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2023 Convocation on the Injustices of the Doctrine of Discovery with Mark Charles

January 28, 2023 @ 8:30 am - 11:30 am


The Doctrine of Discovery was a Papal Decree that gave many European Countries religious legitimacy to invade and colonize the “new world” in the name of Christianity. The legacy of brutality, injustice, and destruction that followed, especially against native communities, leaves a legacy that all Christians must face. While Reformed and other Protestant communities had their own theological rationales for conquering North America in the name of Christ, their legacy of injustice and colonization is equally culpable, even in their efforts of missions and education. This session will explore these entangling legacies with an eye toward truth telling, repentance, and restorative justice that makes Christians better allies in anti-racism and justice-building with native peoples.

Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant. The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, Mark has faced the colonial legacy of Christian Indian schools in his own family, has served as a Reformed pastor, and has rediscovered his Navajo identity and spirituality. He teaches the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and Christendom in order to help forge a path of healing and conciliation for the nation.

He is one of the leading authorities on the 15th-century’s European Doctrine of Discovery and its influence on US history and its intersection with modern-day society. Through advocacy, writing, and education, Mark has called for greater acts of repentance, justice, and conciliation with native communities on behalf of the federal government and the American people.

Mark is the co-author, with Soong-Chan Rah, of the book, Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery, and he authors the blog “Reflections from the Hogan.” He is a co-founder of the “Would Jesus Eat Frybread?” college-conference series and has served on the boards of the Christian Reformed Church of North America and the Christian Community Development Association. In national politics, Mark advocates for a Truth and Conciliation Commission – a formal and national dialogue on issues of race, gender, and class.

Response will be offered by Dr. John Lee, professor and Academic Dean of the John Leland Center of Theological Studies, and pastor of The Rock Presbyterian Church, Bethesda, Md. John is Chair of the Public Program Committee and serves on the Board of the Reformed Institute.



Who's Attending

132 people are attending 2023 Convocation on the Injustices of the Doctrine of Discovery with Mark Charles

  • Judith Herseth
  • Kathy Drinkard
  • Marti Klein
  • Everett F. Pomare
  • Nelson Thurman
  • Roland Frenck
  • Carol M Trautschold
  • Linda Toner
  • Phyllis Wolfe
  • Dennis Hannon
  • Pat Jackson
  • Chief Earl S.M. Burley
  • Jim Bridgeman


January 28, 2023
8:30 am - 11:30 am
Event Category:


Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington


National Presbyterian Church
4101 Nebraska Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016 United States
(202) 537-0800
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