Leaders of indigenous American Indian tribes are being invited to participate in celebrations in the United States to mark the launch of a new global church organization.
The invitation comes in response to a presentation by representatives of local American Indian groups to senior Reformed church leaders gathered in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week to plan the inaugural meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in that city in June 2010.
“As we come to Michigan, we wish to acknowledge that we do so as visitors to your land,” the church leaders say in a recorded invitation to be delivered to the leaders of 12 tribes in the region.
Levi Rickert, a tribal member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and Michael Peters, tribal member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa, presented the proposal for leaders of local American Indian (or First Nations) peoples to welcome church delegates to Michigan.
“It is consistent with WARC’s commitment to justice that we are welcomed to the United States by the peoples of the First Nations as a way of recognising that they are the original inhabitants of the land “, says WARC general secretary, Setri Nyomi.
He added: “This is also an occasion to indicate our appreciation for who they are and the gifts they continue to bring to the communities in which they live.”
Delegates from more than 100 countries will gather in the northern state for the Uniting General Council of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) from 18 to 28 June 2010.
Plans for the participation of the region’s First Nations peoples in the council include the ceremonial arrival and welcome by tribal leaders on the opening day followed later in the event by a day of special activities including worship led by First Nations Christians and a “Pow Wow” (community gathering) to give thanks to the Creator.
The programme for the church meetings is expected to include discussions of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which supports their right to live free from discrimination, protect their cultures and maintain and strengthen their own institutions.
The declaration has yet to be endorsed by the United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. However, at recent meetings in Washington with members of President Obama’s administration, Canadian Indigenous leaders were told that position is under review.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) brings together 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries.