First Neighbors

A Message From Bishop Jaech

“And so he asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29) Jesus summed up the commandments by teaching his disciples, “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

However, like the man in Luke’s Gospel, we might find ourselves asking, “Who is my neighbor?” Sometimes we literally do not see who our neighbors are, even though they are living right down the street.

In my visits around the Synod these past three years, I’ve been amazed to discover that there are 15 federally recognized Native American reservations within our Synod. This is one of the highest number of tribal reservations within any Synod in our country.

Beyond those living on tribal lands, there are thousands of Native Americans living throughout our cities and towns. Yet, who are these neighbors? What is the story of their people and what are their life-experiences today? What are the gifts that God has given to our Native American neighbors and how might our own faith and ministry grow as we form new relationships with them?

Surviving Tribes of the Olympics: Makah | Hoh | Quileute | Quinault Nation | Skokomish | Squaxin | Suquamish | Jamestown | S'Klallam | Elwha Klallam | Port Gamble S'Klallam | Jamestown S'Klallam
Surviving Tribes of SW Washington: Puyallup | Muckleshoot | Chinook | Yakima | Chehalis | Cowlitz |Kwalhioqua

I invite congregations in our Southwestern Washington Synod to participate with us by using the month of November to celebrate “Native American Heritage Month.” During this month, dedicate time to meet your Native American neighbors. Please use the link found below this video to download the NATIVE AMERICAN AWARENESS MONTH RESOURCES packet which contains history, prayers, worship services and other helpful materials. This packet, assembled by our Synod’s Native American Ministry Team, will help you discover who some of our important nearby neighbors are. As a starting point, where is the closest tribal land to your congregation? Find out who your neighbors are! God has many life-giving surprises waiting for us as we walk this road and meet new friends.

- Bishop Jaech

Download a Native American Awareness Month Resource Package here.