Members of El Reno Indian Fellowship United Methodist Church, in El Reno, Oklahoma, serve their local community in a unique way. The small congregation partnered with Wesley United Methodist Church to place a Blessing Box in front of the church. They keep it stocked with canned goods and food items for anyone who is in need. According to members, they try to keep it stocked with things that can be used immediately such as tuna, chicken, and soups. Members say they hope people who come to the Blessing Box will feel the presence of God, love, peace and comfort.
The congregation represents several Native nations including Seminole, Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. The church does not currently have an appointed pastor and meet every other month. However, church members still hold a monthly Indian taco sale to keep the utilities on at the church. They are also planning to start a Bible study and hold a Valentine party for the children in the area.
Church members are requesting funds to purchase easy to eat food that does not require heating such as Vienna sausages, crackers, peanut butter cracker snacks and small bottles of water.
Every Nation United Methodist Church is a new church start in Anchorage, Alaska. Bishop Elaine Stanovsky appointed the Rev. Murray Crookes to lead the ministry in August 2018. Crooks says he has engaged in active listening within the community and he is working on building partnerships with neighbors to create a ministry that serves the people in the area. Right now, the ministry offers a weekly free meal which is open to all people. Crookes and his family attend local events and engage in Bible study and prayer with local Native Alaskans. He has shared tribal hymns and has even started learning Inupiaq songs. Murray plans to launch a Sunday morning worship in Spring 2019. Crookes formally served as pastor of the North Oklahoma City Fellowship in Oklahoma City.
Lapwai United Methodist Church is located in Lapwai, Idaho, near the Nez Perce Indian reservation. More than half of the 20 active members are Native American. Worship services often include hymns translated into the Nez Perce language. Many of the church members also participate in the tribal circle of elders and hold positions within the tribe. This year, the weekly Bible study is on the Book of Romans, which the Rev. Stephen Kingsley says is inspiring faith and deeper devotion in God’s grace. The Rev. Kingsley baptized nine Native children this past Easter.
Homelessness is a big challenge on the reservation. The church members actively provide meals for those in need. The church also serves as a meeting place for people overcoming addictions.
The church is in need of a van to help get children to church on Sundays. In addition, funding is needed to help repair and maintain the two church buildings.