23 Aug SYNOD OF THE SOUTHWEST SPONSORS NATIVE AMERICAN THEOCADEMY PROJECT
The Synod of the Southwest is the location of Presbyterian ministry among seven different tribal communities and one intertribal urban community. In 2015 a unique venture was undertaken to bring educational opportunities to the church leaders in these locations. Most do not have teaching elders or commissioned ruling elders and in the past traveled hours to the Phoenix metropolitan area for classes taught through Cook Native American Ministries (formerly Cook School) or Synod conferences.
This current project consists of classes co-led by a Native American minister and non-Native American minister using the curriculum that was originally produced for online use, and is now available for purchase in DVD format through the Synod of Mid-America. The classes meet monthly as much as possible and cover a variety of topics from the Reformed faith tradition to church membership to the creeds and preparation for ordered ministry. Currently there are four class locations: Sells, AZ; Gila River Community or Ft. McDowell, AZ; the Navajo Nation; and Laguna Pueblo, NM. Additional sites within these areas may be added as other leaders are recruited.
The classes have proven to be a positive resource to those who have been able to attend. Church leaders gain knowledge about the Presbyterian church and discuss issues that arise in their ministry settings. One goal of the project is to provide enough support for any who may sense a call to become a commissioned ruling elder. Another goal is to strengthen relationships among members across this vast Synod both among Native American communities and across boundaries of culture.