Monthly Archives: September2021

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Six students were awarded the OIMC Memorial Scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year.

Scholarships are awarded to students who are members of OIMC churches and attending college full time. Students can apply for the scholarship for up to four years and awards are made in the fall.

Students who received the scholarship include, Judeah Valenzuela from Hunting horse UMC; Karissa Whiteshirt, Clinton Church and Community Center; Alyssa Underwood, North OKC Native American Fellowship; Claudi Choney from Hunting horse UMC; Jayla Cortez from Hunting horse UMC; and Adrea Botone from J.J. Methvin UMC.

SR1 (1)Schools on the Standing Rock and Pine Ridge Reservations received school kits through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in August.

Local churches across the connection prepare the school kits to be used in areas of need. The Rev. David Wilson, Lori Harless and the Rev. Donna Pewo assisted the Standing Rock community with the delivery of 2,500 kits in two days. The General Board of Global Ministries provided a grant to assist with travel.

“The school kits were a nice surprise for those we encountered” said Pewo, Director of Connectional Ministries. “Everyone we engaged with had use for the school kits and we could also see other needs for children and youth as well.”

The OIMC delegation delivered school kits to ten schools ranging from head start through middle school, including the Sacred Pipe Resource Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. The kits were delivered to the Sitting Bull College where they were separated for delivery. Pine Ridge Councilman Justin Pourier loaded approximately 1,000 school kits and other supplies to take to schools in his area on the reservation.

“We know more school kits could be used across the reservations but logistics for shipping and delivery is a challenge,” said Wilson. This is the second year that the school kits were delivered to Standing Rock.

“It was very sobering to drive through a small native community that literally had nothing for children or youth as far as playground or even a single basketball goal,” said Pewo. “Hopefully soon we can begin a discussion concerning needs for young people of the small communities we visited.”

This was the second year that OIMC was able to help deliver the UMCOR school kits on the Standing Rock Reservation.  The pandemic prevented the deliveries in 2020.

IMG_8400Volunteer In Mission (VIM) teams, who normally travel internationally during the summer, focused on U.S. ministries such as OIMC due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than a dozen members of Wayne United Methodist Church from Wayne,
Pennsylvania traveled to Kullituklo United Methodist Church in Southeastern Oklahoma. The team came ready to replace outdoor siding to portions of the fellowship hall area.

“What an amazing team of young people who were led by skilled and experienced mentors,” said the Rev. Donna Pewo, Director of Connectional Ministries. “The young people knew how to use nail guns, jigsaws, circular saws and much more.”

The VIM team completed the project ahead of schedule. Wayne church members also worked on the Good Springs United Methodist Church near Talihina last summer.

Tulsa Indian #2Tulsa Indian United Methodist Church made connections with the Praying Pelicans Mission, an
organization that exists to build up, encourage, and assist the local Church in serving and reaching their communities for Christ.

With a combination of two churches and one family, the Tulsa church was transformed into a beautiful vision of hope.

The best part of this experience for Pastor Larry Robinson was his connection with the wonderful
people who made this project complete. “Never think that you are too old to reach a young person or think they aren’t listening to you,” he said. “They are listening and if what you are saying is authentic and is coming from your relationship with Jesus, it can change their life and change yours as well.”
Another mission team was received by Billy Hooton Memorial United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. Two churches partnered together to replace siding and make needed repairs to the church structure.

McFarlin United Methodist Church from Norman, Okla., and Wamego United Methodist Church based in Wamego, Kan., coordinated volunteer efforts.

Seven volunteers installed new siding on the south end of the structure as well as painted a new church sign. At the end of the week, the team was treated to an Indian taco dinner and attended a powwow.

“Volunteer in Missions is so important to the life of a church ministry and outreach,” said Rev. Pewo.
“It gives the church and VIM team not only the opportunity to offer or receive a labor of love, but to also establish new connections that grow into new partnerships and

new hope #2Keeping children and community members safe was a priority for Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) churches holding Vacation Bible Schools this summer.

Through micro grants provided by the Native American Children’s Fund, many OIMC churches utilized Cokesbury 2021 VBS curriculum with the theme “Discovery on Adventure Island.” Bible scripture was Isaiah 60:1, “Arise! Shine! Your light has come, the Lord’s glory has shone upon you.”

new hope #3Thlopthlocco United Methodist Church VBS included daily activities of arts and crafts, music participation, recreation time and a trip to the pool.

“We are looking forward to next year,” she said.

New Hope Indian UMC held a three-day VBS in August.

“Children loved dancing with Beacon the Bird and enjoyed science experiments, arts and craft time and so much more,” said the Rev. Sunrise Ross. “New Hope did a great job, considering a lot of things they had going on at the time, I am so blessed to be a part of this ministry.”

VBS is just a portion of Children’s Ministries within the local church that has the
opportunity to focus on biblical foundations, prayer, and  community service.

In addition to supporting VBS curriculum, the Native American Children’s Fund
assists with clothing and school supplies. Donations can be made through The United Methodist Church Advance #583581. Donations also accepted at www.umc-oimc.org/give-online.

AC2 (1)Out of abundance of caution and in awareness of public health, the 2021 Annual Conference Session of The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference was altered due to the increase of covid-19 cases across the state.

The Annual Conference session was held August 28, 2021, at the Southeast Regional Center at Antlers, Oklahoma. The session lasted 90 minutes. There were about 75 lay delegates and pastors present for the annual

conference, said the Rev. David Wilson, assistant to the bishop.

“The Southeast Region trustees really went to great lengths to make us all feel safe,” Wilson said.

Social distanced chairs with plastic were used at the conference.  Masks were
provided for all delegates and boxes of masks were sent to each local church. Hand
sanitizers were also given to each delegate.

“I appreciate the work done in preparation for the conference, the hospitality and beauty of the
Regional Center, and the spirit of the conference,” said Bishop Jimmy Nunn.

The conference membership adopted the 2022 Conference Board of Pensions report and the 2022 OIMC budget. Both of those are disciplinary for the conference.

commissioning2 (2)After the business, a commissioning service was held for Jennifer Neal, who was approved in 2020 for service as a probationary Deacon in OIMC. Bishop Nunn conducted the service and the conference affirmed Jennifer as a commissioned Deacon. Arthur Tsatoke and Lucy Durant were
recognized as local pastors at the event.

“In spite of the challenges, OIMC is holding fast to our values and callings, Bishop Nunn said, “I look forward to the day when we can all celebrate together safely.”

The 2022 Annual Conference session will be held at the Southwest Regional Center outside of Anadarko, Oklahoma.

Chaplain 2“It was the singular, life changing event for me,” said the Rev. Anita Phillips of her service as a Chaplain during the aftermath of the terrorist attack on New York City on September 11, 2011.

Phillips, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, was one of eleven Native Americans from The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) asked to go and provide aid at Ground Zero. The pastors had a specific purpose ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­– to locate the Indigenous iron workers, members of the Mohawk Nation and to ascertain their needs.

Mohawk workers helped build the large skyscrapers in New York City, including the World Trade Towers according to the Rev. Randy Nugent, the former general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries who reached out to the OIMC for help.

“We were aware of the history but not to the extent of what Dr. Nugent described,” said the Rev. David Wilson, a member of the Choctaw Nation and assistant to the bishop.  “We couldn’t refuse the request to send chaplains to New York and find the Mohawk workers.”

Within a week of the terrorist attacks, UMCOR had worked with OIMC to assemble a team. They were connected to the Red Cross where they received training as Chaplains and obtained credentials to go directly to the Respite Center at Ground Zero, which provided food, a place of rest, and counsel for relief workers.

“We responded because of the history of Indigenous peoples from that area,” said Phillips.

Anita“So often our people seem to be invisible outside of our community and I believe that experience was an example of the heart of Native American people, that we were able to respond so quickly and come together from different parts of our conference,” she said.

Mohawk ironworkers and other members of First Nations from the area have built much of the New York City skyline for over 100 years.

“It was a powerful experience, knowing that these young people were there as rescuers and were descendants of those who had built New York City,” Phillips said. “They had worked on those twin towers, and they were brave and willing to work hard.”

During the nearly month-long stay in New York City, Native Chaplains had difficulty finding Mohawk workers because many arrived late at night.

“There were planks around the rubble where we walked and one day we looked up and we saw a group of Mohawk workers right there,” Phillips said. “I told the group ‘We’ve been looking for you!’”

They managed to share stories with the workers and to listen to their experiences. The Mohawk Ironworkers were surprised and excited to know that someone cared enough to send persons to New York City, especially for them recalled Phillips.

The Iron workers told the group how some of them worked around the clock at first, in their attempt to find survivors at the World Trade Center and described how the red-hot steel had reformed into alien shapes.

“They were at some of the points of greatest risks just because the way the steel had been misshapen as it fell,” she said.

Roxanna Foster, Omaha, Ponca, Yankton Sioux, was also among those who served as a Chaplain. She recounts a powerful moment when a Mohawk iron worker went to the Red Cross first aid tent. The medical personnel were trying to attend to a laceration on his arm when he pulled away pleading for them to help a hurt bird he coddled in his hands. “He wanted us to help the bird instead of him,” said Foster. He explained the white dove was the only living thing that was found at ground zero and its life was important too.

“When I heard this recount of what he said and did, I thought of the symbolic white dove used as the bird of peace, love, devotion, grace, Holy Spirit and hope,” said Foster. “I felt overwhelmed with love and compassion for humanity and to be present for those grieving.”

Both Phillips and Foster say their time in New York City was a spiritual experience.

“There are many things I recall that elevated me to lead a life that brings me closer in my faith as God would have me,” said Foster.

The Rev. Phillips said the event is still painful to remember but she says she did her best to represent Christ in the world.

“All of us were there giving our very best to be the hands and feet of Jesus and that is a very strengthening memory,” she said.