The Native American Congregational Support Office’s purpose is to enable the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to respond to Native American congregational issues, enable Native American Presbyterians to participate actively in the mission of the church, facilitate the church’s task of evangelism and leadership development and serve as a liaison to ecumenical and denominational entities in relation to issues affecting Native American Presbyterian churches and chapels.
The Native American Congregational Support Office and the Native American Consulting Committee work collaboratively on issues related to Native American ministries.
The Native American Congregational Support Office is available to assist synods and presbyteries, congregations and others in developing a partnership for new ministry with Native Americans.
Rev. Irvin Porter, Associate for Native American Congregational Support
Irvin is descended from three Native American tribes: Pima, T’hono O’odham, and Nez Perce. He is the seventh of eight children raised by a single father after the divorce of his parents. He received an Associate of Arts degree in accounting from Haskell Indian Junior College, now a university, in Lawrence, Kansas. He worked in banking for 10 years in Idaho, and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Dubuque, Iowa in 1997. He is a 2001 graduate of the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary receiving his Master of Divinity degree.
Church of the Indian Fellowship in Tacoma, Washington, called Irvin as a Commissioned Lay Pastor in September 2001. He was ordained as a minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in October 2003 and is the first Native American pastor since the church was founded by a Presbyterian missionary among the Puyallup Indians in 1876. He continues to serve at one-quarter time.
Irvin’s interest in multicultural ministry stems not only from his pastorate in Tacoma, where he serves a multi-tribal congregation that also includes African Americans, Hispanic and Caucasian members, but also from his work on the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns, the Native American Consulting Committees of both the General Assembly and the Synod of Alaska-Northwest as well as groups within the Tacoma, Washington area, working for increased dialogue between the races.
You can download a directory of Native American Congregations here.
A Call to pray with the Oceti Sakowin for Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their supporters
More than four thousand people have gathered at Camp of the Sacred Stones, three separate prayer camps north of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, near the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation. The people, known as “Water Protectors,” have gathered in an effort to stop the Dallas-based company Energy Transfer from piping Bakken oilfield crude oil underneath the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water for the tribe. This project is known as the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline (DAPL).
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe took the initiative in this witness to protect the land and water from environmental harm and to affirm tribal sovereignty. Support for the tribe’s efforts has grown and now comes from many tribes and peoples across the country and internationally, as well as individuals and groups concerned for issues raised by the DAPL.
As the witness continues, the Oceti Sakowin, Dakota Nation (Sioux Nation), has issued a call to prayer for October 8 through 11. The Oceti Sakowin consists of seven bands, the Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota people. Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Dakota Presbytery consists of congregations of the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota people in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota.
Please pray for:
- The earth and all the resources the Creator has provided;
- Wisdom, courage, and strength for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and for its Chairman David Archambault and his family;
- Strength and courage for the Water Protectors and their families;
- Peace and unity at the camps;
- The provision of food, water, and shelter and the meeting of other needs for the Water Protectors, particularly those who plan to witness in winter;
- Wisdom and vision for the people working on the legal battles being fought to halt this pipeline and to honor the sovereignty of Native peoples;
- Patience and a willingness to rely on nonviolence for the government and corporate authorities involved; and
- The leaders of the Synod of Lakes & Prairies as they collect and discern where to use funds for the camps and the Water Protectors.
Those wishing to support the Water Protectors financially may send contributions to the Synod of Lakes and Prairies:
Synod of Lakes and Prairies
2115 Cliff Drive
Eagan, MN 55122
Make the check payable to: Synod of Lakes and Prairies
Note on check: Dakota Access Pipeline Acct #2087
The synod will send a confirmation to the donor that the funds were received and then information about where they were distributed. Please make sure to include your name and address on the check unless already printed on it.
The Office of Public Witness has created an action guide that provides advocacy points to contact Congress and the US Department of Justice.
In response to the situation at Standing Rock and other current instances of racial injustice, the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns has issued a statement urging “our church and all of its members, but especially those who are white, to join us in breaking silence. Commit with us to raise our collective voice not just to proclaim the good news of God’s grace but to call out injustice, to call out the forces that threaten to tear us apart with xenophobic, racist, and Islamophobic rhetoric.”
Presbyterian Native Americans continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates on ways to support the effort at Standing Rock, and across the country, to protect water, land, and tribal rights and to maintain harmonious relationships with the earth.
The Oceti Sakowin call to prayer is for four days, recognizing that when the Dakota (Sioux) people pray they view the world as having four directions. The four winds come from the four directions, with each direction having a meaning and color associated with it. Where the medicine wheel lines cross symbolizes all directions. The four directions would relate to the four days, October 8 through 11, in this way:
October 8: West (Black) is the direction of the setting sun, the end of each day. It signifies the end of life. The west is also the source of water: rain and rivers, streams, and lakes. The west is vital because without water there can be no life.
October 9: North (Red) brings winter’s cold, harsh winds. These cleansing winds cause leaves to fall and cover the earth under a blanket of snow. Animals or people who have the ability to face these winds, like the buffalo who faces its head into the storm, are said to have learned endurance and patience. The north generally stands for the discomfort and hardships people experience. It represents the cleansing people endure and the trials people undergo.
October 10: East (Yellow) is the direction from which the sun comes. Light dawns in the east in the morning to mark the beginning of a new day. Then the light spreads over the earth. Light helps people see things the way they really are and can be the beginning of understanding. East also represents the wisdom that helps people live good lives. Traditional people rise in the morning to pray facing the dawn, asking God for wisdom and understanding. Many churches were built with the front facing east.
October 11: South (White) is the color of the southern sky when the sun is at its highest. South stands for warmth and growing. From the south come warm, pleasant winds. When people pass into the spirit world, they travel the Milky Way’s path back to the south, returning from where they came.
This information comes from The Four Directions posted by Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center.