There is a new history being created by the people of the United Methodist Church. Through the Native American Ministries Sunday offering, Native American seminarians pastors, congregations and ministries seminary students are being equipped and empowered to authentically worship and serve Jesus Christ. Rev. Roy Hilburn of Coharie UMC in Clinton, North Carolina can share from his own personal experience…
Rev Hilburn: Through the GBGM, I was the recipient of the Native American Ministries award. That was a blessing – through that award, my wife and I were able to finish school. I felt honored, I felt respected, but most importantly, I felt noticed.
While Coharie UMC is primarily serving Native Americans, Rev. Hilburn’s ministry is committed to diversity.
Rev. Hilburn: We want to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, but we also have a mission statement that is tailor made for our church and it’s called, ‘reach’. What we do with the reach is that we want to restore lives with the proclamation of the word. The E in reach is for exalting God in praise and worship. The A is actively seeking the lost…the c is being compassionate towards others and the h is helping those in need. I believe the Lord had given me that mission statement for this church when I came here. They were down to 8 people in worship, with the youngest being 55. Ive been here eight years and we have seen some tremendous growth. Our average worship attendance is usually around 50, so we’ve come a long ways. The folks are on fire and actively seeking the lost. When we hear of needs in the community, we are compassionate to those needs. And we’re always looking to help those who are hurting around us.
Rev. Hilburn: I wholeheartedly believe that churches will no longer make it with just one ethnic group in attendance. I think the church has to take off that racial card and be proactive, actually seeking those who are lost and being compassionate to those who are lost and extending the salvation of Christ to them. We try to live out the mission statement of the UMC at large – we want to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
One think I’m proud of is that we focus on our children We find teachable moments where we can help build character and help them grow in faith and grace and compassion.
There are eight state recognized tribes in North Carolina and many members of the Coharie tribe live in the area around the church.
Rev. Hilburn: The tribal office is less than three miles from the church, the tribe is growing and the tribe is doing well. I’m actually Waccamaw Siouan – we’re from a tribe just south of here. What does it mean to be a tribe? We love one another in a way that’s unique and we stand with one another. Tribal life is the essence of who we are. They may live as neighbors, they may live thirty miles away. We come together for tribal meetings – our big cultural event is the pow wow. We dance, we sing, we drum and remember who we are as a people.
Giving to Native American Ministries Sunday serves to remind us of the gifts and contributions made by Native Americans to our society.
Rev. Hilburn: I would strongly urge Tthe UMC not to forget about the Native American people. it takes a movement like Native American Ministries Sunday to bring awareness that we’re more than a percentage. We’re a people who are still present in this time and in this culture.
The Native American Ministries Sunday offering supports outreach within annual conferences and provides seminary scholarships for Native American seminarians.The special Native American Ministries Sunday offering helps equip seminary students who will honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. Learn more at www.umcgiving.org/nams