Oklahoma Indian Mission choir opens worship

More than 35 tribes are represented by the 36 children, ranging from 2 to 17 years old, who make up the children's choir from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
More than 35 tribes are represented by the 36 children, ranging from 2 to 17 years old, who make up the children's choir from the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.

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: newsdesk@umcom.org.

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

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE

Latest News

General Church
The U.S. Capitol is framed by trees across from the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.

38 United Methodists serve in 116th Congress

United Methodists comprise the fourth-largest religious group in a new Congress that has fewer Christians and slightly more religious diversity.
General Conference
The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht addresses the Wesleyan Covenant Association at its April 28-29, 2017, meeting at Christ United Methodist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. Lambrecht, a member of the association’s leadership council and vice president of the Good News renewal group, served as emcee for the gathering. Photo by Tim Tanton, UMNS.

Seeing a Way Forward: The Rev. Tom Lambrecht

Vice president of Good News and a member of the Wesleyan Covenant Association leadership council, the Rev. Lambrecht gives insight into the Traditional Plan and Modified Traditional Plans.
The Rev. Elaine A. Robinson. Photo by Shevaun Williams.

Commentary: Thoughts upon GC2019 via Methodist history

The history of The United Methodist Church and its predecessor denominations offers insights on what the future might hold, writes Elaine A. Robinson.