Thursday, April 16, 2009

Latest Smoke Signals newsletter from Wiconi

Wiconi International

Smoke Signals from R. Twiss - Cool Stuff
Richard Twiss
Apr 16, 2009

Hau kola,

I trust you are well as spring finally descends upon us. Kath and I are looking forward to new changes coming our way. Now approaching 55 with 33 years of marriage under our belts we continue to grow together as friends and lovers. We’ll be all the way empty nesters soon – NICE! Wiconi is, after our first twelve years, reinventing itself as we look to the future. Got to find and make room for the next generation of leaders to take over in time. I am slowly moving toward completing my doctoral dissertation this year, which will then become my next book with a few more following. Traveling more selectively, encouraging leadership through relationships and seeking new non-churchy, non-hierarchical and corporate organizational models to serve our vision is part of what lies ahead. Thank you very much for your prayers, friendship and financial support in these lean times. Here’s some cool stuff happening.

George Fox Seminary, in partnership with NAIITS, is sponsoring a very important learning experience for those interested in developing a more holistic approach to creation stewardship, other views of biblical community building and serving among Native people. Randy Woodley, Terry LeBlanc, Robert Francis, George Fox faculty, local tribal leaders and myself will be sharing. Topics of deconstructing western dualism, developing a more holistic view of land, creation, agriculture and the environment and learning how Shalom informs us how to live in harmony with all of creation. For more information visit for details.

This July 30 - August 2 we will host our fifth annual powwow and family camp, which is the most dynamic, fun and helpful gathering we host these days. It will again be held in Turner, OR at the Aldersgate Conference Center. We are seeking generous gifts to provide scholarships so financially needy families can attend. We are negotiating reduced prices with the center to make attending more affordable to all. Registration details and prices will be on our website in a week.

New Wine’s Spring Conference on faith and the arts, “Created to Create” will be held on Saturday, April 25th, 2009, at Mosaic in Portland. The conference will highlight the need to see how the Arts are vital to Gospel witness in the twenty-first century, and will draw attention to current artistic expressions in the region and beyond. I am the closing keynote speaker. Visit for details.

The North American Institute of Indigenous Theological Studies is hosting is fourth symposium this June 4-6 in Langley, British Columbia at Trinity Western University. This is a tremendous opportunity to learn from leading Native pastors, scholars and theologians about rethinking what missions, discipleship and pastoring means when it is informed by a native worldview orientation. This year there will be a special focus given to making space for the next generation of Indigenous leaders. Indigenous Church: Expressions of Community is the theme of this year’s symposium. For more information visit and look on the home page for the NAIITS info.

I have been invited once again to participate in a gathering with African national and international scholars, theologians, pastors and leaders to dialogue about post-colonial Christianity in Africa for the next 50 years. It is the same conversation Indigenous believers are having around the world, including here in North America. I am praying about the necessary funds to make the trip. Please visit - for details about this unique event

Two weekends ago Kath and I hosted our national staff and board members for our second Wiconi family retreat on Whidbey Island near Seattle. We are so grateful to have such amazing people that Creator has allowed us to walk together with. Thirty-one people made the trip from as far away as Flagstaff, AZ, Winnipeg, MB, Albuquerque, NM and Oregon and Washington.

As we look to the next ten years, we are challenged about the kind of organizational structure that will best enable us to fulfill our vision of communicating the Gospel among our First Nations people. We are convinced that a conventional corporate church ministry model does not suit us, yet struggled to find language to describe both who and what we are.

Our vision has brought us to consider again the Lakota concept of tiyospaye (tea-yo-shpa-yea) “extended family.” In many First Nations cultures extended family describes notions of kinship. We are a family beyond the “nuclear family” concept. It is much broader and more inclusive concept that stretches beyond “blood” relatives into the village and beyond. We hope to engage with one another in tiyospaye as an organizational model for Wiconi and see where we are in relationship with one another as a way to collectively fulfill our calling to make Jesus known in ways that transforms people, families and communities.

Why: Removing Barriers - Building Bridges

In what ways will we genuinely bring hope into the brokenness in our Native communities that results in fulfilling our mission of…

Encouraging People, Strengthening Families and Building Healthy Communities in the Spirit of Jesus

In the next three years, we’ll do our mission together, as co-workers in the following three areas in a way that attempts to match our talk with our walk

The What: Three main expressions/ strategies

Local Rootedness – In 2009 we will strategically focus on becoming rooted in our local native communities (every city/region where our staff live) in the Portland/Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest region.

· I will become an active, participating member of Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians tribal leadership organization.

· I will become an active “official” participating member of the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland.

· Mending Wings and Wiconi International will organize and co-host an annual Northwest Native Youth Conference beginning in June 2011.

National Presence – Through speaking engagements (churches, conferences, seminars) and participation in various ministry and organizational initiatives Wiconi will maintain a strong national presence.

· I will continue co-hosting the NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) Native Prayer Breakfast.

· I will continue serving as Vice-chair and board member NAIITS (Native American Institute of Theological Studies).

· Continue our annual Living Waters Powwow and Family Camp in the Northwest and in partnership with those wanting to host one in their region.

· I will co-lead our Rosebud Reservation Cross-cultural Immersion course in partnership with Sioux Falls Seminary and NAIITS.

International Influence

· My participation as a “Keeper of the Vision” of the WCGIP (World Christian Gathering of Indigenous People) Movement

· Dancing Our Prayers Teams Cultural Outreaches

· Writing books, articles, and teaching materials to support local indigenous “self-theologizing” movements that will be translated into Spanish and French to reach a broader Indigenous audience.

Growing in our faith in Christ is not always clear or predictable. Its more of great adventures into parts unkown at this stage of the emerging indigenous church. Wiconi International is poised to continue playing a significant role in that emergence for the sake of future generations of Native people.

Lila Pilamaya,

Richard Twiss

Wiconi International

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