Dr. Richard Twiss, 1954–2013


President of Wiconi International was scheduled to speak at Phoenix 2013

Dr. Richard Twiss, president and founder of Wiconi International

With sadness we share the news of the passing of Dr. Richard Twiss. On Saturday he entered a new chapter of life—communion with the Creator.

Twiss, 58, of Vancouver, Wash., a member of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate from the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, passed away Feb. 9, 2013, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week in Washington, D.C. He was slated to speak in Phoenix on July 1 at the opening adult worship service of Mennonite Church USA’s biennial convention.

Twiss was president of Wiconi International, an organization that works to promote community, strengthen culture and foster spiritual vitality among Native American or First Nations people.

Wiconi means “life” in the Lakota/Sioux language; Twiss and his wife, Katherine, founded the organization in 1997.

According to Wiconi International’s website, Twiss was committed to “creating opportunities for the betterment of our Native people and communities through advancing education, culture, family and spirituality—in the Spirit of Jesus.” He was a widely traveled and popular speaker, activist, educator, author and networker among innovative thinkers within the Native North American and Indigenous community internationally. He held a doctorate in intercultural studies (cultural anthropology, primal and folk religions and the history of Christian mission) from Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Ky. He and his wife had four sons.

“Our prayers go out to the Twiss family and Wiconi International,” says Glen Alexander Guyton, director of finances and convention planning for Mennonite Church USA. “Brother Twiss was a dynamic speaker, and we mourn his loss. We pray that that his message and ministry will live on through the many lives he has touched throughout the years. The convention planning staff asks that you please keep the Twiss family in your prayers.”

To learn more about Twiss, see http://www.wiconi.com/?cid=613. See also the heartfelt tributes to him from Red Letter Christian speakers and authors at http://www.redletterchristians.org/we-miss-you-richard-twiss/.


—Mennonite Church USA staff