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Native ministry groups enter new territory as single entity


Dec 28, 2004
-by Ann Graham Price


Four Oklahoma Native congregations are looking forward to hosting the first meeting of the newly formed Native Mennonite Ministries when it convenes in March 2005, said Lawrence Hart of Clinton, Okla.

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"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going.  …  For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God."  (Hebrews 11: 8-10 NRSV)

Elkhart, Ind. — In many ways, the journey facing the newly formed Native Mennonite Ministries is similar to the one undertaken by Abraham many centuries earlier.

“This is new territory,” Lawrence Hart, a pastor from Clinton, Okla., told the 18 representatives from agencies in the United States and Canada who had gathered to discuss forming the new organization.

Representatives from United Native Ministries and Mennonite Indian Leaders Council gathered Oct. 28-29 on the campus of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary to vote on creating the new U.S.-based agency and to elect officers. Leaders from Mennonite Church Canada’s Native Ministry also were present but did not vote and will not be part of the new organization. Instead, Native Ministry of Mennonite Church Canada will be a partner organization and will meet with the new Native Mennonite Ministries annually, and they will work together on joint programs such as leadership development.

Hart, referring to a passage from Hebrews that had been read for the morning’s meditation, said responding to a call from God was hard even for Abraham. “God said, ‘Go from your country, from your kindred, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.'

“Our call to this new territory is really no different,” he said. “Whether we join or not, it does not matter. The call is still there.”