Taking the Jesus Road: The Ministry of the Reformed Church in America among Native Americans

Article excerpt

Taking the Jesus Road: The Ministry of the Reformed Church in America Among Native Americans. By LeRoy Koopman. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005. Pp. 526. $49.

LeRoy Koopman's Taking the Jesus Road is a well-documented account of the work of the Reformed Church in Native American communities for over a hundred years. A very thorough account of every Native American ministry and associated work of the church, every minister and lay worker, both Native and non-Native, this volume is one of the most recent of the Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America. An appendix listing all Native American ministries and personnel, with their locations and years served, numerous photos throughout, and careful scholarship in readable prose make this book a valuable resource for both church and academy.

Koopman analyzes the very mixed legacy of American Indian mission work without glossing over the many inconsistencies, failures, and disappointments. However, he also clearly illustrates the accomplishments, dedication, and faithfulness of Natives and non-Natives involved in the establishment of six viable Reformed Indian congregations. As Koopman notes, the story told is both "inspirational and sobering" (p. ix).

Following a fairly balanced overview of the history of policies and attitudes governing Native American relations, Koopman provides a chronological account of the mission work at each of the Reformed Church mission sites. These are fleshed out with details gleaned from mission reports, letters, church publications, and some personal interviews by the author with both Native and non-Native personnel. …