A work team from White's Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas is already planning a trip back to Oklahoma to continue construction work on Chihowa Okla United Methodist Church, part of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference (OIMC). Twenty volunteers spent a week in April installing sheet rock and walls in the multi-use building of the church located near Southeastern State University in Durant, Oklahoma.
"The church started with plans in 2012 and started the church building in 2016," said the Rev. Dara Austin, pastor for Faithworks Mission & Outreach at White's Chapel. "We would like to see it complete by the end of the year."
In addition to the donation of time and materials from the work team, the denomination's General Board of Global Ministries approved a $20,000 grant to complete electrical and plumbing requirements when the work teams are done. The money was made available through donations to the Native American Ministries Sunday Fund.
"This is one example of how important it is for United Methodists to support the Native American Ministries Sunday," said the Rev. David Wilson, OIMC conference superintendent. Native American Ministries Sunday is one of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church. The special offering supports Native American outreach within annual conferences and across the United states. "A portion of the money funds scholarships for Native American seminary students and a portion allows annual conferences to support Native American ministries in a number of ways such as church construction and repairs."
When Chihowa Okla was chartered in 2010, it was the first church in the OIMC southeast region to charter in 30 years. Durant is the capitol of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which deeded the land to the church in 2014. The church has grown to more than 60 members. The congregation from Chihowa currently hosts a Native American Campus Ministry program. Every week, elders lead the congregation in Christian hymns in the Choctaw language.
Volunteer teams from Broadstreet and Fairview United Methodist Churches in Maryville, Tennessee were also instrumental in building the church structure, according to Wilson.
"All of the work teams have come with hearts and love of a servant and remind us of the great connection with have as a denomination."
May 5, 2019 was the official date to celebrate Native American Ministries Sunday, however, conferences and congregations can celebrate at anytime of the year. Resources and a leader's guide are available at http://www.umcgiving.org/resource-articles/native-american-ministries-sunday-pastor-and-leaders-kit.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference website
One of six churchwide Special Sundays with offerings of The United Methodist Church, Native American Ministries Sunday serves to remind United Methodists of the gifts and contributions made by Native Americans to our society. The special offering supports Native American outreach within annual conferences and across the United States and provides seminary scholarships for Native Americans.
When you give generously on Native American Ministries Sunday, you equip seminary students who will honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. You empower congregations to find fresh, new ways to minister to their communities with Christ's love. Give now.