Innovative Ministry Spotlight: Celebrating Native Americans
“All people of all ages coming together to celebrate Christ through Native American culture”
Individuals with tribal affiliations ranging from Mohawk, Lipan Apache, Cherokee-Creek, and Coharie have been sharing and celebrating their heritage together for over five years at the Third Sunday fellowship that meets at St. Mark’s UMC in Midtown Houston every month. “When I joined the group four years ago, we had a yearly Powwow at the West Campus of First UMC and our dance competitions and music provided a wonderful way that Methodists can honor Native American youth and adults across the city wanting to keep their heritage alive,” reports Rose Brewer, an active member of the Committee on Native American Ministry. “In 2010, we moved the venue to McKaskle Retreat Center to provide a space to allow an expanded experience in a more natural setting. We now call it our Native American Cultural Day, and invite local dancers to provide an exhibition Powwow, and we’ve added classes such as pottery, basket making, culinary arts. The next Cultural Event will be held in April 2013 and is open to all." For more information email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to Brewer, the Book of Discipline encourages Methodist churches to develop and strengthen Native American ministries in the annual conferences and in target cities of the Native American Urban Initiative of the General Board of Global Ministries, and to provide scholarships for them to attend United Methodist schools of theology.”
The Third Sunday events include a worship service featuring a rotation of primarily Native American pastors. Two members of the fellowship play flute, two play guitar, and one the auto harp, often providing music, but each month the group sings from the Voices Hymnal that has traditional hymns in many Native languages. “The group is very diverse and all of our events are open to any who want to share with Native American’s their culture and deep Christian spirituality,” notes Brewer. “Our group can sometimes be small, but we enjoy each other and have new visitors each month.”
“Since I was able to get Sayani, an award-winning mother-daughter Native American musical group as our special guests for the August 19 Third Sunday, we asked them to perform at morning worship for our annual Native American Ministries Sunday at St. Mark’s UMC on Pecore.” The ministry of Sayani, which means Zion in Cherokee, is to reach out to Native Americans with their music, and to share their culture with non-natives in the same way. Adds Rose, “Everyone in the morning and afternoon services truly enjoyed Sayani’s remarkable giftedness in singing and dancing.”