In December, I accepted
the call to become the Director of Wiconi International. My family and I
are honored to accept this challenge. This is my story:
I am a Pokagon Band Potawatomi Indian from southwest Lower Michigan. My Indian name is Ankwawango, which means, "Hole in the Clouds."
I was born in Allegan,
Michigan in 1957, the first son of the late Leonard and Mary Church of
Dorr, Michigan. My parents were highly respected community members,
supporters and attendees of Salem Indian United Methodist Church. Most
of who I am as a person today reflects their Christian influence in my
life. I am the middle child of seven siblings, and attended high school
in a farming community. I served as a Sergeant E-5 in the United States
Marine Corps from 1980 to 1986. I have been a motorcycle, auto and truck
mechanic, a die casting machine builder, jack-of-all-trades, tinker and
Since military service I
have maintained my physical conditioning as a (Tibo) fitness instructor,
mid-distance triathlon competitor and teammate on the Prince
Corporation running team in
Holland, Michigan. Today, I also enjoy running with my dog Makwa, "Bear," a two year-old
German Shepherd I call my "trainer."
My personal background was God's way of preparing me to develop a contextual evangelism approach that can reach the unreached Native Americans among us. My personal life is also contextual and cross-contextual having
Lora Morgan, a Navajo from Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1990. Although we
are both Native Americans, we come from two very different cultural
traditions-Navajo and Potawatomi. We lived in Michigan for 10 years and
have now lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2000. Our children are
daughters Shandiin, 22; Alilee, 20; Nihoni, 17; Deezbah, 14 and our son
I began my studies by
earning a degree in Anthropology from Grand Valley State University in
Michigan. There I studied the cultures and religions of various Native
tribes, especially those of my own Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes
After completing my
undergraduate degree, I continued my education by attending Grand Rapids
Theological Seminary and later Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena,
California. I am now seeking to further my calling by pursuing a Doctor
of Missiology at Fuller's School of Intercultural Studies.
While working on my
seminary degree, I have maintained a personal involvement with the
Native American community in Albuquerque. I have learned to incorporate
culturally appropriate expressions of worship, which I believe will free
Native American people to more fully understand the Creator from within
their Native worldview.
During our years in Albuquerque, my wife and I have continued to
serve as Wiconi International representatives to the Southwest through
various ministry forms in order to promote contextual ministry
awareness. We've accomplished this by pastoring a ministry and hosting aMany Nations One Voice conference. We also host a contextual musical group at our home church in Albuquerque.
I serve on the board of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS),
and participate in their symposiums. Most recently I presented a paper
titled "Creating Native American Expressions of Christian Faith" at the
2014 NAIITS symposium at George Fox Seminary, Newberg, Oregon.
My family and I have been involved with the Wiconi Family Camp and Powwow for the past decade. I
worked with Richard Twiss, assisting in various aspects of camp and the
powwow. My children "grew up" coming to Family Camp and dancing in the
Since the passing of Dr.
Richard Twiss (Sicangu Lakota), I was asked first to become Family Camp
Director and now as the Director of Wiconi. I willingly step into this
position in order to use my gifts and talents in leading Wiconi as we
make our way forward on this exciting journey.
Despite the many
challenges presented, my wife and I are excited about the great
potential that exists-the great privilege to follow Dr. Twiss' example
of calling out a new generation of young Native American leaders who
will love and follow Jesus and share Him in such a way that many Native
people will rise up and say, "This is good news!"
To that end we live and
to that end we serve. I look forward to working with all those involved
with Wiconi International and other ministries. Lora and I ask for your
prayers as we serve you and the Lord in this new season of our journey.
Director, Wiconi International
Copyright 2006 Wiconi International
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