Native Life Celebration - First Nations Conference

Northwest Foursquare Church

Federal Way, WashingtonMarch 20-22, 2009


Here is brief report on the three-day Native Life Celebration conference held at Northwest Foursquare church in Federal Way, Washington just south of Seattle. I was invited to attend and meet Native leaders from the Northwest and Alaskan area. Last year I attended a Native Summit in Anchorage and this conference in Seattle was an opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends and meet new ones as well come under the teaching and mentoring of respected native and non-native leaders.



The conference was sponsored by the Northwest First Nations under the leadership of Jeff Yellow Owl, the Foursquare First Nations District Supervisor, and was hosted by the Northwest Foursquare Church for the fifth year. Pastor Steve Schell and his congregation worked alongside First Nations saints and achieved remarkable three-days of fun, fellowship and enlightenment for all who attended.


Part of the event was a weekend-long Native Market held in the gymnasium of the church. Native wares from at least twenty vendors were displayed and offered for sale including drums, necklaces, artworks, books, memorabilia and food! The food was available all weekend and included breakfasts, lunches and dinners with such delicacies as native tacos, chili and the third food group – muffins, Danishes and other sticky buns! Mom.


Here are some general views of the Native Market.






Conference Highlights


I arrived on the Thursday afternoon and attended the leaders planning meeting that evening and enjoyed meeting many new friends as well as several from Alaska who came down to participate in the conference. There was a team of over twenty who came down from Alaska and that was certainly was a highlight for me. I had met many of them last year at the Indigenous Ministries of Alaska (IMA) summit held in Anchorage. (See my report at It was especially good to see Pastors James & Yvonne Brenn of Skyline Foursquare Church in Anchorage.


Several First Nations leaders from this area went up as well and it was good to get reacquainted while in Seattle.


Pastors James & Yvonne Brenn from Anchorage receiving a blanket from Corb Morgan


Praise & Worship


The main conference started Friday morning and registration was brisk. I never did find out how many attended the conference but it looked like several hundred came through for all or some part of the three days. The praise and worship was led by several groups including a husband and wife duet from Indiana called Rain Song. Terry & Darlene Wildman are exceptional musicians and song writers but their main gifting is taking their audience to a worshipful place like no other I have heard. A highlight for me was their renditions of Bible stories and Bible passages put in English-native language and music.



Terry & Darlene of “Rain Song”            Terry at the display table of “Rain Song”


As well, Kenny Pretty-On-Top (Jr) from Crow Agency, Montana and his worship team lead at many of the sessions. Kenny is a very gifted guitarist who again brings into focus the worship of our Lord Jesus Christ. They did an excellent blend of newer and older contemporary Christian music.



Kenny Pretty-On-Top Jr and his Praise Team led powerful worship on several occasions


During other sessions as well as in the Native Market Guy Peters from Alaska led worship.


Grand Entry


Saturday night saw the highlight of the conference in the open to the public Native Life Celebration Concert with a Grand Entry, music by several people including Guy Peters from Alaska, Kenny Pretty-On-Top and Rain Song. In addition, there were many dancers in regalia that were called upon not only at the concert but several other times by the various Praise Groups to dance before the Lord.


The church sanctuary was packed and the large overflow area was filled to capacity. Pastor Steve he has never seen so many people in his church for an event. He was blessed and blessed others by his words that evening.


Here are some pictures from the evening.



The Grand Entry was fantastic and included many Veterans and Native Leaders



Chief Ernest Gadwa from Alberta, Canada     Pastor Steve Schell spoke blessed us all



Dancers performed many times and were called on frequently by the worship Groups.


Workshops and Messages


On Friday and Saturday several workshops were presented on topics including “Getting to know Foursquare First Nations” by Frank East, “Protocol in Indian Country” by Kenneth Pretty-On-Top Sr, Preaching Principles that Cross Cultures” by Bruce Nordquist.


As well, Jerry Chapman led a session on Native Drumming (he is an excellent and Spirit-filled drummer), Rita Lundry led a session on Mission and Vision and Jan & Corb Morgan facilitated a session on Children’s Outreach in Indian Country.


All in all, there was something for everyone. I especially appreciated the workshop on Protocol and learned a lot from a senior native statesman – thank you Kenneth.



Bruce Nordquist on Preaching Principles across cultures 


The main session messages were powerful by speakers such as Jeff Yellow Owl (Blackfoot), James Brenn of Skyline Foursquare Church in Anchorage, Ken Pretty-On-Top (Crow) from Montana, Mike Curtis (Athabascan/Inupiat) from Alaska as well as Pastor Steve himself. The messages were powerful and certainly spoke to my heart about what is happening in ‘Indian Country’ and how the Lord is moving in powerful ways using any whose heart is open to Him and to Native Ministry.


Jeff Yellow Owl – bringing a good word to the Conference


I made a few notes and just want to share some of them with you.


-         If you are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, you will not produce 'fruit' immediately because this indwelling is the early rain that starts the growing process. It is the latter rain - that late rain that did the final ripening of the crop that produces the Fruit of the Spirit and comes later after humility and submission.

- There are many attitudes and actions that can stop ministry and many that can help ministry. Those things that stop or limit ministry include ... unforgiveness, cynicism, pride and gossip. Things that help ministry are knowing that God is Lord of the Harvest - not us, Not only must the Word be preached but it must be lived, we must have the Word IN us, we must step INTO His calling by stepping OUT in faith and we must repent of sin and wrongs done.

- To be culturally sensitive and useful in a culture we must know the PROTOCOL of the groups we want to minister in and with. There is much to be learned from coming alongside a contact who knows the culture - no ‘Lone Rangers’ allowed.

- We cannot walk in the Spirit until we have lived in the Spirit - that is, we must have a firm vertical relationship with God before we can walk our walk horizontally.


Old and New Friends - thanks


I want to mention some of the many brothers and sisters that I met for the first time during this conference. The Lord has a plan and purpose for bringing his children together and it was evident during the three days.


I especially enjoyed meeting Charles and Brenda Twist of Buffalo Lodge First Nation Ministries from Bakersfield, California. Thanks for your friendship and wonderful humor. It was equally good to meet Gary & Pat Walker of Firestarters Ministries and Pastor Jim Edwards of Dallas, Oregon. Another couple who blessed me was Marshall Tall Eagle and his wife Lauretta White Sparrow of Tall Eagle Ministries.


Also, it was good to meet Pastor Bruce Brown of Vancouver Native Pentecostal Church. I met one of his associate Pastors in Toronto just a week earlier. It was great to meet up with Richard Twiss of Wiconi International again and with Leonard John of Fairbanks, Alaska. There were so many great saints there at the conference and I want to bless you all and thank you for accepting this ‘Canuk’ from the East of Canada!


I cannot forget to mention Corb and Jan Morgan – the organizers of so much of the conference. I had been in e-mail contact several times and it was so good to meet them. Thanks to Pastor Steve for his welcoming church! As well, it was a pleasure to meet Sharon Lueck of the church who I could see was such a great organizer of the conference that flowing as smoothly as it did – thanks Sharon.



Here are a few other photographs of the Conference.



JR Bird, Ken(Sr) & Kenny(Jr) Pretty-On-Top.     Pastor Bruce Brown from Vancouver

                                                        with Leonard John from Alaska

                                                       Enjoying the Native food.



Pastor Mike Curtis (Alaska) preaching and his wife Barbara with her beautiful necklaces.



Doug Yates (from Alaska) & myself             Evangelist Gary Simple of Sacred

(He is some fantastic artist!)                         Ground Ministries – Alaska


Frank & Mary East of Foursquare First Nations – a blessed and blessing couple


It was such a blessing to be part of the Conference and to be looked after so royally by all there. I want to especially thank my hosts who opened their home and their van to me. Thanks so much to Chuck and Peggy Paul of Des Moines! Bless you.

My wonderful hosts - Chuck & Peggy


© Three Cord Ministries – 2009


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