Friday, April 10, 2015


This is a brief explanation about Native American Indian Sunday. Two-column, back-to-back piece, if desired.

APRIL 19, 2015

Some frequently asked questions……….

There are over 18,000 known Native people in The United Methodist Church. The largest group are members within the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, but Native United Methodists and ministries may be found from the tip of Florida to Alaska. Native people serve the church in every capacity and their churches have the highest percentage of female pastors in the denomination.

Which is proper: Native American or American Indian? Either is acceptable. In The United Methodist Church we generally use Native American/Alaskan Native in official publications. Most Native people in the lower 48 states still call themselves "Indian.” Some prefer to be tribally specific, such as "I am Hidatsa.”

The term Native American was developed to include American Indians and Alaskan Natives together. In Canada, Native people are called Aboriginal People, or Natives. Currently, the word Native is used to describe the collective indigenous population of North and South America.

Do Native Christians worship differently from other Christians? Primarily, no. Native United Methodists believe in the theology and polity of The United Methodist Church. In visiting a United Methodist Native congregation, you would find many similarities. Like any other local congregation, Native churches incorporate elements of culture, work, and interest into their worship experiences.
There are unique features in some Native churches and ministries that are often a part of the worship experience. Most Native worship services include the singing of hymns in one or several Native languages. Some churches do not have piano or organ, while some choose not to use them during traditional hymn singing.

Why do we observe Native American Sunday--or What makes Native people special? Within the Body of Christ, every person, every culture has unique gifts to refresh the Church. The contributions of Native people, as individuals and groups are not more important than the contributions of other Christians. Native people, however, are among the poorest and most marginalized of society and also the Church. The unfortunate fact is that people without "power” of wealth or social status tend to be overlooked.

There are over 554 federally recognized (those with nation-to-nation status with the U.S. federal government) Native tribes, nations and villages in the United States. This does not include state recognized tribes, or those in the process of recognition with states or the federal government. In addition to these, there are over 500,000 people of primarily Native blood who are ineligible for tribal membership for one reason or another. Add these to the numbers of indigenous people from Central and South America and Canada, and one gains a picture of the complexity of cultures and backgrounds that represent Native people in the United States and The United Methodist Church.

Most tribes still retain unique language, culture, religions, government and a physical tribal home. Some have lost original languages and many customs, but have retained a sense of identity as a people. There is simply no one "Indian" way of thinking, feeling, or worshipping. In order to become aware of Native people, one must be intentional in the process of ministering to them.

Native American Ministries Sunday affords the opportunity of Native and non-Native United Methodists across the denomination to become aware of the lives, gifts and ministries of Native people. Conferences are encouraged to develop ministries for and with the Native people who live within them.This special Sunday also allows Native people the opportunity to fully participate in the life of the conference. They cannot do that unless we, the Church, know who they are.

Proceeds from Native American Ministries Sunday offerings support Native ministries within conferences, provide educational assistance for Native Americans in the form of scholarships, and assist with the establishment of urban Native ministries.

Consider making a special gift to Native American Indians. One way is to give to the Native American Comprehensive Plan Advance #982615. You may give online.

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