Big Tent 2013
NATIVE AMERICANS PARTICIPATE FROM ACROSS THE U.S.
The third annual Big Tent Event was held here with a noticeable Native American presence. Seven attended with scholarships from the office of Native American Congregational Support, seven from the Native American Consulting Committee (NACC) were able to stay after their pre-conference meeting, two Native American representatives on the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns were also able to stay after their pre-conference meeting and two attended through support of their congregations. Together with Rev. Irvin Porter, Associate for Native American Congregational Support, nineteen Native American Presbyterians took workshops, shared their congregation’s stories and answered questions about Native ministry.
On the last night of the Big Tent, they all gathered in a common area of the Galt House Hotel to share their experiences and network with each other. Many were new members of NACC and several were young adults. The two representatives to NACC from the American Indian
Youth Council (AIYC) participated in the “youth track” events and shared how the whole experience had enriched their commitment to not only serve on AIYC but to become leaders for the future.
Rev. Buddy Monahan gave a workshop entitled Celebrating Native American Ministry in the PC(USA). The video, “I Love to Tell the Story,” a narrative about Native ministry in the PCUSA, was shown and participants shared their comments and questions. Many participants were not Native Americans and had questions about working with Native congregations and how that can still be accomplished in light of diminishing funding. Native participants shared stories and experiences that told “…the Story” of Jesus and his love among tribal people.
Rev. Porter shared with the Native participants of the Big Tent his goal to double the participation of Native Americans at the Big Tent in 2015, the Presbyterian Youth Triennium in 2016 and at all General Assemblies. “These national events haven’t had the voices of Native American Presbyterians and that needs to change. We have many gifts that our culture and congregations bring to the national church. We are a resource for this church and want to be. Presbyterians have been working among the Native American people since the 1700’s. I hope to get partners to help us achieve this goal.”
The Street Party that ended the Big Tent 2013 was a great time for participants to chill-out, hang out together and grab a pizza if they wanted to. Church of the Indian Fellowship in Tacoma, Washington sent their arts and crafts along with Danielle and Jesse Palomino to be setup for sale. God blessed everyone with rich experiences and opportunities to share with folks back home.
Three Native participants attended the Presbyterian Cross Cultural Young Adult Network gathering and luncheon held on Sunday which included a service of worship and a guest speaker, Roger Nishioka. Big Tent 2013 was a success for Native participation and we hope it’s just the beginning.