Report from Native American Ministries Committee CCONAM

The CCONAM of the TN Conference is a dedicated group working in the local church, district, conference and community. We began our year with our health fair at MTSU. The university sponsors an American Indian Festival which is a fund raiser for scholarship for a Native American student. This is our 6th health fair. The area provided lots of information, blood pressure checks (this year) and diabetes education. Native Americans have the highest rate of diabetes in the world. We also have an area for spiritual health. We give out Indian Life Newspaper, a Native Christian paper, and other resources that folks can discuss with us or carry with them. Active in the community, we also attend other predominantly native events and have had a strong presence. The CCONAM of the TN Conference has been diligent in working within the framework of The Discipline. Bridging the connection between the local church and the conference, we once again sponsored our (5th) annual Native American Resource Day on March 9, 2008 at Blackman UMC. Our guest speakers were Debbie Fitzhugh, Shuswap Salish, Juanita Gardinski, Choctaw and Jamie Russell, Cherokee. We provided short sessions, video, music, cultural displays, books, printed materials for the local church Native American Ministry representative, and a light meal of native foods. Our host pastor, Bryan Brooks, shared communion and we ended the afternoon with our tradition of burning prayer bundles made of tobacco, sweet grass and sage. We encourage all churches to recognize and celebrate the Native American Ministry Sunday, with emphasis of choosing any Sunday in the year, and not just the calendar date. We have cultural displays, books, audio/video resources and speakers available. Several of our committee members have attended the National Native American Lay Speaking Schools in the basic and advanced classes. Please feel free to contact us. Our annual Native Moccasins Rock is 8 years old now! Held every August, last year we had 10 tribes represented, 7 states and Canada. We have grown in size and in spiritual depth. Offering culturally based workshops led by nationally known Native American artists; the retreat/conference has the advantage over “book knowledge” and participants are able to fellowship, learn and relate in a new way. During the week end, we have a “Time for Spirit”. We advertise in the local church, the community at large and the Native American community. Closing with a prayer circle, the spirit of the

Living God is evident in the emotional sharing of the circle. Everyone is welcome. This is important as many native people were taken away from their culture and traditions and want to reconnect. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for the local church as it further enhances what they can take back to their churches. Education thru understanding in an atmosphere of fellowship has enabled us to increase the opportunities during this event. The TN Conference CCONAM is active in the Southeast Jurisdiction also. Margie Hesson, committee chair, and Mary T Newman, conference representative, work with the board of the Southeast Jurisdiction Agency for Native American Ministry. Members of the committee have led training for Native American Comprehensive Plan and participated in Native American urban ministry training events.