Resurrecting Native culture in Michigan

Native American Ministries Sunday

April 19 is Native American Ministries Sunday, a United Methodist Special Sunday with offering that empowers local spiritual development and educates Native American seminary students to serve God.

More than 100 years ago, God planted a Methodist presence in Standish, Mich., and the Saganing Indian Mission was born. A congregation grew. Children were baptized, and tribal elders were buried in the cemetery grounds.

Native American Ministries Sunday ebook

Native American Ministries ebook is available to promote United Methodist Special Sunday.

Recently, however, the congregation disbanded. In hopes of reviving the ministry, a pastor was provided for one year, but an active congregation was not to be resurrected.

The Detroit Conference’s Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) met and prayed. Chair Amy Alberts arranged conversations about the property’s future that seemed to indicate God was making something new at Saganing.

Honoring the past

Today, CONAM has begun implementing a vision for the Saganing Indian Church site. The plan includes growth opportunities, historical perspectives, Christian fellowship and activities culturally significant to the whole community, but especially those of Native ancestry.

The new initiative is a ministry with the Saginaw-Chippewa tribe. The Native American Ministries Sunday offering provides funding.

Volunteers in Mission brought a team to repair the roof and interior damage. CONAM will keep the property maintained and will work over the next two years in development.

Center for new life

Kathy Smith, a member of Detroit Conference CONAM, is excited about possibilities for new ministry in the building.

“We're looking to offer a meeting place, both for the community and for the conference,” she said. "We can provide a gathering place of peace and harmony. This might be as simple as providing a meeting place for people to have a cup of coffee and chat; or it might be as complex as hosting a talking circle, a native solution to working through differences of opinion."

Displays of pictures, regalia and artifacts are other possibilities. “We're considering different ways we can honor the Native American community and its history,” Smith explained. “We could host seminars for non-Native pastors interested in Native culture and practices. Children could learn the crafts of their people.”

As it honors the local Native American community, Saganing Indian Mission is returning to life.

Native American Ministries Sunday

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.

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