Oklahoma Indian Mission choir opens worship

The clear a capella sounds of children singing "Amazing Grace" spread through the Fort Worth Convention Center as the children's choir of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference opened Sunday worship at the United Methodist General Conference on April 27. The 36 youngsters, aged 2 to 17 years, sang in Creek, Choctaw and English.

Choir members hail from many of the 89 churches and more than 35 tribes represented in the conference. Their songs and dress also represented a broad spectrum of the Native American nations in Oklahoma.

Led by choir directors Pearl Thomas and Kimberly McKinney, the children sang "Press Along" and "The Heleluyn Song," popular Native American hymns.

The Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference children's choir sings during worship.

"They sing one another's songs in Choctaw and Creek," said McKinney, a Choctaw from Kullichito United Methodist Church in Broken Bow, Okla., and president of the South District United Methodist Women. "And `The Heleluyn Song' is universal — all tribes sing it," added Thomas, a Muscogee Creek and longtime member of United Methodist Women at Honey Creek United Methodist Church in Okmulgee, Okla.

Choir member Shelby Parnacher, a 12-year-old Chickasaw, is accustomed to singing Choctaw hymns during worship at Boiling Springs United Methodist Church in Allen, Okla., where she and other youth often help lead singing. She plans to take the Creek words of the songs learned for General Conference back to her local church. "Now we can sing some of these songs in Creek, too," she said.

McKinney said the choir would learn songs in Kiowa and Ponca for future church events.

A month of rehearsing for their General Conference performance gave the young people an opportunity to learn Native American languages together. Teaching various Native American languages is underway in homes, churches and public schools and during tribal programs, Thomas said.

"If we don't get to learn it, the language is going to die," said choir member Kristie Baker, also of Kullichito United Methodist Church; the 17-year-old Choctaw serves as president of the conference's southeast regional youth group. "My favorite is the `Heleluyn Song.' It's a Creek song. This was a good experience," said Baker.

Baker said conference young people raise funds for missions, serve as pages during annual conference sessions and help with worship in their local churches.

The children also sang in the General Conference exhibition hall at noon.

*Moore is an executive secretary for communications with the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, e-mail: [email protected]

Phone calls can be made to the General Conference Newsroom in Fort Worth, Texas, at (817) 698-4405(817) 698-4405 until May 3. Afterward, call United Methodist News Service in Nashville, Tenn., at (615) 742-5470(615) 742-5470.

Related Articles

General Conference headlines

Music directors seek gifted United Methodists for '08 assembly

Music leader scatters seeds for General Conference

Resource

General Conference 2008

Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference

You'll need Skype CreditFree via Skype

Like what you're reading?  United Methodist Communications is celebrating 80 years of ministry! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community.  Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
General Church
Delegates from the Philippines and Southeast Asia sing during the 2019 United Methodist General Conference in St. Louis. Nearly 300 Filipino United Methodists joined a virtual conversation March 16 to talk about the Christmas Covenant and other plans for the future of The United Methodist Church. More webinars are planned for church members in Africa and Europe. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Restructuring legislation gets a hearing

The drafters of the Christmas Covenant are leading webinars in the Philippines, Africa and Europe about their proposal for changing the denomination’s global structure.
Judicial Council
Bishop Sally Dyck presides over a discussion of the church budget during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. After the 2020 General Conference was delayed, the board of the denomination’s finance agency asked the United Methodist Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on how to calculate the ongoing denominational budget and apportionment formula. File photo by Maile Bradfield, UM News.

New budget must wait for General Conference

The United Methodist Church’s finance agency lacks authority to set new guidelines despite postponement of church’s top legislative gathering.
General Conference
Jessica Vittorio. Photo courtesy of Jessica Vittorio

Closed-door meetings breed mistrust

Too often, important decisions at the church’s highest levels are being made in closed sessions that violate church rules about transparency, says one General Conference delegate.