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2016 Annual Conference Journey toward Repentance

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

"Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8)

As we gather in June in Burlingame for the 2016 Annual Conference Session, we will continue the process for Acts of Repentance to Native peoples and communities in our region. These acts of repentance will be woven throughout our session with a service of repentance on Friday Afternoon.

Our California-Nevada Conference Committee on Native American Ministries (CONAM) has compiled a list of resources to help our local churches, and congregants, explore and learn their local history in relation to native people.  This is only a portion of the work towards repentance, which is not an easy, or quick process.

As we prepare for ACS, I challenge you to join this process that leads to repentance. Prior to gathering in Burlingame, read these documents and begin to do the work in your communities to bring about healing. 

Grace and Peace,

Warner H. Brown, Jr.
Resident Bishop


A Message from the Conference Committee on Native American Ministry to Annual Conference

We offer greetings to you from your Conference Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM), mindful that we all stand together, and mindful that our Christian heritage gifts us with hope for every grace of God for all of God’s people. We are mindful of the rich blessings the path of repentance finds in our triune God, who is the first giver, and the first to act in mercy and love toward us all.

We are thankful for Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr.’s call to repentance for the hegemony over Native peoples which occurred in our lands a relative few generations ago. It is easy to forget this is relatively recent history. Essentially, our grandparents’ grandparents were witnesses.  Among Native people, the grandparents’ grandparents were among those to have been marched, or enslaved, or in some instances to have been simply slaughtered, but whom witnessed evolving disruptions in their community’s possessions, safety, livelihood, and sense of place. 

As CONAM, we feel our main message to you at this time is simply this action would most appropriately be seen as a beginning: a formal Annual Conference Act of Repentance made in order to discover, and prepare for, whatever amidst grace may be next on the road to reconciliation.

Our own work as CONAM is also evolving. We must confess that we are still working to strengthen our various connections between the Annual Conference and the four local churches most involved in Native ministry.  Two, Round Valley UMC, and Schurz UMC, are located on formally recognized Native lands. The other two ministries, Klamath UMC, and Point Arena UM, are located adjacent to formally recognized Native lands.  We also suspect there exists other ministries with Native communities of which we are unaware.

We are now ready to respond to Bishop Brown’s call to the Annual Conference for prayer and action.  Bishop Brown asks local churches to:

  1. Research our church’s ownership history, in other words, to see if it’s possible to see the Title move from Native use or control, and if so, whether it was done without recompense to the local Native peoples;
  2. Reach out to our local tribal neighbors, in an initial and circumspect request to learn about them and their history, and perhaps to tell them about the Annual Conference’s intention to make a formal Act of Repentance for the wrongs done to Native peoples in our areas California and Nevada
  3. Research the history of Native peoples in your area.  You may by surprised by the research that has already been done. You may find a rich resource in the books available at your local State Park, as well as in materials available at your local, or college library, and at your local historical society, in addition to the wealth of information available on the internet.

In addition to the Bishop’s call, we encourage local church leaders to:

  1. Consider reaching out to learn more about one of the local churches providing ministry on, or near, formally recognized tribal lands: Round Valley UMC, Schurz UMC, Klamath UMC, and more recently, Point Arena UMC.
  2. We have some resources to assist you.  Please read and study the following materials:   
    1. Researching your church property
    2. Reaching out to the indigenous tribal communities of your area 
    3. CONAM’s ACS 14 video presentation;  understand that our area, is unique in this history of the domination of the First Peoples, and why taking this Act of Repentance can be seen to be such a compelling need for the integrity of our faith community. 
    4. An open letter to US Bishops for national Native UMC leaders
    5. A brief look at the historical context

Finally, let us fearlessly respond in this regard to our consciences, our faith, and the God of love beyond our understanding by committing ourselves to prayer in the time that remains between now and when the Act of Repentance is considered at the 2016 Annual Conference Session in Burlingame.

God Bless us, every one.

CONAM