From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Conference honors Native Americans with service

From "NewsDesk" <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Wed, 25 Jun 2003 13:41:05 -0500

June 25, 2003  News media contact: Tim Tanton7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn. 

By Dawn M. Hand*

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (UMNS) - A historical moment marked the Western North
Carolina Annual Conference meeting, when indigenous people led a service
honoring Native Americans on land once owned by Cherokee Indians.  

Lake Junaluska is named after Cherokee Chief Junaluska, who led a group of
500 of his Cherokee scouts to help Gen. Andrew Jackson win the Battle of
Horse Shoe Bend against the Upper Creek Indians in 1814. The United Methodist
assembly in Lake Junaluska honors Chief Junaluska with a statue in front of
the main auditorium.

Setting the tone for the historical service on June 6, Bishop Charlene
Kammerer issued a statement of reconciliation. Kammerer addressed
Councilwoman Marie Junaluska and other gathered Native Americans. Junaluska
is on the 12-member Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

"We have not always honored your land, your people, your creator God,"
Kammerer said. "... Your people are strong and wise, your people are
beautiful and proud, and we seek to claim our unity in Christ with you. We
seek reconciliation and healing in our relationships. We yearn to become
brothers and sisters of the same creator God."

Kammerer thanked Councilwoman Junaluska for her presence and presented her
with a ceramic pitcher made by a local potter who took silt from the
Junaluska lakebed.

"I accept this gift with much honor, on behalf of the Junaluska family and
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians," the councilwoman said. "It's an honor
to be among you this evening."	 

She expressed her pleasure in knowing how much Chief Junaluska is respected
and still honored today through the many places named after him.

Pastors and members of Native American churches in the conference led the
assembly in praising God through singing, praying and dancing. Junaluska,
representing the Cherokee Nation was the special guest, and Ben Bushyhead,
director of development for the Cherokee Center for Family Services, served
as the guest speaker.

In his message, Bushyhead, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee,
acknowledged the historical moment and recognized the difficulty in preaching
on the conference theme, "Walk Humbly with God." He commented, "How easy it
is to forget that one speaks for God and begin to speak as God, making
powerful declarations and judgments."

Bushyhead talked about the gift of humility coming from God. "Walking with
God humbly is difficult because it requires a discipline we refuse to
embrace," he said.  

He challenged the assembly to model servant leadership as Jesus did and give
the church back to God.  "We have allowed the world to prevail ... we have
conformed to the world," he said. "... We must embrace diversity," which is
"a creation of and gift of God," he added. 

"God's nature is humbleness," he said. "...In walking humbly with God, we can
accept others as our true brothers and sisters in Christ."

The service concluded with the full assembly singing "Amazing Grace."

# # #

*Hand is director of communication for the Western North Carolina Annual

United Methodist News Service
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