Oct. 31, 2021—23rd Sunday after Pentecost/Reformation Sunday—Native American Heritage Month (American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month November)

A Moment for Mission

“The person whose help is the God of Jacob—the person whose hope rests on the Lord their God—is truly happy! … God: who is faithful forever.” —Psalm 146:5-6, CEB

COVID-19 hit Oklahoma City’s homeless community hard.

In response, the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference worked with the Church Under the Bridge to distribute 72 filled backpacks to homeless people.

Grants from the conference and from Perkins School of Theology through the Luce Foundation allowed for the purchase of “simple things that we don’t always think of,” said the Rev. David Wilson, assistant to the bishop. The sturdy backpacks, containing blankets, socks, flashlights, snacks, water bottles and toiletries, were blessed with love and prayer.

“We’re trying to target the most destitute,” said volunteer Marilyn K. Bond. “The people who get these backpacks don’t have a thing in the world. We’re talking about people who had jobs, houses and cars. They no longer have anything.”

Improving hygiene is another goal. “Native Americans have a high percentage of diabetics,” the Rev. Julienne Judd noted. “My focus is hygiene, trying to keep yourself clean and take care of your body so you don’t get sick.”

Masks are required to enter libraries and stores, making it difficult for homeless people seeking refuge from hot summers and icy winters. In desperation, homeless people scour the ground or dig through the trash for used masks.
“At the very least,” Judd asserted, “we should be able to give them masks.”

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to honor the first Americans and to support United Methodist Native American outreach that shares the love of Jesus Christ.

Adapted from video by Ginny Underwood, communication and marketing manager, First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Used by permission.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, you bless us with faith and hope. Remind us often to share our faith and hope with your children, especially those who are sometimes forgotten. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost — Holy God, architect of the universe, you have wonderfully made every delicate intricacy of this world! Then you placed human beings in the center of it, as we stumble our way through living our lives in union with your will and in harmony with creation.  As we offer our tithes and gifts this morning, we thank you for sending your Jesus to show us the way in simple language: loving you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. May our gifts be dedicated toward making both a reality. In Christ we pray. Amen. (Mark 12:28-34)

Newsletter Nugget
During Native American Heritage Month, we remember United Methodist and other organizations that reached out to Native communities last year as COVID-19 impacted the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
The Native American Community Response Fund was the first to send a grant to strengthen ministries in United Methodist congregations. “Our churches were able to purchase food and snack packs for children who were at home during the pandemic and provide utility assistance to families,” said the Rev. David Wilson, assistant to the bishop.

Thirty local pastors and lay missioners received one-time grants from the West Ohio Annual Conference. A General Board of Global Ministries grant funded masks, water bottles and hand sanitizer for Native children returning to school. The United Methodist Committee on Relief donated 6,000 school kits for area schools and tribal communities.

“We are blessed with our connectional network within the denomination and the many great organizations beyond who have allowed us to serve our Native community in this time of need,” Wilson said.

Adapted from “Bringing Relief to Native American Communities in Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference,” Ginny Underwood, OIMC website. Used by permission.