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Offering to support Northern Cheyenne fire project

The Rocky Mountain Conference continues to partner with the Northern Cheyenne community to build up their fire protection. Hearing of the destruction caused by fires on the Northern Cheyenne reservation and their challenges of weather and distances, last year's Annual Conference session pledged to buy a fire engine and partner with the Northern Cheyenne to enhance their fire protection infrastructure.

The purchase of the fire engine was the beginning of an intentional long-term relationship based on education, volunteering, and mutual sharing. The Rocky Mountain Conference, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana have joined together in this partnership.

This partnership has been developing over the past decades as members of the Committee on Native American Ministries have worked with descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre on the Sand Creed Massacre Spiritual Healing Run and other initiatives. Increasing firefighting capacity, fire prevention, and relationship building are the focus areas of the Community Fire Protection project over the next two years. 

Volunteers in Mission teams will work in partnership with Northern Cheyenne volunteer firefighters and community members to build fire garages in the different communities on the reservation. This will increase their firefighting capacity by decentralizing and protecting firefighting equipment, increasing support for local community firefighting, and decreasing response times to fires. The first Volunteers in Mission team will take place at the end of July this year.

Foundation for the fire garage in the Muddy community on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana.

Fire prevention is a responsible component to any fire protection plan. Beginning in 2017, church volunteers and members of the Northern Cheyenne community will team up to address two significant causes of fires on the Northern Cheyenne reservation – abandoned houses and lack of a defensible space around structures. Most structure fires on the Northern Cheyenne reservation are in abandoned houses that owners are no longer able to maintain because of needed costly repairs. The other key piece to fire prevention is creating a defensible space that is clear of brush and other debris to act as a barrier between a structure and an advancing fire.
Intentional relationship building between the Northern Cheyenne and Rocky Mountain Conference is an ongoing value of the Community Fire Protection project. During 2017 educational immersion opportunities for families, youth and adults will be offered. This will include a conference-wide youth education and service project to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in the summer of 2017 and opportunities for families, youth and adults to learn about Northern Cheyenne history, culture and people by participating in activities with the Northern Cheyenne community.

The Community Fire Protection project emerges out of a desire to have an intentional long-term relationship between The United Methodist Church and the Northern Cheyenne that is based on education, volunteering, and mutual sharing. The priorities of the Community Fire Protection project came to light during a visit to the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana to see the newly purchased fire engine and learn about additional opportunities for collaboration.

Watch for newsletter articles in the next three weeks for more specific information about opportunities for families, youth and adults to actively participate in the Community Fire Protection project. 

April 10 is Native American Ministries Sunday where United Methodists celebrate ministries with Native Americans and collect offerings to support the Church's work with Native Americans. One half of the Rocky Mountain Conference offering will support the Northern Cheyenne Fire Protection project and the other half will equip and empower Native American pastors, congregations, and seminary students through the general United Methodist Church.  Additional donations to support the Community Fire Protection project can be sent to the Rocky Mountain Conference designated for "Northern Cheyenne Fire Protection". Your generous gifts on Native American Ministries Sunday will help support these projects. Thank you for your support and generosity!

Laurie Day, Assistant Director of Mission & Ministry

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.

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