Natives part of planning for 2010 World Christian Conference

Grand Rapids, Michigan (NFIC) 5-09

In June 2010, one thousand people from 107 countries will gather on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan to launch the World Communion of Reformed Churches, a new global organization formed from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) based in Geneva, Switzerland and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC), based in Grand Rapids.

More than 80 million followers of Jesus worldwide who belong to the Reformed church tradition will be brought together in a Uniting General Council, with the theme of “Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace,” to implement and conduct the business of the joint organization. 

Delegates will represent 250 religious bodies, including six familiar to this region: 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.

The general councils of the two organizations meet occasionally. In 2004, a similar council met in Accra, Ghana, under the theme “That All May Have Life in Fullness.” During the conference, delegates learned about the trans-Atlantic slave trade that took place in Ghana centuries ago.

Following in the same spirit as Accra, where the focus on the slave trade helped inform the work of the delegates, it seemed to the North American Planning Committee that it would be a significant and important step to reach out to the American Indian community so that they, representing the Indigenous peoples of North America, could welcome the guests, many of whom are Indigenous people from around the world.

Goals of this involvement include providing information for the delegates as they deal with religious and justice issues; providing opportunities for local congregational involvement; and, providing increased visibility for American Indians and cultures.

 

Planners contacted Levi Rickert, the former executive director of the North American Indian Center of Grand Rapids. Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation), president of Wamimi, Inc., an American Indian-owned consulting company, invited Reverend Mike Peters (Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa), who is the ogema of the Four Fires Ministries, to participate in planning for American Indian involvement.

The WARC/REC Planning Committee has contracted with Wamimi, Inc. to work with the American Indian community to plan, invite and coordinate American Indian participation at the conference.

Wamimi will reach out to tribal leaders to be part of the opening ceremony of the Uniting General Council on June 18, 2010 and to participate in a powwow that will be held on June 22 during the ten-day conference. 

“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, president of the Wamimi. “I am pleased the conference planners reached out to our community and am excited to be an event planner to this conference.”

“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.

The powwow is planned for June 22, 2010 on the shores of the Grand River at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids, which sits adjacent to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

FMI contact Levi Richert: 616/299-7542

 

 

 

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