November 20, 2010

RainSong's musical ministry

Sacred heritage

American Indian culture sustained in music ministry

By Rosa Salter Rodriguez
One American Indian pastor offered a purification ceremony using the smoke of burning sage and offered prayers by ceremonially smoking kinnikinnick, an Ojibwe Indian tobacco-herb blend. Heartland Pastor Ron Allen prayed to Creator Father God by turning with the assembled people to the the east, west, north and south–the four directions held sacred by many tribes of native peoples.

Then the drum was officially named–Mino-Mashkiki Ode, which in the Ojibwe language means Good Medicine Heart–and sounded.

The service reflected the ministry of Wildman and his wife, Darlene, two Michigan-born, award-winning gospel musicians whose mission is easing the relationship between American Indians and the Christian church.

The couple travel to churches and other gatherings to perform American Indian music as the group RainSong.
And:He’d grown up hearing his grandfather was Ojibwe (also known as Chippewa), the tribe that historically occupied much of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, and that his grandmother was Yacqui from the Sonora region of Mexico. But no one in his family had embraced their heritage, he says.

He became fascinated, and he and Darlene decided to move to Arizona from the Grand Rapids, Mich., area in the early 1990s to be closer to American Indians.

There, they got involved with a Christian mission society that worked among the Navajo and Hopi Indians and discovered what Wildman calls the “cultural barrenness” of Christian worship on reservations.

Soon, he and Darlene began writing and performing songs in church that melded a Christian message with American Indian instruments, sounds, language and imagery–and a contemporary folk-rock vibe.
Comment:  For another musical Native ministry, see Minister, Musician, Cherokee. For more on the tension between Christianity and Native religions, see Sharia Ban Could Ban Tribal Law and Jemez Cancels Cultish Halloween.

Below:  "Darlene and Terry Wildman with Sean Soukkala, right, are RainSong. They perform Christian music with an American Indian emphasis." (Cathie Rowand/The Journal Gazette)

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