Feb 11, 2021

Committee on Native American Ministries

Report submitted by: SHERRY WACK
Phone: (484) 868-2044
Date submitted: 02/08/2021

Additional Information


You might wonder what our committee does since there are no federally or state recognized Native American tribes in Pennsylvania, not even “Unrecognized” tribes, nor any reservations. There are, however, 64,000 Pennsylvania citizens who self-identify as Native American. While EPA CONAM’s primary mission is to minister to our local Native people, in this day and age of communication we also feel a call to minister to members of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Native American Ministries (NEJNAMC), of which we are a part, and beyond. Federal policies affect Native peoples in our state and across the country.

EPAUMC Committee on Native American Ministries sees our mission as:

  • To teach accurate history of Native peoples who lived in Pennsylvania’s land before the immigration of Europeans and who continue to live here
  • To raise awareness of the rich cultural traditions of Native peoples
  • To highlight the contributions of Native peoples to our American society and culture as a whole
  • To raise awareness of current Native issues
  • To lobby legislators on Native issues
  • To support Native peoples within our circle of influence in their time of need
  • To encourage our constituents to take action steps to fulfill our commitment to The Act of Repentance by providing direction and resources

CONAM usually meets monthly for 90 minutes. We present a Native American worship service and program in the spring and in the fall. Recent programs include:

  • November 3, 2019 – Report and slide show on mission trip to the Blackfeet UM Parish in Montana
  • April 19, 2020 – Indian Country’s Hidden Figures: Outstanding Native American Women
  • November 8, 2020 – Race-Based Mascots; in partnership with the Coalition of Natives and Allies (CNA)
  • May 2, 2021 – Current Outstanding Native Americans

CONAM also always offers a class at Tools for Ministry. March 13, 2021 we will present Christopher Columbus: It’s Time to Know the Truth! Helping your church to learn the true story of Indigenous People.

We have also given financial support to Native American entities, such as:

  • BUMP MISSION (Blackfeet United Methodist Parish) in Montana. Ever since UMC Pastor Calvin Hill and his wife Sheri visited us in the spring of 2015 and shared his vision we have been supporting him from time to time.
  • We have helped to support Bob Hinderliter’s trips to Indian reservations for years.
  • We donated funds to Circle Legacy’s (a Lancaster Native advocacy group) relief trip to Pine Ridge reservation in November 2020.
  • We gave a generous honorarium to CNA for their fall mascot program in 2020.
  • We just sent relief checks to two families on the Shinnecock Reservation on Long Island. A pastor from the Shinnecocks is a member of NEJNAMC.

I joined CONAM in 2012 by mistake, but it was a wonderful mistake. We are not just a committee; we are a circle of good friends who care passionately about our ministry and care deeply about each other. We have lost a few members due to age related health issues and moving away, so we are looking for new partners to share the vision and to join us in this important and timely work.

NOTE: I recently found an old book of American Indian Poetry originally copyrighted in 1918. The dedication refers to the American Indian as “a Vanishing Race.” That was the belief of most people during that era. It was a very dark time for Native peoples. Fortunately, the American Indian has not vanished. Native people have done what they have always done: survive, adapt and thrive. Native people now work in all segments of American society – as teachers, doctors, lawyers, artists, film makers, actors, and legislators. Their population is swelling along with their voice and their power. Their influence is increasing, particularly in environmental issues. They are slowly regaining some of their lost land and having an increasing degree of sovereignty over their own people restored. I believe we all need their influence to learn how to live with proper respect for this earth and for each other.