful songs in the Anishinaabe native language. The first was an Ojibwe water song entitled “Anishinaabe Nibi Nagamon.” Lindsay noted that the second selection, “Niwaabandaan Nagweyaab” — which translates to “I like to look for rainbows” — is a Mormon children’s song often sung at baptisms.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regularly participate in interfaith discussions and charitable partnerships that are based on universal values. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency, the highest governing body of the Church, declared that God “hears the prayers of the humble and sincere of every nation, tongue, and people. He grants light to those who seek and honor Him and are willing to obey His commandments.”

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