A NEWS RELEASE
From National Office of the ELCIC
Winnipeg, July 9, 2003 (ELCIC) -- When delegates to the Lutheran World Federation Assembly receive Communion during worship services at their convention in Winnipeg later this month, they’ll be drinking wine from cups bearing traditional native designs that go back to the time of Jesus.
The cups are hand-built pottery with geometric and floral patterns similar to those found on shards of North American native clay pots carbon-dated as far back as 2,000 years ago.
The creator of these unique objects is Raymond Michell, a Winnipeg potter whose ancestral heritage is Swampy Cree and Ojibway (Chippawa).
As an artisan, Michell develops designs based on pottery pieces discovered at archaeological sites in the area - pottery used by the Plains and Woodlands aboriginal peoples who lived the region hundreds and even thousands of years ago.
Aboriginal people in Manitoba have made pottery for at least 2,000 years. In fact, most ancient native groups who lived in what is now Western Canada produced clay vessels for cooking, carrying water and storage. Eventually, pottery was also made for trade, ceremonies and other specialized uses. But few items have ever been found intact because the people who fashioned them were nomadic.
Michell, 49, takes the simple, practical designs on pottery shards found at archaeological digs and develops them into artistic decorations for his own ceramic works. As he puts it, "When I hold a completed work, it takes me back to a long time ago to grandfathers, grandmothers and a sense of being home."
Michell’s hand-made cups, carafes and altar pieces are perfect for use during Holy Communion at the LWF Assembly June 21-31 at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Perfect, that is, because the convention’s theme "For the Healing of the World" encompasses people of all tribes and nations and the spirituality they bring to the Communion table.
The LWF Assembly, which is held every six years, will be hosted by the Winnipeg-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC). This is the first time the assembly has been held in Canada and only the second time in North America.
Founded in Sweden in 1947, the LWF is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It has 136 member churches in 75 countries and represents nearly 95 per cent of the world’s 65.4 million Lutherans.