United Methodists Contribute to Native Center, Site of 1864 Massacre
by Andrew J. Schleicher
Fort Worth, Texas, May 2, 2008--The United Methodist Church will contribute to the development of a learning center on the site where in 1864 a Methodist preacher was responsible for the deaths of 150 Native Americans.
The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site Research and Learning Center is in Colorado. The United Methodist Church will give $50,000, according to action by the 2008 General Conference, which conducts the official business of the denomination at a meeting every four years.
Sand Creek is the place where on November 29, 1864, Col. John Chivington, a Methodist preacher and leader of a local district of the US Army, led an early morning attack on a Native American village.
At least 150 Native Peoples, mostly women and children, were killed at the site 160 miles southeast of Denver. Last year the site was opened to the public.
The 1996 General Conference expressed its regret and issued an apology for the actions of this Methodist. Today it approved a budget that included $50,000 to assist the National Park Service in building up the Research and Learning Center.
The 2008 General Conference petition originated with the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, and that agency will continue to work with the park service regarding the historic site and center. However, the funds for the center development will come out of the existing General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) budget. This is intended to show that the money comes from the entire church. The General Board of Global Ministries maintains interest in Sand Creek via its Native American office.
The General Conference approved the initial request by a vote of 426 to 378. The primary concern was that the money had not been previously budgeted, but the GCFA and Connectional Table agreed to take the funds out of the GCFA budget. The final budget was approved by 96 percent of the General Conference.
*Freelance journalist Andrew J. Schleicher is a member of the General Conference communications team for the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: May 02, 2008