From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Native Americans celebrate 'wopida'

Date 20 Jun 2002 09:13:39 -0400

Note #7283 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


Native Americans celebrate 'wopida'

by Frank Buhrman

COLUMBUS, OH - The Dakota word for "gifts" (although the translation is inexact), is "wopida."

And that's what the June 18 celebration dinner, a General Assembly-related event sponsored by the Native American Consulting Committee (NACC), was all about.

Everyone who attended got a door prize, a "wopida," in recognition of all the gifts employed in support of Native Americans in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and their ministries - first among them, of course, the gift of Jesus Christ.

"Somebody asked if we had a speaker," said Michelle Curtis, the committee's moderator. "And we don't, because we have so many wonderful people come into our midst." Some of those on hand were Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel, former moderator Marj Carpenter, and Carol and Mark Welsh, who manage a Native American Center in Columbus.

Among the "gifts" recognized during the event were members of the Native American Task Force, recently dismissed with thanks by the Assembly after devoting seven years of hard work to revitalizing Native American ministry in the church, and various PC(USA) staff members, committee members and volunteers who have addressed Native-American concerns.

Curtis shared the job of expressing appreciation with NACC Treasurer Ralph Sissons, who combined spiritual references and wisecracks with the thank-yous.

When Abu-Akel expressed a desire to one day take a delegation of Native-American Christians to Jerusalem, Sissons said, "It will be accomplished, because Jesus Christ is in our hearts."

While the participants expressed pleasure that Native Americans are represented in the Assembly - several are commissioners, and Mary Bighorn is a Youth Advisory Delegate - they were reminded that much work remains to be done.

"The church cares about you," Carpenter, the former moderator, said, "but it doesn't know nearly enough about you. Keep prodding us."
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