THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

May 20, 2009 15:20 ET

Native Americans to Welcome World Christian Conference in June 2010

Attention: News Editor GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN MEDIA ADVISORY--(Marketwire - May 20, 2009) -
Native Americans will take front stage at a global gathering of churches in Grand Rapids in 2010. Planners for the inaugural meeting of the World Communion of reformed Churches are inviting local and regional Native Americans to participate in a special pow wow planned for Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at Ah-Nab-Awen Park on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

The pow wow is one of several activities planned for the global meeting to be held at Calvin College, June 18-28, 2010. During the conference, Native Americans will provide exhibits at Calvin College, conduct a talking circle, and participate in some of the workshops scheduled for conference delegates. A prominent Native American will be invited to present a keynote address at one of the plenary sessions.

In particular, the North American Planning Committee believes that it would be an important step to reach out to the local and regional Native American community so that they could welcome the international guests to this land on behalf of all the indigenous peoples of North America.

Gathering under the theme, "Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace," World Communion of Reformed Churches will bring together one thousand representatives from 250 churches and more than 100 countries. Among the international delegates will be many from indigenous peoples in their own countries.

The principle business of the gathering will be to merge two existing organizations: the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC).

Six North American denominations will also participate in this historic gathering: the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, and The United Church of Canada.

Goals of the Native American involvement include:
* increasing the international profile and visibility of Native American peoples, culture, and traditional spirituality;
* providing information for the delegates as they deal with indigenous rights and social justice issues; and,
* providing opportunities for people of the Grand Rapids community to join in this international celebration of
indigenous culture.

Coordinating Native American participation is Levi Rickert, (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation tribal member), former executive director of the North American Indian Center of Grand Rapids, and president of Wamimi, Inc., an American Indian-owned consulting company.

Wamimi will work with the American Indian community to plan, invite, and coordinate American Indian participation at the conference. Wamimi is also reaching out to tribal leaders seeking their participation in the opening ceremony on Friday, June 18, 2010, and in the pow wow on Tuesday June 22, 2010.

"This world conference will allow us to accurately showcase who we - as American Indians - are in contemporary times to delegates from around the globe," said Rickert. "I am pleased the conference planners reached out to our community and am excited to be an event planner to this conference."

The Reverend Mike Peters (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians tribal member), who is the Ogimaw of the Four Fires Ministries, will take a leading role in preparations for this event.

"I am honored to be asked to be an event planner for our participation in this historic event. My desire is that the world, not only see the beauty of our culture, but that they hear our unity on the critical issues we face as American Indians," said Reverend Peters.

By holding the pow wow at Ah-Nab-Awen Park, organizers seek to promote participation of the Grand Rapids community, as well as attract visitors from throughout the region. The location is also adjacent to two of the city's key cultural resources: the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, and the Public Museum with its significant American indigenous culture exhibits.

Organizers look forward to participation of Native Americans from throughout the Great Lakes region, as well as other parts of the United States and Canada.
/For further information:
Mr. Levi Rickert – 616/299-7542
The Rev. Mike Peters – 616/855-6311
/ IN: RELIGION

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    E-mail: mdenis@united-church.ca