One of my joys since coming to the Philadelphia Area has been to learn more about Native American Ministries in the United Methodist Church. In the Peninsula Delaware Conference there are two Native American Churches and the Eastern PA Conference is starting up a Native American Committee. The rich heritage and spirituality of the Native American community is a vital part of the United Methodist Connection. I encourage you to observe Native American Sunday on April 26th and to take a special offering. The offering taken supports urban missions with Native Americans and funds scholarship of Native American seminarians. The annual conference retains 50 percent of the offering to strengthen and develop local Native American ministries.
Why not include the following creed, written by Rev. Roger Scott, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in your worship service on April 26th:
I believe in God, Creator of our unique native languages,
Who gifted us this identity as a distinct people through our native tongues,
So that our native spiritual leaders could relay God’s love to our Native people
Who could not understand that foreign tongue called English.
I believe in Jesus Christ, our relative,
Who talked of us when he said “I have other sheep out there, besides those I have here.”
I believe in Jesus Christ who knew the pain of our native people who were forced from their homeland and had no place to lay their head.
I believe in Jesus Christ as our Chief Cornerstone as we begin to build a new generation of native spiritual leaders.
I believe in Jesus Christ who does not say “goodbye” in any language, but says “I will come again.”
I believe in the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire
Lighting upon our native people to witness to their people and to the world, through the native song and dance.
I believe in the Holy Spirit as our guide and the driving force for our native people to do a new thing
As we walk a new journey, toward perfection for all humankind.
(Reproduction permission is granted for use in church worship services in United Methodist Churches. Rev. Scott’s creed is copyrighted so any further use of his work beyond a worship service must be done with permission from the author. Reproduction requests can be emailed to Anita Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org who will forward the request to the author).
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson