Evangelism is the Focus for Native American Ministries
By Linda Green
United Methodist News Service
Promoting evangelism, assisting in new church starts and revitalizing existing congregations are the plans of the task force charged with encouraging Native American participation in the life of The United Methodist Church.
The evangelistic focus for the Native American Comprehensive Plan parallels the denomination�s aggressive vision of �Path One,� the newly organized strategy team on new congregational development under the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Meeting Sept. 27 in
The plan also seeks new ways to address poverty in Native America and provide native resources for the church and world. The Texas Annual Conference was represented at the national conference in
�Our ultimate goal is to increase the number of faith communities and congregations across the United States and make new Native American disciples of Jesus Christ,� according to the Rev. Anita Phillips, the plan�s executive director.
Aligning with Path One
Phillips calls Path One an exciting venture because the denomination �is no longer hiding from the reality of declining numbers, but rather we are claiming a future and an identity in Jesus Christ.� Path One, she said, �approaches the decline in the
Since 1964, the denomination has experienced a 27 percent
The Path One team, organized earlier this year, seeks to help the church start 650 new United Methodist congregations by 2012. The new emphasis on church growth aims to return the denomination to its evangelistic heritage of starting a new congregation every day.
The Native American Comprehensive Plan and its 19- member task force were created under a mandate by the 1992 General Conference, the denomination�s top legislative body, to help United Methodists view Native Americans as partners in ministry rather than as a mission of the church. It seeks to make disciples for Jesus Christ within the Native American community while recognizing the unique cultures and languages of native people.
Specifically, the plan�s mandate is to develop and strengthen native congregations, ministries and fellowships; train and develop native leaders; and encourage their contributions to the life of the church. Key to each area is contributions that Native American cultures and spiritual expression bring to the mission of the whole church. The focus on new church starts and revitalization of Native American congregations is the genesis behind the plan�s request to the 2008 General Conference to move from the umbrella of the church�s Board of Global Ministries to its Board of Discipleship, according to the Rev. David Wilson, chairman of the plan.
�We are shifting from being a mission to reminding the church of what we contribute to its life and our wanting to be a resource for the denomination.
We are more than a mission. We are viable and have contributions to make to the church,�
Beginning next Feb. 14-15 in
The Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes 561 tribal governments in the country, and the 2003
For more information regarding Native American ministry in the
Shepherd Drive Fellowship is an outreach ministry of Memorial Drive United Methodist Church. Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville,