Saturday, December 16, 2017

Third Sunday in Advent Reflection

Threatened Foods and Churches

Then God said, “I now give to you all the plants on the earth that yield seeds and all the trees whose fruit produces its seeds within it. These will be your food. To all wildlife, to all the birds in the sky, and to everything crawling on the ground—to everything that breathes—I give all the green grasses for food.” And that’s what happened.  God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.   Genesis 1:29-31a  CEB

Water is the first food needed for life. Salmon is a major source of food for native people of the Columbia River Gorge and its tributaries. When the US Government moved Native People from their usual lands to reservations, less healthy foods (wheat flour, lard and salt) were the staples supplied/ introduced to tribes who were accustomed to a diet of salmon, deer, root vegetables and berries. Today, there is a growing movement to restore Native American health by reclaiming traditional diets and food-ways and increasing access to nutritious food.

Rev. Irvin Porter is Associate for Native American Congregational Support in the PC(USA). He is cultivating health in the 95 churches and chapels of Native American Presbyterians, which are part of the Presbyterian Church (USA). These congregations need sustainable resources to bring spiritual food to their communities.

Irv focuses prayers and his energy to the Native American Youth Conference and its Youth Council to form young leaders. Of the four adult advisors to the last conference, three were participants as youth and the fourth was the conference organizer! Most Native churches are served by older commissioned ruling elders (lay pastors) and retired part-time clergy. Irv is raising funds for an endowment to support the Youth Conference.

Prayer: God of all life, may our relationship with you recognize how closely our wellbeing is tied to that of all creation. May we honor the inextricable connection between nutrition, food, health, the land and the relationship of Indigenous People to the land and water. Amen.

Rev. Irvin Porter is descended from three Native American tribes: T’hono O’odham, Pima, and Nez Perce. He grew up in Phoenix, Arizona and has also lived on the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. He serves part-time for the PC(USA) as the Associate for Native American Congregational Support. Irv is also pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Indian Fellowship, an urban Native PC(USA) congregation in Tacoma, Washington. He is their first Native American pastor in the 141 years since the church was founded among the Puyallup Indians. Irv and his wife live in Puyallup, Washington.

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