Because November is Native American Heritage Month, the recently revived Conference Committee on Native American Ministries has offered an update on their activities.
“Your Annual Conference Committee on Native American Ministries is still growing into this important ministry,” said the Rev. Bob Wilson, a retired elder. “We are seeking to become aware of Native American realities in our area both in our congregations and beyond. Our increased awareness will become a basis for us to assist our churches to become aware. We are working to avoid further colonization as we step forth.”
Currently there are nine members on the team—and five of them are Native Americans. The team has been nurturing a significant relationship with the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center and working to discover who the Native persons are in Western PA.
The team sponsored Dr. Ellesa High to offer a workshop at the 2018 PA State Interfaith Power and Light Conference in Mt. Lebanon during October. Dr. High is Cherokee and founded the Native American studies program at West Virginia University. She also chairs the Native American Ministries Committee in West Virginia.
During her workshop Reconnecting with Our Sacred Landscape Dr. High (Cherokee addressed how to “walk in beauty “ and shared her own experiences in reconnecting with the sacred landscape all around us in a way that participants could repeat in their own settings.
The WPAUMC team is planning a late Winter/early Spring 2019 event to allow laity and clergy to experience experience authentic Native Ritual while gaining awareness of Native realities as they exist in Western PA.
Three team members participated in the Northeastern Jurisdictional gathering of the Committee on Native American Ministries and visited the American Indian School in Carlisle.
Although the United Methodist Church observes Native American Ministries Sunday with special offering on May 5, 2019, Wilson said gifts to support their ministries would be welcome at any time.