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General Assembly Task Force on Native American Ministries (GANATF)

Section IV. Report 5, 2000 Referral:22.232. B.
A comprehensive strategy for ministries with Native Americans
2002 Supplemental Recommendations of the General Assembly Special Task Force on Native American Ministries

The Special Task Force on Native American Ministries hereby submits the following supplemental recommendations to the General Assembly Committee, pursuant to Action 22.232 of the 212th General Assembly, Minutes (2000) p. 26:

1. Encourage every presbytery and synod with Native American congregation(s) to evaluate the potential for revitalizing and expanding Native American ministry in consultation with Native American congregations and communities, the Native American Consulting Committee, and appropriate General Assembly entities, looking at the leadership potential, financial resources needed and the roles of governing bodies in achieving the goals and objectives of the PC(USA) Native American Ministry church wide Policy Statement, the Racial Ethnic/ Immigrant and Evangelism Church Growth strategy and other PC(USA) policies applicable to Native American ministry.

2. Encourage the Board of Pensions to consider the urgent pension and related benefit needs of Native American pastors. Encourage every presbytery and the Board of Pensions to consult regarding the urgent pension and benefit needs of Native American commissioned lay pastors.

3. Instruct the General Assembly Mission Council, in partnership with presbyteries and synods, to make available adequate funding for a church wide Consultation on Native American Ministries involving Native American Presbyterians, the Native American Consulting Committee, the Office of Native American Congregational Enhancement and other General Assembly representatives, and Middle governing body staff, no later than 2004, to do the following: a) review and evaluate churchwide policy on Native American ministries and developments in Native American ministry and b) to foster better dialogue between Native American Presbyterians and middle governing bodies. The report on this consultation will be made to the 217th General Assembly (2005).

4. Request that a report on implementation of the recommended strategies be presented to the 219th General Assembly (2007), in coordination with Native American Consulting Committee and appropriate General Assembly entities. The report should include consideration of the policies set out in the PC(USA), Native American Ministry church wide Policy Statement, 1979. (Minutes 191st Assembly).

5. The Task Force request an extension until the 216th General Assembly (2004) for the completion of the Comprehensive Statistical Report.

6. Dismiss the Special Task Force on Native American Ministries with thanks and appreciation.

I. Background for supplemental recommendations

Pursuant to General Assembly Action 22.232 (2000), the report entitled "A Comprehensive Strategy for Ministries with Native Americans" was referred to the Special Task Force on Native American Ministries "for further discussion and the development of specific, measurable recommendations to the 214th General Assembly (2002). . . ." The report was to be printed and distributed to the entire church. Additionally, a historical report prepared by the Task Force entitled "Mission and Ministry with Native American Peoples: A Historical Survey of the Last Three Centuries," was included in the minutes of the 212th General Assembly.

The Special Task Force on Native American Ministries (hereinafter "Task Force") was appointed in response to Overture 95-34, submitted to the 207th General Assembly (1995) by Grand Canyon Presbytery. Overture 95-34 directed the Task Force to "study and review missions and ministries with Native American tribes and peoples and to develop a comprehensive strategy for ministries with Native Americans and to report no later than the 212th General Assembly (2000) its findings and recommendations as a comprehensive strategy for Native Americans for the next century" (Minutes, 1995, Part I, pp.99, 682). Membership on the Task Force included Native American and non-Native clergy, Native American lay persons, middle governing body staff, PC (USA) educational institution faculty, and moderators of the Native American Consulting Committee (NACC).

In 2000 the Task Force reported numerous findings and recommended strategies to the 212th General Assembly, highlighting the following areas of Native American Ministries:

1. The need for new patterns of connection between Presbyterian churches and middle governing bodies, and Native American churches and ministry projects, with the additional focus on urban and off-reservation Native American populations;

2. Extend support of developing Native American congregations beyond the traditional model of five years;

3. Develop and produce an outline and overview for commissioned lay pastor training to be used in preparation for ministry with Native American communities;

4. Increase recruitment of and maintain adequate funding for scholarship assistance for Native American seminary students;

5. Develop opportunities for Native American volunteer service in Native American communities;

6. Conduct an inventory of Native American church properties;

7. Funding for youth and young adult ministries;

8. Support for the Vision Quest Endowment Fund for Native American Ministries.

The Task Force also recommended that the General Assembly "commend middle governing bodies and churches which have acknowledged the church's participation in policies and practices that have hurt Native American peoples and threatened their existence as sovereign peoples and taken steps toward reconciliation, as well as encourage the whole church to do the same."

The 212th General Assembly accepted these recommendations and referred the Report (22.232) back to the Task Force for "further discussion and the development of specific, measurable recommendations to [be presented] to the 214th General Assembly (2002). . . ." As further support for the work of the Task Force, the 212th General Assembly directed the Office of the General Assembly/Research Services to develop a "comprehensive statistical report on Native American Presbyterians by the 214th General Assembly (2002)."

In 2001, the Task Force met twice to review progress made in Native American ministries and to prepare supplemental recommendations as requested by the General Assembly.

This report contains sections providing Rationale for the Task Force's Supplemental Recommendations and a Summary of Recent Developments in Native American Ministry, which addresses implementation of Task Force recommended strategies. It supplements but does not supercede the "Comprehensive Strategy for Ministry with Native Americans. "

II. Rationale for task force supplemental recommendations

2000 Referral: 22.232. B. Comprehensive Strategy for Ministries with Native Americans, Recommendation 3., That the 212th General Assembly (2000) Instruct the General Assembly Mission Council to Make Available Adequate funding for Implementation of the "Comprehensive Strategy for Ministries with Native Americans Including Items (a)-(f)-From the General Assembly Mission Council (Minutes, 2000, Part I, pp. 26, 206).

The "church wide Policy Statement for Native American Ministry," adopted by the 207th General Assembly in 1979, is the current PC(USA) mandate for Native American Ministries. Hence, the Task Force recommendations developed are intended to assist in implementing and supporting this Policy. Furthermore, under current PC(USA) policy, the Native American Consulting Committee is the primary consultative body on Native American ministries in the PC(USA).

Follow-up and implementation of these strategies have been voiced as major concerns by the Native American Presbyterian community. The General Assembly Committee on Evangelism and Church Development also stressed the importance of follow-up by asking that the Task Force make "specific measurable recommendations" to the 214th General Assembly as a supplement to those strategies accepted at the 212th General Assembly. Understanding the historical roots of existing issues of concern and looking at the current picture in Native American ministries are key to formulating strategies. We believe it is equally important that there be vehicles for review and evaluation of implementation of these strategies at all levels of the PC(USA). If we as a church are to remain faithful to our commitment to forge a mutually beneficial relationship with Native American communities, we must follow our best intended words and aspirations with "faith in action" and demonstrate our commitment by follow-up.

A. Report to General Assembly in 2007 and church wide Consultation

The Task Force submitted several recommendations designed to foster continued discussion and implementation of the strategies. The first is a report to the General Assembly in 2007 reviewing these strategies and progress in implementation. This would be done in consultation with the Native American Consulting Committee. The second is a churchwide consultation on Native American ministries. Every three years the Native American Consulting Committee has held an Eight Synod Consultation for those synods that presently have Native American congregations or ministry projects. The Task Force's recommendation would expand this consultation to a churchwide event that would encompass middle governing bodies interested in urban and off-reservation Native American ministry outside of those eight synods. While the Task Force attempted to assess progress since it reported to the General Assembly in 2000, there remains a great need for Native American Presbyterians at all levels of the church to have access to respond to the recommendations, as well as to dialogue with middle governing bodies about the future of Native American Ministries.

The strategies for follow-up would work in tandem with the recommendation that presbyteries with Native American congregation(s) evaluate the potential for Native American ministry in consultation with Native American congregations and communities, the Native American Consulting Committee and Native American Congregational Enhancement looking at the leadership potential, needed financial resources, and the roles of governing bodies in implementing goals and objectives of the Racial Ethnic/Immigrant Church Growth Strategy. To date, the Task Force is aware of less than five of the 16 presbyteries with Native American congregations taking steps to do so. In 2000 the Task Force stressed the importance of forming new patterns of connection between Native American congregations and communities and governing bodies at all levels of the PC(USA). We believe this is a key ingredient in almost all of the strategies recommended for revitalizing Native American ministry. As the 2000 Report states, the relationship factor is most important for Native American communities.

B. Native American Pastors and Commissioned Lay Pastors Medical and Pension Needs

In 2000 the Task Force outlined the dimensions of a crisis in availability of Native American clergy and the ability to sustain them in Native American congregations:

Whereas in the 1940's at least half of the 110 Native churches were served by Native American clergy, in 1995 there were only 17 installed clergy and 11 in 1999. As a result, lay clergy are heavily relied upon in churches throughout the country. A significant number of churches stated that they cannot afford a full time pastor and if they can, they cannot afford to pay pension and benefits. Prior to the 1950's, most Native American pastors were appointed to the field under the Board of National Missions. When the shift was made from the Board to middle governing bodies, Native American churches were expected to initiate the process of calling and replacing pastors, without adequate preparation and training. In the three decades following this shift, the majority of Native American churches were unable to maintain full time ministers. One major consequence has been a decline in membership and leadership in Native American churches.

Since 1999, the Task Force has become aware of the difficulties encountered by Native American congregations in structuring compensation packages for ministers and Commissioned Lay Pastors. Several congregations who simply cannot afford to pay pension benefits within their current budgets have tried to provide alternative forms of retirement compensation. Isolation, both geographic and cultural, often impedes dialogue with Presbytery staff and Board of Pensions staff about these critical issues. Ironically, in one of the presbyteries with the largest number of Native American congregations, the only pastors whose salary and benefits are fully paid are non-Native. Hence the Task Force encourages the Board of Pension, presbyteries and Native American leadership to consult with one another regarding the urgent pension and benefit needs of Native American pastors and commissioned lay pastors. We are aware budgetary restraints in the PC(USA), thus this or any other approach, that would avoid the current piecemeal approach to Board of Pensions issues for Native American clergy in the PC(USA) is encouraged. This would be done in consultation with appropriate presbytery staff.

C. Comprehensive Statistical Report

In order to complete a comprehensive statistical report on Native American Presbyterians the Task Force must obtain 2000 Census data that will not be available to the public until the summer of 2002. The Office of Research Services, in coordination with the Office of Native American Congregational Enhancement, the Office of Property Services and other General Assembly offices, has begun work on the report and cannot complete this statistical report before the 214th General Assembly. Thus the Task Force requests an extension for the completion of this report until the 215th General Assembly (2003). The lead agency will be the General Assembly Office of Research Services. After the Task Force is dismissed at the 214th General Assembly, the Office of Research Services will consult with the Native American Consulting Committee.

III. Summary of recent developments in Native American Ministry

Since the Task Force began its work, there has been notable and encouraging progress in several of the areas highlighted in the 2000 Task Force Report Individuals, communities and congregations have heard the call for a renewed commitment to Native American ministry and the need to create new patterns of connection between the Native American community and middle governing bodies. These are summarized below.

A. New Patterns of Connection:

  1. In 1999 the Presbytery of Indian Nations formed a separate Mission Committee and recruited Native Americans to serve. In 2000 the Committee visited the six Native American churches and chapels in the presbytery, identified strengths and needs, and communicated these to the rest of the presbytery. Recently, the presbytery appointed a Native American elder to administer communion to the Native American churches; it will be the first time in years that this has occurred and is therefore significant and uplifting for Native American congregations.
  2. In 2000, Grand Canyon Presbytery created a position for Associate for Native American Ministry. In April 2001, an ordained Native American minister was installed in this position.

B. Urban and Off-Reservation Native American Ministry

  1. In 2000, a group of Native and non-Native Presbyterians in the Albuquerque, New Mexico metropolitan area began a monthly fellowship meeting for the Native American community in Albuquerque and surrounding areas. They applied for and received a "Mustard Seed " Grant of $25,000 and have continued to meet monthly and talk about the formation of a Native American Ministry project.
  2. Conversations about the feasibility of Native American ministry projects have begun in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver and Seattle areas.

C. Increasing Development/Redevelopment Period for Native American Congregations Beyond the Traditional Five Year Model

  1. Due in large part to the help of Redevelopment grant funds, the Church of Indian Fellowship in Tacoma, Washington, recently employed a Native American as a Commissioned Lay Pastor. This is the first time that the church will have a full-time Native American pastor.
  2. Recognizing some development and redevelopment projects require a longer period of time, the Mission Redevelopment Resource Committee of the General Assembly offers the opportunity for funding be spread over a period from three to seven years. This language is present in the applications for New Congregation Grants, Existing Congregation (Redevelopment) and Specialized Ministry Grant Applications.

D. Outline for Commissioned Lay Pastor Training, to be used in Preparation for Ministry with Native American Communities

While the Task Force is aware that each middle governing body is ultimately responsible for training Commissioned Lay Pastors, we have encouraged efforts to share resources for Native American ministry. The Native American Consulting Committee has also begun to collect presbytery policies and requirements for Commissioned Lay Pastors and will use this information to educate congregations on the process or preparation to facilitate/share this knowledge with congregations on process and options available to them. Also, a Resource Book, "The PC(USA) Commissioned Lay Pastor, Section Two" prepared by church wide Personnel Services now includes information pertaining to Native American ministry.

E. Recruitment and Scholarship Assistance for Native Americans to Attend Seminary.

While a scholarship program exists at one PC(USA) seminary, there is still a need for other PC(USA) seminaries to be involved in recruitment of Native Americans. Since 1999, no Native American seminary graduate has been ordained. There has been a small but encouraging increase in Commissioned Lay Pastors of Native Americans as lay pastors. Two Native Americans have entered seminary, bringing to a total of five enrolled. The last two graduates are working through the process of successfully completing the ordination exams.

F. Opportunities for Volunteer Service in Native American Communities

Members of the Task Force have met with staff of the PC(USA) National Volunteer office to assess current opportunities for volunteer service in Native American communities. The Task Force has recommended that National Volunteer staff consult with volunteer projects located on or near Native American communities to assist in the development of opportunities for volunteer service in Native American communities.

G. Funding to Implement Strategies Recommended for Youth and Young Adult Ministries

  1. In response to the Task Force recommendation that General Assembly support national Native American youth and young adult gatherings, the General Assembly provided funds to enable Native American participation in several important events in 2000 and 2001. In the summer of 2001, fifteen Native American youth and young adults participated in the Racial Ethnic Youth and Young Adult Leadership (REYYAL) conference held at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
  2. The American Indian Youth Council (AIYC) is a group organized to create and offer Native American youth the opportunity to develop their own leadership potential and convene conferences specifically for Native American Youth. A Conference was held in June 2001 at Menaul School in Albuquerque, NM. A total of sixty Native American young people from Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Montana and New York attended.
  3. Both these events have been essential and instrumental in providing support, empowerment and leadership preparation for Native American youth, most of whom come from churches too small to have separate youth programs. In response to this, Native Americans at the local levels have stepped forward and have taken leadership to work toward increasing ministry among the youth in their congregations.

H. Conduct an inventory of Native American church properties

This has proven to be a monumental task. The Offices of Property Management and the Office of Native American Congregational Enhancement are in the process of completing Phase I. This phase encompasses church properties in Dakota Presbytery. This will require more time for completion of an inventory. This process will continue throughout the denomination by seeking cooperation from middle governing bodies and in consultation with Native American congregations and communities.

IV. Conclusion

In 2000 the Task Force stressed the importance of reconciliation to the General Assembly: …A comprehensive strategy for ministry with Native Americans in the PC(USA) must be developed in the light of a clear appreciation for who Native peoples are and how the church has related to them theologically and historically…(Minutes 212th Assembly, p. 207).
[T]here is a need for renewed hope, new vision, new vitality, and new direction based both on a mutual acknowledgment of past errors, reconciliation, and a common claim of hope for the future… (Minutes 212th Assembly, p. 208). In facing the challenges of the new century, we must be drawn together by the power of the Holy Spirit, reconciled by the love of Jesus Christ, and energized by a mutual commitment to an inclusive ministry… (Minutes 212th Assembly, p. 208).

Recognizing this reality in our relationship, the General Assembly adopted the Task Force recommendation to "[c]ommend the middle governing bodies and churches which have acknowledged the church's participation in policies and practices that have hurt Native American peoples and threatened their existence as sovereign peoples and taken steps toward reconciliation, as well as encourage the whole church to do the same." (Minutes 212th Assembly, p. 206 ).

The Task Force is not aware of efforts toward such reconciliation made since 2000. While this is not a measurable recommendation, we continue to believe in the miracle of reconciliation that is possible and the importance it has in healing and building new relationships based on mutuality. Thus we re-commend this part of our report to the entire church.

We also wish to thank the PC(USA) for providing resources and supporting our work in this process. We have been honored to apply our faith and labor toward this "task." It is our hope that we, the whole church, will heed the call to be "Repairers of broken walls, [and] Restorers of Streets with dwellings" (Isaiah 58:12) as we build new relationships which honor who we are and whose we are.

Section V: Report Five

Recommendation:
That the issue of takings raised in Point two of Commissioners' Resolution 01-29 be referred to the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy in consultation with the Advisory Committee on Litigation for clarification in a report to the 215th General Assembly (2003).

Background:
Commissioners' Resolution 01-29. On the Klamath Basin Drought (Minutes, 2001, Part I, pp. 62, 503).

The Office of Environmental Justice has monitored the Klamath Basin situation, and collected information about the various parties, which have suffered as a result of the extended drought. These include the farmers, farm workers, Native Americans whose culture and food sources are based upon the endangered species, the fishing and canning industry as well as the eco-system it self. In addition, the Office has kept in touch with the Presbytery of the Cascades which is ministering to the affected churches and individuals in the area.

The Klamath Basin situation is exceedingly complex as a variety of individuals and groups seek to find a just and equitable solution to the economic, social and ecological impact of the long-term drought. The solution can only be fashioned with the backdrop of climate change as a reality, and the need to balance the competing interests of the eco-system and the various parties. Proposed solutions should be evaluated in light of General Assembly policy, particularly Restoring Creation for Ecology and Justice from 1990 and Hope for a Global Future from 1996.

Commissioners' Resolution 01-29, in its point 2, advocates only one approach to the situation which raises significant legal and ethical issues, and appears inconsistent with General Assembly policies. It also makes it difficult for the General Assembly to advocate for a comprehensive solution.

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