Monthly Archives: September2014

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Tash Smith’s book is available on Amazon (click here to purchase).

In 1844, on the heels of the final wave of the forced removal of thousands of Indians from the southern United States to what is now Oklahoma, the Southern Methodist Church created a separate organization known as the Indian Mission Conference to oversee its missionary efforts among the Native communities of Indian Territory. Initially, the Church conducted missions as part of the era’s push toward assimilation. But what the primarily white missionaries quickly encountered was a population who exerted more autonomy than they expected and who used Christianity to protect their culture, both of which frustrated those eager to bring Indian Territory into what they felt was mainstream American society.

In Capture These Indians for the Lord, Tash Smith traces the trajectory of the Southern Methodist Church in Oklahoma when it was at the frontlines of the relentless push toward western expansion. Although many Native people accepted the missionaries’ religious practices, Smith shows how individuals found ways to reconcile the Methodist force with their traditional cultural practices. When the white population of Indian Territory increased and Native sovereignty came under siege during the allotment era of the 1890s, white communities marginalized Indians within the Church and exploited elements of mission work for their own benefit.

Later, with white indifference toward Indian missions peaking in the early twentieth century, Smith explains that as the remnants of the Methodist power weakened, Indian membership regained control and used the Church to regenerate their culture. Throughout, Smith explores the complex relationships between white and Indian community members and how these phenomena shaped Methodist churches in the twentieth century.

The CCYM (Conference Council on Youth Ministry) held their organization meeting Saturday, September 13, 2014 at Kaney Chapel UMC. The following officers were elected to lead the conference youth this program year:

President – Nacona Williford, Hunting Horse UMC
Vice-President – Victoria Reyes, Tohwali UMC
Secretary – Freedom Coker, Kaney Chapel UMC
Worship – Julia Spottedbird, D.D. Etchieson
Public Relations – Aaron Eyachabbe, North Oklahoma City Fellowship
Recreation – Matthew Osceola, Big Cussetah UMC
Jurisdiction Representatives – Jennifer LeClair, Ponca Indian UMC and Kathryn Allen, Grant Chapel UMC. These two representatives will serve for two years in this capacity.

The following calendar dates were set: December 12-13 overnight lock-in, Northeast Region; January 4, Quarterly meeting, Mary Lee Clark UMC; March 20-22, Spring Retreat, SW Region Center; May 3, Quarterly meeting, Grace Indian UMC; June 24-28, Youth 2015, Orlando, FL; July 29-August 1, Camp, Camp Canyon; September 19, Organizational meeting, Weleetka Indian.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (New Living Translation) was chosen as the scripture for the year and Follow God's Word Wholeheartedly is the theme that was chosen: And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

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y-ya sager brownMy experience at the 2014 Sager Brown Mission trip was amazing. Not only did I get the opportunity to bond with my fellow OIMC members but I was also given the chance to revisit an old homestead that I was raised on for a few years. The car ride up there and back was something of its own and although it was not as enjoyable, it was a time that we used to kind of get to know each other and sleep. When we finally reached our destination that evening, we were welcomed very warmly and openly.

The full time volunteers expressed the concern they had for us when we showed up late but they went on and gave us a small tour of the areas that we would mostly use.

We were fed cookies upon entering the door and shown our rooms. The first evening as Kathryn, Brittany, and I were unpacking and getting settled in we had our first encounter with the other group of youth that we would be working with. Nancy, one of the younger children’s grandmother burst into the room and roped me into a huge hug. Once the other 3 girls introduced themselves they left us back to our work and soon it was bed time.

Our job of working in the warehouse was fun but exhausting. We were to sort and check the health kits that were being sent in from around the U.S. I know that I probably speak for most of the OIMC group; we realized just how much we all take for granted. We never really have noticed the value of a wash cloth or the value of nail clippers until we were actually packing them so that they can be given to people that had absolutely nothing. In the middle of the week we were given the opportunity to hand out commodities to the needy. Although a couple of us were almost ran over and a few were forced to chase a car to finish packing the groceries in the car, it was a rewarding experience.

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The next morning was the beginning of our adventure. After the first group said a prayer everyone seemed to mingle together to get to know each other. No matter how hard both Kathryn and I tried to avoid the attention and questioning people, two of the full time volunteers found our table and sat next us and Rev. Sam. After asking where we were from and if we played any instruments, the information that they gathered from us was soon spread amongst the camp and we were a sensation. The other group, who turned out to be from Illinois, were soon questioning us about our tribes and our heritage and if our traditional ways had any ties to Christianity or the Bible. The Illinois group was genuinely curious about us and the way of our people. After a few days everyone became attached to each other and no one really wanted to leave. When the planning of the devotion, which would take place the last night, came around a couple people from each group were asked to volunteer to help set up the program and pick the songs. Britteny was the first to volunteer the whole OIMC group to pretty much run the service and that is exactly what happened.

The OIMC lead the worship service that night and enjoyed it. We sang a Creek hymn for our new friends and Larimie and I participated in the instrumental music along with one of the Illinois pastors. It was an amazing experience.

The last day, as we were packing, we said our goodbyes to the staff and all the new family we had met. It was hard but we all did it. We were told to invite more people and come back next year so I am hoping that this can be something that becomes a tradition of some sort. I hope that our group can once again go back next summer at least.

Charlotte Johnson

y-ya sager brown 2We had the best time getting to know each other, I am so proud I have had the chance to participate. We all grew stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually. I enjoyed sharing a space with the ladies Charlotte Johnson and Kathryn Allen. I know that they will be successful in life’s pursuits they already show leadership and grace. Charlotte displayed her musical talent during our Vespers (Evening) Service on the piano and it sounded lovely. Miss Kathryn Allen and Zack Lopez participated as servers for Communion. Zack had the giggles all the way home, by the way! But that made us happy we miss him already. And you may not know it but Mr. C.J Gray was the main reason Zack Lopez was laughing the whole time. He is quite the storyteller and singer. C.J. Gray lead a tribal hymn at the Service as well “Cesvs Purke Likan”.

Our new friends and family from FUMC Dixon, IL really enjoyed us sharing our culture. Larimie Fixin he is an amazing speaker, he led our “Prayer for the People”. I loved hearing his stories and testimonies about Christ. You should go see/hear him preach if you ever get the chance or just talk to him, he is really something.

Pastor Sam Battiest, Jr. has a bigger smile and a larger pep in his step, he couldn’t be prouder.

I can’t imagine how much he has seen us grow. What a sight to see. As for me I helped lead the Vesper Service. I encourage more of us to go every year. You know our Mission Trip to UMCOR Sager Brown July 20-25, 2014 we touch people in the world through Sewing Baby Jackets, Arranging Health Kits, Bedding Kits.

In the community of Baldwin, LA we volunteered at Chez Hope, assembled Wheelchair Ramp Modules, and distributed over 600 boxes of USDA Food Commodities, and our friend from IL, Nancy, helped mow the grass on campus. She was an inspiration and encouraged all of us. So we were humid, hot, and sweaty at times but who knows how many lives we touched. “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven” Matt 5:16

MVTO! Britteny Cuevas
P.S. If you are interested in more information, go to www.umcor.org or facebook.com/UMCOR

oimc-edited-48cx960The Southeast Region Youth held their organizational meeting for the program year 2014-2015 by electing officers and sitting calendar dates. Elected to lead the youth for the new program year are: President, Victoria Reyes, Tohwali UMC; Vice-President, Erika Taylor, Goodwater UMC; Secretary, Andrew Amos, Tohwali UMC; Worship, Mika Taylor, Goodwater UMC; CCYM Representative, Valentina Reyes, Tohwali UMC; CCYM Alternate, Keegan Bohannon, Goodwater UMC; Jr. High Representative, Lauren Johnson, Bokchito UMC.

Activities for the year that were planned are: January 10, Rally/VIM, Region Center; April 10, Lock-in, Tohwali UMC; May, TBA, Trail of Tears Walk, Tushka Homma; July TBA, Lock-In/Organizational Meeting, Native American Bible Academy; August 1, Back to School Bash, Region Center; September 19, Rally/Bible Quiz, St. Paul UMC; October TBA, Panthers Creek Gathering, Dallas UMC; November 7, Advent Study, Bethel Hill UMC; December 5, Winter Event, Goodland UMC.

oimc-cd-edited-69(Oklahoma City) — Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognized tribes and holds the second greatest percentage of Native Americans in the country, according to the United States Census. Ministering to this unique population requires a great understanding of culture and history.
“Our Native people long for community and fellowship,” said the Rev. David Wilson, Conference Superintendent of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC). “The strength of this conference comes from Native leadership that understand culture, ceremonies, history, economics, and tribalism that affect Native Oklahomans every day.”

Wilson, a member of the Choctaw tribe, recalls that United Methodist Native churches were historically a safe place to speak Native languages.

The Methodist church has been in ministry with Native Americans since the 'Trail of Tears' in 1838. Several of the congregations in the OIMC are more than 100 years old.

“I recall my father would come to church in order to speak with other fluent Choctaws. It was the only time they had to do it.”

This holds true today. A dozen OIMC Churches offer language classes as a part of ministry outreach in Choctaw, Creek, Cherokee and Kiowa. In addition, Native hymns are incorporated into worship across the conference. For many urban Natives, Sunday services are their only chance to hear their languages.

“The language is part of who we are and helps form our identity,” said Wilson.

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The language and cultural preservation is also a key part of ministry with children in the conference. Clinton Indian Church and Community Center, in Clinton, Okla., works to connect children with tribal leaders in their community. “I look for local elders to interact with the kids and tell tribal stories,” said Donna Pewo, pastor of the Clinton church. “The young people know they are Cheyenne and Arapaho people, but because of disconnect in our community, they are searching for a deeper meaning.”

Pewo says there is racial tension in the Clinton community between Natives and non-Natives and a history of social injustice. This combined with high unemployment and drug abuse has left many Native families struggling. “Our church has really become a refuge for Native children and youth.”

In addition to Sunday worship, the church provides bible study during the week, computer labs and tutors to help the children with homework. The Clinton Indian Church and Community Center is also a mission project of the General Board of Global Ministries with Advance #3021377.

'My youth tell me, ‘I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have this church to come to’,' said Pewo.

Because of the geographical location of the OIMC, leaders could not ignore the need for a disaster recovery ministry. Oklahoma averages around 80 tornados per year. In May 2013, a series of deadly weather systems sparked tornados across the state. OIMC joined efforts with the Oklahoma Conference, the Red Cross and other faith-based organizations to provide disaster recovery support for Oklahomans effected by the tornados. A case manager was put in place to work specifically with Native families. “In times of disaster, we felt it was important to have a person who relates well with the Native community to offer the best care possible to our families,” said Wilson. The OIMC and the Oklahoma Conference have provided resources for short-term and long-term recovery efforts. Most recently, the conferences partnered with the Jewish Federations of North of America, the Chickasaw Nation and the New York Says Thank You Foundation to rebuild the 1 Day Ranch near Shawnee, Okla. The 1 Day Ranch is an animal rescue center that also trains therapy horses for children with autism.

Many United Methodist churches outside of the OIMC have turned to the conference for help in ministering to Native communities in their states. The Mississippi Annual Conference has three Choctaw churches out of more than 1,000 churches. Wilson says those churches are struggling because leaders say they feel they don’t fit the traditional ministry model and find themselves in isolation.
“You have to understand culture and all of the nuances that make us who we are as Native people to be successful,” said Wilson.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference continues to find new places for ministry among Native peoples. A new ministry will begin this summer at Commerce, Oklahoma, located a few miles from Miami, Oklahoma. The All Nations UMC Ministry will serve the ten tribes that call that area home today. Rev. David Little, Seminole, was appointed to serve there at the 2014 Annual Conference. The church at Commerce formerly belonged to the Oklahoma Conference and was given to OIMC for continued ministry.

A team of five will lead a new ministry opportunity at Weleetka, Oklahoma, located in the midst of the Muscogee Creek Nation. This beautiful church formerly belonged to the Oklahoma Annual Conference and was closed this summer. The first service will be held Sunday, June 29th .

SHARINGSTORIESThe Northeast Region Youth held their organizational meeting for the program year 2014-2015 August 2nd at Fife Indian UMC. They elected their officers for the program year and chose the theme for each of the rallies. Officers elected were: President, Julia Spottedbird, D.D. Etchieson UMC; Vice President, Blue Haase, New Hope UMC; Secretary, Freedom Coker, Kaney Chapel UMC; Worship Leader, Everett Carson, Broken Arrow UMC; Public Relations, Kourtney Allen, Grant Chapel UMC; Sargent of Arms, Kathryn Allen, Grant Chapel UMC; CCYM Representative, Matthew Osceola, Big Cussetah UMC; and CCYM Alternate, Kendra Allen, Grant Chapel.

Rally dates and themes for the year are: September 6 at Kaney Chapel UMC, Psalm 23; October 18 at Preston, Fall Festival; November 1 at D.D. Etchieson UMC, Lord’s Prayer; December 12-13 at Preston, Christmas Overnight; January 3 at Little Cussetah UMC, Tribal Hymns; February 7 at Weleetka Indian UMC, Love – I Corinthians; March 7 at Grant Chapel UMC, Six Days of Creation; April 4 at Springtown UMC, Names of God/Jesus; May 2 at Newtown UMC, Invitation – Bring a Friend, Bring a Bible; June 18-20 at Preston, Youth Camp “Twelve Disciples”; July 4 at Concharty UMC, Armor of God – Ephesians 6:10-18; August 1 at Fife Indian UMC, Seven Deadly Sins.

At each of the rallies the youth groups can earn points and the church with the most points gets to take the traveling banner with them for the month.

At the end of the program year the group with the most points gets to keep the banner permanently. The group can earn 5 points for each youth in attendance; 5 points for each Bible Brought; 10 points for each adult in attendance; and 15 points if the pastor is in attendance. Kaney Chapel UMC won the banner for September.

We would like to thank the following churches that contributed UMCOR kits at annual conference this year:

reliefhealthkit247Norman First American UMC, 3 bedding kits; Christ UMC, 7 layettes; D.D. Etchieson UMC, 4 cleaning buckets and 1 layette; Kaney Chapel UMC, 1 Cleaning Bucket and 1 bedding kit; New Hope UMC, 10 health kits, 2 layette kits, 10 school kits and 10 sewing kits; Thlopthlocco UMC, 4 school kits and 1 bedding kit; Nanih Chito UMC, 1 layette, 1 sewing kit, 1 bedding kit and 1 school kit; Seeley Chapel UMC, 45 health kits, 3 cleaning buckets, 50+ school kits and 17 sewing kits; St. Paul-Talihina UMC, 2 bedding kits and 2 sewing kits; J.J. Methvin UMC, 1 school kit; Little Washita UMC, 2 school kits and 1 bedding kit; Seminole Hitchitee UMC, 2 school kits.
The value of all kits together was $3,223. Thank you again for going that second mile.
Thank you to the Oklahoma Conference for delivering to Sager Brown the kits that we received along with the ones they collected at their annual conference.

 

revivalThe ministry team for Weleetka Indian UMC has scheduled a revival for October 19-21st. Speakers will be:

  • Sunday: Reverend Clarence Yarholar
  • Monday: Reverend Anna Stilwell
  • Tuesday: Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr.

Services will begin at 7:00 p.m. each night. Devotional leaders will: Little Cussetah UMC; Davis Chapel UMC; Concharty UMC, respectively.


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