Monthly Archives: April2020

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nams bannerApril 26, 2020 | On Native Ministries Sunday in The United Methodist Church, your offering empowers Native American pastors, congregations and seminary students all over the United States. Supporting Native ministries is more crucial now than ever during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference has been working in Native communities across the country to provide quick and direct relief to our people in need.  We have unique connections far beyond the conference and we are often who Native people turn to for help.  We ask this year, that you become our partner and make a donation at www.umc-oimc.org/give-online. The money will be used immediately to support Native communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Native Ministries Sunday Service

Native Ministries Sunday Service by sections

Opening Prayer: Wynema Smith, D.D. Etchieson UMC, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

Tribal Hymns

Jennifer Neal, Choctaw,  Dallas Indian United Methodist Church

Pickett Chapel United Methodist Church Children, Euchee


Elonna LaFromboise, Norman First American United Methodist Church

Eshtakaba LaFromboise, Norman First American United Methodist Church

Jalisa Ross, Muscogee Creek, Haikey Chapel United Methodist Church

Sermon by the Rev. Alvin Deer, Angie Smith United Methodist Church

Closing words and Benediction by the Rev. David Wilson


To: Pastors and Congregations of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference
From: Bishop Jimmy Nunn and the Rev. David Wilson, Conference Superintendent
Date:  April 23, 2020
Re:     Memo 3— Covid-19   Greetings in the name of our Risen Lord!

We last wrote to you on March 25th. Since then, you have celebrated Easter without gathering as a congregation in a church building. We want to affirm again all the ways you are reaching your churches, extension ministries, and communities in creative, inspiring, and engaging ways. Keep up the good work!   As we all know, information about COVID-19 and appropriate responses to its spread are complex. It is understandable that you and your ministry leaders would have many questions about relaunching in-person worship and reopening your churches and ministries. We all want to make responsible decisions as we transition from our current status of having no meetings of more than 10 people at safe distances from one another to a graduating increase in public gatherings with fewer restrictions.  Guided by our faith and informed by medical experts as well as national, state, and local government officials; the Cabinet has been considering the best ways for us to respond to this ever-changing situation. While this letter is full of information, we pray you will digest it and reach out to your District Superintendent should you have questions.   First, we are guided by:

  • The Greatest Commandment: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’ and ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:36-40);
  • Paul’s words to the Philippians, our 2020 Annual Conference theme: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4);
  • Wesley’s Three General Rules – “Do no harm. Do good. and Stay in love with God”

These texts and rules for Christian life are the guiding principles of our response.   Second, we recognize the unique position churches and pastors find themselves in, navigating our relationship with the state while appreciating the separation afforded by our Constitution. This did not escape the teachings of Jesus. When asked about paying taxes, Jesus responded, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:15-22). What we want to provide you with is a way to keep people safe and comply with the governmental guidance while recognizing that our ultimate allegiance is to God’s kingdom.   Third, we uphold what our Social Principles affirm: “Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted.  Creating the personal, environmental and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility – public and private” (¶162V).   How will we respond together? By following Wesley’s three general rules.   First, by doing no harm:

  • Always follow the guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the size of crowds which can be together. Currently, that is 10 people or less who are practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Recognize that these guidelines will likely change over the next few weeks. As they change, you will want to stay current and communicate updated expectations.

Second, by doing good:

  • Continue to reach out to your community in safe ways.
  • Make vulnerable populations a priority. Urge church members to check on their neighbors and make sure they have what they need, including care for body and soul.

Third, by attending upon the ordinances of God:

  • Offer online worship, discipleship opportunities and appropriate pastoral care.
  • Offer the sacrament of Holy Communion as you see fit for your context. (See our pandemic resource page for further guidance on this.)
  • Engage your church leadership team in Christian conferencing as you plan and prepare for next steps. There will be a time when you will have some clearance to reopen and you will want to be ready. If you need assistance in doing this, please communicate your need with your district office.

It is our expectation that all United Methodist Churches remain closed and that staff work from home as much as possible. We do not recommend that any in-person gatherings take place for any reason except for recording worship services and messages of devotion and encouragement and small groups to provide for community needs.  As a reminder, the guidelines are 10 people or less who are practicing social distancing of at least 6 feet. 

Will our guidance change?
In a Wednesday, April 22 press conference, you may have heard the Governor’s office saying that churches could reopen as early as May 1. While we deeply appreciate the desire to re-gather in-person, we will continue to follow the CDC guidelines and expect United Methodist pastors, churches, and ministries in OK not hold public services until Bishop Nunn gives specific instruction for when and how to do so.  We will follow closely how Oklahoma moves through this phased reopening and we will communicate any updates to this communication after May 17.  We have noticed so many of you who are fulfilling the ministry to which you are called using safe practices. Thank you! If you or your church need support in this difficult time, please contact your District Superintendent.

When will we communicate with you?
For the foreseeable future, we will be communicating with you via email each Friday. These regular Friday communications will allow you to know when to expect any updates.

How can we help?
Today, we are launching a new web hub called “Resources for Relaunch.” These resources will help church leaders and pastors facilitate conversation and make plans amid uncertainty.   We highly recommend that those of you who will be relaunching worship services watch the video produced by Path 1 (Discipleship Ministries) and use the accompanying discussion guide. A guide for creating a relaunch team is also provided. We believe that every congregation and ministry can benefit from doing this strategic work together. You can expect that more resources will be added including reconnecting with your community in mission. We will include links in the Friday updates along with alerts as the web hub is updated with new information. We pray that these resources are a blessing to you and your leadership teams.

A Call to Prayer
We want to close our letter inviting you to pray without ceasing (1st Thessalonians 5:17).  Let us be in prayer for each other, our churches and communities as well as leaders at all levels of our government.  Let us remember those who have contracted this terrible illness and the families of those who have died.  Let us intercede for those who have to work on the front lines and in the sectors of public safety and healthcare.  Let us lift up those who have lost their jobs and have nowhere to lay their heads at night.  Pray for this and so much more.

Should you have questions, need clarification or simply want to discuss how to proceed in your own context, reach out to your District Superintendent.

In the words of Paul to the Philippian church, we “thank God every time (we) remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of (our) prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  (We are) confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3-6).

Anne Marshall

The 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 2020, is occurring while the state is under stay-at-home protection orders due to the coronavirus. This is the first year that families of victims and survivors will not gather at the memorial site.

Johnson, Rt“This anniversary is kind of different, disheartening,” said Anne Marshall, whose husband, Raymond Johnson, was among the 168 people who died in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 in Oklahoma City.

“The site is closed,” she added. “Barricades have been put up, and the families who have bonded through this ordeal won’t be allowed to visit.”

Most of the observances have been moved to an online format with local television stations airing special coverage – an unexpected blow for Marshall. In News Channel 9’s interview with a medical examiner, airing April 17, 2020, a photo showed a whiteboard with names of those who died and noted how the victims were identified. For the first time, Marshall realized that dental records were used to identify her husband.

“It kind of threw me for a loop, you know; you’re just watching the coverage, and all of a sudden, you see the name,” said Marshall. “Everyone was texting me and saying, ‘Did you see that? Are you watching?’ It was shocking after all of these years and not knowing these details.”

Over the past 25 years, Marshall said, she has h20200418_131431ad different reactions to the anniversary, sometimes feeling overwhelmed and other times finding a sense of peace through support from friends and connections to other families who lost loved ones in the bombing. She has attended many, but not all, of the memorial gatherings.

“As time has gone by, there is healing in the collective, shared grieving with other families,” she said.

Along with the discovery of how her husband was identified, Marshall still has unanswered questions and thoughts that flood her memory each year. Early on, she wrote four letters to Timothy McVeigh, the convicted bomber. Each letter was returned unopened. She never sensed any kind of remorse from McVeigh, even when she witnessed his execution on June 11, 2001, in Terre Haute, Indiana.

At the time of the bombing, Marshall was working out of New York City as a staff member of The United Methodist Church’s Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. She caught a flight back to Oklahoma City the day of the bombing. When she arrived, rescue workers asked for a description of what her husband was wearing that day to work.

“I didn’t get to see him that morning because I was in New York,” she recalled. “I had no idea, and so that has stuck with me. I wonder, what did he wear? They didn’t return any clothing; they just returned his billfold, some change from his pocket and a pocketknife; that was all I got back.”

20200418_133849Marshall met with the rescue workers who recovered her husband’s remains. In the summer of 1995, she visited the team in Sacramento and gave them gifts representing her Muscogee Creek heritage to honor their efforts in caring for her husband.

Ultimately, the kindness of friends, families and complete strangers has helped her heal throughout the years. Marshall recalled that after the perimeter fence and debris were cleared away, for the first time, she went to the bombing site. She was met by an FBI agent, and she shared her story. He found folding chairs, and Marshall and a friend sat beneath what has become known as the “Survivor Tree.”

“We ended up sitting there the whole afternoon, talking, laughing and crying,” she said. “I appreciated that, probably more than he knows. It did more for me than anything else.”IMG_3328t

She also said the numerous calls and visits from friends and family helped her make it through the really tough times.

Marshall had an opportunity to share her experience and pay forward the kindness she experienced after the 9/11 attacks in New York City. The United States Department of Justice brought together widows from the Oklahoma City bombing to meet with widows of 9/11. They found support in sharing about their husbands and the difficulties of living without them.

Throughout the healing process, Marshall said, she has redefined who she is and feels braver and stronger because of the experience.

“After this event, it gave me more courage; I became bolder,” she said. “I became far more outspoken because I know I couldn’t go through anything worse than what I’ve already gone through. It wasn’t closure, but a growth process.”20200418_133102

Marshall said she believes she became a better person willing to act for other people and to be a voice for those who are silenced. Marshall is an active member of Wewoka United Methodist Church in the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. She is a delegate to the 2021 United Methodist General Conference.

Today, Marshall serves on the Muskogee Creek tribal council. She is working on legislation to ensure all tribal members are counted in the 2020 U.S. Census. She is also seeking to create an all-female honor guard for the tribe.

Coordinators for the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial are hoping to bring families together in the fall when the stay-at-home orders have been lifted.

IMG_8436tThe Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) has created a resource page to help United Methodists celebrate and observe Native Ministries Sunday online. The official observance date for the denomination is April 26, 2020, however congregations are encouraged to celebrate throughout the year.

“We hope our friends and allies will remember our Native peoples even in this difficult time for the nation,” said the Rev. David Wilson, OIMC superintendent. “Native communities are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and we are working to support tribes and Native churches addressing the crisis.”

In compliance with state regulations, OIMC has provided food at the request of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribe. In addition, OIMC has sent funds to support emergency needs on the Standing Rock and Yankton Sioux reservations in South Dakota.

“Many Native peoples, particularly our elders, live paycheck to paycheck,” said Wilson. “They may not have the money or access to buy the basics they need for the coming weeks. We will continue to look for ways to support our community and tribes during this crisis.”

The OIMC resource page includes Native hymns on video that churches can share through social media as well as stories of inspiration, prayers, and Native oriented calls to worship. Donations can be made directly to OIMC or through the Advance at Give Now!

Petarsy5-2The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) has received a $5,000 grant from the Native American Community Response Fund to help provide urgent assistance to the most vulnerable Native communities in Oklahoma during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Six churches, in areas where the state and tribes have limited resources, were selected to receive the funds.

“The funds are to support Native Americans who live in urban centers and who do not benefit from federal benefits directed towards tribal communities,” said the Rev. David Wilson, OIMC superintendent. “The churches selected are already operating food banks, children’s ministries, and serving Native elders on shoestring budgets.”

Native Americans in Philanthrophy announced the grant award, which was created in partnership with Decolonizing Wealth and the National Urban Indian Family Coalition. The OIMC was invited to apply for the grant due to its collaboration with the National Urban Indian Family Coalition work on the 2020 census and voter registration.

“We were so excited to have an opportunity to apply for these funds,” said Wilson. “I know these local communities will stretch the money to reach as many people as possible.”

The selected churches in Oklahoma include: Ponca Indian United Methodist Church, Ponca City; Pawnee Indian Mission United Methodist Church, Pawnee; Clinton Indian Church and Community Center, Clinton;  Petarsy Mission United Methodist Church, Elgin; Billy Hooton United Methodist Church food bank, Oklahoma City; and the Tulsa Indian United Methodist Church food bank, Tulsa.

The initial funding round is projected to impact over 12,000 community members throughout eight organizations nationwide, according to Decolonizing Wealth officials. The organizations were selected because they are deeply embedded in their communities and are able to provide immediate assistance in the forms of food, shelter, advocacy and more.

The funding was made possible by persons and organizations contributing to the Native American Response Fund. Contributions can be made at http://nativephilantrophy.org/coronovirus.


By Josephine Deere, Muscogee Creek, retired DCM, OIMC

We gather here in the presence of the Great Creator.

We come together as one in Christ from all over this great planet that was loaned to us.

May the Great Creator come into our hearts and make us one.


IMG_9657Celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday on a date that is convenient for your congregation. The official date is April 26, 2020.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference has created this page to be a resource for allies and partners to engage and support Native American ministries throughout The United Methodist church. Donations to Native American Ministries Sunday provides scholarships for United Methodist Native American seminarians, strengthens and develops Native American ministries and communities, both urban and rural, and supports Native American outreach at the annual conference level.

Native Hymns (video)

Kiowa Hymn by the Rev. Julienne Judd and family, Carline and Taloa Judd
Choctaw Hymn 138 by Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate
Amazing Grace in Cherokee by Detra Kingfisher-Quinones
Comanche Hymn #1 by the Rev. Donna Pewo
Cheyenne Hymn by the Rev. Donna Pewo
Native Hymns by Jason and Jariah Eyachabbe
Native Hymns by Brent and Miwese Greenwood
Special Music by Miwese Greenwood

Call to Worship

Call to Worship by the Rev. James McKinney
Call to Worship by the Rev. Delana Taylor
Call to Worship by the Rev. Judy Deere
Call to Worship by the Rev. Anita Phillips


Prayer by the Delana Taylor
Prayer by Josephine Deere

Responsive Reading

Catlin’s Creed by George Catlin


Benediction by Prieres D’Ozawamick

OIMC Stories of Inspiration (video)

Billy Hooton Food Bank Ministry
CCYM Winter Service Project
School Kits Distribution
Hair Cut Ministry
Know My Truth by Alyssa Underwood

Additional resources are available at www.umcgiving.org.


Prieres D’Ozawamick, Canadian Indian, 20th Century, United Methodist Book of Worship

You have come from afar and waited long and are wearied.

Let us sit side by side, sharing the same bread drawn from the same source;

to quiet the same hunger that makes us weak

Then standing together let us share the same spirit, the same thoughts

That once again draws us together in spirit and unity and peace.


Men:  I love a people that have always made me welcome to the very best that they had.

Women:  I love a people who are honest without laws, and who have no jails and no poorhouses.

Men:  I love a people who keep the commandments without ever having read or heard them preached from the pulpit.

Women:  I love a people who never swear or take the name of God in vain.

Men:  I love a people “who love their neighbors as they love themselves.”

Women:  I love a people who worship God without a Bible, for I believe that God loves them also.

Men:  I love a people whose religion is all the same, and who are free from religious animosities.

Women: I love a people who have never raised a hand against me, or stolen my property, when there was no law to punish either.

Men:  I love and don’t fear mankind where God has made and left them, for they are his children.

Women:  I love the people who have never fought a battle with the white man, except on their own ground.

Men:  I love a people who live and keep what is their own without lock and keys.

Women:  I love a people who do the best they can.  And oh how I love a people who don’t live for the love of money.

All the quotes of Native American elders are from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, by Dee Brown.

Catlin’s Creed is by George Catlin, a well-known artist who traveled to the American West five times during the1830’s.  He lived among 48 tribes of the Great Plains, and depicted them in their native territory.  The creed is printed in On This Spirit Walk by Dr. Henrietta Mann and Rev. Anita Phillips.

By Rev. Delana Taylor, Cherokee, Ordained Deacon, OIMC

Creator God, as you have gathered us in generations past, lead and guide us this day
as we seek your wisdom and your vision for our people.
Give us eyes to see one another as you see us,
people of one God,
connected to one another and to you
In all our relations, and in your son Jesus.
Give us ears to hear the wisdom of our elders
and the laughter of our children.
Give us words of blessing and healing for a hurting world.
Open our hearts and lead us on the path of peace.
We stand together on sacred ground with grateful hearts,
knowing that the One who promises is faithful and true.