Quadrennial Report of the Native American Comprehensive Plan
The Native American Comprehensive Plan of the
The staff of the Native American Comprehensive Plan include: Executive Director, Ms. Ann Alberty Saunkeah (Cherokee), and Administrative Assistant, Reverend Bernadine A. Dowdy (Choctaw).
There are more than 560 Federally-recognized Indian tribes (sometimes referred to as nations, bands, villages, pueblos, rancheritas, or communities depending on the tribe’s reference) in the United States; 226 of these are located in Alaska. The remainder are located in thirty-four other states. There are a significant number of state-recognized tribes. Each tribe is distinct in language, history, culture, religious traditions and economic base.
As a group, Native people are the most disadvantaged people in U.S. society:
• They have the lowest life expectancy, living only two-thirds as long as Anglos.
• They suffer from an unemployment rate of nearly 45 percent, ten times the national average.
• Nearly two-thirds live below the poverty level. On some reservations, that figure approaches 75 percent.
• They fall well below the national average in quality of housing and education.
In the United States, it is estimated that there are over 500,000 persons of primarily Native blood who are eligible for tribal membership in some form. The result is ineligibility of recognition or government assistance as Native persons. Such persons become marginalized from society, as well as tribal communities.
Due to social conditions, there has been an increase in substance abuse, gang violence, family crisis, and economic underdevelopment. At the same time, the presence of mainline denominational churches/ministries has been declining.
During the 2001-2004 quadrennium, The United Methodist Church, through the extension of the Native American Comprehensive Plan (NACP), has strategically placed itself in ministry with
Native individuals and communities. With the mandate of the 2000 General Conference, the Native American Comprehensive Plan, in cooperation with general boards and agencies, implemented a series of programs through each of its four commitments: Congregational Development, Denominational Presence, Leadership Development, and Native American Spirituality. The commitments have resulted in the following events and on-going programs during the 2001-2004 quadrennium:
Revitalization, Congregational Development and Cooperative Ministries Grants
• Rockingham District Native American Cooperative Ministry Project; Robeson County, North Carolina, Dillon and Marlboro Counties,. South Carolina
The Rockingham District Native American Cooperative Ministry Project represents eleven Native Churches and two affiliate churches. The focus of this ministry is on team ministries, lay ministries, youth ministries and outreach ministries with two small membership churches. Other key areas of emphasis include justice/empowerment ministries in the Rockingham District area.
• Nanticoke Indian Mission United Methodist Church; Millsboro, Delaware
Since its founding in 1881, the Indian Mission UMC has been a part of a charge with non-Indian congregations. Planning began in 1998 to emerge as a distinct rural/reservation ministry. The mission statement of the Nanticoke Indian Mission includes biblically-based worship; social/cultural and traditional services and ministries;
intentional nurturing of children; youth and families; programs of spiritual growth and
self-esteem; and a ministry of presence within the Nanticoke tribal community.
• Hallelujah Project Pickett Chapel UMC; Sapulpa, Oklahoma
This Project began as a community project, but it has grown in scope. There are two components. First, there are services for the elderly. The Project provides a Tuesday meal to many of the elderly living in the community–approximately 40-45 elderly per week. A relationship has been formed with the Sapulpa Indian Club. Members on occasion come and help serve the lunches. It assists those who are unable to go to the nutrition centers in town. Community Health Workers check blood pressure and sugar levels. The second component is a children’s program on Saturdays which involves the youngsters in the community, some of whom live in the Indian Housing located around the church. The children’s program is an enrichment program. The children receive tutoring, study geographic areas, and make projects related to the area they studied. Once a month an activity is planned for the entire family.
• Making Disciples Tohwali UMC; Broken Bow, Oklahoma
Tohwali United Methodist Church is located on three acres in a rural area of Oklahoma. It is a small membership church that is predominately Choctaw. It is a congregation of many children, youth and young adults. Although it is in a rural setting, it has excellent facilities for many activities. The church grounds contains the local church, parsonage, a newly renovated fellowship hall, separate classrooms and a large gymnasium. Events that are planned do not have to be postponed because of the weather. Many of the participants drive great distances to attend the events. The church has just developed a nature trail on the grounds that is used for cultural and environmental education. Activities that have been held were: a health fair, winter children’s activities, gospel songfests, and Local Church Officers’ Training. The church rents out the gymnasium which brings in additional income and community persons.
• Southeast Eagles Project; SE Region Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, Oklahoma
The Southeast Eagles Project of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary conference represents nine rural churches in a predominantly Choctaw Tribal area. Many of the churches are very small local churches, but there are many children. The Project brings together the nine churches for children’s camp and weekend activities, as well as training for adult workers. Resource persons work with the adults in training for Sunday School, vacation Bible school and other activities. The nine churches formed a children’s choir which learned Choctaw songs and hymns, as well as contemporary praise and worship songs. The churches are required to put funds back into the Project if they receive financial assistance.
• Triad UMC; Greensboro, North Carolina
Triad Native American UMC developed a Christian education program for all ages: children, youth, adults and elders. The program includes music ministry, education, Bible study, ethnic identity, drug awareness, family development and women’s and men’s ministry. Triad UMC is the center of the Native community which includes Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem.
• Triangle Native American UMC; Raleigh, North Carolina
Triangle Native American UMC established and developed a United Methodist Church for Native Americans in the Triangle area, which includes the counties of Wake, Orange and Durham, North Carolina. The Triangle Native American UMC holds regular worship services, maintains children and youth programs, and has established itself in the Native community.
Ministries Development Grants
• Norman First American Lambs Pre-Youth Group; Norman, Oklahoma
The Norman First American UMC Pre-Youth Group provides an opportunity for children–ages six through twelve–to grow spiritually, culturally and socially, as it shapes the future leaders into productive, confident, well-rounded individuals who will affect society in a positive manner as they achieve their full potential. At each meeting the participants go through three pods: 1. Bible study; 2. music/traditional arts and crafts; and 3. birthday celebrations/guest speakers/ field trip/tutoring.
Local Church Consultation
• Nanticoke Indian Mission: Pathway for Change: A Congregational Vision Quest; Millsboro, Delaware
Native leaders have been trained in the areas of assessment, biblical centering, evangelism and cultural and community evaluation. They assist local congregations/
ministries in the establishment of goals, developing a local church/community profile, leading to an individual comprehensive plan.
New Native United Methodist Ministries
• Raleigh, North Carolina
The purpose of this ministry is to establish and develop a United Methodist Church to minister primarily to the Native Americans in the counties of Wake, Orange, and Durham, North Carolina.
• Phoenix, Arizona
The establishment and development of a UMC for Native Americans in the Phoenix-Tempe area is the focus of this ministry. There is a large Native population living and working in this area.
• Portland, Oregon
This fellowship offers Native Americans in the greater metropolitan Portland area worship and Bible study. It also works to educate the community on issues facing Native Americans, advocates on behalf of Native American people, works with an established youth program, strengthens Native leadership, assists with the elderly community’s meal and fellowship programs, and serves as a site for cultural celebrations and gatherings.
• Albuquerque, New Mexico
The purpose of this ministry is the establishment and development of a UMC, primarily for the large Native American population in the greater metropolitan Albuquerque area.
• Denver, Colorado
The Denver Native Ministry is just beginning the steps for developing a ministry of presence. The funds were used for mailings and small gatherings.
Jurisdictional Native United Methodist Ministries Grants
The Denominational Presence Committee encouraged and assisted jurisdictions as Jurisdictional Native American Ministries Task Forces were developed:
-Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministry Task Force
-North Central Jurisdiction Native American Ministry Task Force
-South Central Jurisdiction/UMC American Indian Ministry
-Western Jurisdiction Native American Ministry Task Force
The Denominational Committee financially assisted an established Jurisdictional Native American Ministry with two grants:
1. “Celebrating Our Past While Embracing Our Present,” Southeastern Jurisdiction Agency of Native American Ministries; February 2002–a ministers’ retreat at Lake Junaluska. The focus of the retreat was exploring biblical interpretation, Bible study, evangelism, a study on “Discipling Youth”, and areas of need in the Native American local church.
2. South East Jurisdiction Agency for Native American Ministries (SEJANAM) held a summer conference in June 2003. Participants dealt with social issues that exist across the
Jurisdiction. The conference presented biblical and theological mandate to be in ministry with those facing the issues. The Spiritual Minister’s Retreat presented the process of spiritual formation with an emphasis on the six stages of spiritual faith.
“For As Long As The Water Flows–Our Commitment to Native American Ministry”
Annual Conference Committees on Native American Ministry (ACCONAM); Tulsa, Oklahoma; March 1-4, 2001. Each annual conference was invited to send one conference staff member and two members of the Conference Committee on Native American Ministries. Key emphases included:
-creating a strong ACCONAM;
-denominational resources: grants, programs, resource persons; and
-listening project: what are annual conferences needing?
Consultation with Native American Representatives on Boards and Agencies
February 8-11, 2001; Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Consultation for the Native American representatives focused on:
-the Native American Comprehensive Plan;
-expectations of a Board representative/expectations as a Native American Board representative;
-resources of the church;
-speaking the language of the church; and
-developing Native American Leadership.
Training for the Development of a Youth or Young Adult Ministry
A survey, developed in cooperation with the General Council on Ministries, was distributed to local Native American ministries. The area that received the most request for assistance and resources was youth and young adult ministries.
A presentation was prepared using Cokesbury resources, Native-developed resources, print and audio resources. Participants were encouraged to participate in the many hands-on activities.
-Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Task Force; November 15-17, 2002
-Southeastern Jurisdiction Agency for Native American Ministry; June 28, 2003
-South Central Jurisdiction American Indian Ministry; October 24-25, 2003
Grants for Strengthening Native American Denominational Presence
“Voices in the Wind–Connecting our Faith,” March 15-17, 2002; Fayetteville, Arkansas; North Arkansas ACCONAM. The North Arkansas Annual conference was charged by their bishop to “begin ministries where the people are.” The seminar was planned to equip each representative with information to take back to their congregations regarding Native American Ministries Special Sunday offering, along with information pertaining to the potential for developing ministries in the Arkansas area.
Enlarging the Circle
October 24-25, 2003; Tulsa, Oklahoma. The South Central Jurisdiction American Indian Ministry developed a Consultation for American Indian (Native American) Ministries within the South Central Jurisdiction. The consultation’s objectives were:
-Bring together, in a Native American setting, local, conference, jurisdiction and general church resources related to Native American Ministry
-Identify and prioritize the critical issues facing Native Americans within the life and ministry of the church and ways they may effectively be addressed
-Gather to listen and respond to the past, present, and future spirits and voices that will guide the South Central Jurisdiction UMC in celebrating the gifts of Native Americans in making disciples for Jesus Christ
Alaska Federation of Natives
Anchorage, Alaska. The Alaska Federation of Natives has a pre-conference gathering of Youth and Elders. Workshops, presented by the villages, are related to many social problems that face the lower 48 states. Inter-generational program models were presented. Both groups then developed legislation that will be presented to the Alaska Federation of Natives gathering. The Denominational Presence Committee was looking at the Youth and Elders Gathering as a possible model for a gathering in the lower 48 states for the next quadrennium.
Native American UMC Presence in Humanitarian Aid to Native People of Alaska
This is an ongoing project of humanitarian aid to the native people in the Chukotka region. The grant made it possible for a United Methodist Native presence among the various ecumenical agencies.
Native American International Caucus Family Camp 2003, 2002, 2001
The NAIC Family Camp brings together participants who represent a number of different tribes and United Methodist Churches across the denomination. Family Camp is inter-generational with programs specifically for the elders, children, youth and young adults. Participants deal with varied topics: Native American environmental issues, land issues, health-related issues, future generations, and sacred sites.
Native American Film Library
The library serves to house and assemble in a central location many hard-to-locate films and other resources pertaining to Native people. Resources are catalogued and made available to annual conference and individuals, both Native and non-Native.
Native American Lay Ministry Discovering and Exploring Our Gift
February 7, 8 &9, 2003, Nashville, Tennessee. This event brought together Native persons for training in Lay Speaking. It provided the basic course in lay speaking, as well as advance training, in: Lay Speakers Lead in Worship; Lay Speakers Lead Bible Study; and a recertification
course, Lay Speakers Grow Spiritually through Daily Discipline. Led by Native American United Methodist workshop leaders, the event focused on: teaching ways of incorporating contemporary and Native styles of worship; addressing the needs of the Native small membership church; and addressing issues facing Native United Methodist churches.
“A Story to Tell, A Faith to Share” Native American School of Evangelism
September 12-14,2003; Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Native American School of Evangelism brought together Native local church teams from across the denomination. This event provided formational training in evangelism for Native local church communities. With a core staff of Native ministry professionals, key focus was provided in the areas of:
- developing culturally specific resources for Native evangelism
- establishing trust relationships between the church and tribal/urban communities
- Native demographics and congregational development
- the Christian message: healing, hope, and restoration
- Native models of congregational development and ministries
November 15-17, 2003; Chicago, Illinois. The Native American Comprehensive Plan provided the opportunity for ten youth/young adults to attend Exploration 2002 in cooperation with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Cost often prohibits interested youth/young adults from attending events such as these.
Three-year Seminary Scholarships were offered to young adults between the ages of 18-25. The scholarships were offered to encourage younger persons to enter the ministry. Recipients must remain in good standing with the seminary they are currently enrolled in and report to the Native American Comprehensive Plan.
Grants for the Development of Native Leadership
-Lay speaking School; West Michigan and Ohio. The Lay Speaking School followed the model for Lay Speaking as mandated by The Book of Discipline. The Lay Speaking School was made accessible, as well as relevant to the participants. The instructors were Native American, and a cultural component was added to the basic course.
-Native American Course of Study Program; West Michigan. Held in the Spring of 2003, the Native American COS Program made pastoral training economically accessible, culturally interpreted, contextually relevant, and communally comfortable. The majority of the courses were taught by Native American United Methodist clergy and lay leadership, recommended by the Planning Team and approved by the Ohio Valley Regional School Executive Director and board.
-Navajo Ministries; Window Rock, New Mexico. The grant was broken into three components: Pastor’s Training, United Methodist Women, and a Youth Project. Each component dealt with leadership training, culturally-related material, social involvement, and spiritual development.
This was the first time that Window Rock UMC has moved past the immediate community. Workshops, seminars, retreats, conferences and rallies were some of the events.
-Pastor’s Training; Window Rock, New Mexico. Native American presenters were used to relate to the audience, as well as to serve as role models. The pastors received information regarding: parliamentary procedure, how to use audio equipment, how to lead a Bible study, and how to tell their story. Cultural sensitivity was needed to interact with the traditional elders, as well as an Navajo interpreter.
-Lay Speakers Assembly: September 6-7, 2002; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The first Lay Speakers Assembly was held in Oklahoma City with the four regions being represented. Participants were provided an opportunity for interaction with Lay Speakers from other congregations to exchange ideas and information and to experience uplifting, inspirational and motivational presentations.
-Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference Leadership Development Lay Missioner Training Event; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference has a shortage of pastors. To alleviate the situation, the Conference trains lay persons to become Lay Missioners. Lay Missioners serve the churches. Lay Missioners are trained in worship service, conduct of various activities, and cultural awareness. OIMC is represented by a number of Indian tribes, so customs and traditions are shared and discussed. Training Events were held twice a year. Resource persons were brought in to conduct the training. Agency staff also come in and provide additional resources.
-Oklahoma Indian Missionary conference Local Licensing School. The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference offers a local pastor’s licensing school for incoming pastors and those who are exploring the call to ordained ministry. Participants are trained, equipped, and prepared for pulpit ministry. The courses deal with specific ministry with Native Americans in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. Native persons lead all the courses.
-OIMC United Methodist Women Mission Education Event; July 17-20, 2002; Fayetteville, Arkansas. The OIMC UMW Mission Education Event actively involves children and youth in the program. The Mission School stepped into the 21st century with some of the youth and children’s studies being on the Internet.
-Native American Campus Ministry Project; Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference 2002-2003. The Campus Ministry Board of OIMC has been actively involved in ministry to Native American college students for eight years. Working with limited resources, the Board has focused on serving students on four to six campuses in Oklahoma and Kansas. Additionally , some local churches have begun to take the initiative to provide campus ministry using their own volunteers and donations. The goal of all the efforts is to bring a ministry of hospitality and encouragement in the name of Jesus Christ to Native students involved in the pursuit of higher education. This ministry is offered not only to young persons who come from OIMC churches, but also in an ecumenical spirit to all Native students.
Native American Spirituality
Native American Spirituality is woven into each of the three other components: use of Native songs and liturgy, incorporation of cultural art in worship areas, and leadership by Native American clergy and lay leaders.
-High Plains Consultation; 2001, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Consultation assisted persons working with, or seeking to work with, American Indians to increase their understanding of issues and concerns facing the American Indian population in today’s world. Participants were clergy and lay persons who may live on or near a reservation or were interested in working in American Indian ministry.
General Conference Mandate
Economic Development and Empowerment Task Force
The Native American Comprehensive Plan, in cooperation with the General Board of Church and Society, continues to assist The United Methodist Church in its historic commitment to economic justice and empowerment. The Economic Development and Empowerment Task Force is a viable strategy for achieving and ensuring the sovereignty and human rights of Native Americans.
Some ministries explored by the Task force were:
-monitoring public programs and holding decision-makers accountable
-monitoring church programs and holding decision-makers accountable
-site visits to visit Native American communities to listen to issues that may prevent effective economic development
-identifying Native American models for economic empowerment.
It is a time when Native people are called to shape the future of The United Methodist Church among our people by strategically developing ministries and programs unique to each setting. The future of Native ministries within The United Methodist Church lies not in the traditional approach of creating and following a congregational development model. It lies, rather, in developing ministries which are responsive to the history, culture, economic base, and social conditions of the individual communities to which it is committed.
Native people have survived all manner of persecutions to emerge as witnesses to the grace of God. Native people have a testimony and mission within the Church and for our people, wherever they are found.
Date posted: Jan 20, 2004