Apr 09, 2021 | Bishop Peggy Johnson

Every year on the third Sunday of Easter, The United Methodist Church observes Native American Ministries Sunday. It includes the opportunity to take a special offering for our many local and denominational ministries. 

Half of our total offering stays in our annual conference each year to carry on the work of our Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM). The rest is used connectionally to support seminary scholarships and mission efforts among Native Americans beyond our conference. 

This year the needs are greater due to the ongoing plight of the COVID-19 pandemic that has been especially harsh in Native American communities. Our special offering serves as a lifeline for numerous ministries such as training events, youth empowerment weekends, new church construction and participation in the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on behalf of the UMC. 

Locally, the Northeastern Jurisdiction, which includes the Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware Annual Conferences, supports a very important social justice issue, “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: Invisible, Unreported, Uncounted.”

Statistics show that 84% of Native women and girls experience violence in their families. In 86% of the cases of sexual assaults against Native women and girls, the perpetrators are non-Native men. Native women are murdered at a rate of 10 times the national average (hhpts://wwwnejnamc.org.) The advocacy work on behalf of Native American women and girls is another important mission that this offering supports.

(Indeed, it was recently cited as a grave personal concern to new U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deborah Haaland, who just made history by becaming the first Native American to serve as a U.S. cabinet secretary. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and a 35th generation New Mexican.)

Pastors, please take a special offering on Native American Ministries Sunday, April 18, or on a more convenient occasion. There are wonderful resources and video clips available on the United Methodist website to share with your congregations. 

Learn about Marilyn Anderson, a Seneca and a devoted member of the Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) in the Upper New York Conference. “I live a stone’s throw from the Four Corners Methodist Church and have gone there my entire … 75 years,” said Anderson. Read “Being a Methodist as a Native American.”

As we pool together our resources, so much more good work can be accomplished!  It is the gift of our connectional system and it is our commitment to inclusivity and our embrace of all as part of “the beloved community.”

Look for more promotional information prepared by our own hard-working CONAM in our media next week. And please plan to attend their annual spring worship and educational event on Sunday, May 2, at 4 PM, via Zoom. More information is coming.

Meanwhile, learn more at “Native American Ministries Sunday Did You Know?”

Republished from The Bishop’s Blog.