The work of the Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) with Native American scholarships plays a vital role in accomplishing the agency’s mission of developing diverse leaders for the denomination. Rev. David Wilson, conference superintendent, Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, shared how much of an impact GBHEM’s work and Native American Ministries Sunday makes in developing Native American pastors and church leaders.
Native American Ministries Sunday is one of six annual Special Sundays throughout The United Methodist Church that designates a special offering for a specific group of individuals. Taking place on April 15, 2018, Native American Ministries Sunday honors and empowers the Native Americans in the denomination through scholarships for seminarians.
“It is important for the church to invest in initiatives like Native American Ministries Sunday because of the need for educated Native persons in ministry in our churches,” said Wilson. “Many of our congregations are on reservations or in rural areas and struggle financially. Having seminary-trained pastors helps not only with preaching the gospel, but helps the people get through the social ills within the community—unemployment, substance abuse, etc.—helping people live in a productive and fruitful way.”
The United Methodist Church has vowed to seek reconciliation with Native Americans and are committed to represent the community and showcase the proud heritage. This Special Sunday offering specifically supports Native American seminarians, developing and equipping pastors to work efficiently and effectively in Native American congregations, ministries and communities.
“We highlight diversity and inclusiveness within the church. For us to understand the diversity of God’s world, it is important for us to understand the contributions that Native American people make within the church. We contributed much and have so many more contributions to make in the future of our church.”
With more than 20,000 Native Americans within the denomination, the special Sunday helps to ensure that this group of United Methodist leaders is recognized and invested in. Many Native American United Methodist are a part of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference; however, the group is spread across the country from east to west.
“The impact your giving makes in the lives of Native American pastors is tremendous. It helps them preach the gospel, helps the folks in their congregations get through life and understand their worth as people of God, and prepares people to serve in various ministries,” explained Wilson.
“I thank the Office of Loans and Scholarships at GBHEM for their amazing work with Native Americans scholarships and all scholarship programs.” Wilson added, “What is special about the Office of Loans and Scholarships is that they understand the nuances of Native American Ministry and go out of their way to understand our needs and culture. They are flexible and really help us work through the scholarship process. We appreciate their partnership.”
To learn more about Native American Ministries Sunday, scholarships available to Native Americans or to make an impact in the lives of Native American students through giving, visit www.gbhem.org/loans-scholarships. Donations for Native American Ministries Sunday can be made through your local United Methodist Church or online at www.umcgiving.org/nams.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.