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Grants from the Native American Leadership Development Fund to benefit five projects

Latest grants total more than $96,000

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

The Synod of the Southwest’s Native American Leadership Conference was first held in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2019 with funding from the Native American Leadership Development Fund. (Contributed photo)

LOUISVILLE — Racial Equity and Women’s Intercultural Ministries has chosen five projects to honor with grants, totaling more than $96,000, from the Native American Leadership Development Fund.

The REWIM grant team recently met to review applications and approved grants for varied projects, including preservation of a Native American language, a weekend of healing and celebration in the Northeast, and community outreach for those in need on a South Dakota reservation.

The grants are made available through the Presbyterian Mission Agency and benefit Native American leaders or organizations and committees working within the Native community for the purpose of education or leadership development, said the Rev. Irvin Porter, Associate for Native American Intercultural Congregational Support.

Over the years, the fund has been used to assist Native American congregations and communities, from “Alaska to New York state, Dakota Presbytery to Oklahoma and Arizona,” to further the cause of Christ, Porter said.

The recipients or projects for this funding cycle are:

  • Native American Memorial, Remembrance and Healing Weekend — This project includes activities, such as ceremonies and storytelling, that will take place at Brook Presbyterian Native American Church in Hillburn, New York, Ramapough Lenape Nation Community Center in Mahwah, New Jersey, and Splitrock Sweetwater Prayer Camp in Mahwah, New Jersey.
  • North Fork Presbyterian Church — This project will help protect, preserve, and advance the Nez Perce language so that it can be passed down to younger people and be incorporated more in churches.
  • Southminster Presbyterian Church-Reservation Outreach — This outreach effort will include the distribution of food, clothes and other items on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota by a group of Wisconsin volunteers.
  • Sweetwater Cultural Center in Stony Point, New York — This project will help provide training to improve the public speaking skills of tribal members who interact with the public.
  • Synod of the Southwest — The Fourth Triennial Gathering of Native American Leadership brings together leaders from the synod’s 32 Native American churches and chapels. The event will focus on youth and young adult ministries and building more meaningful leadership skills.

The Rev. Irvin Porter is Associate for Native American Intercultural Congregation Support. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

Grants from the fund are important because “leadership development opportunities within the Native American Presbyterian community are not readily available,” Porter said. “Much of this work must be initiated by their presbyteries or synods. The Office of Native American Intercultural Congregational Support, pre-pandemic, has been one of the main sources of these opportunities.”

Porter also noted that most of the Native American congregations are on reservations and are financially challenged. “They are some of our denomination’s most economically disadvantaged people, so funding for leadership development, education within the congregations and other learning opportunities are not available to them without the benevolence of others,” he said.

Although these are the final Native American Leadership Development Fund grants for this year, the Office of Native American Intercultural Congregational Support continues to offer grants, Porter said. Also, “we continue to receive support for these ministries from churches, organizations and individuals who want to help.”

Scholarships

The office of Native American Intercultural Congregational Support has scholarships for conferences and events. Those interested may submit an Events Scholarship Application, following the instructions that are included.

 Grants

Applications for grants from that office help congregations within the Native American Presbyterian community with programming needs. Those interested may submit an application, following the instructions that are included.


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