A respected American Indian religious educator and cultural consultant is to be a featured speaker at an international gathering of Reformed churches in the United States in June.

Richard Twiss, a member of the Rosebud Lakota/Sioux Tribe, will address the founding meeting of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Grand Rapids, MI, on June 22. He is co-founder and president of Wiconi International, an organization supporting Christian ministry in indigenous communities throughout the United States and the Americas.

Twiss replaces the originally-scheduled keynote speaker, Wilma Mankiller, following her death in early April.

The June 18-28 Uniting General Council (UGC) will mark the merger of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) and the Reformed Ecumenical Council (REC) to form the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Member churches include Presbyterian, Congregationalist, Waldensian, United and Uniting churches representing 80 million adherents in 214 countries.

Organizers expect up to 1,000 people to gather for the 10-day event from North America, Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East and Pacific.

Stephen Kendall, a member of the UGC planning team, says the keynote presentation will focus on the present-day concerns and aspirations of indigenous peoples in the United States.

“This will enhance the understanding of all UGC delegates as they reflect on the historic relationship between the church and the First Peoples of North America and the need for healing and reconciliation,” Kendall says.

Issues affecting American Indian and Canadian First Nations peoples figure prominently in the UGC agenda. Program highlights include the ceremonial invitation by local tribal leaders for delegates to meet in their land; workshop opportunities; and, after Twiss’s presentation, an afternoon of activities in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

The feature will be a Pow Wow to which the public is invited, with artists’ and vendors’ displays, as well as a Christian worship service led by indigenous members of North American denominations who are in the  WCRC.