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Native American Ministries Sunday: Your Offerings at Work!

by Anita Phillips

Anita Phillips: executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan.
Anita Phillips is the executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan.
Image by: United Methodist News Service

My name is Anita Phillips and I want to share how Native American Ministries Sunday and the special offering received on this Sunday has helped on so many levels within my own life and within the Native American community.  Creator God has moved within my life in many ways.  One has been a special stirring of my spirit by the Holy Spirit when I need to venture beyond my home community and step into formal seminary education. 

After completing an M.S.W. in 1985 and an M.Div. in 1995, I thought my formal education was over.  I greatly enjoyed my work within the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference as a clergy elder.  However, three years ago my spirit was stirred and I felt called to enter a doctoral program.  It just so happened the very summer I began to explore options for this calling, I learned that Drew Theological School, a United Methodist seminary, would be offering D.Min. courses in Northeast Oklahoma, not far from where I was working in extension ministry!  An important part of the D.Min. requirements included a mandatory four weeks during the following summer when I would travel to Drew University in New Jersey for on-site classes.  I knew that without financial assistance I would be unable to afford the cost of travel, tuition, room and board.

I had heard about the Native American Seminary Award administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.  I learned that funds received through the Native American Ministries Sunday offering made it possible to offer these awards to Native American United Methodists who aspired to seminary degrees.  I was privileged to receive this award and am now in the final stage of the D.Min. program at Drew University.  With God's help, I will graduate next year.

And now, as Paul Harvey says, the rest of the story…  As an elder in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, I also served as a mentor to local pastors who are completing the educational requirements in their journey to become conference elders.  I have served as mentor to two local pastors who both have been recipients of the Native American Seminary Award.  I certainly can testify to the fruit that is being born for Christ's Church through this offering.

And finally …  I am now serving as the Executive Director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of our Church.  We are one of five national racial-ethnic plans formally recognized by the General Conference.  In this capacity I have had the chance to witness the awesome work being done in other ways through this special Sunday and this special offering.  Many Native American churches have been blessed to receive grants for items such as hymnals, Bibles, children's ministries and handicap access renovation.  Many annual conference use part of this special offering to fund their Committees on Native American Ministries (CONAM) which enables annual conferences to be active, engaged and responsive to Native American tribes, reservations, communities and families within their conference boundaries. 

Through the efforts of Native American Ministries Sunday and its special offering, I can truly say I have witnessed God's hand at work through the people of The United Methodist Church.

See Also...
Topic: Communities GBGM programs Special Sundays United Methodist Church
Geographic Region: United States
Source: GBGM Mission News

arrow icon. View Listing of Missionaries Currently Working in: United States   

Date posted: Apr 04, 2008