The Clinton Indian Church and Community Center in Clinton, Oklahoma, ignited a wave of excitement as they recently hosted a back-to-school event for local students, signaling a return to in-person gatherings after a three-year hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. The event brought together children from the neighborhood, fostering a sense of community, camaraderie, and hope for the upcoming school year.
The joyous occasion was a poignant reminder of the passage of time, with many children having grown remarkably since the last in-person event took place over three years ago. The Rev. Donna Pewo, the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC) Director of Connectional Ministries, marveled at the transformation evident in the young attendees.
“This is a resilient community that has faced a lot of challenging times,” said Pewo. “We are excited to open the doors again and provide support for these wonderful children and families.”
One of the highlights of the event was the introduction of Karissa Whiteshirt, the new intern who will be leading both the children’s ministry and the youth ministry during the semester. She is a sophomore at Southwestern Oklahoma State University which has a partnership with the ministry.
“I felt in my heart that someone has to be here, and why not me?” said Karissa, who has been attending the church most of her life.
Karissa’s grandmother, Martheia Nindo, played a pivotal role in the event, preparing meat pies and desserts for the children.
“I think it’s very important to her (Karissa), she had it already in her mind to be here before Ms. Donna asked her to serve.”
“I’m really excited to be someone that the kids here can look up to,” said Karissa.
Karissa meets twice a week at the church: Tuesdays with the youth and Thursdays with the children.