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Disciples Institutional Racism Towards Native Americans

June 15, 2015

VISION

“It is not that we are entitled of ourselves to take credit for anything. Our sole credit is from God, who made us qualified ministers of a new Covenant, a covenant not of a written Law but of Spirit. The written Law kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

2 Corinthians 3:3-6
The Inclusive Bible, 2007

Knowing the history of Disciples leadership’s antipathy towards Native American missional ministry and not wanting to take funds away from already struggling programs, Sacred Hoop presented an incredible idea to see if the members of the denomination would support the ministry by contributing to the Sacred Hoop Endowment (Permanent Fund). It came in the form a resolution to the General Board for the 2015 General Assembly:

Proposed for GA 2015

(Operational, Policy and Organizational Item Resolution)

REQUEST TO THE GENERAL BOARD TO LAUNCH A NEW SPECIAL OFFERING DESIGNATED AS:

SACRED HOOP SPECIAL OFFERING

Whereas, the historical institutionalized mistreatment of American Indians of North America combined with the continuing prevalence and escalation of enculturated racism against American Indians has resulted in a perpetual state of hopelessness and despondence among Native Americans in all aspects of contemporary life, from the reservation to the inner city[xvi], and;

Whereas, research facilitated by the American Psychiatric Association clearly reflects that 1) “more than twice as many AI/ANs (American Indians/Alaska Natives) live in poverty than the total US population”, 2) AI/ANs have a significantly lower life expectancy than the U.S. average, 3) “infant mortality is higher than the U.S. population,” 4) have a significantly higher risk of being victims of violent crime, 5) have a significantly higher death rate from disease, and 6) death from alcohol-related causes is 6 (six) times higher than the U.S. national average,[xvii] and;

Whereas, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that during the period of 2005-2009 (latest available statistical data) “the highest suicide rates were among American Indians/Alaska Native males,” and that among all female race/ethnicity (including Non-Hispanic White females) American Indian/Alaska Natives had the highest suicide rate, and total suicide rates for AI/ANs, both male and female respectively, were higher than the suicides among the entire U.S. White population[xviii], and;

Whereas, the CDC also reports that among teenagers during the 2005-2009 reporting period (latest available statistical data) the rate of suicides for American Indian/Alaska Native teens was three times higher than the national average[xix], and;

Whereas, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ denomination as a whole has historically made little missional effort towards sharing the living message of hope in Christ with the American Indian/Alaska Native peoples of North America[xx], and;

Whereas, the Christian Church Disciples of Christ now has the promising opportunity to build a long-term, sustainable, and culturally competent missional ministry bridge across the chasm between the denomination and the American Indian/Alaska Native peoples that will endure for generations to come, and;

Whereas, the Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry (Disciples of Christ) has established, through the cooperation and support of the Christian Church Foundation, Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry Endowment (a permanent fund in which the principle can never be used), and:

Whereas, Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry is the only remaining Native American Ministry within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination and receives no funding from any Disciples Mission Fund source.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Christian Church Disciples of Christ denomination does hereby create the Sacred Hoop Special Offering, and;

Be it further resolved, that this special offering will be administered annually on the first Sunday of the month of May, during the American Indian time of new life and new beginnings, and that this annual special offering shall begin the first Sunday of May 2016;

Be it further resolved, that the facilitation and administration of this special offering shall be conducted by the Disciples Mission Fund, with the support of the Treasury Services, and;

Be it further resolved, that all proceeds and revenues collected from this special offering shall be deposited in the Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry Endowment administered by the Christian Church Foundation; the interest income therewith to be used by the Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry (Disciples of Christ) to recruit and train culturally competent ministers and to establish and support Native American community-based missional ministries throughout North America, and;

Be it further resolved, that the Chairman of the Governing Council (Board), or other such designated representative of the Governing Council (Board), of the Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry (Disciples of Christ) shall provide a report of the missional ministry to the denomination at each subsequent General Assembly, and;

Be it finally resolved, that the General Board shall submit this resolution to the General Assembly for affirmation.

Submitted for consideration on behalf of the congregation and board of:

Sacred Hoop Native American Ministry (DOC)
P.O. Box 456
Pryor, OK 74362
Pastor Bill Running Wolf Davis, M.Div., MSW
sacredhooprw@gmail.com
http://www.sacredhoopnam.org

Despite considerable effort to create and submit the resolution in accordance with proper policies and procedures it was struck down. In her letter to me dated April 15, 2015, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), stated that “the designation of a special offering is the decision and responsibility of the General Board, not the General Assembly; Disciples Mission Fund cannot directly support an individual congregation.” This was followed by an innocuous claim of support from Disciples agencies for partnering to build awareness of the plight of Native Americans.

Prior to the General Board’s rejection of the resolution proposed by Sacred Hoop, Sharon Watkins had informed me that in the past many resolutions had been 1) sent to committee for further examination and exploration, 2)  sent back for consideration of revisions and 3) moved forward to General Assembly for consideration without the support of the General Board. Sharon had also informed me that the General Board had authority of creation of new special offerings but also had the right to let the General Assembly decide passage or not. The outright rejection of this resolution was a clear act of Disciples Institutional Racism towards Native Americans by denying Native Americans access to equitable resources for missional ministry.

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One Comment
  1. BARBARA ANN MITCHELL REXFORD permalink

    I’m so ashamed of these people who
    are racist.They are supposed to help
    all peoples. Native Americans have been
    used & abused.It’s time to give their land
    back to them & solve their many problems, that were caused hy the
    Europeas & our ancestors. SHAME ON
    US ALL, DAMMIT …

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